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Comment Re:One word: (Score 2) 622

I wish I had mod points today. I study Modernist lit, but I came to it by way of medieval lit. It is absolutely unsurprising for parchment to be much older than the text on it. That sort of thing is extremely common. It's really troubling to me that the summary and so many posts here keep saying "paper"; parchment is an entirely different thing, and it was used much differently. It's quite hard to get a good animal skin free of blemishes, and then hard to get that animal skin down to a finished product. The resulting parchment is expensive and tended to be reused numerous times. It's not uncommon for a parchment to be 100s of years older than text on it. This news story is interesting but also really a nonstory. I hate to be this way, but the only reason it's a story is the sort of "gotcha" anti-Islam slant that's put on the science. I haven't seen the original research yet, but if it was at all couched in this sort of "bang, Islam busted" sort of way, it's really quite irresponsible. (NB: I'm a big old atheist, and would love to see debunking of any and all religions. But this ain't that.)

Comment Re:Stop charging for checked bag (Score 2) 273

My wife, a former stewardess for a European carrier, just suggested that this might, in part, be about safety. She thinks that decreasing the thickness of the luggage, but not the other dimensions to any significant degree, suggests that the European carriers may have been pushing toward underseat stowage of the carryons, which is much safer than the overhead bin. Basically the overhead bins are too flimsy to keep luggage from flying around. She also believes that this is a follow-on effect of charging for checked luggage. Anyway, not arguing against anyone's position, but her theory made sense so I was looking for a good place to share it.

Comment Re:...and here I was, about to buy an Apple laptop (Score 1) 100

I'm on the fence as to whether my next laptop will be a Macbook. I'm not up on messing with security certificates. It took me about 10 seconds to get from Anonymous Coward's tip to a blocked CNNIC certificate. I think that it's within the scope of regular users. My cousin just did it, and she runs a modeling agency and was trained in, well, modeling. Macs do have a pretty easy interface. Say what you will, but that allowed me to do my little thing and get back to wasting time on the internet instead of grading papers.

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

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

"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

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

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: I think you can get the rest of it here:

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

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

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

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.)

"Now this is a totally brain damaged algorithm. Gag me with a smurfette." -- P. Buhr, Computer Science 354