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Comment Re: couldn't hurt (Score 1) 264

What gets me is that it would be easy enough to handle gender and race variants as alternate forms of the base characters, something Unicode already supports and which would let those of us perfectly fine with using literally yellow people of any gender just go with that. It also means that the new emoji will be more supported from the start, as those whose systems don't display the new ones will get the basic one instead of a Mystery Box. This seems like it would suit Unicode's goals a lot better anyway. (Especially since I think it would generally be more useful for us all to have to go to some trouble if for some reason we need to specify in our emoji that M* Duck is a Mr or a Ms, since I suspect normally nobody cares.)

Comment Re: couldn't hurt (Score 1) 264

That said, Chinese is not as much a single language with many dialects as it is a family of languages that share a common grammar and writing system. It would be somewhat like if all the Romance languages used a common writing system so anybody who could read one literally could read them all, and in a pinch could people who didn't have in common a spoken language could still communicate with each other by passing a notebook back and forth. What prevents this historically with Chinese is the sheer number of hanzi needed for literacy, though touch screens and electronic dictionaries mean I can look up a character I don't know without needing to know the reading: I just write it on my screen. Honestly, I'd be fine with pushing emoji towards working like an easier-to-learn version of it: work out a common grammar of some basic flavor, keep all of the symbols pictographic, and start mapping them after a certain point as alts to the corresponding Han characters instead of as unique characters to save space in Unicode. Basically, set it up as a way for people without a language in common to communicate important non-abstract things like bathroom locations or a need for a doctor. Abstract concepts can be saved for when you can manage to have a full language in common, concrete concepts are less likely to require a common culture and more likely to have urgency.

Comment Re:No, obviously (Score 1) 262

In the same vein, why does an armed robbery in many states carry an "enhanced" sentence, or even become a different crime, because a gun was used? Would a crossbow or a big knife have been any different? They're all deadly weapons.

Armed does not equal gun here--a crossbow and a big knife count as 'armed' in probably all jurisdictions, and I've heard at least one has had to specifically say alligators count as 'armed' too. Rocks can and have counted for armed. If you've got a certain level of martial arts training you may count as armed even if wearing absolutely nothing whatsoever, depending on the jurisdiction and its laws on if and under what circumstances a person counts as a deadly weapon.

Those last two words are the key thing: armed robbery means that a deadly weapon was brought to the crime and its use threatened. You're probably okay bringing a very obviously-a-boffer item and threatening to boff them if they don't give you the goods, but I am not a lawyer and moreover I advise against robbing people in any manner under any circumstances, even ones as absurd as those discussed here.

Comment Re:It's not about the crime (Score 1) 262

Humans are not treated as in a perpetual state of consent for giving away money, for being taken strange places by strangers, or any of the other sorts of cases where "consent" defenses are common.... except that they generally are treated as being in a perpetual state of consent for sex.


And this is wrong.

That's because the social assumption currently is that humans are, in fact, in a perpetual state of mindless heat and will be DTF--or have you missed how much trouble it can be for a woman to get their healthcare providers to grasp that they're not sexually active? You're right that it's wrong, but the part that needs addressing is that assumption.

Or have you missed that this assumption is even stronger with men, to the point that getting a female-on-male case to court is a PITA because our culture insists that men always, always want sex and if they can be raped it is only by other men?

That said, a few of these cases probably are best off collapsing on the rape charges given that the nasty truth is sometimes that both sides had defective consent--for example, let's say that I'm underage but I told you I was legal to get you to have sex with me. What you did is statutory rape but what I did was rape by deception, which is a charge some jurisdictions have. Because I'm underage I simply lack the ability to consent, while for the sake of manners I'm going to go with the presumption that you'd not have consented if you knew I was underage. (Please note that your argument covers why it ought to be a charge recognized in all courts: consent gotten by lies isn't accepted in other situations, so why should it be with sex?)

Of course, what would be really interesting is if such a case was simply treated as a mutual rape--so both sides get charged and go to trial, and given the charges involved the minor fact that both consented would be a non-issue. (In fact, I might be better off claiming you didn't consent, so I'm innocent of the specific charge--something people have gotten away with, but best done only when a not guilty verdict will prevent you from being charged with the 'correct' crime.)

Comment Re:When you define anything as "cheating"... (Score 1) 706

What is the log and what is the mote in parent's statements?

Don't lust after other women,

thanks mister christian for deciding that you needed to dispense this advice to those who haven't partaken of your kool-aid

Make it gender-neutral and you'll find it excellent advice for keeping any romantic relationship working: Focus on your partner(s), don't start pre-planning cheating on them, don't make it easy for you to justify to yourself cheating on them, make a point of doing relationship maintenance things like 'having conversations with to your partner(s),' and you're not likely to feel any need to cheat.

If you feel the need to cheat despite all of that, it's probably time to GTFO or at least force counseling if you're for some reason still determined to stay together.

That said: Cheating here is specifically infidelity--open relationships are different, though I'm going to give somebody who says they're in one yet was using Ashley Madison strange looks. (I'd personally go for one of the sites catering to the open relationships and/or polyamory crowd--I'm more likely to find somebody there who'd be fine if my partner wanted to meet them, if nothing else.)

Comment Re:"I am about to be killed, tortured, or exiled," (Score 1) 706

"I am about to be killed, tortured, or exiled," he wrote. "And I did nothing."

No, what you did was expose yourself using social media to an authoritarian, abusive government. Realize that or do not.

Don't worry. If he took realistic achievable steps to protect himself, I'm sure a cacophany of narrow-minded Slashdotters -- with no knowledge of history and no understanding of the kind of people who like to run things -- would howl at him for being a tin-foil hatter.

If he took realistic, achievable steps to protect himself, he'd not have been using Ashley Madison in the first place--having checked into them, I'd have been wary even before the hack because of Ashley Madison's business practices. Them charging money for profile deletion is a red flag.

Comment Re:Oddly specific (Score 2) 706

Seems ridiculously low. They have already been sued for over half a billion CAD. This is likely to end their business. Is that really all they can afford or are willing to pay?

Shows how much they care about their users. Presumably they are hoping to get someone to grass on the cheap, and only ramp it up later if no-one comes forward. Even more alarming, it suggests that they have no idea who it is and their security is so poor they have nothing to go on.

I'd say how much they cared about their users was shown much earlier--or has the claims about them not deleting information they demanded money to delete not been verified yet? If it has, they're probably going to be gotten for fraud.

Comment Re:Lovely summary. (Score 1) 1038

It's too bad today's news pushes such obvious political agendas. They should be focused on telling the truth as objectively as possible.

There's an unfortunately significant body of research in social psychology that suggests that it might be better, in fact, to encourage them to be open and honest about their political agendas--even if they do try to be objective, as long as we have humans doing the reporting agendas and opinions will inevitably shape things. Ironically, being openly and consciously aware of your biases seems to actually make people better at suppressing them in order to be objective. (I've not seen any proposed mechanism, but offhand I'd say it'd be the obvious one of them being able to self-monitor and correct.)

Comment Re:I don't think K-12 CS is a good idea anyway (Score 1) 184

I'm in California and IMHO the way they are teaching math in elementary school sucks. Working on a computer is a distraction

This is the crux of the problem with education reform. No matter what you do, someone will complain. First, Russotto was complaining that kids can't work ahead. I pointed out that that is wrong, and in many public schools the kids can work ahead at their own pace. Then you complain that that is a bad thing, and the kids should go back to drills with pencil and paper.

For the record, I very much disagree with you. Recent changes in California public schools have been very much for the better. Why should my kid be penalized because your kid is dumb? Your kid should get some remedial help, but that is no reason to hold others back.

Actually, as somebody who's worked with learning math on computers? Proper display support is not common enough, and learning to do the basic stuff on pencil and paper without a calculator & doing so repeatedly can get you to the point where you will be able to do the calculations even while very out of it, which you're best off betting on having to do sometimes.

The other thing? Wolfram Alpha exists, and if your kids are lazy they're using it & if they're not bright enough to get why laziness doesn't pay long-term they're abusing it too. (I've found that for some bits of math, it provides better explanations than textbooks do, and a few I suspect are actually best explained in an animated form, possibly with an audio component--music and music theory might be the most reliable way to make math relevant and certainly the one least likely to be innocently bigoted.)

Honestly, I'd favor a hybrid--drills on any format that lets you easily carry them around to do at your own leisure (cell phone app and paper options should coexist), with computer checking so you can know if you're doing it right but not for grading them. Drills should be seen as a way to get practice and build confidence, and work on good habits as sometimes simply showing your steps can get you farther than merely plugging numbers from the problem into calculator and copying the output. I'm not even going to knock learning formulas--though I certainly would object to not teaching how to solve them for any value you want. If nothing else, it simplifies things. (Plug in values where you have them, solve for what you don't. see if you can determine a value for the remaining unknowns, repeat until at most one unknown remains--yes, defining one in terms of another is allowed for this.)

Of course, if you don't expect your kid to get into any particularly math-heavy STEM classes in college, a total lack of practice is not going to hurt too bad, but the more your kid needs math skills the more important practice can be. Paper-and-pencil particularly matters if they get into classes where showing their work is essential to getting credit--I had at least one professor where doing the right things to the wrong numbers only got you dings if and only if you showed your work.

Comment Re:I don't think K-12 CS is a good idea anyway (Score 1) 184

Rote memorization IS what schools are about today. You are not supposed to understand. You are not supposed to deduct it yourself. And sure as fuck you are not supposed to question it.

There is actually a very good reason for this: It's easier to teach. And most importantly, easier to test. It's also much easier for kids who can sponge (soak up the crap - pour out the crap at the test - no need to retain anything, just rinse and repeat for the next subject). Most of all, though, since you don't have to build on any foundation, you can pick up anywhere. And that means that kids who did not understand the foundations are not going to ruin your test score averages.

I guess that's called "no child left behind". Everyone is on the same crappy level that way.

It predates it by a lot, that's how my math textbooks were and I left public school before that hit. I was also an example of somebody who understood math well enough that the textbooks didn't bother me as much as bore the !@#$ out me--I don't think insisting anybody write proofs is good, I actually had an utterly lousy calc class that had you wanting to do proofs completely from memory for every question on the regular quizes. Proofs being shown, however, is actually pretty useful and utterly fascinating to watch--and it helps you understand why you actually need to know this material and how it links together.

Teaching math is hard, and the general view currently is that it's not actually necessary for a teacher to know the subject when teaching K12: they should merely know how to teach. The idea that knowing the material perhaps might make a difference, at least before high school, is somewhat revolutionary.

The other issue here, though, isn't that it's easier to test rote memorization--in fact, the most basic and (arguably) effective test with high validity and test-retest reliability is to simply give the person a task which requires outright the skills you're testing for--but rather that it's easier for the school system to game and keep its own bad behaviors from harming it. The test style I mentioned? It's pretty much the standard one in developmental psychology when studying when certain skills turn up, and it works pretty well. With a computerized test, you can also eliminate the need to have a human watching to see if the task was completed, though it'd still be very much pass/fail because there's really nothing between.

You can teach people to game multiple choice tests, especially ones not designed to show it (this takes skill), and I've taken some standardized tests where I'm not sure how else they expected somebody to pass them--certainly, knowing the subject didn't help one tiny bit, because it wasn't actually testing that. The questions were stuff like "Writer's favorite color," the answers were all fruits-not-sharing-names-with-colors, but that didn't matter because the short bit of writing that the question was allegedly about was about the birds and never mentioned the favorite color. (I got a perfect score on one where all the questions worked this way simply by picking the most PC answer.)

Comment Re:Newsflash. (Score 1) 184

Everyone's after their own interests. Including district level execs who push for higher property taxes because they want a higher salary.

At least with Google, Apple, MS, Facebook and the rest... Their self-interest benefits actual students by way of teaching useful skills.

Right. Like the BASIC programming language that I learned in senior high school is relevant in the job marketplace today. Whatever these students allegedly learn about "computer science" in K-12 will be obsolete before the ink on their "job-ready diploma" from Apple, Facebook, Google, Microsoft, et. al. diploma is dry.

Well, aside from the larger reason that no high school diploma in the US is 'job-ready' because somebody(s) thought the diploma itself and not the skills it used to represent were the reason why people with HS diplomas earned more over a lifetime & now many HS diplomas might as well be from diploma mills...

Some flavor of BASIC is used in teaching the overall processes of 'how to program' so when they go on to learn more useful programming languages the class can go straight to 'how to program in this specific language,' which is very useful for anybody in there for whom this would be a 3rd+ programming language. This is what BASIC was designed for, and is pretty good language for teaching good programming habits and basic skills; it's quick and relatively easy to read, and nobody had to point out to me the sheer utility of reading others' code because some BASIC commands I learned I did from observing others' use of them.

I'm pretty sure that nobody would expect BASIC to be used for coding an OS, and a successful effort to do such would be a dancing bear, but that's not what the purpose of BASIC is anyway. It's a teaching language, and asking more of it would probably hurt its usefulness as such.

Comment Re:The root problem (Score 1) 163

Those who don't learn from history are doomed to repeat it.

We used to have BIOS jumpers. Then system admins wanted to be able to run a BIOS update across whole companies. The BIOS is very rarely comprised compared to the amount of updates it receives, so it was a good trade off.

The better solution might be to minimize BIOS updates as well as some special process involved in activating access to the BIOS--not necessarily resetting jumpers but something that requires an act from a human being.

Comment Re:Free funding opportunity (Score 1) 89

As in when libertarian want to cut all 'helping the poor' governmental service and let charity do the work, many study found out that at current level, charity does not even do more than 5% of help that government does. I greatly doubt that if you were to get completely tax exempt that you would suddenly increase your charity by 20 times.

How is 'help' defined in these 'many study' you mention? I know a few studies have found that how you help makes a serious difference as well as how close to the problem the choices are made as well--merely throwing money at problems, it turns out, isn't good. Not only that, but culture and social views actually shape if you give and how much: if you view it as a problem for the government to fix, you won't give as much money if any. People also seem to be overall less inclined to pay attention to how well the government actually uses the money it gets, and at least some of the 'charitable' functions it serves are indirect vote-buying.

I've heard that studies have found that some of the biggest improvements in 3rd world countries aren't done at all by charities--they're done by people from those countries going to the 1st world to work, and sending money home to their family, who know precisely what they actually need.

This book actually sounds like a pretty good example, actually, especially if it's not distributed mostly to places where that level of drastic reduction in bacterial load in the water is definitely needed. Slow sand filters won't get used up and will last a hella lot longer, biosand filters are an advancement upon those, and in all cases the 'used up' part is important given that your body is used to whatever the local water's bacterial load is. In fact, this book sounds like more of something for emergencies and Western tourists to use.

It's worth noting that biosand filters have comparable reductions in bacterial levels to the filter paper--keeping them working does require making sure the locals know how to maintain them, but improving the educational levels so they can maintain them on their own and ideally build them from raw materials as well actually would benefit them more long-term than having them depend on handouts from the West. Don't just give people fish, teach them how to fish.

Comment Re:Reporting (Score 1) 268

Bezos says

But if you know of any stories like those reported, I want you to escalate to HR. You can also email me directly at Even if it’s rare or isolated, our tolerance for any such lack of empathy needs to be zero.”

. . . but probably best to do so anonymously, or with someone else's email account. We all know how large companies love whistle blowers.

Sometimes the problem is one of technique: If you blow the whistle by tipping off the right people higher up that Pointy the Middle Manager is doing Illegal Things They Are Liable For, they're likely to be pretty happy with it, especially if you did that with enough time for them to get rid of Pointy instead of as just a token warning before they get the legal papers. (Remember, Pointy probably doesn't do it when they're looking, and the people whose rears Pointy orally services are definitely not the right people to tip off.) This especially applies for when dear old Pointy was close to being fired anyway--they were just waiting for some reason or another.

Management is about as able to know what's going on when and where they can't see as all other humans.

In fact, if management is showing signs of knowing that sort of thing when properly they oughtn't, no matter how benevolent it currently is...leaving might be a Good Idea. Current benevolence is not a guarantee of future benevolence.

Comment Re:Mostly old news (Score 1) 393

You don't need the translations for the names, you need them for the ballot initiatives. School bonds and the like.

That's actually what I was thinking of when I said 'sections'.

I could figure out the "important" elections like president, governor, federal and state congressional elections even if they were in Spanish, for example, by name recognition. Japanese would be... tougher. ;)

In Spanish, it should be concerning if you have to rely upon name recognition to figure out which election is which there. President in Spanish is presidente, governor is gobernador, representative is representante, and senator is senador. Most of this list appears to remain pretty recognizable throughout Europe, and definitely in the five major Romance languages (Spanish, Portuguese, French, Italian and Romanian). Most of that list appears to be understandable even if you move to Russian.

Japanese actually would be among the easier of the more exotic languages, as it regularly uses four script systems--and this would be one of the rare upsides, actually. Name recognition probably will get you through as long as the names are left in romanji (read: the Latin alphabet), and if transliterated it'd be in katakana which is phonetic. (It's relatively easily memorized, however some fonts are easier to distinguish some pairs in such as shi and tsu.) However, other Asian languages might be a problem, as well as Arabic and Russian.

What is now proved was once only imagin'd. -- William Blake