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Comment Remarkable people (Score 5, Insightful) 340

A remarkable number of people believe homeopathy works. A remarkable number of people believe in gods, devils, prophets and an afterlife. A remarkable number of people believe scrying, remote sensing, dousing or fortune telling is real. A remarkable number of people firmly believe various economic, political or social "truths" in the face of overwhelming evidence to the contrary.

A remarkable number of people are intelligent, well-adjusted and successful in their lives, and still manage to hold one or several of the beliefs above without ever experiencing any sense of disconnect. Those remarkable people almost certainly includes myself, and most likely you as well.

Comment Re:Outside factors (Score 2) 190

I took an algorithms course at Harvard. It was just as hard as anything I took at MIT, and I took 18.313 back when G.C. Rota was still alive (greatest math teacher ever, by the way).

Of course there are people who are there because they're "legacies", and I suppose they take different courses, but the kids who get in because they're smart are pretty damned smart.

As for left-wing indoctrination, Harvard is a bastion of the establishment. The prep school crowd in particular has been thoroughly indoctrinated in the perfection of capitalism and the moral entitlement of the ruling classes. It doesn't mean that some of them aren't apostates, of course.

Comment Touch job ahead, all the luck! (Score 1) 682

Forking a large project is a tough, many-years job, it will need a lot more than just a few patches that weren't accepted to make it fly and it will need dedicated developers. But I think it's possible and I wish him luck.

There is a conceivable advantage to doing this. With some care, the forked linux kernel could be stabilized (something Linux really needs at the current juncture, frankly) and provide a goal for the FreeBSD linux emulation layer to go after, resulting in significant synergies between Linux and FreeBSD. Ultimately it might be possible to merge the device framework and solve the major problem that all kernel projects have of device-driver chasing by allowing developer resources to become more concentrated. That would be a difficult, but worthy goal.


Comment Re:Promote longer life? Not so fast (Score 2) 91

Japan's farmers are old because Japan is a segregated society. Farmers, fishermen, and other manual laborers who's professions are considered 'unclean' are a subclass heavily discriminated against.

No. You're confusing manual labour - well respected, fishermen and farmers especially - with "burakumin", the old class of people that did work forbidden by buddhism, such as butchering, leather tanning and so on.

Discrimination of burakumin still exists, but mostly among the kind of people that worry their daughters will marry the "wrong sort" of people, and "wrong sort" also includes not having a foreigner in the family tree, not being a member of the right country clubs, having insufficient money and so on. The recent mayor of Osaka, for instance, is burakumin, but while there are many reasons to dislike him, I've heard of nobody doing so for that reason.

Comment Re:Hmmmm (Score 1) 920

Well, this is what you get when you have a project run by rock star developers.

Now it would be better if people were more mature in their communications, but the bottom line is that (a) they're smarter than almost everyone else they know, (b) they know their work better than anyone else and care deeply about it, and (c) they get results. Under the circumstances have no reason to act like grown ups. They're not only rock stars, they're still churning out hits.

It's no wonder that they take the attitude "the world has to take me uncensored, and if anyone doesn't like that then it's their problem." It's a perfectly understandable attitude, but it's not an admirable one. Trying tact first won't necessarily make you more successful, especially if you're a rock star. But it won't make you less successful either; after all if tact fails the option of publicly humiliating someone by showing how much stupider they are than you is still open. What it will make you is a better person.

Comment This is like the whole "learning styles" thing. (Score 1) 307

"Learning styles" takes an undeniable truth, that different people find it easiest to learn in different ways, exaggerates it to a falsehood (i.e., that people can only learn the way that's easiest for them), and then converts it to BS (e.g., "I'm a visual thinker, that's why I'm no good at math.")

The underlying mistaken assumption is that education should never require you to try something you find difficult or unnatural. If you are indeed a visual learner, that's something that you and your teachers can and should exploit, but you need to learn how to learn in modes that don't come easily to you. Life doesn't always give you a choice of forms for lessons you need to learn. Sometimes you ought to read the manual; other times there is no manual. You need to be adaptable to either case.

It's important to be sensitive to the fact that some students are introverts -- although that doesn't necessarily mean "shy" or "socially awkward"; that's just a stereotype, it's not what "introverted" means. But it is undeniably true that group work comes less naturally to introverts than extroverts. Nonetheless they still need to learn to work that way, just as extroverts need to learn how to work independently. If you just taught students to be able to do what comes naturally to them, what's the point of education?

To communicate is the beginning of understanding. -- AT&T