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Comment Well with the "elite" schools it is often not that (Score 2) 214

For a regular school, particularly state school, then yes it gets stacked a lot by test scores and other academic indicators. The better you do academically, the more they are interested in you and the more money they'll try to give you to get you to attend.

However the "elite" schools have a whole bunch of good old boy shit going on. If you look at admissions in to places like Harvard you find that there are some legitimately top performers who come in, but a whole lot who are not and are instead connected some way. They are kids of alums, politically connected, rich, whatever. They are the "right kind of people" and so get the invite.

That's also the reason why parents want kids to go there is the connections. You don't get a better education at Harvard overall. Any university with a good program will do at least as well, and in plenty of disciplines there are schools ranked far better. However it further gets you in to the old boys club and gets you connections to people that gets your opportunities that would not otherwise be available later in life.

Comment Endowments (Score 3, Insightful) 214

If the Endowment is large enough they can give every student free tuition. If there is no endowment, everybody pays. In the middle, they need enough people paying full-boat to subsidize the kids who need a full ride. Look at the economics before you assume ill intent. There is no magic money and locking kids into thirty years of debt is no magnanimous gesture.

Comment Re:HBO needs to get its head back in the game (Score 1) 125

The HBO subscription is only worth it if you have a peer group that also has an HBO subscription and so it's important to watch things at the same time as them. I stopped buying DVDs about 10 years ago when renting became a lot cheaper than buying, but I've recently started again with boxed sets. Even if I only watch each episode once, it's cheaper than any of the streaming options, plus they're practically DRM free (as in, the DRM is so broken that it may as well not exist) and I can copy them to a mobile device for watching on long trips. Oh, and I get to wait until there are multiple years of something before I watch it.

I do wonder a bit what would happen to the economics of TV series production if most people did this. You'd expect a TV show to make a loss for the first few years, but then be profitable over a longer time, which is a very different model from the current mode of any profits after the first year are a nice bonus, but not factored into the accounting calculations.

Comment Re:Pleasant surprise (Score 1) 224

I think there's more at work here than simply China wanting to mitigate climate change. A long with signalling that Beijing intends to champion free trade, it's my view that China is basically saying "America is about to abrogate its role as a world leader, so we're going to step into the breach." I'm not criticizing China's stances on global warming and international trade, quite the opposite in fact, but I'm not too sure I like the idea of the autocrats in Beijing replacing Washington DC as the focal point of international relations, but then again, maybe some are right and the 21st century is China's century. Not so great for democracy, that's what I'm most concerned about.

Comment Re:Catastrophic man-made global warming (Score 1) 224

What does climate from 4 billion years ago have to do with anything? In fact, what does climate from even 100,000 years ago have to do with anything? Human civilization has evolved within fairly narrow climactic constraints. It did not arise in the Carboniferous epoch, nor did it evolve in Paleolithic. So what exactly is your point?

Comment Re:Saving the world with a Tax. (Score 3, Insightful) 224

The idea of a tax isn't as silly as you make it sound. The problem with most forms of pollution (from a purely economic standpoint) is that one person or company gains the benefits from polluting, but everyone pays the costs. This is known as an externality. Taxing pollution fixes this and means that the polluting technology becomes more expensive to operate and makes the barrier to entry for non-polluting technologies higher. If something is producing a lot of carbon dioxide but costs $5/widget, and you add a tax that amounts to $2.50/widget, then a replacement technology that doesn't emit any CO_2 but costs $7/widget is now cheaper to use. This means that you can bring it to market before you've got the economies of scale to push the price down below $5/widget.

Comment Re:solar/wind talk is spin - France vs China (Score 1) 224

Size doesn't really matter, because most renewable schemes scale with area. Population density does. France has 116/km^2, China has 145/km^2, so almost a 25% higher overall population density. That translates to a little bit less space for wind, solar, hydro and so on per capita, but not by enough to make it infeasible. Add in nuclear power, and the scaling is quite easy - building a nuclear power plant is hard, but doubling the generating capacity doesn't come close to doubling the land area, as long as you have a supply of uranium (China has uranium mines, France doesn't).

Comment Re:White Power Rangers...ASSEMBLE! (Score 1) 270

A big part of the problem is that race and wealth correlate strongly in the USA and the rhetoric from the Democrats has been about race and not poverty, even though the latter is the real problem. This leaves people who are both poor and white feeling that the party only cares about poverty when it happens to black people and, worse, that it feels middle class black people deserve more help than poor white ones. This is made even worse by the fact that there's a black President: clearly being black isn't a complete barrier to success, but being born poor often is.

Comment Re:How's that feel Texas? (Score 2) 107

The key word in the summary is 'hundreds'. It brings the total that Tesla is planning on hiring to 7,000. Nevada is giving Tesla $1.3bn over 20 years, so that works out at $65m/year, or $10K/worker. It's a pretty big gamble that the state will take $10K/year more in tax revenues per worker than if the factory were not there. They're betting that the existence of the Tesla factory will spur other job-creating manufacturing industry.

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