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Comment Re:Helium (Score 1) 16

And, given that the Hindenburgh disaster was likely due primarily to the fact that the ship was never designed to use hydrogen in the first place*, we could hope that a high-profile project using hydrogen balloons without incident could help to recover their unjustly besmirched name.

*they cut costs on both ends with predictable results - a cheaper helium airship design that didn't have to consider flammability, filled with cheaper hydrogen lift gas...

Comment Re:Snowden vs Manning (Score 1) 541

Yep. Putting Snowden and Manning in the same catagory is a bit of a disservice.

Manning, regardless of one's opinions on the whole trans thing or whatnot, clearly had mental issues and should not have been given a clearance. When Private Manning leaked the material, it was out of anger at the military and the desire to cause it harm. Nothing showed clear cut criminal behavior of the US government, State Department or US military. Just lots of sensitive or embarrassing material.

Snowden showed care in the release of the information. He was specifically disclosing illegal activity of the US government and had no other way of getting that information to the people who could stop it. You can only safely whistleblower lines in the intel and classified community is only for minor stuff. Entire programs being illegal? Yeah, you try to work within the system on that, at best your career is destroyed.

Drill sergeants should unilaterally be able to cut anyone from military service for any reason whatsoever. Manning showed mental instability from day one.

Comment Typos and whatnot (Score 2) 80

$65 model, eh?

Pricing isn't terrible and I expect they'll sell. I like my loss-leader Fire 7 inch tablet, which I put the play store on with exactly two commands. I prefer dumb TVs with separate media player boxes (I have a Roku) but some people like one unit.

Amazon would be hard pressed to do a work job than many other 'smart TVs'.

Comment Re:wrong.... (Score 1) 233

>Anyone who actually can perform the "shortcut" you mention and successfully changes the operations is performing the algorithm correctly and solving the problem, regardless of whether they use the word "moving" or not.

Sure. The question is, if they move on to more advanced mathematics will they understand the underlying rules they're applying well enough to extend them into more advanced and finicky details, or will they have to "unlearn" their previous understanding first? Or if they hit a problem that doesn't fit the algorithmic pattern and needs something "tricky" to solve, will they be able to, or will they waste untold time trying to force an unsuitable algorithm to apply?

I tried to allude to that simply with my "+1" example - if they think in terms of "moving terms", then such an option will never occur to them, and that oversight can often be crippling.

Basically - if you're following an algorithm to solve a problem, your skills are extremely limited, and you'll only ever be able to solve problems that fit the algorithm. While if you correctly understand the underlying processes and how to use them, then you don't need an algorithm, you can approach every problem on it's own merits and work out how to solve it. Potentially less efficient for common patterns that fit the algorithm, but far more flexible.

Comment Re:wrong.... (Score 2) 233

>Understanding is something that always follows...

Sure. But understanding your tools is something that always precedes mastering their use. And algebra is a tool. If you don't understand the fundamental rules of it, you'll never truly master it. You'll inevitably get tripped up in the corner cases.

>Secondly...
Let me reiterate: I have NO problem whatsoever with saying you're "moving something to the other side of the equation", so long as you you don't believe that's what you're doing. The first is a perfectly reasonable way to narrate a shortcut. The second will screw you over. The *only* time I have a problem with the shortcut terminology is when you're teaching students who don't yet have a firm grasp of the reality - in which case using the shortcut language is extremely likely to foster false understanding that will undermine the learning process.

When the author refers to "the notion of moving things...", I see "notion", and I hear "belief", not "phrasing"

As for your final paragraph, I'm not quite sure what you're trying to say - there's nothing egregiously wrong about imaginary numbers - for historical reasons the name is (arguably) confusing, but the concept is relatively clear. As for negative time - assuming you're not simply referring to the trivial reality of "things that existed/happened before whatever arbitrary time I decided to call 0" I'm intrigued, please explain - Google is mostly just offering up esoteric theoretical constructs unbacked by evidence.

Comment Re:wrong.... (Score 1) 233

No, I believe there's an extremely substantial difference.

In conversation of course it's far more efficient to *say* you're moving things between sides, and I routinely do so myself. Where it becomes a problem is if you don't firmly *understand* what you're really doing. In that case, your misunderstanding will hobble your ability to solve problem, as well as form the basis of sloppy thinking in a field that requires extreme rigor.

Granted, it probably won't make a whole lot of practical difference for most people, especially those who never really use anything beyond basic algebra. But even there I have a feeling that carrying around such a fundamental misunderstanding is likely to hamper the learning process.

Comment Re:Speed is important (Score 1) 233

>The medium that gives you the most information in the least time should always be the winner, but that might depend on the student.
FTFY

A three-second radio blast to the skull, modulated to contain the entirety of the German syntax and vocabulary and would be among the faster ways to give that information - but it would be utterly useless, because you can't *receive* it that way.

The goal is not to give information, but to transfer knowledge. And that's a far more subtle and individually variable task.

Comment Re:wrong.... (Score 2) 233

I suspect that he's referring to the fact that you actually move things across an equals sign in algebra - there's no mathematical basis for doing so. It's just often written that way as shorthand for skipping the tedious intermediate steps.

Instead, what you actually do is perform the exact same operation to both sides of the equals sign - both sides start out equal, so they will remain equal when doing the same thing to both:
      2x + 3 = 7
subtract 3 from each side:
      2x + 3 - 3 = 7 - 3
perform calculations to cancel inverse terms:
    2x = 4
divide each side by 2
    2x / 2 = 4 / 2
cancel again:
    x = 2

There' a fair chance you originally learned a somewhat intermediate shortened form when you started out. Do you recall writing things like
2x + 3 = 7
      -3 ... -3
      2x = 4

The best example I can think of to demonstrate the difference is that, if you *were* moving things across the equals, you couldn't do things like:
2x + 3 = 7
2x + 3 + 1 = 7 + 1 <--- where did the 1 come from?
2x+4 = 8
Which is still true, and offers a different route to solving the problem - rather pointless in this example, but can be quite valuable in things like trigonometry and calculus, where adding "superfluous" terms can make a problematic portion of your formula match an existing well-tested equality, allowing you to transform it into a different form.

Comment Re:Never assume... (Score 1) 116

I agree it's suspicious in light of modern surveillance interests. In fact the best argument I can think of for it being incompetence rather than maliciousness, is the sheer degree of incompetence demonstrated. If it were malicious it would make far more sense to at least mildly encrypt the logfile so that its nature wouldn't be immediately obvious to anyone who stumbled over it. I mean how many obscure binary data files are used in the world? I doubt even security researchers regularly go to the trouble of reverse-engineering the formats so that they can see what they hold.

Of course, that would also pretty much eradicate any attempt at plausible deniability if they were caught anyway...

Comment Re:Hyperbole (Score 1) 104

I agree that we are a representative Republic rather than a true Democracy. In fact offhand I can't think of any nation-state scale "democracies" in modern times.

And for your classic "two wolves and a sheep" quote - that's exactly the sort of "common-sense" hyperbole we hear a lot of - but what substantial evidence is there that it's rooted in fact? Or for that matter that it's any worse, even in theory, than the current de-facto alternative of "a few wolves and a whole herd of sheep having mutton for dinner".

The current right for us sheep to vote for the wolf of our choice does indeed give us some voice in the system - but it's hard to see how you can honestly claim it takes up any democratic ideals at all. At best it takes up enough veneer to keep the populace placated.

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