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Earth

Study: Earth Is At Its Warmest In 120,000 Years (washingtonpost.com) 187

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Washington Post: As part of her doctoral dissertation at Stanford University, Carolyn Snyder, now a climate policy official at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, created a continuous 2 million year temperature record, much longer than a previous 22,000 year record. Snyder's temperature reconstruction, published Monday in the journal Nature, doesn't estimate temperature for a single year, but averages 5,000-year time periods going back a couple million years. Snyder based her reconstruction on 61 different sea surface temperature proxies from across the globe, such as ratios between magnesium and calcium, species makeup and acidity. But the further the study goes back in time, especially after half a million years, the fewer of those proxies are available, making the estimates less certain, she said. These are rough estimates with large margins of errors, she said. But she also found that the temperature changes correlated well to carbon dioxide levels. Temperatures averaged out over the most recent 5,000 years -- which includes the last 125 years or so of industrial emissions of heat-trapping gases -- are generally warmer than they have been since about 120,000 years ago or so, Snyder found. And two interglacial time periods, the one 120,000 years ago and another just about 2 million years ago, were the warmest Snyder tracked. They were about 3.6 degrees (2 degrees Celsius) warmer than the current 5,000-year average. Snyder said if climate factors are the same as in the past -- and that's a big if -- Earth is already committed to another 7 degrees or so (about 4 degrees Celsius) of warming over the next few thousand years. "This is based on what happened in the past, Snyder noted. "In the past it wasn't humans messing with the atmosphere."
Education

Poor Scientific Research Is Disproportionately Rewarded (economist.com) 81

A new study calculates a low probability that real effects are actually being detected in psychology, neuroscience and medicine research paper -- and then explains why. Slashdot reader ananyo writes: The average statistical power of papers culled from 44 reviews published between 1960 and 2011 was about 24%. The authors built an evolutionary computer model to suggest why and show that poor methods that get "results" will inevitably prosper. They also show that replication efforts cannot stop the degradation of the scientific record as long as science continues to reward the volume of a researcher's publications -- rather than their quality.
The article notes that in a 2015 sample of 100 psychological studies, only 36% of the results could actually be reproduced. Yet the researchers conclude that in the Darwin-esque hunt for funding, "top-performing laboratories will always be those who are able to cut corners." And the article's larger argument is until universities stop rewarding bad science, even subsequent attempts to invalidate those bogus results will be "incapable of correcting the situation no matter how rigorously it is pursued."

Comment Democrats Desperate to Hide Clinton-Putin Ties (Score 3, Informative) 199

One of which is the fact that Tony Podesta, a big Hillary bundler and brother of John Podesta, her campaign manager, is registered lobbyist for Putin's bank:

The revelations of the so-called Panama Papers that are roiling the world’s political and financial elites this week include important facts about Team Clinton. This unprecedented trove of documents purloined from a shady Panama law firm that arranged tax havens, and perhaps money laundering, for the globe’s super-rich includes juicy insights into how Russia’s elite hides its ill-gotten wealth.

        Almost lost among the many revelations is the fact that Russia’s biggest bank uses The Podesta Group as its lobbyist in Washington, D.C. Though hardly a household name, this firm is well known inside the Beltway, not least because its CEO is Tony Podesta, one of the best-connected Democratic machers in the country. He founded the firm in 1998 with his brother John, formerly chief of staff to President Bill Clinton, then counselor to President Barack Obama, Mr. Podesta is the very definition of a Democratic insider. Outsiders engage the Podestas and their well-connected lobbying firm to improve their image and get access to Democratic bigwigs.

        Which is exactly what Sberbank, Russia’s biggest financial institution, did this spring. As reported at the end of March, the Podesta Group registered with the U.S. Government as a lobbyist for Sberbank, as required by law, naming three Podesta Group staffers: Tony Podesta plus Stephen Rademaker and David Adams, the last two former assistant secretaries of state. It should be noted that Tony Podesta is a big-money bundler for the Hillary Clinton presidential campaign while his brother John is the chairman of that campaign, the chief architect of her plans to take the White House this November.

        Sberbank (Savings Bank in Russian) engaged the Podesta Group to help its public image—leading Moscow financial institutions not exactly being known for their propriety and wholesomeness—and specifically to help lift some of the pain of sanctions placed on Russia in the aftermath of the Kremlin’s aggression against Ukraine, which has caused real pain to the country’s hard-hit financial sector.

        It’s hardly surprising that Sberbank sought the help of Democratic insiders like the Podesta Group to aid them in this difficult hour, since they clearly understand how American politics work. The question is why the Podesta Group took Sberbank’s money. That financial institution isn’t exactly hiding in the shadows—it’s the biggest bank in Russia, and its reputation leaves a lot to be desired. Nobody acquainted with Russian finance was surprised that Sberbank wound up in the Panama Papers.

        though Sberbank has its origins in the nineteenth century, it was functionally reborn after the Soviet collapse, and it the 1990s it grew to be the dominant bank in the country, today controlling nearly 30 percent of Russia’s aggregate banking assets and employing a quarter-million people. The majority stockholder in Sberbank is Russia’s Central Bank. In other words, Sberbank is functionally an arm of the Kremlin, although it’s ostensibly a private institution.

Snip.

John and Tony Podesta aren’t fooling anyone with this ruse. They are lobbyists for Vladimir Putin’s personal bank of choice, an arm of his Kremlin and its intelligence services. Since the brothers Podesta are presumably destined for very high-level White House jobs next January if the Democrats triumph in November at the polls, their relationship with Sberbank is something they—and Hillary Clinton—need to explain to the public.

And this is just one of many Clinton ties to Putin...

Republicans

Trump Opposes Plan For US To Hand Over Internet Oversight To a Global Governance (reuters.com) 527

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Reuters: U.S. Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump opposes a long-planned transition of oversight of the internet's technical management from the U.S. government to a global community of stakeholders, his campaign said in a statement on Wednesday. Congress should block the handover, scheduled to occur on Oct. 1, "or internet freedom will be lost for good, since there will be no way to make it great again once it is lost," Stephen Miller, national policy director for the Trump campaign, said in a statement. Senator Ted Cruz of Texas, a former presidential primary foe of Trump's who has refused to endorse the real estate developer, has led a movement in Congress to block the transition, arguing it could cede control of the internet itself to authoritarian regimes like Russia and China and threaten online freedom. Technical experts have said those claims are baseless, and that a delay will backfire by undermining U.S. credibility in future international negotiations over internet standards and security. Publicly proposed in March 2014, the transfer of oversight of the nonprofit Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, or ICANN, is expected to go forward unless Congress votes to block the move. Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton supports the Obama administration's planned transition to a global community of technologists, civil society groups and internet users, according to policy positions available on her campaign website.
NASA

NASA: Arctic Sea Ice 2nd-Lowest On Record (earthsky.org) 206

An anonymous reader quotes a report from EarthSky: NASA and the National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC) said on September 15, 2016 that summertime Arctic sea ice appears to have reached its annual minimum on September 10. With fall approaching and temperatures in the Arctic dropping, it's unlikely more ice will melt, and so the 2016 Arctic sea ice minimum extent will likely be tied with 2007 for the second-lowest yearly minimum in the satellite record. Satellite data showed this year's minimum at 1.60 million square miles (4.14 million square km). NASA said in a statement: "Since satellites began monitoring sea ice in 1978, researchers have observed a steep decline in the average extent of Arctic sea ice for every month of the year [...] The sea ice cover of the Arctic Ocean and surrounding seas helps regulate the planet's temperature, influences the circulation of the atmosphere and ocean, and impacts Arctic communities and ecosystems. Arctic sea ice shrinks every year during the spring and summer until it reaches its minimum yearly extent. Sea ice regrows during the frigid fall and winter months, when the sun is below the horizon in the Arctic." The NASA/NSIDC statement explained why the melt of Arctic sea ice surprised scientists in 2016. For one thing, it changed pace several times: "The melt season began with a record low yearly maximum extent in March and a rapid ice loss through May. But in June and July, low atmospheric pressures and cloudy skies slowed down the melt. Then, after two large storms went across the Arctic basin in August, sea ice melt picked up speed through early September." NASA posted an animation on YouTube that "shows the evolution of the Arctic sea ice cover from its wintertime maximum extent, which was reached on Mar. 24, 2016, and was the lowest on record for the second year in a row, to its apparent yearly minimum, which occurred on Sept. 10, 2016, and is the second lowest in the satellite era."
Medicine

Vanity Fair Blames The Failure of Theranos On Silicon Valley (vanityfair.com) 128

"I was only a day or two behind FBI agents who were trying to put together a time line of what Elizabeh Holmes knew and when she knew it," writes Vanity Fair, in what Slashdot reader PvtVoid describes as "a compelling story of hubris, glamour and secrecy about the unicorn Silicon Valley company that turned out to be founded on bullshit." Another anonymous Slashdot reader writes: Holmes raised $700 million "on the condition that she would not divulge to investors how her technology actually worked," according to an article detailing how Silicon Valley can "replicate one big confidence game in which entrepreneurs, venture capitalists, and the tech media pretend to vet one another while, in reality, functioning as cogs in a machine that is designed to not question anything -- and buoy one another all along the way... In the end, it isn't in anyone's interest to call bullshit."

Theranos employed "hundreds of marketers, salespeople, communications specialists, and even the Oscar-winning filmmaker Errol Morris," as well as a chief scientist who eventually became suicidal. But then the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services "discovered that some of the tests Theranos was performing were so inaccurate that they could leave patients at risk of internal bleeding, or of stroke among those prone to blood clots." A reporter at the Wall Street Journal says "It's O.K. if you've got a smartphone app or a social network, and you go live with it before it's ready; people aren't going to die. But with medicine, it's different."

He became suspicious after reading the answer that the company's CEO, a Stanford dropout, supplied for a question about their technology. "A chemistry is performed so that a chemical reaction occurs and generates a signal from the chemical interaction with the sample, which is translated into a result, which is then reviewed by certified laboratory personnel."

Comment i reject the premise (Score 1) 537

Hey look, it's Slashdot concern trolling their readers again!

I reject the premise.

"Why are software developers working on this trivial Internet thing rather than solving world hunger?"

It's the Von Mises knowledge problem, aka the economic calculation problem. You don't know what the most important problems to solve are because you (and by "you" I especially mean "any government body") can't see the future. One person can only be an expert on their own life, not everyone else's lives. You don't necessarily known what the real biggest problems today are, because when you read or watch the news you're watching edited abstracts of selections of other people's limited knowledge, with biases conscious and unconscious at every step of the process.

You have no way of known that specific technology you're working on won't have far greater benefit to society than whatever our cultural elites have decided to focuses on for clickbait concern trolling this week, especially ones with easy emotional appeals ("Show me rain forests! Show me police killing black people!") rather than more difficult or abstract ones ("Show me how deficit financing eventually destroys economies!").

It turns out that creating the Internet probably did more to help solve world hunger than, say, studying how to make krill into food patties.

Work on the problems that interest you and that you have the capacity to solve, not what other people think are "more important," because there's a good chance they're wrong.

Biotech

Ask Slashdot: Why Aren't Techies Improving The World? 537

Slashdot reader marmot7 isn't impressed by "the latest app that solves some made up problem. I'm impressed by apps that solve real problems..." I don't feel that developers, sys admins, finance people, even policy wonks focus on the problems that we need to solve to have a healthy functioning society. It seems like it's mostly about short-term gain and not much about making the world better. That may be just the way the market works.

Is it that there's no profit to be made in solving the most important problems? I'm puzzled by that as I would think that a good solution to an important problem could find some funding from somewhere but maybe government, for example, won't take investment risks in that way?

Is there a systematic bias that channels technology workers into more profitable careers? (Or stunning counter-examples that show technology workers are making the world a better place?) Leave your answers in the comments. Why aren't geeks doing more to improve the world?
Apple

Apple's Response To Diversity Criticism: 'We Had a Canadian' Onstage at iPhone 7 Event (mic.com) 413

Mic published a report last week in which it criticized the gender divide at Apple's last two iPhone events. The reporter noted that at iPhone 7 event, women spoke for roughly eight minutes at stage compared to men, who spoke for 99. Furthermore, most of the women and people of color who appeared onstage weren't Apple representatives. An Apple spokesperson, who shared the information "off-the-record", had a weird response. The email read, "We may have different interpretations of diversity." The email continues, via Mic report, "he pointed to 'two African-Americans' who spoke at the keynote, neither of whom are actually employed by Apple. He also mentioned 'a Canadian, and a British woman.'"

The reporter has defended the use of "off-the-record" information, noting that Apple PR didn't warn her beforehand -- and as an important ethic in journalism -- they didn't reach an agreement before the Apple PR decided to share things.

Glenn Greenwald writes:They're 100% right. Nobody can unilaterally decree "off the record". Requires a mutual agreement or it doesn't exist.

Comment Been Tried Before, Failed Before (Score 1) 630

Read the section in Charles Murray's Losing Ground about the SIME/DIME experiments in guaranteed minimum income. They were colossal failures.

They might be less of a failure in Finland, due to greater cultural and ethnic uniformity. But that doesn't mean it won't fail, it just means it will take longer to fail.

Crime

Fugitive Arrested After Using 'Wanted' Poster As His Facebook Profile Pic (ibtimes.co.uk) 89

An anonymous Slashdot reader writes: "A fugitive in Florida has been arrested by police after he used a wanted poster adorned with his mug shot for his Facebook profile picture," writes the International Business Times. After investigating reports of a disturbance, police discovered the 41-year-old's Facebook profile, which revealed the man was already wanted for six months for violating his parole after two counts of battery.

"Police say that as they arrested Yearwood a bag of marijuana fell out of his pocket. They charged him with possession of cannabis under 20 grams and are continuing to investigate the battery complaint."

One Twitter user jokingly suggested that the suspect should also be charged with copyright infringement -- for using the police department's photo without their permission.

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