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Comment: Oh Boo Hoo (Score 1) 267

by real gumby (#47691205) Attached to: Are Altcoins Undermining Bitcoin's Credibility?

Gosh, some advocates of a competing currency and libertarian fantasy are now cowed by competition? Say it ain’t so!

I’m rooting for some online cash to become viable, but don’t know if Bitcoin will be it (I suspect not since it has the same liquidity / shock issues as gold standards do) but let’s have a bunch of experiments and see what the market says.

Comment: Re:I don't get it. (Score 2) 541

by real gumby (#47647931) Attached to: Geneticists Decry Book On Race and Evolution

I think it’s because what constitutes “intellect” is so ill understood. It is uncontroversial that there is a genetic component — but what that component might be is at this point impossible to determine (since we don’t even know what the result — “intelligence” — means).

Now if we were just talking about suceptability to some disease (and as we learn more, a lot of diseases turn out to be clusters of different diseases with similar symptoms) that wouldn’t be a big deal. But even to strip the emotional/political issues out: this would be at best a premature optimization; to use genetics rather than, say, pulic schooling, as a measure of intellectual ability would be unlikely to lead to a good outcome (using a utilitarian definition of good: the smart people would be able to make stuff and help society in other ways).

Comment: Re:It's right there! (Score 1) 211

by real gumby (#47495459) Attached to: Apollo 11 Moon Landing Turns 45

I was also 5 years old. I didn't really understand what the USA was but all of us were totally space mad (we would draw pictures of rockets and moon landers, but put Aussie flags on them). My parents got a TV just to see it. All of the landings were tremendously exciting. Even Apollo/Soyez was exciting.

I am sure the space program was the reason that as an older kid I thought of the US as the cool place where they just got awesome shit done. And I was quite happy to move to the States, and I live and work here now.

It's sort of sad that my kid considers the US the boring place and prefers to spend his time working in "dynamic" countries.

Comment: Re:Everybody is wrong... (Score 3, Funny) 270

If your electric company was also a distributor for Anheuser Busch would you object if they charged more for electricity and let the voltage wander when your refrigerator was full of Stone smoked porter instead of Michelob?

Someone with a fridge full of Michelob is suffering enough already. I’d support legislation to cut ‘em a break.

Comment: Re:Whom you trust ... ? (Score 0) 120

by real gumby (#47181791) Attached to: Whom Must You Trust?

I think you misread the grammarbook entry.

All but the very end of her description is an unremarkable explanation of the accusative of “who”, which is a perfectly ordinary word.

Only at the end did she write, "This rule is compromised by an odd infatuation people have with whom”. And there she described a pretentious and incorrect usage. This is similar to people using “myself” when they mean “me” (then again, Emily Dickenson did this too).

I find it odd you would consider “whom” an unusual word. It’s certainly more common than, say, “frog”.

Comment: Re:codependent (Score 1) 131

by real gumby (#46976009) Attached to: Silicon Valley's Love-Hate Relationship With President Obama

Your comment is so far off base it should be modded +5, Funny.

That's great! In fact the comment has garnered an interesting assortment of Troll (WTF? I am honestly surprised) and Insightful (personally, I thought it was insightful, even if it includes the inflammatory word "fuck").

Obama seems like a really good guy and I think, in general, his heart is in the right place. But it is hard for me to imagine that anyone in the valley, or any nerd reading this News for Nerds, could consider him and especially Biden to be in the thrall of the copyright/IP cartel whose interests are almost always in opposition to innovation. Ditto on supporting the NSA in their deep infiltration of ISPs and major web companies. I think their actions add, rather than remove risk to the United States.

Or did you consider the current republican any of pro education, pro ACA (or maybe you think I'm deranged to consider it pro entrepreneur? It makes it easier for people to leave big companies for startups and keep insurance) not pro big business or pro rentier? If you think any of those things, well, let's just agree to disagree.

None of this is intended to praise the Democrats, don't get me wrong!

Comment: codependent (Score 1, Insightful) 131

by real gumby (#46970935) Attached to: Silicon Valley's Love-Hate Relationship With President Obama

Yes, Obama shows up in the valley to collect money and then departs to fuck the valley to the benefit of the RIAA et al and the so-called security apparatus.

But clearly the Republicans would be worse, as they are the anti-business (or at least anti-entrepreneur), anti-education, anti-ACA (a very pro entrepreneurism law) and pro-big business, pro-rentier party. I am not sure any tea party or high party official could even find silicon valley on a map.

So Obama ends up by default with the bucks on a combination of lesser-of-two-evils and star-struck-close-to-greatness bases.

Comment: Re:I've heard this before (Score 2) 264

by real gumby (#46894589) Attached to: An MIT Dean's Defense of the Humanities

I'm not quite sure where Dean Fitzgerald is coming from with this editorial. It's not as if every accredited ABET school doesn't already teach humanities as part of its engineering curriculum. ...This strikes me as yet another in a very long series of not-so-subtle digs at STEM curriculums.

I think you miss two important points of her essay.

The first is that she is at MIT. She makes the point that MIT has already "drunk the kool aid" of the importance of the humanities and that even in a highly "STEM" institution like that, Humanities are considered crucial. In fact MIT has only 6 "schools", and Humanities is one of them on par with Engineering and Science.

But MIT can get away with setting its own standards, and that leads to her other point: that there is a strong emerging fetishism with STEM, and with degrees that train (as opposed to educate) you with "skills" that soon become irrelevant. A desire for more science and engineering graduates does seem like a good thing given where the USA is right now, and we have evidence from the sputnik scare that it probably can have a good result. But if we fetishize it at the expense of the humanities, we won't get what we want (a stronger, more dynamic society that helps everyone).

She's not advocating that, say, Bowdoin adopt MIT's requirement that humanities majors take multivariate calculus, E&M, do lab work etc. just like everyone else. But she is saying that if even one the most prestigious "STEM" schools considers the liberal arts crucial, perhaps they are. And the fact that someone from MIT is writing it, rather than someone from a liberal arts-only school, makes it a more convincing argument.

In too many humanities courses, it's not about critical thinking, it's about figuring out the personal beliefs of the professor, because in many cases your grade depends on not offending those beliefs.

There are poorly taught classes in Engineering and especially CS as well. Personally, all the thermo I took at MIT was worthless and I had to learn it all over again in my 40s.

Yes, it's hard to identify crappy liberal arts teaching, especially when some of the interesting work does challenge orthodox thinking (since of course some of the crappiest also challenge orthodoxy). But really is that all that different from an engineering class that teaches only the stuff that's easiest to teach? It can be objectively valid, yet useless in the real world.

Note: I have a course 21 (humanities) degree from MIT.

Comment: Re:Could EMC sue? (Score 1) 168

by real gumby (#46628021) Attached to: NSA Infiltrated RSA Deeper Than Imagined

EMC paid $2.6B for RSA. Could they sue the NSA for destroying the value of their property?

Two words: Sovereign Immnunity.

Well, the fifth amendment to the US constitution ends with

nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.

Seems like a clear case of "private property being taken for public use." Possibly even "deprived of property".

Comment: Re:Ignore Silicon Valley (Score 1) 379

Ignore Silicon used to be a hot-bed of science and technological innovation. Now it is a magnet for designer coffee-swigging social cloud blog web 2.0 get rich quick smartphone app hipsters.

Close, but you described San Francisco. We have some of those loons too down here in the Valley, but we also have real stuff.

The out of town reporters are up in the city too, and don’t know the difference, but frankly it’s easier to get work done with them not around as well.

To be a kind of moral Unix, he touched the hem of Nature's shift. -- Shelley