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Comment: Re:Wait? (Score 2) 71

by OG (#46099851) Attached to: Acid Bath Offers Easy Path To Stem Cells

Exactly. There's always been incentive to use adult stem cells as that means patients could possibly become their own donors for various therapies. Until recently though (possibly, we'll see how this pans out), that was feasible with our knowledge and technology.

It's my understanding that the Japan doesn't have the same strictures on embryonic stem cell research that we have here in the US. I haven't looked over this closely (and frankly don't have the time, I'd love to see someone more knowledgable chime in), but I'm guessing that this current study would not have been possible without prior embryonic stem cell research. There's a possibility that, had the entire world been subject to Bush's edicts, we wouldn't be at this point now. Conjecture, but I don't think unlikely.

Comment: Re:Girls taking shop class (Score 1) 325

by OG (#46018473) Attached to: The Whole Story Behind Low AP CS Exam Stats

Which is why I pointed out that there are pockets around the nation that don't see as broad a gender inequity. If it was simply due to biological differences that are brought on my puberty, the decline in STEM interest among girls should drop by roughly the same rate everywhere. But that's not the case -- there are areas where such a precipitous drop does not occur. So it seems like we can rule out those changes being due solely (or even primarily) to innate physiological/neurological changes -- there must be something different about those environments. And sure enough, there were, and it points to sociological pressures working against some girl's natural predilection.

Comment: Re:Girls taking shop class (Score 1) 325

by OG (#46018177) Attached to: The Whole Story Behind Low AP CS Exam Stats

I accidentally posted this as AC, didn't mean to do that. Since that means it will probably never be seen, reposting it.

The problem is that researchers have demonstrated that there are external forces that drive the gender disparity in STEM fields. It begins around middle school -- before that, there's about equal interested in math and sciences between boys and girls. Those conducting the studies looked for schools or districts that were graduating significantly more female students planning on STEM careers than the average and then sought out the reasons for those differences. One of the biggest differences they saw was that those areas in which female students were not losing interest were ones in which the female students had personal contact with female role models actively working in STEM professions.

If it's simply biological gender difference explaining the gender divide, then fine. But that doesn't seem to be the case. Rather, there are systemic issues that result in girls having less confidence in their abilities that seem to be driving them out of areas in which they initially expressed interest. That is a problem.

While I applaud companies that promote equality in all forms (and from my personal experience as a white male, I've find the more diverse companies to generally be much better work environments with sharper staff overall), trying to fix the problem at the hiring level is too little, too late. Instead, we need to be more focused on reaching girls early and letting them know that 1) girls, overall, are just as capable in STEM fields and 2) they can be happy and fulfilled in STEM careers.

Comment: It's not an Either/Or Situation (Score 1) 340

by OG (#44724333) Attached to: For Education, Why TI-83 > iPad

Can the TI be a good educational tool to help teach programming concepts? Yep, it sure can be. Better tool than the iPad? Probably, yes.

But that's not really the educational niche for which Apple is pushing the iPad in the classroom. It's basically being sold as an electronic textbook, which isn't necessarily a bad concept. Having one very portable device to haul around instead of four to six heavy books is great. Not having to print a massive number of new textbooks every year? Also nice. Videos and audio embedded in the text? That can be a real asset, and that's not achievable with traditional textbooks. Being able to start at a high level with a complex multicellular organism and drill down to the sub-cellular level? Pretty nifty.

There are also things like real-time quizzes, where a teacher asks a question, the students answer on their tablets, and the teacher gets immediate feedback about both the group as a whole and the individual students.

I'm not saying that tablets are a cure to our educational woes, nor do I think they are a huge educational revolution. But I think they are tools that can be used effectively in an educational setting. Personally, I think part of the problem is that kids spend too much time with their heads in books, e- or otherwise, focusing on theory and not enough time getting their hands dirty applying those theories. The TI calculator is an example of a tool that can help with the latter. But that doesn't negate the value that a properly employed iPad-or-other-tablet can also bring. It just means using different available tools in conjunction with one another.

Comment: Re:oh please please please (Score 1) 168

by OG (#44696115) Attached to: Death of the Car Salesman? BMW Makes AI App To Sell Electric Cars

There are good realtors that provide a service (note that I say good -- it's important to research realtors like anything else). If I'm buying a home in a new town that I don't know anything about, I want to work with a realtor. I can give them a list of what I'm looking for (price, safety, convenience, features, etc), and they're going to be much more efficient about finding possible matches than I would. As for selling homes, most people only do that a handful of times in their lives. A realtor is going to help set reasonable expectations for a seller (cause let's face it, most people don't have reasonable expectations) and provide advice for getting a home ready to sell (because again, most be are unable/unwilling to actually learn what to do to put their best foot forward).

That said, there is too much cruft in the real estate system (depends on where you are, of course, as to exactly how much), and it could be streamlined made more open. But considering all of the legal issues that are involved with buying and selling homes, the enormous amount of time it can take a novice unfamiliar with process or market to do all of that research, etc, I think there's definitely a place for experts with a large amount of working knowledge to provide professional services.

Comment: Re:No way (Score 4, Insightful) 168

by OG (#44695951) Attached to: Death of the Car Salesman? BMW Makes AI App To Sell Electric Cars

Sounds to me like a contract issue between the dealer and manufacturer (I'm guessing that terms about the opening of competing branches of the same franchise within a certain geographic area are standard for just about any type of franchise). There shouldn't be legislation about it outside of standard contract law.

Comment: Re:Female programmers (Score 1) 608

by OG (#44681085) Attached to: Could a Grace Hopper Get Hired In Today's Silicon Valley?

There are actually plenty of imaging studies showing sex-based differences in the brains of men and women. We do have to question whether those are hard-wired differences or different patterns that emerge due to development and socialization, but there could potentially be an answer to that by looking at images of female vs male brains across cultures that have different expectations of/roles for women and through development studies, as well as correlating those differences with behavioral differences. It's interesting to note that there have been imaging studies on men-who-identify-as-women and women-who-identify-as-men, and their brains structurally match the gender with which they identify, not with their genitalia.

Comment: Re:Female programmers (Score 1) 608

by OG (#44679593) Attached to: Could a Grace Hopper Get Hired In Today's Silicon Valley?

I suggest listening to this story. I'm not saying there's isn't some biological difference at play, but this study and others like it demonstrate that gien the right conditions, girls are just as likely to show interest in STEM fields as boys, so your assertion that it's only biological seems very unlikely. We need to determine just what conditions keep girls from showing as much interest, or more correctly stated, losing interest. We can then work to eliminate those conditions.

Comment: Re:Female programmers (Score 1) 608

by OG (#44677799) Attached to: Could a Grace Hopper Get Hired In Today's Silicon Valley?

It's important to ask the question because we need to determine reasons for the lower number of women in technical areas. Do biological gender differences play a role? To an extent, probably. But does institutional sexism play a role in discouraging girls early on from pursuing technical careers? Very likely. The key is determining what can't be changed (biology), what can be changed (societal attitudes and expectations of girls vs boys), how much each contributes, and what can be done to change the ways in which girls are discouraged from STEM subjects. We can't just assume that making sure HR departments aren't practicing discriminatory hiring practices is enough. It hasn't even been 100 years since women received the right to vote. It shouldn't be surprising that there are still differences in the ways boys and girls are treated and that it shapes how they view the themselves. It's often subtle and unintended, but it's important for us to question whether it's happening and how best to correct those types of inequalities.

Comment: Re:Real developers don't do web development (Score 5, Interesting) 275

by OG (#44090777) Attached to: The Security Risks of HTML5 Development
Not true at all. I've been programming since I was 6 (now 37), have a degree in CS, and spent the first 13 years of my post-college career doing C++ programming. I transitioned to web development because I find it interesting. I work with other highly intelligent, skilled web developers. Web development has moved beyond putting together a blog. Some people, such as myself, think the challenges involved in putting together a scalable, responsive, functional, secure web app are interesting, and after reaching a bit of burnout in my C++, I feel a bit renewed. Not to mention the fact that learning how best to utilize a new set of languages and technologies has made me a better programmer all around, even benefitting the times I need to switch back to C++ mode.

Comment: Re:Be still, my heart! (Score 1) 214

by OG (#43999219) Attached to: Supreme Court: No Patents For Natural DNA Sequences
I don't think it is irrelevant. If someone found a unique splicing from three different areas of a gene, a splicing that is not produced by the body, it's not "natural". The body doesn't produce that particular variant, even though it's composed completely of coding regions from a gene. The researches constructed that sequence from bits of an existing gene. They created that particular sequence. To go to the extreme end, one could say that any sequence is going to be an alternative splicing of individual bases. I think there has to be room for people to create particular molecules that are based on sequences found in nature -- the kicker is that the specific molecule in question isn't found in that organism. Not in that particular form as a single entity.

Comment: Re:Be still, my heart! (Score 1) 214

by OG (#43998709) Attached to: Supreme Court: No Patents For Natural DNA Sequences
If the researchers do isolate a particular strand of cDNA that does not occur in that particular form, by which I mean you're not going to find that piece of cDNA existing as a standalone entity within a cell and that particular sequence as a stand-alone provides functional, therapeutic effects, I think that's a gray area.

It is surely a great calamity for a human being to have no obsessions. - Robert Bly

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