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Comment: Only problem is it's probably impossible. (Score 1) 431

by Chalnoth (#49367201) Attached to: Experts: Aim of 2 Degrees Climate Goal Insufficient

Warming of the Earth doesn't happen instantaneously. After emitting some CO2 (or other greenhouse gas) into the atmosphere, it takes quite some time before the Earth finishes warming up.

Right now, the Earth has experienced a little more than half of the warming that will eventually result from the present concentration of CO2. That basically means that if we stop emitting all CO2 and other greenhouse gasses tomorrow, the Earth would very likely still hit 1.5C of warming.

But the authors are very much correct that the 2C goal isn't safe by any means. Current model estimates are that the ice sheet of Greenland will destabilize and completely melt at somewhere close to 2C of warming. That would cause approximately 7 meters of sea level rise, in addition to all of the other sources of sea level rise (note: it'd take a few hundred years for Greenland to melt, but even relatively small amounts of sea level rise can be devastating). There's a fair amount of uncertainty here. Greenland might not destabilize until warming of 2.5C. Or it might start occur right at 2C. It would be far, far better to never find out.

2C is primarily a goal just because reasonable and cost-effective but aggressive measures to limit greenhouse gas emissions can (at present) allow us to reach a 2C target. We really wouldn't have to sacrifice much of anything to reach a 2C target (and the extra construction of renewable energy infrastructure would be a boon to many economies who are currently struggling). But we would have to overturn the massive influence of the fossil fuel lobby both on government and on the public discourse.

Comment: Re:You mean...? (Score 1) 126

by Chalnoth (#49332409) Attached to: Boeing Patents <em>Star Wars</em> Style Force Field Technology

Not quite. The device creates a plasma barrier which reduces the intensity of incoming shock waves. Basically, it prevents nearby explosions from damaging the vehicle from their shockwaves alone. I bet any shrapnel will sail right through the plasma, and I'm sure that the plasma barrier will only weaken the shock wave, not block it entirely.

So basically it's a sound shield that blocks (or at least dampens) extremely high-energy sound waves, such as those coming from explosives.

Comment: Re:freedom (Score 1) 1089

by Chalnoth (#49296789) Attached to: Obama: Maybe It's Time For Mandatory Voting In US

And not voting for either is what, exactly?

Voting for the "lesser of two evils" is not the right way to look at the problem. The right way is to realize that politics is rather like a giant game of tug-of-war. A vote is a statement about which direction the country should move. Actual policy with remain in the center (with some corruption thrown in, sadly), but a vote in one direction will pull the center in that direction. It's not the lesser of two evils: it's a little pull in the direction you think the country should move.

Comment: Yes, it will have security updates (Score 1) 193

Microsoft doesn't want Windows machines to cause the amount of malware and exploits on the web to explode far beyond current levels. They'll continue to get security updates for sure. But it does mean that if they call in to MS support, the agent won't help them without a valid key, and there may be some non-security Windows updates which will be restricted.

What Microsoft is warning people about is that hackers may have trojans, keyloggers, etc. built-in to the OS from the start. I don't know why this would be a danger with a "non-genuine" Windows 10 downloaded from MS, but that's been the danger with previous non-genuine versions of Windows.

Comment: Yes. But access needs to be made better. (Score 2) 1089

by Chalnoth (#49295571) Attached to: Obama: Maybe It's Time For Mandatory Voting In US
Yes, we should have mandatory voting. But for that to be reasonable, voting has to be easy for everybody. That means strict requirements for polling place access (meaning reasonable maximum wait times and transit times), make voting day a mandatory national holiday (i.e., no business could force a person to work on voting day), and absentee voting should be available everywhere.

Comment: Re:Twitter Anti-Cyberbully CYA Technique #43 (Score 2) 79

by Chalnoth (#49287735) Attached to: Twitter Adds Tool To Report Tweets To the Police
I think EMG intended this to mean that the person being harassed could delete their own account if they get tired of the trolls. Because apparently people who are on the receiving end of relentless campaigns of harassment including rape and death threats should be punished for being on the receiving end of such relentless campaigns.

Comment: Re:well.. (Score 1) 760

Usually people become wealthy by having wealthy parents.

Also, it's not really foolishness. If you make the assumption that the market is efficient, it is actually rational to use price as a signal of quality. So there's a bit of a catch-22 here: if the market is efficient, then price is a signal of quality. But if people see price as a signal of quality, then the market will no longer be efficient.

Comment: Re:well.. (Score 1, Insightful) 760

Nah. The lawyer charging more will often get the deal because the wealthy person can afford it, and because they'll see the higher pricetag as a signal of how good the lawyer is.

The simplistic idea of competition you have invoked here depends upon all parties having all relevant information. This almost never happens in the real world.

Comment: Re:seems about the same (Score 2) 320

There might be some issues with corporate-funded science (e.g. medical trials), but yeah, science is doing just fine overall. The ones who get things wrong all the time are journalists (there are a few good ones, but there are a plethora of horrible science journalists).

Comment: Re:But it's still a Chromebook... (Score 2) 139

by Chalnoth (#49246205) Attached to: Google's Pricey Pixel Gets USB-C and a Lower Price

Nope. You have a fair amount of control as to how much data Google stores, and can tell Google to delete all of your data if you like. See here. I do think Google could stand to do a bit of work improving the interface, and making it more clear that they allow this sort of thing. But they do have pretty good privacy controls.

Even on a Chromebook, you can avoid Google collecting essentially anything connected to you if you simply browse in an incognito window and don't log into Google within that window.

Comment: Re:scientific computing (Score 1) 125

by Chalnoth (#49182801) Attached to: Linux 4.0 Getting No-Reboot Patching

If you have a weeks-running job and it isn't fault-tolerant, you're doing it wrong, period. As long as it's fault-tolerant, it isn't a big deal where it's run.

That said, if you have a job that takes days to run on a single computer, it'd be a good idea to either invest in a compute cluster or get some time on one.

Time-sharing is the junk-mail part of the computer business. -- H.R.J. Grosch (attributed)