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Comment I'm not buying the "confused grandma" defense (Score 4, Informative) 242

Hillary Clinton is not stupid, and she's a lawyer. Before anyone is given access to classified information, my understanding is that they have to take a class in how to manage classified information and they have to sign an agreement saying they will abide by the rules governing classified information.

Now Hillary Clinton is saying that she doesn't really understand all this confusing stuff. "Wipe the server.. you mean with a cloth?" Oh sure, Mrs. Clinton.

About a week before the news broke about her private server, Hillary Clinton was on a talk show and she said: "So I have an iPad, a mini iPad, an iPhone and a Blackberry." Then she said that the reason she set up a private server was so she could carry a single device. Now she's saying she was so busy saving the world that she didn't have time to think about what kind of server to use... which is why she didn't just use the server provided for her to use, but took steps to set up her own server and get everyone to use it?

I'm not buying it. The obvious reason why someone in her position would set up her own server, under her control, is to make sure that she would have control over which of her emails could be unearthed (e.g. by a Freedom of Information Act request). Notice that when she was finally forced to turn over emails, she picked and chose which emails to turn over, and then wiped the server to make sure nobody could ever get anything else.


Also, we can't be sure that her private server wasn't compromised. If her admins didn't get every security patch applied fast enough, someone could have 0wned it over the Internet; and if it wasn't guarded 24/7 someone could have gained physical access to the server in the middle of the night. Secretary of State is a high-profile job with access to a whole bunch of secrets; I think China and Russia probably both have copies of all her emails from her time as Secretary of State. (Whereas the USA only has the ones she turned over, printed on paper.)

And we just found out about a really bad smoking gun. Hillary Clinton has claimed that no classified emails were on her server, but we have evidence that she had one or more people systematically copying messages from a secured system and sending them to Hillary's server. Details here. The key quote:

The subject line of the February 10, 2010, e-mail exchange is "Insulza." The exchange is about a speech, apparently by a foreign official. Perhaps the subject line refers to Jose Miguel Insulza, a Chilean politician who has been secretary general of the Organization of American States since 2005. In any event, the U.S. government's internal reporting on the speech has clearly been classified (not surprising in light of what Shannen Coffin and yours truly explained earlier: foreign government information is presumptively classified). This is clearly very irritating to Secretary Clinton, who is anxious to read the speech. In the first e-mail, Clinton curtly instructs Sullivan, "It's a public statement. Just email it." Minutes later, Sullivan responds, "Trust me, I share your exasperation. But until ops converts it to the unclassified email system, there is no physical way for me to email it. I can't even access it."

So some group known as "ops" is going to "convert" a message from the classified message system to "the unclassified email system"? That's go-to-prison stuff right there.

If you are a fan of Hillary Clinton... are you okay with all this? Are you okay with her constantly-changing story ("I wanted to carry only one devce"... "I was so busy I didn't think"...)? Are you okay with her making up her own rules for how to handle classified information (if she thinks it's "public information" she can just ignore the rules she agreed to abide by)?

Comment Re:Their requirements are lacking (Score 3, Interesting) 52

Most accidents occur at less than 40 mph; if "dozens of meters" equates to about 100 ft, that represents about 1.7 seconds at 40 mph. Assuming a coefficient of friction of 0.8, it is theoretically possible for a car traveling at 40 mph to stop in 67 ft; call it roughly 70 ft. If the system can apply the brakes within 500 ms, that's enough to be useful, although clearly it can't stop you from plowing into a car stopped in the fast lane of the highway.

Speaking of highways, the only reason people can manage to drive on highways is that the things you're most likely to hit are traveling in the same direction; if they were slaloming between stationary obstacles at 60 mph most drivers would be dead, fast. What makes highway driving safe is that the closing speed between vehicles is usually modest; usually on less than ten fifteen miles per hour. So actually the system might have more effect on the highway so long as speed discrepancies are in the normal range.

Comment Re: Alert! (Score 1) 329

I'll bet that for practical purposes you can't personally confirm general relativity, RNA to DNA reverse transcription, the role of the Coriolis effect in the formation of seasonal thermoclines in the ocean, or the number of stars in the Milky Way galaxy. It doesn't mean those things aren't science.

"I can't confirm it" isn't the same as "I am unable or unwilling to put the effort it would take."

Comment Re:Or for slightly less per month (Score 4, Insightful) 80

Depends on how much you use the car. Drive a brand new car off the lot to the used car dealer across the street, and you'll find the car is now worth about half what you paid for it. It takes a lot of 3.5 krona minutes to make that instantaneous depreciation seem attractive.

Now if you're like most suburban-dwelling American, you spend hours a day in your car, so it just makes sense to buy it, or lease it long-term. But if you lived and worked in Manhattan you'd be nuts to own a car for transportation unless you were a gazillionaire. Just the cost of keeping the car would exceed the cost of renting one on the rare occasions you'd need it.

I suppose most people in Copenhagen are in the same boat. It's far more walkable than most American cities and enjoys excellent bicycle and pedestrian public transit infrastructure. But every so often you and several of your friends might want to take a trip that's a little inconvenient to take by transit. If that's every day several times a day then sure, buy a car. But if it's only occasionally then it doesn't make sense to have a car sitting and depreciating in a garage somewhere.

Comment Re:Alert! (Score 4, Insightful) 329

Exactly. Science is not a democracy. We don't get to vote on the rules of physics, they are what they are even if we agree with them or not.

However we have no way of getting to know those rules except through a social process in which scientists read and argue about each others' research.

Trust me, if the majority of scientists hadn't agreed on Newton's laws of motions you'd never have heard of him. Of course then we wouldn't be having this technology-mediated conversation; we'd probably be throwing rocks at each other instead.

People that believe we should reduce carbon output and also believe that nuclear power will kill us all are rejecting science twice over.

Disproof by counterexample: me. I think we should reduce carbon output and I think nuclear power could be useful, provided that plant developers post a bond to cover the decommissioning costs. I won't bother to address your point about wind power, but I do recommend you take the the drive from Los Angeles to Palm Springs sometime. You might find it enlightening.

A true scientist would admit we know very little about the environment. Anyone that says they've solved the equation is either delusional or trying to sell something. I'm not buying.

And no true Scotsman puts sugar on his porridge.

Just because scientists don't know *everything* doesn't mean they know *nothing*, or that they don't know enough to have a more informed opinion than a layman.

Comment Attention contrarian investors: (Score 1) 194

There's a reason they're called "wind farms": like a farms they have good years and bad years.

El Niños come every five to seven years, and then go away. It's called the "El Niño/Southern Oscillation", or ENSO, and we're bound to get the *opposite* end of ENSO some time in the next couple years (the so-called La Niña). So if this news has people dumping their wind stocks, this'd be a great year to buy. Then dump them in three years when the news sounds insanely good.

Comment Re:Our previous numbers were completely wrong. (Score 1) 258

The world is big, and hard to measure. So big that you can't measure a lot of things perfectly, you have to estimate them based on some kind of sample. For example to arrive at the three trillion number they obviously didn't go out and count every last tree on Earth. They took observations of samples and based on the best understanding they have extrapolated.

And even though that process is obviously not infallible, it is rational. Ignoring a problem because some of the numbers related to it might get revised in the future, or assuming different numbers because you prefer the outcome aren't rational. You have to use numbers, and use the best supported numbers you have. Or give up and go with something a bit more certain of its results, like astrology.

Comment Re:What About Nutrition? (Score 1) 119

Centralizing agriculture far away and transporting pesticides and fertilizers to that site and then transporting the produce, sometimes half-way across the globe, represents a huge waste of energy, with the pollution that goes along with that.

Well... maybe. I've heard differing analyses on this. It's counterintuitive, but there are economies of scale associated with mass production. Trains are incredibly efficient, and so are the massive container ships: the square-cube law means you're moving more stuff and less vehicle. Local produce carried in the back of a pickup truck can burn as much fuel in 50 miles as a thousand miles in a freighter. There are similar economies of scale on the inputs: dragging fertilizer to a thousand local farms will be less efficient than one tanker full of it.

That's far from the whole story, of course. Local foods can take better advantage of local conditions (including less pesticides), can be better varieties since there's less shipping, are often mixed-use rather than monocultures. I know a local farmer who uses no fuel whatsoever on his farm... though a fair bit of energy is used hauling his produce from the country to the city, around 50 miles.

I do prefer to eat local when I can, but the fuel advantages aren't nearly as overwhelming as it might seem.

Comment Re:As they say (Score 1) 203

Mostly that if it actually did kill a lot of people, the corporation would take a lot of heat for it. The corporations do frequently try to push the limits on that, and the punishment for that isn't nearly severe enough. But they do actually take considerable steps to avoid having it happen accidentally, and it's really not in their best interest to do it deliberately.

The biggest problem is in ground beef. If you add one infected animal to the hopper, you can make millions of pounds of meat dangerous. That's expensive.

Note that I'm not a fan of industrial meat production, and I avoid it. That has more to do with concern for animal welfare during their lives, and with flavor: if an animal is going to die for my dinner I want it to taste less bland than the meat you get at grocery stores and most restaurants. Plus, a few environmental issues. And yeah, safety is a bit of a concern... but they do want to avoid killing people. Bad for business.

Comment Re: Sounds like (Score 1) 99

What your experience is like depends on which level of government you're working with. I had a business that had hundreds of municipal, county and state clients, and life was simple. You put in a bid at competitive price and when you won you signed a relatively straightforward, common sense contract Then in the post 9/11 era we started bidding on the bonanza of federal anti-bioterrorism projects and life got very complicated. The big consultancies we were competing with usually formed wholly owned subsidiaries so as to contain the arcane bookkeeping requirements. In a nutshell anyone can bid on contracts at the state level and below, but to bid on federal contracts you really need to specialize in that.

Oh, and there's a big difference between states too. Insofar as state or local governments work at all, its because there are good people in them that have to take a lot of shit from the public and from their deadwood colleagues; but generally places where the public is the most cynical have the most deadwood It's a chicken-or-egg thing. If public employees are

It helps to be connected anywhere of course, although ideally that shouldn't matter. It also helps anywhere to be personable, attractive (especially for women), and to like golf. We hired an engineer who was probably the second worst engineer we ever hired, but he played golf and liked to go out with the clients for a drink after work. Best. Hire. Ever.

Comment Re:What About Nutrition? (Score 4, Interesting) 119

Except this very local, which is the whole point.

Except that's not the whole point of organic agriculture. Organic farming has a number of points, some of which are valid, some of which are not.

Now the locality issue has to do with the sustainability arguments of organic advocates, which I consider generally more plausible than their ideas about nutrition or toxins. Centralizing agriculture far away and transporting pesticides and fertilizers to that site and then transporting the produce, sometimes half-way across the globe, represents a huge waste of energy, with the pollution that goes along with that.

That said, growing crops indoors with electricity derived from, say, a coal-fired power plant is hardly "sustainable agriculture". If you're growing those crops with solar or wind power from your roof that's possibly a different story.

In any case I'd regard a food system that was more local than what we have in the US to be a good thing. However I don't think that an *entirely* local food system would be a good idea. Yes, local agriculture has sustained human populations for thousands of years, but for thousands of years local famines were common too. So why I purchase locally grown produce, including excellent pasture-raised pork and beef, when it is in season, I don't feel guilty about purchasing Californian or Chilean produce when local produce is out of season, although I'd welcome some kind of "green seal" of sustainability, which would not necessarily be as stringent as, or necessarily a subset of the requirements for the "organic" label.

Comment Re:Heh (Score 4, Insightful) 468

One thing I've noticed is someone who is very good at a tech job isn't just twice as productive as someone who is lousy at it; the discrepancy could easily be 10x; or it could be that he produces positive progress and the lousy guy produces anti-progress. This is clearly true for software developers, but I've seen it happen with network administrators too: small cadres of happy, super-productive admins outperforming armies of miserable tech drones.

But the thing is if you don't understand anything about (a) the technology or (b) human beings, how do you get a worker to be more productive? You make him work longer.

I'm not talking about striking while the iron is hot. When opportunity produces the occasional 80 hour work week, that's a totally different matter than having no better idea of what to do than setting unrealistic goals and leaving it to workers to make it up through sheer, unsustainable effort. Too often in the latter case you end up producing the semblance of progress. Yeah, I finished the module but someone's going to have to throw it out and rewrite when it blows up in the customer's face.

To downgrade the human mind is bad theology. - C. K. Chesterton