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Comment Re:No question? (Score 1) 961

An actor that made his millions staring in films about illegal street racing dies in a high speed car crash. Poetic justice I suppose. I wonder how many impressionable youths or their innocent victims have died trying to emulate him.

Are you kidding? An actor deserves to die because the character he played in movies was reckless? It's justice that he died in a car crash where he wasn't even driving?

These are the same forums who (rightly) criticize the media for ripping on violent video games after e.g. school shootings, but also mods a comment +5 insightful that alleges an actor is responsible for "impressionable youths" and "innocent victims" dying when trying to emulate his movie character. Absolutely incredible.

Comment Re:No shocker there (Score 1) 440

I've yet to see a competently written math book. Most of them are written by and for people with PhDs in mathematics. They'll show one example, fail miserably to explain what they did in any clear way, then later they will refer back to it as what they did in example 3. And the student is expected to be able to figure out what they did. Sure, given sufficient time, a student could reverse engineer the problem, but it's also trendy for teachers to hand out way too many problems as homework, without permitting the students time to understand.

I remember when I was in middle school and high school, the schools were using "integrated math." Which is to say we didn't have algebra, geometry or trig, we had all of them at once and we would start over again the next year. The problem is that just as we were beginning to grasp one of them, we'd move onto the next subject, and the next year, we'd have to start over as we hadn't mastered the material the last time we saw it.

I would guess that you are not approaching mathematical textbooks the way you should be. You don't just read the exposition. You don't simply read the proofs. You have to do the proofs yourself. That means you have to go step by step, making sure everything makes sense. When you see a theorem, try to prove it first before reading the solution. Do the exercises in the book. Try to think about the results and see if they make sense, given what you already know.

There are certainly many poor math books, but if you haven't found any good ones then you either haven't looked very hard or are not using them correctly. You don't learn math by simply reading about it. You learn math by doing math.

Comment Re:No shocker there (Score 1) 440

- One letter identifiers for everything. Algebra teaches you to always use x, y, z for variable names. Calculus teaches you to do it for function names. If you run out of those, use greek letters, or just start making up symbols.

Using verbose names in mathematics would be awful and make proofs, theorems, etc. impossible to read. It more than suffices to define a symbol before it is used. For example, what would we call Euler's totient function, phi(x)? numberOfIntegersFrom0ToNThatAreRelativelyPrimeWithNExclusive(x)? It doesn't work. How about the Zeta function? Or a Galois field? Good luck coming up with an intuitive way to refer to a Shimura variety.

Mathematics is so abstract that concise, English definitions usually do not exist. When something is first introduced it should definitely be defined, but it's up to the reader to internalize that. Furthermore, it's up the reader to invest the time necessary to learn (that nebulous "mathematical maturity"). Mathematics is hard, and there are things to criticize about modern education, but the usage of variables, naming conventions, etc. are not among them.

Comment Re:General relativity (Score 1) 190

My bet is that the need for dark matter will disappear when relativistic effects are properly taken into account.

There seems to be the belief among astrophysicists that general relativity can be safely ignored when speeds are low. I'm not so sure.

The situation you are talking about, where speeds are low, concerns special relativity, and it's obvious that low speeds do not make much of a difference. This isn't some "guess" that astrophysicists are making. It's a direct result of what special (and therefore) general relativity says. And astrophysicists do use general relativity.

Comment Re:Finally Fixing the Date stuff (Score 1) 434

I think that definition of "syntactic sugar" is too strict, since it's used to describe any feature that is merely a syntactical one. E.g., $ is syntactic sugar in haskell for establishing precedence, such as "foo $ bar x" which here translates to foo (bar x). This is particularly useful for readability when combined with function composition.

Comment Re:I think... (Score 1) 304

That would be silly, but a rather fun fact is that the despite Java being promoted as simpler than C++ for so many years, the latest Java language spec (excluding libraries) is shorter than the latest C++ spec (excluding libraries).

Did you mean to say the Java spec is longer than the C++ spec? Because I would think Java having a shorter spec would be a point in favor of its relative simplicity.

Comment Re:Expect more of this. (Score 1) 608

I love Mint (though I haven't used it in a while), but Mint had the highest numbers at one point on distrowatch iirc. I think that's based on page hits though, so it's not exactly representative of downloads. Gnome 2 Ubuntu probably had the highest ratio of users to total linux users; now with Unity and Gnome 3 I have no idea.

Comment Re:what happens (Score 1) 57

Hawking showed that when you combine quantum field theory with black hole physics then they will produce what is now called Hawking radiation. The black hole will eventually evaporate away through this process. What finally happens is the subject of recent controversy. The physics is well beyond me, but the idea of it is that several current assumptions concerning physics lead to contradictions when considered in the context of black holes (in particular, entanglement leads to subtle problems), leading some to posit the existence of firewalls.

More info can be found here.

Comment Re:The hand I learn something with I use forever (Score 1) 260

I would say that I'm ambidextrous, because I use my left hand for lots of tasks (mouse, forks, spoons, toothbrush, pool cue), but then I use my right hand for lots of similar tasks (IBM trackpoint, tv remote, video games). I play almost all sports right-handed especially when equipment is a factor (golf clubs, baseball glove, etc.). Yet I write and eat with my left hand always.

That's not ambidextrous. Ambidextrous means you use both hands equally well, not you use different hands for different tasks. I too am left-handed (throw and write left-handed) but I do many things right-handed (e.g., eat, drink, use scissors, batting, golf). It's not because anyone trained me that way; it just feels more natural. That being said, I'm not ambidextrous because there are tasks like writing and throwing that I do exclusively with my left. If you only write with your left then you can't be ambidextrous.

Comment Mint (Score 1) 573

Linux Mint 14

Linux Mint was the first distro I used, and I think it's superior to Ubuntu as a first linux fistro (especially now with Unity). On top of that, it's a great distro in general, so you might not want to switch from it! In any case, it's a great starting distro, and then later you can move onto Arch.

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