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Government

NRC Analyst Calls To Close Diablo Canyon, CA's Last Remaining Nuclear Plant 216

Posted by samzenpus
from the shut-it-down dept.
An anonymous reader writes Michael Peck, who for five years was Diablo Canyon's lead on-site inspector, says in a 42-page, confidential report that the Nuclear Regulatory Commission is not applying the safety rules it set out for the plant's operation. The document, which was obtained and verified by The Associated Press, does not say the plant itself is unsafe. Instead, according to Peck's analysis, no one knows whether the facility's key equipment can withstand strong shaking from those faults — the potential for which was realized decades after the facility was built. Continuing to run the reactors, Peck writes, "challenges the presumption of nuclear safety."
Piracy

Rightscorp's New Plan: Hijack Browsers Until Infingers Pay Up 376

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the guilty-until-proven-guilty dept.
A few weeks ago, Rightscorp announced plans to have ISPs disconnect repeat copyright infringers. mpicpp (3454017) wrote in with news that Rightscorp announced during their latest earnings call further plans to require ISPs to block all web access (using a proxy system similar to hotel / college campus wifi logins) until users admit guilt and pay a settlement fine (replacing the current system of ISPs merely forwarding notices to users). Quoting TorrentFreak: [Rightscorp] says 75,000 cases have been settled so far with copyright holders picking up $10 from each. ... What is clear is that Rightscorp is determined to go after "Comcast, Verizon, AT&T, Cable Vision and one more" in order to "get all of them compliant" (i.e forwarding settlement demands). The company predicts that more details on the strategy will develop in the fall, but comments from COO & CTO Robert Steele hint on how that might be achieved. ... "[What] we really want to do is move away from termination and move to what's called a hard redirect, like, when you go into a hotel and you have to put your room number in order to get past the browser and get on to browsing the web." The idea that mere allegations from an anti-piracy company could bring a complete halt to an entire household or business Internet connection until a fine is paid is less like a "piracy speeding ticket" and more like a "piracy wheel clamp", one that costs $20 to have removed.
Security

Password Gropers Hit Peak Stupid, Take the Spamtrap Bait 100

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the bad-strategy dept.
badger.foo (447981) writes Peter Hansteen reports that a new distributed and slow-moving password guessing effort is underway, much like the earlier reports, but this time with a twist: The users they are trying to access do not exist. Instead, they're taken from the bsdly.net spamtrap address list, where all listed email addresses are guaranteed to be invalid in their listed domains. There is a tiny chance that this is an elaborate prank or joke, but it's more likely that via excessive automation, the password gropers have finally hit Peak Stupid.
United States

When Spies and Crime-Fighters Squabble Over How They Spy On You 120

Posted by timothy
from the we-may-or-may-not-have-done-that dept.
The Washington Post reports in a short article on the sometimes strange, sometimes strained relationship between spy agencies like the NSA and CIA and law enforcement (as well as judges and prosecutors) when it comes to evidence gathered using technology or techniques that the spy agencies would rather not disclose at all, never mind explain in detail. They may both be arms of the U.S. government, but the spy agencies and the law enforcers covet different outcomes. From the article: [S]sometimes it's not just the tool that is classified, but the existence itself of the capability — the idea that a certain type of communication can be wiretapped — that is secret. One former senior federal prosecutor said he knew of at least two instances where surveillance tools that the FBI criminal investigators wanted to use "got formally classified in a big hurry" to forestall the risk that the technique would be revealed in a criminal trial. "People on the national security side got incredibly wound up about it," said the former official, who like others interviewed on the issue spoke on condition of anonymity because of the topic’s sensitivity. "The bottom line is: Toys get taken away and put on a very, very high shelf. Only people in the intelligence community can use them." ... The DEA in particular was concerned that if it came up with a capability, the National Security Agency or CIA would rush to classify it, said a former Justice Department official.

Comment: unedited summary (Score 1) 110

I don't normally bitch about editing on summaries but, good heavens, does anyone even read this shit? The same "85% of solar energy..." line is used twice. The final line begins with "i-e" which means "that is," but it doesn't reference anything relevant to scaling. What's the appropriate tag here? !sensical? !edited? !proofed?

I'm probably just burning through karma here, but I like to think that if it's a "legitimate" rage, that the body had a way of rejecting the negative effects.

Comment: Re:And hippies will protest it (Score 1) 396

by estitabarnak (#47247981) Attached to: "Super Bananas" May Save Millions of Lives In Africa

Before CO2 becomes a limiting factor, water and nitrogen come into play. We can fertilize (for a while, anyway), but swings in water availability will make the water part harder.

Even for areas which will become better suited will produce foods will make products that are less nutritious: A recent study published in Nature suggests that in addition to lower levels of iron and zinc, C3 crops produce less protein under increased CO2 conditions. http://www.nature.com/nature/j...

Comment: Read your links (Score 1) 187

One of the first sentences on the nuclear reprocessing page linked reads "Nuclear reprocessing reduces the volume of high-level waste, but by itself does not reduce radioactivity or heat generation and therefore does not eliminate the need for a geological waste repository." Emphasis mine.

Of course reprocessing would be great, but it doesn't let us side-step the political bungling of the repository issue.

Movies

Scientists/Actress Say They Were 'Tricked' Into Geocentric Universe Movie 642

Posted by samzenpus
from the I-never-heard-of-such-a-thing-and-even-if-I-did-I-don't-remember-when dept.
EwanPalmer (2536690) writes "Three scientists and Star Trek actress Kate Mulgrew say they were duped into appearing in a controversial documentary which claims the Earth is the center of the Universe. The Principle, a film which describes itself as 'destined to become one of the most controversial films of our time', argues the long-debunked theory of geocentrism – where the earth is the center of the Universe and the Sun resolves around it – is true and Nasa has tried to cover it up. The film features the narration of actress Mulgrew, who played the part of captain Kathryn Janeway in Star Trek Voyager, as well as three prominent scientists."

Comment: Because one causes harm. (Score 1) 794

by estitabarnak (#46379789) Attached to: Whole Foods: America's Temple of Pseudoscience

Growing up in the bay area in CA, I've seen my fair share of people who buy into these types of things. I've hung my head many times in shame and disbelief. But at the end of the day, all we need to do is look at the net results of these beliefs to justify how much we should care.

Homeopathy, by definition, cannot hurt you. Due to the serial dilutions used, the chances are that there are 0 molecules of the original thing in any given dose. The worst thing it can do is cost people money for no result. Some people may turn down medicine and take homeopathics instead, but once again, that's only to the end-user's detriment.

Disbelief in, say, climate change is a different story. If you think climate change is all a big lie, you are likely acting to the detriment of everyone else on the planet. If you believe that the world is a self-correcting machines and our actions have no consequences, you are likely acting to the detriment of everyone else on the planet.

So, while new-age hippie BS is annoying, it's generally quite harmless. Not so for the creation museum and its ilk.

Businesses

Exxon Mobile CEO Sues To Stop Fracking Near His Texas Ranch 317

Posted by samzenpus
from the hoisting-with-his-own-petard dept.
Hugh Pickens DOT Com writes "Exxon Mobile's CEO Rex Tillerson's day job is to do all he can to protect and nurture the process of hydraulic fracturing—aka 'fracking'—so that his company can continue to rake in billions via the production and sale of natural gas. 'This type of dysfunctional regulation is holding back the American economic recovery, growth, and global competitiveness,' said Tillerson in 2012 of attempts to increase oversight of drilling operations. But now Rick Unger reports at Forbes that Tillerson has joined a lawsuit seeking to shut down a fracking project near his Texas ranch. Why? Because the 160 foot water tower being built next to Tillerson's house that will supply the water to the near-by fracking site, means the arrival of loud trucks, an ugly tower next door, and the general unpleasantness that will interfere with the quality of his life and the real estate value of his sizeable ranch. The water tower is being built by Cross Timbers Water Supply Corp., a nonprofit utility that has supplied water to the region for half a century. Cross Timbers says that it is required by state law to build enough capacity to serve growing demand. In 2011, Bartonville denied Cross Timbers a permit to build the water tower, saying the location was reserved for residences. The water company sued, arguing that it is exempt from municipal zoning because of its status as a public utility. In May 2012, a state district court judge agreed with Cross Timbers and compelled the town to issue a permit. The utility resumed construction as the town appealed the decision. Later that year, the Tillersons and their co-plaintiffs sued Cross Timbers, saying that the company had promised them it wouldn't build a tower near their properties. An Exxon spokesman said Tillerson declined to comment. The company 'has no involvement in the legal matter' and its directors weren't told of Mr. Tillerson's participation, the spokesman said."
IOS

Ask Slashdot: Is iOS 7 Slow? 488

Posted by timothy
from the mine-still-seems-hypothetical dept.
New submitter PopHollywood writes "Is iOS 7 slower than version 6? After upgrading, myself and a few others notice slow, choppy experience when scrolling, changing apps, etc. Is this common?" For those using iOS in general, what's been your experience with the new upgrade?

Comment: Re:And never pushed: not profitable. (Score 1) 400

by estitabarnak (#44810583) Attached to: Interview With Professor Potrykus, Inventor of Golden Rice

Anyone who wants to can label their food "Non-GMO". People can buy what they want.

That's just the problem: Anyone who wants to can label their food "Natural" or "Non-GMO." But it's not really regulated. Naked Juice, which has a label plastered with non-GMO claims finally had it catch up to them with a class action lawsuit about it. But that took people getting together to sue; it's not the government penalizing companies.

The FDA doesn't have a set of rules for the "All Natural" label, so it doesn't mean anything. The "Organic" label, on the other hand, is regulated. Most folks don't seem to recognize the difference.

Comment: Re:Even with AGW aside (Score 1) 111

Connecting carbon sequestration with fire-excluded forest is short sited (well, for most forests in the US, anyway). While I'm sure there are folks all across the spectrum who are short sited, the point is that the liberal institutions that people point to aren't supporters. Equally myopic, however, is your view of forest management, history, and ecology in general.

It's pretty well recognized (including by me above) that a management plan to maximize revenue and productivity is going to include thinning (and fire is the easiest way). Maximizing carbon production or sequestration doesn't mean maximizing vulnerability to fire, though. Not all fuels are created equal.

In terms of history, you're forgetting what was happening in Yosemite (and had been for centuries and centuries): fire-based management. The natives of California (and this is by no means an exception) have a documented history of using fire to maintain a state in ecological succession. For instance, Quercus kelloggii, the California black oak, was valued for its acorns so the forests were managed to maximize their presence and production. So the "natural characteristic" you're referring to isn't really a model for how an unmanaged forest will look. But it's okay, John Muir made the same mistake.

There isn't any permanent "end state" in a forest (okay, who's gonna come in and say "bare ground?"). There are lots of states which are local maxima in terms of stability, but those are all subject to stochastic events. There is no global maximum to which nature inexorably and violently drives. We've put our forests in a less-stable situation which can't be maintained long-term, but fire isn't nature's way of punishing us for putting two different types of trees in the same forest.

I'm glad you agree with me about fire exclusion not working, though.

Comment: Even with AGW aside (Score 3, Interesting) 111

In this discussion, we can completely ignore global climate change and end up with the same general calculus. If you let fuels accumulate (as they always have and always will) by putting out every fire, you will keep kicking the can down the road until there's a fire so big that you can't put it out. Add in budget problems and the situation is ripe in California.

This isn't a matter of wacky tree-hugging liberals preventing logging from saving our forests either. Use of prescribed burning and selective logging are taught extensively at the UC Berkeley Forestry program. Selective logging is used for various management goals in the Santa Cruz mountains (including revenue maximization). Neither of those places have a history of being particularly conservative.

This isn't a problem that you can micromanage your way out of. You can't take out a few juicy trees and declare your forest safe from fire. Regular, prescribed burns allow for the kind of patchy diversity and general fuels reduction that prevent these big fires from happening.

Sci-Fi

Gene Wolfe To Be Honored At Nebula Awards 34

Posted by Soulskill
from the book-of-the-medium-length dept.
New submitter hguorbray writes "One of my favorite Sci-Fi authors of all time, Gene Wolfe, will be honored with the Damon Night Grand Master award at the Nebula Awards weekend in San Jose this weekend. This Thursday night he will be doing a reading and Q&A along with Connie Willis (author of the Doomsday Book, Blackout/All Clear, etc.) at the San Jose Hilton. There will be a mass book signing event Friday including these authors and many others presented by San Francisco's Borderlands Books." Here are this year's Nebula Award nominees. The awards will be presented at a ceremony starting 7pm ET on Saturday.

Scientists are people who build the Brooklyn Bridge and then buy it. -- William Buckley

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