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Comment Re:News for nerds, how? (Score 1) 406

Depends on how old the loans are, actually. Nowadays the federal government is the originator and servicer of all student loans. I am not sure if they bought older loans off the books of other originators or not.

Not sure how the details of the forgiveness aspect works for these cases, but I doubt the gov't is asking any servicers of government backed student loans to take a loss.

This option for forgiveness in the case of disablement was actually already available, but I guess it was a huge bureaucratic headache to actually get it done if you applied for it. Thus it was almost never used. Apparently what they have done is streamline the process to make it much easier, and send out notices to those eligible. Hardly an earth-shattering change.

Lastly, the government loans out money to students, and takes payments with interest in return. It does not cost the taxpayers a dime, as the government actually makes money on the loans it issues. In this case, the 'taxpayers' being burdened are the students actively paying their debt, as the interest could be construed as a tax going into federal coffers. So you have students paying back loans, and subsidizing the forgiveness of loans for some.

There's a broader point to be made about whether the debt should be forgiven based on how disabled someone actually is. Disability fraud is a big thing, and this might make it bigger. Also, I've met blind, deaf, wheelchair-bound, and one-armed people at all levels of academia. So there is at least some question as to whether your disability actually inhibits you from performing in your chosen career. Lose function of an arm and a leg due to a stroke? That concert pianist job you had is probably gone for good. But a computer programmer might be more or less unaffected. It would have to be on a case-by-case basis to get it right. But that more nuanced discussion is not what you brought up at all.

Comment Re:Big freakin whoopdie doo (Score 1) 157

I took a graduate course in manufacturing reliability when I was in grad school. One of the more interesting things I learned from that class was that the Japanese recognized very quickly that the US car market was their best chance at international success, being the largest market around at the time. They figured the best way to win the market was by building a reputation as a reliable car manufacturer.

All parts off the line obviously have a desired spec, with an allowable tolerance. Actual parts produced vary a bit within that tolerance, and a few will even fall out of it. So they built a system where the car parts that matched spec most closely were used to build cars destined for the US. Parts inside the spec tolerance, but not at the same "A-level, spot on" were used to build cars destined for Japan and Europe. Car parts that were barely in tolerance or even out of it were used to build cars for Africa. So the US market got cars that were noticeably "better" than the US manufacturers. The US manufacturing capabilities weren't actually that much worse than the Japanese, but they didn't presort their cars by expected reliability for separate markets like the Japanese makers, which led to a lot more "lemons" showing up in car lots.

That was all back in the 70s. Obviously things have changed since then. But, according to my reliability engineering professor, that was how the Japanese automaker built their US reputation for quality.

Submission + - Debate Intensifies Over Dark Disk Theory (quantamagazine.org)

An anonymous reader writes: Since proposing the model in 2013, Randall and her collaborators have argued that a dark disk might explain gamma rays coming from the galactic center, the planar distribution of dwarf galaxies orbiting the Andromeda galaxy and the Milky Way, and even periodic upticks of comet impacts and mass extinctions on Earth, discussed in Randall’s 2015 popular-science book, Dark Matter and the Dinosaurs.

But astrophysicists who do inventories of the Milky Way have protested, arguing that the galaxy’s total mass and the bobbing motions of its stars match up too well to leave room for a dark disk. “It’s more strongly constrained than Lisa Randall pretends,” said Jo Bovy, an astrophysicist at the University of Toronto.

Now, Randall, who has devised influential ideas about several of the biggest questions in fundamental physics, is fighting back. In a paper posted online last week that has been accepted for publication in The Astrophysical Journal, Randall and her student, Eric Kramer, report a disk-shaped loophole in the Milky Way analysis: “There is an important detail that has so far been overlooked,” they write. “The disk can actually make room for itself.”

Comment Re:What abt people who don't want kids? (Score 1) 265

?
The false dichotomy is pretty clear. He did not simply say that adopting is an unselfish act, perhaps more so than having your own natural child. He said that having your own children is selfish, and that the only way to raise a child unselfishly is to adopt. That pretty clearly sets up a false choice.

So I'm just confused why I'm being called selfish for making that choice, when I never asked or advocated for "handouts" from anybody to do it. And if your position is that parents are necessarily defined by being selfish at some deep core level... Well, okay then, but then why should I feel shame about it? That would speak to a pretty essential part of being human.

Comment Re:What abt people who don't want kids? (Score 1) 265

What's even funnier is the constant ad hominem attack, when I point out in another post elsewhere in the thread that I agree that paid paternity/maternity leave (of which I have received NONE) is an unfair perk, and I think it would be better if employees simply had much better access to generous vacation time.

Regardless of your thoughts on this subject, you really have a lot to learn about positive and productive human interactions. Agree it is best for you not to have kids.

Comment Re:What abt people who don't want kids? (Score 1) 265

It's funny because properly raising a child is one of the least selfish things you can do... It requires you to think of another person above yourself.

You, on the other hand, can only think of how someone is getting a "free vacation" on your dime, and lack a shred of empathy for your fellow man who have given in to one of the most common human instincts out there, procreation.

Comment Re:What abt people who don't want kids? (Score 1) 265

Yeah, I have a couple of thoughts about that, as a new parent myself (baby is 11 weeks old). Granted, for places that offer paid leave, it must seem like a free vacation to some. But paid leave for a new child isn't exactly a vacation. It is mostly an exhausting and stressful period of time, as well as one that is of critical importance to the development of the child. Honestly, I'm generally more worn out each day than I was when I was in grad school.

I do, however, agree that non-parents can get the shaft in a number of ways for time off, and that paid leave does amount to an added "perk" for those that choose to have kids. As a compromise, I would settle for a much higher minimum standard on annual vacation, say from 6-8 weeks somewhere. Then, a simple rule: you can use up to 26 weeks (6 months) of vacation time for family leave whether you have it accumulated yet or not. If you don't have it accumulated, you go negative, and will owe your employer that amount of pay when you separate if you don't accumulate back up to 0. A brand new employee might be hesitant to take all 26 weeks for fear of owing a ton of money in the event of a separation, but a "forgiveness" could be made in the event of a forced layoff or something. To reduce negative hours for newer staff, you could also use a shorter term, or stipulate lower pay. Example: give yourself half pay for 16 weeks and use only 8 weeks of vacation, which will be made up within 2 years easily assuming you start with 0 accumulated. You can still charge vacation hours while you are making up your time, but are limited to 1 week per year until you get back up to zero. It would skew the benefit towards more senior staff, but would still be hugely better than what most people currently get.

Aside: I got my 12 weeks of FMLA, but it was unpaid unless I used vacation time, which I only accumulate 2 weeks of per year and didn't have anywhere close to enough of. I'm the dad, so it was back to work for me. But my wife just quit her job, which also gave a whole heaping 0 weeks of paid leave. You want to know where the "gender gap" comes from in the workplace payscales? Look no further than interrupted careers due to childrearing, due to the fact that you can't get any paid leave but yet still need to raise a child. Then people look at you funny and lowball your salary when you come looking for a job again a year later because you have a "blank spot" on your resume.

Comment Re:Not just a bathroom law (Score 1) 1095

While I agree with the sentiment of your post, I would like to point out that while laws such as this one and the recent one in Indiana are clearly targeted at the LGBT community, that there is in fact a legitimate argument to be made for laws like these. (By "laws like these", I mean "Worded differently to prevent LGBT discrimination").

The main point would be to force businesses and other enterprises to make reasonable accomodations for sincerely held religious beliefs. One of the examples I read involves Native Americans who refuse to cut their hair for religious reasons. The problem is, prisons don't allow long hair, and neither do some employers nor the military. There have been many lawsuits over this, mostly ending in failure. But under these "religious freedom" laws, they can sue and potentially win as it is a reasonable exception for a sincerely held religious belief. Granted, the governor of Indiana and North Carolina aren't signing these laws because they give two hoots about hair lengths for Native Americans...

Comment Re:Not just a bathroom law (Score 1) 1095

Even if it were just a bathroom law... I simply can't understand why anyone in their right mind would want bathroom access and privileges codified into state law. I mean, this is the party of "small government", right? The ones against excessive regulation are now regulating who can use which bathroom in which places?

I have no problem using either one, myself. I'll use the men's (I am a man) preferentially, but if the men's room is occupied while the women's is vacant? Yeah, I'll jump right in there. I'll make a mental note that I can now get arrested in North Carolina for doing that because they make a big damn deal out of it.

Been in many restaurants, schools, etc, where there is a single stall unisex bathroom available, often labelled as a "family" restroom, and sometimes even as an only option. Not an ideal solution, but it seems that if I run an establishment that has somehow repeatedly run into issues with bathroom usage and people getting upset, I could install one of those, or just relabel both bathrooms as gender neutral. Problem solved, at least to the point where nobody can really complain one way or the other.

My mom was a school nurse for a high school in Oklahoma back in the 90s. There was a trans kid at the school, who got mercilessly teased when using the men's room, and who got outraged teen girls screaming when using the women's. The kid ended up using the gender neutral bathroom in the nurse's office exclusively. You might expect better behavior from the rest of the population that is done with high school, but I guess I expect too much...

Comment Re:Reputation, distribution and availability (Score 1) 191

Agreed on all counts.

There are things like ResearchGate, where you can post your published works and other researchers in your field can see them, regardless of whether they are on an institutional network or not, but posting something solely there, or on arxiv, does nothing to increase the visibility of your work as a researcher, which is the primary purpose of publishing in the first place. Plus, mainstream publishers have something of a duty to maintain their archives, as you allude to. ResearchGate, and even arxiv have no such duty to maintain your postings well into the future.

I generally don't like the fact that a huge swatch of academic papers hide behind paywalls. I've personally run into problems with access to relevant articles at major research institutions, because no institution subscribes to every relevant journal in every field. Personally, I've had good luck in those instances with simply emailing the lead author. They are usually easy enough to find, and I've never had one refuse to send me a pdf. As has been mentioned, academics generally want to distribute their work as far and wide as possible. Saying "No" means turning down a likely citation (or several).

Comment Re:Ok, so... (Score 1) 394

My solution if I am a professor is to simply to allow open book, or at least open note. That reduces the incentive to use a smartwatch or other 'banned' resource, as it doesn't provide an advantage, since other students will have pretty much the same tools at hand.

It's absolutely possible to design an open-book test that will still be challenging or impossible to those who are unprepared. If you are only testing student's ability to memorize rote facts and formulae that can easily be looked up, then your test is bad and people will find ways to cheat.

From years of TA'ing and proctoring university tests, I quickly learned to always have the bathrooms checked by someone shortly after the test began. Students would sometimes stash a bookbag of texts in the stalls if it was a closed book test.

Comment Re:This site is so biased now! (Score 1, Informative) 210

As the head of the department of state, she is the ultimate authority on what is "classified" and what is not, at least for information originating in the state department. While the vast, vast majority of federal workers could not do such a thing without going through a lot of bureaucratic channels, she is one of the very few people who can simply look at something and say "That document is not classified. Remove those headers and send it to me via email", and it is perfectly fine.

Not saying that is definitely what happened here, or that that situation accounts for 100% of the emails in question. But people seem to think she was a lot less powerful than she was. She was one of the top bureaucrats in Washington. Since I don't have access to all the ins and outs of her emails and what exactly they contain, I will be content to let the FBI sort it out and wait for their conclusion.

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