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Comment Re:Wasn't aware there was a goal (Score 1) 591

I much prefer the touchscreen for browsing, which is the primary activity of most computer users. I also much prefer it for doing real work. I am an audio engineer, and I love the ability to go into a crowd and use my iPhone to make things sound good where the people are, instead of where the sound board is. Dragging a mouse out there would be absurd. Trying to manipulate multiple parameters at once is also much easier with a touchscreen. (assuming that it is multitouch)

I can't imagine that I'm in the only career for which touchscreens are better than mice. And for the casual user, browsing is much nicer with a touchscreen. And for non-casual use, my observation has been that most power users much prefer using keyboard commands, and use the mouse very little. The mouse is not the best input device for most things. Even in photo editing, most power users are using Wacom tablets rather than mice.

Comment Re:Wasn't aware there was a goal (Score 1) 591

Mobility is a huge, huge feature, though. Mobility and the touchscreen interface. I love tweaking computers, and I ran Linux for years, but now that I have my iPhone, I rarely use a "real" computer. I can't see what major feature could possibly be added to it that would make it consistently more desirable to use than my iPhone. The two reasons I still get it out are A. Proprietary software and B. A real keyboard. The keyboard thing is pretty minor, though; It is trivial to set up a keyboard to work with a mobile device.

I absolutely expect my phone to replace, not supplement, my computer. Maybe not a iPhone, but a phone of some sort. The sooner the better, I hate dragging my computer around just to do a few minor tasks.

Comment Sputnik? Really? (Score 1) 414

I don't know why we're trying to relive the worst era in math education in America. Pretty much right after Sputnik launched, American textbooks went from pretty good to awful. Go to an antique store and try to find the best and worst math textbooks. I guarantee you that every single good math textbook you find will be either pre-Sputnik, or after 1980.

Spunik was very helpful in some aspects of American science, but math education, unquestionably, is not a good place to relive Sputnik.


Genghis Khan, History's Greenest Conqueror 279

New research suggests that in addition to being one of history's cruelest conquerors, Genghis Khan may have been the greenest. It is estimated that the Mongol leader's invasions unintentionally scrubbed almost 700 million tons of carbon from the atmosphere. From the article: "Over the course of the century and a half run of the Mongol Empire, about 22 percent of the world's total land area had been conquered and an estimated 40 million people were slaughtered by the horse-driven, bow-wielding hordes. Depopulation over such a large swathe of land meant that countless numbers of cultivated fields eventually returned to forests. In other words, one effect of Genghis Khan's unrelenting invasion was widespread reforestation, and the re-growth of those forests meant that more carbon could be absorbed from the atmosphere." I guess everyone has their good points.

Comment Re:It's not just math books (Score 2, Insightful) 169

I think it's a lot more than a difference of culture. You'll notice a sharp decline in textbook quality after the launch of Sputnik. Sputnik freaked out Americans, so they started pumping loads of money into revamping math and science education. Money, unfortunately is not the main thing that makes a good textbook. Basically, after Sputnik, for some reason, it became necessary to cram as much set theory into every single math book as possible, whether it needed it or not.

Comment Re:ALL copyright is a restriction on free speech. (Score 1) 431

The fact that it's not a 1:1 comparison doesn't make it invalid. The comparison has relevance regardless of the relative values of books and people. People being free and information being free are two good things. Just because one is intensely more good than the other doesn't change the fact that here are two situations that are similar, in that we are balancing one "good" against the "good" of not screwing people.

The comparison illustrates the point that there are clearly things in life that outweigh the good of "not screwing some people." Human freedom is certainly one of those things.

Is freedom of information another such thing? That's obviously a tougher issue, but the slavery comparison makes it clear that it isn't a slam-dunk argument. "It is a bad idea because it screws some people over" is clearly demonstrated to be an incomplete argument. The point was made, and made effectively, I thought. I'm really not sure why all this meta-discussion was necessary.

Comment Re:ALL copyright is a restriction on free speech. (Score 3, Insightful) 431

Absurd. At no point did his comparison imply that problems with copyright are as significant as the problem of slavery.

What is the problem with comparing things with other things of a much greater magnitude? When people compare electrons to planets, do you object because planets are obviously much, much larger and clearly must have nothing at all in common with something with such a far removed size?

His sentence was clearly saying that not screwing specific people over is not always the most important thing. This holds true for big issues like slavery, and for small issues like copyright. It's a valid comparison. What's so wrong with that?


Submission + - What Scientists Really Think About Religion 4

Hugh Pickens writes: "The Washington Post has a book review of "Science and Religion: What Scientists Really Think" by Rice University sociologist Elaine Ecklund who did a detailed survey of 1,646 scientists at elite American research universities that reveals that scientists often practice a closeted faith worrying about how their peers would react to learning about their religious views. "After four years of research, at least one thing became clear: Much of what we believe about the faith lives of elite scientists is wrong. The 'insurmountable hostility' between science and religion is a caricature, a thought-cliche, perhaps useful as a satire on groupthink, but hardly representative of reality," writes Ecklund. Unsurprisingly, Ecklund found that 64 percent of scientists are either atheists (34%) or agnostic (30%) but only five of the 275 in-depth interviewees actively oppose religion and even among the third who are atheists, many consider themselves "spiritual" with one describing his spiritual atheism as being rooted in "wonder about the complexity and the majesty of existence," a sentiment many nonscientists — religious or not — would recognize. "According to the scientists I interviewed, the academy seems to have a “strong culture” that suppresses discussion about religion in many areas," says Ecklund. "Yet so few scientists talk openly about issues related to religion that we do not know the true consequences of having such discussions. To remove the perceived stigma, we would need to have more scientists talking openly about issues of religion, where such issues are particularly relevant to their discipline.""

Comment Re:Idle's the right place for this... (Score 1) 122

He has shown over and over to be nothing more than a glory hound who likes to cause strife wherever he goes.

Nothing more? That's it? We have encapsulated everything about this guy's humanity in one sentence? I'm a Christian, and I therefore disagree with Dawkins on a great many things, but I still think he's got a lot of good things to offer. I'm glad he's around. I frequently find his talks very refreshing. It's always a good thing to have devil's advocate in a discussion to weed out the crappy ideas. And regardless of your flavor of Christianity, there's certainly a surplus of crappy ideas. (Sam Harris is a way better atheist than Dawkins, though.)

Comment Re:This bothers me (Score 4, Insightful) 114

Google doesn't collect peoples' information for the happy, innocent purpose of improving their experience. They collect peoples' information to make money. Why can't they be honest about that?

I can't disagree with your second sentence, but I see no reason to believe the first. Why would you think that they don't do both, and why isn't it ok to make money simultaneously with improving user's experiences?

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