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Comment Not that Surprising (Score 2) 278

It's more than I expected (I was guessing ~$400), but I can't say that I am all that surprised or outraged. For a long time, the Oculus folks insisted that they were going to focus on making it good, not making it affordable. This makes sense, because VR technology has been around for decades, but nobody has really managed to make a GOOD VR set prior to the Oculus. Assuming the consumer version is in fact good, they can then focus on making it affordable. If you want affordable, there's always the cardboard VR sets to play with.

If they manage to succeed with making a good set, then VR will start to catch on and prices will fall for other good sets. I wouldn't be surprised if Oculus eventually releases different models to fulfill low and high end price points.

I also don't understand the outrage over the PC specs. The fact of the matter is that based on years of testing, it was determined that you really needed high resolution (i.e. 4k) to get rid of the screen door effect that has always been the bane of VR implementations. I wouldn't be surprised if 8k will be needed to really get rid of it. That takes a lot of computing horsepower and there just isn't any way around it.

Comment Re:Before a human walks on Mars... (Score 1) 285

Evolution of our species beyond recognition is inevitable well before then. Homo sapiens have only been around for a few hundred thousand years and you are worried about hundreds of millions of years from now?

Given the time frames, I'm pretty content to let whatever species is the closest descendant of homo sapiens figure it out in a few hundred million years. They may be far better suited biologically to interstellar travel.

Comment Re:Biased IQ tests (Score 1) 445

It's true that this can happen, but well-designed IQ tests try to avoid questions dependent on any specific cultural context, or don't score based on the answer itself, but how the answer is thought through.

A properly scored IQ test that did ask "what are the four seasons?" could actually give full credit to a response that involved hunting seasons. In that case, the person administering the test would be looking for whether the child understood why there were different hunting seasons and what that implied. If the child answered spring/summer/winter/fall, they would be looking for an understanding of what was happening when the seasons were changing.

Comment Re:Donna Ford is racist (Score 1) 445

The kid identified in the article demonstrated the issue well. His dad was working while going to school and didn't realize his kid was even being tested until right before it happened. A parent of higher socioeconomic status probably would have been asking about gifted testing before the kid was even signed up for Kindergarten. It's not that the dad didn't care, he probably just didn't know to ask.

Comment I Attended Gifted Programs in Houston (Score 3, Informative) 445

I attended elementary school in HISD and middle/high in SBISD. The article doesn't quite get to the root of the issue. The issue is that the programs tend to be targeted towards long time residents with a lot of cultural and political capital. These are the people that can make or break the career of a school administrator, so they get deference. This can happen because information about the programs are not publicized much. It's also expensive to run GT programs and the system doesn't want too many kids qualifying. As a result, the kids who end up in GT programs are those whose parents know all about the program (from knowing other parents with kids in the program) and have the wherewithal to lobby teachers to recommend their kids for testing and advocate that the kid get put in the appropriate program.

To illustrate how this works: my parents were not from Houston, but settled in the town shortly before I was born. They knew to get me tested, and I scored at a level that qualified me for any of HISD's gifted programs. However, what my parents were not told (and what could not easily be found out in a pre-internet age), was that there were actually multiple levels of gifted program. While I qualified for the higher tier program, nobody told my parents about it, and I ended up in the lower-tier program by default. My local school wanted it that way because I was a guaranteed pass on state standardized tests and the higher-tier program would have involved a transfer to a gifted magnet school. By the time my parents figured it out, we were moving to a nearby district that had a completely different system.

As far as the test being biased, it may be, but only to the extent IQ tests are biased. As far as I know, they are still using a version of an IQ test for selection, with certain additional diversity points available for kids on the margin. For a young child, providing some familiarity with the test could be helpful, so there's probably some benefit to savvy parents prepping. But I doubt any tweaks to testing procedures would make up for the cultural capital factor.

Comment Re:True (Score 2) 307

It's a little different in a real job, however. In a real job (at least at a reasonably well run organization), there is an established hierarchy (you know who is supposed to be in charge), and there are established roles (you know what you are supposed to be doing). In a class assignment, they throw 4 random kids into a group and leave them to figure everything out. In practice, it usually ends up being one smart/motivated kid doing everything while all the other kids socialize. The only thing in common is it teaches the kids doing nothing how to take credit for someone else's work.

Comment We are not yet at the age of exploration (Score 1) 684

While I love the romantic notion of space faring being the next logical step for humanity, I'm afraid we are nowhere close to where we need to be technologically. When it comes to space travel, we aren't 15th century Europeans with big sailing ships, we are the native Americans with dugout canoes. While it's technically possible to cross the Atlantic with a dugout canoe, actually attempting such a voyage would be close to suicidal, and could never become sufficiently routine to establish a viable colony. Likewise, inter-planetary travel with chemical rockets will never become sufficiently routine to establish a colony. Even after 80 years of liquid fuel rockets, the failure rate causes accidents to be almost routine. The costs are still astronomical and will always be due to the physical limitations of liquid rocket fuel (i.e. the tyranny of the rocket equation). Instead of dreaming about trying to go to Mars in our dugout canoes, we need to be figuring out sailing ships. That means a non-chemical rocket method of getting to space (space elevator?) and perfecting non-chemical rocket interplanetary propulsion.

Comment Re:Cyclists DON'T obey the law! (Score 1) 696

I've been pulled over twice in the last 10 years on a bicycle. I have not been pulled over in my cars in the same period (two very attention grabbing sports cars), and a drive a lot more miles than I bike. Sure, it's just anecdotes, but much of the assumption that there is no enforcement of bicycle violations is just that- an assumption.

Comment Re:Cyclists DON'T obey the law! (Score 1) 696

So how do I let them know they are in the wrong? Yell after them as they speed away? They are just going to give me the finger and continue doing what they are doing. Also, there is very little traffic policing in my city. Unless you are outside the city limits in state highway patrol territory, the chances of getting pulled over for a traffic violation are incredibly small. Am I supposed to shout at every asshat driver I see too?

Comment Re:BBC - hammered by its own Political Correctness (Score 1) 207

I preface this by saying none of the following excuses the conduct, but I do think many of the accounts leave out some of the context behind the punch. Clarkson was going through a divorce and had just been told he had cancer. The day of filming had not gone well, he was tired, and drunk. He profusely apologized in the morning and went to the BBC himself to confess. He did something wrong, he made a mistake, but the reports make it sound like it happened because he was a terrible human being rather than a decent one with some flaws.

I think the end result of the fracas will actually be a win all around. The trio will be forced to get out of the rut they had been in. BBC gets out of a show they were never really comfortable hosting. Those that never liked TG no longer have it shown over the airwaves. U.S. fans no longer have to pony up for BBC America or resort to torrenting the show. Amazon gets a nice crown jewel for Prime streaming.

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