Want to read Slashdot from your mobile device? Point it at m.slashdot.org and keep reading!


Forgot your password?

How Close Are We To Engineering the Climate? 319

Posted by samzenpus
from the it's-getting-hot-in-here dept.
merbs writes The scientists had whipped themselves into a frenzy. Gathered in a stuffy conference room in the bowels of a hotel in Berlin, scores of respected climate researchers were arguing about a one-page document that had tentatively been christened the "Berlin Declaration." It proposed ground rules for conducting experiments to explore how we might artificially cool the Earth—planet hacking, basically. This is the story of scientists' first major international meeting to tackle geoengineering. It’s most commonly called geoengineering. Think Bond-villain-caliber schemes but with better intentions. It’s a highly controversial field that studies ideas like launching high-flying jets to dust the skies with sulfur in order to block out a small fraction of the solar rays entering the atmosphere, or sending a fleet of drones across the ocean to spray seawater into clouds to make them brighter and thus reflect more sunlight. Those are two of the most discussed proposals for using technology to chill the planet and combat climate change, and each would ostensibly cost a few billion dollars a year—peanuts in the scheme of the global economy. We’re about to see the dawn of the first real-world experiments designed to test ideas like these, but first, the scientists wanted to agree on a code of ethics—how to move forward without alarming the public or breaking any laws.

Comment: Congressional Authority: Smoke and Mirrors (Score 1) 772

by Torodung (#48558863) Attached to: CIA Lied Over Brutal Interrogations

No half-assed bureaucrat at the CIA wipes his nose without the authority of the US Congress. The authors of this report should be looking in the mirror. The Congress of the United States has completely failed this country. Both parties. They all knew it, they represent us, and they did nothing but for half of them writing a report pointing the finger at the other party, leaving out the obvious fact of their complete dereliction of their duty. They should have all resigned in ignominy when they published this. Right after the War Crimes tribunal for both sides. That would be justice.

Comment: Re:What? (Score 1, Insightful) 834

by Torodung (#48360951) Attached to: How To End Online Harassment

This. Someone forgot that troll protocol 101 is to ignore the troll. No matter how outrageous the slur. Someone is equating internet trolling with credible threats. The silence is therefore not misongynic assent, it is years of Internet culture training.

I'm a man, I've been threatened directly by trolls, and the only way to make them go away was to set up a kill filter and forget what a remailing bastard's ethics eventually spiral down toward. The severity of the outburst is belied by its impotence. CF: Gabriel's Internet Fuckwad Theory.

Things also tend to get exaggerated in text forums; this is a natural symptom of text medium discussions. A mildly worded response of displeasure is not enough to express severe displeasure in text. So things get "fuckity," at the very least. Nobody thinks it should get to the level of death threats, but sometimes it does, because someone wants to get a rise out of someone in text.

Now what gamers, and other internet board goers, have to understand is that feminist protocol 101 is go after anyone who threatens a woman, no matter how non-credible the threat, in order to silence her. This is a foregone conclusion to anyone who is a feminist. They are doing what their culture indicates they should do, as an automatic reaction. In face-to-face, physically close communication, it is a foregone conclusion. You must not back down from it, because historically women have been intimidated out of social spaces in exactly this way. It is part of making the world a safe space for women. The record is a winning one, and isn't about neutering men, it's about fighting gender based domination plays.

What we have here is a culture clash. Internet 101 meets feminism 101. Both views work in different ways that are fundamentally in conflict. The only way it goes away is to stop telling the women to "toughen up," take them seriously by their cultural touchstone, and tell them personally that physical threats are intolerable, but best ignored on the Internet. If a threat is viewed to be particularly credible, it is better to go to the police than to petition the greater Internet community to "shame" them, as if shaming would stop a credible threat in the first place.

And various people have had to go to the authorities over GG. The threats have been perceived as credible, no matter what your opinion. If you cannot wrap your skull around that, sit it out and don't tell people to "get over" what they perceive to be real threats. Support them.

Comment: Re:It is impossible (Score 1) 1007

by Torodung (#48243687) Attached to: Creationism Conference at Michigan State University Stirs Unease

Formally known as argument from authority. Devious indeed. I'll give them this: these folks at least know exactly which authority they have chosen and trust, and have thousands of years of historical evidence with which to judge its fruits, which is more than I can say for a lot of very bright people, who readily trust socially untested knowledge. I find that intelligent people are also very adept at rationalizations that blind themselves to their own authority fallacies, or to even believe that they have not accepted authority in any way.

But the fact is that everyone accepts authority at some point, as you cannot be an expert in everything. The difference between a creationist and a non-expert evolution proponent is their criteria for choice of authority. In the case of creationists, it is the purported age of the authority and the social consequences of the authority (as seen through rose-colored glasses IMHO) that make their chosen authority appealing. In practice, they're trusting traditional wisdom, handed down tribally. It is perhaps old-fashioned, and outdated, but not entirely without benefit. It just isn't very useful for the furtherance of scientific knowledge. It is not useless, however. It gives them social benefits which the less socially attuned lack. You find very strong communities amongst the faithful, with a well known set of social pitfalls.

Evolutionary theory did in fact lead to social Darwinism, and the only argument against that is a no-true scottsman claim that it wasn't "real" evolution. The idea that the superior are wealthy and/or more successful, and should pass on that success only to their progeny, directly follows the logic of the original theory of natural selection. The theory had dangerous social consequences, that have, to my opinion, never really been fully debunked. We just looked at the results of it, and decided it was a misapplication on moral grounds, not logical ones.

Comment: Re:We like to feel smart (Score 3, Insightful) 795

by Torodung (#47965183) Attached to: How Our Botched Understanding of "Science" Ruins Everything

Watch his worshipful reboot of Cosmos, and you'll see plenty of it. Hero worship does not belong in a science class, even though that was the purpose of establishing Newton (and others) as an authority for the modern science movement (authority was a requirement for any field of study to be taken seriously in universities at the time.) This is where the concept of "scientific laws" comes from. The antiquated need for authority to please 19th century universities.

And why people who don't understand science, and that the whole "law" thing is mostly an anachronism, spout that, say evolution, is "just a theory." It's all a theory, and some of them are very well developed! There are no laws in science. None. It's baggage from the birth pains of the 19th century.

Science is ultimately anti-authoritarian, anti-heroic, or it doesn't work. Turning a "scientific genius" into a superman is right out. Science has no heroes, and hero worship has no place in science. Respect for the elegance of a theoretical framework is the closest we should come.

Comment: Re:Really? (Score 1) 353

by Torodung (#47617999) Attached to: Microsoft Tip Leads To Child Porn Arrest In Pennsylvania

I always thought of "witch hunt" not as referring to the actual pursuit of those engaged in witchcraft (which is not imaginary, btw, only the idea that it works is imaginary, IMHO), but rather as referring to the drive to utterly crucify the subject of the hunt. BURN THEM, do not treat them as a human being, subject them to cruel and unusual punishment.


Comment: Re:Lets not rewrite history here (Score 1) 209

by Torodung (#47243287) Attached to: How Tim Cook Is Filling Steve Jobs's Shoes

Could it have been the state of capacitive touch-screens at the time, and the failure to recognize the leaps those devices made since the release of the iPad.

It's possible they tested bleeding edge tech, and at the time the displays really weren't up to snuff yet for a smaller form factor.

I'm just speculating. Maybe someone who knows will reply. Touch has gotten a lot better, very quickly in my opinion.

Comment: Re:He's not filling Steve Jobs' shoes ... (Score 0) 209

by Torodung (#47243269) Attached to: How Tim Cook Is Filling Steve Jobs's Shoes

Jobs made one good decision. His genius was in co-opting the music distribution business, when the traditional publishers had refused to budge on their outdated business models. He even served them a little DRM sandwich, knowing full well that the approach was doomed. Apple's entire success is based upon the well-established success of popular music, built by others, and the hidebound, half-witted way traditional music publishing approached it. The iPod was the gateway device. It lead directly to the iPhone's success, and through a superior iTunes performance, helped as a wedge to get people to buy Apple's overpriced computers. Without the iPod, iLife doesn't happen. Without its strength amongst actual musicians, and the knowledge that came from dealing with them, Apple's turnaround doesn't happen.

As an analogy, he's Bill Gates and IBM. He provided a market solution for a huge market someone else built, when the traditional industries were too inflexible to read the obvious writing on the wall. Just like IBM, and the PC clone revolution. And he was the only one with the insight to pursue it.

Was it genius? You decide. I think what he did was to beat out Microsoft, which actually believed in DRM solutions for content. They too, were affected by the music industry's stupid assumptions about the distribution of content in a digital age, and the ability to control it. Jobs realized DRM was doomed from the get-go.

He also got lucky with the timing, as mp3 players went from 32MB affairs to 2GB+ devices. Without that leap, the iPod would have been doomed.

Jobs knew music aficionados and producers (the real creative talent, not publishers) and acted upon that knowledge. He got lucky with the timing. That's about all he did. In my mind, everything else is fluff. Especially the bits about his brilliance in design. They're not very big shoes to fill.


The Sudden Policy Change In Truecrypt Explained 475

Posted by timothy
from the maybe-your-canary-needs-a-canary dept.
X10 (186866) writes "I use Truecrypt, but recently someone pointed me to the SourceForge page of Truecrypt that says it's out of business. I found the message weird, but now there's an explanation: Truecrypt has received a letter from the NSA." Anyone with a firmer source (or who can debunk the claim), please chime in below; considering the fate of LavaBit, it sure sounds plausible. PCWorld lists some alternative software, for Windows users in particular, but do you believe that Microsoft's BitLocker is more secure?

Comment: FORTRAN Super Star Trek (Score 1) 153

by Torodung (#47134323) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: What Inspired You To Start Hacking?

I had a green bar LPT printout of Super Star Trek in mf-ing FORTRAN that ran on a Prime minicomputer. I went to sleep studying that stack of paper.

Later on I got a C=64.

Modular grid based electronic sets, too. The kind where you could make your own radio by plugging in component cubes. I don't know what you'd actually call them so I made up a name.

The world is no nursery. - Sigmund Freud