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Comment: Re:I am no economist, but as a geek ... (Score 1) 205

by the phantom (#48557223) Attached to: The Failed Economics of Our Software Commons

Also, I did not imply that you had claimed that hunter gatherers have it easy, although you may have been misled by my british turn of phrase. I would claim that 13-20hrs of work a week is having it easy, my question to you was whether or not that was true that hunter/gathers worked less than this? My assumption is that they would need more time than this to acquire food each week.

A typical person in a hunter/gatherer society spends (on average) less than four hours per day on subsistence activities (acquiring food, shelter, clothing, etc.).

Comment: Re:I am no economist, but as a geek ... (Score 1) 205

by the phantom (#48556003) Attached to: The Failed Economics of Our Software Commons

You are rebutting an argument that I did not make. I said that hunter/gathers generally have more leisure time. I did not claim that hunter/gatherers "have it easy." Note that I specifically attempted to rebut such arguments a priori: hunter/gatherer societies are vulnerable to natural disasters (and even minor disasters that probably wouldn't have much impact at all on an industrial society, such as a bad season for the pinon trees) and hunter/gatherers don't have the resources to live a modern lifestyle. They have more leisure time, though significantly fewer choices in how they spend it.

As to your argument that only 1/3 of your wages cover basic living expenses: if you are spending 8 hours a day performing an activity that is used to pay for your food and shelter, that is time spend procuring food and shelter, whether or not you have an excess. If you can earn enough to feed yourself in 3 hours a day but don't have the option of heading home for another 5 hours, that isn't leisure time. If, on the other hand, you really do have the option to work fewer hours and choose not to, I congratulate you on finding a job that you enjoy spending your leisure time doing (not many of us are that lucky).

Comment: Re:I am no economist, but as a geek ... (Score 2) 205

by the phantom (#48552675) Attached to: The Failed Economics of Our Software Commons
In hunter/gatherer societies, people typically have *more* leisure time than people in agrarian and industrial societies (where leisure time is understood to mean time that is not spent in the production or procurement of food and shelter). There are some developed nations---primarily in Europe---where people are beginning to approach the amount of leisure time that hunter/gatherers have. The nomadic lifestyle of a hunter/gatherer is simply not sustainable for a human population of 7 billion people; it has a certain brittleness with respect to natural disasters like a bad rainy season; and it doesn't provide the resources to maintain the standard of living that your average middle-class suburbanite has grown accustomed to, but you didn't make those arguments. ;)

Comment: Re:Predatory? (Score 1) 137

by the phantom (#48440983) Attached to: Profanity-Laced Academic Paper Exposes Scam Journal
While I agree that there are predatory journals out there and that authors need to be wary of them, I am not entirely sure that requiring authors to pay for publication is quite the correct criterion for determining whether or not a journal is predatory. Peer review, editing, and publication cost money. Traditionally, this cost is paid by subscribers to the journal, and these subscriptions can often be quite expensive (consider how Elsevier prices its journals). If the goal is to disseminate information, then an extremely costly subscription service is very likely detrimental to that goal. Hence the existence of open access journals which charge authors for publication but provide access to the material at no cost.

Comment: Re:illogical captain (Score 1) 937

by the phantom (#47905315) Attached to: Why Atheists Need Captain Kirk
One can simultaneously *believe* that X does not exist while also admitting that they lack *knowledge* as to whether or not X actually exists. I do not believe that invisible pink unicorns exist, yet I will admit that I cannot prove it one way or the other. I am both an atheist and an agnostic with respect to invisible pink unicorns.

Comment: Re:In Google's Defense... (Score 1) 194

by the phantom (#47890487) Attached to: The Documents From Google's First DMV Test In Nevada
That is probably true, though I have to wonder why either a 4-way stop or roundabout would be needed at such an intersection---put a stop sign on the low-traffic street and don't stop the high-traffic street, or put a signal there and only stop the high-traffic street when there are cars waiting to cross. I get the impression that the major goal of those small roundabouts is traffic calming---traffic is forced to slow down for the roundabout, but not forced to stop. Of course, I am not a traffic engineer and am largely talking out of my ass, so I will readily concede that I am likely wrong. ;)

Comment: Re:In Google's Defense... (Score 1) 194

by the phantom (#47884701) Attached to: The Documents From Google's First DMV Test In Nevada
The dinky little roundabouts that you see in the US don't do much about that level of congestion. They are just as bad (if not worse) than a four-way stop at intersections that get that kind of traffic. If an intersection routinely has half-mile backups, then it might be a good time to install a stoplight.

Comment: Re: Stop using tax dollars (Score 4, Insightful) 348

by the phantom (#47874031) Attached to: When Scientists Give Up

True that it's political nonsense, but can you honestly agree that a study to find out how to buy worcestershire sauce is worthy of government funding?

I have no idea. Can you provide a copy of the actual report? Or only third-hand accounts of this report from an obviously biased source (Wikipedia links to a Milwaukee Journal Sentinel article that describes the organization the gives out the Golden Fleece Awards, with a three line summary of the report in question---what assurances do we have that this summary is accurate?)?

If the report's only purpose in life was to explain how to buy a bottle of Worcestershire sauce, then there is a problem. But is that really why the report was commissioned? Is that really all it says? Is is possible that the report is about purchasing food in general, with the sauce as an example? Is it possible that the report was commissioned in order to demonstrate how Byzantine the process of buying supplies is in an effort to cut down on paperwork in the long run? How do we know that the report actually cost $6,000?

Comment: Re:TI calculators are not outdated, just overprice (Score 1) 359

by the phantom (#47828723) Attached to: How the Outdated TI-84 Plus Still Holds a Monopoly On Classrooms
Why? If you assign homework, you are an idiot if you believe that the students are going to obey any arbitrary restrictions that you place on the technology that they are allowed to use or the people with whom they are allowed to communicate. The students are free to use whatever calculator (or website) that is available. For those students who do not have access to technology at home, I've seen districts provide rentals or loaners that are returned at the end of the day / week / term / whatever.

Comment: Re:No (Score 1) 546

by the phantom (#47822499) Attached to: Does Learning To Code Outweigh a Degree In Computer Science?

If nothing else, the way colleges could be improved is to offer a beginner's degree and an advanced degree. Not "Master" advanced, rather just a way to distinguish "came to class and didn't fail most tests" with "was an avid student and learned a crap ton."

Wouldn't it be great if there were some kind of scale to indicate the quality of the work that a student does? I'm just spitballing here, but I'm thinking that a four point scale might make sense. Your "avid student [who] learned a crap ton" could get four points for their efforts, while a student who "came to class and didn't fail most tests" might only get two points. After a student graduates, all of the scores that they get in their classes could be averaged together in some manner, which might give potential employers an at-a-glance summary of the student's level of performance in college, and a record of all of the scores could be transcribed into a document of some kind that could be given to potential employers at their request. That really would be wonderful!

Comment: Re:Getting it very wrong (Score 1) 81

by the phantom (#47682001) Attached to: Is Remote Instruction the Future of College?
You clearly took very poor math classes. The only time I ever teach calculus as "simple computation" is when I am teaching business calculus for business majors. Mathematics is about logic and, as such, should be almost nothing but problem solving (generally in the form of proofs and model construction).

Comment: Re:Why not community college rather than online? (Score 2) 81

by the phantom (#47681255) Attached to: Is Remote Instruction the Future of College?

Speaking as a guy who adjuncts at a big university, I have to second the guy who works in ed tech. In addition to the comments above, you also stand a better chance of getting more qualified instructors at a community college. I taught lower-division math classes as a graduate student. Indeed, much of the teaching load in many departments is handed over to TAs at big universities. Community colleges often teach exactly the same classes out of the same books, but the instructors will hopefully have (a) better credentials (a masters in their field, though there are a disturbing number of people at community colleges who have masters in ed) and (b) more experience teaching.

Another point in favor of community colleges is class size. At a big university, classes can be huge. A calculus class that I TAed for had over two hundred students in a lecture hall. Yes, they broke apart into smaller recitation sections once a week, but recitation time with a TA is not the same as face time with a professor. Community college classes tend to be much smaller.

Unless you are trying to finish your degree in a top-tier, private institution (Stanford, University of Chicago, Harvard, &c) or a small, residential liberal arts college, there is no reason not to finish an associates degree at a local community college then transfer to a local university (or apply to an out-of-state institution, where you probably have a pretty good chance of being accepted).

Dennis Ritchie is twice as bright as Steve Jobs, and only half wrong. -- Jim Gettys

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