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Comment Re:Ministry of Truth? (Score 1) 389

Actually they didn't do exactly that, as the borders of Russia aren't identical with the borders of the U.S.S.R. For example Armenia, Belarus, Estonia, Georgia, Latvia, Lithuania, Kazakhstan, Ukraine, Uzbekistan, etc. were all part of the U.S.S.R. but not part of Russia. They did temporarily call all former Soviet states the "Commonwealth of Independent States" (C.I.S.) but that only lasted a couple years before they printed new maps with everything wholly changed.

Comment Re:Ministry of Truth? (Score 2) 389

Oh FFS. There are plenty of arguments to make to associate the office of the presidency with Orwell but this is one of the weakest.

Obama is not retracting all textbooks that reference the mountain and throwing anyone who ever went there in some Stalinist gulag. He's changing the name back to what it was before some random dude named it after a guy from Ohio who had never been there. If this is Orwellian, then so is any government-initiated change of any kind.

Comment Self-reporting is inherently biased (Score 5, Insightful) 141

This Chronicle of Higher Ed story looks at whether these MOOC addicts think they're learning as much as they would in a traditional college course.

It's been psychologically demonstrated that people who volunteer their time up-front to some activity for which they're not receiving other rewards (e.g. payment) are biased towards finding the activity fulfilling, even if it wasn't really, simply so they don't feel foolish for having wasted their time.

I have no doubt many of these people are learning things and they would probably drop out if they weren't, but self-reporting is no way to measure the efficacy of MOOCs as learning tools.

Comment What's new here? (Score 3, Interesting) 167

All of Matematica, Maple, and MathCAD have had their own worksheet/document formats since the mid-90s at least. They have gone through many incarnations but I believe all of them now support embedding code, graphics, marked-up text, etc. Maple's Document format certainly does.

Exactly what is new about this, other than a new name and, well, further grist for Stephen Wolfram's publicity mill?

Is the idea simply to have a thin-client reader and offload most of the computation to remote servers? Because if so then that is the innovation, not some new document format.

Comment Re:Unasked Question (Score 1) 539

I find it hard to believe no one is asking exactly why the defendants son is creeping around looking up jurors from his father's trial on Facebook.

For all we know the juror in question mentioned the defendant's name in her FB post and it came up when the kid was Googling the defendant's name.

Comment Re:A cousin of the Moa? (Score 1) 137


While the rest of the bird kingdom in NZ devolved their wings, the world's biggest eagle, The Haast Eagle enjoyed the easy life, often making short work of the Moa from time to time.

I read something once where a scientist was conjecturing about what the first interaction between a human and a Haast Eagle, a raptor adapted to carry off and eviscerate 2-meter tall bipeds, must have been like.

[Proto-Maori guy stepping out of seafaring canoe]
Wow, nice island. Hey, what the hell is that?

Comment Re:What's with the asterisk, Slashdot? (Score 1) 698

Replacing the vowel in profanity with some other character doesn't fool anyone. Everyone knows still you're swearing.

Back in the late 90s there was a play out called Shopping and Fucking. I remember an article in the Globe and Mail summarizing all the various ways the name of this play was rendered in newpapers around the world. Some were bold enough to print the title in full, some resorted to "Shopping and F*cking" or "Shopping and F***ing", and one very delicately never gave to the play's name explicitly but described its name as combining "shopping and a profane expression".

My favourite was some Australian newspaper which gave the title as "Sh***ing and F***ing".

The beauty of these meaningless abbreviations is that people can think you're swearing when you're not. :)

Comment Re:Yup (Score 1) 384

Carne Adovada, right here in New Mexico.

Isn't "carne adovada" Spanish for "marinated meat"? If I understand correctly from the Wikipedia article it's mostly an American dish by virtue of the Mexican-American War and continuing Mexican cultural influence.

If in this food contest the British got to claim any random dish from territory their conquered over the years, I'm sure they would have a lot more to draw from (e.g. all Indian food).

Comment Re:Remember, slashdot is run by rich white guys (Score 1) 191

I know several Canadian citizens who moved to the states in a large part to escape the inferior national healthcare system up north. I suppose if you work part time at McDonalds, government run health care seems like a good idea, but if you have a job where you can actually afford real healthcare, it's terrible.

Amazing isn't it, how everyone has an ex-girlfriend's former roommate's Canadian cousin who has some unpleasant anecdote the public health care system, isn't it? I almost wonder sometimes if these are all the same person.

Well, I am Canadian. And I can say that while our system isn't perfect I honestly can't see it being vastly inferior to whatever you have down there, unless maybe you get wine & cheese and digital television in every waiting room.

I'm still fairly young with no major health problems, but of course I have friends and relatives have had serious medical issues (e.g. heart attacks, liver & stomach trouble, cancer) and by all accounts got perfectly acceptable treatment. Of course we have the occasional scandal: for example some doctors in Newfoundland a few years ago misdiagnosed a lot of breast biopsies, missed a number of cancer cases, and some women died, but that was pure incompetence and there's no obvious reason why a private system would've avoided that.

Canadian immigrants to the U.S. are not a statistically valid sampling of the Canadian population. I have a friend who's now in the U.S. who badmouths our healthcare system regularly, but that has more to do with his being a libertarian than from any actual bad experience, which he grudgingly admitted to after a long argument.

Comment Bad summary (Score 1) 478

About 8 percent of human genetic material comes from a virus and not from our ancestors

Not at all what TFA says. Sure, originally we must have had ancestors without any viral DNA, but unless the virus infected us personally and not any ancestor, the 8% of genetic material comes from a virus and from our ancestors.

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