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Feds Plan For 35 Agencies To Collect, Share, Use Health Records of Americans

smchris Re:Opt-Out Strategy (209 comments)

If you're one of the ones they want to?

about two weeks ago
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Physicists Resurrect an Old, Strange Dark Matter Theory

smchris It isn't a "fun" theory (138 comments)

Hitting a baseball-sized clump of matter in interstellar space at 200,000 km/hour could take the fun out of space travel.

about a month and a half ago
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Employers Worried About Critical Thinking Skills

smchris Re:What is critical thinking? (553 comments)

You teach a little geometry, you teach a little set theory, and it's so abstract it has nothing to do with the real world and that's the way they like it. Informal logic is like biology. It needs specimens to dissect and the moment a teacher discusses a "self-sealer" like astrology or seances or asks students to discuss when a fetus is a "person", there will be people with pitchforks outside the superintendent's office.

Seriously. This is America. How are you going to allow students to think about the real world?

about 2 months ago
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Tox, a Skype Replacement Built On 'Privacy First'

smchris Mandatory linux 4.3 upgrade (174 comments)

It always seemed we could at least sandbox Skype as a limited unique user, but 4.3 requires Pulse and pulse is increasingly the de facto sound system over alsa. Correct me if I'm wrong but doesn't pulse running at the user level only allow ONE user and system-wide utilization is vehemently discouraged by the developers for SECURITY reasons? If so, it seems like Microsoft and the NSA have worked out a way to p0wn any linux box where a person has installed a working 4.3 Skype.

I guess you could still use it for chat as a unique user.

about 4 months ago
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Slashdot Asks: Cheap But Reasonable Telescopes for Kids?

smchris Re:Binoculars (187 comments)

Binoculars are the recommendation in The Backyard Astronomer. But, then, they don't particularly recommend buying a child a telescope either.

Personally, I went with a used 4.5" Orion Dob as the first instrument and I think it was a good choice. Now I have larger instruments _and_ binoculars. Yes, a small Dob isn't great for groups because you have to keep adjusting it. But, like people say, polar aligning an EQ is something to be explained too and you're still going to be moving it regularly manually. Doesn't sound like you are budgeting for a motor mount. I can just see binoculars being an interesting challenge as you try to get _each_ kid to find stuff. "No, look at where my finger is pointing. That one! Are you seeing it, the one I'm pointing at?" And, sure, I can see stuff like Jupiter's Galilean moons, the Orion nebula, a lot of moon detail, etc. with the 10x70s but anybody who tells you it's more fun to recline in a lounge chair, hold your breath and maintain your arms as rigid as possible so things don't move _too_ much should probably have his disdain for small Dobs taken with a grain of salt.

about 4 months ago
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Google's New Camera App Simulates Shallow Depth of Field

smchris Call me a rock wielding barbarian (127 comments)

But I absolutely, totally LOVE depth of field. Screw the art school graduates. I bought a large screen digital tv for the illusion of a window upon the world.

I would like to think -- I sincerely HOPE -- that artificially inducing audience "focus" by depth of field will be as quaint as silent movie captions in 50 years.
 

about 8 months ago
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It's Time To Bring Pseudoscience Into the Science Classroom

smchris So who's going to defend the principal (470 comments)

This is one of the more compelling arguments for national standards where local administration would have the excuse that they were "forced" to follow imposed guidelines. Otherwise, every nutter in the community will rally to tar and feather the administration.

about 8 months ago
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FWD.us Wants More H-1B Visas, But 50% Go To Offshore Firms

smchris Get used to it (325 comments)

Everybody I hang with in Minnesota loves Klobuchar. She has that nerd girl with glasses look and does photo ops out bicycling with the family. Probably eats granola. Always AWOL on any serious issue where anybody might have a different view so she'd have to defend herself on a reelection, she's always present for the photo op when she brings some tax money back for a women's shelter or something. In other words, the definitional example of a pork barrel populist. My point being that people in Minnesota who consider themselves Democrats and "progressive" seem happy with her _image_, so don't expect any blow back on this _issue_. And it highlights the embarrassing point that Democrats aren't much deeper than FOX Republicans.

about 9 months ago
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Ask Slashdot: What Does Edward Snowden Deserve?

smchris Presidential Medal of Freedom? (822 comments)

Why not? Obama is the appropriate Nobel Peace Prize winner to bestow it for maximum satire.

about a year ago
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VC Likens Google Bus Backlash To Nazi Rampage

smchris One of my pet peeves about the Teabaggers (683 comments)

It all comes down to pig ignorance. When they call Obama a "commie socialist fascist" they are just spouting words as meaningless grunts of disapproval like a dog barking. Considering his friendliness to capitalism with efforts like the TPP, Obama really should be a "commie socialist fascist capitalist" and then he can embrace EVERY major political/economic system. Really, how do you become a commie fascist when they are virtually diametrically opposed systems? Which is to say, what about these protestors wanting a more equitable society makes them "just like Hitler" (fascist)? Nonsense mutterings of a (rich) barbarian who hasn't a clue about history or cultural wisdom, but you can get away with that level of moronic discourse in American society.

about a year ago
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Best skywatching equipment at my disposal:

smchris The Minnesota Astronomical Society is awesome (201 comments)

There's the building with the permanent mount refractor. I think it's about 8". There's the building with the 16" reflectors with permanent mounts, computer control and refractor with astrocam riding one of them, there's the little hydrogen sun filter scope and the 24" dob. And the classroom building/clubhouse. That's just the facilities at the _main_ site. Not their biggest dob, not the biggest refractor. Hell, people with enough interest should MOVE here.

about a year ago
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Man Shot To Death For Texting During Movie

smchris Re:Only in America (1431 comments)

That was my thought. He couldn't have just beaten the guy up?

about a year ago
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Bradley Manning Sentenced To 35 Years

smchris Re:When a secret is a criminal act, it's evidence. (491 comments)

It's fun and games to paint these people as anarchists but Assange worked with major world papers about what should and shouldn't have been released. Was or wasn't this the case with the Manning files? Although I do believe after his partner was detained Glenn Greenwald has suggested he might become less selective on what gets released.

about a year ago
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Orson Scott Card Pleads 'Tolerance' For Ender's Game Movie

smchris Nothing says you can't have it both ways (1448 comments)

In these things, protesting just means waiting a while. Buy a used copy.

about a year and a half ago
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Volkswagen Concept Car Averages 262 MPG

smchris Not crazy about poor visibility (353 comments)

I don't know that it was ever acknowleged but as a proud Pinto owner I know the nasty visibility constraints of the rear "posts" were a problem and I've always suspected Pinto owners put themselves into position for a rear collision and explosion.

about a year and a half ago
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HP Back In Tablet Game With Android-Based 'Slate7'

smchris Re:1024x600 (120 comments)

Yes. I've already had the Aspire One netbook experience so it's a deal breaker. $30 is a mighty small investment in a better daily experience with a Nexus 7.

about 2 years ago
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The Two Big Problems With Online College Courses

smchris Re:How do you teach motivation? (215 comments)

"Historically people like you would be allowed to flunk out of college so that the seats would be available for people who valued education."

Got that right. Saw the announcement at the little state college I attended in the early 70s for a couple of my years where they congratulated faculty on maintaining the average Freshman GPA at 2.1, within .1 of an ideal Bell curve. See if that would elicit "customer delight" today, but, then, Reagan turned tertiary ed into a "business." Back when you were expected to be motivated, the government was paying most of the tuition bill so there was an implicit contract that _you_ would perform, not that the _college_ would make you happy.

90% attrition? Sounds about right. Back when I was on the move and U of South Africa was about the only option for me to get a graduate Honours through the mail and consulate exams, I believe their attrition was around 90% too. Best advice I got was to make it "real." Buy the frackin' university sweatshirt and wear it every day at your appointed study times and whatever other gimmick you can think of like streaming the campus radio station.

about 2 years ago
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Monsanto's 'Terminator' Seeds Set To Make a Comeback

smchris Re:Good. (284 comments)

Yeah, lawsuits are the American way. And farmers are so rich they can hire lawyers to easily match Monsanto's legal team.

about 2 years ago

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