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Comment Hard work should do the trick (Score 3, Insightful) 467

Most text books have practice questions for each chapter, and some answers in the back. Why not just work through some of those on your own? Math is the kind of subject that you can only learn by doing problems, so I don't think there's any shortcuts. But I suppose if you work on problems, it's nice to have a teacher to help if you get stuck, but perhaps a reasonable substitute would be forums.

Comment Re:Are you people all Americans? (Score 1) 42

it is now common opinion that the majority of US citizens lead carefree hedonistic life. And it's nobody's fault but their own.

The data I've seen indicates that American school children don't work as hard as their counterparts in other industrialized countries (in terms of the number of hours per year spent in school), but American workers do work more days/year because most of us aren't given 4 wk vacations like all Europeans.

and at any rate, Slashdotters are a poor statistical sample!

Comment Re:The worthlessness of "education" (Score 1) 1259

Knowledge is free, education is not. Knowledge is needed at most jobs, education in all honesty is not. I think its time for society to realize this.

I totally agree. I've heard lots of people tell me, and I'm becoming convinced, that a traditional college education is simply not the right choice for many people. Although US high schools suck, if they didn't find the initiative to learn something there, why should the public front the money for a few more years of irresponsibility? Chances are pretty good that they'll go just because they can get a loan and all their friends are going, and thus merely delay the inevitability of getting a job they don't need a college degree for.

An interesting anecdote. When I was taking the senior year undergrad class for my major, the professor gave hard tests. After the second test, he basically told us that those who got below a certain score were probably in the wrong major. Students complained and the professor had to apologize later, but I think he had a good point... the department had financial incentives to get as many butts in seats as they could, which in the long run probably hurt some of them.

On the other hand, if you're studying something that's actually valuable for the economy and you get good grades, I've found that funds tend to become available...

Comment back-of-the-envelope (Score 1) 276

relax. you always need to make a few simplifications/approximations in order to do a back-of-the-envelope calculation...

after reading this summary, my secret hope is that the story can be used as precedent for the US. you kid yourself if you think that americans really care what happens in mexico...

Comment Re:Elektronorgtechnica Bias -- Any Video Game Real (Score 1) 145

It is natural to hypothesize that other types of games will have a similar impact, but until that is tested and confirmed across a spectrum of puzzles, you can't safely generalize that.

No, I'd hypothesize pretty much the same as what the article stated, that there's something more or less special about Tetris... It's a puzzle, so it has a thinking component, but it's also real time so you're rewarded for solving that puzzle over and over as fast as possible. I know my mind works in two modes: one when I'm solving problems alone, another when I'm in a testing situation (e.g. school, interviews, etc), so there is a difference when you're trying to do things as quickly as possible.

Comment Re:Its always been this way (Score 1) 350

Contrary to popular believe its always been the case that tools and machines were made just good enough.

The definition of "just good enough" depends almost entirely on the cost to manufacturer any given device.

Well, ok, but I don't think you've identified the driving force, because the real question is:

When is the obsolescence date of the device you're thinking of purchasing?

If a better/cheaper device will be on sale next year, then you're not going to pay as much for what you can get today. On the other hand, if the product you buy won't become obsolete for another decade, then you might as well pay the extra money to get good quality. Technology improves on an exponential scale. To illustrate my point: why buy a laptop now that will cost 3000$ and keep it for 3 years, instead of buying a 1000$ laptop every year for 3 years? I'll get a better deal with the cheaper laptops!

Comment Re:Oh, get real. (Score 2, Insightful) 484

"let's see if we can get dumb ideas paid for if we call 'em green".

Look... they were given $100,000, which is a TINY amount of money when it comes down to it. The US gov't can cough up $trillions for wars with highly uncertain energy related benefits. Compared to that, these guys have been given a TEENSY WEENSY amount of money. It's like giving your kid brother 2 pennies to make your bed for you. Chances are, he won't do it, but the cost was essentially zero!

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