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Comment What students "need" (Score 1) 216

"Make it a high-school graduation requirement," Emanuel said. "They need to know this stuff."

I recall a moment in college when I was standing in the ruins of classic Rome with a friend of mine, reading to him a sign in one of the structures indicating where Julius Caesar was stabbed, and having him ask me, "Who's Julius Caesar?" Smart guy, graduated from college in three years, and has been a middle school science teacher ever since.

A central problem with our K-12 educational system has been too many cooks, i.e. politicians, in the kitchen. The central message they have been preaching without ceasing has been "More, more, more," and schools continue to suffer. Schools have become bloated with educational mandates that keep adding to the curriculum, and expect it sooner. For example, 25 years ago, my kindergarten classroom met for a half-day three days a week, where we learned our ABC's, learned how to count from 1-10, and otherwise drew crude drawings with crayons and played on the playground. Now every kindergartner needs to know how to read. The Finns still enjoy play time, and who has the better test scores? And don't get me started on Algebra expectations...

If we really want students to succeed, we need to give them room to grow by relaxing curricula standards, not adding more to them. If a smart guy can get through college and succeed in life not knowing who Julius Caesar was, does he need to know how to program a computer?

In my personal opinion, beyond the 8th grade, I think the only class every student should be required to take by law nationally is Civics. The care and maintenance of our nation depends on it. Leave the rest up to the states, and let national benchmarks like the ACT and SAT serve as a common metric students can measure themselves by.

Comment Recommended suggestion (Score 1) 247

It appears obvious that the human condition will put too much trust in the car. So, let's not let all humans operate self-driving vehicles for now. Let's say we instead begin with a very limited license that can only be obtained by specially-trained drivers familiar with expectations for device operation and manual override. Find a fleet of taxi drivers in a municipality, for example, or perhaps some transport vehicles that just bus passengers between an airport and hotels. Beta test car operations to determine how much driver-intervention is required at this stage in SDV technology development, then make recommendations from what is learned on how to proceed to the next step?

Either that, or start building dedicated highways that only allow self-driving vehicles. And only allow SDV-mode while on those highways.

Comment Is it a problem? (Score 5, Interesting) 151

N. fowleri can easily survive for 24 hours

But is it surviving? Does it even exist in our water system at present? I only know about this amoeba, because it became an issue up here in Minnesota when a boy swimming in Lake Minnewaska was believed to have contracted the disease and passed away. (Although, it was later determined that he died not from an amoeba but rather from bacterial meningitis.) But, as this was happening, it was shared that there's been only 35 confirmed deaths from amoebas over the last 10 years. Do we really need to concern and trouble ourselves over something killing 3.5 humans a year?

Comment These changes... (Score 5, Insightful) 466

He doesn't cook, and was able to get rid of almost all kitchen appliances because of that. He uses a butane stove for hot beverages. He powers a small computer off batteries, which get their energy from solar panels. For intensive tasks, he remotes to more powerful machines. He re-wired his apartment's LED lighting to run off direct current. Have any of you made similar changes?

No. I have a wife.

Comment Is anyone else tired of this nonsense? (Score 1) 212

It irritates me every time I hear this ruddy nonsense that keeps spewing out of Seattle and San Fransisco that we're not cranking out enough computer science graduates.

Hey Microsoft! Newsflash! Computer science majors rise and fall as starting salaries rise and fall.

If you want to see more majors, raise your starting salaries. Stop firing everyone and outsourcing to India.

Comment "Since they weren't charged..." (Score 2) 334

Sorry for not answering your question, but your statement, "Since they weren't charged, it wasn't really a problem" actually gets to the heart of what's happening here and was worth commenting on.

There is a legal gray area here, though one of a different sort. Cops cannot legally stop and detain "suspicious people" just because they look suspicious. But they do it all the time, because no one will take the time to sue for an unlawful Terry Stop. It's unpractical; the unlawful action may be a demoralizing inconvenience, but that's better than getting yourself involved in a lawsuit.

But in this circumstance, the DHS can detain anyone they want. The gray area here is that the individual is being detained in an international zone. Until one passes through customs, he/she is not legally on U.S. soil and U.S. law does not apply. The DHS is technically welcome to detain her, you, and any other U.S. Citizen for as long as they want. My wife personally went through it on one occasion and sat in a locked room for about two hours before they mysteriously just let her go. She asked why she was held and got the "We're not at liberty to say" line in return.

Comment Why change? (Score 3) 195

The American lifestyle is no different. We need oil. We drive vehicles that burn gas. We need asphalt to pave our roads. We fly in airplanes that burn jet fuel. We depend on plastics to make everything that exists in our lives. In order to buy everything, we need it shipped from half-way around the world in freighters that burn diesel and in trains to get it across the United States. Practically everything that makes our modern lives modern depends on petrochemicals. If you want a more thorough list, go here.

We won't give up on oil until we run out.

Comment Three thoughts... (Score 3, Insightful) 394

#1) This will make it that much more inconvenient for passengers closest to the window to get out when they need to use the bathroom.

#2) Forward-facing seats make more sense during takeoff, as the acceleration from the plane pushes passengers into their seats, but the seats keep them secure. Passengers facing the rear will find it a bit more uncomfortable holding themselves in the seat when basic physics is pushing them out of it. (Yes, I know airline attendants have rear-facing seats. A cousin of mine served as steward on an airline for some years and always complained about them.)

#3) Are airplanes engineered to handle the additional weight of 80 more passengers and their luggage?

Comment While I'd like to agree with you... (Score 3, Interesting) 1083

While it had its place in the 18th and 19th century, the Electoral college has long outlived its usefulness. The entire concept of winner-take-all in most states means that only a few key states actually decide our election every time it comes around....until the rules change, that's how the system works whether you like it or not.

I'd like to agree with you, but it depends on the proposed method of election. Given the population distribution and unique division of powers between state and national governments within our nation, I'm not a fan of a direct popular vote for the presidency. I just don't believe it best encapsulates the spirit of our nation. While I would generally support a change over to the Congressional District Method, I am greatly concerned about gerrymandering and its affect on such a proposed alternative solution.

In fact, check out the statistics at the Daily Kos, then do the math. If every state followed the Congressional District Method, Romney would have won the 2012 one electoral vote! Interestingly, Obama would have still won the 2008 election. I wonder what happened between 2008 and 2012 that would have made such a difference...

Comment Correct (Score 2) 456

You are correct. HVAC is ridiculously expensive. Unlike the computer marketplace, there are a very limited supply of HVAC solutions, and many (not all) of the vendors like to keep their circuit and programming technology proprietary.

We just bid out the controller circuits for our school's HVAC system this year in our school district. We have two buildings joined by a hallway on a common campus; 38 blowers and over a hundred dampers control air flow into each room in the building, and each needs a control circuit. Estimated cost was $150,000. Mind you, this cost is -strictly- for control circuits and software to manage them. (Our elementary building had HVAC equipment that was only 10 years old, and 23 years old in the high school. The equipment works fine, but when the circuits were upgraded with the construction of the elementary school in 2005, the contractor used an HVAC control solution that was already outdated. We could only find one vendor in the whole state that was able to service the system.)

For 19 buildings, $2 million is certainly reasonable.

Comment But this is a new low... (Score 5, Informative) 226

I think it's common knowledge by now that industry can buy legislation. The new low is that the actual text of the bill is being kept under lock and key.

I simply cannot see how it is constitutional to permit this to happen. While I understand that rules are being leveraged to limit its exposure (including the fast-track vote process), the spirit of the Constitution has always advocated for transparency and public ownership of government operations.

I suppose what upsets me the most is that I cannot determine which I am more upset with: what's being done with the TPP or the fact that we don't have enough congressmen speaking out against it. As a representative of the people, any legislative process that seeks to erode the spirit of the Constitution is a threat to their constituents and should not be passed. I don't care if the text of the bill would buy every American a new house; the fact that it's being kept secret should be plenty of reason alone to vote it down.

Comment Speaking as a former yearbook adviser (Score 5, Insightful) 379

This guy would be -any- yearbook adviser's dream to have. Look at his photos...they're incredible. He gets in close to his subject, captures the action vividly, and makes very good use of lighting. And for a sophomore? Simply amazing.

This district is handling the situation all wrong. Regardless of whether or not they can or cannot make a claim to the ownership of the photos, they should be lifting this young man up for the talent he has and putting him on a pedestal. Enter him into national photography competitions. Get national recognition for his work, and put the trophies in your trophy case. And make him proud of his talent. He deserves it.

Suing him? Simply ridiculous.

Comment Dear Microsoft (Score 2) 387

I've been a mathematics teacher for nine years. And with the utmost sincerity, let me say this: Shut the fuck up.

Take your baseless opinions regarding educational matters and keep them to yourself. Microsoft has had as much success running schools as they had selling MP3 players. Note taking has been proven time-and-time again to be a very effective and powerful mnemonic device for learning. Studies have also shown that note taking with a pen/pencil and paper is more effective than note taking with a laptop. Furthermore, I can ask my students to have a notebook and pencil the first day of class, and for those who forgot or cannot afford it, I have plenty of spares to give them. I cannot expect the same out of a laptop or other digital device. Until you have research clearly demonstrating that any digital device is superior for learning development and comprehension, stay out of my classroom.

COMPASS [for the CDC-6000 series] is the sort of assembler one expects from a corporation whose president codes in octal. -- J.N. Gray