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Comment Re:horse has left the barn (Score 1) 367

People need to realize that the effects of global warming are at this point unstoppable.

I know horses can count to three and do simple arithmetic, but to bolt the barn at the very stroke of four hundred greatly surpasses my prior estimation of equine quantitative analysis.

"Storm's-a-brewin'," says the white horse, from behind the thoroughly bolted barn door.

"North of four hundred! Wouldn't be caught dead in that climate," says the black horse, giving the topmost bolt a final check with his teeth.

"Not with those bloody superstitious bipeds completely giving up on proactive management, just because they burst through the first screw-up milestone still in the same old business-as-usual blind gallop," agrees the chestnut.

"Typical glue-obsessed skin-pickling apes," agrees the white horse. "I'm waiting this out from in here."

"Agreed," says the black horse. "Unless. Duty. Summons."

"That creeps me out," says the white horse, moving another step away. "How will you know?"

"Stormy, moonless nights, black cats, one-eyed bats—all the assorted omens of end times and human fate," says the chestnut.

"Stop kidding around," says the black horse. "Salty white filigrees on the cement floor will spell things out all too clearly."

"Good to know we don't have to stand around counting bats eyes," says the white horse. "That would have sucked."

"Beats what the humans can manage," says the chestnut.

Here the white horse lets fly with a giant fart of approval.

"Hey, stop that, meth breath!" says the chestnut.

"Too late!" says the white horse, "better out than in."

"Wrong," says the black horse. "Better in than out," continues the black horse, after checking the middle bolt with his teeth one last time.

Comment bollocks (Score 1) 175

Bollocks on their predication rate. Real forecasters report skill. By contrast, actual progress on predicting the North Atlantic Oscillation, perhaps an achievable goal, would be huge.

Both of these issues are covered in Judith Curry on Climate Change, a podcast from 2013 which, as it happens, I consumed yesterday.

Concerning the rush to embarrass themselves by reporting their weather prediction rate, it's because of the taxonomic land grab.

Host: I wonder how you feel about how your particular field has changed as you've grown up in it and been out for 25 years. ... Do you feel that we are making progress in the scientific world on this particular topic? Or are we in trouble?

Guest: I think we're in big trouble. When I left graduate school, nobody called themselves a climate scientist. They were an atmospheric dynamicist or a geochemist or a physical oceanographer or things like that. And we were all focused on increasing fundamental understanding. And that was the focus. It was the breakthrough in understanding, changing the way people think, was what mattered. And somebody who published too many papers was probably looked at with suspicion--they are doing the quick and easy stuff; they are not really digging in. It was potentially superficial.

The other thing that was looked down upon, say in the 1980s, was doing something that was too applied, working to deal with regional problems or something like that. That was viewed as soft core; it was what the people did who couldn't really make fundamental contributions to understanding, so they moved on to some of these applied topics, which were useful in some way to regional decision-makers.

I would say in 2000--it was a gradual transition, but I think circa 2000 there was a switch to people finding it beneficial to self-label them as a climate scientist. There was a lot of money, research dollars in this area; there was a lot of influence to be had, in terms of sitting on panels and boards and committees and being interviewed by journalists and being invited to testify in front of Congress. And so the value and the influence of the scientist sort of switched into that dimension where your measure of influence was not so much how you increased our fundamental understanding of how the oceans worked, but it was really to what boards and committees you sat on, your press, and your influence in policy, being invited to testify in front of Congress, and whatever. So I've seen that switch.

The problem is, the concern that I have for the health of our field, is that there's still a lot of fundamental things that we don't understand. The climate models aren't good enough. We need to go back to basics, increase our understanding about the non-linear dynamics of all these ocean oscillations and complexity of the system and things like that.

There are a lot of fundamental things that are getting short shrift, that the sex appeal in our field right now and a lot of funding is to do what I call mock 'climate model taxonomy', where people are analyzing the output of climate models and finding something interesting, alarming, or using them to infer that we won't be able to grow grapes in California in 2100 or something like this. This is the stuff that gets published in Nature and Science and PNAS. People get a press release.

Note that the word "useful" as I chose to hear it, is entirely confined to the domain of career advancement and the writing of committee-room position papers.

Two things about Russ.

One is that he doesn't connect as much as he should. He's (since) done other podcasts which talk about how the regional nature of congressional representation makes politics in America intensely regional. This is why the phrase "grapes in California" is so revealing. Only when your claims are sufficiently regionalized do you become grist for the mill, where the constant circulation of dollars sets up its own giant, oscillatory loops.

The other thing is that Russ loves to hide behind "we can't know". "If we can't know, leave things alone" eminently suits the Koch brothers ("alone", by definition, means business as usual). Russ goes mainly that far in padding their empire. The Kochs probably consider Russ as a tiny public-service inoculation against Grand Plan Reformist Flu.

On the flip side, the intro to Hardcore History contains the gravelly line from Edward R. Murrow "we are not descended from fearful men.ï" True that, except when fearfulness plays to an activist industrialist world order. Russ is, sadly, within the domain of human agency, a fearful man.

Russ's answer, therefore, to decision making under extreme uncertainty is to fall back on an ideological crap shoot. Just put the invisible hand on the steering wheel, responding to local, distributed information on a global scale. What could go wrong? Lots of things. Would it be more or less than what could go wrong it we actively attempted to steer by overselling science. Hard to say.

There's no shortage of examples of atrocious steering. There's no shortage of examples of atrocious non-steering. Please enjoy your stay on the N=1 blue marble. In a nutshell, name your spin.

Comment where will it end? (Score 1) 86

I won't dream of a single (or multiple) damn quantum thing until I see an equation that describes a real-world superposition scaling limit, species type "immovable object".

I believed in Moore's law because it was on a collision course with the atom, right from day one. Even as a child, I didn't believe in a Laplacian universe, in the sense that the accumulated knowledge required to compute the deterministic outcome could exist in one place—a place smaller than the universe itself—for any value of "smaller" my small mind was capable of entertaining.

I've been reading articles about quantum computing seemingly for decades now, and not a single article has pointed out any practical scaling limit. For all these dunderheads seem to know, we could cajole the entire universe into a state of Laplacian superposition, if only we didn't suck at stacking these tiny little Lego blocks.

No scaling boundary equation widely promulgated = no credibility widely disseminated = very little fantasy action for people who don't believe in giant green men with anger management issues.

Comment Re:Were the users randomized? (Score 1) 524

Or do you seriously think an Apple Intel CPU is more reliable than a Dell Intel CPU?

Never heard of Xeon? At least half of a high-end chip's reliability comes from the post-manufacture test procedure and binning standard.

At Apple's scale, they can negotiate any production standard with Intel that they wish to have. This isn't even uncommon, as companies like Google and Facebook are already negotiating custom Xeons for the datacenter, which certainly involves tweaking some internal chip firmware (e.g. changing cache allocation policies or thermal envelopes), all the way up to possibly adding specialized instructions and/or execution units.

Finally, far more problems arise from the mainboard and assembly quality than the underlying chip quality, but at the end of the day it all adds up.

Welcome to Supply Chain 501. It's not your father's Supply Chain 101.

That said, Apple (the company) is a cult-like Black Box of the highest order. When it serves their agenda, they make good products. When their agenda shifts with the winds of fashion—so long, sweet Mini—caveat emptor.

The New Mac mini is Quickly Turning into a Disaster
Mac Mini 2014 Review: A Terrible Shame

Once upon a time, a very nice product, too bad about the "greatness" removal tool presiding from the glass office.

Comment Re:If the point was ... (Score 4, Insightful) 334

There's no proof that it has anything to do with Wikileaks, but in a world of IoT devices with no thought toward security, anyone who cares to do so can mount DDOS with the power of a national entity.

What's the point of doing what Assange and Wikileaks have been doing without any moral position? He isn't helping his own case.

Comment Re:Legal? (Score 2) 281

No, of course it is not legal to set a trap to intentionally hurt someone, even if you expect that the trap could only be activated by the person committing property theft or vandalism. Otherwise, you'd see shotguns built into burglar alarms.

Fire alarm stations sometimes shoot a blue dye which is difficult to remove or one which only shows under UV. Never stand in front of one when pulling the lever! But they are not supposed to hurt you.

And of course these booby traps generally are not as reliable as the so-called "inventor" thinks and tend to hurt the innocent.

Comment Re:Sorry - whose car is this? (Score 2) 305

All the major auto manufacturers have abused the DMCA when it comes to their computers, and I vehemently oppose that (but good luck finding a car that doesn't apply to)...

But this? This moves us into a whole different ballpark of abuse.

Fourth'ing the GGGP - I had fully planned to buy a Tesla as my next car (probably five-ish years from now). If this policy stands, despite having no intention of ever actually renting my car out, fuck Tesla.

Comment Re:ASLR was a dumb idea while it lasted (Score 4, Interesting) 72

Yes it is but people have been trying to do that for 40 years and have not gotten it right yet so...

Wrong. Plenty of code correctness has been deployed in service of this goal.

Unfortunately, there are endemic economic and political reasons why we constantly choose the protocols and implementations that are bigger, hairier, and less continent.

All you need is a culture of kicking non-conforming implementations to the curb, and then the rigorous implementations have a chance to emerge from the weeds. Do we have such a culture? No—most of the time—no, we do not. Such a culture would cramp Megacorp style, and interfere with timeless value-adds, such as embrace and extend, closed ecosystem, DRM jungle, NIST-sanctioned algorithmic weevils, definition by implementation, documentation by implementation, etc. etc.

Far, far away in dull and dusty places like the Erlang OTP or Bernstein's qmail or Knuth's TeX—or perhaps even the Google protocol buffers for at least one lucky and unusually blessed language binding from the somewhat recent past—you just might find a rigorously coded parser or two.

For the most part, however, I agree. We'll probably never have rigorous parsers in a dominant culture of "screw everyone else", Wild West dysenteroperability.

Comment Re:space agency cooperation? (Score 3) 244

Of course NASA passed on decades of hard-won experience. They're not psychopaths.

It went something like this:

Dear ESA:

Hire only the best and the brightest, keep the group challenged and engaged for decade upon decade, with frequent launch opportunities pushing the boundary of the possible at each and every iteration.

N.B.: Sorry, there's no silver bullet.

Comment one track mind (Score 2) 99

My favourite touch is the two giant call-outs in the linked article.

Few of the sites I read regularly have these any more (meaning since I got good at "inspect element" and custom User CSS overrides; appears I've accumulated 150 of these over the past three years, also used to defeat anything that hovers or slides annoyingly).

Comment Re:DNA testing is inherently racist (Score 1) 228

Basketball is inherently racist, as genetic traits are heritable and are correlated with your ethnic/genetic background.


What's racist about race is presupposing outcomes that were highly predictable on first impression, because it's lamentably a very short step for an advantaged social group—often one of relatively homogeneous racial composition, suffused with elaborate rituals of social etiquette—to conclude that a disadvantaged racial subgroup never given an opportunity to do x can't do x.

Race isn't just some magic third rail used to divide humans into two distinct groups, in much the same way that humans divide house pets into two distinct groups: potty trained and not potty trained. There are days, though, where that can be a good working assumption.

Comment acid reflux hellban honeypot (Score 1) 49

Somehow this story showed up in my Slashdot feed, when it's really just supposed to trigger a mass outpouring of the reflex derision arc among those so inclined (said barf cookies falsely paraded by its practitioners as chuckle fodder).

"There, don't you feel better now? Now come sit with us at the adult table." Amazing what a quickie bile purge can accomplish in raising the level of discussion elsewhere.

This is all good. Yet somehow my dank, reeking bile seems to have been misclassified as grasshopper lipstick and I seem to be trapped in completely the wrong purgative honeypot. Where do I unclick "chuckle fodder"? Where do I unclick "news-item-of-the-week free-association paralympics"? Which direction do I kneel to moon Marvin, patron saint of universal laugh-at-anything good will?

No, I'm not new here. It must be shocking to some that I haven't figured out my account configuration yet. You'd think I'd know by now that no unexplored configuration sub-menu goes ultimately unpunished.

Well, now I know. True hell is becoming stuck in the wrong hellban honeypot.

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"This generation may be the one that will face Armageddon." -- Ronald Reagan, "People" magazine, December 26, 1985