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NASA: Lunar Pits and Caves Could House Astronauts

sphealey As always, Clarke was first (157 comments)

Time to re-read _A Fall of Moondust_

sPh

about two weeks ago
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Texas Town Turns To Treated Sewage For Drinking Water

sphealey Bad news for you (242 comments)

Some bad news: unless you live in Bemidji MN (or one of the towns on the watershed divides of the Rockies or Appalachians), you are already drinking treated sewage.

sPh

about three weeks ago
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Sifting Mt. Gox's Logs Reveals Suspicious Trading Patterns

sphealey Re: Myth of the Obama Bank Bailout (143 comments)

Please proceed, Senator from Arizona.

sPh

(I was trying to be reasonably neutral - after all, the nation's financial stability was at risk)

about 2 months ago
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Sifting Mt. Gox's Logs Reveals Suspicious Trading Patterns

sphealey Re:Gox used margin trading & fractional reserv (143 comments)

= = = The difference between banks and MTGox is that while banks also use fraction reserve, the full liabilities are backed by assets in the form of loans they have handed out, and security on the assets of the borrowers such as property. At the time of the financial crisis, those assets and collateral were not sufficient to cover the fractional reserve liabilities, but at least they had something, unlike MTGox which had nothing to back the fractional reserve liabilities. = = =

Spot-on. Of course the major Western money center banks and financial institutions also had the backing of the full faith and credit of major, stable governments including both the maligned US Federal Reserve and ultimately the US Treasury. While bitcoin has the full faith and backing of... Satoshi I guess.

sPh

about 2 months ago
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Sifting Mt. Gox's Logs Reveals Suspicious Trading Patterns

sphealey Re: Myth of the Obama Bank Bailout (143 comments)

There is no question that the financial structure of the United States, and mostly likely the world as a result, was in danger in the 2008 time frame. President Bush and Secretary Poulson took the responsible course of action, deflected those whose advice was to let it all burn on principle, put together a bailout plan, invited the presidential candidates to review it, and got it signed into law. IMHO the only competent thing that W did during his entire Presidency.

What President Obama can be held responsible for is not following up TARP with detailed investigations into violations of civil and criminal law, including prosecutions where appropriate. Particularly investigations into the utterly illegal shadow mortgage documentation "registry" that the financial industry apparently created around 2000. This was the first major financial crisis in the history of the United States that did not generate a strong investigatory response. There are undoubtedly reasons why that didn't happen, reasons noble, neutral, and craven, but the lack of _any_ investigation or prosecution is an utter failure of President Obama and his Administration.

sPh

about 2 months ago
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Sifting Mt. Gox's Logs Reveals Suspicious Trading Patterns

sphealey Re: Myth of the Obama Bank Bailout (143 comments)

Just to be precise about the situation, Candidates McCain and Obama were invited to the meetings where TARP was agreed upon. They weren't directly responsible, but neither did either object.

sPh

about 2 months ago
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The US Vs. Europe: Freedom of Expression Vs. Privacy

sphealey Re:The Problem Isn't "Free Speech vs Privacy" (278 comments)

= = = It's legal, but that doesn't make it right. Technically, the first Amendment only prevents the government from restricting free speech. That restriction should apply to every one. = = =

So... your political theory is "libertarianism for me but not for thee"? Corporations to be free to do whatever they want, unless they violate some unwritten norms of right-wing thought? That doesn't sound very, um, free to me.

sPh

about 2 months ago
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The US Vs. Europe: Freedom of Expression Vs. Privacy

sphealey Re:The Problem Isn't "Free Speech vs Privacy" (278 comments)

Great! When the pirates show up [1] and the "island in nowhere" owners call for help from the US Navy, Royal Navy, Spanish Navy... I'm sure there will be prompt response.

In any case, how are you going to get qualified people to live in the middle of the ocean? Oh, they're going to live in Brooklyn and telecommute? I see a tiny flaw in your "stateless Internet" plan...

sPh

[1] I had a site in a reasonably advanced developing nation where all EDP equipment was twice cleaned out at gunpoint by marauders, along with the copper wire to the phone company stolen. Why they didn't just take the electric power transformers while they were at it I don't know. And that was in a functioning nation-state with a not-hopeless police function.

about 2 months ago
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Don't Be a Server Hugger! (Video)

sphealey Re: Wrong concern (409 comments)

Except when you do it in-house, you are paying once for the management and "risk management". When you outsource you are going to pay anywhere from 1.5x (with a good, trustworthy established outsourcing entity) to 4x or more (for a fly-by-night "cloud" vendor).

Which is better, pay less or pay more?

sPh

about 2 months ago
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Don't Be a Server Hugger! (Video)

sphealey Re: Wrong concern (409 comments)

- - - - - You aren't outsourcing risk. Proper configuration, application security and the like are still YOUR responsibility. - - - - -

And of course you have to either provide backup yourself or routinely hard-verify the cloud provider's backup scheme. And you'd better have a backup-backup offsite recovery contract for when the cloud provider announces it can't really recover (e.g. Hurricane Sandy). And a super-backup plan in case the cloud provider disappears with no forwarding address, or has all its servers confiscated by DHS.

So.... tell me what the big advantages of "cloud" are again?

sPh

about 2 months ago
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Zuckerberg's $100 Million Education Gift Solved Little

sphealey Re:Technically (335 comments)

I was never good at music myself, however I learned a lot from my required music class and I don't consider it a waste. The band program (which won regional and national awards) and orchestra were voluntary (with the bonus of getting the musically inclined out of the basic class with tin ears such as me). That district tended toward large high schools and at that time we had metal- and auto-shop available although not required. Unfortunately the cooking program had been downgraded to "home ec". Electronics was beyond that school district's capability although we did have "computer programming" via acoustic coupler, punched cards, and wonder of wonders an ADM terminal!

For all that school and district's problems, and they were many, the point I make to people is that it provided educational opportunities for young people with a wide range of learning interests and capabilities.

Most of those programs have been terminated now due to budget cuts. Back to just readin', figurin', and (of course) standardized testing.

sPh

about 3 months ago
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Zuckerberg's $100 Million Education Gift Solved Little

sphealey Re:Dear Mark (335 comments)

- - - - - Vint Cerf - Vinton F'ing Cerf - was not allowed to fill in for his kids schools CS teacher for a couple of months while the teacher was unable to teach.
The reason for this was that Vinton F'ing Cerf did not have a California teacher certification to prove he knew how to teach computer science. Clearly unqualified, after having invented the F'ing Internet. - - - - -

There is a hell of a lot more to working as a K-12 teacher and successfully and safely managing multiple classrooms of students than just technical/domain knowledge. Try volunteering at your local middle school for a few weeks and tell me how "inventing the f'ing Internet" [not technically accurate, but we'll let that go] is of any value at all in handling a classroom full of kids who act like young adults one minute, wild toddlers the next minute, and insane hormone-crazed preteens the third. Also tell me about how "inventing the f'ing Internet" gives one an understanding of the legal requirements of being a school employee in your state and county (e.g. sexual harassment regulations and reporting requirements, counseling students who approach you to report abuse at home, the 8347 reporting requirements of NCLB, etc).

I've known some very good college professors who fled the high school classroom in terror when invited on site to teach AP classes, and who weren't afraid to admit they couldn't do what their HS counterparts do. Yes, there is a reason for teacher certification requirements.

sPh

about 3 months ago
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Zuckerberg's $100 Million Education Gift Solved Little

sphealey Re:Dear Mark (335 comments)

- - - - - A person's effort and sincere willingness to do good have never really been a good measure of actual performance in any era. - - - - -

I agree actually. If you read what I wrote carefully you'll discern that I'm not a big fan of excessive testing and I despise "metrics". I look to outcomes: the incredible job that public schools in the United States have done over that past 275 years and continue to do today, educating and preparing young people for life at a level and on a scale inconceivable by historical standards. And pretty darn good [1] by any worldwide standard today.

sPh

[1] Yes, there are pockets of severe failure such as the City of Detroit. Please review the concepts of mean, median, mode, and statistical distributions. Also note that I haven't been impressed by the output of cram-type school systems no matter how well their students test on the exit exam.

about 3 months ago
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Zuckerberg's $100 Million Education Gift Solved Little

sphealey Re:Dear Mark (335 comments)

- - - - - But just like any occupation, you have a few outliers. My beef with the public school system is that these outliers are protected as if they are just as valuable as the others. The teachers unions would earn a lot more respect from me if they thinned the herd a bit. - - - - -

You do realize that while this is common rhetoric from both the hard radical right and the neoliberals (President Obama being an example of the latter) it really (a) isn't backed up by factual and statistically-valid evidence (b) often is based on conservative objections to any amount of worker protection and due process in the work environment (b) even where true (NYC for example) is often the result of years of abuse of the labor force to the point where anyone with a shred of self-respect and a shred of belief in the mission would adopt a similar position?

sPh

about 3 months ago
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Zuckerberg's $100 Million Education Gift Solved Little

sphealey Re:Breaking news (335 comments)

- - - - - I may be naive, but can't students from failed charter schools attend another charter school as well as the conventional public school? - - - - -

I'd suggest reading the series in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch about the model charter school program in that city. Two sets of articles: the first hopeful and complementary, describing how powerful institutions in the region (universities, medical centers, etc) were going to sponsor each of the five "super charters", full backing of the political class, will fix all the problems and can't fail, etc... Then the second set of articles four years later when the for-profit operator pulled out (no profits), the big sponsors disappeared, and the children were told in June they were going back to their home public school districts (which were in even worse shape after losing four years of funding).

Sure, parents can find different charters. Of course that's a large investment of time, effort, and money for a family which might not have much of any of those to spare. But it is important to keep in mind the effect on the children: pulled away from their friends, their teachers, their familiar building and routine. A school and a teacher can be very large things in the life of a 2nd grader (esp one from a neighborhood where the school might be the only safe place he can go); pulling them here and there by what seems to them a whim is not a good thing. To me anyway.

I would suggest that, but unfortunately last time I checked the STLPD had put up a paywall so those articles may no longer be available. Try google and see if you can get to them though. Here's one link

http://www.stltoday.com/news/l...
sPh

about 3 months ago
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Zuckerberg's $100 Million Education Gift Solved Little

sphealey Re:American Education System is well funded (335 comments)

- - - - - - but it's important to admit that the public schools were in pretty terrible shape even before the charters.- - - - -

Some historic central city schools districts are certainly in bad shape and a few are probably irrecoverable. Some aren't: NYC amazes me with the incredible job it continues to do even as resources are slashed and social support is damaged.

But that's irrelevant, because the US ceased to be majority urban around 1970. The US is now a suburban and exurban nation. And the vast majority of locally controlled suburban and exurban public schools do a fine job and are well-liked by their constituents (who are nonetheless convinced that the school district in the next town is rotten, and vice versa). The City of Detroit is not an example of what "public schools" are like in the United States.

sPh

about 3 months ago
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Zuckerberg's $100 Million Education Gift Solved Little

sphealey Re:rich people go back to paying taxes? (335 comments)

Yes, and in our county the tony private schools refuse to accept special needs children ("not qualified", they say; "more of a job for the public schools") and ruthlessly kick out any child with disciplinary problems ("shape up or you're going back to the public school"). Technically they also kick out any kid who falls to the C level academically, but generally mom & dad step in with 10s of thousands of dollars of additional tutoring and nannying so that seldom actually happens. But the expenditures between the two types of school are exactly equivalent. Because union thugs.

sPh

about 3 months ago
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Zuckerberg's $100 Million Education Gift Solved Little

sphealey Re:Dear Mark (335 comments)

- - - - - I'm afraid teachers are a large part of the problem. Their unions consistently thwart attempts to address teacher performance or rather the lack thereof. - - - - -

The first half of that (very common) statement is unproven and in most cases demonstrably false. The second half, also very common hard right wing propaganda, is an issue on which there can be reasonable disagreement but is not in any form a "given truth" and even at best ignores the history of teacher unionization from 1920. So, not very good marks to your (presumably private school?) history and political science teachers.

sPh

about 3 months ago
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Zuckerberg's $100 Million Education Gift Solved Little

sphealey Re:Breaking news (335 comments)

- - - - - but they are definitely not private schools.- - - - -

Technically, some states do give charter funds directly to what were historically considered private schools. Although see Louisiana for why the charter crowd turned out not to be so happy with the consequences of that one.

But that's not my point. I didn't say that "charter schools" were private. Some are, most aren't. But "charter schools" are not part of a universal free (and equal) public school system, and are in fact specifically designed to destroy free universal equal schooling. So charters are in no way shape or form public schools. You might want to check back with your private school logic teacher for a bit of a tune up.

sPh

This can be confirmed by what happens when charter schools fail: their students are sent back to "the public schools" - namely the local universal public school district.

about 3 months ago
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Zuckerberg's $100 Million Education Gift Solved Little

sphealey Re:Technically (335 comments)

Yup. My inferior, decaying public high school offered five languages and a world-class music program. Guess what was cut first when the budgets were chopped?

sPh

about 3 months ago

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