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Comment Re:What is this "free" you speak of? (Score 1) 537

Perhaps there should be a mandatory high school class covering how much college costs, the actual cost when interest and minimum payments are made, and average earning potential of various degrees (gender studies vs engineering, for example). And a little education on how permanent student loan debt is would be nice too: it survives bankruptcy, and is near impossible to get "forgiven" with processes politicians keep talking about.

I completely agree, but it should be combined into a class that also teaches Dave Ramsey's Financial Peace University program. So many of our debt and financial problems would go away overnight if everyone had to take just a one semester course teaching those two items.

Comment Re:Taxes (Score 1) 537

Indeed the UK which recently tripled university tuition costs to 9,000 pounds/year is now having trouble recruiting maths and physics teachers because people with those degrees are going into finance and industry where they can earn enough to pay off their loans.

That's not a valid argument for making college free. All that example shows is one of two things:

  1. Your college costs too much, and maybe you should be looking into what is driving the prices up (if it's anything like the US, probably way too many administrators compared to teachers).
  2. You don't pay your math and physics teachers what they are worth, in which case you should pay them more so that you are competitive. We have that problem in most of the US because teachers unions force schools into contracts that pay people by time in the job, with no differentiation for harder degrees or special skills like math and physics. Maybe the UK is similar, but regardless, you need to pay people a competitive wage, not make college free. If you don't, they'll get a free math degree off of your taxpayers and continue to take jobs in finance and industry. They aren't taking those jobs *just* to pay off their loans, they're taking them because they pay more period.

Nothing gets fixed by more government involvement and making everything "free".

Comment Re:You mean "forced to pay, whether you attend or (Score 1) 537

A better educated population benefits society as a whole. So those who don't attend university benefit when other do - they get better doctors, better engineers designing and building their infrastructure and so on.

That's a nice sounding little statement from an emotional perspective, but is unlikely to be true. Someone who is paying for their education is likely to work harder, so as not to waste their money, which will lead to them becoming better educated. And someone who has no desire for more learning after high school is unlikely to spend their money on college. On the other hand, make it "free" and then all those same people who may not be interested in learning will start going, because who doesn't want a four year party free from parents and working a real job? Just because more people show up, doesn't mean "society is better educated" (and given the insanity going on right now at places like Mizzou and Yale, where students are calling for repealing the first ammendment, having safe spaces, etc, I'd argue society is becoming less educated at college, but that's a topic for another day).

The part of the role of government is the pooling and allocation of resources.

Unless you are a communist like Marx or Lenin, that is not the role of government. Government's role is to keep us free and preserve our rights, including our core rights of life, liberty and property. Taking people's property away by force to redistribute it and spend it how the government deems "best" is most assuredly not a valid role of government, especially under the US constitution.

Comment Re:No (Score 1) 537

It wasn't that long ago that nobody needed a professional degree, even for a lot of occupations we would assume were necessary.

College degrees still ought not to be necessary, but the problem is that our public schools have so dumbed down what is expected of high schoolers, and so many schools are failing, that the high school diploma tells you nothing about the student anymore. And there are other problems. My sister is a high school teacher and she's constantly getting yelled at by parents because she gives kids the grade they deserve rather than the high grade parents think their special snowflake should get. She doesn't willingly change any grades, but has been forced by the administration to do so before, and other teachers are also more willing to change grades. And if you think parents are unwilling to accept low grades, just imagine how unwilling they are to accept kids being held back or not graduating. That no longer happens at all. Kids don't get held back, and they are basically guaranteed to graduate at age 18 regardless of performance or achievement.

In the face of all that, a high school degree has become fairly meaningless. You have no idea if the GPA was earned or modified, you have no idea if they learned anything, or even if they truly met the requirements to graduate. In my opinion that's why a college degree is now required for jobs that don't need it: employers still trust that if you fail in college you will generally be kicked out, whereas an 18 year old at a sixth grade reading and math level will probably still graduate from many of our public schools.

In short, this is another reason NOT to have free college for all, because for most it will become a free four years of partying away from mom and dad, and will probably get just as dumbed as well once it starts being routine for all as high school is today. Then we'll all have to get masters or PhDs to do the things a high school degree once sufficed for.

Comment Re:No (Score 1) 537

Shifting the costs is the point here: college students are the ones least able to pay for their own education.

No, shifting the costs is not what you want to do. You want to make the student bear the costs specifically so that they have an incentive to make smart decisions. You want to discourage mass numbers of people from attending college simply to have a four year party and take the easiest or most useless degree they can. Having students be responsible for paying helps to dissuade that (somewhat).

If a student takes a major that is in demand and has a reasonable likelihood of getting a job and a good salary (and that doesn't come from a university charging a ridiculous amount), then they can bear the cost. If not now, then at least sometime after graduation. Some may still take the dumb majors anyway, but then by bearing the cost they will learn and teach their kids. I remember my dad took one of those majors and has never used it in his entire working career. He told me he'd help with my college costs, but only "if you go get a major that involves an actual skill. If you take something dumb like me you can pay 100% of it yourself."

I strongly suspect a lot of millenials (of which I am one) have or are learning about this, and the next generation hopefully will have a lot less people enrolling in these types of majors because of it, assuming we don't bail them all out.

Comment Re:Offshore wind (Score 1) 645

Lol, I'm from Iowa, and wind farms kill a LOT more creatures than nuclear generally does. They are doing way more to wipe out endagered species of eagles than poachers could ever do. Plus, even though they may not blow up, they shut down all the time when the wind doesn't blow. They are a ridiculous source of energy. If you want your eagles to live and don't want everything electrical in your city to shut down every time the wind stops, you'd better find something else.

But like most environmentalists, it's probably better for you to make yourself "feel green" by supporting wind than actually pick something useful or address the massive killings of flying creatures, right?

Comment Re:Offshore wind (Score 1) 645

Plus politicians like the late Teddy Kennedy heavily fight offshore wind turbines because they don't want the turbines cluttering up their views from their coastal mansions, such as the view they had in Hyannis Port at the Kennedy compound. But they have no problem cluttering up our beautiful views all across Iowa. Bunch of hypocrites, all the environmentalists and left wing politicians.

Wind is one of the most expensive forms of energy out there. Way more so than nuclear. My relatives live in rural Iowa literally right next to a windfarm, and you also have the problem that some days when you look out there, not a single turbine is moving. Yep, when the wind doesn't blow, do we just turn everything off? That's another good reason to go nuclear... you need something that works all the time. Wind and solar are no replacement for fossil fuels because they don't work at all times, but nuclear could be.

Comment Re:Seems overly optimistic (Score 1) 259

They're probably already capable of a coast-to-coast autonomous trip - in good weather. What's uncertain is if they can cope with really poor driving conditions.

Lol, exactly. Googles designs its cars in sunny southern California, with programmers who are southern drivers. I for one can't wait to see them attempt to perform in Minneapolis. If the programmers in the South West have programmed the cars to make decisions the way they make decisions when driving (which is a reasonable assumption), then I expect that they will respond like all southern drivers: when the first snowflake appears, they will immediately pull over to the side of the road and wait for the spring thaw!

Comment Not confident about the "machine learning" thing (Score 1) 259

It seems unlikely that they'll transition from this to true autonomous long distance operation in 3 years.

Plus the whole "machine learning" thing he's counting on to make this work sounds more like a buzzword than any kind of reality. Machines don't learn. We don't even understand how we learn or how our brain works, and we certainly haven't made any serious progress in making a machine "learn". What we have done is come up with better statistical models and the ability to update those models and rulesets, which can allow the car to make better programmatic choices in a larger variety of situations, but really, there's no learning going on. Just humans continuing to refine and fine tune code that handles hard problems. If his humans can get the technology working in three years (which sounds overly optimistic to me too), then great, but it's not like you can just send the car to a driver's ed course and it will "machine learn" how to drive better while in the class.

And I do agree with others who are skeptical that the security implications of this have been worked out. I'm particularly not a fan of a car being able to go long distances without a human in it. I think the range should be limited to a couple blocks for parking convenience purposes, and that's it. Otherwise, you have the possibility of terrorists being able to construct car bombs in rural areas far from the eyes of the law, and then remotely command the cars to drive to populated areas and blow up while they sit undetected in safety somewhere. I don't think the human should necessarily have to be in the driver's seat, but there ought to be someone in the car to prevent these things from becoming autonomous warfare drones.

Comment There will be a stampede of developers to Perl 6 (Score 2, Interesting) 131

It's funny how everyone here says "No one is going to try that". Actually, Perl 6, if it releases by Christmas, will probably be the hottest language around in the next year or two. And I'm not necessarily saying that because of it's merits (which I have not definitively assessed one way or the other). I'm saying that because developers are pretty much all about "Hey new shiny thing over here!".

It seems like pretty much every time a new language drops there's a stampede to it by developers just because its new. Hey, Ruby on Rails! Hey, there's C# over there! Hey, F#! Hey, Erlang! Hey, Javascript framework of January! Hey, Javascript framework of February! Hey, Javascript Framework of the second half of February! Whoa look, it's Coffeescript! ......... Hey, it's Perl 6!

Some of these of course are decent languages and frameworks and have staying power... others, perhaps not as much. We'll know after five years or so where Perl 6 is going to end up. But don't underestimate the ability of developers to stampede at something for no other reason than that it is new. I expect considerable chatter at some point just because it's the new kid on the block.

Comment Re:Perl? I thought most everyone moved on to Pytho (Score 2) 131

I'm actually faced with this dilemma now, and I'm strongly considering Perl 6. I have to do a considerable amount of work with configuration files and text parsing as part of my job, and I'm willing to bet Perl can still do that better than anything else if I can achieve enough mastery in it, since that's basically what it's designed for. And Perl 6 is supposed to finally be adding objects, which was one of my big turn offs for Perl 5, so I'm hoping it will be a good fit for me. Also, I'm often under the gun when I'm doing this work, so something terse and expressive seems best.

Note - I tried filling this role with Powershell over the last few years, but it's a huge pain in the butt. It's hard to debug, and while I love the fact that it uses objects everywhere, it's not so great when I want to use "select-string" to grep some text and Powershell returns some crazy "match-info" object with all kinds of other nested objects I can't hardly begin to decipher (and this happens a lot... you want a command to return something simple and it returns some crazy complicated object). And creating a new object or class of your own on the fly in Powershell? Royal pain in the butt... better create the class in C# and import it. It just got to the point where I felt like it would be easier to write most of my stuff in C# to start with than use Powershell, unless it was just to run a series of Windows commands for which Powershell cmdlets had already been written.

I guess if Perl is too hard to learn though, I'll join the revolution and try Python. But I don't think I'm going to start there.

Comment Re:I've found the Perl 6 community to be dreadful. (Score 2, Interesting) 131

With C++, Java, PHP, or C# there is usually at least some consistency to the code from programmer to programmer...but not with perl. There are probably 500 different ways to do any common thing ("Hello world!") and what is clever, clear, and obvious to programmer A is completely unreadable and opaque to programmer B. Yes, there may be "more than one way to do it" in perl, but trust me, that's not always a good thing.

Hang on, you've obviously never coded much with C++ in the real world. I'll give you that Java and C# are fairly consistent, but absolutely no way with C++. That language is literally the "everything and the kitchen sink and the range rover, the dog, the refrigerator and everything in Walmart all thrown together" language. When you try to support every possible programming paradigm in a single language like C++, you can get programs that look like they were written in two different languages. It is not more consistent than Perl, and if there are 500 ways to do something in Perl it's probably a million in C++.

And as much as people hate php, it's nearly impossible to crash it so hard that it won't at least give you some info about the problem that caused it to choke on. It's a billion times easier to debug than perl.

Again, if we are going to talk about debugging, I would strongly dispute the Perl is the hardest. I know you mentioned PHP in this part of the quote, but if you want to talk about hard debugging, I would again refer you to C++. Operator overloading? Check... that can make things crazy. Not to mention C++ is not an interpreted language, but a compiled language, and you can be doing very low level things with it. You can get into some very hard situations to debug in that language.

And actually, I want to state for the record I'm not a C++ hater. It was my first language and still one of my favorites (next to C). Despite the difficulties it's an incredibly powerful language. And it's the same with Perl. Certainly I prefer a language that is simpler all else being equal, but there are languages like Perl and C++ that overcome their craziness to be something quite powerful anyway. And I'm not putting down some of the "simpler" languages like Java or C# either, because they are also excellent, powerful languages. Each has their place... for general development I'd pick Java or C#, but for concise easy text parsing Perl is probably best, and for interacting with hardware or doing things really optimally it would be hard to beat C++ (or C).

Comment Re:'Open, therefore secure', LOL (Score 1) 214

You can never (in practice and under usual economic border conditions) make closed source secure. On the other hand, while you must make it open in order for it to be possibly secure, you must do other things in addition.

Really, get a grip on basic logic and stop claiming bullshit.

Sorry, but I've spent WAY too much time over the last year or two dealing with huge vulnerabilities in open source to believe any of the stuff you are spouting. OpenSSL alone (Heartbleed and several other critical flaws) has cost me a huge amount of time, and that's one of those open source security related products that theoretically will attract the most auditing attention and should be "secure due to the number of eyeballs theoretically always auditing it". Yet despite being open, it has not become secure, or even close to secure.

On my web hosting team (which hosts thousands of websites and uses both Linux and Windows), we have spent far less time over the last couple of years patching or dealing with closed source critical Windows vulnerabilities than we have spent on various open source critical vulnerabilities. Things always go in cycles, and probably we'll have a year here soon where Windows racks up the most major headaches again, but the point is, there's no way you can claim you can "never make closed source secure" but that "making it open could make it possibly secure if you take some additional steps". That's all nonsense. Neither model is any better than the other when it comes to security, and neither can ever be made totally secure, especially as complexity continues to rise.

Open source has its benefits, but security has never been one of them, as recent history demonstrates. It just seemed that way for a while when it had less of an install base. Now that everyone, even commercial products, are embedding open source packages like OpenSSL into them, the target base is easily big enough to invite the black hat attention, and we see that things are basically the same as they are for closed source packages with a large install base.

PS - The Linux foundation is working with researchers to make a huge push to audit OpenSSL to look for issues. This, again, proves things are the same between open and closed source. Windows gets repeatedly, badly owned, and Bill Gates writes his secure computing memo directing a huge amount of resources at security training and auditing, and things do actually improve (though they are never perfect). Now, OpenSSL gets owned, someone directs huge resources at it, and it will probably improve, in the same way and for the same reasons as closed source. Put the resources behind it, you can improve security, but without a dedicated, directed push, things slide in both models because programmers, whether in closed or open shops, are in general are fairly lazy and like new shiny things, and don't really enjoy doing mundane boring tasks like auditing old code.

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