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Comment Re:Stupid predictions (Score 1) 224

The ability to identify a problem spontaneously (for instance, identifying and understanding that there is a problem in politics), having the necessary logic to look at the problem from multiple points of view, realizing things about a variety of issues (scarcity v private ownership, self interest v selflessness, freedom v the common good, etc.), realizing that maybe there is no 'right answer', but trying to do a better job than most media folks of identifying the issues, and articulating some ways that we could adjust our politics that would make things better.

But the computer must be intelligent enough to identify the problem (self directed instead of programmed) and come to it's own conclusions. An AI should be capable of working in the abstract, thinking philosophically, and understanding all sorts of things. Just because I can calculate doesn't mean that a device that calculates or simulates things is intelligent. It has no understanding, and therefore has no actual intelligence. Frankly, I don't think this is something computer science will ever overcome, and I'm OK with that.

Comment Re:What about Scientology, then? (Score 1) 527

Has anybody put their money where their mouth is and built a worship space for the FSM? Have people then made a time commitment to attending this space for worship on some defined schedule? Have there been any serious books published about what the existence of the FSM means for human existence, and do it in a way that some significant portion of humanity would consider it better than all of the alternatives?

Comment Re:Safely??? (Score 3, Insightful) 101

Earth is moving about 20% faster than Mars. What this means is that the optimal time to launch from Earth to Mars is when Earth is behind Mars. The space ship will continue to have a speed advantage which will have to be negated. Now, the travel time from Earth to Mars is so long that Earth will long pass Mars by the time the spacecraft reaches Mars. Now, since the Earth will be ahead and getting farther away, to catch the Earth before it goes around the Sun, the space craft would have to speed up the difference plus even more to actually catch up. Fuel efficiency wise, the mission will have to last about half a year before the astronauts have an opportunity to launch and head fly on an intercept course with Earth.

Comment Re:First grade? (Score 1) 145

You might be interested in Thomas Jefferson Education. They advise a phased learning system, love of learning, reading great books, and a variety of other concepts that you might be interested in.

First, they recommend letting kids learn through playing and having fun. Then, when they are ready, you start them on a Core, rather like the old reading, writing and arithmetic, although they recommend a character/religion component depending on your values. They don't proscribe what you use for materials, so if you want to use a mental math program, they would say go for it.

The second phase is love of learning, so children are recommended to explore what they are interested in. So if she is interested in science, find some books on experiments and others that relate to what they are interested in exploring, then explore them together. If that leads to an interest in a related subject or a new interest comes about, follow where the child leads, and they will lead themselves to a great education.

The final phase, begins in junior high or early high school and runs through college and can last rest of their life, and is called scholar phase. In this phase, the scholar structures their education with more rigor, and there are specific subjects that should be covered, like making sure any holes from their love of learning phase are covered.

My primary role in my children's education is to read to them on a regular basis. I've made a list of a couple of thousand books that are considered classics (I do have a website for this called Fanatics 4 Classics), and I pick and choose things that I think they are ready for based on their interests. So, in the past few years, we've read a lot of Roald Dahl because the kids laugh and giggle at the silly things that happen in his stories. Finding ways to make reading enjoyable is one of the most important things to get a child interested in books and learning. My second daughter has especially liked reading the Ramona Quimby stories, and my son has found he loves the Prydain novels even though he didn't care for the Disney Black Cauldron movie. (This is also great because I get to read the stuff I never had access to when I was younger.)

Comment Re:SubjectsInCommentsAreStupid (Score 1) 254

I especially like how LibreOffice handles some things better than MS office, but then I am a power user. (These are issues in Excel 2010)

Specifically, one thing I can think of off the top of my head, the Control + End key combo takes you to the cell that intersects the last row and column of the sheet in both Excel and Calc (This is highly efficient way of highlighting from a specific point to the end of the worksheet). In Calc, it takes you to the intersection of the current last row and cell. If you have thousands of rows of data, and then delete some, it will take you to the last row of the current data. But in Excel, it takes you to the intersection of the last row and column ever used in the sheet since it was created. If you delete some data, save, close and reopen the sheet, and press the Control + End, Excel will take you to the last row that ever had data even if the sheet is now thousands of rows shorter.

It drives me nuts because I have business users who use a template sheet to build data they want entered into our Oracle system. Even though they'll only have a few hundred rows of data, when select cell A2, then hit Control + End, I often end up thousands of rows away from where the data ends. Sure, I only have to hold Control+shift+up to get back to the current last row, but it's still the same lack of polish in Excel that most users think Calc has.

Another issue in Excel, If I update the format for a range of cells, from Scientific Notation to Text, because I pasted some shipping track numbers into a sheet and want it to show the complete number, it doesn't redisplay after changing the format from General to Text. You have to F2 followed by Enter for EVERY CELL to force Excel to show the correct formatting. That, or paste the values in then use the import wizard to paste in the text values. Or Paste, Set the format, then paste again. But for a low tech user, it just looks bad.

Comment Re:"in a western factory" (Score 1) 342

You are thinking of Germany relative to your perspective. Realize almost 60% of the world's population lives between Japan, and Eastern Europe, with most of the rest in Africa, Europe and the Western Hemisphere.

Western refers to society based on culture, laws and values that developed in Europe, starting with Greek and Roman civilizations, and shaped by Christianity (Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox), the Enlightenment, and the French and American revolutions, and dozens of wars and cultural movements in between. Western civilization refers to any country found in Europe (including Russia) and civilizations largely dependent upon Europe for it's founding, especially the entire Western Hemisphere and Australia which are largely populated by Europeans or natives who lived and were educated in societies ruled by Europeans.

Comment That's not it (Score 1) 405

There's a book about generational cycles called Generations that talks about how there is a 4 generation cycle that repeats itself every 80 years or so cause by shared life experiences that are shaped primarily by the emotional and attitudes of society in general and their parents in particular. So, the Millenials have been shaped in attitude by 9/11, the current international conflicts, and their parents' reactions to these events.

It's called Strauss-Howe generaitonal theory. Each generation is one of 4 types (the wikipedia page has the basics, the book is interesting). So what we have is the departure of the Baby boomers from the work force and the arrival of the Millenials and the maturing of Gen X from young adult to mature adult. With this change comes a change of attitude. So, most likely what we are experiencing (saying this as an X'er) is Gen X taking the reigns from the Boomers, and establishing efficiency and control mechanisms on the work place, within a Crisis Turning. Sometime early in the next decade, the next turning will start, as the last boomers turn 65 and we will begin a new High cycle, much like the period between the end of World War II and The assassination of JFK, the bookends of the last High.

They predicted our current Crisis environment (I read their later book, the Fourth Turning, from 1997) with a start date between 2000 & 2005, 18-23 years from 1982, the beginning of the last Turning.

Comment Re:Game balls (Score 1) 225

While these two spearheaded the current rule, I've read that more than 20 quarterbacks advocated for the rule. The point of allowing the teams to have the balls the week before the game is to allow equipment managers to massage the balls the week before the game to condition the balls to their quarterback's or wide receiver's preferences, mostly by wearing the waxy cover off the leather so the balls are less likely to slip. They may also be able to soften the leather through some method of their preference. The quarterbacks can then practice with the balls to ensure they like them. On game day the balls are all inflated and checked by officials before the game starts.

On this occasion, the Patriots ball manager, probably working with Brady's approval, took the balls from the officials, entered a restroom where no cameras present, came out less than two minutes later, and took the balls to the field. The official has been shown on video noticeably distraught because the balls were missing. He requested the reserve balls, but when the Patriots balls showed up on the field, allowed them to be used.

This will no doubt lead to several rule changes, and penalties for the Patriots and several employees.

The rules around the balls are all arbitrary. They could have a rule that a different ball is used on every play, and it must be new from the factory. They could have that each team can have a much wider range of inflation levels on the ball (8-15 lbs) instead of the current range. But the teams all have to agree to the rules, and everybody involved need to abide by those rules.

Comment Re: nonsense (Score 1) 532

Let's see, things were a mix of great, OK and awful when completely decentralized. Now, we have moved toward centralization, and we've gone toward mostly awful with a few bright spots left (not counting private schools since they are mostly fine and decentralized).

So where do I think it went wrong? The centralization of the money in the hands of the state and federal government, who have a strong incentive to cooperate with the union leaders who are probably friends of theirs since the unions help (re)elect those who promise to funnel more money their way.

Do you know what, I'd hate to be a great teacher and stuck getting paid on a pay scale based on seniority with the lazy bum down the hall who doesn't do a good job. I'd much rather have a system that gives me the freedom to compete to be a superior teach who makes a superior wage, even if it results in inequality. Do you know why? Because prices send information to people who want jobs, or students who are interested in becoming teachers. If science teaching jobs make $70,000 instead of $50,000 for an English teacher, that's a good thing. Do you know why? Because young scientifically minded students will see that, and say "I can make $70,000 to teach science? Sign me up."

I also think that the unions are a problem because all of the money being spent on education, how much is going to retirement benefits, with teachers claiming to be underpaid, but if you include their retirement, they may be making significantly above market value. How much is going to retired teachers who are outliving the administration's math on how much they needed to set aside to pay the teachers more in retirement than they made when they were in the classroom?

Comment Re:nonsense (Score 4, Interesting) 532

Single payer is bad. Do you want to know why? No competition. Imagine our politicians and doctors running our medical profession the same way our politicians and educational establishment worked together to destroy education in this country?

Do you want to know what will work at much lower cost than what we have? Turn the hospitals into co-ops. Instead of paying an insurance company, you pay a hospital for a monthly membership. If you have to go in, everything is already paid for. But, if you live in an area with a large enough population, you'll actually have choices, which will force the co-op to compete on price, efficiency and results with other co-ops. Perhaps the various doctors and other medical professionals in the area then come to an agreement with the various hospitals that they will treat your hospital membership like insurance, and the hospital could pay out for your preventative care like your insurance company. Or perhaps the co-op will hire the necessary personnel to provide all care except for extraordinary things (Exceptional care only provided by research institutions, etc, which they could contribute a certain amount to whether used or not, or pay as you go like insurance.)

With this model, you'll get the benefits of single payer with the added benefit of having choices, so you don't get stuck in a situation where there are 3 month waiting lists, but you can't do anything about it because you have no choice.

Comment Re: I cannot prove it, but I can say it? (Score 2) 302

There is not an economic failure in the state. There is a state government revenue shortfall, probably due to Brownback and the other Republicans in the state government trying to emulate Texas' tax code without some of the advantages that state has (lots of oil and multimillionaires), and over optimism about the growth the tax changes would cause.

I have family in rural Kansas, and their school budgets are being hit hard, forcing consolidations between different cities so they can consolidate administrative costs. The result is that some kids are being bussed 10-15 miles from their hometown to another town for school (not counting those that have to be on the bus for as much as half an hour before that because they are on a bus route and live 2-12 miles from town).

In my opinion, school funding should be driven at the local level instead of from the state and federal level. If you cut the taxes the appropriate amount at the state and federal level, then the money will be available for the local governments to raise taxes and pay and prioritize these issues locally (In the poor areas of KC, Topeka and Wichita, the state should pick up the slack). Then instead of people complaining that the state is dictating consolidation, the parents and tax payers in the city will have to face the facts about how much spending is appropriate in a town with 25 children, but at least they will have to come to grips with the facts, and they will have to make a decision made by them and their neighbors instead of the state government in Topeka.

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