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Comment Re:Wow (Score 1, Insightful) 832

It's really nice that he's decided to do this awesome thing with his money, but the system that allows this is horrible. Instead of allocation of this helpful money by democracy, we've settled on a system that appears to be out of the middle ages. We have a set of wealthy lords who then decide what to do with all the money, with basically zero accountability.

"Philanthropy" is an unethical way to allocate society's resources. When something good comes out of it, we praise that particular "lord", but we've ignored all the others who squandered their money on jewels and yachts while poor people starve and die of diseases.

Comment Re:I've been doing my own thing (Score 1) 50

The problem with Pimsleur is that it's a low amount of content per minute. It's good for an intro, but it doesn't really get you anywhere great overall. For a step-by-step course, I far prefer any of the Assimil courses, because they are actually packed quite full of material, and have excellent audio. Once you've bootstrapped yourself a little bit in the target language, I suggest going straight to real books in the language, in combination with the audiobook. I actually just wrote about getting started in a new language last week. The basic idea is that you need "comprehensible input", as the linguist Stephen Krashen would say. By trying to read a real book, you work with material that is interesting, and you can actually get a decent sense of the story even with only a minimal understanding of the language, as long as it's reasonably close to a language you already know. I did this with German, where I couldn't understand books or tv, and I couldn't have a conversation, but I kept on reading Harry Potter in German while listening to the German audiobook. In book 1, I was pretty lost, but I kept on going, and by book 5 I understood almost everything.

Comment Re:Never, ever, ever, ever trust the government (Score 1) 275

I'm Canadian, I'm a well-paid Data Center Technician, and I pay less than 30% tax. My company also pays the minor extra fee for medical stuff, so I've actually never seen a medical bill or fee of any sort for years. And clearly, as the parent mentions, not all of my 30% tax rate is going to the medical system.

Memorizing Language / Spelling Techniques? 237

NotesSensei writes "My kids are learning Chinese in school. While the grammar is drop-dead simple, writing is a challenge since there is no relation between sound and shape of the characters. I would like to know any good techniques (using technology or not) to help memorize large amounts of information, especially Chinese characters. Most of the stuff I Googled only helps on learning speaking."

Comment Perceptions from Vancouver (Score 5, Interesting) 356

It's amusing to me that the world sees Vancouver as promoting these "green" olympic technologies, but we here in Vancouver are not fooled by the greenwashing (well, at least some of us). It's been nice and warm here lately, as is usual in Vancouver in the winter, so in order to keep snow on the local mountain where some of the skiing and snowboarding events are, they have to truck it in from another mountain that's quite some distance away. Then they use helicopters to bring the snow from where the dump trucks are, to the event location. The snowboarding halfpipe is actually constructed using hay bales stacked like lego blocks, and then they apply snow on top like icing on a cake. Any idea what the carbon footprint is of a helicopter bringing snow to the top of a mountain is? or the mining trucks used to haul it around?

Then there are the ~100,000 trees cleared for olympic venues, the massive highway expansion that was unnecessary for the games, the construction of huge buildings for various events at a time when homelessness has been increasing for years. The whole thing is a big PR scam, but for the past few weeks it seems like most of the vancouverites on facebook have been abuzz about how silly the whole thing is....except the opening ceremonies for some reason...everyone got all weirdly patriotic about that, which is unusual for Canadians.

Comment mistaken analysis (Score 4, Insightful) 236

The poster here is making a big mistake about government. He is assuming that politicians are dumb and uninformed, and have made these bad decisions through ignorance. This assumption leads to the idea that "if only they knew", then they'd choose to make good, smart decisions that benefit the rest of us. If this were the case, all we'd need to do is educate them and things would get better.

In fact, what we have is a group of wealthy smart businessmen whose financial interests conflict with ours. They have made a series of decisions that benefit themselves and their wealthy friends (who will scratch their backs later when they retire from politics and need a cushy position on someone's corporate board). They are not stupid, and quite often not so misinformed as we would like to think.

Typically what is happening in one of these situations where some certain politician has one of these "epiphanies" is that he just wants to change his position on something because he has decided that it will benefit him. He makes out like he's been misinformed and has discovered the light. By implying that the opposing side is an unjust position, he's making a persuasive argument for people to support his position.

Comment "latest fully patched" (Score 2, Insightful) 342

Sorry, how many users are actually using the latest fully patched version of IE? Google is still trying desperately to phase out IE 6, of which there are still many users. Perhaps as a "neutral" gesture to throw MS a bone, they could make an announcement saying "Upgrade to the latest IE8, or to another browser such as Firefox, Chrome, etc. Your current version of IE is probably ass^H^H^Hinsecure".

Will the Earth's Tail Fry Moon Visitors? 166

Roland Piquepaille writes "Researchers working for NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter mission have discovered that the Earth's magnetic tail could be harmful to future astronauts. The moon stays inside Earth's 'magnetotail' for six days every month — during full moon. This can have consequences ranging from lunar 'dust storms' to strong electrostatic discharges, according to one researcher quoted by NASA in 'The Moon and the Magnetotail.' So far, this is pure speculation: no man has been on the moon when the magnetotail hits. As added the same scientist, 'Apollo astronauts never landed on a full moon and they never experienced the magnetotail.' But read more for additional details about how Earth's magnetotail could affect men on the moon."

Comment qualitative vs. quantitative (Score 0) 133

Nice article! I thought it was an interesting way to bring a qualitative feel back into software development. In a word of mathematics and code, we often lose sight of those qualitative things in favour of hard numbers. I think developers too often live in the analytical world like european Chess when they should be combining intuition with analysis like in Go / Weiqi.

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