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Comment: No Warrant? (Score 4, Informative) 199

by weilawei (#47416223) Attached to: Meet the Muslim-American Leaders the FBI and NSA Have Been Spying On

Under the heading “Nationality,” the list designates 202 email addresses as belonging to “U.S. persons,” 1,782 as belonging to “non-U.S. persons,” and 5,501 as “unknown” or simply blank. The Intercept identified the five Americans placed under surveillance from their email addresses.

It is unclear whether the government obtained any legal permission to monitor the Americans on the list. The FBI and the Justice Department declined to comment for this story. During the course of multiple conversations with The Intercept, the NSA and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence urged against publication of any surveillance targets. “Except in exceptional circumstances,” they argued, surveillance directly targeting Americans is conducted only with court-approved warrants. Last week, anonymous officials told another news outlet that the government did not have a FISA warrant against at least one of the individuals named here during the timeframe covered by the spreadsheet.

So, for all the idiots arguing that we have FISA to make sure mass surveillance isn't abused: it looks like they've decided to skip that step entirely.

Comment: Re: It's Okay (Score 1) 685

by weilawei (#47397915) Attached to: When Beliefs and Facts Collide

emacs or via

Well, I do believe that Emacs has C-x M-c M-fixcat, but if you're looking for veterinary software specifically, instead of a PUSS (Primordial Universal Sapience Simulator), VIA appears to come highly recommended--at least by their marketing materials.

Change, no matter what it is, can be difficult. Contributing to the level of difficulty, Dr. Eigner was traveling almost two weeks per month. But to stay on top of things she was able to use remote access capabilities to log on to VIA from wherever in the world she was. Nevertheless, Dr. Eigner decided to go paperless using VIA’s SOAP note generator over the course of a weekend.

On the other hand, you might want to drop the SOAP.

It's late. I should probably sleep.

Comment: Re:Not surprising. (Score 2) 685

by weilawei (#47397653) Attached to: When Beliefs and Facts Collide

Hats off to you! Holy shit, you managed to do the impossible. Folks, get out your checkbooks! I won't get into the middle of the AGW debate itself, but rather your huge gaping logical error:

The truth is, this effect is almost surely completely unpredictable, and quite likely insignificant.

First, you state that the effects are "almost surely completely unpredictable". Then you make a prediction, drawing the conclusion that the effects are "quite likely insignificant". For fucks sake, if you don't have a model with good predictive power, you certainly can't draw any "quite likely" conclusions. Your proper response should have been that "the effects are unknown" if no model exists with good predictive power.

Comment: Re:quelle surprise (Score 1) 685

by radtea (#47397485) Attached to: When Beliefs and Facts Collide

Yes, but climate change is scientific fact.

Insofar as that statement isn't gibberish (that is: not very far) it's anti-science.

Here's a question for you: is it a "scientific fact" that the impact of an extraterrestrial body occurred at the KT boundary and cause the mass extinction associated with that world-wide discontinuity in the geological record?

A fair majority of scientists concerned with the question certainly think so. But there are some notable hold-outs:

People whose area of expertise is directly relevant to the question at hand, who bring up cogent if not compelling counter-arguments, alternative interpretations of the evidence, facts that appear to be in contradiction to the impact theory, and so on.

Yet they don't have a crowd of anti-scientific loud-mouths calling them "Denialists" or accusing them of being shills for "Big Paleontology."

They sometimes get into heated discussions at scientific meetings, but that's the way science works: there is no limit on the questions we can ask and if we have evidence and Bayesian argument we get a seat at the table, no matter how wigged out the ideas might seem ab initio.

Only in the area of AGW has the arena become a completely political one, where anti-scientific loudmouths compete with shills for Big Hydrocarbon, and everyone ignores the serious question, which is: given its almost certain human activity is adding about 0.25% to the Earth's energy budget (1.6 W/m**2) and we have almost no idea how the climate will respond to that (despite what climatologists sometimes claim about their unphysical models) how do we best respond?

There is a loud and well-funded contingent who believe in "abstinence only" solutions, despite those having failed in every other case they have been applied to (drugs, alcohol, contraception...)

There are green-energy people promoting solar, wind, algal biodeisel, biomass, and other carbon-neutral forms of energy generation and storage.

There are people working on better battery tech (Heinlein's "shipstones").

There are people saying we should seriously consider nuclear power as the only currently known working alternative to base-load coal.

There are people saying we should investigate geo-engineering to stablize CO2 levels.

And there are people saying that since we don't know what is going to happen we should do nothing (see: Shills for Big Hydrocarbon, above)

All of that important stuff in the middle gets drowned out by the anti-scientific loud-mouths and bullies allied with the first and last of those groups, who do nothing but spew gibberish like "climate change is a scientific fact" as if that added something to the debate rather than helped to quell the debate we should be having.

"Scientific literacy" is not or should not be knowledge of discoveries, but a willingness to practice the discipline (not method) that is science: the discipline of testing ideas by systematic observation, controlled experiment and Bayesian inference. If you aren't practicing that discipline, you are almost certainly an enemy of science, because that is the natural state of the human mind.

Comment: Re:What haven't they lied about? (Score 1) 201

All of these words need entries:

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

You're not under arrest. You're being detained. Russia or the US?

Target. (You're not being targeted, you're just being incidentally collected.)

War. (When did Congress declare the last one?)

Comment: Re:hmm.... (Score 1) 201

I managed to miss that in the news, but it's absolutely a load of bullshit and it needs to go. Just in case anyone else missed it like I did:

From NDR:

The monitoring of connections to an MIT graduate’s server on the university campus is part of the intelligence services’ attempt to particularly focus on users of privacy software on the internet. The computer server is owned by US citizen Roger Dingledine, the creator of the Tor anonymity software. The IP address of the server operated by Dingledine is clearly defined in the source code as targeted object.

From NDR:

The former NSA director General Keith Alexander stated that all those communicating with encryption will be regarded as terror suspects and will be monitored and stored as a method of prevention, as quoted by the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung in August last year. The top secret source code published here indicates that the NSA is making a concerted effort to combat any and all anonymous spaces that remain on the internet. Merely visiting privacy-related websites is enough for a user's IP address to be logged into an NSA database.

Oh, and a sample of the rules. Do you read Linux Journal?

These variables define terms and websites relating to the TAILs (The Amnesic
Incognito Live System) software program, a comsec mechanism advocated by
extremists on extremist forums.

$TAILS_terms=word('tails' or 'Amnesiac Incognito Live System') and word('linux'
or ' USB ' or ' CD ' or 'secure desktop' or ' IRC ' or 'truecrypt' or ' tor ');
$TAILS_websites=('') or ('*'); // END_DEFINITION // START_DEFINITION /*
This fingerprint identifies users searching for the TAILs (The Amnesic
Incognito Live System) software program, viewing documents relating to TAILs,
or viewing websites that detail TAILs.
fingerprint('documents/comsec/tails_doc') or web_search($TAILS_terms) or
url($TAILS_websites) or html_title($TAILS_websites); // END_DEFINITION

Comment: Re:The Spin (Score 1) 201

I'm not entirely sure what you're suggesting about the Post, Bezos, the CIA, and the NSA ("CARRIER LOST..." Now that that's out of our system, let's continue.) in relation to each other and over what turf, but they're saying "not nice" things about the NSA in 24kt gold words.

At one level, the NSA shows scrupulous care in protecting the privacy of U.S. nationals and, by policy, those of its four closest intelligence allies — Britain, Australia, Canada and New Zealand.

With their track record? Care? Scrupulous care? Insert incredulity here.

Comment: Re:The Spin (Score 1) 201

For bonus points, try searching that page for the word 'illegal' or 'unlawful'. You will not find it. Words containing 'legal' appear only twice. The use of 'lawful' occurs once, in 'lawfully', where they claim:

Most of the people caught up in those programs are not the targets and would not lawfully qualify as such.

So, they don't lawfully qualify as being targeted. So it's not actually targeting is what they're arguing. (Also, a load of BS.)

Comment: Re:The Spin (Score 1) 201

Your assignment is a load of BS. A PR spin piece can say lots of things, but the headline and the top of the fold is where most readers stop. Anything more than a quick skim is unlikely--and you are prime evidence of that. You didn't even get TFH. Even worse, you didn't read the first sentence.

The very first sentence in the article explicitly states that Americans were not legally intercepted.

Now, that word... explicit. I don't think it means what you think it means. Did you mean IMPLICIT?

Ordinary Internet users, American and non-American alike, far outnumber legally targeted foreigners in the communications intercepted by the National Security Agency from U.S. digital networks, according to a four-month investigation by The Washington Post.

It says that ordinary internet users (Americans and others) outnumber legally targeted foreigners. At no point does that sentence explicitly state that Americans were targeted illegally. It merely says that ordinary users outnumber "legally targeted foreigners". It DOES NOT state that collection was considered to be illegal for Americans. You can infer that all target collection on foreigners that was not legal was illegal, but it doesn't state whether or not Americans having their data collected was illegal.

What you're doing is making an inference from something implied by that statement.

Now shut the fuck up and go away already until you learn to read. FFS...

Comment: The Spin (Score 4, Interesting) 201

The amount of spin applied to the article is incredible. It reads like a propaganda piece designed to have snippets quoted out of context. Good soundbites.

In NSA-intercepted data, those not targeted far outnumber the foreigners who are

Which appears to imply that we only target foreigners... Since Americans are "untargeted" they don't deserve a mention.

At one level, the NSA shows scrupulous care in protecting the privacy of U.S. nationals and, by policy, those of its four closest intelligence allies — Britain, Australia, Canada and New Zealand.

And then they never balance out that "At one level" until three paragraphs later.

Then, they spend most of the article on a fucking fluff piece about the content of some romantic messages. What the fuck is this shit?

PR spin piece, through and through. They managed to ruin an actual news story.

Comment: Re: "The real problem..." he explained (Score 5, Interesting) 131

by radtea (#47384969) Attached to: Damian Conway On Perl 6 and the Philosophy of Programming

Fragmentation and stagnation, despite some assurances to the contrary

I use Python both professionally and for fun (and C and C++ professionally) and don't get this impression at all. Major upgrades to shipped languages take time. The willingness to impose one-time incompatible changes for the sake of long-term improvements takes guts, and can certainly go wrong, but can very well be worth it.

As someone who worked in C and C++ pre-standardization, I recall (perhaps erroneously) that the new standards broke a fair bit of existing code, albeit in minor ways. And of course Microsoft's broken C++ compiler in Visual Studio 6 resulted in a vast amount of borken code when they finally caught up to the rest of the world.

That said, I haven't moved to Python 3 yet, although I believe all the libraries I really care about have now migrated. I tend toward late-adoption, though, and my sense of the Python community is that everyone accepts we are eventually going to move to 3. Big changes take years, so it's no surprise that lots of developers are still on 2.x. The real watershed will be when a few major libs (wxPython, say) drops 2.x support.

In contrast, my impression of Perl 6 is that it's the language of the future, and always will be. It appears so different from Perl 5 that it's a little weird the same name is being used, and it has mostly resulted in sucking the oxygen out of Perl 5 development.

The person who makes no mistakes does not usually make anything.