"You can't reason someone out of a position they didn't reason themselves into."
techmuse writes "The San Jose Mercury News reports that the California state legislature wants to put electronic advertising on license plates. The plate would display standard plate information when the car is moving, but would also display ads when the car is stopped for more than 4 seconds (say, at a red light). Not distracting or annoying at all! 'The bill has received no formal opposition. It passed unanimously through the Senate last month and is scheduled to be heard Monday by the Assembly Transportation Committee.'"
eldavojohn writes "Moving for the first time from a cautious message to a message of urgency, the National Academy of Science has advised the United States government to either adopt a carbon tax or cap and trade legislation. This follows a comprehensive study in three parts released today from the National Academies that, for the first time, urges required action from the government to curb climate change."
jammag writes "It was shocking news, or so it seemed: Miguel de Icaza, the Mono creator, was switching his opinion about his life's work — he now seemed to agree with the free software partisans who oppose his Mono work and his Microsoft connections. The story flamed across the Internet and even got picked up on Slashdot. But Bruce Byfield reports that 'De Icaza has not changed his opinions.' De Icaza calls the rumors 'a storm in a teacup.' Tracing the misinformation trail, Byfield concludes that 'the FOSS community excels at communication. However, in this instance, that ability was used irresponsibly.'"
taucross writes "A new site allows lonely Xbox 360 gamers to pay a prescribed fee for a few minutes of game time with one of the 'PlayDates', a girl who is paid to play video games. Gamers can choose to have a 'flirty' or 'dirty' experience with one of the PlayDates. Is this what we meant when we said we wanted 'adult gaming'?"
Uhh, insurance companies make about a 3% profit margin on average. Google for yourself if you don't trust this link.
Yep, like the saying goes:
MikeChino sends along this awe-inspiring excerpt: "Think claims of electric vehicles that get over 200 MPG are impressive? Try this on for size: a group of mechanical engineering students at Cal Poly have developed a vehicle that can get up to 2752.3 MPG — and it doesn't even use batteries. The Cal Poly Supermileage Team's wondercar, dubbed the Black Widow, has been under construction since 2005. The 96 pound car has three wheels, a drag coefficient of 0.12, a top speed of 30 MPH, and a modified 3 horsepower Honda 50cc four-stroke engine. It originally clocked in at 861 MPG and has been continuously tweaked to achieve the mileage we see today." It's not quite as street-worthy, though, as Volkswagen's 235 MPG One-Liter concept. Updated 20:01 GMT: The Cal Poly car's earlier incarnation achieved 861 MPG, not MPH; corrected above.
itwbennett writes "It can take a fairly stable team of programmers as long as six months to get to a point where they're estimating programming time fairly close to actuals, says Suvro Upadhyaya, a Senior Software Engineer at Oracle. Accurately estimating programming time is a process of defining limitations, he says. The programmers' experience, domain knowledge, and speed vs. quality all come into play, and it is highly dependent upon the culture of the team/organization. Upadhyaya uses Scrum to estimate programming time. How do you do it?"
Several readers have told us that the Indian Government is moving to establish its own group to address the science of climate change since it "cannot rely" on the official United Nations panel. "The move is a severe blow to the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) following the revelation parts of its 3000 page 2007 report on climate science was not subjected to peer review. A primary claim of the report was the Himalayan glaciers could disappear by 2035, but the claim was not repeated in any peer-reviewed studies and rebuffed by scientists. India's environment minister Jairam Ramesh announced that the Indian government will established a separate National Institute of Himalayan Glaciology to monitor climate change in the region. 'There is a fine line between climate science and climate evangelism,' Ramesh said. 'I am for climate science.'"
bratgitarre writes "A targeted phishing scam on companies trading with greenhouse gas emission certificates in Europe has reaped millions, Der Spiegel reports. By sending phishing e-mails to companies in Australia and New Zealand purporting to be from the German Ministry for Environmental Protection (German article, Google translation) the criminals obtained login credentials for companies owning polluting permissions. They then swiftly sold them to other polluters in various European countries. Damages are probably huge for a single incident, as 'one medium-sized German company alone had lost allowances worth €1.5 million ($2.1 million).' German federal officials, who can trace some of the transactions, claim that out of 2000 certificate sellers, seven responded to the scam."
Freistoss writes "Microsoft still has not released a patch for a major zero-day flaw in IE6 that was used by Chinese hackers to attack Google. After sample code was posted on a website, calls began for Microsoft to release an out-of-cycle patch. Now, France has joined Germany in recommending its citizens abandon IE altogether, rather than waiting for a patch. Microsoft still insists IE8 is the 'most secure browser on the market' and that they believe IE6 is the only browser susceptible to the flaw. However, security researchers warned that could soon change, and recommended considering alternative browsers as well." PCWorld seems to be taking the opposite stance arguing that blaming IE for attacks is a dangerous approach that could cause a false sense of security.
gyrogeerloose writes "A test published by MOTO labs comparing the accuracy and sensitivity of smartphone touchscreens among various makers gave the iPhone top marks ahead of HTC's Droid Eris, the Google-branded Nexus One and the Motorola Droid. The test was conducted within a drawing program using a finger to trace straight diagonal lines across the screens and then comparing the results. While it's not likely that a smart phone user is going to draw a lot of lines, the test does give some indication of which phones are most likely to properly respond to clicking on a link in a Web browser."
MikeChino writes "The CIA has just joined up with climate researchers to re-launch a data-sharing initiative that will use spy satellites and other CIA asets to help scientists figure out what climate change is doing to cloud cover, forests, deserts, and more. The collaboration is an extension of the Measurements of Earth Data for Environmental Analysis program, which President Bush canceled in 2001, and it will use reconnaissance satellites to track ice floes moving through the Arctic basin, creating data that could be used for ice forecasts." Even though the program is "basically free" in terms of CIA involvement, the Times notes: "Controversy has often dogged the use of federal intelligence gear for environmental monitoring. In October, days after the CIA opened a small unit to assess the security implications of climate change, Senator John Barrasso, Republican of Wyoming, said the agency should be fighting terrorists, 'not spying on sea lions.'"
jamie found a long and painstaking piece up at The Economist asking and provisionally answering the question: "Does the spirit of scientific scepticism really require that I remain forever open-minded to denialist humbug until it's shown to be wrong?" The author, who is not named, spent several hours picking apart the arguments of one Willis Eschenbach, AGW denialist, who on Dec. 8 published what he called the "smoking gun" — it was supposed to prove that the adjustments climate scientists make to historical temperature records are arbitrary to the point of intentional manipulation. The conclusion: "[H]ere's my solution to this problem: this is why we have peer review. Average guys with websites can do a lot of amazing things. One thing they cannot do is reveal statistical manipulation in climate-change studies that require a PhD in a related field to understand. So for the time being, my response to any and all further 'smoking gun' claims begins with: show me the peer-reviewed journal article demonstrating the error here. Otherwise, you're a crank and this is not a story. And then I'll probably go ahead and try to investigate the claim and write a blog post about it, because that's my job. Oh, and by the way: October was the hottest month on record in Darwin, Australia."
eldavojohn writes "On Google's official blog, they claim a 'new technology prototype that enables online, global-scale observation and measurement of changes in the earth's forests.' Ars has more details on what Google unveiled at Copenhagen. If you have Google Earth installed, you can find a demonstration here. Many organizations and government agencies are on board with this initiative to put deforestation before the eyes of the public. If only satellite data of North America existed before the logging industry swept in!" It's interesting to contemplate the implications for intelligence gathering of Google's automated tools to compare satellite photos.