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Comment: Obsession with robots (Score 1) 128 128

The most sophisticated tool we possess, discovered a way to make discoveries without leaving earth.

Some discoveries. Very slowly. With very limited flexibility and substantially reduced spinoff benefits. Robots are a great way to explore some things but they are not the preferred way to explore everything.

What can a human being learn about botany in space that a human can't learn on earth by controlling a robot botanist?

How digestible the plant is by people in space to start with. How the plant interacts with humans in a different environment for another. You cannot discover a lot of things that relate to humans without a human being present.

As an engineer, (and not an astronaut), I think I am far more interested in making the thing that actually goes to mars and does the work, rather than making something that is so deficient that it requires a human being to be in close physical proximity to operate it.

Who said anything about making something deficient? Strawman argument you have there my friend. Don't try to put words in my mouth.

I think we will invent good spinoff technology regardless of whether we send humans or robots. In fact I would say the *best* spinoff technology to come from the space race were the advances in automation.

Of course we'll invent good spinoff technologies. But they will be DIFFERENT technologies. There are some technologies that will only and can only be developed if you plan to send people. And this robot vs human thing is a false dilemma. It does not have to be an either/or proposition. We can and should do both. Hell we could triple NASA's budget by taking the money from our military. The obstacles are not financial or even technical, they are merely political.

As for which technologies are best I think that is a matter of opinion, not fact and you didn't clarify what criteria establishes "best". Best by what measure? And even if you come up with a measure I'm not sure that's a very useful thing to do.

I'm not saying we shouldn't have people on mars. We should when it benefits us. Automation removes the *need* to put humans on mars to actually do things on mars. We should go when there is a tangible benefit to going.

There already is a tangible benefit to sending people. I outlined a large number of them. It will also take us decades to get to the point where sending people is a realistic option. The NASA administrator was interviewed on Startalk radio recently and he claims their on pace (funding permitting) to get boots on Mars in the 2030s. I'm extremely dubious that we will get there that fast but that's ok. If it takes longer so be it. What I think would be a tragedy would be to stop funding the research for how to get a person there.

We shouldn't send people to mars to repair robots.

I never claimed that we should. Not sure who's argument you are responding to but it certainly isn't mine. We should send people to Mars to explore. There isn't a robot you can design that can do the sort of exploring that a person can do. Robots should supplement the experience, not be an avatar for it.

Comment: Maternity leave (Score 1) 212 212

3 YEARS of maternity leave?

Sure, why not? Raising kids is a lot of work and pretty important to the well being of our species. Why not allow people the time to do it well? Honestly I'm fairly disgusted by how little help is given to new parents here in the US. (close to none)

Seriously, maternity leave is like a year, more than that is taking time to spend with a kid as a stay at home mother (which is a good thing generally)

One year is as arbitrary as three. And you admit that spending some time with the child when they are young is a good thing so what really is your problem with maternity leave? Just because it isn't the amount you are accustomed to doesn't mean it is wrong.

Comment: Let's not get all chicken little (Score 4, Insightful) 128 128

Commercial launch capability is growing quickly, but the recent SpaceX failure underlines the fact that they may not be ready for prime time just yet.

NASA has blown up plenty of rockets before SpaceX. This rocket failure won't be the last. Let's not get all chicken little because one rocket blew up.

Comment: Why not send out best tool which is people? (Score 3, Interesting) 128 128

What do we get from sending a meat robot to mars, other than the sort of daredevil glory?

You get the most sophisticated tool we possess on Mars. One that can make discoveries orders of magnitude faster than any other tool we possess. You also learn a TON along the way about human physiology, botany, medicine, shielding, agriculture, and countless other subjects not relevant to mechanical robots that you would not otherwise discover. You'll also inspire a lot of people to get into science and engineering - far more than any robot mission ever could.

If you want to talk spinoff technology from manned spaceflight, so far we have infrared ear thermometers, ventricular assist devices, artificial limb enhancements, "invisible" braces, scratch resistant lenses, memory foam, enriched baby food, cordless tools, freeze drying techniques, water purification, pollution remediation technologies, food safety tech, and quite a bit more just from NASA alone. That is many billions of dollars worth of technological achievement that is directly attributable to manned spaceflight. The spinoff technologies alone have easily repaid the entire budget of NASA many times over.

There is nothing wrong with sending robots. We can and we should send more than we already are. But the notion that you gain nothing by sending people is demonstrably nonsense. The dumb thing to do would be to not send people. We don't have to do it tomorrow - I think it legitimately will take another 30-50 years at least to develop the technology to do it properly for an Apollo style mission to Mars. But if there is an investment with better bang for the buck in the long run I'm not sure what it is.

Comment: No excuse for fraud (Score 1) 128 128

It'll take a generation to get online education up to snuff, getting the curricula, controls, and individualized instruction in place.

Fine. Let's assume that is true even though I don't really buy that argument. That still is no excuse for scamming a bunch of people into taking on crushing debt while providing no meaningful education nor a credible diploma from a respected institution. Hell, many of them aren't even accredited. Even if they haven't figured all the details out that is NO excuse for the fraud that these institutions are committing on thousands of people.

Comment: Show me a counter example (Score 1) 128 128

Way to paint the whole group with the same brush. That's ALWAYS the best path to the truth.

Point me at an example of a for-profit school that is not a good approximation of my description of them. Perhaps there is some for-profit college that is doing a spectacular job but I've certainly never heard of one.

I've actually lectured at several of them so I'm speaking from direct experience. I've also as an employer seen the quality of graduates they generally produce during the hiring process and let's just say I'm not impressed.

Comment: Paperwork burden (Score 1) 128 128

For Not for profits do have to deal with being under a fine tooth comb and do not enjoy the same freedoms a for-profit will.

I've been on the board of directors of several 501C3 non-profits. I also am an accountant specializing in corporate finance. I assure you that in general the paperwork burden for most non-profits is less than or no worse than that for corporations. In my experience it's generally been much less especially if the non-profit is quite small. For a large non-profit it's generally comparable to a for-profit business of similar size.

Comment: For-profit versus non-profit (Score 2) 128 128

I presume the "for-profit" is actually related to their IRS status and not their overall financial goals.

For-Profit means that the organization has shareholders and any profits can be distributed without regard to the mission of the organization.

Most colleges are (IRS recognized) non-profits, though they pay high-6 and 7 figure salaries to top officers and have endowments in the billions.

Non profit doesn't mean they don't make a profit. It means they don't distribute their surplus revenues (basically profit) to shareholders but rather put those surplus revenues back into the organization's mission.

Comment: College is to get a diploma. Education is a bonus (Score 4, Interesting) 128 128

I didn't go to college to gain knowledge, I went to get educated.

Let's be honest. You (and I) went to get a diploma and you hoped to learn some hopefully useful stuff along the way. I actually work in the field my degrees are in and I use only a tiny fraction of what they taught. Did they teach me how to think? Debatable. How to work? Already had that before I got to college. Impart some knowledge? Some though not always what I really needed and frequently stuff that was pointless or trivial. Not saying it was a complete waste of time (it wasn't) but calling it "getting educated" versus "gaining knowledge" misses the mark.

No, I went to college to get a diploma so I could get considered for jobs. Fortunately I learned some neat stuff along the way but the cost/benefit for what I got beyond the diploma was WAY out of whack. Seven years of classes for me and over $100K in debt is pretty stiff given that the stuff you really are going to need when you get out you'll mostly learn on the job anyway. Take away the diploma and the doors that opens and it really would not have been worth it.

As a teacher so eloquently put it, anyone with internet access has access to more knowledge than they know what to do with.

I prefer the one I heard which was "Don't confuse your schooling with your education". I learned more from projects outside of class that I never got a single credit-hour for than from all my formal classes combined. I worked through college and I guarantee you I learned more from the jobs than from the classes.

Comment: A corrupt company stuggling. Boo hoo. (Score 4, Insightful) 128 128

The struggles facing for-profit colleges continue. The University of Phoenix announced poor quarterly earnings yesterday

Cry me a river. These are companies that prey on people who are financially unsophisticated and often have no business being in college. (No disrespect intended but not everyone is college material or is ready for it even if they are) They push huge amounts of debt on people ill prepared to deal with it and provide a shoddy facsimile of an education. No employer is impressed by a degree from these degree factories because they know the "schools" are third rate at best.

Comment: Not looking? (Score 1) 288 288

That may be, but just as myself on my 5 family iOS gadgets, everybody I know uses Chrome

You must not know many people since Apple sold 74 million iPhones and 21 million iPads in the first quarter of 2015 alone. I see plenty of Android out there but the only way you won't see iOS devices is if you have your head in the sand.

Comment: Why Apple has no interest in enterprise (Score 1) 288 288

This is why Apple is dead in the enterprise.

You say that as if Apple cares. Apple has pretty much never really cared about enterprise customers. They are high volume, low margin customers who don't give a shit about the things that actually make Apple's products different (software mostly) and certainly won't pay for them. Apple really has little to gain from getting into the enterprise business in a big way. If you want to see what would happen to Apple if they got into enterprise products look at the profit margins for HP (around 5%) versus Apple (around 25%). Anyone who thinks Apple should get into enterprise needs to first explain how Apple would do that without crushing their profit margins.

Comment: Why safari doesn't work for me (Score 1) 288 288

I agree, Safari is faster and more stable than any other browser on Mac OS X.

And yet I own a couple of macs but use Firefox instead. Why? Safari breaks oddly on certain websites I frequent, it lacks privacy add-ons I consider essential, it simply isn't available on linux and the Windows version is flaky in my experience. Plus (totally personal preference) I don't especially care for some of the interface choices. I use it some but primarily I don't bother unless I'm using an iPhone or iPad where there are no other practical options. Apple's applications in my experience rarely push the envelope and Safari seems to be no exception. It's a pretty basic webkit based browser with nothing to particularly recommend it over the alternatives. Works ok but not great and has no special features I care about.

Chrome I find to be like constantly beta testing a product. Google is constantly changing and often breaking things which I find VERY annoying. IE has made great strides but it's still IE and not available on a Mac or Linux so I really don't bother with it unless I'm dealing with a website that can't handle one of the other browsers for some reason. (which shockingly still happens now and then)

As for speed and stability I haven't found it to be any better or worse than the others. I use all the major browsers at least some of the time and all are generally stable and I cannot objectively see a speed difference between them during normal use. If there is a difference it is so small as to be inconsequential.

One of the chief duties of the mathematician in acting as an advisor... is to discourage... from expecting too much from mathematics. -- N. Wiener