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Comment Re:Michael Flynn Jr believes it (Score 1) 540

The great virtue of Democracy is not in ensuring good government, it's in getting rid of bad governments.

The fact that Congress is so reviled yet stable indicates we're no longer a functioning democracy. We're a plutocracy, where elections are determined by overwhelming advantages in fundraising.

Comment Re:Tempests and Teapots (Score 2) 134

US kids don't need more computer science, US companies are already (still) offshoring tech jobs as fast as they can.

Well, it's not so simple as that. Let me illustrate.

The average salary of a software engineer in San Jose is $110,000. The average salary for a software engineer in Omaha NE is $77,629/year. So why aren't software companies setting up shop in Omaha? Possibly, they should. But the size of the talent pool around San Jose is immensely larger, making it more likely you can find exactly what you need if you're an employer. The market says that's worth paying a 42% salary premium.

Software is almost unique in its ability for workers to create the need for even more workers. If you are producing washing machines, the demand curve for washing machines doesn't shift because you make more of them. But the demand for software as a whole can. Software isn't like washing machines, because it isn't just one thing that addresses a single need. It's many things, some of which create new needs. The 130,000 people working for Oracle create many times that number of tech jobs -- for good and bad reasons. Who knows how many jobs the 700 people working for Canonical create, both users, app developers, and even developers of derivative distros.

I happen to agree that US kids don't need computer science, but for different reasons. You can't really learn much computer science until you've had at least high school math, so what they're really talking about is vocational training for programmers. That's an utter waste of time. Employers want at least *some* college, if not a degree, and if you're talking about middle school kids the training you give them is likely to be obsolete by the time they enter the workforce.

Which doesn't mean I think teaching kids to program in Python or (depending on their age) Logo isn't a good idea. A little programming is a useful skill across many professions. But there are only so many class hours in a child's education, and you have to look very sharply for anything resembling diminishing returns. In my state Kindergartners are being assigned homework, believe it or not, because of the curriculum pressure in higher grades. Kindergarten is covering material that used to be covered in first grade, and day care providers (even small operations run out of the provider's home) are expected to take early childhood education classes and do what used to be done in kindergarten.

There's just no room to put more stuff in unless it's extremely useful.

Comment Re:Why air gaps? (Score 2) 233

If you're talking about things that happen with p < 10^-5 you can can't test to any kind of reasonable confidence level. Engineers have to use the collective experience of the profession as a whole as a guide, in addition to actual testing.

Since phone design is interdisciplinary -- involving marketing, industrial design and engineering -- engineers will just have to push back when the designers and marketers try to take that half millimeter away. This case will be a touchstone for future generations of EEs, the way the Tacoma Narrows Bridge is for civil engineers and Therac-25 is for software engineers.

Comment Re:Dangerous (Score 1) 343

I'm pretty sure I'd see features like independently powered exit row lighting, emergency exits, inflatable slides/rafts, life vests etc.

In design and engineering you can't make things failure-proof, but you can plan for certain failure-modes. Yeah, if you lose a wing at 10,000 feet or do a nose dive at Mach 2 into the ground nobody is going to survive. But there is plenty of design that goes into an airplane that is aimed at very rare situations like the loss of all engines.

Comment Re:Unfortunately no and I have a reason (Score 1) 360

The Abelson and Sussman textbook, Structure and Interpretation of Computer Programs, uses LISP (actually Scheme). There are quite a few LISP fanatics who passionately feel it is still the best programming language made, citing such reasons as the simplicity of writing an interpreter for it. However, that textbook is pretty difficult. The authors didn't appreciate how hard recursion can be for many students to understand, and LISP and functional programming in general uses recursion so heavily it's the proverbial hammer for every nail of a programming problem.

Well, that's what you get when you beta test your textbook with MIT students. But that said, CLRS is no picnic for people who aren't very good at math, either.

Comment Re:Analyzing a car purchase over 1 year? (Score 1) 36

True. And the cost/arrest concept is broken too. Would the arrests have been made anyway? Could they have been made another way?

When people have a tool they use it, whether it is the use-case that was supposed to justify the purchase -- and that can be a good thing (because the widget is earning its keep) or a bad thing (using a tool that's overkill, to expensive to operate, or counterproductive). The real question is what did they specifically buy this for? If the cost justification was that it was going to allow them to make x arrests per year, it's probably a failure. If the cost justification is some other kind of scenario that doesn't necessarily happen every year (e.g. the Beltway Sniper), then the question is whether they're using this thing reasonably.

Comment Re:Stop using cars at all. (Score 1) 238

Which precisely describes the opposite of Paris, Mexico City, Madrid and Athens.

Nobody is saying you ought to be forced to take the streetcar from Mayberry to Petticoat Junction. From Monmarte to the Bastile -- transit makes more sense than driving, especially if you factor in time for parking.

Comment For the Bank of Russia it's not even pocket change (Score 3, Insightful) 78

It's just numbers on a spreadsheet. The Bank of Russia is Russia's central bank and there is literally no amount of money you can steal from a central bank that will harm it. That's because they're the people who issue the fiat in "fiat currency".

The harm is to the economy as a whole, in the form of inflation. In this case we're talking about the release of thirty one million spurious extra bucks into a two trillion dollar economy. Just a tiny bit of inflation, diluted to homeopathic concentrations and applied to everyone who uses rubles.

Of course the bank has to pursue this because it undermines confidence in the system, but this is as close to a victimless crime as any illegal way of obtaining thirty-one million dollars can be.

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