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Comment Re:Lego Star Wars (Score 2, Interesting) 193

There's room for both. My kid builds Lego Star Wars sets. When he gets tired of them, he takes them apart and makes his own stuff.

Loose Legos from garage sales or craigslist are great, too. Lego still makes "generic unstructured pieces;" a large part of current sets are made from them.

Comment Re:Most deserving (Score 1) 829

Parochial and religious schools? So if I want my child to be educated outside the public school system and outside of home schooling, he needs to hear about The Great Sky Fairy and Resurrection Boy when he goes to school?

No. It is in our national interest to fund primary and secondary level education. An educated workforce benefits everybody, those that own capital, to the lowest level of manual labor. I'm not saying what we have for a school system is good, though, just that some form of public education is valuable and cannot be replaced by religious entities.

To those who argue against using collective resources for basic education, what, if anything, should we direct resources to? Only the military? At some point the quality of the republic is degraded to the point that it isn't worth defending.

Comment Re:Sorry, No. (Score 1) 799

Science has not provided a robust explanation for the origin of the universe. It cannot explain the four forces. It cannot explain time.

What we have from science is a much better explanation than anything from religion, which is to say no explanation at all. The Big Bang and rapid expansion, while simple, at least takes into account data at hand. The Sky Fairy on a six-day creation tour doesn't.

United States

Submission + - Majority of US Scientists Identify as Democrats (people-press.org) 4

Ripit writes: According to a Pew Research poll released on July 9, 2009, US scientists overwhelmingly identify themselves as Democrats. 55% of scientists say they are Democrats, compared to 35% of the general population. Only 6% of scientists say they are Republicans, compared to 23% of the general population. Surprisingly, scientists identified themselves as independents less often than the population as a whole, 32% to 34%, respectively.
Input Devices

Best Mouse For Programming? 569

LosManos writes "Which is the best programming mouse? Mandatory musts are wireless, and that it doesn't clog up like old mechanical mice. Present personal preferences are for: lots of buttons, since if I have moved my hand away from the keyboard I can at least do something more than move the pointer; sturdy feeling; not too light, so it doesn't move around by me accidentally looking at it." What would you recommend?

Comment Re:Interesting! (Score 1) 139

Interesting replies.

I'll merely point out that instruments other than flute are constructed to make the pentatonic scale simple to play - the black notes on the keyboard are the most obvious. The scale, and the pitches exist independently of the instruments that produce them.

The AC's post regarding perception of harmonics in the brain bears this out. The pentatonic scale offers all the consonant intervals, leaving out only minor seconds and augmented fourths. I guess we shouldn't be surprised that people perceived consonance 35,000 years ago.

Comment Re:Interesting! (Score 1) 139

I am a tenured professional orchestra musician.

The example shows clearly an accurate major pentatonic scale. The pitches are Eb, F, G, Bb, and C. The proximity to modern pitch is incidental, as pitch has been standardized for only a couple hundred years. The important thing is the distance between the pitches, or the ratio of one pitch to the rest. The pentatonic scale has ratios of 1:9/8:5/4:3/2:5/3, meaning if Eb is given the value of 1, F is 9/8 of Eb, G is 5/4 of Eb, Bb is 3/2 of Eb, and C is 5/3 of Eb. To construct an instrument that can play exactly (apparently exclusively) this scale shows, even if only through sound, an understanding of the mathematics underlying the scale.

The chance of constructing an instrument that happens to produce these exact ratios is impossibly small. Considering this and that it has a functionally placed embouchure hole opens up more possibilities. The person who made this instrument had made them before, or was taught by someone who had, or made it in imitation of something already seen. Now we know the pentatonic scale, which has been found all over the world is at least 35,000 years old. That's staggering.

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