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Comment Re:Save the textbook industry? (Score 3, Insightful) 419

Yet the professors are told that they need to use the new material and they force it down on the students ...

I'm not interested in forcing a new textbook on my students, and I'm quite happy to allow them to use an older edition. The problem is that those older editions become harder and harder to find as time passes. After a semester or two it doesn't matter if I force the students to use the newest edition, because only the newest edition is available.

As many others have suggested, profs could be providing their own reading as pdfs. Which I plan to do, eventually, when I have the time. But since this kind of activity isn't recognized as scholarly work unless it actually gets published by an actual publishing company, I can't afford the time, at least until I get tenure.

Comment Re:Breaking News: (Score 1) 287

A doctor that prescribes ineffective pain medications and then gropes at anti-depressants is not a doctor who has a real understanding of the patient's ailment.

Exactly. And if it was only one doctor who took this approach with me, I'd say it was a lone kook. But I went to a number of doctors, and they all provided effectively the same treatment. The bad ones tried drugs and then quit. The good ones tried drugs, then acknowledged that they couldn't help me but a good chiropractor might.

Which is not to say that all chiropractors are good at what they do. But in my experience there are some things that they are more likely to be able to address than a standard doctor.

Comment Re:Breaking News: (Score 2, Interesting) 287

Post Hoc Ergo Propter Hoc is not the basis of good medicine. It just means time passed and you got better.

Except that my condition was not static when I went to see my doctor. It was deteriorating. And it continued to deteriorate despite the treatment. The doctors only response was to suggest that since my problem was upsetting me, I should take anti-depressants and find a new job that didn't require physical activity.

Chiropractic treatments produced limited immediate relief, and gradual long-term improvement. At this point, I can tell when I need to go back for a check up (a few times year), and I get predictable relief of symptoms when I do. More importantly, the insight gained from working the chiropractor has helped me develop exercises that provide me with immediate relief without having to see a medical professional at all.

Comment Re:Breaking News: (Score 0) 287

they are ALL bullshit artists. pushing bones and joints around will accomplish NOTHING for any disorder, except a dislocated joint..and I'd really recommend going to a REAL doctor for one of those.

Really? Cause I went to a whole bunch of MDs for help with a group of related joint problems (neck and back). All they were prepared to do was prescribe pain killers, and when that didn't work, anti-depressants.

Chiropractic hasn't been a silver bullet, but it's light years beyond anything the traditional medical establishment has been able to do for me. If I'd followed my MD's advice, I probably wouldn't be walking now. With the help of a chiropractor, I'm able to do most of the activity that normal people my age do.

I agree that the claims that chiropractic will cure $DISEASE are bogus, but it's also true that traditional medicine is woefully inadequate for anything other than curing acute illness or massive trauma.

Comment Re:What about emacs (Score 5, Insightful) 183

GPL is cool but I think emacs was his greatest accomplishment. At least technical accomplishment.

Whoever modded this flamebait needs to have their privileges revoked. I'm not sure I agree with the parent post, but Emacs is unquestionably a substantial contribution in its own right, as is the GCC.

Flamebait is not a synonym for disagree.

Submission + - Creative Commons video challenges Hollywood's best

Supercharged_Z06 writes: A short film entitles "Sintel" was released by the Blender Foundation under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 license. It was created by an international team of artists working collaboratively using a free, open source piece of 3D rendering software called Blender. No Hollywood studio was involved in its making.
Pretty remarkable what can be generated these days with open source software and some dedicated, creative talent. If a short film of this quality can be produced without Hollywood right now, imagine what will appear a few more years down the road...

On YouTube:

More info and free downloads of the film available:

Comment Re:BBC, wtf? (Score 1) 293

It's not just the single sentence paragraphs, but also the near total lack of flow to the text. It reads like bullet points scraped off a powerpoint. I hadn't noticed how short the NYTimes paragraphs were, mostly because there's still some craft to the prose. The NYT still reads like it was meant to be read by literate humans, not parsed by a computer.

To each his own, I guess.

Comment BBC, wtf? (Score 1) 293

I usually consider the BBC to be both a reliable source of info, and capable of quality reporting. I don't doubt the info in this case, but was the article written by monkeys? Or has the distinction between a paragraph and a sentence been deprecated?

I was under the impression that the English are generally more literate than your average North American, seeing as they invented the language and all. But this article is awful.

Comment Re:Eh? (Score 3, Informative) 352

What has peer review got to do with this? Peer review is to ensure that what does get published is valid, but this story is about what doesn't get published. Nobody peer reviews a paper that is never released.

You're confusing two different issues here. The paper did get published in a peer reviewed journal. The government didn't interfere with that process at all. There is no evidence that the science was influenced by government agenda.

The government didn't step in until after the peer-reviewed paper was published, and only then did they refuse to let their scientists talk with the media. Even then, the media story wasn't suppressed, it went forward, based on information published in the peer-reciewed literature and interviews with co-authors who were not Canadian government employees.

The sum total of the government interference was to prevent their own scientists from talking directly to the media. Which is pretty darn stupid, without a doubt, but it's not the same as the government burying the data.


Comment Re:I still enjoy reading a good physcal book(store (Score 3, Informative) 414

I think that there will be book stores around even in the future, but they need to be more specialized.

They need to be more specialized, sure, but that makes their market much smaller. It's easy to stock specialized books when you've got the security of offering Harry Potter and Twilight et al. to keep the money coming in between the rare consumer of niche books. But once Amazon and Walmart start selling the popular stuff at your wholesale cost, it changes things. It's much harder to sell specialized books when you can't subsidize the lower turnover with mass-market books. So yeah, the book stores that remain in the future will be more specialized. But you won't find many of them outside of major cities where there are enough consumers of their chosen specialty to make it financially viable.

This is already the case with electronics. You can get low-end camera gear anywhere, even at drug stores now, but if you want anything beyond the basics you have to go online or to a city big enough to support one real camera store. Used to be a mom & pop camera store in every town more than 50,000, but now that they can't compete with Walmart for point and shoots, there's not enough high end business to keep them open.

Comment Re:Yes. (Score 2, Insightful) 319

Then make your slide so it has each element of that equation you're teaching as a separate element to be introduced into the slide, instead of popping the whole equation at once, so you have to focus on each element. This isn't a matter of powerpoint being the problem, it's a matter of your usage being a problem. You go too fast; powerpoint isn't timed to go faster than you can speak. Click slower.

You still have the problem of the information on the ppt, no matter how granularly you organize it, is locked into a set order. Student questions don't come in any predictable order, so working with chalk provides you with the flexibility to incorporate questions naturally into your presentation.

Another problem inherent to ppt is macdinking. Sure, you can make every element of a complex diagaram or equation come up separately, but that requires fiddling with details. Even if you're extremely disciplined and efficient (which in my experience are not qualities promoted by ppt), it takes more time to do this explicitly in ppt than simply adding elements with chalk as you talk about them.

My students have never complained that my lectures go too slowly for them, and I make extensive use of the chalkboard. Even if the terms are already on the ppt (I use both together), writing it out as I talk about it provides visual emphasis. Some students are capable of scanning a ppt slide to learn a concept; others can learn very efficiently from the textbook; some need to hear me explain it, or see me sketch it out. My job is to reach as many different students, each with a different learning style, as possible.


Comment Fud (Score 1) 571

You are talking nonsense here. The Thesis authors admitted to copy & pasting code from a GPL project. There is no grey area here, it's an out and out copyright violation.

Anyone that worries that you can't use GPL software like Gimp to make proprietary images doesn't understand the license. This isn't a problem with the license itself, so much as it's a problem of disinformation spread, knowingly or not, by folks like yourself.

Comment Re:You are clueless if you claim such a thing (Score 1) 1131

Well, yes, Ireland has seen more than it's share of religious violence. But I don't recall any Irish organizations, Catholic or Protestant, ever threatening violence over a cartoon depiction of St. Patrick. And it's not like the Irish aren't regularly made the butt of jokes.


Comment Re:only 2 general lanes? (Score 1) 288

Light rail and long range buses are only good if lots of people want to use them. HOV lanes are only good if people can be convinced to carpool. Apparently MS management feels the employees want to drive their own cars to work by themselves. If that's the case, making them idle in the traffic snarls created by the one general lane each way bridge will not only make everyone late to work but also really exacerbate the smog problem.

You almost make sense. Your argument is based on the assumption that people want to drive themselves to work, and no amount of inconvenience will convince them that any other option is viable. However, if they are stuck in traffic jams day after day, they may find themselves much more likely to try the train, bus or carpool option, once it becomes clear that on top of the economic and environmental advantages, it's also faster. At least, it's faster in a well-designed transit system.


Comment "Move on when ready"? (Score 1) 425

We used to have a move-on-when-ready system, only the other way around. If you weren't ready to move on, you would fail and repeat the course/year/whatever. Strange to see this same concept offered as a revolutionary new approach for top students. Maybe it wouldn't be necessary to do this if the less capable students were forced to master a topic before moving on. How many of these apparently super-bright tenth graders are really just good students surrounded by kids that haven't been forced to perform for fear of damaging their self-esteem?


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