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Comment: Re:This is a civil case (Score 1) 227

by dgatwood (#47718209) Attached to: $125,000 Settlement Given To Man Arrested for Photographing NYPD

Actually, that's not true. It is fairly rare, but at least at the state level (in many states), you have the right to petition the courts for a declaration of factual innocence. In such a proceeding, the burden of proof falls on the defendant—that is, you are presumed potentially guilty until proven innocent. However, if you succeed at doing so, the arrest record is expunged completely, as though you were never arrested or tried.

Comment: Re:precedent (Score 1) 227

by dgatwood (#47718175) Attached to: $125,000 Settlement Given To Man Arrested for Photographing NYPD

Rights: You know... your right to remain silent (unless told to "start talking", or forced to talk with torture), your right to attorney (after they get done with you), your right for a fair trial (unless charged with the espionage act, thrown into gitmo, or blown up by drone strike), etc. You have plenty of rights*. You live in the land of the free and home of the brave!

You forgot your right to a speedy trial, which guarantees that you'll get your day in court within a few years....

That's the right that I really want to see us get back. As far as I'm concerned, if the trial can't begin within 30 days, they should be required to let the person go, and the case should automatically be dismissed with prejudice. Such a policy would force the DAs to actually do their jobs and quit clogging the courts with penny ante crap like drug possession misdemeanors.

After all, it has been shown conclusively that the longer the delay between commission of a crime and actual punishment, the less effective the punishment is as a deterrent. Therefore, when you have districts with >3 year average time-to-trial, the entire system of law isn't really doing anything useful at that point. Abandoning 90% of those cases would therefore have little impact on the crime rate or the rate of recidivism.

Comment: Re:Big Data (Score 1) 173

by dgatwood (#47718131) Attached to: Netflix CEO On Net Neutrality: Large ISPs Are the Problem

This. And this is precisely the sort of monopoly abuse that let to the breakup of Ma Bell. The ISPs are offering non-connectivity services, then deliberately degrading service to companies that compete with those services. Monopolies like ISPs should absolutely not be allowed to do this. A company should either be an ISP or a content provider. As soon as you allow any company to be both, it pretty much guarantees abuse. The bigger the company, the bigger the abuse.

Comment: Re:Frankly (Score 1) 141

by dgatwood (#47718075) Attached to: Researchers Find Security Flaws In Backscatter X-ray Scanners

I am shocked

Me, too. I'm shocked that the researchers didn't know this. I knew this, I suspect that you knew this, and anybody who has ever read even a single Slashdot article about these machines knows this. The security holes in these things are so obvious that you should be able to think of at least a couple of ways around them without even trying.

Next thing you know, atmospheric researchers will discover that the sky is, in fact, predominantly blue.

Comment: Re: Very subjective (Score 1) 381

by dgatwood (#47698807) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Would You Pay For Websites Without Trolls?

Your logic is flawed a bit. You can't use the existence of speech as evidence that speech is not being restrained, because you can't know what things people decided not to post because of the policy.

The reality is that not all people have shame, so some people will be blatantly mean even with a real name policy. These people are mostly trolls. The people whose comments are most likely to go against the grain in an insightful way, by contrast, are mostly the ones who would be afraid to do so under their real names, because they actually have a verbal filter, and by consequence, a personal reputation to uphold.

For example, people who work for companies would be wary of posting anything critical of their employers for fear of reprisal. However, they are also the ones who would have the most insight into what's going on.

Anonymity is the only antidote to tyranny. Anyone who says otherwise is probably a supporter of tyranny.

Comment: Re:No, school should not be year-round. (Score 1) 421

by dgatwood (#47656625) Attached to: Slashdot Asks: Should Schooling Be Year-Round?

Literature and history are great things to study if you want to teach literature or history. And to an extent, they prove that you were smart enough and serious enough about learning to go to college, which might make a difference in getting certain jobs. But otherwise, yeah, they're equivalent to underwater basket weaving. College may not be a trade school, per se, but most people treat it like one. If you don't come out of college with a marketable skill that can net you a job that you otherwise couldn't get, then you spent tens of thousands of dollars solely for the love of learning. A few people might be rich enough to afford that, but not many.

Either way, my core point is that having a college degree doesn't make you a professional. Working in a field that requires a college degree or other formal education makes you a professional. As such, people working in low-end service jobs don't qualify, whether they are doing so by choice, because of the lack of better jobs, or because they lack any marketable skills.

Comment: Re:Not gonna happen (Score 1) 111

by dgatwood (#47653133) Attached to: Injecting Liquid Metal Into Blood Vessels Could Help Kill Tumors

Most metals are not ferromagnetic, and so are not held in place by magnets. I'm pretty sure neither indium nor gallium are ferromagnetic.

Most metals aren't, but the iron in your platelets is. Perhaps through carefully tuned EM fields, a natural clot could be formed in a novel way....

I wouldn't rule out the possibility that the bits of you in contact with the metal could get cooked.

I was reading an article a few years ago about doing precisely that—some kind of metal tending to bioaccumulate in tumors, and taking advantage of that in combination with semi-targeted EM fields to literally burn out the tumor.

Comment: Re:Laziness (Score 1) 150

Lots of times, you see something wrong, and you want to point it out, but by limiting commenting to people with rep, if you don't have rep on that particular board, you are prevented from correcting the error. That means that there's wrong information without any hint that it might be wrong. So the worst-case scenario there is pretty bad.

By contrast, if you remove those limits, the worst-case scenario is that people who don't know what they're doing might say that it is wrong, at which point you'll have to investigate to figure out who is right. And if they're wrong in saying that it is wrong, you (who also probably have no rep) can comment and explain why they're wrong about it being wrong. And if they're right, then you saved yourself a lot of swearing.

So the worst-case scenario is considerably better without those limits (ignoring spam, of course, but that can largely be taken care of by a combination of a proper reporting mechanism, disallowing links by posters without reputation, etc.).

As for whether you can trust people with more rep to know more, for the most part, people who get upmodded more are, in fact, people who do know more. Mind you, there's always the possibility of an echo chamber effect, but that's a possibility no matter what you do. By using a weighted voting scheme, people who have shown more knowledge (and thus are more likely to be correct) can overcome voting of people who haven't (and thus are more likely to be wrong). Statistically speaking, this approach makes sense, at least on the average.

For maximum effectiveness, though, such a scheme should be combined with automatic flagging of any post whose reputation changes too far or too often, for future review by other subject-matter experts.

Comment: Re:Laziness (Score 1) 150

A self-signed certificate is never more secure than a CA-signed cert. Period. The only benefit to self-signed certs is cost. Any other perceived benefits are merely side effects caused by forcing you to do extra security checks to make up for the lack of a CA—checks that you could do anyway, but probably won't.

For example, if you're paranoid about a CA issuing a cert for your organization to someone else, then you might add code in your app to do your own set of checks to decide whether a cert is valid (such as ensuring that a specific cert issued within your organization is part of the chain of trust). You can do such tests on a CA-signed cert just as easily as you can on a self-signed cert. Even if that your policy is to trust only a pre-distributed set of self-signed certs, you can do the same thing by pre-distributing CA-signed certs.

Thus, in the worst-case scenario, the CA-signed cert gives you no less protection than the self-signed cert, and in the best case, it gives you additional protection.

Comment: Re:(Poor) kids get dumber during holidays (Score 1) 421

by dgatwood (#47645369) Attached to: Slashdot Asks: Should Schooling Be Year-Round?

So for some children there may certainly be a benefit to less vacation.

This really points to a need for a less formal summer education program, where parents can send their kids while they work, but where the kids aren't penalized for being gone when the parents decide to go on vacation. Each week be split between two classes for half a day every day with the subjects varying throughout the summer. One week might be "sculpting with clay" and "iambic pentameter unleashed". Another week might be "the science of butterflies" and "math in the real world". We actually had something like that at the university in my home town, though it only ran for a week or two, IIRC. It would be great if there were something like that throughout the entire summer, rather than the mostly non-educational summer programs that are fairly common.

Comment: Re:No, school should not be year-round. (Score 2) 421

by dgatwood (#47645313) Attached to: Slashdot Asks: Should Schooling Be Year-Round?

That's the difference between learning and memorizing. To learn something, you incorporate it into your way of thinking. You might be able to pass the test by rote memorization, but that's not the same thing as truly understanding it.

Unfortunately, schools tend to overemphasize memorizing rather than understanding, which is a big part of the reason why kids forget so much over the summer. As you said, they never really learned it to begin with, at least not in any meaningful sense of the word.

Comment: Re:No, school should not be year-round. (Score 1) 421

by dgatwood (#47645301) Attached to: Slashdot Asks: Should Schooling Be Year-Round?

The key word was "professionals". By definition, a profession is a job that requires specific training or skills. Flipping burgers at McDonald's is not really a profession, per se; it's just a job. That's a subtle, but critical distinction.

Also, there's a college education, and then there's a college education. Just because you can major in underwater basket weaving doesn't mean you have a degree that qualifies you for an actual career. :-)

Comment: Re:No, school should not be year-round. (Score 1) 421

by dgatwood (#47645297) Attached to: Slashdot Asks: Should Schooling Be Year-Round?

Not really. College has a lot of filler, too, and kids have it drilled into their heads that they have to make good grades so they can get into college, and they have to go to college if they want a good job. As a result, about two-thirds of Americans go on to college, not just folks who truly want to learn. And although I've known plenty of high-school students that I consider to be basically adults, I've known orders of magnitude more college students who I don't. :-)

I'm similarly unconvinced of the need for education degrees, and that's coming from someone whose parents are both retired from teaching. It seems like a degree for the purpose of having a degree, rather than because it truly equips you to be a good teacher.

In my opinion, to teach well, you have to know a lot about a subject and be truly excited about sharing that knowledge. At its core, teaching is about finding ways to explain the material that the students can relate to, which means you have to really understand the subject so that when you notice a student who doesn't seem to grasp a concept, you figure out a different way to explain it. You have to constantly adjust your way of presenting material based on the composition of your class, because the explanation that worked well for one class may not work well for the next. One student may learn well through his ears, while another learns better through her eyes. And so on.

And to recognize when the students are struggling, a big part of teaching is finding ways to relate to the students, to get them to care about what you're teaching, and to get them to be open and honest with you when they're struggling, rather than a couple of weeks later when they fail the test. And IMO, the best way to get students to care enough to ask for help is to get them excited about learning the subject, which requires you to be excited about the subject. And the teachers who are most excited about a subject tend to be the ones who have immersed themselves in it.

In short, IMO, the best way to learn how teach is to first learn everything you possibly can about a subject, then actually teach other people about the subject. All else is meaningless.

Today, college teachers are subject-matter experts. High school teachers are often subject-matter experts. The farther you get below that level, the more it becomes a mixed bag. And that's a big part of what's wrong with our education system today. In our quest to retain the basic architecture of the one-room schoolhouse, where a single teacher teaches the kids every subject, we've created a system where the teachers are not subject-matter experts. They teach the things they're told to teach, and they do so by learning what they need to teach. This tends to result in a teaching style where teachers just regurgitate the textbook without adding anything above and beyond it. This style of teaching, of course, is not significantly better than just telling the students to read the textbook.

In an ideal schooling situation, you'd have a separate teacher for each subject, from the very beginning, each of whom was skilled in the subject area. You'd have a music teacher who was an actual musician. You'd have an art teacher who actually knew how to draw. You'd have a history teacher who loved history. And each of those teachers would make the subject exciting, because he or she would eat and breathe that subject. Those teachers would spend most of their college careers learning that subject, with remarkably little time spent on the mechanics of teaching.

After all, if you learn the most from the teachers who have the deepest understanding of a particular subject, then someone who spent most or all of his or her college career learning how to teach is likely to be uniquely qualified to teach pedagogy, and not much else. It's not that there isn't value in learning teaching techniques, but there are only so many hours in a college career, and every hour you spend learning about pedagogy is an hour that you could have spent learning the subject matter that you're actually going to teach, which in the long run, will likely be much more valuable, both to you and to your students.

Comment: Re:No, school should not be year-round. (Score 1) 421

by dgatwood (#47645163) Attached to: Slashdot Asks: Should Schooling Be Year-Round?

Second, I and many of the teachers that I have worked with *really* like the year round schedule. I can't speak for every teacher, and there are certainly a lot of teacher that prefer the traditional schedule, but I find the year round schedule to give me more useful freetime. On the one hand, I can more efficiently plan for shorter periods of time (I can make plans and have a chance of getting to them before I have completely forgotten what I was thinking---late September to mid December is a much easier period of time to plan for than mid August to mid December). On the other hand the year round schedule means that I am off when other people are still in school (and since year round schedules can vary quite a lot, even if everyone were year round, I would still be off at a different time from many people), which means that I can get into tourist attractions (Yosemite or Disneyland or whatever you prefer) without having to fight massive crowds. My experience with working in year round schools has been much better than my experience in traditional schools.

On the flip side of it, those advantages are also disadvantages. I recently left a company where I worked for just shy of 13 years. Despite my best efforts to block my vacations into long blocks, I still found that I could never take a long enough break from work to fully recover from work stress before I was thrown back into things. I find that most people need long breaks—or as you put it, to completely forget what they were thinking—to maintain sanity. Without that, they'll always be running at about 75%.

And the idea of arbitrary vacation schedules that are different from other schools might sound good in principle, but when you start to look at it more carefully, it doesn't work. First, at least in the U.S., pretty much everybody wants to visit family around Thanksgiving and Christmas. This results in a strong tendency to make one of the breaks between grading periods include the period from Christmas through New Year's Day. Once you nail down one vacation, assuming you make all of your grading periods the same length, you basically end up with everybody having roughly the same vacations in spite of your best efforts.

And if you do somehow manage to buck the trend and get a completely different vacation schedule, you now have the problem of your kids wanting to go spend time with other members of your family. "Sorry, kids, but they're not on vacation until next month, and you're back in school by then. You can always go visit after you finish college." Not to mention that families in which both parents teach at different schools might find themselves unable take a vacation at all. It's bad enough having spring break fall at different times. Been there, done that. But not having any common breaks all year? That would just be miserable.

In short, no, year-round education is a terrible idea. I understand the argument for it, but over the long term, the downside in terms of mental health far outweighs any possible benefit from the increased learning. If you really want kids to learn over the summer, IMO, you'll do a lot less harm by handing every student a camera and telling them to take pictures of things while on vacation, then try to figure out what those things are via the Internet, and do a show-and-tell in front of the class when they get back in the fall. This has the advantage of not feeling like homework, while encouraging them to look for opportunities to learn in their everyday lives outside of class. And that, right there, is quite possibly the single most important thing to teach the young people of today.

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