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Comment: Maybe they liked them both (Score 1) 151

by fantomas (#47323739) Attached to: Neanderthals Ate Their Veggies

Good question, one I guess the paleo environmental folk might be able to shed light on (what species of flora and fauna were in the area). But folk can really like a big steak when they are hungry and equally really enjoy fresh picked fruits on a hot summer's day, there doesn't need to be a conflict on a taste front. From a survival strategy perspective it makes sense to be happy with either hunted or gathered food sources, reduces your risk of starvation. Your tribe's not going to survive that long if you turn your noses up at eating nuts from a nearby grove of hazelnut trees and insist on walking for 8 hours to maybe track down some meat. Enjoying both increases your chances of doing well.

Comment: Is this greater in scale than the last Olympics? (Score 1) 90

by fantomas (#47220375) Attached to: Cybercriminals Ramp Up Activity Ahead of 2014 World Cup

Is the Brazillian World Cup situation significantly worse than the London Olympics for the cybercrime aspects? I might expect that 'real world face to face crime' (pickpocketing, bag theft, etc. ) might be worse as you'd expect London (as part of a wealthier country) to be better policed than a poorer country with higher levels of local corruption and poverty such as Brazil, but are there big differences between the online crime situations (fake websites, email scams, etc.)? The latter would appear to be more transnational and not so affected by local social/economic/policing conditions.

Comment: the younger ones focus on keeping in a job (Score 1) 519

by fantomas (#47211761) Attached to: Teacher Tenure Laws Ruled Unconstitutional In California

Interesting point, but I think the reason for the younger ones focussing on research is not necessarily because they don't like teaching, it is because their chance of attaining job security depends on them focussing on whatever keeps them well regarded and hence likely to get interviewed another short term contract at the end of that teaching year. That something is probably more balanced towards research outputs (regular high quality journal articles being published) than outputs from teaching.

I don't know about the USA but in the UK its not unusual for younger academics to have to pursue consecutive short term contracts for several years, each contract being 1-2 years long, before they have a chance of 'tenure' - a 'permanent' job (something that is open-ended and won't finish in months).

Comment: naive question: does this include all waste? (Score 2) 123

Completely naive question here - civilised answers welcomed.

I've heard that the new generation reactors will be able to use 'old waste' for fuel. Does this include all sort of waste, or only some of it? For example, I believe that "nuclear waste" doesn't just mean Homer Simpson like glowing green spent fuel rods, but lots of things that have to get packaged up and safely disposed of like technicians' work wear, equipment, anything that comes into contact with radioactive sources. Am I right that this is also called "nuclear waste" (apologies, I really don't know much about the topic). If so, can this be used in the new reactors (I am guessing not all of it)? Does it represent a lot of volume / long term risk to be disposed of?

I get the impression that the term nuclear waste is used in a pretty homogeneous way but that it represents a wide variety of materials. I suppose in the case of decommissioned reactors this probably means some of the structure of the buildings themselves (tonnes of old concrete etc). I'm guessing that this can't get poured into a new reactor as fuel? Is this the big issue with decommissioning, not just old fuel rods but all the surrounding materials?

cheers for any measured responses on such an emotive issue.

Comment: Isn't this small change for billionaires? (Score 2) 72

by fantomas (#47036745) Attached to: James Cameron and Eric Schmidt's SOI Grieve Loss of Nereus ROV

Isn't $6 million small change for Schmidt and Cameron? couldn't they just check out the loose change down the back of the armchair/ in their car's ashtray and pay for a new (and better one)? I am sure several US universities would be more than happy to have one of these folks offer to buy a new submarine for them on the agreement that said donor gets a certain amount of access to it.

Surely this is small change for these folks (and they are canny enough to work out how to make money out of the donation, e.g. by making a film about it).

Comment: Norway: super rich country with strong support? (Score 2) 320

Non-Norwegian here. Isn't Norway one of the richest countries in the world with a strong social support system? So the situations which make somebody homeless in other countries don't apply to Norway?

For example - in USA, I believe that people have to pay for healthcare, and after a certain period of time, no longer get housing benefit support when unemployed (USA person will have to help me here) - so it is possible to be a hard working member of society, but due to illness, get in debt (paying for medicine) and end up homeless (because you can't work, so can't pay your housing bills) so get made homeless, and can't get another place to live because you don't have the money to rent a new place?

If somebody is ill in Norway, do they have to pay for healthcare? if somebody is unemployed, will the state give them financial support to pay their housing costs? If so, you have a very different environment from other countries in the world.

Comment: We don''t do tax returns in the UK,you insensitive (Score 5, Interesting) 386

by fantomas (#46756701) Attached to: Slashdot Asks: How Do You Pay Your Taxes?

The majority of people in the UK who work for an employer (rather than self-employed), and don't have other income to declare (e.g. part time self-employed in their own hobby business, renting out a property, or rich enough to be generating significant income from investments or savings) don't fill in tax returns, it is managed by their employer through Pay-As-You-Earn. As wikipedia says "because the tax code reflects other income (including the state pension), the PAYE system typically results in the correct amount of tax being paid on all the income of a taxpayer, making a tax return redundant".

Let the flamewar begin :-)

Comment: Those who use the bicycle hire scheme in London (Score 1) 41

by fantomas (#46723707) Attached to: London's Public Bike Data Can Tell Everyone Where You've Been

Those who use the bicycle hire scheme in London, which is a subset of all people. But I agree with you, it's very interesting that the data's public. It might not be a violation of privacy if you've agreed to it when you hire the bike though? Never hired one of those bikes myself so I am not sure what you've agreed to when you click on "ok".

Comment: Futurism? the early C20th art movement? (Score 5, Insightful) 293

Well if you're going to teach about Futurism you should definitely include some critical consideration of the effect of industrialisation on European and North American countries, consider how art was affected by the experiences of artists in the First World War, and how it influenced the later art movements such as Art Deco, Surrealism, and Dada.

Comment: Polytechs converting to unis was not the problem (Score 1) 321

by fantomas (#46148293) Attached to: James Dyson: We Should Pay Students To Study Engineering

The conversion of polytechnics to universities wasn't the problem: I was at a polytechnic in the mid 80s and got a grant cheque, as did most (all?) of my friends. Polytechnic students got grants just like university students. Courses were free to students: nobody paid a penny in "course fees".

  It sounds like I am about ten years older than you, the generation that looked on in shock as the concept of students paying course fees was introduced. We were upset when grant cheques were gradually reduced to zero before that.

I was from a middle class background with both parents working, so definitely not a poor student. But I got all my course fees paid and some living expenses paid by the government (to cover rent, food, books). I seem to remember it was on a sliding scale at that time (mid 80s) which was a recent change, with less paid to wealthier families and more paid to poorer families. But I am pretty sure I remember it covered all my rent money at least, it was a big enough cheque that my mum worried I was going to blow it all on booze and parties and random nice things and not put it in the bank to cover my rent and food!

Industrial scholarships existed but were a different thing - those guys lived like kings while they were students.

I suspect one of the arguments that might be offered is the increase in the number of students over the period from 80s to present making it more of an expensive proposition to fund. However, I suspect it also might be a political model: the right wing governments in the UK are very keen on a US model of funding, rather than a social democratic European model. I can't say whether a higher percentage of UK 18 year olds go on to study at undergraduate level than those in say the Netherlands or France or Finland, but there's definitely a different funding model between the US (leave college with $100K debt) and some European countries (course fees much lower than the UK, potentially leave with low to zero debt).

Comment: Why controversial? was true for 1980s students (Score 3, Informative) 321

by fantomas (#46140499) Attached to: James Dyson: We Should Pay Students To Study Engineering

Not sure why the article describes this a "controversial proposal". In the 1980s in the UK many (all?) undergraduates got grants (scholarships from the state for living expenses) as well as all their course fees paid.

Perhaps it's an indication of how politics have changed that the proposal to reinstate something the people assumed was a normal expenditure by the government of the day, both left and right wing, for several decades (state support of people undertaking university studies) is now considered "controversial".

Ah happy memories of the grant cheque coming in, bank managers trying to appear down with the kids to get them to sign up for their first bank account with that large cheque and more to follow, financial management learnt by many who hadn't previously had anything more than their weekly income from a paper round striding down the streets of a big new city with three months of bed and board advance payments burning a hole in their pockets...

Comment: Primary school teaching a poor example (Score 1) 612

by fantomas (#45765793) Attached to: Is Computer Science Education Racist and Sexist?

Actually there's quite a lot of debate about whether societal and professional attitudes make it more difficult for men to enter and stay in primary school teaching so perhaps this is not the best example to offer.

Try asking two friends (one male, one female) to announce in a conversation with their friends in a party that they like children and would like to work with them. I suspect the reaction will be quite different in each case. I can only offer anecdotal evidence but here in the UK I know two friends who are male primary school teachers and often have to justify their decision and are faced with critical responses, hinting that their motives are questionable: they've really had to fight prejudiced opinions.

Comment: Perhaps US geeks are not their target audience (Score 3, Interesting) 268

by fantomas (#45702093) Attached to: Photos Stream Back From China's Lunar Lander

Perhaps delivering high resolution images to US/ Western geeks is not their primary mission. Perhaps a few low res snapshots to keep the western media off their back (see, we really did it, put away your conspiracy theory stories) is all they felt obliged to do.

Maybe there's a high res camera sending pictures back to their scientific research / military people and they just don't feel the need to distribute this material to the general public in other countries. The Chinese funding model might not be the same as the USA's, maybe they don't need to distribute high res holiday snaps to ensure continued funding.

Perhaps there's no high res camera on board because the science of the mission doesn't need any more than a few low res snaps. The real work might be elsewhere. I've read a couple of articles that note that the lander is much bigger than you might expect for a rover of this size, so it might be the real mission here is to test lander technologies in preparation for sending a manned mission. It might be that the real science is around testing that platform, and the rover is just supplementary, a nice addition for extra kudos and you might as well do it while you're there.

"Lead us in a few words of silent prayer." -- Bill Peterson, former Houston Oiler football coach

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