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Comment Re:LORD (Score 1) 186

I remember that. There were only a few of us who signed onto the local BBS, and only one other who was playing LORD as regularly as I was. But it made for a compelling reason to log on every day. "If I don't dial in and take my turn, that other guy is going to kill me."

Comment Give me the small, indie rental place any day (Score 1) 390

Blockbuster's selection sucked. If you only rented the most popular of movies, you'd probably never notice. But they'd have an entire wall of DVD-release-of-the-week, while completely lacking titles which were only a little out of the mainstream.

Have you ever found Mystery Science Theatre 3000 in a Blockbuster? I haven't, and people looked at me funny when I asked. But it's available at this little local rental place with shelves, stuffed floor to ceiling, with movies. They also have a basement full of obscure anime. That's the rental place which is going to stick around. Places like Blockbuster which trade only in common content will have their lunch eaten by NetFlix and download services. But the stores run by actual local movie nerds offering every obscure title under the sun will still have a reason to exist.

Buh-bye Blockbuster. I won't miss you.

Comment Numbers in the article don't match the summary (Score 1) 206

"Without any prior knowledge of the planned crime in our mock terrorism scenarios, we were able to identify 10 out of 12 terrorists and, among them, 20 out of 30 crime- related details," Rosenfeld said. "The test was 83 percent accurate in predicting concealed knowledge, suggesting that our complex protocol could identify future terrorist activity."

(Emphasis mine)

In fairness to Timothy, the linked story does have the "100 percent accuracy" soundbyte in it. I'm guessing the journalist took something the researcher said out of context.

Comment Old memo deja-vu (Score 5, Interesting) 438

From here:

BEN-VENISTE: Isn't it a fact, Dr. Rice, that the August 6 PDB warned against possible attacks in this country? And I ask you whether you recall the title of that [President's daily briefing]?

RICE: I believe the title was, "Bin Laden Determined to Attack Inside the United States."

Was anyone else reminded of that little gem?

Comment Getting punished for "doing the right thing" (Score 2, Interesting) 318

It's sad that Google is getting punished for "doing the right thing" and being honest about their screw-up.

Google: Oops! We accidentally collected all this data we weren't supposed to. Sorry, but we thought you should know. We'll just be deleting* that now... Germany: NO! You don't respect EU laws! Turn that data over!

If Google had just kept quiet and didn't admit their wrongdoing, nobody would have known about the issue, and there wouldn't be any of the wrangling we see now. But should a company keep quiet whenever it fucks up? A culture of denial is worse. It's sad, because it's exactly this sort of persecution which creates a culture where companies never admit anything, ever.

* Except the legal department probably advised them against deleting the data right after the confession, just in case something like this happened.

Comment Re:Great. What's in it? (Score 2, Interesting) 97

Wow, way to read into my post, dude.

Something most Slashdotters probably know is that science journalism is very derivative. Since a lot of journalists don't know squat about science, most of them just end up regurgitating stuff. Sometimes random irrelevant facts are added, sometimes important information is stripped out. Mentioning that both hearts are from sows without mentioning why seems strange. There could be a reason why, or it could have just been an extraneous fact that was included..

Now, the sentence from TFA ("Thatte and his group harvested two female pig hearts and placed them in two different containers.") is very similar to a sentence in a cited source here ("The researchers harvested hearts from female pigs, stored them in one of the two solutions, then biopsied them at several points over the next four hours.") Was there an original story somewhere that said why sow hearts were preferable, or was it just a random detail that someone added without context? Unfortunately, I can't access what appears to be the original paper at the moment to find out either way.

I have been paid to work in a research lab. I have also been paid to work for a newspaper. The interaction between science and the media fascinates me. And in my experience, there's a lot of truth to this comic.

Why would the gender of the heart donors matter?

The question is, why wouldn't it? Do you know? I don't.

Yeah, I'm hoping for a response from someone who does know. Thanks for making gross, incorrect assumptions about me, though.

Comment Great. What's in it? (Score 1, Insightful) 97

Maybe I fail at reading this late, but TFA didn't say what was in the stuff. Is this cocktail made of proteins? Inorganic compounds? "21 chemicals" sounds like "11 herbs and spices": marketing speak which doesn't actually say very much.

Also, I couldn't help but notice this:

o better understand if and how Somah preserved a heart, Thatte and his group harvested two female pig hearts and placed them in two different containers.

Why would the gender of the heart donors matter?

Comment There's no second chance for final exams (Score 1) 554

If you want to complain about having crappy students taking space, complain about grade inflation, and the propensity of graders to "curve." Why should everyone's grade go up because there were a lot of mediocre grades? Either you think your evaluation was unfair, in which case you need to give them a fair one, or your evaluation was fair and everyone sucked, in which case they need to get the grades they deserve.

Okay. A professor starts marking final exams and realizes that their exam was too difficult because the entire class failed*. When will this second, "fair" evaluation of the class take place? In the interim between terms? When the new semester starts? Either way, I doubt students will enjoy being called back into a class that should be over and done with because the prof made the exam too difficult, and is now obligated to give a "fair" one.

I don't know what field you TA'd in, but in physics it's bloody hard for a prof to create a "fair" exam. To make a long diatribe short, usually a prof has to either err on the side of making the exam too easy or too difficult, and they always choose "too difficult" because low marks still yield meaningful data about student capabilities. (i.e., it's hard to grade students fairly when everyone scores 100% on the final.)

So, regardless of how you feel about the matter, there's a good reason why grade curves exist.

* Not a hypothetical situation. This has happened at my university.

Comment Character assassination attempt (Score 1) 574

Here's what I want to know: who took the video? That's a huge part of the story here, and that detail is omitted. My knee-jerk reaction is that it's someone from the opposing party, trying to make the next election in Florida easier for them.

Personally, I'm more disgusted by the censorship (the black bar) than the original photo.

Comment Normalize the numbers to growing university sizes (Score 1) 1343

The article states that 25 percent of students failed the English Language Proficiency Exam (ELPE) at Waterloo 5 years ago, and that now the number is 30 percent.

Here's my question: have those numbers been normalized to the increasing numbers of students in university?

Some schools (including UW) are letting more and more students in. It's an easy way to keep the budget balanced. It stands to reason that the "extra" students who are admitted to university aren't going to be at the top of the heap, but rather students who were only on the cusp of getting in.

I think the problem isn't with Twitter or the internet. Rather, the problem is universities are letting in students who wouldn't have gotten in otherwise.

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