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Comment Re:I don't know, but... (Score 1) 494

I've always maintained correct/proper capitalization and grammar and compete sentences, even in IMs and IRC chats.

Same here â" for the most part.

In fact, I'd have to argue that my spelling and grammar have not only not suffered, they have actually benefited a great deal. Since English isn't my native tongue, I owe a lot of my fluency and vocabulary to English-speaking IRC rooms that I used to frequent quite a bit a few years ago. While I did have extensive tuition in English (having been at a bilingual school for most of my life), I'm pretty sure that my essay writing has improved because of IRC. I'd argue that it's better than reading books (not that anyone should give up on that) because of the interactive element: you can ask to have things explained to you by natives who know what they're talking about (most of the time, anyway), and you'll be corrected by the grammar/spelling nazis if you make a mistake. Of course a lot of this depends on finding a decent e-community that uses real English and is populated by people with at least half a brain, but if you're lucky enough to be part of one, it really does wonders to your English, especially if you're a foreigner.

Comment Re:release date (Score 3, Informative) 483

Each new release of OS X might, at best, be compared to a service pack.

I think the reason for this sentiment is that every release of OS X is a logical development from the last. Same fundamental idea, same feature set, wich a few things tweaked here and there, a few flaws removed, and a few features added.
With Microsoft, on the other hand, the development from OS to OS is more along the lines of: "fully redeveloped, complete with new UI, written from the ground up, extra extra, etc." Or at least that's how it's been since XP came out.
I don't know if it's a programming philosophy or a marketing strategy, but it gives people the impression that these systems are a "whole new OS experience," rather than just the next logical step in OS design. I think that's another reason for why they don't bother naming Windows OSes with incremental version numbers.

(just my $.02)

Comment Interference Patterns (Score 1) 153

In the video, you can see dark and light patches in the exhaust trail of the rocket, which are obviously interference patterns. I'm guessing this is normal and expected behaviour, but I'm curious as to how they're formed, as I see no reason for the expelled fuel to behave like a wave.

Could someone enlighten me?

Comment Re:My take on the UK/US privacy/censorship problem (Score 1) 272

Let me fix that for you.

in Germany, there are laws against blasphemy

Not true. Germany's an entirely secular country. Maybe you were thinking of libel and/or slander?

This means that i.e. burning the flag is illegal.

I don't live in Germany, so I don't know whether this is true or not. Doesn't seem very likely, though I'll be happy to accept this point if you have any references.

Media is censored for "glorification of violence", so i.e. "Manhunt" and "Evil dead" in its original version are banned.

Violent games are rated X/R/NC17, or the EU equivalent thereof. Some particularly violent games are placed "on index", which essentially means they're not allowed to be advertised in the media or in the shop, but are still sold.

So no, while you might have to go slightly out of your way to get some of them, violent games are most definitely not banned. Sorry.

Comment Re:My take on the UK/US privacy/censorship problem (Score 1) 272

Before I make my point, let me say that I agree with you wholeheartedly. There are, however, two things I would like to address:

  1. Nothing about the Holocaust per se is censored. Open discussion about it is encouraged (albeit still difficult for some people). In fact, if you re-read my original post, you will see that I mentioned Holocaust denial being prosecuted, i.e. presenting it as anything but the entire (gruesome) truth. To me, that sounds almost like a diametric opposite to censorship.
  2. I don't know if I agree with censorship of "Mein Kampf", but I certainly understand it. This, I think, is the part of my post that is most relevant to your comment. To go as far as forbidding distribution and ownership of a book might be seen as going too far by some, but I'd like to note firstly that this censorship is restricted very clearly to just this one book, not some vague reference to "think of the children" that can be bent to include pretty much anything. Secondly, the ban is restricted to the actual physical book, not the information contained within. Nothing stops people from downloading the book online (or even going to the National Library to read it). The ban is there much more to prevent anyone from making money off printing and selling the book, and to publicly label the ideas therein as being "bad".

So while I agree with you in principle, I think your comment is slightly misplaced in this context. All these laws are in place precisely so that the Holocaust is remembered.

Comment My take on the UK/US privacy/censorship problem. (Score 3, Insightful) 272

Germany and Austria take anything related to the Holocaust very seriously. Holocaust denial is a felony and will most likely cause you a prison sentence. "Mein Kampf" is the only book that is illegal to own, buy or sell in both countries, and Nazi symbols like swastikas or the Hitler greeting are prohibited. It is also considered "taboo" to say anything along the lines of: "Well, Hitler wasn't all bad, y'know..."

Personally, I think this is a good thing, because it helps people realise the seriousness of the whole thing. People in Germany or Austria will probably not laugh at Jew/Nazi jokes, as these are considered tasteless, not funny, etc.

But:

Germany and Austria also take free speech and its place as foundational pillar of democracy very seriously. It is through demonizing our past and disassociating ourselves with it that we recognise the importance of free speech and privacy. It is for this reason that these countries will never have the "slippery slope" problem of privacy loss and censorship (unless, of course, we are dragged kicking and screaming into it through EU lobbying). Governments in the UK and US (and Australia, I guess) have always been the good guys. There has never been any instance of citizens standing up to oppression on a large scale, which is why most people fail to realise where the slippery slope is (or at least might be) going.

People are slowly forgetting about the horrors of the Holocaust, but the memories of the censorship and privacy invasions by the GDR in East Germany are still vivid in people's memories. Watch The Life of Others if you still don't know what I'm talking about.

Comment Re:You can't teach self-esteem (Score 3, Interesting) 639

I'm going to copypasta one of my previous comments, because I never got any replies, and because I feel it is appropriate:

I'm just going to throw this out there...

As a European who's never been to the US, I don't pretend to have any idea of what a "typical American high-school" looks like. The only clues I'm exposed to are the depictions of high-schools in Hollywood movies (bear with me, here).

Now, I know that movies are probably the worst possible source of information for this type of thing, but the fact that high-schools are so consistently portrayed a certain way makes me wonder exactly how much truth is in these plots. Here's what I noticed:

People are stereotyped much more than in my personal high-school experience. You've got the book-smart nerds who are completely socially inept, the athletic jocks who're either either stupid or hide their intelligence, and the girls, who can be anywhere on the spectrum between "nice and smart" and "dumb and mean".

Yes, I know these are stereotypes. Yes, I know movies tend to exaggerate these things to the point of inaccuracy. But all of my limited experience seems to have verified these stereotypes so far, even when talking to US high-school students I know. Feel free to flame, but all I'm really asking is how much these stereotypes really apply to high-school students. Because if they're anywhere close to what they're portrayed to be in the media, then I think I've found a big chunk of the problem.

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