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Comment: Re:Good grief... (Score 1) 670

by readin (#49109289) Attached to: Bill Nye Disses "Regular" Software Writers' Science Knowledge
He did answer the question with what I think is a reasonable answer. The only problem I have with his answer is that a guy whose claim to fame isn't science but being a TV star is presuming himself capable of giving grades to the rest of us.

A good CS program usually requires a good STEM course load. You have to take classes like Physics, Chemistry, Numerical Analysis, etc.. So a CS educated developer should have some understanding of science, but of course in day to day life he probably won't be doing any real science. But then neither does the star of a child's TV program.

The fact that he's willing to grade the whole country based on what they believe about a topic that most of the country can't possibly have researched in detail and that they read conflicting accounts about on the news and other media about indicates that Mr. Nye isn't really all that good at logic and philosophy himself.

Whether or not I, as a non-climatologist who hasn't devoted weeks of study to the question, believe all the hype about global-warming has little to do with what I know about science and a lot to do with who I trust to tell me the truth. Do I trust they guys at MIT and Harvard because I think they're all good guys who have no ambition beyond seeking and publishing the truth, or do suspect that they are like other humans and have weaknesses that may cause them to do things like preferring to interpret data in a way that will get them more funding and saying they agree with things in order to fit in with the crowd? Do I trust Al Gore? Do I trust Republicans? Do I trust Democrats? Do I trust the UN?

Personally I don't trust any of them. That and the fact that I haven't done the research myself and don't have enough time to evaluate the competing claims are why I don't take a strong position on global warning. In Bill Nye's eyes apparently that means I don't know anything about science.

Comment: Re:Actually (Score 1) 531

by readin (#49099377) Attached to: Stephen Hawking: Biggest Human Failing Is Aggression
But what if we could get rid of the desire for polygamy and adultery? Keep the desire for sex, of course; it's necessary. But if everyone were monogamous that would reduce the desire for conquest and excessive amounts of wealth. There would still be desire to succeed and make money, but at some point you would have enough.

Comment: Re:You hit the nail on the head... (Score 1) 165

by readin (#49064295) Attached to: Cubans Allowed To Export Software and Software Services To the US

Sure, but India had two things going for it that Cuba doesn't: they speak English...

Cuba is 90 miles from Miami. Many Cubans have relatives in the US. You don't think they have English speakers?

The relatives in America speak English, but how would that cause the Cubans to learn it when their relatives in America can still speak Spanish?

Comment: Re:There is no engineering. (Score 1) 323

I usually say "software developer" because my duties aren't limited to just engineering. Yes, I have to apply technology to solve the problem. But I also have to build the product. I'm not just a designer. I'm not just a requirements gatherer. I'm not just a construction guy. I'm all those things. An engineer creates the plans but lets someone else put those plans into practice. I create the plans and I put them into practice. I do all the things it takes to develop the product. I'm a developer.

Comment: Re:There is no engineering. (Score 1) 323

The difference is that electrical, mechanical, civil engineers, et al, all have governing bodies and licensing requirements. What drives us engineers insane is that some people are allowed to call themselves engineers, when they are not. They don't have the training, oversight, etc. It's not just professional hubris or exclusionism, it's about diluting the respect and reliability of our profession -- and in some cases, even public safety.

Try being a nurse, nutritionist, radiological technician, etc, and calling yourself a doctor. It won't fly.

Good point. Those types of engineering change so slowly that a governing body can say what is permitted and what is not. They can say what is required to be competent and what is not. They can lay down those rules and expect them to last for a while.

Software engineering is much harder to keep up with. Other engineers get to keep using the same solutions. We have to keep inventing new ones. Perhaps when software engineering becomes as stale as other fields we'll have a governing board.

Comment: Every student should learn to code (Score 1) 291

by readin (#49056789) Attached to: Should We Really Try To Teach Everyone To Code?
Every student should learn to code, just as every student learns biology, physics, and chemistry. It's not that every student will use that knowledge on the job, it's biology, physics, chemistry, and now computers surround us in everyday life. Learning to code provides the basics of what a computer does and how it operates. Throw in a chapters on binary numbers, concepts like input, output, different chips or processing units, what a network is, turing equivalency, etc, and you have an intro to computer science class that every student should take.

Comment: Re:Never used recursion (Score 1) 252

by readin (#49013955) Attached to: AP Test's Recursion Examples: An Exercise In Awkwardness

That's the real world and real jobs in most cases. Unless you are doing something really high end most jobs are boring straightforward imperative programming. Something like "Scrape a web form on click, put objects into a container, contact the database via a library, do a transaction, get a response, manipulate the response, present the response to the user. Most programmers do not do parallel processing, high end graphics, tool smithing, or predictive analytics.

Most programmers do not use functional languages either.

I would love to escape that kind of career.

Comment: Re:Never used recursion (Score 1) 252

by readin (#49013943) Attached to: AP Test's Recursion Examples: An Exercise In Awkwardness
I don't use it often, but when I do it usually doesn't feel like recursion because it recursive step works on a different object. I recall a need to model a network and a coworker trying to use some strange tool and getting very frustrated because it wouldn't do recursion. I whipped up a network model in Java in a few minutes. He asked me if I used recursion and I said "no". I apologized the next day because I realized had in fact used recursion, but hadn't realized it because even though the code I was calling was the same I was calling it on a different object (a different node in the network). In my mind each object had it's own instance of the code so instead of the flow looping back into the top of my method it was entering code on a different object.

It was kind of neat when I realized that. It made recursion seem a lot simpler than it had before.

Comment: Re:Too bad about WWII (Score 1) 645

by readin (#49003781) Attached to: Does Showing a Horrific Video Serve a Legitimate Journalistic Purpose?

It's too bad the Allies released those photos of the concentration camps. They were literally working for the Nazis and their SS arm.

Excellent point. Especially compare the reaction most people have to "Nazi" vs their reaction to "Commie" or "Communist". I even see people on Slashdot joke about it. The Communists killed a lot of people too. Whether it was more or less than the Nazis is the subject of some debate, but they certainly killed millions and millions. But we have the pictures of the Nazi camps. How many pictures have you seen of corpses or sick prisoners in the Gulags? How many pictures have you seen of the corpses in the killing fields of Cambodia? The pictures of the Nazi atrocities make us want to say "never again". But communism? Too many people think we just haven't done it right yet and should keep trying.

Comment: Re:"Support" != actually sacrifice for (Score 1) 458

by readin (#48944833) Attached to: Most Americans Support Government Action On Climate Change

What's the sacrifice though? Having cars that either get really excellent fuel economy or run on battery power? Forcing electrical utilities to switch to separate billing for grid-tie and power consumption, so that customers that want to put solar panels on their roofs aren't shafted in order to have overnight electrical service from base-load power? Mandating emissions inspections based on original standards at the time of manufacture on all vehicles newer than 30 years, so that gross-polluting vehicles that are not running right are either fixed or taken off the road? Most of these things don't have all that much cost, and for some of them, they're a cost that the individual should have borne anyway.

How about rationing international air travel because of the huge carbon footprint it creates?

Comment: Re:Yes, of *course* (Score 1) 495

by readin (#48937295) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: When and How Did Europe Leapfrog the US For Internet Access?
Corporations are owned by stockholders. Stockholders have a responsibility to take an interest in what they own make sure it is well-managed. If they don't and the corporation fails, they get punished in a free market. If the CEO makes off with a bundle, then the stockholders are to blame for giving him the contract. If the CEO makes off with a bundle with the result that creditors don't get paid then the creditors have some responsibility for failing to consider the health of the corporation and its governing structure before lowing it money. No one gets punished? Ask an Enron stockholder or creditor. Then ask the shareholder how much time he put into voting in the shareholder elections that happen periodically. No one put a gun to that shareholder's head and forced him to buy Enron. He could have bought shares in any corporation or put the money in a CD. The creditor likewise made a choice.

But when it is the government, no one has a choice.

By the way, if a corporation does bad things and then goes out of business you can still go after the owners who made their corporation do those bad things. Oh wait, no you can't, because a corporation is a GOVERNMENT created fictional person who is assigned blamed for the things the owners do.

Comment: Re:Government Intervention (Score 2) 495

by readin (#48934319) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: When and How Did Europe Leapfrog the US For Internet Access?
Exactly. While Europe usually seem willing to commit fully to the second best choice - a government controlled industry, Americans seem to get stuck in the worst choice - an industry so heavily regulated that the virtues of the free market are extinguished but not heavily regulated enough for the government to take responsibility for the consequences of government actions.

So now we have a bunch of government created monopolies and government regulations wreaking havoc across the landscape, and when the problems become apparent they are blamed, as you humorously allude, on the "free" market. The big businesses gain because lack of a free market protects them from upstarts, and the government people gain by having increased power and greater access to campaign funds and post-government lobbying jobs.

It is not best to swap horses while crossing the river. -- Abraham Lincoln