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

by gwolf (#47640153) Attached to: Slashdot Asks: Should Schooling Be Year-Round?

Oh, boy, we can get ethymological about this and get nowhere.

I have heard the lines that "education" stems from the latin "ex ducere", "leading out" — which basically means developing, unrolling. But it needs to have a leader (a Duce) whom to follow.

I have also heard people argue that "education" likely stems from "ductilis", from "making a person more ductile", more likely to follow their assigned roles in society.

I have heard people insisting we should strongly favor "instruction" over "education", because it has much less an ideological bend. Instruction is the communication of knowledge, of facts and skills.

Mind you, in Spanish we don't use "schooling", and I don't know exactly how it should be translated. But anyway — Education includes human, social, behavioral aspects over instruction. And I feel that schooling strongly emphasizes on said aspects. Schooling also goes about the importance of the society going all together and coordinated — There are standardized school subjects to be taught. A person cannot say he has enough education to enter productive life if they never learnt the rudiments of algebra (for abstract thought), physics and chemistry (for a basic understanding of how the world around us works), language and literature (to be able to express oneself and to understand others), and a very large etcetera that will eventually include all of the subjects me or you used to hate in school.

Comment: Re:Nobody kills Java (Score 2) 371

by gwolf (#47638315) Attached to: Oracle Hasn't Killed Java -- But There's Still Time

Yes, the hole was dug 25 years ago, the grave stone ordered 23 years ago, the undertaker paid 20 years ago. But the hole has got filled with leaves, which had a lot of time to be composted into new ground. The undertaker died two years ago. The grave stone shows signes of decay. And COBOL is happily breathing.

Comment: An area where Java applets continue to thrive (Score 2) 371

by gwolf (#47638301) Attached to: Oracle Hasn't Killed Java -- But There's Still Time

I still continue to see Java applets being widely used in tasks that require trusted signatures — Say, filling in the tax declarations in my country, or submitting the grades for my students. For both actions, we must use a x.509 client certificate, and for both actions, quite different entities do not trust client-side Javascript validation, Flash code, or anything like that — Only Java applets.

Which quite sucks, right, but anyway there'sa point to them.

Comment: Not one fan, but many... (Score 1) 171

by gwolf (#47577965) Attached to: Quiet Cooling With a Copper Foam Heatsink

A computer does not rely on a single fan - We have fans cooling the CPU, the GPU, the power supply... And they all cause air to move around inside the case. Air carries dust with it. And dust is quite likely to get trapped inside structures as this one, very sponge-like.

Give it enough time, and it will become a mass of dust with a metallic skeleton... (I don't know, it reminds me quite a bit User Friendly's Dust Puppy ;-) )

That does not sound like a good recipe.

Comment: Televoting — Urgh... (Score 1) 18

by gwolf (#47451001) Attached to: Interviews: Juan Gilbert Answers Your Questions

I'm very sorry... Slashdot interviews tend to summon interesting people, with real answers to tough questions. This one, however, is quite disappointing. The answer for a half-technical questions should not be "go look at the nice video our marketing chaps did", but a explanation of the process, as thorough as possible. And if his answers are all like the one where he says, "mail-in voting is fucked-up as well, but people tend to accept it"... It is a clear no-go. If he is pushing the technical-social part to change a perceived shortcoming, he would have (IMO) the moral obligation to oppose mail-in voting, as it dillutes security and trust.

I am a (small) academic myself. His viewpoints, saying "I'm not here to fix the political part, just to research on the social issues" is short-sighted at best. And it lacks in what is often criticized about the academics: An obsession with our line of work, without caring for how it interfaces with reality. The same happens with many who research on the mathematical side of e-voting. It might be all sound and good as long as you don't factor in humans. Put humans in the equation, and we end up clearly better with good ol' paper voting.

Comment: Re:And as a university professor in a non-USA coun (Score 1) 538

by gwolf (#47294539) Attached to: Teaching College Is No Longer a Middle Class Job

Why is in the best interest of our country to build fences? No, building a free-transit area akin to what Europe and Mercosur have would be way better. But I know that won't happen, because of the strong assymetry between our countries.

But anyway: Yes, university education is free and has a very high level. But we do lack in many aspects. My university is huge (350,000 students; the main universitary campus is about 6Km, which would be about 3 square miles; around 35,000 full-time academic staff). However, it only manages to accept about one tenth of the people that try to enter (and some courses, mainly in the first semesters, have up to 70 students — Far from ideal. I teach, however, in 5th-6th semester courses, and my groups have been 15-35, much better).

But how many people reach university? Or how many people reach even high school? If your work is needed at home at age 12 because there's no other way the family has enough money, most probably you won't ever consider entering a university.

And... Guess who are the people that leave the country for the USA without proper migration documents? Right. It's not the lucky ones who get through profesionalization, but those that don't have the opportunity.

So, yes, there is no contradiction between us having very good universities and very low income, particularly in some areas. Of course, there's a lot to criticize our government's priorities about. But it is also not by a long shot a simple problem to solve.

I would be more interested in making it harder for educated people to migrate (legally) to the USA. If one of my students graduates and leaves to work in the USA, he will probably earn 5-10 times as much as here (to begin with), but it will also be a waste of public resources, because his talent and intelligence will not benefit our society. Funding universities is a long-term investment from a government, and the only way to get a ROI is to have the students stay here for their professional life.

Comment: And as a university professor in a non-USA country (Score 3, Interesting) 538

by gwolf (#47291609) Attached to: Teaching College Is No Longer a Middle Class Job

...I find this whole thread really amazing to read, and almost impossible to understand.

Most countries I know have large, well-reputed public university systems. I happen to work on the largest university of Mexico (and Latin America), UNAM. Tuition? Virtually zero (there is a 1940s law where it stipulates a tuition for this university... It currently sits at MX$0.30, or ~US$0.02 per semester). Most public schools in Mexico have 100% free programs. Not only that, the same situation holds for most of Latin America. And that's for college level ("Licenciatura") — Want to study a Masters or Doctorate degree? In all of the "excellence"-rated programs, you are automatically entitled to receive funding from the government so you don't have to find a way to pay for your life while you work to become a more productive member of society. And yes, we do have private universities, often as expensive as USA-based ones are. But the fields where they excel are usually very different.

I know this same model exists in most Latin American countries. European states have a somewhat different program, but still, public (government-funded and tuition-free) universities are all but the norm. I just cannot understand how the USA continues to function (some would even say, thrive) under such schemes.

Organic chemistry is the chemistry of carbon compounds. Biochemistry is the study of carbon compounds that crawl. -- Mike Adams