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Comment: Re:Ukraine is right (Score 1) 498

by LetterRip (#46449099) Attached to: Ukraine May Have To Rearm With Nuclear Weapons Says Ukrainian MP

This isn't the first time that international bodies have promised to protect a country's borders in return for it withdrawing from some territory, or giving up arms... but when it is time for those same international bodies to act they do not.

That isn't what was promised. What was promised is that the countries would make an appeal to the UN. Russia sits on the UN security council and has a veto, and thus the appeal to the UN has no effect.

Comment: Re:Read between the lines (Score 1) 303

by LetterRip (#46446845) Attached to: Google Chairman on WhatsApp: $19 Bn For 50 People? Good For Them!

Make our labor cheaper. If there is one application with adequate education for a job someone wishes to fill, the employee can have leverage for salary negotiation. If there are 1 million applicants, the employer can set the salary far lower.

For employees the better the quality the average education, the lower the salary that education demands.

The value of the education is more in a nations competitiveness with other nations. A nation can attract employers if it has lots of well educated people which increases productivity of the labor and drives the prices down for skilled labor.

Comment: Re:Impossible requirement (Score 4, Insightful) 382

It's not only not impossible, but it's pretty much always possible. You just have to think like someone who chases funding.

Everyone who reviews proposals knows the future is uncertain, so they don't currently expect a proposal to accurately predict, say, how someone's research would benefit math education. The key is to explain how what you're proposing could plausibly help. Doing it well comes down to having a reasonable story, having good salesmanship, and wordsmithing.

The new requirements seem very broadly applicable. For example, I could twist scientific literacy, promotion of scientific progress, and possibly national defense into justifying the grant proposal I'm currently working on. "Scientific progress" in particular would be very easy. I expect it would be similarly easy for any other academic who expects to publish at leat one paper on research that he or she intends to support by an NSF grant.

So this probably wouldn't change anything, except to require another section in every proposal, which would just waste everyone's time. It would save exacly zero dollars, and cost a few for every proposal just by a naive conversion from time to money. There are also one-time costs. The only possible way this could save money is by slowing down the overall process.

While I'm railing, I should also mention that active researchers review other people's NSF proposals. Adding another requirement takes time they could use to, I dunno, do useful research?

Everyone who chases funding knows how to play the game. Adding rules won't keep them from getting money, and it'll cost time.

Comment: I disagree Re:I agree... (Score 1) 279

by LetterRip (#45319227) Attached to: Why Organic Chemistry Is So Difficult For Pre-Med Students

I absolutely suck at memorization, so what I did was learn the why of the reaction - which generally was just geometry based (which part of the electron cloud was physically easiest to access - ie steric hinderance); charge based (which atom most 'wanted' the electrons') and energy based (which configurations would be energetically stable with minimum strain and best sharing of electrons).

For my O-chem final - my brain almost completely forgot all of the standard reactions, but I was able to reconstruct reactions and what reactants and environments I needed based on what I wanted the molecule to do; and derive what products to expect based on the above method.

I was one of the people that found ochem easy, but pchem quite difficult.

Comment: Re:Sounds promising (Score 3, Informative) 362

by LetterRip (#44809873) Attached to: Syrian Gov't Agrees To Russian Chem-Weapon Turnover Plan

Well, I'm no rocket expert. But there's a diagram in the linked report of the remnants of the 330mm rocket, and it makes a pretty convincing case that the rocket was loaded with chemical weapons and not with explosives.

Jane's did an analysis and basically concluded that the rockets could be chemical, Fuel Air Explosive, or conventional explosive with equal plausibility without any reason to conclude one was more likely than the other. FAE and some conventional explosives can evaporate/dissipate thus the hollow area that humanrights watch is claiming is chemical -can equally likely be the fuel for a fuel air explosive or a conventional explosive.

Comment: Re:The emperor has no clothes (Score 5, Insightful) 526

by LetterRip (#44711155) Attached to: Obama Admin Says It Won't Fight Looser Marijuana Laws, With Conditions

Hell, I'm pro-legalization, but Obama's position does not constitutionally allow him to pick and choose which laws he will and will not enforce. Not that it's ever stopped him.

The government has limited resources and it is literally impossible to enforce all of the federal laws to the full extent. Therefore the government must prioritize enforcement. If some laws are so low in priority that there is no enforcement, then congress can increase funding for federal law enforcement officials if they really want those enforced.

Comment: Re:Polygraphs (Score 1) 282

by LetterRip (#44593475) Attached to: Feds Target Instructors of Polygraph-Beating Methods

Why the hell are polygraphs still being used in the 21st century? They aren't admissible in a court of law for a damned good reason. They are junk science and no better than a voodoo board.

Voodoo is a rather apt analogy. The reason they are used is that they help amplify the belief of the individual that they will get caught in a lie. Thus the reason the FBI are angry is that this teaching will negate the belief that you'll get caught and defeats the psychological manipulation.

Ie if the vooodoo man casts a hex on you, and you believe in voodoo - then you might engage in behavior that makes the hex self fulfilling; but if another voodoo man sells you a talisman to ward off the hex - your belief in the second voodoo man cancels the belief in the first voodoo man.

Comment: I'm a MOOC addict (Score 2) 141

by LetterRip (#43777173) Attached to: What Professors Can Learn From "Hard Core" MOOC Students

I'm signed up for almost every coursera MOOC.

I've only officially completed 1, and watched every video for about 30 others, and have downloaded videos 'to watch' for most of the others.

A few things I've found are that

1) Professors seem to like to assign waste of time busy work.

There are lots of classes that require essays or projects where it is essentially a giant waste of the students time. This includes doing videos and presentations for almost any course (a really well taught audio production course wanted every stuent to do a video essentially repeating a subset of the same material he just did. Others have wanted various large scale projects.) Since there would only be 'peer' evaluation of the material, this was all essentially busy work. There are areas where peer evaluation can be useful (some writing with rubrics and such), but mostly it was stuff that wouldn't matter at all from improving learning. Or the amount of learning improved versus the time invested was drastically out of proportion.

The math, science, programming and finance classes tend to 'get it right', only assigning an amount and type of assignment required to understand the material well, not wasting students time.

2) Science, Programming, Finance, Engineering, and Math courses are real courses, courses from Bschool and other sections are often ridiculously simple.

Of course testing and evaluating understanding of computer and science courses is quite easy, but still the quality and type of questions asked in reviews and homework and the type of assignments made sense for the Science/Tech classes; whereas I was sometimes wondering why the other courses had even bother to do a quiz the questions were so ridiculously simple minded.

Life's the same, except for the shoes. - The Cars