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Comment: Re: Just wondering... (Score 1) 416

by Phronesis (#48591483) Attached to: MIT Removes Online Physics Lectures and Courses By Walter Lewin

You just confirmed that it is being used and that it has useful data. Studying it are using it and as you bring up it has been used to prove that his conclusions about twins where wrong. In fact his data proves the exact opposite, that twins separated at birth do not show similar intelligence and school results.

Of course thats not the use he intended but it's still useful.

Huh? Mengele's twin research had nothing to do with intelligence of twins separated at birth. It involved mutilating twins (e.g., injecting chemicals into their eyes to try to change the eye color) or killing and dissecting them.

There was no systematic scientific design. Just sadism pretending to be science. What useful information, intended or unintended, has anyone found in his data?

Comment: Re:Just wondering... (Score 2) 416

by Phronesis (#48577117) Attached to: MIT Removes Online Physics Lectures and Courses By Walter Lewin

Not to Godwin a discussion, but same argument for the research the Nazis did on twins. Some of it is good, useful information. But nobody will touch it because of its source.

ORLY? All the scholarship I have read about the twin research concludes that there was no serious effort at science and that the data that were collected were useless. Do you have any citations to support your assertion that the twin research produced any good scientifically useful data?

Comment: Re:Rap isn't free speech. (Score 2) 436

by Phronesis (#48494051) Attached to: Supreme Court To Decide Whether Rap Lyric Threats Are Free Speech
Reasonable person sounds right to me too. If a reasonable person would interpret something as a threat, that sounds like the right First Amendment criterion. If you can't assume that a jury consists of 12 reasonable people, then the whole Constitution is broken beyond repair and worrying about this little part of it would miss the big picture.

Comment: Re:And this is how perverted our system has gotten (Score 1) 436

by Phronesis (#48493391) Attached to: Supreme Court To Decide Whether Rap Lyric Threats Are Free Speech

The first amendment - like anything written in the Constitution is absolute. It has to be.

If it's absolute, then we have to interpret the second amendment as permitting individuals to possess weapons of mass destruction. If we don't allow the government to restrict me from keeping nuclear bombs, large amounts of nerve gas, and big vats of anthrax in my garage, we've reached the kind of reductio ad absurdum of Constitutional construction that Justice Jackson criticized in his dissent in Terminiello : "There is danger that, if the Court does not temper its doctrinaire logic with a little practical wisdom, it will convert the constitutional Bill of Rights into a suicide pact."

Comment: Re:Rap isn't free speech. (Score 1) 436

by Phronesis (#48493313) Attached to: Supreme Court To Decide Whether Rap Lyric Threats Are Free Speech

The only time when the idea of free speech should be trumped, is when there is intent to cause harm, like yelling bomb or fire in a crowded area, or shining a laser pointer at an air plane or person.

How can you prove that I intend harm when I yell "bomb" in a crowded arena? I might say that it was just a joke or that I was performing a rap that I call, "There's a bomb in this arena."

Consider a kid who calls in a bomb threat to a school and says that he didn't mean harm; he was only pulling what he thought was a harmless prank. Would that be a legitimate excuse, if the jury believes that he only meant it as a harmless prank?

Comment: Re:Too bad... (Score 4, Informative) 610

by Phronesis (#48140979) Attached to: Wind Power Is Cheaper Than Coal, Leaked Report Shows

We're losing polar ice and there are other changes too. How much will that affect the albedo?

Albedo is currently 30%. Losing ice cuts the albedo (this is known as the "ice-albedo feedback"), but not anywhere like from 30% to 7%. Clouds provide a lot of albedo and they're not going anywhere.

55 million years ago, during the Paleocene-Eocene Thermal maximum, the sun was almost as bright as today, there was about 4 times as much CO2 in the atmosphere as today (basically, there was a carbon infusion into the atmosphere roughly equivalent to us burning all known coal reserves), and there was no permanent ice on Antarctica or Greenland, but there was no runaway greenhouse effect. We can also calibrate the strength of the ice-albedo feedback from its contribution to Pleistocene ice age cycles, during which as much as 30% of the earth's land mass was covered with ice and snow.

Don't get me wrong: Global warming is a very real and serious threat. But there is no plausible way it could possibly produce a boil-the-oceans-dry runaway greenhouse effect like we see on Venus. If you're looking for a good scientific treatment, see David Archer's textbook "Global Warming: Understanding the Forecast" for an introductory-level treatment or Raymond Pierrehumbert's book, "Principles of Planetary Climate" for a very rigorous calculus-based Ph.D. level treatment. Also, Andrew Ingersoll, who discovered the runaway greenhouse effect, has a good primer, "Planetary Climates." also has a good short and clear treatment.

Comment: Re:A solution in search of a problem... (Score 1) 326

by Phronesis (#47900217) Attached to: Technological Solution For Texting While Driving Struggles For Traction

For the most part, people can safely do it. Well, in a technical sense it is less safe than not texting while driving but so many people do it without incident each and every day that they consider it safe enough for them to do it.

This statement applies equally to driving while drunk. Lots of people do it every day and few have an accident. You might find it interesting to read up on low-probability/high-consequence risks.

The baseline probability of a fatal accident is about 1 / 1.2 million per mile traveled, so if something increases your risk by a factor of 20 (the estimated risk factor for texting while driving), you would not notice it from your experience. It would take statistical analysis of a large number of crashes to determine the excess risk. Increasing your chance of getting in a fatal accident by a factor of 20 is a significant added risk, but the baseline probability is so small that any individual driver is unlikely to notice the difference from experience.

Comment: I buy books (Score 1) 430

I spend a lot of money on books. O'Reilly, Packt, etc. put out some very useful books documenting FOSS tools (and for statistical computing in R, both Springer and CRC publish a lot of really excellent books, although they can be very pricey). These books are mostly written by people who can really write and edited by people who can really edit.

And when I spend my money buying this kind of documentation, it supports a culture of good technical writing and ensures that good technical writers to get paid for their work.

It might be nice if there were a similar quality of documentation available for download under CC, but absent that it's nice that there is a thriving industry providing good, useful documentation in books.

Comment: Re:name the states, please (Score 1) 157

by Phronesis (#46914275) Attached to: Kids To Get the Best CS Teachers $15/Hr Can Buy

I'm sorry, but there are people on slashdot who are desperate to figure out who I am. If I give away what state I currently live in, and the other state I have seen this policy in, that would make it that much easier for them to figure it out. I will only say that the 1,000 mile distance is mostly in an east-west direction, with very little north-south movement.

If you are afraid to give evidence to back up your assertions, then why are you making those assertions in the first place?

If you were serious about contributing to this discussion, you could have said that there were two states that had this policy and linked to evidence of that policy, without ever saying that you lived there. But instead, you were more interested in making it a personal thing about "I experienced that and I am so important that if I told you what state I live in I would have to shoot you."

Get over yourself. You are not so important that someone is going to track you down and hurt you on the basis of a /. comment that reveals indirectly what state you live in.

Comment: Re:name the states, please (Score 1) 157

by Phronesis (#46914227) Attached to: Kids To Get the Best CS Teachers $15/Hr Can Buy
I'm not going to defend damn_registrars because that post said a lot more (the masters had to be in education and a Ph.D. didn't count as "equivalent coursework), so what damn_registrars said might well be BS. But if you look at the text on p. 85 and figure 79 on p. 87, it looks to me as though the masters is required not for tenure, but to get a mandatory teaching license. Did I misunderstand that?

Comment: Re:name the states, please (Score 1) 157

by Phronesis (#46909481) Attached to: Kids To Get the Best CS Teachers $15/Hr Can Buy

Ooops. I misread the GP post, so my answer did not address the real question of whether they would reject a Ph.D. as being equivalent. Sorry about posting an irrelevant answer.

One thing I will say is that getting a Ph.D. prepares a person for research, but most Ph.D. programs don't include anything about how to teach the material to high school students, so it's reasonable that a state would want to know not only do you know the technical material, but also do you know how to teach it, maintain classroom discipline, work with students who have learning disabilities, etc.

It's nice to be drawn to secondary teaching after getting a Ph.D., but there is an important step in actually getting training in how to teach before that Ph.D. will be useful to most high schools.

Comment: Re:name the states, please (Score 2) 157

by Phronesis (#46909451) Attached to: Kids To Get the Best CS Teachers $15/Hr Can Buy

You've been asked twice already to say where this policy supposedly exists. What states are you talking about? I don't want to call BS on your post if some stupid state where liberals don't think about the consequences of their policies actually did something so dumb.

Since the commenter won't answer your question, here goes: Google points me to the National Council on Teacher Quality's 2013 State Teacher Quality Yearbook, which says that: "Connecticut, Kentucky, Maryland, Mississippi, Montana, New York and Oregon all require a master’s degree or coursework equivalent to a master’s degree" (p. 87).

Comment: Re:Value of a degree to the employer (Score 2) 489

by Phronesis (#43371201) Attached to: Getting a Literature Ph.D. Will Make You Into a Horrible Person
So I'm curious: Since you have contempt for the way college educates kids, do you hire a lot of employees straight out of high school and provide the kind of real-world on-the-job learning that you extol? Or do you think that's just something OTHER employers ought to do?

All the simple programs have been written.