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Comment: Re:another language shoved down your throat (Score 1) 411

by Xtifr (#47434707) Attached to: Python Bumps Off Java As Top Learning Language

In your non-Python language of choice, how do you tell the difference between an error in indentation and an error in marking the beginning and ending of blocks?

Difference? There is no difference! I don't indent! I mark the beginning and end of blocks, and the code is automatically indented to match. I can, with some difficulty, defeat this mechanism, but I can't think of any reason why I'd want to.

Comment: Re: another language shoved down your throat (Score 1) 411

by Xtifr (#47434575) Attached to: Python Bumps Off Java As Top Learning Language

You're free to dislike the way Python handles blocks and white space.

Thank you. Not that I needed your permission, but I shall indeed continue to consider it an idiotic design.

But if it actually substantially affects your productivity, you're simply not a very good programmer, because it's not a big deal in practice.

Agreed. However the fact that it doesn't noticably harm my productivity doesn't mean it's a good feature.

In any case, we're discussing its potential use as a teaching language here, and people who are just starting to learn to program are, pretty much by definition, not good programers. So its impact on not-good-programmers is still very relevant.

Comment: Re:Well out running the police ... (Score 1) 369

by Xtifr (#47434449) Attached to: The First Person Ever To Die In a Tesla Is a Guy Who Stole One

Except there are people who survived crashes at much higher speeds.

There are people who have survived jumping out of "perfectly good" airplanes without a functioning parachute. Doesn't mean you should take up skydiving-without-a-parachute as a hobby. :)

There's a reason cases like you mention make the news: surviving a crash at those speeds is an impressive and newsworthy feat. (The reason this case made the news was not the fact that the driver died, but the fact that a Tesla was involved. Otherwise, it seems like a pretty unremarkable story.)

Richard Hammond of Top Gear UK fame survived a crash at 288 mph

And I bet he was buckled in. Remaining in the vehicle during a high-speed crash greatly increases your chances of survival. Exiting a vehicle at 100+ mph is generally contraindicated! (Tip for future reference.) ;)

Comment: Re:another language shoved down your throat (Score 4, Insightful) 411

by Xtifr (#47411369) Attached to: Python Bumps Off Java As Top Learning Language

Have you ever been fooled by incorrect indentation that didn't compile the way it looked?

Nope. My editor takes care of indentation for me, in every common language except Python, and when I have to deal with a batch of code written by someone else, I run it through indent(1) first. So, in fact, it's just the opposite: when the indentation doesn't match what I expect, I know there's an actual problem in the code!

With Python, on the other hand, I'm actually more likely to have an error in the indenting, because there's no easy way to see how many blocks I'm terminating when I outdent by an arbitrary amount. Which is a real PITA when you're refactoring.

Of course, things may be different if you're using crappy tools. But professionals shouldn't be using crappy tools.

Brackets, begin..end, and semicolons are crutches for compiler writers not programmers.

No, they're tools to make my job easier. Whatever the historical reason for them may be, they benefit the programmer! They make me more productive.

Now, I'll grant that Python is a remarkably good language despite its horrible flaw of relying on indentation. And many of its good features also make me more productive. But that doesn't mean that relying on the indentation isn't a horrible flaw.

Comment: Re:The same way many global warming papers got pub (Score 4, Insightful) 109

by hey! (#47383665) Attached to: How Did Those STAP Stem Cell Papers Get Accepted In the First Place?

Peer reviewed. Yeah, right. And just who is reviewing the peers?

Ha! I knew the denialists would come swarming out of the woodwork on this one.

Consider the stem cell paper that we're talking about here. It was published in January and immediately started going down in flames. Here we are six months later, watching scientists gleefully kick the cold corpse of the authors' reputations. And you're still wondering who keeps the reviewers and editors of a scientific journal honest?

Peer review isn't some kind of certification of a paper's truth. It can't reliably weed out misconduct, experimental error, or statistical bad luck. It's just supposed to reduce the frequency of fiascos like this one by examining the reasoning and methods as described in the paper. It doesn't have to be perfect; in fact it's preferable for it to let the occasional clunker through onto the slaughterhouse floor than to squelch dissenting views or innovation.

That's why climate change denialists still get published today, even the ones who disbelieve climate change because it contravenes their view of the Bible. Peer review allows them to keep tugging at the loose threads of the AGW consensus while preventing them from publishing papers making embarrassingly broad claims for which they don't have evidence that has any chance of convincing someone familiar with the past fifty years of furious scientific debate.

Comment: Re:Sad, sad times... (Score 1) 333

Here's what I think is the confounding factor (there always is one): I'd be wondering, "Does that button REALLY deliver a shock, or is it some kind of sham social psychology experiment prop? I bet it's a prop. If it isn't, it won't deliver THAT bad a shock. If it is, I wonder what the researchers will do when I push it?"

The confounding factor is curiosity. They'd have to do *two* sessions with the overly curious.

Comment: Re:Bad media coverage (Score 1) 1317

by hey! (#47356897) Attached to: U.S. Supreme Court Upholds Religious Objections To Contraception

Except that if you read the majority opinion they actually open up any provision of the law to challenge on the same grounds. They warn that the ruling should not be taken as covering anything covered by insurance, but presumably any such thing could in principle be challenged on the same basis, and depending on the circumstances might likewise be exempted. The majority has opened the door to challenging the application of any provision of this law to a closely held corporation -- indeed any provision of any law. They just don't know how the challenge will turn out.

It's interesting to note that the court broke down almost exactly on religious lines when dealing with contraception. Five of the six Roman Catholic justices voted with the majority, and all three Jews joined by one dissenting Catholic. I think this is significant because the majority opinion, written exclusively by Catholics, seems to treat concerns over contraception as sui generis; and the possibility of objections to the law based on issues important to other religious groups to be remote.

Another big deal in the majority opinion is that it takes another step towards raising for-profit corporations to the same status as natural persons. The quibbling involved is astonishing:

....no conceivable definition of 'person' includes natural persons and non-profit corporations, but not for-profit corporations.

Which may be true, but it's irrelevant. The question is whether compelling a for-profit corporation to do something impacts the religious liberties of natural persons in exactly the same way as compelling a church to do that same thing. If there is any difference whatsoever, then then the regulations imposed on the church *must* be less restrictive than the regulations imposed on a business. Logically, this is equivalent to saying the regulations imposed on a business *may* be more restrictive than the regulations imposed on a church.

Comment: Re:Vegetables out of necessity, or out of preferen (Score 2) 151

by hey! (#47324801) Attached to: Neanderthals Ate Their Veggies

Some of us are old enough to remember the Vietnam war, which in turn brought us in contact with the long running civil war in Laos. Anti-communist Hmong from Laos fought alongside Americans and after both Vietnam and Laos fell to the Communists many Hmong refugees were resettled here in the US along with their families.

I remember this story about S. nigrum from a newspaper account back in the 80s about foraging by local Hmong refugees. There were lots of stories about Hmong settling in, and because this was pre WWW you read them because you read pretty much everything in the paper that was even vaguely interesting.

"Lead us in a few words of silent prayer." -- Bill Peterson, former Houston Oiler football coach

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