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Comment: Re:Be Very Afraid! (Score 1) 224

by alambda (#43448979) Attached to: Some States Dropping GED Tests Due To Price Spikes
Standardized testing leads to rote memorization and to the death of any real process of learning through understanding. PISA is an OECD sanctioned standardized international test to evaluate the performance of teenage students. The top western country is Finland, where no standardized tests even exist! In this day and age, where schools serve a role more in individual development rather than building a strong homogeneous national identity, it makes less and less sense to force people to fit into the same mold. This is especially true because the mold is always decades behind technological advances and the number of interest areas are growing at an everincreasing rate.

While these might not have been the things the mayors were thinking about when making their decisions, I do sympathize with their actions.

Comment: Re:So it begins (Score 2) 418

by alambda (#39641441) Attached to: FBI Says American Universities Infiltrated by Spies

No, USA is not where it is simply because it is American.

The Western culture, as derived from Europe, is not The Universal culture, a precondition to civilization. At a glance you might think it is, as it has been the dominant culture for the past two hundred years or so, but this has more to do with luck and coincidence than with the values of ancient greece. Indeed, until the 18th century China was the GDP leader, by far, and even it's GDP per capita in the major cities surpassed that of any European city.

China has the longest-running statecraft in history. I don't expect this to be replaced by any other system anytime soon. Take Japan, which you might think is a Western country, but had you lived there, you'd quickly realize it's not. In Japan, from where I'm currently writing this comment from, the important values are not those of democracy and justice, but that of harmony. This manifests in a multitude of forms, some difficult or long to explain, but if you look at numbers, most court cases are settled out of the court, to keep harmony, to avoid conflict. See the voter turnouts, and you'll see Japan is not really a properly functioning democracy, although on paper it is. The government is seen in a completely different light. This all is even more true in China, which has had less Western influence on it than Japan.

Economic growth, modernization is not synonymous to Westernization. You are wrong to expect China to change to more Western values as it modernizes. In fact, quite the opposite might take place: The big global co-operation organizations, such as the IMF, were all spawned by the economic leaders, namely the West, at the time; pushing Western culture, brainwashing people to think that to have all the modern marvels, also the culture should change to resemble that of the West. Now when China is going to be No. 1, don't you think the opposite is going to happen, G7 has already largely been replaced by G20...

Comment: Re:Ray d'Inverno's Introducing Einstein's Relativi (Score 1) 358

by alambda (#37239162) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Math Curriculum To Understand General Relativity?
Was it indeed d'Inverno in the Introduction chapter where he writes having learned tensor calculus and the basics of general relativity by himself in high school? Not an impossible task, one only really needs a strong calculus background and after that you're pretty much set. For the simpler approaches to GR it's just about index manipulation and a couple of big, but simple, ideas, really. Having mastered calculus, the concept of manipulating indices shouldn't sound too unnatural. Just pick up a book used in basic GR classes and off you go. If you prefer free stuff, my favourite is http://www.physics.mcgill.ca/~maloney/514/. Susskind's GR lectures are also quite decent, although hurried.

Comment: Re:Who Does This help (Score 1) 210

by alambda (#36994530) Attached to: <em>Doom 3</em> Source Code To Be Released This Year
The fast inverse square root makes a beautiful example, for to me it seems that it is embraced not only in the gaming community, but also in scientific circles. I have not went through the relevant parts of the actual source code of GROMACS, an MD simulation package praised for its speed (and thus provides the framework the folding@home project is currently built on), but its implementation of 1/sqrt(x) is not totally unlike that of Carmack's. An important factor in the software package's speed, I've understood that GROMACS's implementation predates Quake by some 10 years, but it seems feasible to me that some of Quake's ideas might have been used to further optimize the code.

Comment: Re:through HTML (Score 1) 221

by alambda (#36986208) Attached to: Is Free Software Ready For E-publishing?

Most the features listed are built-in in any decent modern LaTeX editor. A classic one (for Windows) is TeXnicCenter. Many Linux editors (for example the cross-platform texmaker and it's forks) have the same approach. They all have a list of labels, to name one of the features you listed. Then there's the TeXworks approach (originating from the Mac-world), which focuses on a constant preview of the final work, using syncTeX to easily hop back and forth the PDF and the TeX file. This is still much in the works, and doesn't have a list of labels etc. Once these are added, I suppose I'll migrate.

Indeed, I much prefer writing LaTeX with an editor than using LyX, as I do like the coding aspect and the cleanliness of it. I love drawing pictures with TikZ and pgfplots, although I'm sure this is easily done in LyX as well.

Comment: Re:Looking for Job (Score 4, Interesting) 601

by alambda (#35184012) Attached to: After MS-Nokia Pact, Many Nokia Workers Walk Out In Protest

Have you not read the news regarding the matter and yet care to comment? Yes, I must be new here...

1. Windows wants to gain market share. Nokia wants to gain market share. Nokia would've been too late to jump on the Android bandwagon and thus chose to differentiate by "creating" an "ecosystem" of its own, with Microsoft. It was stressed time and time again yesterday that for Nokia to succeed in this regard, Windows Phone must prevail.

2. It was explicitly stated that Nokia would pay royalties to Microsoft and that this would increase cost per sold unit, but at the same time it was stressed that they could make cuts in their own OS R&D, which is the biggest reason the people marched out: The locations mentioned in the news here are filled with thousands of Symbian developers.

3. Also, Elop has said several times that the deal is not only one-way. While Nokia's phone's would be using e.g. Bing, powered by Microsoft, they expect that when you use Bing maps, you might see something of the sort Bing maps, powered by Nokia, for Nokia is at the bleeding edge of navigational software, thanks to Navteq. Thus the details of the deal aren't as simple as you make it out to be.

The clash of ideas is the sound of freedom.

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