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Comment Re:Biased IQ tests (Score 1) 445

To start with, they're multiple choice. I wouldn't be surprised to find that members of a culture that values snap judgements and conformity do better on multiple choice than cultures that value deep understanding or independence.

Not that it matters. The people who do well in particular programs are likely to be ones who do well on the entrance tests, if the tests reflect what the people who designed the program think is important.

Comment Re:Bias? Or reality? (Score 4, Interesting) 445

IQ is correlated with all sorts of things. Your own link says that kids raised in poor families who tested borderline mentally disabled were up to near normal IQ a few years after being adopted by high income families.

Academic success, which is more relevant to the present story than IQ, is also correlated with all sorts of things. Some of it IS genetic, but the major predictor is socioeconomic status of the family.

Comment Re:Bias? Or reality? (Score 2) 445

It's extremely difficult to test for "potential." It's hard to even define it. Even if you could, are you sure you want to? Would you rather put a kid who has lots of "potential" in a gifted program who won't end up benefitting much from it because of outside school issues, or a kid who has a bit less "potential" but will ultimately achieve more?

Academic achievement in school (and success later in life) is overwhelmingly predicted by socioeconomic status of the home. The fact that richer (likely whiter) kids are overrepresented in a gifted program in a poor neighbourhood isn't evidence of unfair discrimination. The problem is likely that the non-whites in the area are disproportionately poor.

Comment Observations (Score 1) 300

1) computer science does not equal coding

2) shop class, including some automobile repair, was a required course in my high school. Also home ec. Both have come in handy, although I am not a professional mechanic or seamstress.

3) computers, including some coding, was also a required course when I was in high school, twenty some years ago.

Comment Re:this write-up is wrong (Score 3, Informative) 106

Lunars aren't that hard. I've done them from a sailboat. They're a bit more finicky than straight elevation observations, but not that much. Determining latitude with a sextant ALSO requires finicky observations, error prone table lookups and/or a bunch of calculations. And you can only do it at dawn, dusk or noon (NOT at night), unless you have one of those newfangled lighted bubble levels (good luck using one of those at sea) and not in bad weather.

The big reason clocks won out over lunars is that Harrison's clocks were more accurate.

Comment Re: /facepalm (Score 3, Interesting) 142

I wonder how the rest of the world regards the west' fascination with celebrities.

In the general assembly:

"Who is that man speaking?"

"He sings in a popular musical group."

"Okay, but what does he know about communications? Is he an engineer? A scientist?"

"No, he just sings."

"Then why are we listening to him?"

Comment Re:Colonize Antarctica first (Score 1) 194

I live in the "Canadian woods." There are people here. American Midwest? Been there. People. Australian Outback and Sahara, ditto. I haven't been to Siberia or the Antarctic, but I know people who have, and guess what? Permanent inhabitants. These places were all colonized centuries ago, except for Antarctica, which was more recent.

Will we have Mars colonies? Probably, someday. Someone will have to think of a good reason to go there first. Moon colonies are more interesting right now. If we set up a water, fuel and mining infrastructure, a permanent moon base might plausibly be able to do interesting things, from building and running giant far side telescopes to vacuum industry. If we can get it paid for as support for a Mars PR stunt? Great!

Comment Re:Publicity stunt & posturing (Score 1) 194

You know, you probably should read your own link. Mars Direct involves several launches. At least one to get the ascent vehicle to Mars, then almost certainly multiple launches to build the crewed transfer vehicle and hab module. A lunar refuelling station would also make Mars Direct style trips cheaper.

If you want a one off publicity stunt trip to Mars, a pure Mars Direct scheme is probably the best way to go. If you want to do repeated trips (to Mars or elsewhere) and also build some useful space infrastructure while you're at it, a lunar fuel mining operation has a lot of advantages.

Comment Re:Sometimes the ethical path is very clear (Score 1) 618

Engineers are professionally responsible for their actions. That's what "professional" really means. They write exams, go through an appreticeship-type program, and then join their professional association, get a stamp, and the legal power to certify things. When they do sign off on things, they're taking responsibility. They aren't lawyers, but they're required to know the relevant law and act accordingly.

Comment Re:Sorry, I'm calling a recount (Score 1) 160

I was doing my open water certification dives in a lake in Jasper National Park. I had just finished suiting up and was about to carry my tank down to the lake when my friend pointed out there was a bear by the shore. So I put the tank down (to wait for the bear to leave) and picked up my camera (to be ready if the tourists swarming it learned the difference between teddy bears and real ones).

Be careful when a loop exits to the same place from side and bottom.