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Comment: Re:Fuel? (Score 1) 303

by fugue (#31376674) Attached to: The Arctic Is Leaking Methane
Maybe, if it all comes out through just a few holes. That would also have a possible benefit of taking a very potent greenhouse gas and turning it into a less potent greenhouse gas (and CO_2 is easier to sequester if we get around to fixing the problem that things that need CO_2 are more limited by clearcutting and climate destruction and so forth than by any dearth of CO_2).

Basically, we need to stop burning carbon. The only good thing about burning carbon is that it adds essentially "free" energy to the economy models so the economists don't have to do any real work. Is it good to be less bad? If we're resolved to destroy the whole ecosphere, is it better to do it more slowly?

Comment: Re:Shhhh! (Score 1) 561

by fugue (#30892624) Attached to: Claims of Himalayan Glacier Disaster Melt Away

When their simulations constantly depart from newly obtained data, how can it possibly be accurate when going millennia into the future?

Months? Climatologists don't care about months. Why would they try to predict months? I'd think that models that can accurately predict months ahead are probably too computationally intensive to be useful for centuries. Besides, the microscopic phenomena are subject to chaotic variation that average out on larger timescales. If they're predicting and verifying on large timescales, monthly data should never enter into it, and asking such a model to predict a couple of months ahead is pointless. More precisely:

The farther into the future the less accurate it becomes.

Uh... given a noisy process, what happens when you regress the output on inputs [0,1] vs [0,100]?

That's my point. Its put forward as hard science.

By whom? That's kind of a straw man.

The reason they all point the same way is because they all more or less use the same fundamentally flawed models

Obviously if this is true you ought to have published it, or at least tried to. Please include a link to your findings in a peer-reviewed journal. I promise that I will read it and try to understand it. Until then, what was it that extraordinary claims require, again?

Comment: Re:Matrix, SSH, nmap, etc. (Score 4, Interesting) 371

by fugue (#30883676) Attached to: Designing the Computer UIs In Movies

We all like to be part of an exclusive club. I thought it was great that Trinity used something I knew a little about and that most of the audience probably didn't. It made me feel like the movie was speaking to me personally (well, it was about the only thing in the movie that did; I recall walking out of that one). Neal Stephenson does the same thing all the time, and it's fun.

I wonder if the way to make a movie appeal to a wide audience is to insert in-jokes and such for as many different demographics as possible. They don't have to be big, but I suspect it's better to make references that are lost on 95% of the audience and make the other 5% feel special than to blandify the movie, at least if you can keep the other 95% unaware that they missed something. Do that 20 times and you could make everyone feel special, singled out for a wink, valued.

Or would it get old too fast?

Comment: Re:Shhhh! (Score 1) 561

by fugue (#30883614) Attached to: Claims of Himalayan Glacier Disaster Melt Away
A couple of months forward, eh? Try millennia. And yes, as new data come in the models are tweaked. Obviously--it's not a hard science. But your understanding of science rivals that of Bush--just because the model is not exact doesn't mean that the whole thing is bullshit. Approximate predictions are still predictions, and the fact that they're all leaning the same way ought to tell you something. In such a complex chaotic system with so many unknowns, the only model that is 100% correct is one that "predicts" every possible observation. Like, say, Creationism. That's a useful model, there.

Realistically, we have no fucking clue what's going on or what will happen and anyone how says otherwise has a bridge to sale or parroting because they don't know the true state of things. Is it possible man is behind it? Yes! Is there proof? Nope!

There will never be proof. But we have (1) a model describing how humans might be causing warming, (2) a lot of data showing that warming is occurring a lot faster than it ever has before, more or less as predicted by the model, (3) many discrepancies involving unknowns like the amount of feedback methane release, solar output, biological effects that we don't really understand. So we can say that there's a very serious problem with much better than 99% probability. Is it 100%? No. Will it ever be 100%? Even if we live through the predicted effects of any given model, that doesn't prove that the model was correct--only that it happened to match the data. So no, you can't be certain. Better to live in your own little happy-fantasy world because you'd rather believe that this isn't your fault?

Comment: Censorship is unnecessary. (Score 1) 235

by fugue (#30873554) Attached to: China Slams Clinton's Call For Internet Freedom
Why bother censoring? All you need to do is flood us with so much information, or information of such sophistication, that we can't hope to read it all or evaluate it effectively. Teaching people to put a higher value on pride (not losing face) than on learning completes the obviation of censorship: we will only read what we want to read.

Look at how well that works in the USA: we all have access to the facts about global warming and mercury and abortion and health care and bribery and this-and-that, and yet there is still "debate" because there's always someone else publishing whatever the hell you want to believe.

"The biggest problem with communication is the illusion that it has taken place."

Comment: Re:I recommend ... (Score 1) 687

by fugue (#30801218) Attached to: Police Called Over 11-Year-Old's Science Project
One of the comments in the linked story (from tamooj) asks what is perhaps a more important question:

Q. Why are journalists such as yourselves not asking any real, meaningful questions? Why are you simply (and lazily) just reiterating the "official statements" that officials in CYA-mode issue, and calling this the whole of the story? Sigh.

The foundation of democracy is an educated voter base. As the last 9 years of US politics has shown, democracy here isn't worth the paper it's printed on. Why not? Perhaps in part because most "journalism" is re-wording press releases, not asking questions. If journalists actually did any work, the sheeple might at least see that the process of asking questions can exist, and can maybe even lead to actual answers. But when the only political discourse in the nation is people regurgitating press releases from think tanks or other marketing firms, when the very process of questioning something is invisible to anyone who isn't a scientist, how the hell can you expect to run a country?

I have been told by journalists that there's some sort of "holy grail" of impartiality. They have tricked themselves into thinking that by having an opinion they are violating a public trust, and that by using their own brains and asking a question, they are inserting bias into their articles. I'm stunned that they think that neutrality can exist in the first place, and disgusted by the confluence of this fantasy and their laziness.

Comment: Re:Because obscurity... (Score 1) 379

by fugue (#30616756) Attached to: TSA Subpoenas Bloggers Over New Security Directive

There is no "consent" section of the brain that suddenly comes online on a person's 16th or 18th birthday. There is no bright line between "child" and "adult" at a biological level. There is no scientific consensus, let alone logical proof, as to what physical capacity a person needs to make informed decisions, or how to measure that capacity, or even at what age that capacity tends to arise (see the variation in ages of consent across the US and around the world). Setting a policy here requires more than just logic.

Very good post, but I must point out that there is in fact a great deal of psychological literature on decision-making, and I am alarmed at the number of decisions that adults "make" that are foregone conclusions of programming. This is not the abstract "there is no free will because free will implies uncaused causation" but a much more concrete "the conscious mind spends a lot of time justifying and making up explanations for decisions that the subconscious makes without recourse to reason."

Come to think of it, the "age of consent" is probably closely linked to the age at which our brains really start to behave in that way--perhaps it could be said that only a child is capable of actually making a conscious decision. "In the beginner's mind there are many possibilities; in the expert's mind there are few" is a well-known observation, but the basis is that as we age we become more set in our ways and less capable of assimilating new information and thinking in new ways.

That's the theory. Do the facts bear it out? Does it look like we, as a species, tend to make informed and wise decisions? About sex? Marriage? Children? Transportation? Pollution? War? Finances? Ethics? Time management? Quality of life? ...?

Comment: Re:Wait, what? (Score 1) 316

by fugue (#30404804) Attached to: Three Lawmakers Ask For Enforcement Against Leak Sites

A liberal, on the other hand, will have a (well-meaning) vision for how a Great Society should be, and think about what actions government policy should take in order to cause that vision to become reality.

I think it's a little more complicated than that. When one person's decisions affect everyone else, what then? Is it liberal or conservative to try to control greenhouse gases, carcinogenic and toxic waste in the water table, deforestation, overpopulation, etc? I guess that wanting to control those things qualifies as a vision of a Great Society (or at least a marginally sustainable one)--and at least the late behaviour of the two parties is pretty consistent with your description. But if that's true, then the conservative platform is literally the platform of doom.

A liberal will say, "I think we all share a vision of what marriage should be, and the polls even in 2009 bear that out. Government should enact policies enforce the will of the people."

Interesting, but that's not my read of "liberal" intent. Republicans (not your "conservatives") are constantly trying to tell people what to do. The liberals often do as well, but not here. The problem is that it is impossible to enforce the absence of a law: you can't just say "let's not make a law." The winner of the fight over whether to control marriage or not is the one who passes a law saying "Marriage is defined as [blah blah blah] ...". If liberals were trying to control people in the way that conservatives are, they would tell you whom you must marry. Instead, they are trying to create a law that guarantees you the power to make your own choice. Is that conservative?

[Abortion:] Neither side is really taking the position that a progressive vision-of-society should trump rights, although each side thinks the other side does, since they disagree about whether or not a fetus can have rights.

Interesting... but Ch. 4 of Freakonomics makes a strong case that if your Grand Vision of society values low crime rates, then access to abortion is critical. So, yes, if you believe Levitt and Dubner, then this debate too can be cast as you've cast the ones above. I can't do their argument justice here--the very short and vegetarian version is that women tend to be good judges of whether they're in a position to raise children--but you might enjoy it.

See the Libertarians or the Communists for consistent ideology.

I'm not sure, but I have a hunch that that's because they don't have enough power in the USA to have to deal with actual issues. How would a libertarian handle global warming / ozone hole / etc? How would a communist handle human laziness?

Comment: Re:Definitely questions for... (Score 1) 434

by fugue (#30230258) Attached to: Australian Govt. Proposes Internet "Panic Button" For Kids
Oh YES! I am really looking forward to the number of dolphins earned by "This website is optimised for Microsoft Internet Explorer. Please upgrade your browser." Or just sites that open popups... especially when those popups interfere with the perusal of pictures of naked bottoms.

Comment: Re:What? (Score 1) 486

by fugue (#30175816) Attached to: Federal Judge Says Corps of Engineers Liable For Katrina Damage

It's pretty stupid of people to knowingly choose to live in a flood zone. Or an earthquake zone. Or within 1000 miles downwind of Yellowstone. Or within range of a nuclear weapon. Or, frankly, on a planet run by humans. You can't do all the research and learn of all possible risks; it's nice to have building codes and whatnot so you can trust that a house you buy is actually safe from some forms of damage. Which ones?

Seriously; this look to government to protect one's self has gone too far.

Yes. On the other hand, I ask the government to protect me from bullies, like foreign invaders, people running red lights, corporations dumping toxins into the water supply, etc. Do you believe that I should do all of that myself?

In what will be millions of similar cases in this century, I can't take personal measures to protect myself from rising sea levels--should I go out and kill everyone who releases greenhouse gases? I don't see why it's unreasonable to expect the government to take responsibility for saving lowlanders.

Of course, if we could somehow just stop the sea level from rising... oh, wait, we know how to do that! Cool!

Comment: Re:Also: (Score 1) 285

by fugue (#30121024) Attached to: TSA Changes Its Rules, ACLU Lawsuit Dropped

It appears to me that your party is the neocons. Specifically, Republicanism today means you support at least some of (1) Ecoterrorism: privatised permanent destruction of natural resources such as air, water, forests, etc. (2) Transferring financial power away from "government" and towards corporations. (3) State-mandated religion. (4) Suspension of civil liberties, wiretaps, searches, torture, etc... (5) Fear, isolationism, proud ignorance, and the suppression of science and education. From where I sit, it seems that the Democrats are currently doing better on 1, 2, 3, and 5.

Which of those do you like? If the answer is "none", I'm very curious as to how you figure you're a Republican, given that what I listed has indisputably been very much our Republicans' agenda for some time now (check the voting records). If you do like some of those, you may be Republican, and I'm curious how you figure they're a good thing.

There were times in the past when those roles were reversed to a greater or lesser extent, but for now that's where things stand.

How am I wrong?

Comment: Expectation of privacy? (Score 1) 316

by fugue (#29955702) Attached to: An Inbox Is Not a Glove Compartment

Email never had an expectation of privacy anyway. Not that I think the government is doing the Right Thing here, but if you use email for communications that should remain private, you're an idiot if you don't encrypt.

Fortunately, strong encryption has been fairly easy for many years. I'm fairly aghast at how often this is forgotten. And I'd like to see a judge rule that cracking a GPG-encrypted email doesn't violate an expectation of privacy.

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