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Comment: Re:Slashdot Overrun by Luddite Barbarians (Score 1) 163

by supercrisp (#49274551) Attached to: "Hello Barbie" Listens To Children Via Cloud
I understand your position, and I appreciate the references to Diamond Age. But, my kids have school teachers fishing for information on my family. You know, the usual stuff about "do mommy and daddy do drugs?" Our government and retail and other services have their noses so far up my butt, I'm burping their boogers. The cops are roaming around with stingrays and x-rays, and some airports are still using rapey scans. And my kids are always running up to me reciting their need for the latest tacky plastic crap that teaches really stupid things--or some garbage about how an adult or other child is teaching them about eternal damnation or Sky Daddy and Zombie Boy. And all this despite the fact that we don't watch commercial TV in our house. But they get enough at school. Anyway, point is: in a climate like this, it's hard for me to call any reaction to this sort of "cloud-enabled" toy an over-reaction. Burroughs was a nut, indeed, but he was on the money on "the paranoid man is a man who knows a little about what's going on."

Comment: Re:nonsensical (Score 1) 667

by supercrisp (#49266117) Attached to: Why There Is No Such Thing as 'Proper English'
"Nonsensical" seems a bit strong. The article describes language's real "rules" as conventional, coming from usage, and labels more pedantic approaches to rules as stylistics. That seems to me to be pretty accurate. The description doesn't approach registers of speech, and we do need to consider those. But there are lots of "grammar rules" that are really just elements of style best ignored and which are often misused. Some examples: don't end a sentence with a preposition, don't split an infinitive, "passive voice." That last one is a hoot because most of the people who complain about its use can't define it accurately and fail to recognize that it is often valuable. It's also a good example of how there are better ways to approach this sort of thing than applying these particular rules. People commonly attack the "passive voice" because it confuses the actor. So it's much better to talk to people about making agency clear in a sentence, or about why one might be trying to obscure agency. Anyway, that's all my two cents. (I am an English professor, and I've taught for almost 25 years, but I am not a linguist nor a composition expert. So, I'm offering an informed but not quite expert opinion.)

Comment: Re:Misunderstanding of Higher Education Economics (Score 1) 94

by supercrisp (#48968477) Attached to: What Happens When the "Sharing Economy" Meets Higher Education
I'm an assistant professor, the lowest rank. And I'm in the humanities My salary is just very slightly over $50k. I am paid more than most of my colleagues because my institution was bidding against another similar institution. A starting humanities prof will earn in the mid-40s, as of now. A few years ago it was the low 40s. I'm getting the numbers based on what I know about several R1s, one very, very well-endowed, and from lesser schools. Event at the highest rank, I--and my colleagues at peer institutions--will never see six figures. I don't have any polemical intent. This is just FYI because I hear crazy figures thrown around. In the humanities, you have to hold a quite well-supported endowed chair to hit six figures. I know it's different in STEM. At my school, which is more or less bankrupt, a lot of the STEM folks start in the mid 70s.

Comment: Re:Motive (Score 3, Informative) 282

by supercrisp (#48672311) Attached to: Did North Korea Really Attack Sony?
I don't know if you're getting your info from The Instutitute for Historical Review or Fox News, or somewhere like that, but we have the actual intercepts of communications in which Togo explicitly says to ambassador Sato that Japan is willing to surrender territories gained: Japan "has absolutely no idea of annexing or holding territories she occupied during the war." The War Department had these intercepts summarized/interpreted and ready for dissemination on 12 July 1945. This information was used and discussed in the run-up to dropping the bomb. We also have these discussions where the people deciding to drop the bomb or not considered the one request, to allow the emperor to live and remain considered "divine"; and we have the records of that committee rejecting this possibility. Further we have the Stimson memo that suggests that nukes be used to indicate to Stalin that he needs to slow down in Europe. Of course he knew we had the nuke, because his spies already had him building his own copy. Anyway, we've got all this info, and yet people still come back with, well, lies circulated by people who don't want to accept nuclear realpolitik. Here's the Togo-Sato intercepts: http://www2.gwu.edu/~nsarchiv/.... I think you can get the rest of it here: http://www2.gwu.edu/~nsarchiv/....

Comment: Don't overcomplicate this. (Score 1) 312

by supercrisp (#48537615) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Dealing With Electronics-Induced Inattentiveness?
I've been there, first a grad student and now a professor. I also teach people about how to write, so I follow the research on this. First, as you age, this will happen some; it started for me in my early 40s. Second, you don't need a lot of these distractions. You might get push-back from people; you might think you need this stuff, but start aggressively using airplane mode on your phone. Use software on your computer that blocks distracting domains for a set period of time, or even go somewhere without internet access to work. Or leave your networked devices at home. Simple. Third, the body is part of this, nutrition, sleep, cardio exercise, are all shown to have significant impact on ability to concentrate. Fourth: pay attention to your moods, set work goals, don't whip up on yourself while making yourself work, etc. Fifth and final: keep all activity sustainable and form good habits (avoid bad habits like butt-chugging caffeine, popping Ritalin, or maintaining a marijuana fog).

Comment: There's an app for that! (Score 1) 96

by supercrisp (#47958279) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Alternate Software For Use On Smartboards?
I'm assuming the question is Windows specific, and I use MacOS and Ubuntu, and haven't really had to use Windows since Windows 3.... So I'll just be only marginally helpful and say/ask, "Aren't there a ton of apps out there that do that already?" I know on Mac there's lots of little doodads that pop up a ruler. And doesn't OneNote, and a lot of other stuff, do that handwriting recognition? I know it's baked-in on MacOS; isn't it on Windows too? And doesn't any app, really, have the ability to make a template when it has "Save as", or if the file-system can lock a file? I'd bet Windows even has an equivalent to the Mac stationery file-attribute. Me, I get by with TextEdit (rtf editor), Keynote (presentation), and a free app called Highlight that throws a transparent drawing layer over my screen. I know everyone's uses are different, but--just to be clear--can't most of your problems be solved with some screen mirroring and a regular app? The bonus then is that you can transport your stuff to machines that don't have that bloated piece of Smartboard excrement on them.

Comment: Re:So long as it is consential (Score 5, Insightful) 363

by supercrisp (#47840521) Attached to: Bill Gates Wants To Remake the Way History Is Taught. Should We Let Him?
Common Core as a set of curricular guidelines isn't bad at all. The problems I see are: 1), the "coercion" -- cash-strapped districts really do have to jump at any money, so they rush into implementation; 2) more high-stakes standardized testing; that shit has already dominated and f*cked-up education; 3) corporate domination; Pearson and others stand to make fat, fat stacks of cash on the tests and the materials, and that's why they all poured money into the campaigns. I've seen first-hand what the Person vertically-integrated education ecosystem is like. They sell you shit in development, shit that doesn't work, and shit that's just plain shit. I hate them. NB: college professor at an institution that had a contract to use only Pearson; spouse is in instructional tech and shares my opinion. The best thing we could do is hire more teachers, pay them a little better, and start doing something to reduce the stranglehold that corporations like Pearson have on the education system. Stuff like Kahn Academy is fine, but I don't think online education gives students what they need, which is contact with an educated, adult mentor/teacher. (And, yeah, I know, a lot of teachers we have now don't fit that bill, but that's what young people need.)

Comment: Re:Dobsonian (Score 1) 187

by supercrisp (#47741431) Attached to: Slashdot Asks: Cheap But Reasonable Telescopes for Kids?
I used to work at a planetarium helping school kids with telescopes. Our preferred scope was a dobsonian. I'd recommend a 4.5" dobsonian. The one sold by Orion isn't a bad deal, and they're pretty good quality. But that's $250. You can sometimes find a used dobsonian. A 6" or 8" would be a really good scope. I like the dobsonian because there's little to mess with. Too often the fancy scopes get between you and observing. And you might not even need a scope. There's a whole lot to be done with the naked eye or a cheap pair of binoculars (7x35 or 8x40 being good cheap choices, 7x50 being really nice). If you are on a really tight budget, a dobsonian is very easy to build. You'll need the mirrors, a spider, and a focuser. The rest of the stuff you can get at wally world or hardware stores. If you go that route, the best bang for your buck is usually a 6" f8 scope. But you can low-ball and even build as small as a 3" scope. In fact, a 3" f10 is a very, very simple mirror to grind. You'd done before you know it. You just then need to find someone to silver or aluminize it for you; it used to be easy to send a mirror off for surfacing like that.

Comment: Re:Trophies and gold stars are not what is wrong w (Score 2) 81

by supercrisp (#47684011) Attached to: Is Remote Instruction the Future of College?
YES! I am a university professor, and I can tell you that books are written saying this same thing. They go back to the early 1900s. The basic argument, from the academic side in the early days (like 1930s), runs like this: "University is for theory and cultural polish, community college is theory/polish for poorer or less-prepared people. Sure, industry wants us to do their training for them in junior colleges, but they should do it themselves. Besides, professors aren't good at professional training because we'll always be trailing the innovations of industry." To a degree that's a true statement. Sure, you can pull in engineers to do some teaching. But you won't get cutting-edge engineers at the junior college, and not many engineers (or other professionals) will give up the salary to be a professional. I, personally, differ in that I believe the "soft skills" and the theory and even education in the humanities all make better engineers. But I know that is not a widely-shared opinion on /.

Comment: Re:Men are obsolete (Score 1) 387

by supercrisp (#47598779) Attached to: Ancient Skulls Show Civilization Rose As Testosterone Fell
I study feminism. I don't know where you are getting your historical information, but it's inaccurate. Yes, there were the nuts and extremists, like Valerie Solanas. There were and are women who hypothesize that patriarchal behaviors--which are distinct from or are a subset of male behaviors--are bad for humanity. And there are many, many other lines of thought from utopian free-love to men-are-bad. And stuff off in other directions. After a lot of study, I personally decided that the majority of feminist thought was positive for humanity, including men like myself. You can dismiss that as thought-crime, or you can do more reading. That's a bit of work, and it IS comfortable, isn't it, to have a scapegoat or a villain on which to hang all your troubles?

Comment: The real deal (Score 1) 325

by supercrisp (#47185775) Attached to: Fixing the Humanities Ph.D.
The MLA and others have reasons to not be forthright about the real issue: universities don't hire tenure-track professions nearly as often as they used to. Nowadays, over 70% of your humanities courses are taught by people off the tenure track, most of whom aren't even working full-time. The issue isn't "overproduction" of PhDs in the humanities as so many like to say. It's that universities don't want to pay for faculty. I know many may say "Good, those are useless elitest shits anyway." OK. Maybe we are. BUT consider what happens if getting the doctorate is as hard as it is now with as little payoff. Who can do that? Middle-class kids, or people who won't be taking on any risk to make this gamble? What then happens if we make it even harder to get the professorship by admitting fewer people into PhD programs. I'll tell you, from my experience, that having gone to good schools as a kid, having the right class markers, all that, those still make getting the PhD easier. As a first-generation college student, I struggled and struggled to get my doctorate and eventual professorship. If you reduce the number of people like me--ones who started out poor or middle-class or hispanic or black--you're only going to make it harder for the "token" students who do get admitted to hang in there with Biff and Buffy. Note also, I'm not talking about the Ivy leagues. I was a midwestern state school for my doctorate, and my classmates included the daughter of a VP of one of the big three automakers, the child of a megachurch preacher, a couple of heirs, and several people who were "comfortable" or who had family business they could fall back on. This was out of a group of 18. As far as I know, there were only three of us who were actually from backgrounds that meant our failure would have serious consequences. Anyway, I'm going on and on. The term for this is casualization of academic labor. Because we like big words. But what it means is that some of the things that seem like they'd punish the elites would only lead to more elitism.

"You're a creature of the night, Michael. Wait'll Mom hears about this." -- from the movie "The Lost Boys"

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