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Comment James Hansen is a becoming shameful (Score 4, Insightful) 332

I get how as a scientist watching things you want to push people to action. That being said, James Hansen has gone a little overboard IMHO and into the realm of damaging the credibility of scientists in general be politicizing things himself. He's written things like:
Mountain glaciers, providing fresh water for rivers that supply hundreds of millions of people, will disappear - practically all of the glaciers could be gone within 50 years
This despite the IPCC estimates that gain/loss in glaciers will be regionally dependant on precipitation changes(and this based on admittedly poorly modelled precipitation).

The trains carrying coal to power plants are death trains. Coal-fired power plants are factories of death.
This isn't precisely a statement backed by peer reviewed evidence either...

When people are angry about the science being politicized, it does NOT help for the scientists to go over board politicizing things themselves in the hope of being a counter-balance. It doesn't work between FOX and MSNBC counter balancing each other from Rep-Dem sides of things, and it doesn't work for educating people on the science either. You just get more and more grandiose hyperbole, half truths and flat out propaganda from both sides.

Comment Re:Hooray (Score 1) 67

I suspect their "smidgen of ethics" is a convenient excuse to pull out of a market in which they don't make money. Where there's money to be made, ethics usually go out the window.

Their smidgen of ethics is even smaller than you fear. Blackberry isn't pulling out of the Pakistani market, they are being thrown out. Reuters reported back in July already that Pakistan was giving private telecoms the deadline of November 30th to shutdown all BES systems.

Oh, and if that didn't squish their ethical stand enough, the blog post has an update since the summary was written. Pakistan moved the deadline to December 30th and Blackberry is happily staying in the country till then now...

But freedom fighting sounds better than losing customers.

Comment Re:Different than India (Score 1) 67

How is this any different from the arrangement the Indian government required?


The difference is that Blackberry isn't taking a moral stand against Pakistan either. Pakistan decided as of July that Blackberry would be banned from use by private ISP's within Pakistan, and today was the deadline. Pakistan may or may not continue running all government phones over their own BES system, but nobody in the country is allowed to do it privately any more.

Blackberry is just trying to spin a loss as anything else.

Comment BES was kicked out, not pulling out. (Score 3, Informative) 67

Phone access != BES access.

They may not give 2 shits about you or your privacy but they sure give a shit about their BES deployments. As the first comment pointed out, WE aren't their customers. Corporations spending millions on BES are their customers. Selling backdoored *phones* is a core part of their business model to go right along with BES. So yes, they are happy to give LEO the same backdoor access your IT manager has but they won't give out the keys to the kingdom for BES.


Pakistan was in love with Blackberry for the longest time for exactly this reason because they liked having a central BES server to make the job of the ISI easier to collect everyone's communications. Then back in July Pakistan announced it was kicking Blackberry out of the country, by November 30th(today).

From what I've followed of Pakistani news it looks like this was the flow of things. The Pakistani government spent a long time requiring anybody in government or important had to run Blackberry on the government controlled BES server so that everyone could be watched. Since GW Bush gave them his cowboy speech, their military government relaxed things a bit and gave civilian government control back again for the first meaningful length of time in the country's history. During that time the civilian government also liked keeping tabs on everyone, but also opened up telecoms ability to do their own thing. This led to telecoms running their own private BES systems. The Taliban then had an affordable encrypted communications channel that they could use for planning attacks on Pakistani cities. It's even odds whether the Taliban or civilian use of the private BES systems was the REAL reason the government decided to crack down, but Pakistan announced it's decision back in July that Blackberry had gone from golden boy to unwelcome and would be banned from use by the country's private ISP's today.

In short, Blackberry would like to spin this as them taking a stand, but it's really just them losing a big customer.

Comment Pakistan announced this in July (Score 2) 67

It's nice of Blackberry to try and spin this as a positive that they've decided to pull the plug on Pakistan, today on November 30th. Reuters however reported on the 24th of July 2015 that the Pakistani government was moving to shut Blackberry out of the country by November 30th.

This is much more an effort on Blackberry's part to try and spin a loss of a major business customer than it is Blackberry actually takign any manner of morale stand.

Comment Re:Violence! (Score 3, Insightful) 483

It was a war. Shit happens.

No, it wasn't a war. It was a series of heavy-handed, ultra-violent overreactions to minor incidents which themselves were responses to systematic oppression. Military action often does kill civilians, the so-called "collateral damage", but herding groups of unarmed women and children into a building and then deliberately shelling that building to kill them all is not collateral damage; the unarmed civilians were the target.

If you want to understand what's really going on in Israel, I highly recommend you read "Goliath: Life and Loathing in Greater Israel", by Max Blumenthal. It's a hard book to read, not because Blumenthal isn't a good writer but because the truth is so horrible. And if you doubt that it is the truth, check the included citations.

Comment Re:Absence of Evidence is not Evidence of Absence (Score 1) 201

What you seem to be missing is that War is a macro-aggressive, acute failure of society. Microaggression is a stealthy, sinister, chronic failure of society that is far more widespread and far more damaging to the long-term health of humanity than is an acute War that has a beginning and an end.

Others have addressed the first major flaw in this argument, which is that killing people is worse than being mean to them.

But there's another flaw, which is your apparent belief that microaggression is something new. It is definitely not. People have always been nasty to each other, and we're significantly less nasty to each other today than ever before. The notion of microaggression is perhaps the best proof: previous generations didn't even bother thinking about microaggression, because it was just normal. Today, we recognize this subtle form of personal attack and work to expose it and thereby reduce it.

You should read the first few chapters of Steven Pinker's "The Better Angels of Our Nature", in which he documents historical evidence of the ways in which people were nasty to each other. He focuses mostly on physical nastiness, violence, but lots of other sorts of nastiness are covered in passing, or obviously implied. Society is much, much better than it used to be. Empathy for strangers is normal today. It wasn't always.

Comment Re:Things are looking up (Score 1) 201

In 1914, there was no entertainment as you imagine.

So radio, films, plays, books, and concerts didn't exist?

Note the correction of the year. 1940 was obviously a typo, the discussion was about 1914.

Radio was demonstrated but not used commercially in 1914. No, films didn't exist. Plays and concerts did, but high-quality productions were pretty much limited to major cities. Books, yes.

books were expensive and rare, etc.

Poppycock, etc.

I have difficulty believing anyone could be so completely ignorant of history. But apparently you are.

Compared to today, yes, books were expensive and rare. Most everything was dramatically more expensive than it is today, in terms of what a person with the median income could afford, and that included books. In 1914 most homes had a small number of books, far fewer than today. But the typical person also had far less leisure time.

Comment Re:enough already... (Score 1) 316

Normally I tend to think Dawkins is bit of a dick (And I say that as someone who is also a rusted on atheist) but yeah.

A lot of liberals seem terminally worried about offending with religion , but its not clear whos getting offended.

Most atheists , me included, take a live-and-let-live approach to religion. Its fine as long as its not going after me. The muslims are 99% of the time completely OK with christianity (Seriously, Jesus is their second most important prophet) , Jews are non evangelical and pretty much dont bother with brow beating gentiles. Hinduism and Sikhism are totally into religious pluralism, its kind of in the DNA of their religions. So whos left? Pagans? (Hippies). Eh....

Theres no war on christmas, except in the minds of nutty conservatives and confused liberals.

Comment Re:Yeah, I've worked with a few of those (Score 1) 494

Why do you think explosives is the only tool of the trade for terrorists? But even for bombs, it's "beneficial" to have understand reliable detonation mechanisms, blast radii, shaping, and weight. And questions like "will this bring a building down or not?" or "will x-rays detect this?", or given that not all terrorists are suicidal, and not all targets can be approached at pont blank, even "how far away does a person need to be to survive the blast?"
For non-bombs, trajectories can be important. Or fuel rate consumption. Or counterweights.

I can fully see those who train terrorists sending some of them off to engineering schools. That likely has a higher payoff than, say, culinary school. And given how rare it is being a terrorist, it shouldn't take many to offset the statistics in the reverse direction.

Comment Re:Yeah, I've worked with a few of those (Score 1) 494

In my opinion, their description of religious and terrorist merely means that engineers are more likely to be *religious terrorists*.

Your right, although largely left wing terrorism isn't really as big an issue as it was in the 70s. I mean other than the odd punch up with cops and the rare instance of a morally confused environmentalist lighting something on fire, how often do you see marxists blowing things up these days, compared to neo-nazis and religious nutters blowing things up and killing people.

Those who claim the dead never return to life haven't ever been around here at quitting time.