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Comment Re:Another Name to Consider (Score 1) 1021

On the science fiction front, I'll second Brown. He also has the advantage of having written several outstanding short stories. Speaking of short stories... I'd recommend including "A Martian Odessey" by Stanley G. Weinbaum, as well as "Mimsy Were the Borogoves" and "The Twonky" by Henry Kuttner.

For mid-length reads, "The Big Front Yard" and... well, pretty much anything else by Clifford D. Simak.

Veer off into some Niven; his Gil Hamilton short stories, ("Death by Ecstasy" or "The Patchwork Girl"), and explore some of his Draco Tavern vignettes. Those last are probably short enough for in-class readings, even.

Comment Re:First Hand Experience (Score 1) 108

As someone involved with a private health care organization that has regular, extensive contact with the VA, and as someone who's dealt with INS on several different occasions for personal and work-related issues, I'll state the following for all the people arguing for/against public health care:

The standard of service you get from government agencies can vary from horrible to outstanding, depending on the type of people involved in any particular organization. Our local INS office, for example, gets a *lot* of praise from people who've had to deal with them. Likewise, our local VA organization gets an awful lot of praise from the people who deal with them day in and day out, both administrators and patients.

That's because in both cases, there are people in those offices who are willing to go to great lengths to deal with the truly, amazingly, horrible services (or lack of services) offered by *other* government offices. I'm talking about payments from the VA for services rendered being nearly 6 months in arrears, not because of any problems with billing, but because (a) someone went on vacation for a month, then (b) we never received the paperwork, then (c) oh, yeah, we really did get the paperwork, but we need you to send us new invoices because these are three months out of date now! Then lather, rinse, repeat.

All in all, you can get great service from the government, and horrible service from the private sector. You are far more likely to get horrible service from the government, and great service from the private sector... because when you're dealing with the private sector, you have an 800 lb gorilla (the government, via laws and regulations) in your corner. Going the other way... it's just you, vs. the 800 lb gorilla, and good luck if he decides that what *you* want isn't what *he* wants.

Comment Re:Most deserving (Score 1) 829

I'm on the board of a private center that caters to veterans with substance abuse and mental health problems. We're a 501(c)3 organization, which put's us squarely in the "private sector" by anyone's reckoning. At least, whenever the *government* has dealings with us, they insist that we're a private sector institution. And yet, somehow, profit is not our primary motivator.

Your leap from "private sector" directly to "publicly-held companies" is incorrect. From age 6 onwards, not one of the private schools I attended - all the way through college - were "publicly-held companies". The school my girls attend right now is a private institution, and it isn't a publicly-held company either.

The hospice my mother volunteers at isn't a publicly-held company. Nor is the extremely long-lived local athletic association that my father and brothers all invest their time in. The hospital that a good friend of mine is at right at this moment, in fact, is a private institution, but is not publicly-held. Same goes for my credit union. All of these organizations are concerned with funding, finances, and operating costs... but it is not their primary and stated purpose for existing.

If you think that "not government" automatically means "motivated solely by profit", then you really need to get off your butt and take a look at all the organizations around you, and understand that there are already well known and well understood ways of getting big things done without involving the government and without making profit the primary motivating factor in a private institution.

Comment Re:And THIS, dear-readers, is why paper will win (Score 3, Insightful) 94

Fahrenheit 451:

Only six weeks ago, I discovered that, over the years, some cubby-hole editors at Ballantine Books, fearful of contaminating the young, had, bit by bit, censored some 75 separate sections from the novel. Students, reading the novel which, after all, deals with the censorship and book-burning in the future, wrote to tell me of this exquisite irony.

Comment Re:Extraterrestial life (Score 1) 201

Sadly, mankind won't be ever capable of communicating with such a distant places.

Did you even bother to read the summary? The star is about 20 light years away. That's a 20-year round trip for radio communications, sure... but we are currently capable of communicating with "such a distant places" (sic). We have been for the better part of a half a century.

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