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Comment: Re:Humanity and Humanities (Score 1) 424

by Jason Levine (#48223843) Attached to: Employers Worried About Critical Thinking Skills

The push for standardized tests has one goal: Prove students are failing.

If you can show students are failing, then you can blame teachers for the failure. If you can do this, then corporations can rush in to "save" them with new course materials (bought with millions in taxpayer money, of course). Even better, the corporations (e.g. Pearson) run the standardized tests, grade them, and aren't held accountable for the test quality or grading accuracy. So Pearson can make the tests show that kids are failing which leads to more Pearson sales to "help our kids succeed."

It gets even worse when my state's governor (Cuomo) talks about enacting the "death penalty" on public schools that don't hit marks he sets for the standardized tests. Meaning, he'll close these schools down and replace them with charter schools - business run schools that are exempt from most testing and can choose which kids to accept and which they will reject.

With two kids in public schools struggling under EngageNY, my wife and I are right in the thick of this. We're part of a growing group of parents who refuse to allow their kids to take these high-stakes tests, despite FUD and push-back from people who want more testing.

Comment: Re:Common Core (Score 2) 424

by Jason Levine (#48223763) Attached to: Employers Worried About Critical Thinking Skills

Really? Because it doesn't seem to be part of New York's EngageNY enacting of Common Core. EngageNY is a set of scripts for the teachers to read to the students. The students are expected to answer the questions in EXACTLY the way that EngageNY says they will answer them. If they get the right answer by taking a different path, they are marked as wrong.

This doesn't even get into the high stakes testing that is being pushed as needed to prove that our students are learning (really being used to "prove" that the students are failing and that the teachers need more corporate/government oversight). This winds up shifting class focus from learning your lessons to preparing for the tests.

Comment: Re:The Cult Leader will solve the problem! (Score 1) 110

by Jason Levine (#48220015) Attached to: Leaked Documents Reveal Behind-the-Scenes Ebola Vaccine Issues

By that reasoning, I should listen to everything Dr. Oz says because he's a fully licensed and trained medical doctor (cardiologist), right?

Or maybe being in one medical field doesn't make you an expert in all medical fields?

(Even more so if you have a political agenda to advance and thus reason to ignore evidence that doesn't agree with your views.)

Comment: Re:my thoughts (Score 1) 335

by Jason Levine (#48219977) Attached to: NY Doctor Recently Back From West Africa Tests Positive For Ebola

Think of it this way then: Duncan was in the hospital for ten days. How many nurses and doctors looked after him during this time? How many family and friends and random strangers was he around before he went into the hospital? Out of all of these people, only two people contracted Ebola and that's because they were healthcare workers exposed to more of his secretions (and thus had a higher risk).

Comment: Re:my thoughts (Score 5, Insightful) 335

by Jason Levine (#48219913) Attached to: NY Doctor Recently Back From West Africa Tests Positive For Ebola

Except that's what doctors and other healthcare workers do every day. They put their lives in danger by treating people with diseases that, if they aren't careful, they could catch. Firefighters also knowingly risk their lives to save people. They will go running into a burning building just to try to pull someone out.

Risking your life to try to save someone else - when you are a trained professional - isn't idiot-territory. These aren't random people jumping into a raging river to save a drowning victim who wind up also drowning. These are people who take all available precautions, realize there is still a danger, and still try to save lives. These people are heroes.

Now if some news reports are right and the doctor interacted with people after showing symptoms, I'd agree that THAT was an idiot move.

Comment: Re:Fentanyl (Score 1) 139

There's no rational reason to restrict it to just terrorism offences

And that right there is another argument against holding relatives accountable for the actions their family members take. Let's say today it is only applied to terrorism. A couple years down the road, someone shoots up a bunch of people and kills himself. There's a big push for his family to be held accountable (perhaps they are part of an unfavorably viewed minority) and they are. The next crime is less heinous but now there's a precedent of using this for less and less severe crimes. Eventually, any crime committed by one person can get their entire family in trouble if the prosecutor decides to apply it. (In other words, if the person isn't part of the "popular majority.")

If anything thinks a "make the families accountable law" would only ever be applied to acts of terrorism, they obviously haven't been paying attention for the last thirty or so years.

Comment: Re:Actually, yes. (Score 1) 159

Dress shirts come with collar size measurement. If you're buying t-shirts or non-dress long sleeve shirts, though, you need to content with Small-Medium-Large-XL. I can be a medium from some places (where mediums run large), a large in other places, and XL from some places that run their sizes on the smaller side. Clothes are one of the few items I mostly refuse to buy online (with the occasional TeeFury shirt as the exception) because of this sizing issue.

Comment: Re:Not just women (Score 4, Insightful) 540

by Jason Levine (#48211693) Attached to: The Inevitable Death of the Internet Troll

There are two types of trolls. One type (let's call this the Classic Troll) gets their jollies by upsetting people. So if you respond to the troll's inflammatory remarks, they like it and will keep it up. If you ignore the Classic Troll, they will slink away to try to rile someone else up.

The second type (Targeted Troll) doesn't care about upsetting people as much as they care about targeting a specific person or group. If you're part of the group they are targeting and they latch on to you, they may or may not let go if you ignore them. If you're the specific person they are targeting, then they WON'T stop merely because they are ignored. They will keep ramping up the remarks until a response is obtained.

The big problem with Targeted Trolls is that they don't tend to be solitary creatures like the Classic Troll. While they will act alone, they can also get together with other Targeted Trolls to harass the person/people who have entered their cross-hairs. This amplifies the harassment and can make it impossible for them to be ignored. (For example, if one of them tracks down the victim's home address and posts it with a threatening message.)

Comment: Re:6,000 only (Score 1) 109

by Jason Levine (#48211637) Attached to: 6,000 Year Old Temple Unearthed In Ukraine

If it's to hide from us that divine influence, then how can it be obvious to them?

Partly for the same reason that Moon landing conspiracy theorists claim the existence of a vast conspiracy that is both competent enough to hide the truth from the general public/media/competing nations/etc but yet incompetent enough to make easily spotted basic mistakes. They want to feel special and how they do this is by a) setting up a very powerful, secretive individual/organization and then b) being one of only a few people able to see past said individual's/organization's smoke screen. This elevates them (in their mind) over the rabble that fall for the ruse and makes them special.

This is also a reason why all evidence against the existence of their conspiracy or organization or individual is immediately discounted. If they were to accept the truth, they would have to also accept that they aren't more special than anyone else and, in fact, might be less special than most people for having believed something so ridiculous. Therefore, they keep on believing and claim that the mountain of evidence to the contrary was placed there by "the conspiracy/individual" to deceive those less special than they arel.

Comment: Re:6,000 only (Score 2) 109

by Jason Levine (#48207433) Attached to: 6,000 Year Old Temple Unearthed In Ukraine

I have met young Earth creationists. At one time, I belonged to an Orthodox temple (I was living with my parents back then and membership was free because my parents were members). The rabbi would give speeches often decrying how scientists kept changing their minds about how the world worked but the bible was constant in its message. (I won't get into all the ways this sentence is wrong. That's a whole other post.) He was of the mindset that the world was formed around 6,000 - 10,000 years ago (I don't think he ever gave an exact figure but definitely believed it was around that long) and that any evidence to the contrary was just foolish scientists getting it wrong.

I didn't argue with him at the time. It would have been a losing proposition anyway. There's no way I could have changed his viewpoint. My eyes did plenty of rolling during my time there, though.

Comment: Asimov and Social Media (Score 1) 148

by Jason Levine (#48202723) Attached to: Isaac Asimov: How Do People Get New Ideas?

I wonder how Isaac Asimov would have regarded social media. His essay had the statement "For every new good idea you have, there are a hundred, ten thousand foolish ones, which you naturally do not care to display." In social media, people will post hundreds of statements of varying quality. Most will be ignored (or read and instantly forgotten in the flood of content). A few will rise to the top (being retweeted, reposted, shared, etc). I know using social media (and the Internet in general) has made me less reluctant to share my ideas. The ridicule of expressing something stupid is lessened if the person mocking you for said stupid idea is just a screen name versus a flesh and blood person in front of you. On the flip side, losing the "quality filter" and making sharing ideas easier might mean that you quickly express a mediocre idea instead of spending more time on it and honing it into a great idea.

Comment: Re:Efficient Guy, That Asimov! (Score 1) 148

by Jason Levine (#48202657) Attached to: Isaac Asimov: How Do People Get New Ideas?

I've heard that Asimov used to sit at a desk surrounded by three typewriters. He would begin typing one story on one, Swivel to the second and work on a second item, and then shift to the third and work on a third item. (This was obviously pre-computers and definitely before computers could easily multitask three documents.) By quickly going between the three typewriters, he could work on three projects at once.

It's no wonder he was so prolific.

Comment: Re:Disapproval of creativity as expressed in copyr (Score 1) 148

by Jason Levine (#48202633) Attached to: Isaac Asimov: How Do People Get New Ideas?

To be fair, copyright originally was for 14 years (plus a one time 14 year extension). So if you took 28 year old A and added 29 year old B plus 14 year old (and not renewed) C, you could come up with something new. It might have been a delay, but it wasn't a horrendous one. Now, though, you'd need to wait for A, B, and C to be 120 years old before you could use them. (When Asimov wrote this article, copyright terms were 28 years with a one-time 67 year extension. Arguably, still too long.)

The flow chart is a most thoroughly oversold piece of program documentation. -- Frederick Brooks, "The Mythical Man Month"