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Comment: Re:I'm not clear on what their case is... (Score 1) 112

by kyrcant (#31462272) Attached to: JPL Background Check Case Reaches Supreme Court
I think the point of checking the S/O is a legacy procedure that was built in to ensure that they could not be blackmailed. The security people want to know you're not hiding anything so that a bad guy can't say, "if you don't hand over those pictures of alien spacecraft around Jupiter I'll tell your wife/parents/dog that you're gay/use drugs/watch manga." As long as you are up front with your past drug abuse and s/o, the bad guys can't blackmail you with it, and you're okay.

Comment: Re:The Sun (Score 1) 377

by kyrcant (#31092408) Attached to: What Objects To Focus On For School Astronomy?
The sun is a great target and a solar filter costs about $20 tops. Count sunspots during each class period on at least a weekly, if not daily basis. The moon is great day or night. Planets are very impressive, contrary to some other opinions on here. I do public and school outreach for the Howard Astronomy League ( and everyone loves the planets. Mars is good right now. A 4" will show the Orion nebula on Orion's sword quite well, with or without filters. Depending on where you are there is a good chance your local astronomy club will even put on a show for the kids, or at least have a public star party they can attend to look through amateur class scopes. Kyr

Comment: Basics (Score 1) 1021

by kyrcant (#29649323) Attached to: What Belongs In a High School Sci-Fi/Fantasy Lit Class?
I recommend doing short stories instead of full books, especially for some of the heavier authors (Tolkein). "The Coldest Place" is a great story. Larry Niven has written many short stories, especially about Gil Hamilton and the stories about the origin of humans. Asimov has lots of short Robot stories, and I'm sure you won't have trouble finding plenty of others. What I'm getting at is that quantity is sometimes ... not necessary. There is plenty to learn comparing short stories by classic authors. my 2c.

Comment: US Navy today (Score 2, Informative) 426

by kyrcant (#27186233) Attached to: How Do Militaries Treat Their Nerds?
I'm in the Navy in a very technical field, cryptology. I see two groups of people in my office, those that are good at their jobs, and those that are good at being in the Navy. The USN consistently rewards those who volunteer for fund raisers and know their 11 General Orders over those who know how to do their job. I spend about 20 hours a week training people as a "subject matter expert", and the rest of the time gathering info and getting out to the fleet. This accounts for very little on my evaluations. "Where's your volunteering?" they ask. PTA and my astronomy club, nor my teaching martial arts to kids doesn't count. They want honor guard and donut sales. "Where's your leadership?" they ask. I'm too busy teaching the new personnel how to do their job ... err... wait, that would be any reasonable person's definition of "leadership". Not the Navy's. But the pay is good, especially in this economy, I get 2 hours a day to go to the gym, and 30 days paid vacation. Plus, I don't have to make up time lost for doctor visits, and I get to go on my kids' field trips as well.

Some people claim that the UNIX learning curve is steep, but at least you only have to climb it once.