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Comments

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AP Computer Science Test Takers Up 8,000; Pass Rate Down 6.8%

the phantom Re:Why not? (119 comments)

People who are not passionate tend to be mediocre or worse.

Bullshit. People who do well regardless of their passions are called professionals. I had a LOT of passion about programming and tech but the industry killed it. The last nail in the coffin was when I trained a "more qualified" H1-b about "what those asterisks mean in C programming".

This doesn't negate the OP's point. He was talking about tendencies (as in statistical trends), not specifics. Neither you nor he provided any data at all, but it is certainly plausible that people who aren't passionate about something will, on average, perform less well than people who are passionate. Your anecdote neither convinces me that you are better than mediocre (you may very well be amazing; or maybe you were at some point but now suffer from burnout; or maybe you are mediocre and always have been---I have no clue), nor convinces me that passion and skill are entirely uncorrelated (though the causal relation could go either way---I could easily be convinced that people are passionate about the things they are good at, rather than the other way around).

3 days ago
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Earth In the Midst of Sixth Mass Extinction: the 'Anthropocene Defaunation'

the phantom Re:One small way I try to help. (319 comments)

Not to be a pedant, but that article does nothing to contradict my earlier post. Of course, my original post may have been a bit pedantic, but the fact remains: the statement "earthworms are not native to America" is false. There are invasive species which are a serious problem, but that is a different statement.

4 days ago
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Earth In the Midst of Sixth Mass Extinction: the 'Anthropocene Defaunation'

the phantom Re:One small way I try to help. (319 comments)

[citation please]

There are earthworm species that are native to North America (see, for instance, Hendrix's Earthworm Ecology and Biogeography in North America). There are also exotic / invasive species. These species (as well as one or two native species with expanding ranges) are definitely a problem, but that is a different statement from "earthworms are not native to America."

5 days ago
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Earth In the Midst of Sixth Mass Extinction: the 'Anthropocene Defaunation'

the phantom Re:Solutions? (319 comments)

I have gone first. My wife and have produced no offspring, and we will not produce any offspring. Your turn.

5 days ago
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For Half, Degrees In Computing, Math, Or Stats Lead To Other Jobs

the phantom Re:obvious (174 comments)

You are making an argument that I did not make. Your claim is that an American and foreign worker, by virtue of living in the same city, should be able to subsist on identical incomes and that Americans who refuse to take such jobs are simply demanding too much. I merely pointed out that there are variables that you are missing---for example, a foreign worker may be able support a family on an income that will not support an American worker and his or her family. You are comparing apples and oranges.

5 days ago
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Western US States Using Up Ground Water At an Alarming Rate

the phantom Re:Streams will run dry (374 comments)

People make excellent bacon.

5 days ago
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For Half, Degrees In Computing, Math, Or Stats Lead To Other Jobs

the phantom Re:The question is nonsense. (174 comments)

You think you get a degree in Mathematics and then go to the mathematics factory and churn out maths?

That was totally my plan. Unfortunately, it turns out that the mathematics factories aren't hiring. :(

5 days ago
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For Half, Degrees In Computing, Math, Or Stats Lead To Other Jobs

the phantom Re:obvious (174 comments)

They may not have the same expenses as an American. Let us suppose two hypothetical workers with very similar qualifications: one an American (A), and one from some place like India or Bangladesh (B). Assuming that A and B are both single, then you are correct---they have similar expenses. Now suppose that both workers have families to support. Worker A has to support their family in the United States at the going rate here, whereas Worker B may send remittences back to their family in their country of origin, where the cost of living may be significantly less. Hence it is quite possible that a foreign worker and the American worker both want to be paid well enough to support their families. The foreign worker has the advantage of needing much less in order to do so.

5 days ago
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For Half, Degrees In Computing, Math, Or Stats Lead To Other Jobs

the phantom Re:Incomplete data (174 comments)

CS should not be considered engineering. Programming, which might be considered "applied computer science" might qualify as an engineering exercise, but a decent computer science program is going to be about formal logic, discrete mathematics, and algorithms (among other things). CS is about the theory of computation, not the hands-on of programming. As such, CS should be considered a branch of mathematics (in fact, until the 90s, most CS degrees were awarded by mathematics departments).

5 days ago
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Math, Programming, and Language Learning

the phantom Re: Your Results Will Vary (241 comments)

I am honestly very confused about what your point is. In response to another poster, Coryoth rebutted that the college was supposed to be about education, not vocational training. You incorrectly assumed that s/he was arguing that college was about creating well-rounded people. I responded that creating well-rounded people was not the point and that requiring students to take classes outside of their major was perhaps a historical anachronism (among other reasons, which are highlighted in, for instance, the article I linked above). You are the only person in the entire thread to have brought up the "well-rounded person" trope, and that was only to dismiss it. The only reason I replied was to point out that the well-rounded person argument isn't one that anyone with a clue seriously makes.

about a week ago
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Math, Programming, and Language Learning

the phantom Re: Your Results Will Vary (241 comments)

Who, specifically, is making that argument? I don't think I have ever seen anyone argue that the primary goal of a college education was to create well-rounded people. Not even Coryoth, the person to whom you originally replied, made that argument. I often see it as a justification for requiring non-major classes, but I have never seen anyone claim that this is the primary goal. See, for instance, the The Chronicle of Higher Education's compilation of answers to the question. Most of the respondents argue that higher education is about learning critical thinking skills, building a foundation of knowledge for future work, and providing students with the necessary information to choose a career-path that is of interest to them.

My original point still stands: universities were first established to foster research. Students went to college to become academics and to make contributions to human knowledge. Over time, the emphasis has shifted towards more vocational or professional training though much of the curriculum remains the same (possibly due to institutional inertia). At no time was the primary goal of a college education to become a "well-rounded" person.

To be clear, I am not arguing that there is no merit to the observation that a liberal education produces well-rounded people, and I am not arguing that this is a bad (or good) thing. I am merely attempting to point out that the primary goal of higher education is not simply to produce such people, nor has it ever been.

about a week ago
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Math, Programming, and Language Learning

the phantom Re: Your Results Will Vary (241 comments)

Yes, goals have changed, but I maintain that the goal of the higher education system has never been to create well-rounded people. In the early days, it was about training academics. Even today, many faculty and administrators at universities will claim that this is the goal of a university education. As I noted above, the university curriculum is still structured around the 400+ year old ideal of scholarship. In large part, students are required to take classes outside of their majors because that is the way it has always been done and because this system has produced pretty good results for a fairly long time.

Moreover, if you want to argue that there has been some period in time that people went to universities in order to become well-rounded people, I would invite you to describe that period. My understanding of the history of such institutions is that they emphasized training academics until the mid-20th century. In the post-War period during the coldest parts of the Cold War, a great deal of funding was put towards training engineers and physicists to design weapons and such, and as time passed people in industry began to realize that trained academics made pretty good employees, which is how we get to the modern idea that higher education should be a kind of vocational training. Do you dispute this history, or do you feel that I am missing something? When was the goal of higher education ever to produce well-rounded people?

about a week ago
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Math, Programming, and Language Learning

the phantom Re: Your Results Will Vary (241 comments)

Not 400 years ago when the modern university system got started.

about two weeks ago
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Math, Programming, and Language Learning

the phantom Re: Your Results Will Vary (241 comments)

The point was to create academics, not well-rounded people. The fact that being well-rounded leads to success in academia is a pleasant side-effect.

about two weeks ago
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Math, Programming, and Language Learning

the phantom Re: Your Results Will Vary (241 comments)

Colleges are basically turning into poor imitations of vocational schools. The same is true for some universities. You get the worst of both worlds.

Indeed. I just didn't want to go too far off-topic on that particular hobby horse of mine.

about two weeks ago
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Math, Programming, and Language Learning

the phantom Re:Bizzarre, Capt Obvious much ? (241 comments)

Does this guy actually have evidence of anyone seriously making the point he is refuting ?

Kun is responding fairly explicitly to Sarah Mei's post Programming Is Not Math, as evidenced by the link in the third paragraph of his post, as well as the copious quotes that he reproduces and replies to. Having also taken the time to read Mei's post, it would appear that (a) Kun is not misrepresenting her point of view, and (b) she is sincere in her opinion. So yes, I would say that Kun has evidence that at least one person is seriously making the point that he is refuting.

about two weeks ago
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Math, Programming, and Language Learning

the phantom Re: Your Results Will Vary (241 comments)

Of course the reality is that you don't need any of those subjects. Those subjects can, however, be very useful to you as a programmer. So yes you can certainly be a programmer, and even a very successful and productive one without any knowledge of calculus, or graph theory say. On the other hand, there may well be times when graph theory, or calculus, or statistics could prove very useful. what it comes down to is whether you are inclined to think that way -- and if so it can be a benefit; if not it won't be the way you think about the problem anyway.

Which is almost exactly the point that the author of the linked article makes:

Not every programmer deals with these [mathematical] questions regularly (which is why I don’t think math is necessary to be a programmer), but if you want to be a great programmer you had better bet you’ll need it.

about two weeks ago
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Math, Programming, and Language Learning

the phantom Re: Your Results Will Vary (241 comments)

It isn't even about creating well-rounded people, and never really was---the point of a college education was to become an academic. You went to college because your end-goal was research. Of course, at that point in history the alternative was likely monastic life because your older brother was going to get the farm... That being said, it wasn't really until the middle of the 20th century that college was seen as a way of advancing a career outside of academia. Whether or not you believe that the role of universities *should* be vocational training, the curriculum and organization of institutions of higher education---particularly research universities---is still geared toward that Enlightenment ideal of academia.

about two weeks ago
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U.S. Supreme Court Upholds Religious Objections To Contraception

the phantom Re:Actually not /all/ corporations are covered ... (1330 comments)

The notion of a closely held corporation is well defined. Under this decision, Walmart could be considered a closely held corporation. According to (the oh so reliable) Wikipedia, the Waltons currently own more than 50% of Walmart.

about a month ago
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U.S. Supreme Court Upholds Religious Objections To Contraception

the phantom Re:Can an "atheist company" refuse too? (1330 comments)

How narrow is the ruling, really? SCOTUS declared that any closely held business has the right to refuse to pay for insurance that covers contraception if the owners have a religious objection. This may account for about half of private sector employment in the US [citation; there is a linked pdf from the Stern School in the third paragraph]. My Google-fu is not terribly good, and I am having trouble pinning down exactly what proportion of the total America workforce this represents---recent employment reports from BLS seem to indicate something on the order of 70% of the workforce is in the private sector. Assuming that this number is correct, something like 35% of the workforce is employed by closely held businesses. So while the jurisprudence may appear narrow, the effect is potentially quite large.

about a month ago

Submissions

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Skydiver's Helmet Cam Captures a Falling Meteowrong

the phantom the phantom writes  |  about 4 months ago

the phantom (107624) writes "Last week on Slashdot, we discussed a viral video purporting to show a skydiver nearly being hit by a meteoroid. The video garnered a great deal of critical attention and, after further analysis, it appears that it was just a rock. Steinar Midtskogen, the blogger who originally reported the mysterious object, states

Are we disappointed? The ultimate prize would be a meteorite, but frankly, we had been faced with a mystery for nearly two years, we went public, and thanks to an incredible crowdsourcing effort the mystery was solved beyond reasonable doubt in just a few days. That’s amazing.

"
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Possible Treatment for "Barely Conscious"

the phantom the phantom writes  |  more than 6 years ago

the phantom writes "According to an article in Nature, it may be possible to treat patients who are in a "Barely Conscious" state, using an electrical implant.

The new report, appearing in the Thursday issue of the journal Nature, provides the first rigorous evidence that any procedure can initiate and sustain recovery in such a severely disabled person, years after the injury occurred. An estimated 100,000 to 300,000 Americans subsist in states of partial consciousness, and most are written off as beyond help.
Wednesday's All Things Considered on NPR goes into a bit more detail (click the "Listen" link)."

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