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Comment: Study only talks about Northwestern freshmen. (Score 1) 273

by gsiarny (#44845755) Attached to: Study Shows Professors With Tenure Are Worse Teachers

The study supports some popular beliefs about tenure-track professors, but people shouldn't be too quick too generalize. This study was very limited.

From the Atlantic article:
"Now time for a few disclaimers, some from the paper, some my own. As the authors note, this paper only looks at freshmen. Tenured professors might very well might do better in advanced junior and senior-level courses where they can incorporate their own research and special expertise into their curriculum and have a chance to work with students who've accumulated a bit more specialized knowledge. Also: Northwestern is a tony private university that attracts highly qualified faculty to work as adjuncts and non-tenured instructors. Who knows if these results would hold up at a typical state university. "

What holds for Northwestern freshmen may not hold for other populations. Such cautions are being ignored by a media (and a few intelligent commentators who should know better) too eager to confirm preconceptions.

Comment: Re: Government vs terrorists (Score 2) 395

by gsiarny (#44683573) Attached to: Lord Blair Calls for Laws To Stop 'Principled' Leaking of State Secrets

It's not the custom in the last hundred years for a hereditary lord to be the prime minister. The last was the Marquess of Salisbury, whose third term ended in 1902.

But, historically, quite a few lords were prime ministers. Nineteenth-century examples included Lord Liverpool, a political survivor who was the prime minister for 15 years, overseeing the final defeat of Napoleon and the continent-reshaping Congress of Vienna. Napoleon's great rival, the Duke of Wellington, was given his Irish dukedom before he was prime minister in the 1830s. Viscount Palmerston, a major figure in British policy in the second half of the 19th century with an Irish peerage, was the prime minister during the American Civil War.

As far as I know, there isn't any formal obstacle to a hereditary lord becoming a prime minister. In the crisis of the first year of WWII, the Earl of Halifax was a strong candidate to replace the increasingly unpopular Neville Chamberlain. Despite the backing of the king and several political parties, Halifax gave way to the most famous prime minister of the 20th century, Winston Churchill.

Comment: Re:scrambling? (Score 1) 72

by gsiarny (#43857773) Attached to: Gene Therapy May Protect Against Flu

Do you mean remapping each of the codons to a different amino acid? How would this be possible? Once you move beyond the schematic idea of "scrambling the letters," how would this be "simple"? The amount of synthetic biochemistry would be mind-boggling.

Completely changing the orthography of the English language and republishing everything that has ever been printed in English would be a walk in the park compared to this.

Comment: "Cybersecurity", "cyberwar", "cyberthis and that" (Score 1) 144

by gsiarny (#43355187) Attached to: MIT To End Open-Network Policy In Response To Recent Attacks

I'm dismayed that MIT, of all places, uses the thoroughly awkward term "cyber security" in its official correspondence. Outside of a few sci-fi novels, "cyber" seems to be the province of clueless congressmen and the reporters who love them. It's a buzzword for media outlets, politicians, and consultants who don't understand the net, want to profit from others' lack of understanding of the net, or both.

Comment: Plenty of "Vatican experience" (Score 1) 915

by gsiarny (#43168129) Attached to: New Pope Selected

Contrary to the summary, the new Pope has had plenty of Vatican experience since his creation as a cardinal in 2001.
He's not a true insider of the Curia, but he knows his way around.

"As cardinal, Bergoglio was appointed to several administrative positions in the Roman Curia

        Member of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments
        Member of the Congregation for the Clergy
        Member of the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life
        Member of the Pontifical Council for the Family
        Member of the Commission for Latin America"
    - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pope_Francis#Cardinal

Comment: Re:Why... (Score 1) 1113

by gsiarny (#41593401) Attached to: US House Science Committee Member: Evolution Is a Lie From Hell

Though this is way off topic, this bizarre abridgement of Ottoman history shouldn't be modded up to 5 without some sort of clarification.

It's unclear how the Ottomans were in any sense "Al Quaeda['s] grand-grand-grand parents". The two groups are in completely categories. The Ottomans were a collection of Muslim Sunni and Sufi Turkic groups who happened to move into Anatolia, not a loose international band of Muslim fundamentalists sprung from postcolonial Arab Sunni roots. The Ottoman Empire wasn't a predecessor of Al Qaida any more than the Holy Roman Empire was the predecessor of American Christian fundamentalists - which is to say that "group A came before group B, sorta near where group B would be later on, and maybe they both had the same general religion, sorta" does not mean that "group A were the antecedents of group B".

The Ottoman Empire was large, but they never ruled even the whole Islamic world, let alone the whole world. There were two or three other contemporary Islamic powers of comparable size and wealth, not to mention the various European and South Asian powers. Ottoman power didn't wane because they "started acting irrational", whatever that might mean. The explosion of Atlantic trade routes, in which the Ottomans participated little, had a clearer effect, comparatively enriching its Western European neighbors. As for bigoted, Turkey, the much-truncated successor state to the Ottoman Empire, is one of the more tolerant and secular of Muslim countries. Lastly, there is no contemporary Ottoman Empire and hasn't been since the end of World War I. It isn't a place where people live, bigoted or no.

Comment: Representative democracy and corporate democracy (Score 3, Insightful) 107

by gsiarny (#39056473) Attached to: SEC Decides Telcos Must Give Shareholders a Vote On Net Neutrality

Regular old representative democracy has had a hard time enshrining network neutrality in law. It will be telling if shareholders manage to secure it through "corporate democracy".

Whether a push for network neutrality through shareholder activism succeeds or fails, however, this appeal to shareholders on such a basic social issue is just a symptom of the creeping corporatization of American politics. The surrender to corporations of the right to make decisions on matters of fundamental social importance is frightening, but hey - corporations are people, right, and AT&T's just this guy who means well, you know?

Comment: Re:and where is exactly the problem? (Score 2) 915

by gsiarny (#39008777) Attached to: Journalist Arrested By Interpol For Tweet

You seem to conveniently forget that the Crusades were a response to 400 years of aggression which included the unprovoked invasion of Spain and Portugal. Show me any modern society that would wait a year let alone centuries to counter attack.

Be careful when projecting notions of a European society back a thousand years or more. The Latin Christian response (Visigothic, Frankish, etc.) to the Umayyad invasion of the Iberian Penninsula and southern France in the 8th century wasn't that of a coherent single group. They didn't even consider each other proper Christians. And yes, some of them did fight back, under Charles Martel and Charlemagne, almost immediately in the 8th century.

The crusades were not only a counter attack against the invasion of the holy land by the muslims and killing of peasants on a pilgrimage to the holy land but it also served to weaken the forces in Spain allowing the eventual reconquest of Spain and portugal by christian kings.

Crusaders overwhelmingly aimed at the Seljuk Turks, small Muslim emirates in the Levant, and eventually the Mamlukes in Egypt, when they weren't laying siege to Orthodox Christian Constantinople or killing Jews along their routes. Spain's all the way at the other end of the Mediterranean, and was ruled by completely different Muslim groups (Umayyads, Almoravids, and then Almohads) than those in the Levant (small autonomous Abbasid amirs, Abbasids, Mamlukes). Crusading in the Iberian penninsula had very different historical roots - there were existing Christian kingdoms in Spain which had been waging local wars of conquest and reconquest against various Muslim groups and each other long before the Crusades as such began in the 1060s.

Without the crusades, france and eventually the rest of europe might have fallen and been ruled under sharia law.

The freedom to be an asshole and attack religion exists in part to the crusades halting the advance of muslim armies in southern and eastern europe.

What's the evidence that the Crusades did anything to halt the spread into Europe by Islamic powers? The high-water mark of the Islamic invasion of Western Europe was the Frankish victory over the Umayyads at Tours/Potiters in 732. That's more than 350 years before the First Crusade. Crusaders had nothing to do with the defeat of the Umayyads in Spain and France. If you're thinking about the Ottoman threat from Anatolia and Southeastern Europe, the Crusades were long over when the Ottomans threatened Vienna in 1529 and 1683.

Comment: Solving the same problems three different ways (Score 1) 197

by gsiarny (#38757788) Attached to: The Headaches of Cross-Platform Mobile Development

Slashdot's designation - "from the hard-stuff-is-hard dept" - and some of the comments here suggest that it's trivial, whiny, or both to complain that writing good code for multiple mobile UIs is difficult. Perhaps that's so, but that's hardly the whole story.

Some programmers may see the UI as the necessary-but-uninspiring gloss over the more interesting, more important core functions of a program, and resent having to apply the gloss more than once. But even if a well-designed UI is an integral part of your vision, having to solve the same set of UI problems in multiple incompatible ways may not be as interesting as solving a conceptually fresh problem. Since UI libraries include some of the more fiddly and arbitrary portions of a platform's API, it's not surprising that programmers would dislike having to code more than one. It's not the difficulty that frustrates, but the multiplication of idiosyncratic difficulties which admit only of incompatible solutions.

A Fortran compiler is the hobgoblin of little minis.

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