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Comment Re:bullcrap (Score 1) 475

You don't know how this works, clearly. Lands End is a manufacturer. Walmart is not. They each have different goals and different business processes. Now it's possible that LE uses the same cheap labor that some (if not most) of Walmart's suppliers use; I don't have any information either way, but it's entirely feasible that you're right. However, the process and materials probably vary quite a bit. Walmart ends up carrying cheap stuff because they leverage their large potential market to negotiate ridiculously low wholesale prices with manufacturers, and reducing them each year. Mfg's end up having to make a choice at some point: sacrifice quality, or lose out on the huge volume Walmart offers. Lots of Mfg's feel that sacrificing quality is the right call, and do so: but their products that get sold at higher prices to competing sellers are often of the original, higher quality. Lands End makes their money by using higher-quality, more-durable fabrics and processes than many of their competitors, and selling fewer items at a higher margin than Mfg's who sell to Walmart. There is a profitable market in people who will pay $40 for a $3 (cost) item that's twice as durable as a $2 (cost) item that retails for $15; just as there is a profitable market in doing the opposite.

Comment Re:Home School (Score 1) 1268

But home schooling pretty much fails to develop a kid's social skills.

This bit of misinformation seriously undermines discussion about the real issues with home-schooling. Yes, some parents home-school to "protect" their kids from the bad, evil world. Those kids will have social problems no matter what. The majority of the home-schooling community solved that problem a long time ago by, you know, getting together on a regular basis with other families. That's arguably healthier for the kids, as they'll interact with a broader age range than they would in a standard public school.

The most serious issues with home schooling are a lack of enforcable standards -- which mean that some parents end up with kids that are even more ignorant than public-school-educated kids -- lack of advanced knowledge, and lack of facility. The first could possibly be addressed with a well-designed standardized test suite (though the government typically sucks at creating good standardized tests).

The last two -- challenges in finding appropriately-experienced parents in advanced subjects; and the difficulty in getting access to e.g., proper lab equipment -- are much tougher crack. In grade school, this is less of an issue, but many middle- and high-school students who are home-schooled end up with significant gaps in knowledge when it comes to certain advanced topics, and this makes their post-secondary education more challenging.

On top of this, pulling the brightest children out of public schools only further deprives the schools of funding and positive peer models, creating a self-fulfilling prophecy of public schools as failures. There are real issues with the way public schools are managed -- not the least of which is that the policies for managing them are created largely by groups who have absolutely no qualifications in education or childhood development -- but home-schooling is not the solution.

Comment Re:Don't know what () means (Score 1) 1268

I have college diplomas in the fields of mechanical and electronic engineering (technologist and technician for the Canadians). I also took all advanced math, physics and chemistry classes in high school. I don't remember ever seeing the notation "4+3+2=( )+2" before.

Didn't all of that education teach you to learn what solutions others have used before you decide you have a unique problem? As many others have pointed out above, the parenthesis are an artifact of the reporting in the TFA; the actual test questions (as seen in the associated videos) used a blank space. This is a common technique, well-supported by research, to introduced pre-teens to algebraic concepts before using named variables (like 'x').

This test shows, IMO, that students who were tested don't see '=' in a way we'd expect: they are reading equations as "problems", and the '=' as a "solution" indicator. This is probably reinforced by early math problems of the type "4+3 = ?", and the behavior of the '=' key on calculators (which are now used extensively in grade-school math programs).

The notation was not the problem, because that's not the notation that was used.

Comment Re:Well, that explains things. (Score 4, Insightful) 1268

Now, now. Just because these youngsters need pictures of the food on their cash-register buttons in order to do their job doesn't mean they're stupid. :-)

You're absolutely correct, it doesn't. And, in fact, they don't need them at all. Comments like this just show your ignorance of how organizations work at large scale. The pictures are there because they are universal.

  1. McDonald's (for example) is an international company, and they serve their core menu in dozens of languages. It's much easier and less error-prone for them to produce a picture-based keypad than to translate everything without error
  2. Fast food companies did research indicating that it's faster -- even for highly-literate people -- to find an item by image rather than by name. Faster means better service with fewer staff, which means more profit.
  3. Many fast food chains, and McDonald's in particular, hire people with disabilities. This is a huge win for such people -- real, productive work that can help make them at least partly independent. Many with cognitive or developmental disabilities have written-language challenges, and the picture "menus" are much easier for them to use efficiently. It doesn't make sense to have two versions of something if one works for everyone, does it?

And those are just the three reasons that are most obvious to me. Now get off your high horse!

Comment Re:And this is different to Walmart.... (Score 1) 333

It different because if you don't like Walmart's policy you can go to Target or any other store.

And if you don't like the iBooks store, you can -- with the same Apple device even -- buy your books from Amazon's Kindle store, the Stanza stores, or a few others.

And if you don't like any of those choices, you can buy a different computing device altogether.

Contrary to what the Apple fanboys would have you believe, Apple is NOT the sole provider of useful things.

Comment Re:Why it's contempt (Score 1) 280

Well, maybe judges need to be sequestered away from society like juries if they're so easily influenced.

Juries are not always sequestered, and when they are, it's not because they are "easily influenced", it's generally to keep them from being exposed to coverage of the case that may supply information that's inadmissible -- it's hard to forget something once you know it.

Whether or not a jury is sequestered, it is still illegal to attempt to influence them, except through your evidence and arguments as presented in court. Just like trying to bribe a police officer is illegal, whether or not the officer takes the bribe.

Likewise, if you take action to try to improperly influence a judge, the judge has the authority to punish you.

Comment Why it's contempt (Score 5, Insightful) 280

I'm not a lawyer, blah, blah.

All the folks on here saying "wha? But he just asked people to e-mail support, that's not spam!" are entirely missing the point.

You are not allowed to approach the Judge, or ask anyone else to approach the Judge, outside of court and certain other specially-sanctioned venues. It's called ex parte , and is only appropriate in very specific circumstances, because - duh - that's likely to be unfair. That's the basis for the contempt charge.

Now, if it had been a friend or two that e-mailed the judge, he might have just warned them off with a "that's not appropriate." But when enough people e-mail to fill his Inbox, it's quite clearly an attempt to influence the judge, and that's not OK .

Comment Re:Should there be ANY government secrets? (Score 1) 555

should a soldier disobey orders that in his opinion are inhuman? a military officer would probably say no.

You clearly don't know any military officers. None of the military folks I know feel an obligation to obey an order that's unlawful, much less dehumanizing. What they will explain is that sometimes you obey an order without thinking (that's how you're trained) -- and that it can be hard to blow the whistle after the fact.

And, of course, the military is a microcosm of humanity, and so it has its own share of bastards.

Comment Re:Sure... "Feedback from our customers" (Score 1) 348

I don't believe for a second that they've had a sudden change of heart in the direction of equality and fairness. More likely, legal and PR informed the decision makers that they were about to be on the losing end of some pretty hefty legal action and bad press.

And you base this on what? Microsoft's historical poor treatment of the GLBT community? Oh, right, they're on the Human Rights Campaign's Best Places to Work list.

Just because Microsoft does some legally, socially, and ethically questionable things doesn't mean that everything they do is questionable. Given that MS has been a leader in supporting GLBT rights within their own workplace, I'll give them the benefit of the doubt that they just screwed this one up, and want to make it right.

Comment Re:Seriously flawed logic (Score 2, Insightful) 650

Rather than fostering a system that will allow users to benefit from the best solution available in the market, irrespective of the development model, it encourages a mindset that does not give due consideration to the value to intellectual creations.

We can give "due consideration to the value of intellectual creations" without discriminating against open source. Maybe buy the developer a beer or send them a thank you note, or better yet, a bug report or patch?

More to the point, open-source licenses give higher value to intellectual creations, for two reasons:

  1. Practically, because they rely on strong copyright to give them force - and violators of those copyrights and related license terms are aggressively pursued
  2. Ideologically, because they demonstrate that the creators value the creative process so highly that they explicitly encourage others to create additional intellectual work, without forcing those others to do ridiculous amounts of re-work.

Comment EyeTV on a Mac (Score 1) 536

I've really been pleased with my media center setup; and my doddering mother-in-law has no difficulties with it either.

I use:

  1. Elgato's EyeTV software, with an Elgato USB tuner card (supports ATSC, ClearQAM, so tunes HD cable channels and FTA HDTV). This gives me my DVR, which dumps ATSC video at full quality without even re-encoding (std. MPEG-2 stream)
  2. FrontRow, which comes with the Mac, to watch DVDs and my media library, including music. Supports anything you can get a QuickTime plugin for (which is almost anything now, even Theora), and can browse media as files *or* in iTunes
  3. Handbrake 0.94 (64bit) for ripping DVDs to media collection. Dealing with encrypted DVDs is made possible through VLC and Fairmount (more or less transparently - again, my mother-in-law does this).

Other than paying $600 for the Mac Mini itself, the only cost to this was the EyeTV tuner (which came with the DVR software). Very pleased with this, much better IMHO than my Media Center and MythTV experiences. I've also played with Boxee on OS X, which does everything pretty well, including netflix/hulu streaming. Very nice, though definitely still beta. At least they seem to be making better progress fixing bugs than the Myth folks.

Comment Re:Stop wasting our electricity, Fox Mulder (Score 1) 621

"Are we alone?" is shorthand for "Is our species the sole intelligent life in the universe?"

We just need to stop being dicks to each other.

I entirely agree. We could start by not assuming that what some people are passionate about is wasteful just because we don't care. I personally think that the SETI money could be better spent elsewhere, but I don't think that the search is silly, or even that they're going about it in the wrong way. I don't even disagree that the question is important.

I'm just a "clean your own house first" kind of guy - I'd rather see us (humanity) work to solve the problems we have where we still kill each other in huge numbers, allow some to starve while others have a great deal of surplus, and generally mismanage the natural resources available to us.

Otherwise, what would we tell an intelligent species: "hi, we're humans; we can't even take care of ourselves"?

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