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Comment: "Undetermined Payload" (Score 0) 51 51

Sounds like Mexico just wants to throw money away for appearances' sake.

I mean, if it was a scientific package from a Mexican university, or a Mexican military satellite, or something, I'd understand. I don't understand why they'd want to just send something to the moon just to have sent something to the moon. The US did it to outdo the Russians, but at least we got a decent amount of research and development out of it.

Obligatory Mexican comment: Someone should paint "muff diver" on the side of it.

Comment: Re:been there don't that (Score 1) 637 637

Yeah, that makes sense, if you completely ignore all of human history.

Look at California. Sure, they've got a drought, but consider their long-range prospects; southern California is a desert with millions of people living in it. Lake Mead is going away. Agriculture drinks up the water faster than it comes in, even when there is no drought. Desalination is an option, sure, but they should have started building the infrastructure ten years ago, and it'll be both outragously expensive (large-scale desalination always is) and unpopular (they'd have to use nuclear power - they can't handle their power needs now, much less run extremely power-hungry desalination plants).

Is there a mass migration away from southern California? Nope. And why would they? They have jobs, they have their homes and friends, and moving is a pain in the ass. They won't move until they absolutely have to.

Despite what you believe, we are exactly like frogs in a boiling pot. Take that from a guy whose senator still thinks global warming isn't happening at all. Change is expensive. Those with money and power want to keep their money and power, and change is their enemy. They'll fight tooth and nail to maintain the status quo - which is why global warming is a political debate in this country, whereas it's a given in the scientific community.

I don't think there's going to be some sort of horrible apocalypse that will end civilization. I do believe that we'll suffer major economic damage. I like the idea of my grandkids having the same opportunities as I did. I'd rather they didn't grow up in a soup line or ending up in WPA-style work camps.

Comment: Re:the flat curve (Score 1) 179 179

So the implication here is that the only reason achievement would be different is because struggling students were denied help based on their demographics?

In the 1980s and earlier, it would have been a valid assumption. But no, the implication is that not all students receive equal assistance and help from their peers or from home. That's certainly valid. The assumption, which I'll agree is unrealistic, is that the desire to learn is not reflective of any of those classifications. A good teacher can only do so much to interest a disinterested student, but there is correlation between demographics and the desire to learn.

To require "equal achievement"? Really? (And I was asking about the school system.)

I don't claim to be an expert on school-specific laws. I do, however, have quite a bit of experience with laws and rules for large organizations.

Achievement in this case is more or less the same as "performance." A company with two factories - one of which produces more product than the other - will want to know why, and take steps to bring both factories up to par. The military expects to be able to take any group of people of the same rank and job description (MOS, AFSC, etc.) to be able to accomplish the same tasks with the same speed and proficiency.

I think you're looking at things here from too low a level. You're looking at individual students and classrooms. These sorts of regulations are there to identify problem schools or school systems.

Comment: Re:the flat curve (Score 1) 179 179

That's a problem you have with any organization, really. It's all down to accountability.

Target metrics are pretty much a standard thing. You can argue their usefulness all day (educational experts do), but what it boils down to is that you have to have some way of making sure the schools are teaching the students properly.

The ideal is that students who were struggling would get help, regardless of any other factors. Bad instructors would be replaced. By looking at the metrics, principals, superintendents, and school board members could spot trouble spots. The reality, well, we'll see. It's all down to how well the supervisors supervise.

And as far as if that verbiage has been applied: very similar verbiage is applied all over the place, both in the government and out. Statisticians work with that kind of language all day. Look into, for instance, equal opportunity laws and wage inequality, or quality control.

Comment: Re:the flat curve (Score 1) 179 179

There's no evidence that certain demographics are actually better at computer science. The general barrier is desire; people who aren't white/asian males generally don't sign up for it. Those who do often complain that they're left out or ostracized.

When I was taking CS at college, there was one female CS major out of about fifteen. I don't actually know if she lacked opportunities - I was a returning student and didn't live on the campus, and when I talked to her I was usually talking about calculus rather than CS - but one of the complaints women have had was that they weren't welcome in the "boy's club."

By requiring all students to study CS, that problem is mostly eliminated (except in cases where there's only one black kid in the class, for instance - not much you can do about that).

"Equal achievement" doesn't mean every kid gets the same grade. It means the curriculum is designed to make the grade any particular child will receive independent of their race, social status, etc. In other words, they want to avoid a situation where all the black kids are flunking, for instance. I doubt it's actually achievable - culture does have some effect on the willingness of a student to learn - but they want to eliminate race/class/etc. from the equation as much as possible.

Comment: Re:been there don't that (Score 5, Insightful) 637 637

Homo sapiens survived them, sure. Human civilization has yet to pass that test.

I think we'll do all right, personally - we've got the technology to deal with most of it. It's the change in the weather patterns and the economic effects from that (think farmland becoming unusable due to drought, industries having to relocate, sea levels rising above the level of coastal cities, etc.) that we'll have the hardest time with. I highly doubt we'll have a dark age, but a prolonged economic depression in parts of the developed world will change things quite a bit.

Comment: Re:the flat curve (Score 1) 179 179

Equal compulsion is the only real method to actually accomplish "equal achievement." Otherwise, it'll only be the white and asian boys signing up for it.

Listing the various identity groups is standard fare for government programs. There's still a lot of people around who remember segregation.

Comment: Re:Stupidity of Leadership (Score 1) 179 179

Obviously, learning to read, write and do basic math will be set aside for learning how to program.

Funny, I didn't read anything about that, and I can't imagine anyone seriously suggesting it.

Here is the problem, these people don't have a clue what is learned at what levels. And while I am all for teaching Computer science and such where it is profitable to do so, starting before kids can even write and do math is not "computer science" at all, it is just dick waving "hey look what I did for the kids!" political crap.

Depends on the curriculum. There are "computer science" concepts that can be taught at an early age, if your definition of the term is broad enough. My kid can't read yet, but can get around on the computer all right.

Here's an idea. Why not focus on reading, writing, math and building upon those at the appropriate times? And what about all those kids who don't want to be computer geeks, but rather artists, business people, biologists, doctors, lawyers etc? Are we going to build all those careers into our children's curriculum as well?

No one is suggesting throwing reading, writing, or math out the window. And as far as kids who don't want to be computer geeks - so what? I didn't want to be an athlete, but I still took gym. I didn't want to be a classical musician, but I still had to learn the recorder in third grade. I didn't want to be an artist, but I still had to take art class all through elementary school. If you actually paid some attention, you'd notice that art (art class), business (keyboarding, english, junior-high math), biology (biology, life science), medicine (see biology, health class), and law (social studies, government, history) are pretty much already covered. If anything, it's the trades that are underrepresented; most schools no longer have shop class.

The fact is, factory learning is dead, we just don't know it yet. We have spent the last 250 years in factory schools, built using factory ideas to populate our factories with workers.

Your knowledge of history is quite lacking. "Factory" education was only important outside of the northeast starting about a hundred and fifty years ago.

Today, we need a change in how we educate people, so that they are ready for information jobs.

What do you think this is?

This requires scrapping the "one size fits all" education model that is clearly dying (NCLB, Common Core etc), and replacing it with student paced education system where each student has a customized curriculum, based on ABILITY and WILLINGNESS to learn.

Your knowledge of human growth, psychology, and public funding is also lacking.

Interests change. Just because a third grader isn't interested in science class doesn't mean they won't be interested in or required to know that information as adults. Kids change as they grow up. Younger kids are interested in playing. Older kids are interested in getting laid or hanging out with their friends. They attend school and learn the things they do because they're forced to.

The federal standards exist because there are some states or cities that consistently produce undereducated graduates. Some of it is cultural; kids in the 'hood don't see the need for education as much as kids in a white, upper-class neighborhood. Some is based on demographics or economics; Mississippi doesn't have access to the public funds that Alaska does. The standards suck, and pretty much no one likes them, but no one seems to be able to come up with a plan that's both better and - this is important - affordable, while providing equal access to education.

Equal access to education is important. This is America, where the circumstances of your birth and upbringing are (theoretically, anyway) not a limiting factor on what you can accomplish. Someone growing up in inner Detroit should have access to the same educational possibilities as someone growing up in Martha's Vineyard. Anything else is a failure of the system. Sure, most of them will probably not choose to live up to their fullest potential, but they should all at least have the chance. That's what the American Dream is all about.

Comment: Re:Smart down kids (Score 1) 179 179

"Special Needs" generally refers to physically handicapped kids or kids with a learning disability. In other words, they need to accommodate children who are deaf, blind, or dyslexic.

Kids with IQs below 72 tend to have their own curriculum and (around here, anyway) are not expected to keep up with the same standards as kids with normal intelligence.

Comment: Re:the flat curve (Score 1) 179 179

That doesn't mean that all the kids need to get the same grade. And I'm sure "special needs" doesn't mean the developmentally challenged kids (who generally get their own curriculum), but kids with handicaps or IEPs. In other words, screenreaders or braille pads have to be available, and the IEP program has to adapt to the requirements for students with particular learning disabilities.

"Access" means all schools in the area get the same equipment and programs (and theoretically, all teachers receive appropriate training), even if it's in the middle of the ghetto and surrounded by barbed wire and metal detectors. "Achievement" means it's a required course for everyone, since CS traditionally attracts white or asian males.

Comment: Re:Computer science and the lowest common denomina (Score 1) 179 179

That varies, though. I've got an AS in computer science from a community college. There was little to no theoretical training involved - just three classes - Java, C, and Visual Basic programming (all taught by a guy that never stepped away from COBOL).

Of course, an associate's degree in computer science is worth slightly more than toilet paper, if only because of the fancy ink.

Comment: Re:the plumbing of the 21st century (Score 2) 179 179

Plus running the wires, patching and painting any holes in the drywall (or plaster, for older homes), figuring out what the idiot that wired the place was thinking when he ran the wires the way he did, crawling around in the attic or crawlspace (been in a poorly ventilated attic in the dead of summer?) and trying to fish a cable through (possibly through insulation), understanding the applicable codes (federal, state, and local) and making sure your work meets them, liaising with the local power authority if you need to move the outside wire (a herculean effort in some places), oh, and making absolutely sure that your work isn't going to burn the house down and kill people. I can't imagine the insurance is very cheap.

And that's just for residential. Commercial is a completely different world. Go into a factory and start following the conduit sometime.

There's a world of difference between what an electrician has to do and just putting an extra plug over the workbench in the garage.

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