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Comment: Re:Biden is talking coding?? (Score 1) 225

by GlobalEcho (#47522729) Attached to: VP Biden Briefs US Governors On H-1B Visas, IT, and Coding

Al Gore, March 8, 1999, interview with CNN’s Wolf Blitzer, "I took the initiative in creating the Internet."

Al Gore, March 8, 1999, about 0.2 seconds later in the same interview "...I took the initiative in moving forward a whole range of initiatives that have proven to be important to our country’s economic growth, environmental protection, improvements in our educational system." Wired magazine yanked that quote out of context and it has never been the same since.

Absolutely right. I always thought that was a bit unfair, but I didn't mind too much, because I believe Gore has always been insufficiently lambasted for his active advocacy of the Clipper chip

Comment: Listen in (Score 5, Informative) 205

by GlobalEcho (#47501161) Attached to: New Toyota Helps You Yell At the Kids

Among the advantages of owning a minivan is that it becomes easy to carry your own children, plus a few of their friends. You get to know those friends, and listen to your kids' conversations with them. Often, the kids sort of forget you are there and converse "normally". You gain a window into their lives at school you otherwise would never have enjoyed.

Sneaky trick: if you turn on the radio with the fader balanced toward the rear seats, the kids will speak louder without even realizing it.

Comment: Basically a toy (Score 1) 85

by GlobalEcho (#47251607) Attached to: Shawn Raymond's Tandem Bike is Shorter Than Yours (Video)

As a "real" tandem person (see here), I must say this thing looks like a toy to me. Of course, it is also far less expensive than the bikes made by serious tandem bike companies, who often make bikes with derailer and brake systems that alone cost as much as this monstrosity.

We've had our tandem going 60-70mph (down mountain roads). There's no way I would trust this thing for such riding. Maybe it is OK for some gentle cruises, but that's it. And furthermore, there's a far better design for front-stoker visibility.

/snob mode off

Comment: Table salt (Score 1) 82

by GlobalEcho (#47211661) Attached to: Biodegradable Fibers As Strong As Steel Made From Wood Cellulose

replacement for many filament materials made today from imperishable substances such as fiberglass, plastic, and metal. And all this from a substance that requires only water, wood cellulose, and common table salt to create it

I would hate to be the poor bastard in the factory whose job it is to stand there shaking the salt cellar all day.

Comment: Entering students too young (Score 4, Insightful) 325

by GlobalEcho (#47181149) Attached to: Fixing the Humanities Ph.D.

The median time to get a Ph.D. is nine years.

I think students who enter are often doing so by default. Education has been their life unto that point, they have always been outstanding students, and they enjoy it. They are too young and inexperienced to realize how long 9 years is and what they'll be missing (or perhaps they are too optimistic about their personal chances of being an outlier).

Comment: Re:Frequent auctions (Score 1) 382

by GlobalEcho (#47176549) Attached to: High Frequency Trading and Finance's Race To Irrelevance

defeating the HFTs basically comes down to adding a delay to multi-exchange transactions such that the transaction reaches each exchange at the same time.

Budish shows in his paper how that is not true. Basically, it works only if very little of the total volume is on a delayed exchange.

The stock exchanges are engaged in the same sort of crap with the HFTs, selling them special access and trade types that other investors do not have.

I don't see a problem with that. Back in the old days of floor trading, the floor traders had special access everyone else lacked. And they behaved very badly compared to what we now see with HFTs.

If our regulatory agencies were more competent, this would have been dealt with years ago instead of letting it fester as long as it has.

They are careful, not incompetent. The gut reaction of lots of people is that any middleman is a parasite. The reaction in the American West to the rise of hardware and lumber specialists during the late 19th century (fueled by general stores) is an excellent example with similar popular political outrage behind it. I'm glad the regulators did nothing about it.

Comment: Frequent auctions (Score 1) 382

by GlobalEcho (#47175199) Attached to: High Frequency Trading and Finance's Race To Irrelevance

For those of you not frothing at the mount, Eric Budish has an interesting critique and proposal to replace continuous-time markets with auctions every second or so. The idea is that being forced to wait for the next auction mitigates the advantages of low-latency trading.

I think he makes a very good argument.

Comment: Nanoseconds (Score 5, Interesting) 137

by GlobalEcho (#47031713) Attached to: Grace Hopper, UNIVAC, and the First Programming Language

My mother was one of the first female programmers at Honeywell back in the `70s. Back then, IT companies recruited their programmers from the ranks of mathematicians (like mom).

Grace Hopper was a big hero to her, and one of the things I remember best is mom coming home with a short length of wire given out by Adm. Hopper at a speech -- sized to represent the distance electricity would travel in a nanosecond.

Mom is still coding, by the way, writing custom software for my dad's business in Python/Django/PostgreSQL. Dad complains that she's obsessed with the programming and won't do anything else. Sounds like me...thanks for the genes, mom!

Comment: Easiest for the instructor (Score 3, Interesting) 166

One reason lectures are so popular is that they are far, far easier for the instructor. Putting together a useful interactive activity is much harder than simply planning what to say. Even incorporating someone else's pre-designed activity is difficult to synchronize with one's own lesson plan. At the grade school level, I believe there is considerable room for improvement through teachers learning how to share and use activity plans.

At the college and graduate school level, it gets much harder on the professor as potential sources of planned activities thin out and specialization increases. Increasing interactivity demands much more time of these professors since most such improvements will have to be custom-designed for the class. Given the social structure of university compensation (research counts, teaching doesn't), I find it hard to see interactivity at the college or grad school level increasing very quickly.

That said, college and grad school courses are perhaps more interactive than they are given credit for. They often meet just a few times a week, reducing the boring lecture hours, and assign a lot of homework, increasing interactivity in a way that fails to appear in the studies cited.

For context, I am an adjunct professor (at the graduate school level). Based on this daily of studies I try to include some interactivity but it's really hard, so that mainly degenerates into a few intra-class status quizzes. My classes tend to meet for 2.5-3 hours per week, and have 5-20 hours of homework on top of that.

Comment: Flawed reasoning (Score 5, Insightful) 765

by GlobalEcho (#46980073) Attached to: A Look at Smart Gun Technology

the last thing you want is another avenue for failure

That's not a very bright statement. What you should wish to avoid is for something bad to happen. One way that can happen is indeed for a gun to fail when it needs to work, but there are others, for example having an unseen companion assailant seize the gun and shoot you with it.

It's all about the probabilities of various scenarios, and anyone failing to incorporate that that in their evaluation is not worth listening to. (For the record, I have no opinion about what those probabilities are, but live in such a safe place that I don't consider bothering with a gun.)

Comment: Many polite people (Score 4, Interesting) 490

As a cyclist who commutes year-round in Chicago, I just want to give a little shout out to the motorists, who are almost all incredibly polite. It's human nature for us to notice and remember the jerks (and I recall a few) but the incredibly vast majority of motorists are accommodating, friendly, and (when paying attention) cautious.

If I have one request of motorists, it's to get off the cell phones, something I am sure every road user -- pedestrian, cyclist and motorist agrees with.

This is now. Later is later.