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Comment: Re:Let them eat cake! (Score 1) 305

There are a number of flaws with your argument:

1) "Black kids" most certainly are "less able to program," at least in the US, as revealed by the empirical evidence.

2) If you meant to write that they were congenitally not "less able to program" (which is how I interpret it), then it is a supposition based on speculation and not upon empirical evidence. The fact is, we do not know to what extent congenital factors affect ability in computer science nor do we know if they are unevenly distributed along gender, ethnic, or racial lines.

3) African Americans and "blacks" are two different groups.

4) If you had "race-blind" programs than there would be no way to target the demographics most underserved. The hill-folk in rural West Virgina and the impoverished people in Bedford–Stuyvesant both tend to be poor and undereducated and are at higher than average risk to be the victim of a crime, but for a police/sherrif's department to develop the same strategies to combat the higher crime rate in those very different demographics would be laughably obtuse.

Likewise, if you're trying to get poor, mostly rural white people in the Ozarks into computer science, you need a very different strategy than you would to get poor, mostly Latin kids in San Ysidro. Ignoring essential demographic information would be tantamount to incompetence.

Also, if helping one race to the exclusion of other races is "racist", then our whole society and culture is racist, as there exist many social institutions, formal or informal, that create that effect. It seems kind of silly to worry about Google giving money to programs that help low-participating demographics achieve parity when there exists a massive institution called American society that exists to elevate members of one population above another, on gender, racial, ethnic, national, and pecuniary lines.

Comment: Re:Let them eat cake! (Score 1) 305

Your statement relies on a false premise. If race were "irrelevant" as a factor, then there would be no disparity along racial lines. Since there exist disparities along racial lines, your premise is false and race is certainly a "relevant" factor.

Furthermore, inherent in your definition of "reverse discrimination" is the necessity that some groups must be discriminated against to begin with (otherwise it would be just plain ordinary "discrimination" instead of so-called "reverse-discrimination", so your whole argument is self contradicting.

And then there is the impetus of your argument, which is even more disturbing than its illogical nature. You are seriously stating that, as a matter of public policy, it is a bad idea to spend education money where it is most needed, among demographics most likely to suffer from lack of educational opportunities due to circumstances beyond their control. We don't earmark as much money for fire-control measures in Alaska as California because Californians tend, demographically, to be more at risk to suffer from fire. It is just sound public policy. Likewise, we should be earmarking more money to serve demographics that are at a higher risk of ignorance. It is just sound public policy.

When African Americans are graduating college at about half the rate of non-Hispanic whites, that is terrible not just for African Americans, but for all Americans and it needs to be addressed by everyone.

Comment: Re:Let them eat cake! (Score 2) 305

I wasn't aware that African Americans were the ones who chose, "to group themselves". I'm pretty sure that slavery wasn't created by African Americans. I'm pretty sure that 300 years of systematic discrimination using legal and extralegal means to keep African Americans from participating as equals in American societies was not created by African Americans.

The issue here is not, "reverse discrimination to make things equal." That is a straw man. What is being discussed is identifying where American society is failing to provide opportunities, and targeting those demographics, the same way that a police chief identifies which areas have high rates of criminal activities and dedicates extra resources to those areas.

Comment: Re:Let them eat cake! (Score 1) 305

You are absolutely correct. African Americans are the ones who chose to separate from American culture. When the US Constitution was written, African Americans volunteered to be slaves and quite vociferously demanded that they were only as 2/3rds of a person. African Americans wrote the Jim Crow laws. African Americans were the ones that passed zoning regulations in Silicon Valley that made it illegal for African Americans to buy or rent homes in many neighborhoods and cities. African Americans petitioned colleges and universities around the US to create regulations to keep them from attending. Even today, African Americans continue to separate themselves by choosing to be disproportionally born into impoverished families in dangerous neighborhoods with under-performing schools.

Your reasoning is bullet-proof and beyond reproach. Clearly it was African Americans who separated themselves from mainstream society, not 300 years of systematic discrimination written into law and social mores by those who controlled US society.

Comment: Don't bother (Score 1) 110

The Android ports all seem to have serious flaws. The Windows CE software can still be very useful, so long as running an older version makes sense. For instance, you're probably out of luck if you want to find an up-to-date browser or version of Skype, but if you want to use it as a calculator emulator, planitarium program, or gameboy emulator, you can probably find some fine programs for it.

I have a couple of them (a Dell Axim PDA and a Windows Tilt 2 smartphone), but I just gave up on making anything useful out of them. The primary problem is that for all the cool uses that exist, very few are not better-served by simply using your smartphone. That said, there are still a few possible uses that I have thought of:

1) An MP3 player for situations where your smartphone would be inappropriate (only problem here is the DAC in most of these phones suck, so probably won't work well hooked up to a $10,000 A/V system.

2) A networked security camera.

3) Give it to a child to play games and tinker around with (one who isn't going to be getting a smartphone for a while).

4) An exchange server display (many of these still sync fine with exchange)

5) An Alarm Clock (they display time, date, weather, et cetera).

Comment: Let them eat cake! (Score 3, Insightful) 305

Your argument seems to be contradictory:

1) Everyone in this country is an American.
2) If any group of Americans is underrepresented, it is solely the responsibility of that group to fix the systemic problems within US society that cause that lack of representation.

It seems to me that if we are truly one nation of Americans, we as a nation have a collective responsibility to ensure that nobody gets left behind. If African Americans are struggling educationally, the attitude of, "well, I'm not going to worry about it because it is African American's responsibility to fix the situation," is akin to not worrying about a major US city hit by a natural disaster or your neighbors' house being on fire.

If we are one nation, then the onus is upon every one of us to do all we can to help undermine the barriers that keep a group of Americans, simply through accident of birth, from achieving social parity. You can help by simply volunteering your time, or as Google has done, volunteering your money if you have it (and many Google employees also volunteer their precious time as well).

Comment: Perfect example of why engineers . . . (Score 1) 584

. . . should stay away from doing science. Using science and doing science are two very different career fields.

Engineer: Based on my experience . . .
Scientist: Based upon rigorous examination of the data modeled by a Poisson distribution, we conclude to within a five sigma error . . .

Comment: Re:Yeesh (Score 1) 584

N=100 anthropological study of chimpanzees being correlated to the roles gender plays in human society is not a valid extrapolation.

It is an interesting preliminary study, but saying that girls play with barbie dolls because there have been 100 observations of chimpanzees possibly playing with sticks like dolls is about as scientific as concluding that most bonobo males are willing to have sex with infants therefore most human males are pedophiles.

Comment: Re:Yeesh (Score 1) 584

Ever consider that the universe is just a computer simulation in some lab that exists on a plane of existence that we may never be able to access?

That's why science is so important. We can throw speculation out there all we want, but until we actually form a valid hypothesis and rigorously test it, that is all it is, speculation.

We know (from rigorous scientific testing) that the roles women and men play in society have a very strong cultural basis. We know, for instance, that the decline of women participating in CS programs was caused by changing environmental factors.

It is important that we stick to what we know scientifically and not add unfounded speculation. It is also important (from a pragmatic perspective) that we address what we can change, not what we cannot. Even, for the sake of argument, if we assume that men and women tend to naturally gravitate toward certain occupations, we cannot change that. What we can change is the well-documented environmental factors that influence the disparity.

Comment: Source Needed (Score 1) 584

So basically, you don't have any conclusive scientific evidence so you simply claim that it is, 'rediculously obvious [sic]," and leave it at that?

What is, "rediculously obvious", is that there are a myriad of cultural factors that discourage women from pursuing certain fields such as engineering, physics, and computer science. This is backed up by some pretty compelling quantitative evidence, such as the decrease of participation of women in CS programs in the United States (unless you want to believe that the "girly" genes of the female population magically increased in a span of one generation).

Now, absent these cultural factors, would half of nurses be men and half of programmers be women? It is impossible to say with the evidence we have before us. There COULD be congenital factors to the gender disparity, but it is important to note that the possibility of something existing is not the same as it actually existing.

What we do know is that there exist significant cultural factors that discourage women (and men) from taking on certain roles in society. This is backed up by significant scientific evidence. The "nurture" claim is not.

From a practical standpoint, the nature versus nurture argument is meaningless anyway. We don't know whether or not nature keeps women from taking on certain roles in society and even if it does, there is little we can do about it. We do know that nurture keeps women (and men) from taking on certain roles in society, and that is something we can work to correct.

Comment: Going forward? (Score 1) 97

by Mr_Wisenheimer (#48509715) Attached to: Nature Makes All Articles Free To View

The question is, will Nature be "free" going forward? If not, what limitations will be put on it.

Reading the article, it seems that the way this is going to work is that non-subscribers cannot access nature articles (which is disappointing), but anyone who does have access to the articles can share them with anyone who does not have access.

It is still a much better solution than the current one, which requires you to either pay or to login to your institution and search.

At least it is a step in the right direction.

Comment: Schools can get enterprise tools (Score 1) 193

by Mr_Wisenheimer (#48509547) Attached to: Chromebooks Overtake iPads In US Education Market

Microsoft got where it is today because its enterprise tools are so good. In a small school district, with a part-time IT guy, I could see this being a real mess but if a school has a properly staffed, full time IT department, it is not that hard to manage these things through active-directory and other enterprise tools.

Actually, that is why most universities have switched from local administration to Google or Microsoft for email and such, and Microsoft seems to be winning that battle. You can create one login for the student for their entire tenure in the district, and that can include active directory logins, office 365, and email, so they can use that login on tablets, school computers, and the city library.

Of course, those are major universities and colleges. I'm not sure how well it scales down to a school district serving a town of 3000 people with 300 students K-12.

Comment: A Surface Pro 2 is cheaper than an Ipad Air 2 (Score 1) 193

by Mr_Wisenheimer (#48508997) Attached to: Chromebooks Overtake iPads In US Education Market

Surface pro 2s have been selling for as low as $300. That is $200 cheaper than an iPad Air, and they come with a digitizer (you know, so you can actually take real notes) and you can add a well-designed keyboard cover.

If you're an engineer looking for a high-end ultrabook, then yes, the Surface Pro can easily set you back $2000. However, for schoolwork, Microsoft actually seems to be providing a much better alternative than the iPad. An actual PC tablet running an i3 (not a toy running ARM) with an actual active digitizer and the ability to run desktop open source and commercial software.

Comment: Carl Sagan (Score 1) 193

by Mr_Wisenheimer (#48508925) Attached to: Chromebooks Overtake iPads In US Education Market

For some reason, this reminded me of a passage from "The Demon-Haunted World" by Carl Sagan. The computing world seems more and more divided between a small creative class (scientists, artists, programmers, engineers, writers, et cetera) who mostly use PCs (laptops, desktops, workstations, convertibles like the Surface) and a much larger consumer class (people who primarily use toy computers like the Apple TV, Xbox, iPad, iPhone, et cetera).

I don't doubt that tablets have the potential to be useful in education, but I really hope that schools don't start treating education as a consumable product, like a movie or webpage.

“I have a foreboding of an America in my children's or grandchildren's time -- when the United States is a service and information economy; when nearly all the manufacturing industries have slipped away to other countries; when awesome technological powers are in the hands of a very few, and no one representing the public interest can even grasp the issues; when the people have lost the ability to set their own agendas or knowledgeably question those in authority; when, clutching our crystals and nervously consulting our horoscopes, our critical faculties in decline, unable to distinguish between what feels good and what's true, we slide, almost without noticing, back into superstition and darkness...

The dumbing down of American is most evident in the slow decay of substantive content in the enormously influential media, the 30 second sound bites (now down to 10 seconds or less), lowest common denominator programming, credulous presentations on pseudoscience and superstition, but especially a kind of celebration of ignorance”

  Carl Sagan, The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark

Comment: Re:who cares? (Score 1) 101

by Mr_Wisenheimer (#48495245) Attached to: Forbes Revisits the Surface Pro 3, Which May Face LG Competition

1. People who don't want to lug around two devices (the Surface Pro is an ultrabook and a tablet).

2. People who take notes with diagrams or mathematics, like students, researchers, engineers, et cetera (other than a few rather pricey Android tablets, the Surface Pro and its Windows-based brothers are the only tablets with digitizers).

3. People who want something like the Macbook air, only with better features for less money.

I mean, if all you want to do is surf porn on your couch while you watch football, then by all means, get an iPad, or better yet, a $300 Android tablet (better value for the money than an iPad). The Surface Pro is not a toy computer like the iPad or the Galaxy. It is a full-fat computer that happens to work pretty well as a tablet as well.

The market for a $2000 surface pro 3 running Windows and virtualizing Linux and loaded up with open source and professional software is very different than the market for a $400 iPad running iTunes and a bunch of entertainment apps for couch potatoes.

"There is nothing new under the sun, but there are lots of old things we don't know yet." -Ambrose Bierce

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