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Censorship

Submission + - Canadian censorship takes down 4500 sites (theyesmen.org) 2

uncadonna writes: "According to activist group "The Yes Men", the government of Canada has shut down two parody websites criticizing Canada's poor environmental policy. The article goes on to claim that "In response to Environment Canada's request, Serverloft immediately turned off a whole block of IP addresses, knocking out more than 4500 websites that had nothing to do with the parody sites or the activists who created them. Serverloft was shown no warrant, and never called the web hosting company about the shutdown.""

Comment Re:McArdle did not write this, Willis Eschenbach d (Score 1) 1747

Interesting how eager people are to believe Eschenbach without any "auditing".

Anyway, check this comment and this comment in the McArdle thread before jumping to conclusions.

"the homogenization process is a fully automatic statistical treatment for 7000 stations - it has no biases for higher or lower temperatures. The homogenization is based on the records of the nearest 5 stations, which can have a higher or lower temperature so treatment is not biased. Darwin 0 has a higher adjustment due to higher temperature records in the neighboring stations. In the cases where the "neighbors" of the 7000 stations have lower temperatures, there is an automatic downwards adjustment.

"In fact, handpicking adjustments for individual stations, which is what Eschenbach suggests for Darwin 0 in 1941, would be a method far more prone to temptations to bias the result desired."

Comment Re:Ooh! Links! I know this! (Score 1) 1747

Raw observational data series must adjusted when instrumentation changes. The step change shown at your link is obviously an artifact. Removing such artifacts (in whichever direction) is a big part of the problem of getting a temperature record from imperfect surface observations. This just shows people doing their jobs.

McArdle knows nothing about these matters and doesn't seem to have consulted anyone who does. Have you?

Normally I don't respond to people who use "Thhpt!" in their argumentation. Do you think that helps?

Comment Re:How to restore healthy debate (Score 1) 1747

I stipulate that I have a hard time imaging a circumstance where I would approve of the linked message. Still, we are missing a lot of context. One thing we do know is that there was a context of harassment. Remember, Mike Mann had been the subject of a congressional investigation just for doing his job as best he could. Whether he erred or not, there's no evidence he produced the original hockey stick in bad faith. The people who are trying to act as if they had approached matters in the most collegial fashion have a history of doing the subcommunity in question here a good deal of harm. Also they seem to enjoy hanging out with cranks and crackpots. It may not be justifiable for scientists to respond in this way but it's not beyond understandable. I am not saying "he started it!" is enough, but I am saying that people who got into science because they are quiet and controversy-averse may be ill-suited for this sort of contention and react badly. My main point about all of this is that it is very peripheral to the actual policy issues or even the main science issues. People trying to leverage a couple of outbursts like this into overthrowing all of climate physics obviously don;t know any climate physics.

Comment Re:How to restore healthy debate (Score 1) 1747

Part of the problem is that every government has a hand in it, and that since people don't like to pay taxes, many of the governments involved fund the research by reselling the data to private forecast entities. If they open source it (which I fully agree that they should) that revenue stream dries up, a number of businesses are threatened, and your taxes go up. In any case, AIUI the Climate Research Unit was under contractual obligation to the various contributory agencies (in MANY countries) NOT to reveal the information, so all the FOI requests amounted to nothing more than harassment.

In the end, robust code is more expensive than quick hacks. The purloined code has quick hack flavor, no doubt, and in a few places shows somebody who is stuck in a Fortran mentality where a proper scripting language would have been far superior. Whether it was suitable for purpose for said code to be a quick hack is not something I see being discussed anywhere.

Let's stipulate for argument that it was not at an appropriate level of rigor for the task and consider what it means. What it doesn't mean is dishonesty.

I know lots of scientific programmers who find the idea of having to learn Perl or Python terrifying. Pity, but really these are untrained programmers though trained scientists. Anyway, acquiring trained programmers and training them in science or acquiring trained scientists and training them in programming costs a lot of money, and despite what you may have heard, money is very tight in climate science. That said, riskinbg doing things wrong because it's cheaper doesn't make a lot of sense. In other words, I agree with the sentiments expressed here for the most part but readers should understand that most of them cannot be achieved on a shoestring.

The loss of credibility in science described in the leader is realistic and not without foundation. Science has problems which need to be addressed. An accusatory and adversarial stance, though, will simply throw the baby out with the bathwater. And the CO2 continues to pile up, with consequences that we can anticipate may be very serious.

Anyway I find it odd that the parent article refers to "our" government. Presumably parent author is British?

Michael Tobis,
Ph.D. Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences 1996 at U Wisconsin-Madison

Comment Back Story (Score 1) 1306

Some resources for the back story are on my blog; various useful links there for those interested. The upshot of it is a few words got eliminated from the curriculum after much struggle, and a few more were slipped back in at the last minute. Now there is a struggle to take that new batch back out again. This appears to be the final round for several years unless the state legislature steps in, something the Texas legislature is not famous for doing.

Texas is wonderful in many ways but wondrous strange as well.

The Internet

Submission + - 10 HTML pages your site and everyone else needs

An anonymous reader writes: This back to the basics article might seem obvious to many, but, you'd be surprised how many websites we visit ignore providing the basic files that users anticipate finding and that tell both humans and machines what your website is all about. Stop doing your site and users wrong and start providing the keys to your kingdom.
Patents

Submission + - Patenting Life

Archangel_Azazel writes: The New York Times is running a story here : http://www.nytimes.com/2007/02/13/opinion/13cricht on.html?_r=1&oref=slogin about an opinion that Michael Crichton wrote about patenting genes and the harm to innovation and lives that gene patents cause.

There's also information about a bill being sponsered that may offer a solution, from TFA:

"Fortunately, two congressmen want to make the full benefit of the decoded genome available to us all. Last Friday, Xavier Becerra, a Democrat of California, and Dave Weldon, a Republican of Florida, sponsored the Genomic Research and Accessibility Act, to ban the practice of patenting genes found in nature."
Books

Submission + - Can you tell a story in shellscript?

Anonymous Cowboy writes: Maddox Kent has written a novel called Living Things, published via Bob Young's post-Red Hat venture Lulu.com — and a whole chapter is written in a script language inspired, according to the author, by the bash shell. A significant portion of the novel takes place in an MMO, and there's even reference to a "GTA-Persistent" thirty-odd years from now... Ender's Game arguably made videogames into a literary device: are there any other novels (bar the Halo/Splinter Cell spinoffs) that feature games as a significant factor? If cinema can grasp gaming as a storytelling device (The Last Starfighter, Tron, even Hackers at a pinch) why is it still so rare in literature? We are always badgering gamemakers to tell better stories: Tom Clancy aside, who outside the industry is willing to engage with games as a storytelling medium?

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