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Lockheed Claims Breakthrough On Fusion Energy Project

nealric Re:Not another scam! Right on! (564 comments)

I work for an oil company. We will never "run out" of oil. What will happen is that oil will become progressively more and more expensive/difficult to extract until alternatives become more attractive. We would all be driving electric cars right now if oil was $500 a barrel.

Notwithstanding the above, we have a long ways to go before oil gets to that point, and it will not happen suddenly or overnight, as there is a huge amount of oil that is not being extracted purely due to political or environmental restrictions. For example, Libya has a lot of oil that can be extracted quite cheaply, but the political turmoil means it's only producing at a tiny fraction of it's capability. Additionally, there are plenty of prospective oilfields that simply have not been fully explored yet- especially offshore. Of course, that does not prevent price shocks due to political issues (such as the Saudi oil embargo), but that can happen with any commodity required to produce energy.

about a week ago
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Is It Time To Throw Out the College Application System?

nealric Re:Not One System (389 comments)

That's not really a separate system- that's a recruitment tactic used by some 3rd system schools.

about two weeks ago
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Is It Time To Throw Out the College Application System?

nealric Not One System (389 comments)

The post ignores that there are really three main systems of college admissions.

The first system is basically open enrollment, other than certain minimal prerequisites. This is the system employed by most community colleges, non-flagship state schools, and for-profits. There may be a state standardized test you have to pass or a very low minimum SAT score/GPA to enroll, but the system really just tries to weed out people with little likelihood of being able to perform college-level work (and lets in plenty who are in fact unable).

The second system imposes a fairly mechanical system composed of test scores/GPA/HS class rank and admits everyone who clears that hurdle. This is the system imposed by most flagship and near-flagship state schools. Want to go to the University of Texas? Be in the top x% of your high school class and you are in. These institutions are very large, and don't have the resources to go to deep. However, they have sufficient prestige that they want to try to select only brighter students.

The third system, which is the subject of the original article, is the system that attempts a holistic evaluation of the applicant, incorporating everything from essays, to portfolios, to community service, to minority status, to wealth. This is the system used by most elite private schools and is the one most people are really talking about when they talk about college admissions. Elite institutions use this system for two reasons: 1) it allows them to recruit a mix of students that fits with the school's culture, 2) it provides plausible deniability for favoring children of wealthy alumni and other groups the school wants to admit for financial or political reasons. These institutions could afford to go to the group interview/testing system, but they have little reason to, as they aren't necessarily looking for the objective "best", they are looking for the students that will benefit their institution the most. Often, there's an overlap- it's better for an institution's reputation to only admit kids with top grades and scores- but not always.

Under none of these systems is it really about finding the "best", and I think most applicants and members of the public would do well to understand that. Your failure to get into Harvard doesn't mean you weren't as accomplished a human being as the average Harvard admit. It means Harvard decided that you would not benefit the institution as much as the students who were admitted.

I should also mention that there is a parallel system for NCAA Division I sports, which cuts across different types of institutions. That is a whole 'nother kettle of fish.

about two weeks ago
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Ask Slashdot: Any Place For Liberal Arts Degrees In Tech?

nealric Re: Ya, but... (392 comments)

It may have more to do with the fact that most well regarded academic institutions do not offer "pre law" as a major.

about a month ago
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Buenos Aires Issues a 'Netflix Tax' For All Digital Entertainment

nealric Re:IRS Planning the same (165 comments)

People like to feel like they have special knowledge, but your "contacts" have none. One person who works in the "financial services industry" (bank teller at Wells Fargo?) is hardly an authority on the subject. Since we doing appeals to authority (a logical fallacy), I will bring my own. Until last year, I worked on Wall Street doing deals with pension funds. If there were any significant risk of an appropriation, none of the deals I worked on could have happened. Your "contact" may have been forgoing a couple grand in tax benefits. My clients were putting Billions (yes, with a B) dollars on the line. Of course, for the conspiracy theorist, any evidence that does not support the conspiracy is only further proof the conspiracy goes deeper.

about a month and a half ago
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Buenos Aires Issues a 'Netflix Tax' For All Digital Entertainment

nealric Re:IRS Planning the same (165 comments)

I see tricorne tinfoil hats are back in style this season!

about a month and a half ago
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"ExamSoft" Bar Exam Software Fails Law Grads

nealric Re:Really? (100 comments)

Thanks. Got a laugh out of that one.

about 3 months ago
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"ExamSoft" Bar Exam Software Fails Law Grads

nealric Re:Really? (100 comments)

In theory yes. In practice, probably not. Law firms don't want to hire people with law degrees as paralegals since they are a high flight risk once they pass the bar. Non-legal employers don't like hiring law graduates for the same reason.

about 3 months ago
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"ExamSoft" Bar Exam Software Fails Law Grads

nealric Re:Really? (100 comments)

I'm going to go ahead and say you have no idea what you are talking about.

First: Law graduate salaries are heavily bi-modal. While the average salary is around $60,000, that average is heavily skewed by high-earners. My starting salary upon law school graduation was $160,000. Most large law firms (500+ lawyers), which employ approximately 10% of new graduates, pay exactly that salary to first-years. My offer was explicitly contingent on passing the bar. If I had failed, there would have been approximately zero firms willing to hire me at a similar salary. I would have been pushed down to the other mode, which is something like $35-40,000, which is par for the course for small firms doing things like traffic accident cases. Once you start at that lower mode, your chances of making a high salary as a lawyer become very low. My actual losses from failing the bar exam could have been well over $1 million of lifetime earnings loss.

Second: The measure of damages you provide, consequential damages, is often not available to a plaintiff for myriad reasons. For one, It's not unlikely that the EULA limits damages to the cost of the software ($100). Maybe you could get that provision thrown out, but maybe not. For another, you have to be able to prove that the party knew their failure to fulfill their part of the bargain would cause the damages in question. Despite your implication, judges don't give lawyers a free pass because they are lawyers.

Third: The popular conception of plaintiffs running off with bags of money a few months after filing a lawsuit has little to do with reality. More likely, the plaintiff gets pennies on the dollar after years of wrangling.

about 3 months ago
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"ExamSoft" Bar Exam Software Fails Law Grads

nealric Re:perspective from one of the victims (100 comments)

You don't need to BE a lawyer to sue and you don't even need to hire one. You can sue on your own behalf without a license.

about 3 months ago
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"ExamSoft" Bar Exam Software Fails Law Grads

nealric Re:Really? (100 comments)

Depending on your state, the all in cost of taking the bar exam can be $4,000 when you include test prep materials, fees, and travel. The fee just for taking the exam can be almost $1,000 and is not refunded if you have to retake.

about 3 months ago
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"ExamSoft" Bar Exam Software Fails Law Grads

nealric Re:Really? (100 comments)

Whatever you feel about the necessity of lawyers in society, many of these graduates are out $150,000 of tuition and are $200,000+ in student loan debt. They are prohibited by law from working in their profession until they pass the bar, which is only offered twice a year. So yeah, it's a pretty huge deal to be sentenced to 6 months of unemployment when you are in deep debt because of a software glitch.

about 3 months ago
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The Simultaneous Rise and Decline of Battlefield

nealric Better Reason not to Buy Hardline (208 comments)

As someone who has played the beta, I would recommend not buying Hardline unless it experiences serious revisions. It is, in fact, bad. The new game modes are half-baked king of the hill and capture the flag variations which do little to encourage rewarding team play. The basic mechanics and graphics are exactly the same as BF4, complete with the same bugs and dodgy netcode. Even if they add more maps, there's no more content than was added by any of the BF3 DLCs.

about 4 months ago
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Average HS Student Given Little Chance of AP CS Success

nealric Re:Computer Science isn't a science anymore... (293 comments)

I can see an eventual formal split between "CS" degrees and "Software Engineering" degrees. It seems that CS is to Software Engineering as Physics is to Mechanical Engineering.

about 4 months ago
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Average HS Student Given Little Chance of AP CS Success

nealric Re:AP is what exactly? (293 comments)

It depends on the high school instructor. My high school calculus teacher covered far more material than what was on the exam- actually more material than what was taught in Calculus 1 at my college. Almost everyone who passed that high school class scored an easy 5 on the AP exam.

about 4 months ago
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Average HS Student Given Little Chance of AP CS Success

nealric Re:Average SD article containing TM unclear ABR in (293 comments)

I graduated from college in 3 years due to AP exams (took 10 and received credit on 8, placement only for one). Collectively, they saved me about $30,000 in tuition, room, and board. This was from a small liberal arts school.

about 4 months ago
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Study: Earthlings Not Ready For Alien Encounters, Yet

nealric 50 to 100 years? (453 comments)

It strikes me as rather odd that supposedly sober-minded scientists abandon the scientific method and engage in magical thinking when it comes to the idea of aliens. Here's why I say that: for meaningful communication to occur with Aliens, our current understanding of physics needs to be essentially wrong. It's possible that we are wrong, but there is not as of yet any evidence to support that hypothesis. It's fine to hypothesize that our current understanding is wrong, but until you have any evidence, making statements like "contact is likely in 50 to 100 years" has gone from science into magical thinking.

Here's why I say our current understanding would need to be wrong: Even assuming extremely generous variables to the Drake equation (say one out of 100 planets in the habitable zone produces intelligent life), and based on our current exoplanet discoveries, it still seems highly probable that any intelligent life form lives further away than is possible to communicate with using methods that are limited to light speed. There is as of yet, no evidence that faster than light communication is possible. None. Unless relativity is essentially wrong, faster than light communication implies time travel.

Realistically, the maximum distance for meaningful light speed communication is about 50-60 light years (short enough that one scientist could send and receive one communication within a human life time). Even expanding that distance to several thousand light years to account for massive coordination across generations (the lifespan of previous successful human civilizations such as the Roman empire), you are still not talking about a lot of prospects for alien pen pals. Simply intercepting a communication stream does us little good if we can't decode it. I would posit that intercepting a communications stream from an alien civilization a billion light years away would have little impact on us beyond a curiosity. We probably couldn't decode it, and the civilization that sent it would likely be millions of years dead.

That doesn't even begin to address the problems of actually traveling to the alien planet (or them traveling to ours). Again, our current understanding of physics basically has to be proven wrong in order for this to be possible. Maybe traveling 4 light years is a technology problem. Traveling 50 light years on a human timescale is beyond our understanding of physics, and, based on current evidence and understanding of physics, actually impossible. Sure, there are fanciful ideas of "generation" star ships and such, but again, that goes way beyond the "50 to 100" years claim thrown out by the article.

Again, we could be wrong, and there could be a way, but there is no scientific evidence yet. Talk about meeting with aliens isn't science. It's fantasy.

about 5 months ago

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