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Comment: Re:471 million? You may want to think about that. (Score 2) 247

by metlin (#49756021) Attached to: California Votes To Ban Microbeads

471 million potatos is a lot of potatos.
471 million .2mm bits of plastic is enough to cover in plastic all of the living rooms in California.
Wait - no - one living room. Or about a dinner-plates worth a day.

Every day. That's the difference.

Even assuming that it's a dinner plate sized amount of pollution, over two decades, you are looking at 7300 dinner plates. Only, broken into little chunks, easily consumed by aquatic life and smothering plants, clogging pipes etc.

Comment: Re:Millennials will have a very rough landing (Score 1) 405

by metlin (#49650953) Attached to: Is IT Work Getting More Stressful, Or Is It the Millennials?

What rubbish. Plenty of cultures have parents who are involved in their children's education. My own parents were extremely involved, and as the only child, they put a lot of time and effort into my education and extracurricular activities. To this day, they are quite interested in my career, and are just as involved in teaching my own year old language and music.

That is not a statement on their children's capabilities. Tiger moms are common, and it just demonstrates responsible parents who are genuinely interested in their kids' well being.

My wife and I will certainly be taking an interest in our kids' education and lives, and that is not being overprotective -- that is good parenting.

Comment: Re:WTF (Score 1) 225

by metlin (#49639973) Attached to: NFL Releases Deflategate Report

Some of the greatest minds have been interested in seemingly trivial and popular problems (e.g., Richard Feynman).

This is about science and engineering, and whether or not a phenomena can occur, and it's about public's reaction to something that was proven scientifically.

Plus, a lot of Slashdot's readers are American, and some of us are geeks who like -- wait for this -- football!

Comment: Re:Predictable (Score 4, Informative) 176

He doesn't seem overweight for me.

While I feel for the family, to say that he is not overweight shows just how much society's perception of being overweight has changed.

Take a look at this picture, for instance.

And take a look at the body fat visual chart for comparison.

With the overhanging belly, he is easily 35-40% at least. While the majority of people today are fat (especially in the US), that is not healthy. If anything, until recently, 20-25% used to be average.

Above 25-30% is the fat territory, and that's when you start increasing your risk for heart attacks, diabetes, and strokes. Mr. Goldberg may have had a lot of things going for him, but he is most certainly more than a little overweight.

Assuming he's ~6 feet, I would argue that he is probably ~30-40+ lbs overweight. That is not at all healthy. I'm not arguing everyone should have abs, but there's a happy medium here. Mr. Goldberg is very clearly on the unfortunate side of the medium.

Comment: Re:*Grabs a bowl of popcorn* (Score 4, Insightful) 385

by metlin (#49501129) Attached to: Can High Intelligence Be a Burden Rather Than a Boon?

You can get a buff body with a reasonable workout regimen in less than a year, and many elements of your "looks" can easily be fixed (better hair, wearing contacts, getting teeth fixed, dressing more stylishly).

If you have game, then your dick size doesn't matter, because history is rife with examples of men with questionable looks and stunning women.

Ultimately, having good social skills is much more important than any of those things in getting laid.

Comment: Re:Embarrassed (Score 1) 220

by metlin (#49419595) Attached to: How would you rate your programming skills?

I used to be a programmer... over a decade ago. And I used to love programming in college.

But I haven't directly touched code (for a living anyway) in a long time, other than recreational coding, and that's mostly been in Python/Perl/Ruby/PHP.

I remember enough to be dangerous with SQL and with the fundamentals, and thankfully, C/C++ haven't changed much.

But while I am former programmer, I still I grok CS quite well. Algorithmically, I could write a ray tracer or optimize the cycles in a complex routine based on certain assumptions or optimize a graph or write up a crypto hash in no time.

However, what I do lack is an understanding of the various technologies and APIs that seem to keep changing. I can tell you all about data structures and compilers, but I wouldn't know how to instantiate a class in Java. But solving an IPP or DPP? That's still cakewalk.

Comment: How do you define smart? (Score 1) 227

by metlin (#49392549) Attached to: Google 'Makes People Think They Are Smarter Than They Are'

The article seems to conflate content knowledge with being smart.

I would argue that raw analytical skills are much more important than content knowledge. Being able to regurgitate information is only marginally useful, and its most important value is that you're equipped with a framework and a lens through which to examine problems.

However, absent analytical capabilities, your ability to use your knowledge and past experiences to solve problems is severely limited.

Google makes people think they are knowledgeable, which is not necessarily the same as being "smart".

Comment: Re:Time for a UNION! (Score 5, Insightful) 271

by metlin (#48868295) Attached to: The Tech Industry's Legacy: Creating Disposable Employees

Although this problem needs a solution, a union is not that solution. Unions are a relic of a bygone era. The core premise of a union is that employes are all the same and can be swapped in and out of work like parts in a machine (once they are trained). This leads to collective bargaining which takes back some of the power that big employers have. However it also removes individuality from the worker. If I am smarter, stronger, or more skilled than my coworkers, I want to be able to elevate myself based on my merits. A union interferes with that. You pay a union, and the union acts only in its own best interest, not in your individual best interest.

That's an incredibly selfish attitude that puts the individual interest above the interest of the collective. The irony is that collective bargaining is much more effective and is much stronger in the long run. Your self interest is great until such time that you reach a point when other, more skilled people take your place (which is inevitable, because our cognitive capabilities decline with age, not to mention that older people have more responsibilities and find it hard to work 80 hour weeks).

Even the most meritocratic of individuals can run into unforeseen and unfortunate circumstances (e.g., an accident that has you laid up, or family issues). I worked in a strictly up or out management consulting firm, and about a year ago, my pregnant wife had some issues. My son was born, prematurely, and I was in a rough place with my personal needs and professional responsibilities. My wife was hospitalized and my son was in the NICU, unable to breathe, and I was the only one who could take care of things. My employer was understanding -- for about 6 weeks -- after which things got rather unpleasant. So, I quit and joined another firm that is not only more prestigious but was also more understanding and accommodating of my needs. But I was fortunate -- I could very well have been unable to find a job, and been unemployed for a year because I wanted to take care of my family.

Union agreements ensure that in such cases, collective bargaining agreements protect everyone.

Modern skilled workers, especially in the IT and Engineering fields, are usually very specialized. This is not a good fit for a union. It would be ill advised to take a good thing and remove all motivation for creativity and the free flow of invigorating talent.

Not really. Most of what goes on in IT today is quite commoditized, and there are very few areas that are truly specialized. And it is only going to get worse as IT matures. You may think your task is highly specialized, but the truth is, there's probably someone in another part of the world willing to do it for a tenth of what you get paid. That is not specialization.

If you want real specialization, you perhaps see it in chip design, algorithmic optimization, biotech etc. You know, all those guys with PhDs who specialize in a subject?

A better solution is to simply prevent large corporations from getting away with their bullshit. No "gentleman's agreements" to prevent poaching. Stop accepting lies regarding layoffs and market performance. Reward employers for using home-grown talent rather than rewarding them with tax loopholes for moving overseas.

And how do you propose we do that? The share market is the ultimate arbiter, and the people who are rewarding the companies and the executives are the shareholders who are in for short term profit (it's the extension of the same short term myopic outlook of looking out for oneself rather than the collective).

I find that most Americans have a poor understanding of unions almost entirely rooted in propaganda, and it gets repeated again and again as gospel. The truth is, unions are immensely helpful to the labor force, especially in a service economy such as ours. Everyone thinks their skill is specialized, until it gets outsourced and commoditized.

You are not special. And despite what you may think, unions can help you negotiate agreements that would be impossible for you to go at alone.

Comment: Re:3rd place vs 1st place. (Score 1) 249

by metlin (#48796261) Attached to: Education Debate: Which Is More Important - Grit, Or Intelligence?

This is a great point. When I was younger and in college, I took advantage of the fact that I could coast through my engineering classes with the barest minimum effort. So, spent them drinking, playing in a band, and chasing tail. I still graduated in the top 10, but I could have easily done much, much better. Grad school and a couple of jobs later, my philosophy changed, and from somewhere, ambition crept in.

I will say that I have accomplished a lot more with drive and mediocre application of intelligence than with intelligence and little in the way of drive or hard work.

The problem is that you need them both at the right times in your life. Otherwise, it's too late. At a different period of my life, I may have gone through with a PhD and potentially been a physicist if I had had the sense to apply both grit and intelligence.

Today, I am a management consultant, where I use my analytical skills to solve mediocre problems, but where grit and drive and many other soft skills play a role. In fact, I would argue that my intelligence has taken a back seat and I bust ass to make up for gaps in my technical skills (e.g., finance).

Sadly, I am well past the point of publishing seminal papers; but at least, I can make the best of what I have and make a boatload of money for my next generation. But you're right -- it's not coming first. It's not even coming third. It's somewhere around fifth to the tenth. Above average, if you will, but definitely not great.

Comment: Physical games (Score 1) 171

by metlin (#48543965) Attached to: Preferred Type of Game?

I enjoy rock and ice climbing, sailing, and flying. And they are all done outside in the real world.

There's a certain satisfaction that comes from physical exertion that is not accomplished in a board game or a video game.

Although I have seen some people go crazy over flight sims. While they are good learning tools for some planes where it's hard (and expensive) to rack up hours, they're definitely no substitute for the real thing. That feeling of g's when you master an acrobatic maneuver or the joys of landing blind.

"The number of Unix installations has grown to 10, with more expected." -- The Unix Programmer's Manual, 2nd Edition, June, 1972