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Comment: Re: I don't get it. (Score 1) 69

by McFly777 (#47375293) Attached to: Cybercrooks May Have Stolen Billions Using Brazilian "Boletos"

More recently, the interest rate being so low, and the bank fees so high, it feels more like I am paying the bank. Consider that my work requires me to direct deposit my check, but all the bank hours are the same as my work, so in order to get cash I have to use the ATM. If I do that more than a certain number of times during the month, I start getting charged an ATM usage fee. (I usually manage to avoid it however, so not a big deal.)

Comment: GED (Score 1) 519

by McFly777 (#47224893) Attached to: Teacher Tenure Laws Ruled Unconstitutional In California

GED is also used by homeschoolers. Many of which actually learn more than would be taught in school. (I would say "most" but I have no data for that.) GED just proves that you obtained the knowledge, regardless of how you got it. In fact, if I were an employer looking at hiring at the HS graduate level, I might even count the GED holder in higher regard than the kid who attended school, got the diploma, but of whom we don't know how much was really learned or retained. That being said, I might ask why, if the GED holder previously dropped out. Sometimes people have good reasons, and sometimes people who don't have wind up learning even more from the school-of-hard-knocks. It really depends on the person.

My father got two HS diplomas (back in the day). The first was a basic adequacy kind of thing. He did just what was needed and then got out. He spent some time in the working world, realized that he wanted more than he was going to get that way, and returned to High School to finish obtaining a college prep diploma.

Back to the GED testing issue... I could be wrong, and perhaps any Brits reading this can correct me, but I think that in the UK all students are administered standardized tests as part of their graduation requirements.

Comment: Re: Establishment of religion (Score 1) 519

by McFly777 (#47221243) Attached to: Teacher Tenure Laws Ruled Unconstitutional In California

I hope you don't mean the same establishment clause that should have prevented local governments from opening sessions with sectarian prayer. Because then you would seem really silly for believing that the first amendment is going to protect anyone from being a victim of religious retribution at the government level.

You seem to be confusing "freedom of religion" with "freedom from religion", and totally forgetting the second half of the statement, which prohibits the gov't from "prohibiting the free expression thereof." The members of the city council are perfectly free to pray, nobody can say that you have to join in their prayer, you are perfectly free to ignore them while they make "pointless speeches". (Of course the pointless speech will probably continue even after they stop praying.) In fact, if you ask, you would probably be allowed to offer your own prayer at some point in the meeting, but if you don't believe in a deity then you would just be asking for a moment of silence. Now, if your prayers happen to include sprinkling chicken blood, offering live sacrifices of small childern, etc. you may be stopped based on sanitary or other legal grounds.

The first part of the first ammendment was intended to prevent what had been happening in England, and other places, where the King (or other gov't entity) declared alternately that everyone in the country was to be Catholic, or not-Catholic, Anglican, etc. and that being the opposite of whatever was currently in vogue was punishable, sometimes by death. The councilmembers deciding to pray does not establish a state religion, and as I said earlier, you are perfectly free to believe otherwise.

Comment: Re:Too Big to Be Indicted... (Score 1) 245

by McFly777 (#47206751) Attached to: NSA's Novel Claim: Our Systems Are Too Complex To Obey the Law

3. Offering minorities ARM loans or loans with much higher interest rates than they would offer to white borrowers with the same credit score

The last several mortgages which I have obtained were done completely over the phone, except for the closing of course. So whomever I was speaking to had no idea what color my skin was.

This is not to say that discrimination of this sort never happens, but my guess is that this is a "correlation does not equal causation" type of situation, in that there are many factors which play into the rate that is given; possibly including things like statistics of loan defaults for the area in which you are asking for the mortgage. If it just happens that these secondary factors correlate to race (again no causation implied) then the loan rates could also correlate, with no causal discrimination.

As to ARMs vs. traditional mortgages: I have been offered both. I was never interested in the ARM. Does that imply something about me? Does it imply something about the person who chooses the ARM? ARMs aren't bad products, but they are certanly only appropriate for specific situations.

Comment: Invention vs. innovation (Score 1) 65

by McFly777 (#47147583) Attached to: Grace Hopper Documentary Edges on Successful Crowdfunding

I think the word that this conversation is looking for is "innovation" rather than "invention". Innovation does not require one to be the first to do something, just the first to do it right, or to make a significant improvement.

Apple's contribution (lately) is mostly innovation. Although the original iPhone was enough of a break away from existing phone/PDA combo devices that it could come close to invention.

(and if you believe Woz, the early Apple would count as invention as well, on several counts. But that is another story... literally.)

Comment: Discrimination (Score 1) 65

by McFly777 (#47146829) Attached to: Grace Hopper Documentary Edges on Successful Crowdfunding

So because one woman was able to rise to the top of her field, it instantly makes it impossible for any other women to be denied their due?

The problem is that just because there doesn't happen to be equality of outcome, doesn't mean that there is not equality of opportunity. And the constant whining and victimization just gives everyone a bad taste which can become self-fulfilling (in the negative sense).

I will use my wife as a good example, When we began our carreers, she made more than me for essentially equivalent jobs (engineering). She then proceeded to make a number of promotional moves and was just short of some significant management opportunities (hard work pays off). At this point we decided to have children, and she decided that she wanted to stay home. I emphasize that because I was actually more comfortable with her continued paycheck, but was willing to support her in her desire to be a stay-at-home mom.

Now, twelve years later, our kids are in juniior-high school and high school. My wife was feeling less needed at home, and wanted to return to work. In the last decade, my pay has increased significantly. However, due to her time out-of-work, and a change in industry due to an economicly-forced relocation, she has had to re-start at a much lower pay then what she was making when she left.

Does this mean my wife has been discriminated against? No, she is being paid based on her experience, or lack thereof, in the industry which is prevalent in our new home area. Is she societally disadvantaged because she was expected to stay home with the kids? Maybe, but still no; many of her peers in similar situations chose to keep working and now are managers with a consumate pay level. The pay-gap in this case is due entirely to life-decisions which she made (and she would be the first to tell you this).

Now, where we have seen discrimination was the senior-year summer in college, where we both volunteered to be "camp counselors" for a high-school level "future-engineers camp" at our college. We were involved in the review of applicants. The way that the university chose to "encourage diversity" was as follows:

1. Create two stacks of applications. Place all white-males in stack B.
2. Review applicants in stack A, choosing the best applicants.
3. Place pins on the state map to determine where the chosen applicants were from. Noticing that there were none selected from the Upper Peninsula (this is Michigan, by the way.)
4. Dig through stack B (white-males) to find the two applicants from the U.P. and put them in the accepted list.
5. Pat eachother on the back for achieving an un-biased result.

I was obviously disturbed by the process, despite my best attempts not to show it, because the admissions director commented to me as we were leaving, "See, we got some white males in there." Frankly, the comment just disturbed me more. I really was not concerned with the numbers of whatever groups. I was bothered that there was a group of students who were not even considered, based only on race/gender. What was wrong in the process was that there was no equality of opportunity.

Comment: Re:Free market strikes again... (Score 1) 264

....so long as the statists continue to defend ever increasing amounts of regulation with bullshit arguments like this, sure.

Yawn ... do you know what you would have without a state? Nothing.

You wouldn't have an education, running water, roads, a hospital to have been born in, or an internet to use to bitch about the state. You'd probably be someone's property.

Usually when I hear the word "statist" it is not arguing for anarchy, or to overthrow anything. It is a word used to denote those who are attempting to put the state in crontrol of all areas (or significantly large areas) of personal life. The ones speaking about "statists" are usually arguing for a return to a limited (but still present) government, as defined in the original context of the constitution. The point being that, when it is not ignored completely, the constitution is being seriously/purposefully misinterpreted in order to increase the power of the national government.

This is all speaking from the perspective of the USA, but statists can / do exist anywhere.

Note that it is possible to still have roads, education, hospitals, and the internet without resorting to the over-regulation of an omni-present government.

Comment: historical behavior of studios (Score 1) 147

by McFly777 (#47112315) Attached to: Virtual DVDs, Revisited

That is a good point, but unfortunately it doesn't work as an answer to the question, because even if the original agreement is at gunpoint, it doesn't explain why both parties don't agree to replace it with another agreement that makes both sides more money. ...

That would bring in more money, and that's what makes it an interesting question as to why they don't do it.

You have to remember that we are talking about the same industry that didn't want to have a "home video" market in the first place. The fear was that if people could get movies at home, they would stop going to the theaters and the industry would go bust. (I am oversimplifying) In the end, they were wrong and have made even more money then before.

They have repeated this behavior several times since: Video rentals. Cable broadcasting. Video streaming (of any kind).

Well, this is really still the left overs of the last one. Leagally the studios CAN hold back streaming rights, even though they might make more money, so they DO hold back streaming rights. Netflix may be asking (I don't know) for streaming rights, and the studios are likely saying, "for THAT movie it will cost you an additional $100K / year up-front." At which point Netflix says "Never mind, we'll just stick with streaming these other ones that were cheaper." It doesn't matter that they might have made $200K (less the $100K investment = $100K profit), they would have to be willing to risk paying ahead. I don't know what value of risk Netflix is willing to incur, but there is always a limit, and likely the studios are looking for Netflix's limit in an attempt to minimize the studio's risk (or to maximize the studio's risk-free profit.) The studios might have even made $150K, leaving Netflix $50K, if they didn't ask for stupid contract terms, but we will never know since it wasn't tried in this hypothetical scenario.

I see stupid business decisions made over contractual issues all the time. Many where it would be in everybody's best interest to just give a little for free, in order to make the deal work, but instead nobody gets anything. (Actually everybody loses, because time/money was spent in unsuccessful negotiations.)

I don't know what model the studio contracts with Netflix are following, but I sense that you don't know for sure either. I just know that past behavior often suggests future decisions, and we have seen this before.

Comment: Re:The Re-Hate Campaign (Score 1) 1116

by McFly777 (#46705229) Attached to: Mozilla CEO Firestorm Likely Violated California Law

I choose to support those to have no tolerance for intolerance. I don't find that to be a logical contradiction, and I don't particularly care if anyone does.

You may not care. But I have little respect for those who have no tolerance, period. Unfortunately, I find the most intolerant people are usually those who are professing that someone else is being intolerant.

I don't recall the exact wording, but my state had a gay marriage proposition a few years back. Now I have no problem with either gay civil-unions or marriages, per se, as long as they come with the same burdens w.r.t. divorces etc. The problem that I have is the establishment of additional protected classes, which it seems like much of the gay rights community is pushing for. The problem has already been seen with ministers being sued for refusing to perform gay marriages.* This is why I prefer having civil-unions from the state, which anyone can have with whomever they want, separate from the marriage, which is left to the descretion of whatever religious/other organization you perfer. The difference may be largely semantic, but it seems like it could help.

*I don't know if the suit was sucessful or not. I just remember the news article about it being attempted.

Comment: Vocabulary expansion... (Score 1) 1116

by McFly777 (#46704825) Attached to: Mozilla CEO Firestorm Likely Violated California Law

multiple marriage (regardless of which sex is the single) = polygamy [ok so far]
"reverse traditional" by which I assume you mean one Female, multiple Male marriage = polyandry [note same root as android, etc. Literally "many men."]
the far more common one Male, multiple Female marriage = polygyny [note same root as gynacologist. Literally "many women."]

Comment: Another way to read this (Score 1) 509

by McFly777 (#46665333) Attached to: The Problem With Congress's Scientific Illiterates

I didn't watch TFVideo (work restrictions), so I will admit to be lacking a bit of context, but one could interpret the quoted congress-critter as having said, "The standard textbook definition of the scientific method includes starting with a hypothesis, and then either proving or disproving that hypothesis. Are you sure that you can eliminate any a-priori bias from the resulting work?" Stated that way, the comment is actually a reasonable thing to ask. (or at least isn't unreasonable.)

And I know he stumbled on the word "hypothesis", but beng 44 now myself, that is a sign of getting older. You start to grasp for words that you know you know, and sometimes have to settle for something "close, but not quite right."

Comment: Re:Don't bother. (Score 2) 509

by McFly777 (#46665013) Attached to: The Problem With Congress's Scientific Illiterates

As far as I can tell, the extremely shrill, extremely ideological opposition to Common Core is the educational equivalent of NIMBY-ism: reactionary opposition to change of any kind,

...

The more I see parents bringing up stuff like this as to how "stupid" the Common Core math curriculum is, the more I realize that the fundamental problem is that the parents aren't educated well enough to understand why this is a good way to teach math. Which is a great argument for a new way of doing things: the old way of doing things apparently utterly failed with these parents, who don't even understand that they don't understand.

I understand the use of math visualization as one of a number of tools to teach math, and I have seen it used very sucessfully, but the small bit of the "common core" implementation of teaching math is not done well at all. I have also seen the "traditional" method done poorly, so at some level I have to blame the education of our teachers. (i.e. we don't know how to teach teachers to teach).

My example of poorly done traditional method actually leads to my example of well done math visualization. My son had been able to perform basic addition since kindergarten (I had done many math-game type activites, so I knew he was capable.) However, in second grade, his teacher required each student to finish a page of 30 addition problems within a minute, before they could then progress to the next page of 30 addition problems. Easy enough right? this gives you one second to parse the problem, and one second to write. About half way through the year we were informed by the teacher that my son was still on the first page of problems, and was now refusing to even attempt to do them, choosing to put zeros in, or nothing, for every answer. What we didn't realize at the time was that my son was slightly disgraphic (hand-eye writing coordination issue). After another quarter of the year, and many conferences later, my wife thought to ask my son to write the numbers 1 to 30 on a page. Guess what, it took him just slightly longer than 60 seconds to do it. The end of this half of the story is that my son was completely put off of learning math by this teacher.

That summer I saw an ad for Mathnasium, a math tutoring franchise which claimed to "make math fun". We thought it worth a try, and indeed they were able to help with the math self-image/attitude that my son had acquired from the second grade teacher. A big part of Mathnasium's approach involves developing math visualization techniques. The thing is that they don't stop there, they continue on to the more traditional computational methods, which scale much better as the math becomes more complex. ( I highly recommend this franchise if it is available near you.)

Fast forward a couple of years.... math is one of my son's best subjects. The school switches to a new text-book/curriculum across the district. We attend presentations by the publisher. The teaching method presented is to be to introduce multiple ways to do the calculations, such that the student can use whichever method works best for them. Sounds good right? The problem is that when the teachers present it, they insist that all the students learn all of the different methods presented, and they specify that each set of problems is to be performed with a particular method. This doesn't work well, of course, because few students become good at all of the methods. I admit that several of the multiplication and long division methods are interesting shortcuts, but they don't seem lead to a good understanding of how the processes work at a more general level. (ie. they don't scale well). My son manages well enough, anyway.

Another few years, and my younger daughter is now going through the schools, except now it is common core. Instead of multiple methods, there is one method which MUST be followed, and that is the visualization "boxes" that others here have described well. It doesn't matter if you get the answer right in the end, if it looks like you were trying to draw the boxes correctly. On the contrary, if you know how to do math, and get the answer correct, but haven't figured out how the textbook wanted the boxes to be partitioned, you get the problem marked wrong. My daughter is also fairly good at math, and finds this very frustrating. My conclusion is that the talent of the teacher is as much or more than the particular method being used. ( assuming that a better teacher would teach around the text in this case.)

As a result, if it weren't for hearing the same situations described by many other "common core(d)" parents, I would blame the specific teachers. However, with so many similar stories, including from different areas of the country, I can only assume that this is how the teachers are being instructed to present (and grade) the topic. Mathnasium shows that it can be done well, but obviously this isn't what is happening in the standard classroom.

p.s. Before anyone accuses me of disliking teachers, both of my parents were teachers. I just have more respect for some, than I do for others.

There is nothing so easy but that it becomes difficult when you do it reluctantly. -- Publius Terentius Afer (Terence)

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