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Comment: Motivation and punishment (Score 5, Insightful) 94

by duckintheface (#49542061) Attached to: Gen. Petraeus To Be Sentenced To Two Years Probation and Fine

Snowden disclosed illegal activity on the part of his employer and the US government. He should be protected by the whistle-blower law. Petraeus gave classified material to his biographer (and lover). In addition to displaying his machismo to his female, he was also trying to provide background info for the book about him. Petraeus was motivated by self-serving benefit. Snowden was doing a service to his country. In a just world, Petraeus should be the one hiding in Russia to avoid life imprisonment or a death sentence.

Comment: Budget running dry? (Score 3, Insightful) 99

We use terms like "budget running dry" or "the school districts simply can't afford them" to mask the fact that we have prioritized tax cuts over education. The US is a rich country but the money is concentrated in fewer and fewer hands by the process of rolling back progressive taxes (income and property). This is a conscious choice to ignore educational needs in the coming generations.

The availability of adequate budgets is a separate issue from the advisability of spending money on 3D printers. Spend the money on basic education first and if you still want to experiment with high tech, then fine.

Comment: Is negotiation a skill required for the job? (Score 4, Insightful) 892

If the ability to negotiate aggressively is not a talent required for the job, there is no reason why someone who negotiates well should get a higher salary. The same skills that make for aggressive negotiation (affinity for conflict situations for example) may make a prospective employee perform less well in team situations.

An interview should give the employer a chance to describe the job and the prospective employee a chance to describe their relevant talents. Each side should then know the market value of the applicants skills with respect to the job. If the company's offer does not match the applicants pay requirement, them should part ways. What does a negotiation accomplish?

Comment: It's that damn cancer! (Score 5, Insightful) 303

Steve Ballmer warned us that Linux was a cancer.

Now the mothership itself in infected. Open source??? OMG. But really, if real programmers ever got their hands on Windows under a GPL, they would just strip out anything of value and add it to Linux. Really.

Comment: It's all about competition (Score 4, Insightful) 208

by duckintheface (#49394507) Attached to: Comcast Planning 2Gbps Service, Starting With Atlanta

Of course Comcast could make a profit selling you 50Mbps for $50, if you lived in a high population density area. But they won't because they can maximize profits by charging you more. The problem is a lack of competition. There is a lack of competition because Comcast controls the physical cables which take advantage of public right of way (much of which was granted for a different purpose altogether.... power lines). That's why cable companies should be treated as the utilities they are. They should be forced to share right-of-way (even better it they have to share the actual cables) with competitors. Then you would see real competition based on efficiency, quality of service, and PRICE.

It's amazing that the big American corporations like to talk about the virtues of free enterprise and capitalism.... but they don't seem so fond of the most important ingredient in free enterprise, which is competition.

Comment: The future is now. (Score 4, Insightful) 155

by duckintheface (#49377871) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Who's Going To Win the Malware Arms Race?

You can already see the shape of that future in Google's Chrome OS. This is a very much "locked down" combination of operating system, browser, cloud applications, and storage. Security updates are automatic and (eventually) involuntary. You are limited to running the software that Google allows you to run, most of which is executed on Google servers. No website Java programs are allowed at all.

Such an architecture provides for maximum security and has the advantage of minimum hardware requirements for ram memory and on-machine storage. It allows for encryption of all communications between your computer and the outside world with mimimum involvement or decison making by the user. And from Google's point of view it represents the perfect vehicle for advertizing in a controlled enviornment. In a sense, your computer has already been hacked (by Google) when you buy it. And they will make sure it stays hacked to their preferences.

The next step will be integration of the computer operating system with the phone operating environment. The two will merge with more software coming from "app stores" and not from the wild. At the same time, the services on the computer will become more integrated with each other so that social media, calendar, voice calls, texting, and social media work togerther and don't work at all with outside software. It becomes a secure walled garden with enough internal features and flexibility to be tolerable to the mass users who are not or can not be responsible for their own security.

Comment: The official Russian position: (Score 4, Insightful) 152

by duckintheface (#49362805) Attached to: Russia Wants To Work With NASA On a New Space Station

"I propose that the United States delivers its astronauts to the ISS with the help of a trampoline." Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin
That's why the US can't trust the Russians to be part of a future joint space project. As soon as they have some leverage, they will use it.

Comment: 45% turnover rate IS the problem (Score 5, Insightful) 127

If an industry has a 45% turnover rate, as is cited for call centers, the problem is not the "talent and dedication" of the employees. The problem is that the job is structured in such a way that it is mind numbing, repetitive, and unsatisfying to the workers. And BTW, if you really want workers who can perform under such conditions, you are NOT looking for someone who wants control over their circumstances as indicated by the selection of a non-default browser.

Comment: Re: Incentives (Score 4, Interesting) 320

I'm not sure what you mean. I've lived and worked in Sweden and the US. And I have collaborated in the US and Sweden with many researchers from Sweden, Finland, China, Holland, Japan, Czech Republic, India, Iran, Pakistan, England and probably several more. The most meticulous in my experience are the Finns but it's a small sample size. The Japanese tend to be hamstrung by hierarchy and status issues, the Chinese are befuddled by having to deal in English. Of course it's always dangerous to generalize because it's hard to tell what is an individual trait and what is a national cultural trait. I do know for sure that Swedes are reticent to tell you about their strong points and are embarrased by Americans who honestly describe their own good work. I think Swedes view many American researchers as "grand-standing" and skipping the hard work.

Comment: Re:Incentives (Score 4, Interesting) 320

Then you are modest in giving yourself a 0 score. Of course I did occasionally repeat work (or parts of work) while doing research in the US. But I never saw anyone in the US repeat an entire experimental protocol. In Sweden this was common, and it did not affect your ability to get funding. Also, in Sweden negative results were accorded the same standing as postive ones. In the US it was common to see researchers come up with a wild idea and give it a try, skipping many intermediate steps. In Sweden, all those intermediate steps would be exhuastively evaluated before moving on the the next level. I worked with several folks in the US who were publishing in Science Magazine and they were absolutely going for a Nobel.

I think the difference has to do with the social standing and security felt by Swedish University professors. They have guaranteed funding unless they really screw up. In the US you may have academic tenure but if you lose your funding from outside sources, you are not going to keep your labs. One can argue about which is the better system. Most American labs I saw were more productive in the sense of the data they turned out. But I would trust the work done in a Swedish lab over that done in an American lab/... as a general rule.

Comment: Incentives (Score 5, Interesting) 320

I've done biomedical research in the US and Sweden. The incentive structure is totally different. Swedish scientiests take baby steps and reproduce results repeatedly before moving on. American scientists are all trying to win the Nobel prize. They shoot for the big result and nobody gets a grant in the US for repeating results of someone else. Is it a surprise that people respond to the incentives before them?

Comment: What difference does it make? (TM) (Score -1, Troll) 609

by duckintheface (#49232895) Attached to: Clinton Regrets, But Defends, Use of Family Email Server

Hillary should offer up her private emails as soon as the Republicans in Congress release all of their private emails. Because how can we know that those "private" Republican emails don't contain official content?

Currently, every public servant must decide which email system to use at the time each email is sent. Is it official or private? Do we trust a Secretary of State to make that distinction? If so, Hillary is in the clear. If not, then all personal emails of all public servants must be made public. What difference does it make (TM) if the division between private and official is made at the time the email is sent or later?

Comment: I remember (Score 2) 54

by duckintheface (#49229007) Attached to: Sugar Industry Shaped NIH Agenda On Dental Research

I was involved in doing dental research on NIH grants starting in 1976 (39 years ago). There was absolutely no indication that we should not persue the effect of sugar on dental health. OTOH, I did see the tobacco industry funding reseach trying to disprove that smoking stunts your growth.

There was a major change in the leadership of the National Insitute of Dental Research about 40 years ago so maybe it got cleaned up.

You should never bet against anything in science at odds of more than about 10^12 to 1. -- Ernest Rutherford