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Comment: Re:conflating two problems (Score 1) 135

by dcollins (#46772519) Attached to: U.S. Biomedical Research 'Unsustainable' Prominent Researchers Warn

And I should also have mentioned -- The time when I was teaching at another college, interviewed for a full-time position, and pointed out my very high evaluations and observations as evidence of exceptional teaching. At which point the Dean laughed in my face and said, "We can get anyone off the street to come in and teach classes for us, we don't care about that."

Comment: Re:conflating two problems (Score 5, Informative) 135

by dcollins (#46755847) Attached to: U.S. Biomedical Research 'Unsustainable' Prominent Researchers Warn

"many researchers focus on research and are terrible at and hostile to teaching"

But that's where the incentives are, the criteria for promotion. I was told at a small faculty meeting last week at our college that teaching and service are flat-out totally ignored for tenure and promotion decisions, only published papers are counted (despite the written rule being otherwise). Although I'm not on that track (and glad of it), it's hard to blame people who literally get fired if they focus on teaching too much. That's one of the structures that should definitely be changed.

Comment: Re:It kind of makes sense...but it doesn't (Score 2) 630

by dcollins (#46753275) Attached to: IRS Can Now Seize Your Tax Refund To Pay a Relative's Debt

The following might to tangential to this particular incident, but do keep in mind that a major part of today's case law is that the government can file a proceeding where the money itself is the defendant, i.e., no human person ("you") is recognizable in the case. Historically that was used in cases where the owner was unknown, but in the drug-war era it's used for asset forfeiture even when the owner is known. If I had to prioritize things to get upset about, it would be that ongoing nightmare in our legal system.

Comment: Re:Low even for Slashdot (Score 4, Informative) 313

by dcollins (#46717827) Attached to: Double Take: Condoleezza Rice As Dropbox's Newest Board Member

Let's say Republican Senator Susan Collins took this position instead. Then: No issue and no uproar.

The problem is not that Rice is a Republican, it's that she was a part of the most terrifying Republican administration in history, and oversaw defense of torture and mass-surveillance wiretapping programs.

Comment: Why the Hell Didn't He Just Apologize? (Score 1) 1746

by dcollins (#46654835) Attached to: Brendan Eich Steps Down As Mozilla CEO

Business leaders and politicians go through this all the time -- The way to get around this one is to publicly *apologize*, and release a statement like, "It was one time, almost a decade ago, I was confused and I'm sorry, my views have evolved". Maybe a $1,000 donation to a gay-rights organization.

But Eich didn't do that. He never explained the donation that I could see. Which I would interpret as saying that he STILL sticks to his opinion on the issue, and would rather resign from his leadership than have to say that he was wrong about it. So don't let the door hit you on the ass leaving.

Comment: Re:I think this is bullshit (Score 1) 1746

by dcollins (#46654651) Attached to: Brendan Eich Steps Down As Mozilla CEO

I'm pretty sure that this could have been settled by a "That was almost a decade ago, I was wrong and confused, I'm sorry, here's a $1,000 check to a gay-rights organization." But Eich apparently didn't want to do that, and at no time did he explain himself on that particular act.

So in summary it looks like Eich STILL wants to stick to his guns over that act, and in fact would rather resign from his leadership than make the rather obvious mea culpa. He wasn't "stripped" of anything.

Comment: Re:I think this is bullshit (Score 1) 1746

by dcollins (#46654481) Attached to: Brendan Eich Steps Down As Mozilla CEO

See, the people who are all upset about Eich's resignation are just lashing out in reaction to the fact that their mocking dismissals of the OkCupid message (et. al.) turned out to be 100% mistaken. They're so irate at the moment, at of the personal sting of being wrong, that they're not even making remotely rational arguments.

This is the moment when folks switch from "then they laugh at you" to "then they fight you", in the words of Mahatma Gandhi.

Comment: Re:Who cares? (Score 1) 1482

by dcollins (#46636849) Attached to: OKCupid Warns Off Mozilla Firefox Users Over Gay Rights

These discussions honestly make me very happy. Why? Because it's become very clear that all the right-wing, religiously-tinted ink spilled on ridiculous word games and nonsense logical conundrums to hold back the advance of civil rights and equality has been for naught. It's all headed straight for the trashbin of history, with much wailing and gnashing of teeth along the way. Much like, say, decades of condemnation heaped upon the tyranny of abolitionists in the 1800's. It's delicious, beyond my expectations, and the more I read the more secure I am about which side is winning.

Comment: Re:Not necessarily hate (Score 1) 1482

by dcollins (#46632725) Attached to: OKCupid Warns Off Mozilla Firefox Users Over Gay Rights

Your post seems like a non-sequitor, because the OkCupid message never once uses the word "hate" (in accusation or anything else).

I don't very much care Eich's internal monologue -- the fact is, he's effectively attacked my friends' living situations and I'll be opposing him for that. I suppose, now that you bring it up, that the fact that he's unwilling to explain himself on the issue makes it marginally worse.

Comment: Re:Failure in obviousness testing (Score 2) 192

by dcollins (#46627783) Attached to: Supreme Court Skeptical of Computer-Based Patents

"If I were to write in a paper in medicine and try to get it published in one of the various medical journals that are out there that have a reasonably good reputation, I would be rejected so quickly if I were to try a "Algorithm for using instruments in surgery, nurse hands over knives handle first" journal article."

Well... there are good journals and then there are publish-anything journals. Sadly, I've been in some faculty meetings where the thesis has been, "anything you write can get published somewhere" (which is necessary for tenured academic advancement... fortunately I'm not on that track so I don't face the same pressure).

For example: In 2007 a medical researcher found a breakthrough method for approximating the area under a curve by means of rectangles and trapezoids (i.e., basic integration). This was published in the journal of Diabetes Care, the researcher named it after himself ("Tai's Model"), and the medical community cited the paper 75 times. (Also covered on Slashdot at the time):

Comment: Re:Worst: when they use magic (Score 1) 512

by dcollins (#46612675) Attached to: Why <em>Darmok</em> Is a Good <em>Star Trek: TNG</em> Episode

"the notion of converting matter to energy, beaming it somewhere, and re-making the object from it is basically sound."

No, because the interesting part of an object or person is not the matter = energy transformation. It's the complex structure of the matter, i.e., the information, which is entirely lost if it just gets transformed into energy (which you could say is due to entropy).

Think about 3D printing. Destroying a copy every time you send out a file would be stupid and superfluous. The hard part is getting the scanned copy of the structural information. Once you have the structural information, it is inherently copyable and separate from physical instantiations, or the material of the original copy. Pretending that it's useful to send the actual atoms of the original is nonsense, and many times moreso to send the matter deconstructed into homogenous energy.

Much like the Darmok episode itself, this idea is technobabble masquerading as science fiction. It tickles people's sci-fi yearnings without delivering the real goods.

Comment: Darmok is Awful (Score 1, Insightful) 512

by dcollins (#46612199) Attached to: Why <em>Darmok</em> Is a Good <em>Star Trek: TNG</em> Episode

I agree, Darmok is probably the single-worst of all Star Trek episodes. Coincidentally, it came on TV last week in a hotel room I was staying at and I started swearing up and down at it to my girlfriend.

The central thesis is totally incoherent: all language is based on referents, and if the universal translator can't work on that, then it can't work on anything else, either. Or on the other hand, the alien race would have no way of expressing the legends to which they're referring to each other in the first place (no language can just be proper nouns). The main problem is that it's a Star Trek episode that wants to be actual hard science fiction (and not just space opera) -- the prospect of which excites fans, but scratch the surface and the premise actually is insulting, obviously stupid.

Comment: Re:There is no irony (Score 2) 282

Mostly agreed. But admittedly the Republican party has long been a gluing-together of different and not totally compatible factions, such as fiscal conservatives (business) and social conservatives (religious). On some issues they agree, like military adventurism abroad (for their own reasons). Other times, it looks more like a confused back-and-forth run around, like that recent crowd-controlled video game (whatever it was). Even without many individuals in the electorate being themselves hypocritical.

The test of intelligent tinkering is to save all the parts. -- Aldo Leopold