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Comment: Re:Price (Score 1) 232

by the phantom (#47572095) Attached to: Amazon's eBook Math

(Why I am responding to an AC, I cannot fathom but...)

Nothing you have said actually contradicts anything that I said or is in any way relevant to the point that I made. The more expensive ebooks are priced as such because some people (not you, obviously) are willing to pay a premium for early access when the alternative to an ebook is a hardcover volume.

Comment: Re:Price (Score 2) 232

by the phantom (#47571765) Attached to: Amazon's eBook Math

First off, the higher priced ebooks are not meant to be competitive with paperbacks, but with hardcover releases. Generally, the hardcover and the ebook will come out at about the same time with the ebook being cheaper. I would also note (anecdotally) that most ebooks seem to come down in price in sync with the release of a paperback edition.

Second, according to a commenter on Scalzi's website who claims to have experience in the industry (going by the nym --E), it costs about one to two bucks to print and ship a paperback. Given that mass market paperbacks tend to run about $6-10, a price point of $4-9 would be in keeping with the notion of not paying the cost of printing and shipping a physical book. Oddly enough, a lot of ebooks seem to get sold in that range of prices. If your entire justification for not buying an ebook for more than $2 is that this represents the cost of a paperback minus the cost of paper, then you might want to reassess what you are willing to pay for an ebook.

Comment: Re:Confusing position (Score 1) 428

by the phantom (#47570189) Attached to: Jesse Jackson: Tech Diversity Is Next Civil Rights Step

Then by your definitions, the current federal hiring practices are discriminatory.

First, those are not my definitions. Those are the definitions in law, as per executive orders 10925 and 11246 (the orders establishing affirmative action). It is a clever rhetorical trick to imply that the person to whom you are responding is using some wacky definition out of left-field, but it is kind of dishonest.

Second, I did not claim that federal hiring practices were non-discriminatory. What I claimed is that affirmative action is non-discriminatory, as it specifically claims to be about ending discrimination, in large part through the collection of data about hiring practices.

Finally, can you prove (or even provide solid evidence) of your claim that federal hiring practices are discriminatory? I don't claim to be an expert, and I would be willing to believe that such discrimination exists were you (or someone else) to provide evidence of such. That being said, your evidence would have to run counter both to my own experience and the stated policies of the federal government.

For my own experience, I did seasonal work for the BLM and Forest Service a decade ago, and the stated hiring policy was not to discriminate on the basis of race, religion, etc. In fact, USAJobs doesn't necessarily collect demographic information aside from status as a veteran and some information about disabilities. I can't speak from personal experience regarding the practices of contractors, but they are supposed to be held to the same standard.

Beyond my own anecdotes, the Department of Labor states that their policy is not to discriminate except to give veterans preference and to "... take affirmative steps to employ qualified individuals with disabilities." ([1], emphasis mine). Other relevant laws and regulations can be found on the Department of Labor's website, including the following which relate to equal opportunity employment: [2] and [3] (relating to executive order 11246, the current law-of-the-land regarding affirmative action), and [4] (relating to the preference given to veterans).

Comment: Re:Confusing position (Score 1) 428

by the phantom (#47569145) Attached to: Jesse Jackson: Tech Diversity Is Next Civil Rights Step

So would you argue that affirmative action and hiring/acceptance quotas are discrimination...

No and yes (in that order).

The executive orders that comprise the basis of affirmative action order government agencies and contractors (1) not discriminate in hiring on the basis of race, religion, national origin, or sex and (2) to collect data in order to understand if their hiring practices are leading to over- or under-representation of certain groups, determine why that discrimination exists, and fix the problem if possible. The whole point of affirmative action is to take steps to *stop* discrimination on the basis on the basis of certain criteria that should be irrelevant (such as, again, race, religion, national origin, or sex) not to intentionally discriminate on these bases in order to rectify some historic inequality.

Quotas are inherently discriminatory.

Comment: Re:Why not? (Score 1) 119

by the phantom (#47540901) Attached to: AP Computer Science Test Takers Up 8,000; Pass Rate Down 6.8%

People who are not passionate tend to be mediocre or worse.

Bullshit. People who do well regardless of their passions are called professionals. I had a LOT of passion about programming and tech but the industry killed it. The last nail in the coffin was when I trained a "more qualified" H1-b about "what those asterisks mean in C programming".

This doesn't negate the OP's point. He was talking about tendencies (as in statistical trends), not specifics. Neither you nor he provided any data at all, but it is certainly plausible that people who aren't passionate about something will, on average, perform less well than people who are passionate. Your anecdote neither convinces me that you are better than mediocre (you may very well be amazing; or maybe you were at some point but now suffer from burnout; or maybe you are mediocre and always have been---I have no clue), nor convinces me that passion and skill are entirely uncorrelated (though the causal relation could go either way---I could easily be convinced that people are passionate about the things they are good at, rather than the other way around).

Comment: Re:One small way I try to help. (Score 1) 330

Not to be a pedant, but that article does nothing to contradict my earlier post. Of course, my original post may have been a bit pedantic, but the fact remains: the statement "earthworms are not native to America" is false. There are invasive species which are a serious problem, but that is a different statement.

Comment: Re:One small way I try to help. (Score 2) 330

[citation please]

There are earthworm species that are native to North America (see, for instance, Hendrix's Earthworm Ecology and Biogeography in North America). There are also exotic / invasive species. These species (as well as one or two native species with expanding ranges) are definitely a problem, but that is a different statement from "earthworms are not native to America."

Comment: Re:obvious (Score 0) 174

You are making an argument that I did not make. Your claim is that an American and foreign worker, by virtue of living in the same city, should be able to subsist on identical incomes and that Americans who refuse to take such jobs are simply demanding too much. I merely pointed out that there are variables that you are missing---for example, a foreign worker may be able support a family on an income that will not support an American worker and his or her family. You are comparing apples and oranges.

Comment: Re:obvious (Score 1) 174

by the phantom (#47525119) Attached to: For Half, Degrees In Computing, Math, Or Stats Lead To Other Jobs
They may not have the same expenses as an American. Let us suppose two hypothetical workers with very similar qualifications: one an American (A), and one from some place like India or Bangladesh (B). Assuming that A and B are both single, then you are correct---they have similar expenses. Now suppose that both workers have families to support. Worker A has to support their family in the United States at the going rate here, whereas Worker B may send remittences back to their family in their country of origin, where the cost of living may be significantly less. Hence it is quite possible that a foreign worker and the American worker both want to be paid well enough to support their families. The foreign worker has the advantage of needing much less in order to do so.

Comment: Re:Incomplete data (Score 1) 174

by the phantom (#47524455) Attached to: For Half, Degrees In Computing, Math, Or Stats Lead To Other Jobs
CS should not be considered engineering. Programming, which might be considered "applied computer science" might qualify as an engineering exercise, but a decent computer science program is going to be about formal logic, discrete mathematics, and algorithms (among other things). CS is about the theory of computation, not the hands-on of programming. As such, CS should be considered a branch of mathematics (in fact, until the 90s, most CS degrees were awarded by mathematics departments).

Comment: Re: Your Results Will Vary (Score 1) 241

by the phantom (#47517453) Attached to: Math, Programming, and Language Learning

I am honestly very confused about what your point is. In response to another poster, Coryoth rebutted that the college was supposed to be about education, not vocational training. You incorrectly assumed that s/he was arguing that college was about creating well-rounded people. I responded that creating well-rounded people was not the point and that requiring students to take classes outside of their major was perhaps a historical anachronism (among other reasons, which are highlighted in, for instance, the article I linked above). You are the only person in the entire thread to have brought up the "well-rounded person" trope, and that was only to dismiss it. The only reason I replied was to point out that the well-rounded person argument isn't one that anyone with a clue seriously makes.

Comment: Re: Your Results Will Vary (Score 1) 241

by the phantom (#47511843) Attached to: Math, Programming, and Language Learning

Who, specifically, is making that argument? I don't think I have ever seen anyone argue that the primary goal of a college education was to create well-rounded people. Not even Coryoth, the person to whom you originally replied, made that argument. I often see it as a justification for requiring non-major classes, but I have never seen anyone claim that this is the primary goal. See, for instance, the The Chronicle of Higher Education's compilation of answers to the question. Most of the respondents argue that higher education is about learning critical thinking skills, building a foundation of knowledge for future work, and providing students with the necessary information to choose a career-path that is of interest to them.

My original point still stands: universities were first established to foster research. Students went to college to become academics and to make contributions to human knowledge. Over time, the emphasis has shifted towards more vocational or professional training though much of the curriculum remains the same (possibly due to institutional inertia). At no time was the primary goal of a college education to become a "well-rounded" person.

To be clear, I am not arguing that there is no merit to the observation that a liberal education produces well-rounded people, and I am not arguing that this is a bad (or good) thing. I am merely attempting to point out that the primary goal of higher education is not simply to produce such people, nor has it ever been.

"Falling in love makes smoking pot all day look like the ultimate in restraint." -- Dave Sim, author of Cerebrus.