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Comments

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Google's Driverless Cars Capable of Exceeding Speed Limit

the phantom Re:Left or Right? (475 comments)

Why not just bump the signage by that much, and make the signs themselves the hard limit?

This question was answered in the post to which you replied; "equipment tolerances" was the reason given.

about two weeks ago
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Is Remote Instruction the Future of College?

the phantom Re:Getting it very wrong (81 comments)

You clearly took very poor math classes. The only time I ever teach calculus as "simple computation" is when I am teaching business calculus for business majors. Mathematics is about logic and, as such, should be almost nothing but problem solving (generally in the form of proofs and model construction).

about two weeks ago
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Is Remote Instruction the Future of College?

the phantom Re:Why not community college rather than online? (81 comments)

Speaking as a guy who adjuncts at a big university, I have to second the guy who works in ed tech. In addition to the comments above, you also stand a better chance of getting more qualified instructors at a community college. I taught lower-division math classes as a graduate student. Indeed, much of the teaching load in many departments is handed over to TAs at big universities. Community colleges often teach exactly the same classes out of the same books, but the instructors will hopefully have (a) better credentials (a masters in their field, though there are a disturbing number of people at community colleges who have masters in ed) and (b) more experience teaching.

Another point in favor of community colleges is class size. At a big university, classes can be huge. A calculus class that I TAed for had over two hundred students in a lecture hall. Yes, they broke apart into smaller recitation sections once a week, but recitation time with a TA is not the same as face time with a professor. Community college classes tend to be much smaller.

Unless you are trying to finish your degree in a top-tier, private institution (Stanford, University of Chicago, Harvard, &c) or a small, residential liberal arts college, there is no reason not to finish an associates degree at a local community college then transfer to a local university (or apply to an out-of-state institution, where you probably have a pretty good chance of being accepted).

about two weeks ago
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Is Remote Instruction the Future of College?

the phantom Re:Getting it very wrong (81 comments)

I assure you that I am neither hot nor Asian. Perhaps that would have helped you to get over the priaprism and pay attention.

about two weeks ago
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Apple's Diversity Numbers: 70% Male, 55% White

the phantom Re:Remediating American's Victimization of Indians (561 comments)

Why does "trying to fix this" always lead to affirmative action?

Why can't "trying to fix this" fix the root cause?

I mean, if you need more women on your team, instead of trying to give preference to women, why not do two things: 1) Study why there are few women in the field 2) Remedy that, or encourage more women to join.

You do realize that your proposal is almost exactly what affirmative action is, as codified in Executive Order 11246, right?

about two weeks ago
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Maryam Mirzakhani Is the First Woman Fields Medalist

the phantom Re:Congratulations! (75 comments)

Why are you being so redundant?

about two weeks ago
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Slashdot Asks: Should Schooling Be Year-Round?

the phantom Re:No, school should not be year-round. (421 comments)

Hrm. That was never my experience. When I was teaching, I took the time off. I generally spent the first week gearing down, and the last month prepping, but took most of the time off or took classes. Most of my colleagues either did the same, though a few continued to work for the district teaching remedial classes over the summer, substituting, or tutoring. I don't know of anyone who waited tables or cleaned houseboats, though perhaps the low cost of living in Nevada is part of that? I also know that the year round schools never have difficulty filling positions with very well qualified teachers---even in low income areas---as there are a large number of people wanting to take those jobs. Traditional schools generally have greater difficulty. Of course, this may be symptomatic of there being a relatively small number of year round schools in the district and a somewhat larger, though stilly minority, population of teachers with a marked preference.

Of course, we can trade anecdotes 'til the cows come home---do you have any data, one way or the other? I can find a number of opinion pieces, but my google-fu is turning up nothing in terms of surveys of teachers and their preferences (this article is about the best that I can find and it is both out of date and answering a slightly different set of questions, though it seems to come down on the side of teachers in that particular district having a preference for year round schools). Have you had any better luck?

I would also note (again) that the issue of teacher compensation appears to be tangential to the issue of year round schooling. A year round schedule may exacerbate the problem, but the problem is inadequate compensation rather than the calendar cycle.

about three weeks ago
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Slashdot Asks: Should Schooling Be Year-Round?

the phantom Re:No, school should not be year-round. (421 comments)

We already give our students Halloween off, we just call it Nevada Day, you insensitive clod!

about three weeks ago
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Slashdot Asks: Should Schooling Be Year-Round?

the phantom Re:No, school should not be year-round. (421 comments)

First off, there would be no need to change the compensation. Teacher are currently contracted and paid to teach for nine months out of the year. Since year round schools also only hold classes for nine months out of the year, the amount of time spent teaching is the same and the contracts require no major changes.

Second, I and many of the teachers that I have worked with *really* like the year round schedule. I can't speak for every teacher, and there are certainly a lot of teacher that prefer the traditional schedule, but I find the year round schedule to give me more useful freetime. On the one hand, I can more efficiently plan for shorter periods of time (I can make plans and have a chance of getting to them before I have completely forgotten what I was thinking---late September to mid December is a much easier period of time to plan for than mid August to mid December). On the other hand the year round schedule means that I am off when other people are still in school (and since year round schedules can vary quite a lot, even if everyone were year round, I would still be off at a different time from many people), which means that I can get into tourist attractions (Yosemite or Disneyland or whatever you prefer) without having to fight massive crowds. My experience with working in year round schools has been much better than my experience in traditional schools.

None of this, of course, takes away from the argument that teachers ought to be paid more (which I think they should). I just don't think that a year round schedule makes much difference in that debate.

about three weeks ago
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Slashdot Asks: Should Schooling Be Year-Round?

the phantom Re:No summer vacation = No time for major maintena (421 comments)

From my experience teaching at a year round school, there seems to be plenty of time for major maintenance and remodeling during the various breaks. Remember that year round schools generally meet for the same number of days each year, split between three sessions (a fall, spring, and summer session) with 4-6 weeks off between each session.

about three weeks ago
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Nevada Construction Project Could Be Tesla/Panasonic Gigafactory

the phantom Re:Build a what? (81 comments)

They are building DeLoreans, which require gigafactories (pronounced with an initial soft G).

about a month ago
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Amazon's eBook Math

the phantom Re:Bricks and Mortar? (306 comments)

Powell's Books is quite searchable, they have quite a lot of books, and they have lots of old and rare volumes that are likely to be hard to find elsewhere. They also have a rather nice store that one can visit and simply browse, on the off chance that they don't actually know precisely what they want going in, and want the opportunity to see what is available on the shelves or to communicate with the knowledgable staff. Of course, the original point was that people still go to physical bookstores for whatever reason, not that you should go to a particular physical bookstore.

about a month ago
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Amazon's eBook Math

the phantom Re:Price (306 comments)

(Why I am responding to an AC, I cannot fathom but...)

Nothing you have said actually contradicts anything that I said or is in any way relevant to the point that I made. The more expensive ebooks are priced as such because some people (not you, obviously) are willing to pay a premium for early access when the alternative to an ebook is a hardcover volume.

about a month ago
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Amazon's eBook Math

the phantom Re:Price (306 comments)

First off, the higher priced ebooks are not meant to be competitive with paperbacks, but with hardcover releases. Generally, the hardcover and the ebook will come out at about the same time with the ebook being cheaper. I would also note (anecdotally) that most ebooks seem to come down in price in sync with the release of a paperback edition.

Second, according to a commenter on Scalzi's website who claims to have experience in the industry (going by the nym --E), it costs about one to two bucks to print and ship a paperback. Given that mass market paperbacks tend to run about $6-10, a price point of $4-9 would be in keeping with the notion of not paying the cost of printing and shipping a physical book. Oddly enough, a lot of ebooks seem to get sold in that range of prices. If your entire justification for not buying an ebook for more than $2 is that this represents the cost of a paperback minus the cost of paper, then you might want to reassess what you are willing to pay for an ebook.

about a month ago
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Jesse Jackson: Tech Diversity Is Next Civil Rights Step

the phantom Re:Confusing position (514 comments)

Then by your definitions, the current federal hiring practices are discriminatory.

First, those are not my definitions. Those are the definitions in law, as per executive orders 10925 and 11246 (the orders establishing affirmative action). It is a clever rhetorical trick to imply that the person to whom you are responding is using some wacky definition out of left-field, but it is kind of dishonest.

Second, I did not claim that federal hiring practices were non-discriminatory. What I claimed is that affirmative action is non-discriminatory, as it specifically claims to be about ending discrimination, in large part through the collection of data about hiring practices.

Finally, can you prove (or even provide solid evidence) of your claim that federal hiring practices are discriminatory? I don't claim to be an expert, and I would be willing to believe that such discrimination exists were you (or someone else) to provide evidence of such. That being said, your evidence would have to run counter both to my own experience and the stated policies of the federal government.

For my own experience, I did seasonal work for the BLM and Forest Service a decade ago, and the stated hiring policy was not to discriminate on the basis of race, religion, etc. In fact, USAJobs doesn't necessarily collect demographic information aside from status as a veteran and some information about disabilities. I can't speak from personal experience regarding the practices of contractors, but they are supposed to be held to the same standard.

Beyond my own anecdotes, the Department of Labor states that their policy is not to discriminate except to give veterans preference and to "... take affirmative steps to employ qualified individuals with disabilities." ([1], emphasis mine). Other relevant laws and regulations can be found on the Department of Labor's website, including the following which relate to equal opportunity employment: [2] and [3] (relating to executive order 11246, the current law-of-the-land regarding affirmative action), and [4] (relating to the preference given to veterans).

about a month ago
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Jesse Jackson: Tech Diversity Is Next Civil Rights Step

the phantom Re:Confusing position (514 comments)

So would you argue that affirmative action and hiring/acceptance quotas are discrimination...

No and yes (in that order).

The executive orders that comprise the basis of affirmative action order government agencies and contractors (1) not discriminate in hiring on the basis of race, religion, national origin, or sex and (2) to collect data in order to understand if their hiring practices are leading to over- or under-representation of certain groups, determine why that discrimination exists, and fix the problem if possible. The whole point of affirmative action is to take steps to *stop* discrimination on the basis on the basis of certain criteria that should be irrelevant (such as, again, race, religion, national origin, or sex) not to intentionally discriminate on these bases in order to rectify some historic inequality.

Quotas are inherently discriminatory.

about a month ago
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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).

about a month 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. (342 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.

about a month 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. (342 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."

about a month ago

Submissions

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Skydiver's Helmet Cam Captures a Falling Meteowrong

the phantom the phantom writes  |  about 5 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  |  about 7 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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