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Comment: Coding standards matter and are trivial to fix (Score 1) 430

by Purpendicular (#42362921) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Do Coding Standards Make a Difference?
Code Complete by Steve McConnell discusses this. It is not your code, it is the company's code, the team's code. Some poor bastard will need to read this code five years from now. All you need to do is to use for example astyle or uncrustify to automatically format all code, before it is even accepted for a code review. Correctly formatted code, by a computer, should be a prerequisite. If the code is not correctly formatted, call of the inspection/review and meet again at some other date.

Comment: Re:The political construct is unraveling (Score 2, Insightful) 306

by Purpendicular (#42244509) Attached to: Draft of IPCC 2013 Report Already Circulating
No one that appeals to "consensus" has any scientific credibility. "On the word of no one", Nullius in verba, used to be the motto of the Royal Society. It is well hidden these days. It is not featured on the home page. In the 19th century, the Royal Society received money from the British government. This created such a scandal that any further government funding was refused. It was judged scandalous that scientist could depend on government funding. This was during laissez-faire. The British government then bankrupted the universities during the First World War (they had their savings in government bonds). These days, the Royal Society is a stooge of British politicians. Since they are the ones paying. Darwin was a hobby scientist. He was not peer reviewed. He did not work at a university. He did not publish papers. He wrote books. Followingen the IPCC logic, I should have answered that "oh, but the whole physics department agrees with my statement" during the defence of my thesis...

Comment: Re:Oh dear... (Score 1) 474

I've done that. It turns out that he and his "sycophants", i.e. other contributors, use the scientific method of looking at the evidence.

On a personal note, I was uncommitted until I asked an innocent question on Little Green Footballs and was treated as "a denier", "a troll". Now, my PhD in physics has nothing to do with climatology, but one does not have to be a scientist to recognise "appeal to authority" as in "consensus". Galileo was condemned by the "consensus" of the time. "Einstein says...", "the IPCC writes..." or "the results have been peer reviewed" are not scientific arguments.

Comment: Re:Oh dear... (Score 1) 474

So, according to your definition, Watts is a climatologist, since he studies "long-term changes in averages of weather".

The kind of degree he has is a separate matter. Darwin did not have a PhD. Darwin did not publish his theory of evolution in a "peer reviewed journal". Darwin was self-financed and not employed by a reputable institution...

I guess these revelations prove that the theory of evolution is false..., But, hey, the Bible is not peer reviewed either. What to believe...

Comment: Re:Not Published = Trash (Score 2, Interesting) 474

A few comments:

1 - He has published it, on the web, otherwise you would not be able to read it.
2 - Publishing something in a peer reviewed journal does not make something inherently better, or worse.

Peer review is not some kind of mystical spell that you cast on results to make them "scientific". Peer review simply means that peers, people working in the same fields as you, have gone over the results and agreed with them. Typically, two, to the author anonymous reviewers, go over the paper, after an editor has had a look to see that it is fit for the journal. You might be interested to know that neither Nature, nor Science practices such peer reviews. The editors of those journals accept or reject the papers themselves.

However, in any scientific field, there are only around 150 peers, Dunbar's number. When a field gets larger, it splits into several sub-disciplins. The big problem with the peer review system, both for results, and, very importantly for grant applications, is that all peers are in the same boat. So only results that generally agree with the field will be accepted. If a young brilliant scientist wants to publish results that show that the whole field is a dead loss, that there is no chance it will cure cancer and the like, he is unlikely to be published. He will not receive any grants for a proposal that sets out to prove that all of his peers should change profession, because the field is a dead end.

To fix the problems with peer review, we need competition. Independent funding from many different sources, and preferably none at all from governments. Terence Kealey discusses in a couple of books the empirical fact that for civilian research, for every dollar that the government provides, 1.25 dollars of private money disappears.
Canada

Alberta Scientists Discover Largest-Ever Cache of Dinosaur Bones 154

Posted by Soulskill
from the dino-mother-lode dept.
Cryolithic writes "The largest cache of dinosaur bones ever found has been unearthed in Alberta. From the article: '... officials at the Royal Tyrrell Museum say the Hilda site provides the first solid evidence that some horned dinosaur herds were much larger than previously thought, with numbers comfortably in the high hundreds to low thousands. ... Rather than picturing the animals as drowning while crossing a river, a classic scenario that has been used to explain bonebed occurrences at many sites in Alberta, the research team interpreted the vast coastal landscape as being submerged during tropical storms or hurricanes. With no high ground to escape to, most of the members of the herd drowned in the rising coastal waters. Carcasses were deposited in clumps across kilometers of ancient landscape as floodwaters receded.'"

Comment: Re:*applause* (Score 1) 698

by Purpendicular (#32507216) Attached to: Claimed US Military Wikileaks Source Arrested
I must confess that I have only briefly looked at the convention. What I wrote was what our captain told us in 1984, quite officially, so that would be the Swedish official point of view.

To me, the finer points of the convention are the kind of stuff that lawyers and judges in peace time give a "sitting in my library" kind of interpretation. If they personally felt that vital interests were threatened, or felt to be threatened themselves, they would look at it in another way. That the US has several times as many lawyers per inhabitant than almost any other nation on earth is most likely also a reason.

In WWII, the soldiers were "us" to the US public, all 12 million of them. Now, ever since the Vietnam war, it is "them" to the left. It is a bit as if the Americans would support the Ukraine in the Hockey World championships.

The perspectives and interpretations of the finer points of laws also changes when you are faced with opponents that do not follow any conventions. My father was at the head of a small brewery. As such he had a role in civil defense (food industry). As with Swedish fighter pilots, our home was visited by Polish "art salesmen" trying to sell paintings. This was to have a look at the house so that in case of a war (where Sweden as we now know was a Soviet first strike target), key personnel could the assassinated by the Spetznas. This was in the early eighties.

The script that Bush I and II were following for Iraq was written by Churchill. "How to deal with a dictator before the threat becomes large". The Gathering Storm is highly recommended.

http://www.amazon.com/Second-World-War-Gathering-Storm/dp/039541055X/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1276066898&sr=1-3

And I will take time to look at the Geneva conventions.

Comment: Re:What about Lamo? (Score 1) 698

by Purpendicular (#32498334) Attached to: Claimed US Military Wikileaks Source Arrested
I am quite impress with the restraint shown by the pilots. If one compares with normal behaviour from previous wars, WWI,WWII, Korea, Vietnam, the standard mode of operation would have been to assume that anyone stupid enough to stick their head out was a legitimate target. Today's Russians would have flattened the whole block.

What is sad is that the sense that the US soldiers are on our side (I am Swedish, and I am upset that there were no Swedish troops sharing the burden of Western civilization with the US).

US journalists were on the US side in WWII, something they were not in Vietnam according to Reagan. I can't remember reading any complaints about US journalists not being embedded with the Germans during WWII to get the true picture...

Comment: Re:*applause* (Score 1) 698

by Purpendicular (#32497732) Attached to: Claimed US Military Wikileaks Source Arrested
I did 15 months military service in the Swedish army, so I have no experience of an actual war. But I do know that if people are firing around you, it makes a hell of a racket. When you fire certain weapons, such as rocket propelled grenades, you keep your mouth open to avoid splitting your ear drums. With American troops embedded in bases all over Baghdad (this was 2007) and fighting going on regularly, the default attitude should be caution. We know from other reports, that fighting was going on in the vicinity of where the journalists, and their insurgent group were killed.

Based on this, if I lived in the neighbourhood, I would put my family in the most secure room of the house. If I had my young children in a car, I would stop and take shelter. I would not continue driving around.

As for fighting in built-up areas, well war is hell. In Caen, the allies flattened the whole town, beginning when there were 60 000 people living there. At the end there were still 17 000 people in the town. You have to fight the enemy where he happens to be. Do you suggest the US troops should have dropped leaflets and invited the insurgents to slug it out in the open? Please be so kind as to join us in a firefight on the shooting range...

Suppose, said our captain, that you are a civilian. You hear the Soviets approaching and you grab your hunting rifle, put a little yellow and blue armband on and attack them. In that case, as you are not in uniform and not part of a recognised military unit, according to the laws of war, the Soviets are in their full right to put you up against a wall and shoot you on the spot. Don't do it.

Comment: Re:This guy deserves a medal (Score 1) 698

by Purpendicular (#32494094) Attached to: Claimed US Military Wikileaks Source Arrested
No, alone. The guys in the apache, based on the video, did their job correctly. If you have ever been a soldier, or you simply use your imagination, you would understand. In a war, there are two sides trying to outwit one another. People do get killed on both sides, and innocent bystanders may also be killed.

Anyone who has good intentions knows to be very careful when there is a firefight in the neighbourhood, as part of an ongoing war.

Have a look at the wikipedia entry for the battle for Caen for a comparison.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_for_Caen

They finished rebuilding that town in 1962, 18 years after D-Day.

Comment: Re:*applause* (Score 2, Interesting) 698

by Purpendicular (#32484372) Attached to: Claimed US Military Wikileaks Source Arrested
For hiking with "insurgents" (the enemy) with something that at a distance looks like an RPG (it still looks like one to me), whilst other "insurgents" nearby are involved in a firefight with US troops, and with helicopter gunships above, these journalists should get Darwin awards for removing themselves from the gene pool.

The people who then decided to put two children in a van to collect the bodies should be shot if they survived. It should go without saying that the US troops would want to examine the bodies of the dead enemy, to see who they were, if there were any documents on them, etc. Every army in the world would do that. And anyone in the "insurgency" would be criminally stupid not to know that.

The Germans had no American embed journalists on D-Day in 1944. The Americans and the British bombed Caen to smithereens. Thousands of French died as "collateral damage". Should the Allied have refrained from going into France, against the express will of the Vichy government? Should they have refrained from invading Germany because it was "their country"? And should the New York Times have published the invasion plans for D-Day because "the public has the right to know"?

What is mind? No matter. What is matter? Never mind. -- Thomas Hewitt Key, 1799-1875

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