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Comment Re:Sustained focus (Score 1) 166

I consider much of your post drivel. This,

This starts from a young age, I would say, for the first X years of school, you don't have to study for anything and then suddenly they make it so you can't succeed anymore without studying. Well, what do you know, the one damn thing I don't know how to do is to study.

however, hits home. Hard.

I never cracked a book when I was a kid. I listened in class, did what homework was required in a mad dash at the last minute, and graduated as valedictorian of my high school class.

Then I went off on a full-ride scholarship to a prestigous university where professors actually expected me to read stuff they didn't touch on in class and even (as I found out after I failed my first test) to seek out and read the books they had written on the same subjects, completely without any official guide.

Seriously, my college provided no faculty advisor for new students. There was a history professor who was theoretically assigned to help. I was required, for example, to get his OK on my class selections. When I took him the form, he looked at it with a puzzled expression, asked me if I knew how to spell his name, then instructed me to sign his name to it and not bother him again. That was the last we spoke.

My student mentor was tasked with helping me adjust socially. Well, no one has ever succeeded in helping me adjust socially to anything. He got lost pretty damn quick.

With no clue, no help, and no life preserver in a sea of sink or swim, I sank. Fast. I couldn't adjust to the complete change in educational processes quickly enough and I lasted just one semester.

Dropping out was the second biggest mistake of my life and even now, as an old man, there isn't a week that goes by that I don't regret it.

Back on-topic with something relative to the OP - From experience, I'd say that academic failure can come from unexpected sources. When students fail, it's not because they are incapable of learning. Clearly, they are. It's just that the way they've learned to process new knowledge and they way it's being presented are not in sync. Right now it may seem that the main problem is short attention spans but, frankly, I think there have always been disconnects between methods of teaching and techniques of learning, some of those disconnects large enough to completely sink the efforts of the folks on both sides of the podium.

Comment Re:A sudden attack of reason (Score 1) 238

Holder already stated that using a drone, on a common American Citizen, siting in a Starbucks, would be an unnecessary use of force.

Unfortunately, an unnecessary use of force in the opinion of one AG under one set of circumstances may be considered, under other circumstances, by an FBI Special Agent in charge of an ongoing situation (and with concurrence up the chain of command) to be perfectly reasonable. I have no doubt that if the technology had been available at the time, the bodies of Randy Weaver and everyone with him would have never been found; there would have only been a giant, smoking crater where the drones landed.

Yes, Paul was putting on a show. That doesn't change the fact that he was seeking a no-weasel-clause direct statement from the AG that there exists no authority to use drones on U.S. citizens on U.S. soil. He almost got that..but not quite. As drones become cheaper and are deployed at lower and lower levels of government (counties have them now), I have no doubt that someday in the near future some County Sheriff will lose patience with some lone nutbag in an isolated cabin armed with a rifle he knows how to use. At that point, someone will be called on to kludge together some way to attach a couple of gallons of gas and some sort of igniter to a cheap surveillance drone that will then be crashed into the roof of said isolated cabin. Hell, we've already seen the aerial bombardment of holed-up folks using helicopters in the middle of a city with predictably disastrous results.

A drone strike on U.S. citizens on U.S. soil is, unfortunately, not a big stretch from what we've seen in the past. When it happens it will mark the beginning of a new chapter in the history of the use of force.

Comment Re:Impossible to enforce (Score 1) 853

When you said

We also thought that guns, couldn't be banned... gun bans ... will held up as something that any "civilized" country does.

did you actually mean

We also thought that guns, ... couldn't be banned... gun bans ... will hold up as something that any "civilized" country does.

thus implying that gun bans in the U.S. are inevitable and will be accepted?

If that's the case, I think you're very wrong. I'm looking forward to seeing how New York, California, and Colorado shake out. We'll learn a lot from the way the current (batshit insane) legislation in those states is handled. I could be wrong...but I kinda doubt it, at least where the majority of the flyover country is concerned.

Comment Barbie? Seriously? (Score 1) 853

I hate Barbie for personal reasons not germane to this discussion but this

Every time a parent hands their son Billy a toy that teaches them to build and create then give their daughter Sally a Barbie and some dress up clothes reinforces long standing cultural stereotypes.

is unwarranted.

My sister grew up with Barbie. She's exactly the age that was the target demo when the doll was introduced. She loved Barbie because Barbie could do anything. Barbie was a pilot and a flight attendant. Barbie was a businesswoman and a housewife. Barbie was an astronaut, fer chrissakes. And at whatever she did, Barbie was successful, earning enough scratch to afford her own dream house and Corvette.

So the lesson my sis learned was that you could look like a bimbo but still succeed in life on whatever terms you dictated, whether you chose to go head to head with the men or not. Genetically, she didn't have the looks but she darn well knew ('cuz Barbie has set such a good example) that she could do anything a man could do. After she outgrew dolls, she majored in mathmatics when she went off to her university, wound up with a job in federal law enforcement, rose to the executive suites, and ended her career doing very high-level research on legal compliance trends before she retired.

To this day, she credits Barbie with teaching her that women can achieve whatever they want.

Of course, I used to steal her dolls and shoot off their heads with a pellet rifle...but that's another story.

Comment Been there, done that. (Score 1) 770

My heart goes out to you. My house took a lightning hit many years ago and I lost 3 TVs, 4 VCRs (it was a long time ago), 1 CD player, one combo CD/LaserDisc player (like I said, a long time ago), all our phones, several appliances, and even the house intercom.

My advice is to shop carefully and don't expect to replace everything. Generally, I'd say get the best-suited, most versatile core components of a system that you can eventually grow back to the same level of usefulness and convenience you once had.

Avoid the temptation to get something cheap to fill every slot that's been emptied. If you do, you get all your functionality back immediately but you'll ultimately be unhappy with the quality of your purchases.

Comment Great! I'd rather see them play with real guns... (Score 1) 335

...like this 13-year-girl. She's getting out of the house, away from staring at a screen, spending time with family and learning useful skills.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=yd4B77PkeaU

I feel sorry for folks stuck living in places where this sort of thing is prohibited or considered socially unacceptable.

Comment Over 110K names, some turnover, how we did it (Score 4, Interesting) 383

Where I last worked, there were over 110K employees and we had plenty of people sharing the same name. Here's how it went.

Default: first.last@xxx.gov

Same names: first.middleinitial.last@xxx.gov

Still the same: Senior employee got first.middleinitial.last@xxx.gov. Junior employee got first.x.last@xxx.gov.

Still the same? Increment the middle initial. The first person with the same name as someone else got an "x", the second person got a "y", the third got a "z", and I don't think we ever needed to exceed that. If necessary, we would have just continued through the alphabet, starting back at "a".

The biggest single problem we had with names and email addresses was employees who were legally empowered to use a different identity when dealing with the public. Anything that the public might see (their name or signature on a document, their email address, etc.) was a pseudonym, yet we had to use their legal names for internal purposes. Undercovers are a pain but I assume the OP won't be dealing with that. :-)

Comment Maybe we can call it The Amiga Principle (Score 1) 171

From an early age, my dad taught me that anything that was truly popular probably wasn't the best because (1) the best usually costs too much to be popular and (2) most people are too ignorant to make the best choice, so if most people choose it, it's probably not best.

I'm old now and have had a chance to observe how these principles play out in the real world over many decades. You'd be surprised how often I've found his wisdom has applied.

Comment Work, of course (Score 1) 256

I used to always volunteer to work. The office would be empty and I could always get some serious work done on those odd projects that always get put off into the future.

Luckily, my former employer usually cut everyone loose at about 2pm or so. By then, as my sis always says, "It gets drunk out early." After the invariably hair-raising drive home, I stayed there.

Everclear and soda can do a perfectly adequate job of putting me on my butt if that's my goal or maybe I'll just go to bed. I never understood the reason for partying during really big events where the crowd crush is such a pain. I'm happy to party at the drop of a hat but this particular holiday is just too overdone.

Comment Re:Is the primary commemorative plaque definitive? (Score 1) 149

Informative, but no. Before the park was refurbished with a new central fountain, those walls, and those granite plaques, that spot had almost nothing on it except a few large bronze medallions set in the concrete at ground level at the entrance. You walked over the plaque I was originally thinking of.

That's the right spot, though. Interesting to see what's there now.

Wow - it HAS been a long time since I walked that park. Now that I think about it, it's probably been around 20 years. I shouldn't be surprised things have changed that much.

But if the "a" was carried over from the original bronze to the new granite (I'll take your word for it; I can't make out anything), then I guess my original point still stands.

Comment Is the primary commemorative plaque definitive? (Score 4, Interesting) 149

Last time I was there, at Tranquility Park in downtown Houston, across from the old federal building/current federal courts at 515 Rusk, there was a giant plaque at the entrance to the park quoting those first words from the moon.

The quote included the missing "a".

Somebody thought highly enough of the theory that the article belonged in the sentence that they cast it in bronze, decades ago, soon after the landing.

It's been a while since I've been in that park. Is there anybody who works nearby who can verify that the plaque, complete with the "a", is still there? It used to be at the corner entrance on the Rusk side of the park.

Comment Re:Good plan, but not for those results (Score 1) 470

You attribute to the GP more benign motives than I do. I've seen too many people say too many times "You wouldn't be fat if you'd just push away from the table!"

(Fucking DeBakey actually said that in a TV interview many, many years ago. I'll never forget it.)

It's simply not true. The human body is too complex to take such a simplistic view. It's easy to find case after case where person A takes in fewer calories, eats better quality food, and exercises more than person B. Yet person A is fat and B is stick-thin. The fact is, we nearly all take in more calories than needed to maintain weight. Whether we get fat or not does not depend on the number of calories anywhere near as much as it depends on how efficiently our particular body chooses to store them as fat. That's a completely different discussion from any I've ever seen started with a cite of the law of conservation of energy. People who start off with cites like that generally don't have the foggiest clue about what makes people fat.

Comment Re:More Irrational Gun Nuts (Score 1) 1232

...to use constitutional amendments to attack other constitutional amendments...amounts to mass insanity

Agreed. I wonder how slippery the slope will turn out to be.

The Heller decision made it clear that gun ownership is an individual right. But when the laws change and all gun owners are forced to get a license, will it be fair game to demand that all journalists go through a background check and get a government stamp of approval before they are allowed to make a living by arranging words on a screen?

If exercising your rights is reason enough to be "outed" like this, how about an interactive map showing the homes of everyone who writes for the paper, holds a management position, or sits on the board? Fair's fair, right?

Comment Re:Good plan, but not for those results (Score 1) 470

The law of conservation of energy?

You're an idiot. The human body isn't a simple machine where an easily accountable amount of energy going in will produce a given amount of work.

Most people can do the simple experiment of eating exactly the same thing this month as they did last month with the same amount of activity. Make one change - this month divide that daily food intake into 8 equal parts and have 8 small meals at even intervals throughout the day. Same energy in, same energy out, and you WILL lose weight.

In my own case, I was forced to experiment radically. I was diagnosed with diabetes. What tipped me off to go to the doctor was that I had lost 50 to 60 pounds even tough I was cramming my face with all the carbs I could lay my hands on.

After the diagnosis, I went after the disease with a vengance. I consumed fewer calories, ate only high quality foods, and exercised daily till I was ready to drop. I took my prescribed meds. And I kept meticulous records showing my wonderful drop in blood sugar, substantial decrease in daily calorie intake, and substantial increase in physical activity. I showed up at the next appointment, 3 months later, with a ream of charts and graphs to show that I had done everything I was supposed to do.

My A1c number dropped from 12.9 to 6.1. I was in control of my diabetes.

One problem - despite the fact that I took in fewer calories, did more work, and maintained extensive records to back that up, one of the medicines prescribed had weight gain as a side effect.

I had radically reduced my caloric intake, radically improved the quality of food I ate, radically increased the amount of exercise I did and I still GAINED 40 pounds.

Anyone who makes simple references to the law of conservation of energy in this context is a person completely incompetent to speak to the subject. Please, AC, STFU until you have half a clue what you're talking about.

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