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Comment Why not do this everywhere? (Score 1) 519

What is so special about primary/secondary teachers that means that teachers with tenure are automatically better to retain than those without? If it's really a better system, shouldn't all employers base their promotion/firing decisions on seniority rather than merit?

I work at a job where I am promoted over more senior people if I do well and will be fired if I do badly. While the company is far from perfect at judging, it still does a much better job of choosing who to retain/promote than mechanically basing it on seniority. I can't imagine how we'd benefit by saying that we can only fire employees that are new (instead of ones who are unproductive) and that our best employees would be permanently stuck behind the more senior ones. In fact, I imagine we'd go out of business.


Comment GeoThermal only a small part of the glacier's melt (Score 3, Informative) 387

It's worth pointing out that the increased geothermal heat estimate only contributes a few per cent to the melting of the Thwaites glacier. It's predominately AGW and natural calving. I'm not saying this paper isn't important (we all know about the straw that broke the camel's back), just pointing out that it doesn't provide an alternate explanation to AGW for the melting of the Thwaite glacier.

Comment Re:How about... (Score 5, Insightful) 231

How about no STEM visas for anyone? Instead, throw the effort at growing these folks at home

Yes, folks like Alexander Graham Bell, Nikola Tesla, Albert Einstein, Enrico Fermi, An Wang, Sergey Brin, Vinod Khosla, and Bjarne Stroustrup merely took jobs away from native-born Americans instead of creating more opportunities for them.

Comment No but math is (Score 1) 1010

I agree the traditional math high school/college math curriculum isn't very worthwhile any more, if it ever was. Just as one example, you'll never use Euclidean geometry again (except the most basic parts that only take a couple of weeks of the standard course), whether or not you continue to more advanced math. Even engineers rarely if ever use the many dry and specialized "advanced integration techniques" that are taught to everyone in calculus.

However, I would revamp high school/college math rather than discard it. There is plenty of valuable and relevant math (e.g., statistics, logic with application to critiquing claims made in the media) that could be taught today instead of a lot of the more abstruse parts of algebra/geometry.

FWIW, when I taught calculus to english majors in grad school, I chose one day a week to teach other areas on general interest in mathematics, which seemed to work pretty well. My students performed equally on the calculus final to the other sections, but many more of them signed up to take additional math courses than in the other sections.

Comment Conclusion may be right, but his reasoning isn't (Score 1) 841

The author may be correct that 24/192 offers no advantages, he is wrong in saying that it is slightly worse.

While he's correct that frequencies much greater than >20khz can cause problems downstream, the problem is at least as bad with 16/44. The sampling theorem says that 44khz sampling is enough to correctly reproduce frequencies in the audio range (half the sample frequency). However, 16/44 reconstruction requires prefiltering and I believe can also introduce spurious high frequency components (the Nyquist theorem says nothing about frequencies higher than half the sample rate), so a brick wall filter is needed to remove any frequencies over 22khz, so you need to filter out high frequencies in either case. At least with a higher sample frequency you can use a more gradual filter, which is better in theory (though probably no different in practice). In particular, 24/192 will not sound any worse than 16/44

Such an elementary error calls the value of the whole article into doubt

Comment I'd blame the employees rather than the employer (Score 1) 948

Most employers want you to take your vacation because unused vacation accrues as a liability on their books. I think the real problem is that employees don't want to take the time off. I work for a very large software company, which now requires that we take the last week or so of the year off. It is a problem for the company that SW engineers tend not to take the vacation that they are entitled to, and it is not good either for the employee or the employer's balance sheet. While it feels paternalistic for them to tell me I must take vacation then, I have to admit they were right (at least in my case).

Comment Re:Well, they're a good indicator of intelligence (Score 5, Interesting) 672

Actually, many large companies have parallel engineering and management ladders. The goal of this is to allow your best technical people to advance as individual contributors without moving into management (which they may not be their strength anyway) For example, at my company, Architect and Director have identical HR classifications. Likewise for Fellow and Vice President. If you are not advancing as a technical employee, you should look at yourself, just like if you were not advancing as a manager.

Comment The McDonald Observatory (Score 2) 363

The McDonald Observatory is way out in the middle of nowhere by design, so it might not seem worth hitting, but you shouldn't miss it. Placed at the highest point on the Texas highway system in the clear desert air and in a black-out zone where they keep people from 20 miles around from having lights on at night, you'll reliably see the best stars in the continental US. Come to a star party, and they have half a dozen telescopes set up on major sky sites 3 nights a week. A few times a year, you can view through either the 107 inch, 82 inch, or 36 inch research telescopes. Come during the day to tour the 433 inch telescope, one of the largest in the world. If you can, stay at the inexpensive Astronomer's Lodge and hang out with the astronomers doing research there.

I heard about this through my mother (a former high-school English teacher) and took several days out of vacation (we live in Chicago) to travel there with my wife (an HR exec). Both of them thought it was fantastically worthwhile, so imagine how good it was for science geeks like us.

Comment Re:Did it "confirm" it was caused by man? (Score 1) 967

98% of all climate studies do not even attempt to address the cause, yet you somehow think otherwise and are pretending instead that 98% of all studies do attempt to address the cause.

We both pulled a figure out of our asses.. but my pull is actually approximately correct.

Actually, the 98% figure comes not from anyones ass but from the scientific literature. Both of the following two papers conclude that ~98% of active climatologists concur with the consensus around climate change (hence the term "consensus").

Doran, P. T. and M. K. Zimmerman (2009), Examining the Scientific Consensus on Climate Change, Eos Trans. AGU, 90(3), 22, doi:10.1029/2009EO030002.

Anderegg WRL,; Prall JW,; Harold J,; Schneider SH. (2010) Expert credibility in climate change. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 107:12107–12109.

Why do you believe that your pull is more accurate than these studies?


Submission + - Better airplane boarding method (

mpsmps writes: New research by Jason Steffen at Fermilab shows that boarding planes by rows is the worst possible ways and that big improvements in boarding time can be achieved with more optimized methods. The full paper is here. I'm glad to see that Fermilab is going to be doing something useful now that the tevatron is shutting down.

Comment The organizer has a good point (Score 1) 609

For those who didn't RTFA, after the organizer said that he respected RMS' right to cancel the talk and that happens, he did make good points about why RMS' decision is disappointing for his fans.

You chose the "Free beer" giving up the "Free of speech" and that disappoints me very much since it has to do with the genuinity implementation of your own presented ideas.

Elsewhere in the response he gives the details

Boycotting the Israeli Universities since you get funds from Palestinians means that you accepted the Palestinians proprietary license. Neither you nor them want to help their neighbor.

I agree, and my respect for RMS' idealism is lessened.

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