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Comment Re:The goal of 1st world countries (Score 3, Insightful) 401 401

And about, oh, at least half of the global population isn't well suited for creative jobs since they are (by definition) below average intelligence.

I wouldn't equate falling below the 50th percentile in IQ with inability to do anything but the most menial work. First, because I don't think intelligence should be defined that narrowly, and second, because it's fucking insulting. The vast majority of workers displaced by technology are not incapable of doing other work. They just lost a game of musical chairs, and there are huge obstacles for anyone trying to get back in the game.

Comment How does Amazon have a monopoly on ebooks? (Score 1) 405 405

The Amazon store certainly makes it easy to buy an ebook, and it has an advantage in that it's built into the Kindle. However, it is certainly possible to get ebooks from other sources. What is stopping the publishers from simply refusing to sell through Amazon? It's not *that* hard to install a book from somewhere other than Amazon on a Kindle. I mean, things are tough all over for mid-list authors, and have been for a long time. But if George RR Martin were to sell his next book exclusively through his web site, I'm sure his fans would jump through whatever minor hoops they needed to to get his book.

Comment There is a reason we don't have powdered alcohol (Score 2) 176 176

This will be approved when the powder has a weight, volume, and alcohol content comparable to the liquid forms currently on the market. Which kind of defeats the purpose.

On a tangent, there is no technical reason for rubbing alcohol to be made of isopropyl alcohol (not fit for human consumption), rather than ethanol (basically the same thing as vodka.) There is no technical reason that vodka should cost so much more than rubbing alcohol. This is all due to government regulation. Powdered alcohol will not be allowed to fit through the cracks.

Comment Re:I know this is Slashdot, but... (Score 1) 529 529

To add to my previous comment re: raising the average, the liberal arts, and democracy: Korea, Taiwan, Singapore. These are all nominally democracies, but they are also much more authoritarian than the western democracies. And that is what a concentration of resources at the top of the academic pyramid facilitates. Authoritarians need a small coterie of highly trained people to manage their societies. They don't need the masses that think they have a place in governance. It isn't surprising that America's business elites find this authoritarian model appealing--American businesses are not democracies. But if I were to find myself anywhere in the bottom 90 percent of society (Come to think of it, that is where I find myself!) I'd much rather live in, say, Denmark, than Taiwan. Maybe that is where we should look for models: the egalitarian West, rather than the authoritarian East.

Comment I know this is Slashdot, but... (Score 3, Interesting) 529 529

Let me pose a counter argument.

In many fields, we already have more PhDs than we know what to do with. There aren't enough university positions for all of them. Their salaries end up not being commensurate with all those years spent in school, and they live miserable frustrating lives trying to raise funding for their research.

On the other hand, in the USA the public debate still revolves around things like supply-side economics, climate change, and what God thinks about abortion. Issues that are settled among educated people who aren't demagoguing an issue for personal gain.

I would posit that we are already doing enough for the gifted in our society. What we really need to do is *raise the average*. If that means we end up with plumbers who speak three languages and have a B.S. in chemistry, so be it. We are better off as a society when the average person is equipped with the skillset of a university graduate. If you look at the Nordic countries, they're pretty much already there, and better for it.

This was the reason people like Thomas Jefferson supported public education. Not as job training, but as a prerequisite of citizenship. For democracy to succeed, the average person must possess the "ars liberalis"--the liberal arts--literally, the arts and skills of being a free person.

Comment I know you all think this is great, but... (Score 1) 304 304

from what I read in the article, it sounds pretty dumb and insulting.

Jesus Christ, do we really need a class to teach kids that there are negative ramifications to overdrawing your checking account? We need to understand WHY people overdraw their checking accounts. People gots no money! People gots no jobs! They need to pay bills! They calculate that $200 in overdraft fees might not be as bad as being evicted for nonpayment of rent. So they suck it up.

These are hard times for the middle class and... working class? (Does that even still exist?) These "financial literacy" initiatives are all about blaming the victims of impossible financial circumstances for their hardships.

Comment Re:I think this is a real good idea. (Score 1) 304 304

Do this the right way, and they'll put themselves through college, as did a close friend of mine from high school.

Um, yeah. If your grades are good, but you and your parents are flat broke, you may be eligible for need-based financial aid. Either that, or you attend a state school that is generously subsidized by taxpayers. This is how people "put themselves through college." No one puts themselves through college paying the full retail price by working at McDonald's. A truthful financial literacy class would help you understand why.

Comment Re:At least Princeton... (Score 1) 193 193

Here you demonstrate the problem graduates of elite universities deal with in the job market. Unless you go straight from university to an investment bank or Google, 95 percent of the people you deal with are not graduates of elite universities. And most of them fervently want to believe they are just as competent as you. Despite the fact that you busted your ass academically for 16+ years, while they may or may not have.

I mean, there are some very competent graduates of 2nd tier state schools. But there are also a lot of people who just went through the motions and were churned out of the system. You can't really do that and get through an Ivy-caliber school. Graduates of lesser schools don't want to acknowledge this, and treat all four-year degrees the same.

Comment We know how to do humane executions (Score 1) 1038 1038

Carbon monoxide. You never experience the panic of suffocation, which is brought about by the build-up of carbon dioxide in the bloodstream. You start to feel kind of loopy, experience a state of euphoria, then go to sleep and never wake up.

We don't use this method because supporters of the death penalty want the condemned to suffer.

Well, that's what I gleaned from this BBC documentary on the death penalty, "How to Kill a Human Being."


Comment Re:(DRAMATIC SIGH) (Score 1) 193 193

$2.99 to rent a film for 3 days is a fucking rip off? You lost me there. I would add, the timer on the three-day period doesn't start until you start watching the movie (on Amazon, at least.) You have a month to start watching the movie.

And if the kids are going to watch Despicable Me (for instance) hundreds of times, yes, the studios and distributor clearly *would* lose money by not offering a "buy" vs "rent" scenario. $10 to stream Despicable Me (in SD) as many times as you want! Now clearly this is a value judgment. I can't tell you you're wrong for how you feel about that. But clearly, a lot of people find that reasonable. As someone who lived through the '80s and '90s, and paid $4 to rent a VHS tape at Blockbuster, then often paid an extra $2 a day in late fees on top of that, I find it a hell of a deal. To me, it's not worth pirating a movie to save $2.99.

A bit of a digression though. The issue with Game of Thrones is that you *can't* stream recent episodes for a fee. You have to have a costly cable subscription. Different kettle of fish, which is why the show is so pirated.

Comment Re: Who would believe it? (Score 1) 457 457

Yep. Facebook became less fun the second my parents friended me. And I'm in my 40s! Oh sure I could block them, along with all my uncool relatives. But c'mon, they're still my family. I don't want to do anything so drastic, even if it means I'm deluged with status updates that are less interesting than when I was connected only to my closest peer group.

Moreover, for me it was all about reconnecting with friends in distant places, people I hadn't heard from in 10 years or more. What's the appeal for a teenager? For the majority of them, their friends mostly live within a 10-mile radius. They're not so concerned with whatever happened to that boy who moved away in the second grade.

Oh, and there's Words with Friends. I think the kids are into different sorts of online gaming, however.

The most difficult thing in the world is to know how to do a thing and to watch someone else doing it wrong, without commenting. -- T.H. White