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Comment Thanks for everything (Score 1) 1521

The news, the views, the entertainment, the flames, the trolls, the goat stuff, the polls, and for welcoming anyone with the temerity to post a comment into the community of geekdom, and of course for putting Hope College on the map. It's been fun, and surely will survive your departure. Wishing all the best for you and your family.

Comment They seem to reproduce on my bookshelves (Score 1) 283

Danged if I know where all my books come from. They just keep piling up. I get some from the library, buy some at tag sales, some arrive as gifts or review copies, some are left by guests. Three times in my life I have bought homes that came fully furnished -- including lots and lots of books. I keep selling them, donating them to rummage sales and sending friends home with armloads of them, but every time I look on my bookshelves there seem to be more. I got a Kindle for Christmas, and it's handy for travel, but when I'm at home, it's cheaper just to dive into the pile of books that are already here.

Comment Are you out of yr. mind? (Score 5, Interesting) 270

Go with the flow. Enjoy everything a remote wilderness island in Canada has to offer. Do you think the rest of the world will wilt in despair just because you miss a post or two? Be here (there) now! Enjoy the scenery. Soak in the views! You are in a high latitude during the longest days of the year. How often do you think you will get to have an experience like this? Stop to smell the wild roses. Catch a fish. Cook it in a pan with just butter and maybe some s&p. The "wired" world will still be there when you emerge, but you may never have this experience again. Unplug. Live. Enjoy. Experience. Take some pictures ...or make some sketches (yes, we're talking pencil and paper, maybe even the brown paper your groceries came wrapped in). Upload them when you get back to wherever you currently live. Maybe next year you will go to Africa.

All the best

Comment Except when you actually need it (Score 1) 233

My aunt, acting on the advice of her doctor, had a baseline mammogram done when she turned 40. Fast-forward 15 years, when a mammogram showed some abnormalities and she was told to bring in her old ones for comparison. She went to the hospital where the first test was done and they said, "Oh, we only keep X-rays on file for 10 years."

Comment Tabernash, Colorado -- we be chillin' (Score 1) 525

We had a bit of frost yesterday morning in our little mountain hamlet (elevation 8,500 ft). Summer mornings run in the 30s-40s range; afternoons can climb to the 70s or even low 80s for short periods. The wildflowers are blooming profusely. There are still patches of snow on the surrounding higher mountains. So I guess you could say it's "not so hot" here, but that hardly describes the situation.

Comment Native Alaskan/African American, or what? (Score 2, Interesting) 489

We are so-called Caucasians. We were living in Alaska when our son was born. He amused himself on taking the PSAT test, by checking off the box for "Native Alaskan." His classmate, a so-called Caucasian who was born in South Africa to a white South African family who later immigrated to the USA, wondered if he should check off the box "African-American."

By the way, what "color" are people who actually live in the Caucasus, how do they describe themselves, and how did we "white folks" happen to be called Caucasians? My ancestors came from Ireland. I think there is a new book out called "The History of White People" that tackles this bizarre subject.

Comment A newspaper reporter's notebook (Score 1) 373

They are somewhat thinner in width than a stenographer's notebook and fastened with a spiral ring at the top. It fits in the palm of your hand, so you can hold it in one hand and scribble notes with the other. It's especially handy for a left-handed person. When you're finished, you can stand it up on your desk and transcribe the notes, flipping through the pages as you like. Another good option is the yellow legal pad - either letter or legal size

Comment Re:It's about social status... (Score 1) 836

Just face it, you're getting too old for slashdot :) About half the people arguing with you are just trying to justify all the money they spent or are spending on education. Yes, you need calculus in academic disciplines, including computer science. You also need it in highly technical or scientific fields, like rocketry, engineering, image processing, etc. Of course, learning computer science does not necessarily teach anyone how to make good software, and in some cases an inverse correlation may be observed.

I think it's really sad how our society basically devalues skilled labour. That's what writing good software is, after all. The attitude of businesses seems to be that people are more or less replaceable and therefore expendable, and people have responded by outrageously increasing their qualifications. This costs society a lot of money in wasted time, lost productivity, lost income, and stunted career progression. The quality of education has also deteriorated under the extremely high demand. This is inflation in education: the amount of it goes up as its value drops.

It does not make sense for most software developers to have a four year computer science degree. It's hard to see what they could need beyond a solid understanding of algorithms and data structures, and exposure to different programming languages. You could learn it in two years, but it would be quite hard. Or you could learn the basics in one year and do a year of apprenticeship and two years as a journeyman to get it all. But it doesn't work that way anymore, because a great many businesses refuse to bear the costs of educating their employees. It's stupid short-term thinking, and they pay for it in other ways, but all of the career risk has been pushed onto the labour force.

So what are you missing? The value of an education is really what you make of it. I guess the best way to explain it is with an analogy. If you were to get an English degree you would study Shakespeare. It may or may not help you write a good play. If you were talented, you might pick up something from Shakespeare. Or you could study Shakespeare with great dedication, and practice writing until your work really compares. Or you could bullshit, plagiarize, and plead your way though a degree and go on to write travesty after travesty to be inflicted on an unsuspecting public. In any case, someone with a BA in English had better know Shakespeare. That's just expected, because it's part of a body of knowledge. It may or may not be related to the skills that employers are looking for.

Universities exist to maintain and expand bodies of knowledge. That's it. To the extent that they have been used as a "shortcut" for employee training or certification, it is highly unfortunate and detrimental to society as a whole. I wouldn't deny the right of an education to anyone, but society has misconstrued its purpose.

Comment "mature" game does not mean good game (Score 1) 186

Too many games are retarded, and a lot of people who play them are probably retarded too. It's like any other form of mass entertainment. Supposedly "mature" games are mostly mindless violence. I think "mature" means "appeals to 13 year olds instead of 10 year olds" here. It's one or two steps up from "My Pony Party". Do you want a good game for the Wii? Try Muramasa. It has a good story, incredible art, and it's a lot of fun to play. Is that a mature game? I would say so. It's a lot more mature than sawing people to death (what the hell?). Developers: stop complaining that your retarded shit doesn't sell. I'm sure lots of even more retarded shit sells like hotcakes, and that seems mighty unfair, but nobody cares nor should they care. Try making something that isn't totally brain dead.

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