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Comment Is this worth comment? (Score 1) 676

This is not the first time someone has called for a national/homegrown OS. And perhaps he's not quite ready to jump in and, to mix metaphors, bite the hand that feeds him so he calls out Linux. Or, alternatively, he is calling for a homegrown OS and he knows that bashing Windows will get him no where but that peeling off a few nationalistic OSS developers might get something started.

In any case, not sure this sentence fragment deserves any real attention, regardless of who is saying it, as Linux survives evolutionarily/according to, essentially, market forces. Ok, there is more than a little piled on top of that, but certainly not e.g. huge marketing campaigns and distribution deals, but you get my point. When Linux is EOL, and it will be at some point, it will be EOL.

Comment Re:like any other job? (Score 1) 629

There are a couple of main things the union is complaining about (I live LA and this has gotten a lot of coverage in the last week; I am not involved with the teachers, the schools, or as a parent)

1.) The evaluation used (value added) is problematic and the method's proponents readily admit it has failings, and in fact declared a few months back that it is not yet ready to be used widely or as the basis for teacher evaluations, or that it should be used by itself, etc. The LA Times also makes a mention of that in the article, but they are publishing names/scores etc. anyway.
2.) The Union (and many teachers) are asking what good publishing the names actually does. Will the teachers be fired? Will students be moved into the 10 or 20 percent of classes run by the highest coring teachers? The answer is, 'No', not the least because of #1, above.
3.) There is a big privacy/safety/comfort concern. It is very easy for folks to say, 'Well, they are public employees' and so on, but would you want your personal information published in the local papers? Or your job performance? And then to be left to deal with any e.g. angry parents on your own? Or have your authority undercut with possibly already barely controllable kids?

So, I have heard some very good reasons, from several different directions, as to why this is a bad idea. The argument for doing it seems to really come down to one thing:

1.) Teachers need to be held accountable.

Which I also tend to agree with. However, it does seem odd to me that out of all the jobs in the world now suddenly teachers are being tossed in with the likes of a Senator or Representative or celebrity, to be tried in the court of public opinion. I mean, if that's gonna be the rules now, we really, really really do need to pay them more. Maybe rather than say, "Well, let's publish the teacher's info in the papers!" it would be more effective to focus on teacher and administrative oversight, the implementation of a pay system based on an array of metrics --that are regarded as actually being effective metrics--, teacher report cards to the parents/teachers, etc.

I think the LA TImes is swinging and missing with this one.

Comment Reality? (Score 2, Insightful) 702

And where does this article's author live that he can just up and change providers? Where is this promised land of choice he speaks of?

Certainly none of the handful of major metropolitan areas I live/lived in. It's a nice strawman argument, at best, but has nothing to do with reality.

Comment Re:This is bad for China. (Score 1) 34

Steadily improving, yes; but as they started, roughly, in "Vlad the Impaler" territory, I think the admonition to "back off a bit" and "let them sort out their problems" are a both a bit premature and a bit naive. China actively censors content, makes use of heavy and constant propaganda, and jails, tortures, executes and 'disappears' people; saying, "Well, they do it less often now" or "Now the show trials last 2 days sometimes!" is hardly a defense.

Comment Re:More Methane Ruptures? (Score 1) 799

It's so simple, in fact, that the Soviet Union used this method five times to deal with petrocalamities, and it only didn't work once.

Success rate does not illustrate simplicity, especially not with that small of a sample set. That could be the equivalent of saying, "Putting a man on the moon is so simple, in fact, that the United States has used their method once and it has never failed."

Alternatively, the fact that this method has 'only' a 20% failure rate and it INVOLVES A NUKE would seemingly give cause for one to pause and reconsider; at the least, for entertainment value if nothing else, I would like to see what the local harvest industries (fish, shrimp, etc.) have to say about it before this idea gets tossed in the crackpot bin.

Comment Re:Make lemonade (Score 1) 555

Uh, false. Well, mostly false.

As has been stated 1000 times already: The company cannot obligate you to use your resources for company work; if your job description requires a certain resource the company is obligated to provide it. However "provide" may be in the round-about way of reimbursement, company credit cards in your name, or any other ways that companies find to essentially take a short-term, interest-free, penalty-free loan out from their employees. But for computers on a large scale I can't imagine any sane/non-masochistic IT department doing that, at least not for very long... then they would be obligated to support all 1000 permutations of SW/HW.

Anyway, short answer: No. If they do, get all class-actiony on their asses and take a year off for your troubles. It's clear cut and I have to imagine more than a handful of lawyers would be willing to take the case.

Comment TFA doesn't say that (Score 2, Informative) 108

First off, TFA article doesn't mention source code; second, it quite explicitly says 'details are murky' and it is unclear what the PRC is asking for. At least as far as the article goes, that is what is said.

Second, to some comments: Other countries already have various schemes in place for reviewing code (which doesn't preclude flaws or backdoors, intentional or not, from being included in compiled / embedded code...)

India is saying what other countries fear, but since they are in China's backyard and vice versa, it's not surprising they're willing to go a little further and say it out loud as well as act on it. Also, as a bit of a reminder, India and China are as much --if not more so-- in competition than US/China/Europe: India has been trying to bolster it's sea power as it falls further behind China in that regard, China has close ties with Pakistan partially because Pakistan and India don't like each other particularly much, India is courting Afghanistan partially to offset Pakistan's power, etc. And let's not forget China and India have fought an actual war, albeit a fairly small one, and India lost and has never accepted the outcome.

Comment Okay, but what does it mean? (Score 3, Insightful) 136

I'm not sure what I'm supposed to take away from this... for instance:

at least 102 reactor units are now documented to have had recurring radioactive leaks into groundwater from 1963 through February 2009.

(which is a broken link from the linked article/page)

So the NRC is a 50 year epic fail? That leaks are increasing? Increasing... post-Regan/post-90's/post-40-year-old-reactors? No implied pattern? Caused by what... maintenance failures? Expected wear? Unexpected wear? Lack of oversight?

Sorry, I just tend to take a somewhat guarded view to statements that amount to, "It's all f*cked up!" and not much more.

Comment Here's a brilliant idea (Score 1) 542

Since HFCS may or may not be worse for you than sugar, and sugar, in just about any doses higher than you find in an apple or berries, in quantities greater than you can consume by actually eating said apples and berries is also bad for you (disclaimer: yes, over time, in sustained quantities, not in the presence of suitable amounts of more complex carbs, yada, yada) why not make an end run around the entire hulabaloo and... *gasp*... not eat sweetened foods?

Ok, have some cake once in a blue moon. But just stop eating sugar (in whatever form) three to five meals a day, and for snacks in between. Because once the HFCS storm blows over in one direction or the other, that real issue that high sugar intake (or, it seems from some evidence, even moderately elevated sugar intake) puts you at risk from all sorts of things --diabetes, insulin resistance, weight gain on the one end of the scale down to temporary fatigue and impaired athletic performance on the other-- is still gonna be sitting in exactly the same spot: fact (and your fat ass :>)

Comment Re:Applied Materials has always looked to Asia (Score 2, Insightful) 426

It's a little more complicated than that, but I hear the sentiment loud and clear.

US education has suffered under a series of bad ideas over the last couple of decades, and the Christian Right is just the latest blow.

We've weakened our standards --even in some cases eliminating old criteria-- driven in part by the 60's- and 70's-style liberal (sigh, and I am a liberal) idea that it was more important to encourage as many children as possible, rather than tell some kids, "Look, you're going to struggle with this, but you're going to learn it to level X. Once you've gotten to X, we may decided to put you on track A, B, C depending on how you're doing." Some schools do this, but seem to do it badly or only partially, or focus on the gifted kids rather than cracking the whip on the other 95% of kids (who aren't stupid, but just need to work their asses of to get certain subjects done.)

We've pegged all sorts of things --accolades, funding, pay-- to test performance (No Child Left Behind and it's ilk were just the latest version of this) and so teachers, schools, districts, even entire states lowered their standards or in some cases just cheat (surprise, surprise.) And, perversely, when standards of whatever quality are not met the same management is left in place, with the same teachers, and resources are what are changed (== lowered.) Who's crackpot idea was this? (And, no, I'm not Bush-bashing, since he was not in fact the originator of it and it has, so far, seemingly been taken by a wide variety of people as 'on the right track.')

The idea that schools are funded by property taxes / local district revenues is so deeply buried in the "American Way of Doing Things" that I don't know that I've even heard this mentioned in the last 5 years as the huge source of problems that it is. Adjunct to that is the very American idea that quality of education is not a right or requirement; we have a public system of education that is in many ways similar to private education. And the parents in 'good' districts fight tooth and nail to prevent funding from going to 'bad' districts, for obvious reasons; state and federal funding that goes to schools is the first to be cut; and poor schools get hit disproportionately by the above, NCLB.

Parents aren't held responsible and responsible parents have little to no interaction with the school or resource support from the school unless they want to go to the (somewhat extreme) of being a "PTA mom". And teachers aren't given the base-pay and incentives to work 6- or 7-day weeks, often 12 hour days to make enough difference in kids lives where they get the kind of recognition for being "one of the good teachers." (Another perverse trade-off, where there is this common but rarely called out template where "good" teachers are good because they sacrifice themselves to the job, to their kids. But why don't we expect e.g. you to sacrifice yourself to your job?) Then there are "those" parents: not every precious snowflake is a star. Some are just average. Average is called average for a reason.

Mmmm, oh, did I mention the number of "single subject" teachers (math, chemistry, physics, etc.) that have been cut or replaced because those teachers are/were more expensive than general teachers?

And NONE of that even begins to touch on the pervasive (still, even in the age of /. :>) attitude that being smart is bad, speaking up is bad, displaying knowledge is bad; scientists and specialists are weird and not quite 100% trustworthy, etc. Sure, it's 'cool' amongst some adults, and there is a general techno-lust that has developed since the 90's (or even 80's), but that is certainly not the same thing.

So, yeah, the Christian Right heaping it on is a kick in the balls, but it's not the downfall. What is different about it is they are openly and *specifically* hostile to some scientific results (tough certainly not all), and the scientific framework in general. That is scary, and politically dangerous. But I think it remains to be seen whether they are the worst threat or merely the most annoying.

Comment Re:There is a law against that... (Score 1) 544

Erm, well, no.

First off, let's take a fact-based number, like say there is a 1 in 5 million chance of two 'fingerprints' matching, and there is no other physical evidence available... you committed, essentially, the perfect crime but forgot to wear your latex body suit (admit it, you have one.) So there are, round number, approximately 1,300 people on the planet that have the hashcode as you; as this is the only piece of physical evidence, there is 1 in 1300 chance that you are the guy...

But we can probably ignore the 2 / 3 of the planet without ready access to air travel. In fact, we can reasonably rule out (though doing so exhaustively would in fact be exhaustive) 99.9% of people who were not anywhere near the crime scene. But lets assume, for arguments sake, that you live in a large metropolitan area with say, 20 million people; so there are 4 other people running around your metro area. Let's assume that all of you have perfect alibis because you really did not commit the crime and the other three are equally innocent, or are trained assassins. In this case, you are screwed. You will have to live with the accusation never quite beaten.

However, since the above scenario is fanciful, it is much, much more likely that other information (other physical evidence, camera or witness sightings, alibis, previous criminal records, etc.) would come into play.

DNA evidence is not perfect; especially when labs are sloppy (Go Los Angeles!), prosecutors are lazy, corrupt, or racist (Go... too many places, especially historically... but still), witnesses are as completely subjective as they have repeatedly proven to be, etc. But then your argument is with the criminal justice system and it's failings overall, not with some pulled-out-your-arse thing like DNA fingerprinting "will match one or two million other people on the planet" And it's surely imperfect, but it's not improved with nonsense like this...

Sorry to come down so hard, I just can't believe this is modded up +3, Insightful. :(

Comment Re:It's not like someone just made this up (Score 2, Informative) 416

Uh, please tell me you are not referring to the Lancet article by Dr Whackjob (Wakefield for the interested) The one that all the co-authors pulled out of, the Lancet withdrew it's endorsement from, and the author was discredited for not only cooking data but for not revealing that he has both direct and indirect financial conflicts of interest (including, if I remember correctly, a patent application outstanding for a new vaccine... or vaccine preservative... something, I forget.)

All the big, peer reviewed studies have revealed only one, single fascinating correlation between autism rates before and after both mixed and "mercury-containing" vaccines... 0 (or, technically, 0, since I believe in the big British one autism rates continued to climb in the non- or different vaccine group... which the above mentioned Dr. Whackjob then attempted to explain as being because there were still stockpiles of the old vaccine, a claim that was also resoundingly discredited... and so forth.)

Comment Why is this even newsworthy? (Score 1) 794

Aside from the head-shaking, "Look at this idiot over here" value, why is this even newsworthy? The whole concept of banning salt-use is so preposterous that this will tank without debate. Even in an F'd up state like NY (sorry NY, I couldn't help it, as I'm from Cali.)

The fact that people are attempting to logically debate this, using it to snip at Dems (and back at Repubs), debate drug policy, etc. just shows the extent folks are liable to get sucked into stupid arguments. For every 1 ill-thought out or knee jerk bill you hear about in Congress there are, oh, roughly 50 in the states... so, again, why is this even comment or newsworthy? Even for Slashdot (sorry /., I couldn't help it, as I'm from... Slashdot.)

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