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Comment: Re:Pilot V5 (Score 1) 712

by honkycat (#41842931) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: The Search For the Ultimate Engineer's Pen

I use the P-500, and heartily recommend it, but you do have to be careful on airplanes. The trick to keep them from leaking is that you have to hold it pointing up when you first open it. I give it a few flicks, open it, and give it a few more flicks. This seems to let the pressurized air trapped above the ink escape.

At least, since doing this, I haven't had any more pen failures.

Comment: Re:It's not just about chemistry. (Score 1) 866

by honkycat (#41683259) Attached to: Parent Questions Mandatory High School Chemistry

One aspect? Yes, I suppose. But not all "aspects" are equal. Chemistry, physics, and biology (among others) are basic, general pieces of science which cover much of the background necessary for the higher level topics you mention. This is why they're the ones required---if you go into astronomy, you will absolutely need to know physics, and quite possibly chemistry as well. The reverse is not true: most scientists don't have a specific need for a knowledge of astronomy (and I say this as an astrophysicist). This is part of why these classes are the ones required, while the more specialized disciplines are later electives. (Another reason is that those other fields build on a sometimes wide variety of background knowledge that would be inefficient to teach separately for astronomers, and for criminal investigators, etc.)

In some cases, the connection is more tenuous than others. A psychologist probably doesn't need a good knowledge of quantum physics, although a knowledge of biology and chemistry may be helpful in understanding behavior and medication...

As a general response to the linked article, the opportunity cost argument is a really crappy way to argue your way out of taking classes. It presumes that you know, in advance, what you're going to need later. Nobody knows that, at least to the degree of certainty necessary to offset the statistical benefit of preparing everyone for a wide variety of careers and/or later training.

Comment: Re:Do the same with a handful of transistors (Score 4, Insightful) 96

by honkycat (#41521621) Attached to: BrewPi: Raspberry Pi and Arduino Powered Fermentation Chamber

Why does it have to be a Raspberry? Why do you have to control it in C? Is it because people don't teach or know how to do it the old school way anymore? Is the effect somehow less if you DONT have a fancy OLED display?

Why? Because these methods are objectively better than the old way. And I say this as someone reasonably experienced in the old school way.

The controller is far more sophisticated than a simple PID loop, even if you ignore the ability to log the temperature history, store profiles, query the status remotely, etc.

The OLED display isn't necessary, but it's actually a helpful, useful feature to be able to display the status of the system clearly and unambiguously.

And good luck implementing this "the old school way" in the same period of time as someone using these tools could do it.

It doesn't have to be a Raspberry Pi or Arduino with a spiffy display, but there's no glory in doing things the hard way. There's educational value in it, and in knowing the basics, but a system that works doesn't benefit from having been hard to build.

Comment: Re:I got accused of rape once (Score 1) 1469

by honkycat (#41072887) Attached to: The Mathematics of 'Legitimate Rape' and Pregnancy

I think this is what I covered with the argument: if you drink enough on your own that you become that intoxicated, it's your own damn fault. Drunk drivers don't get off from manslaughter charges because they drank too much before t-boning someone.

The problem is that it's difficult to tell what happened in cases where sex unquestionably occurred, but there were no outside witnesses and intoxication was a factor. It's easy to say, "You're responsible for whatever happens," but that doesn't even cover the case where a woman is completely unconscious and a mostly sober man has unconsensual sex with her. This would be pretty widely accepted as a clear case of rape. Cases where the same happens and genders are reversed might be much rarer, as you assert, but I don't think any of us has actual evidence behind that gut feeling. Certainly I don't think your belief that this is extremely rare is a rational basis for a law.

So I don't think, "You were intoxicated, so it's not rape," is a useful idea. It's too open to abuse, and doesn't cover even "obvious" cases that should be considered rape.

Good point. I should have said that men being raped after blacking out from alcohol abuse is so rare that it should require some independent confirmation, along with a solid trail of evidence (other drugs in the blood stream, etc.).

Do you mean to say that such evidence and independent confirmation should not be required when a woman reports rape?

Really, the problem is that there are many cases where it can be proven that sex occurred, but there is no further evidence about who consented to what, who was conscious, who was sober, etc. Crimes like this simply can't be fairly prosecuted. Trying to make prosecutions easier or more difficult based on average rates of crime in various permutations of gender of the participants is fundamentally unjust.

Comment: Re:Have they actually found it? (Score 1) 652

by honkycat (#40547763) Attached to: Texas Scientists Regret Loss of Higgs Boson Quest

I've been following this and it sounded like they were going through a very long check list of possibilities. Trying one thing after another. And this whole thing about "we're getting close" was mostly that they were getting close to the end of the list of possibilities.

No, that's not it at all.

The properties of the Higgs are well known from theory, if it exists. Very roughly, the experiment was searching for evidence that a particle that exhibits those properties exists, with the major complication that its mass is unknown.

The "getting close" has nothing to do with any sort of process of elimination, but with observing enough events to have statistically sound evidence that such a particle was observed. This is tricky, because the Higgs cannot be detected. Instead, you have to work back from detections of decay products that may be several generations removed from the Higgs decay. Higgs creations are rare, even when you have the energy to make it possible, so it requires trillions of events to make the search sensitive to the presence or absence of the particle.

What they've found so far came from a search that was sensitive to a few of the particular ways a Higgs will decay, and they've found that a particle that decays in the same way that a Higgs would, with a mass of about 126 GeV, has been found with high significance. The reason for the hedging about whether it's the Higgs is that they've not yet tested all the properties known for the Higgs. So they've found a new particle, and it behaves as the Higgs would behave, but there are more properties to be tested.

Incidentally, at this point, the discovery turning out to be a standard model Higgs boson is the least interesting possibility available (barring this whole business turning out to be an outright error, I suppose). According to a report I read earlier today, there may have been some evidence that the particle was behaving slightly different from the simplest expectation, so I guess there's some hope that the particle physicists aren't obsolete quite yet.

Comment: Re:No wrongful death? (Score 1) 683

by honkycat (#40079045) Attached to: Rutger's Student Dharun Ravi Sentenced To 30-Day Jail Time

I started to post something equivalent to "plain wrong," then backed off.

An event can have multiple direct causes if each of them was essential to its occuring. One could argue then that each of these was a "direct cause," but none of them was the sole cause or even the most significant cause. That is, a cause can be contributory and direct. So in that sense, the OP could defend his comment. It'd be awfully difficult to argue that it had no impact---even your examples don't actually argue this, only that a prosecution is difficult and/or rare.

On the other hand, his post implied something stronger---that the video killed the victim and it was such an obvious connection that Ravi should have foreseen this outcome. That does not seem to be true. There were more factors involved, and while it's reprehensible to humiliate someone like this, it's not something that is so obviously beyond the pale that a reasonable person would say, "I better not do this, he'll kill himself." Thus, I chose "misleading" to allow the previous sense of "direct" but exclude the latter.

With respect to culpability in a suicide, I think that's a really tricky thing to define. I haven't read much about this case, but my inclination is to agree with you,that he's guilty of several crimes, but probably not personally "responsible" for the suicide. For that to make sense to me, I think the bully would need to have some reason to foresee the outcome of his actions. However, I'll say that I haven't really thought this one through and I'm thinking out loud here.

Comment: Re:he was giving out business cards.... (Score 1) 515

by honkycat (#39782447) Attached to: North Carolina Threatens To Shut Down Nutrition Blogger

It's one of those things that, while it doesn't automatically make you a business, it is business-like activity. When determining whether you're operating as a business or not, your overall activities will be considered. So I'd say the OP isn't strictly correct, but non-commercial bloggers don't often hand out cards to drum up interest, so it certainly increases the appearance that this is a commercial endeavor.

Comment: Re:Translation (Score 1) 278

by honkycat (#39620327) Attached to: Major Textbook Publishers Sue Open-Education Textbook Start-Up

It's an interesting question. Clearly, a sentence-by-sentence rephrasing would be a violation. Independently assembling a textbook on the same topics would not be. Here we are somewhere in between, since it appears they're at least duplicating the work at the table of contents level, and perhaps at finer grain than that.

While I'm as opposed as anyone to the shady crap that's perpetrated by the textbook publishers, I don't think the guys they're suing are behaving entirely ethically here either. It doesn't pass the sniff test.

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