Want to read Slashdot from your mobile device? Point it at m.slashdot.org and keep reading!


Forgot your password?
Check out the new SourceForge HTML5 internet speed test! No Flash necessary and runs on all devices. ×

Comment Re:Propaganda (Score 1) 71

There is nothing new about YouTube paying $1B to media companies. Literally nothing, and it has been reported here before. So not intending any personal reflection, but you're not going to piss on me and tell me it's raining. I also note a coincidence in that the articles were posted by the same person, although I tend to doubt there is any significance to that. So if it's not new, informative, or current, what is it doing here?

Comment Propaganda (Score 1) 71

So YouTube vs the music industry is an odd fight for public opinion. The music industry is hoping that public pressure will get them a bigger cut of whatever profits are to be had (not that YouTube is profitable, but it could potentially be). However, the media companies are not campaigning for a change in law (this time), they just want a bigger cut. So the question is, why does this article exist? I am fairly certain that Google has made this point before, and that it was posted on Slashdot. Are we concerned that the new administration will be more favorable somehow? Is this just a random dupe?

I am on Google's side here -- legally their position is very clear -- but this is propaganda, not news. Yes, YouTube pays out lots of money, but it's not like they just started doing that today. What's the real story? Why are we seeing this?

Comment Re:Models are inaccurate, but not wrong (Score 1) 331

Arrhenius was discredited because his ideas had what was considered to be disproving empirical evidence. That's what empiricism means: if you don't observe it, it isn't real, even if theory says it should be real. You have a climate science textbook from McGraw-Hill in 1943 that explicitly trivializes the role of carbon dioxide and does not make mention of climate change at all. Callendar's paper in 1949 makes it abundantly clear that neither climate change nor CO2-mediated climate change were mainstream thought at the time, for the exact reason I've been citing. For another measure, we can look at Arrhenius' paper's citation list. Google lists 1,979 papers which cite that one, of which 10 were written before 1950, and only three of which are actually about climate.

You clearly have very little foundational knowledge about climate science, or science in general. Most theories which are commonly accepted today were initially controversial -- ice ages and plate tectonics, as well as the germ theory of disease, evolution, the nature of electricity and the atom, biogenesis, heliocentrism, quantum mechanics, relativity, black holes, the Big Bang, the Standard Model, the physical basis for heredity (DNA), etc. Scientific controversy exists when the evidence is unclear. Saying that earlier scientists had all the benefits of later observations is a logical aberration. In science, theories compete based on supporting evidence, and controversies are usually resolved by extremely careful measurement. The mass of the Higgs boson was recently controversial, as were neutrino oscillations, and currently dark matter is somewhat controversial. And of course the simplest disproof of your worldview that AGW has always been held to be correct is that prior to the Industrial Era it wasn't actually happening.

Your assertion that the evidence for a particular theory is always clear is nonsensical. You adhere to AGW on religious grounds, not on the basis of empirical evidence. But like most zealots you don't actually have any idea of what you believe, because that would force you to make judgments as to its validity. The good news is that your religion is actually supported by empirical evidence. The bad news is that you're trying to argue against objective reality: you are every bit as anti-science as the AGW deniers. I have to assume this mental defect is also responsible for your continually equating the two positions of "AGW was controversial before the mid-70s" and "AGW is controversial now". Rest assured I am not trying to make your religion look bad, or even to disagree with it. I simply happen to know a hell of a lot more about it than you do, apparently including some bits of history that you're trying to pretend didn't happen. AGW is a vital issue for me, and almost certainly the bulk of what I write about. We're on the same side, and you're not really doing us any favors by having stupid arguments.

Comment Re:Models are inaccurate, but not wrong (Score 1) 331

America centric? Arrhenius and Tyndale? Do you think that the website is inventing the research papers being discussed? What about the scientific evidence, are the properties of H2O and CO2 also somehow "America centric"?

Arrhenius' paper was well-received, but it did contradict existing assumptions that the Earth was generally static or cyclical. Plate tectonics would not be widely accepted until the 1950s. The concept of ice ages had become mainstream only in the 1870s. In point of fact, Arrhenius was writing about CO2 in relation to his interest in the origin of ice ages. That it suggested anthropogenic warming was possible was incidental. Researchers in the early 20th Century had made measurements which suggested that additional CO2 would not have an effect on the Earth's climate. The theory was widely discredited on that basis, even though Arrhenius' equations and calculations seemed to be sound. Other lines of evidence spoke against the idea of a static Earth, and CO2's indisputably also key role in atmospheric warming spurred scientists to attempt to measure global concentrations of CO2 in the 1950s, culminating with the work of Keeling in 1960.

AGW was neither always controversial nor always accepted. Like most scientific ideas it had to gain acceptance, and as always, our theories about the universe improve with better data. The nice thing about the history of science is that it is objective: there are either published papers and observations or there are not. If AGW was as well established in the early 20th Century as you say, then you should have a plethora of evidence. So let's take a quick trip to Google scholar, and start searching for anything climate related that happens to turn up, and see what it says.

Civilization and Climate, 1922

"...there is a widespread idea that climatic uniformity is the normal condition..."

"As to the assumed uniformity of climate, meteorologists do indeed find that so far as records are yet available...there are no certain indications of progressive climatic changes."

An Introduction To Weather And Climate, 1943

"Water vapor is much the most important of the atmosphere's absorbing gases, although carbon dioxide and ozone are of minor importance."

"Very insignificant amounts of both solar energy and terrestrial energy are likewise absorbed by ozone, oxygen, and carbon dioxide."

Climate and evolution, 1915 seems to take the view that climatic changes are exclusively due to the shape and position of the continents, and that the shape and position of the continents is mostly due to erosion, not continental drift.

Ah, here's a good one. G. S. Callendar, 1949 "CAN CARBON DIOXIDE INFLUENCE CLIMATE?" You will also find Callendar's work highlighted in the AIP "Discovery of Global Warming" website I linked earlier, and I believe this article in particular is mentioned.

An interpretation of climatic change in terms of the variable carbon dioxide content of the atmosphere was first proposed some sixty years ago by the famous Swedish physicist, Sevante Arrhenius, who made some of the classic experiments on the absorption of heat radiation by gases. Since then the theory has had a chequered history; it was abandoned for many years when the preponderating influence of water vapour radiation in the lower atmosphere was first discovered, but was revived again a few years ago when more accurate measurements of the water vapour spectrum became available.

Point, set, match. Most of the references I read made no mention of climate change as a current phenomenon, setting forth the properties of various climates as though they were graven in stone. Those that did treat upon climate change referred mainly to ice ages and glaciation, and with the exception of Arrhenius and Callendar they all ascribed climate change to other factors. The climate textbook I cited did not include any information about climate change, although it did have this little gem:

"...weather science today is in a remarkable state of flux. Particularly as a result of the more complete analysis of the upper air, old notions and explanations of atmospheric phenomena are undergoing rapid change and modification."

This thing you're doing where you're denying objective facts which you could trivially confirm, and only reading enough of what is presented to confirm your biases, is rather rude. You have presented no evidence for the correctness of your perspective nor any criticism of mine. "You're wrong, because America" is simply not an argument, and again, the deliberate ignorance you are displaying is appalling. As it happens, you are also wrong, and in support of that I view the quotation from Callendar as entirely conclusive.

Comment Re:Models are inaccurate, but not wrong (Score 1) 331

So which part of the history I wrote was false, then? Before you answer you may want do do some research here. It's well cited and I am sure that I can find some other citations if necessary. I'm really not sure what you're alleging, but your flat denial of verifiable scientific history is appalling.

Comment Re:Models are inaccurate, but not wrong (Score 1) 331

No, AGW was genuinely scientifically controversial in the late 19th and early 20th Century. The prevailing view was that changes in climate (including periodic ice ages) were cyclical and self-regulating. Arrhenius showed the potential for changes in carbon dioxide to cause long-term changes in climate, but there was as yet no evidence that humans had a measurable effect on CO2 and it was believed that the atmosphere was too large for human activity to be able to change it.

So AGW contradicted dogmatic theories which were unsupported by data, but it also had some empirical counter-evidence. The atmosphere is already saturated with CO2 to the point of being optically opaque. Water vapor also absorbs energy over much the same spectrum, and water vapor is far more prevalent in the atmosphere. It was eventually realized that increasing the partial pressure of CO2 raises the layer of CO2-rich air and thus increases the effective radiating height. Despite the work of Arrhenius and a few other scientists, the theory of AGW was considered entirely discredited up until at least the 1950s.

From the 1900s to the 1970s the mathematics of describing global climate defeated human scientists. It was fruitful however in discovering different feedback mechanisms (especially small changes in albedo) whereby small changes in climate or weather could be amplified to potentially produce "Snowball Earths" or Venus-like atmospheres. The death of the idea of a static or self-regulating climate was a drawn-out affair, but had gained broad acceptance by that time. Beginning in the 1950s with the advent of digital computers, scientists began to make headway on modeling the effects of CO2 and climatic feedbacks, and the first baseline measurements of CO2 (from 1960 onwards) began to paint a picture of rising levels of CO2 due to human industry exceeding what could be absorbed by natural processes.

By the late 1970s the theory of AGW was dominant, but some controversial aspects remained, particularly with regards to the effects of warming on cloud formation. However, the research from that point on was mostly trying to establish how much warming would result from an increase in CO2, and many lines of evidence were converging to the same 2-6 degree range.

I am sure that most informed people you have met during your life have been concerned with anthropogenic climate change. The status of AGW as "settled science" is actually fairly recent: the formation of the IPCC in 1988 is probably as good a date as any. It's not a bad thing for a scientific theory to have been controversial, it means it has been challenged many times and come out as the best possible explanation.

Out of curiosity, where are you from? I grew up in Alaska and spent about 25 years there. Alaska has been losing glacial ice at a rate of 75 cubic kilometers per year for some decades now, mostly in the smaller glaciers, lower alpine glaciers, and tidewater glaciers -- which are of course the most accessible and visible. The bottom layers of glacial ice can be thousands and tens of thousands of years old. Its deep blue color is like nothing else in the world. In some places there are little glacier overlooks built for people to stop and view glaciers from the roadside. Some built a few decades ago no longer overlook anything as the glaciers have retreated out of sight. The Columbia Glacier near my home retreated 20 kilometers. Alaska is a tragedy in action, and the land of glaciers and permafrost that I knew will soon only exist in photographs.

Comment Models are inaccurate, but not wrong (Score 1) 331

All models are wrong. Do you have a better one?

Keep in mind these models are not statistical analyses of the dataset, they are physical models, which are true because of the laws of physics. The models may be inaccurate, but they can't be wrong, because that would mean that some fundamental part of physics would be wrong. And if you want to poke holes in the laws of physics, you need some pretty strong empirical evidence to do so.

The amount of modeling you need to do to see that a higher partial pressure of CO2 results in warming is minimal. It's a direct result of the properties of the gas, as established by Tyndall in 1860, and Arrhenius was able to hand-calculate a fairly accurate estimate of the warming for a doubling of CO2 in 1896. We actually did have decades where the AGW theory was scientifically controversial, including much of the early 20th Century. I am not sure how you imagine that decades of physical research and unimaginable increases in computing ability would result in worse models. Simple models are also not necessarily less useful than more complex ones, either, depending on what the exact question you want to know is.

Want to know how much of the Earth's global average temperature is due to atmospheric warming? You just need a one-dimensional model, it's just the difference between the blackbody temperature and the observed temperature. Want to know what the effective radiating height is for the atmosphere for a given temperature? Two dimensional model. If you want to know what happens to the Earth as a result of doubling CO2, that question is pretty complex, especially since it needs to model human behavior. The question of "What happens to a column of air of a given composition when the partial pressure of CO2 doubles?" is much, much easier to solve. Radiative transfer equations also describe extraterrestrial atmospheres well, including the atmospheres of Venus, Jupiter, and the Sun.

Which brings us back to you. Yes, you, the one with a bone to pick with physics. The global climate models are not your problem. Your problem is that it requires very little sophistication to start seeing evidence of AGW. We don't need to model the whole Earth and everything in it, nor even the whole atmosphere. In order for these basic models to be wrong, the observations must also be wrong, so ultimately you just need one single fact in your favor to lay waste to the entire theory of AGW, and potentially all atmospheric and radiative physics. You need either a change in the physical properties of CO2, a new way for Earth to transfer heat energy to space, or a hidden decrease in solar output. Personally, I try not to get in arguments with the consensus view of reality, especially with the people whose job is to measure that reality to extremes of precision, and especially not after a hundred or so years of research into the issue. But if that makes sense to you, I applaud your courage, and await the results of your paper.

Comment Re: Real Issues, Misleading News (Score 1) 1054

You haven't provided any evidence whatsoever to support the idea that there would be any bias. You have no indication that your selection of incidents is not itself biased (because it very much is).

Doing studies on these kind of issues is pretty difficult. We cannot directly measure bias like we can temperature. Any study is necessarily going to have to codify assumptions about what is bias, and selecting the dataset is also an excellent way to bias the results in one direction or another. Do you just look at account closures, or do you try to examine the content as well? How do you determine political leaning? The link is a demonstration of why I would examine such studies very carefully.

But I admit, even a bad study would be better evidence than cherry-picking incidents or your bare repeated assertion of bias. I am sure you are aware that anecdotes are not data. I understand that there has been some recent and widely reported brouhaha about this issue, and it may even be true, but I am an empiricist: show me the data. A bunch of people repeating each other is useless.

It's great what allegations can do though. If they admit they're biased, people will stop using their service. If they don't they're liars. And why are we concerned about Twitter's bias, and why right now? And why is Facebook's admission that their ToS is only for little people not equally concerning? Did you actually read the article, by chance? It's really not something I would spend a lot of time defending.

This is getting dull. This story proves nothing but that conservatives are easy to rile.

Comment Re: Real Issues, Misleading News (Score 1) 1054

Well wonderful. You've criticized. Was there anything else? Were you going to write them a letter perhaps?

I may also note that while I do appreciate your point about moral relativism, you seem to have supported it with an ad hominem attack rather than a more vigorous defense. If you happened to have the time, perhaps you could elucidate on that subject? In all candor, I would appreciate that discussion.

Comment Re: Real Issues, Misleading News (Score 1) 1054

I did address the expectation of neutrality, which is foolish. But whatever your beef, you can't compel them to align with your beliefs, so you just need to start your competing service. That is to say, if you had any other ideas I am sure those would be fine, but otherwise there doesn't seem to be a lot of options as far as solutions go.

Comment Re: Real Issues, Misleading News (Score 1) 1054

The story is bunk. If you read the Slate article, it's very clear that the author was fishing for a story, especially one that could be used to portray Trump in a negative light, and the summary is even more biased. There is nothing particularly wrong with some random spokesdroid saying that their policy applies to all users; that's what spokesdroids are for. Whether or not they actually do that would be a more tangential discussion.

However, neutral moderation is not possible. I am sorry you feel their slant doesn't favor you. Personally, I'd like to see a lot more data before suggesting that they have a slant one way or the other; it's easy to find bias if you look for it, because bias is a matter of perception as well as action. I would also expect some built-in bias for any given study, so probably multiple independent studies would be best. I don't want to get too political here, because while I have very little sympathy towards conservatives, I do feel that the fundamental issue has nothing to do with party politics. Nevertheless I think it deserves mention that if the trend you identify does exist, you would need to consider to what degree this represents the nature of the content rather than the nature of the moderation. I don't have the data to make determinations about any of this, and I am not particularly interested in gathering it. I don't think that in the long run Twitter will be any better or worse at moderation than anyone else, and you don't need me to tell you that anyone who wants is perfectly capable of setting up a competing service. Microblogging services are pretty common as intro-to-Programming examples, and Trump in particular is well-poised to be able to build an alternative network.

So while I do consider that the validity of your position has yet to be established, if it were true then I would think it questionable to suggest that Twitter align with your biases over their own. But either way, you already know that the solution to this problem is competition.

Comment Real Issues, Misleading News (Score 1) 1054

Regarding the cake-baking, I had an answer to that question from a conservative that seemed insightful. The criterion they suggested was creativity. So one might be required to bake some sort of standard cake to order, but not be forced to do any custom decoration. It seems like a workable criterion but I'm a little wary of simple answers to complex questions. How much of a moral stake do you have in speech that someone else pays you to create? Twitter however isn't providing units of anything, they're providing a platform, and have no creative input into any of their content, so the comparison is invalid even though they're both free speech issues.

We all know the real issue with the Internet. It's not just Twitter and Facebook. Many people, when given the opportunity of pseudonymous free speech, will abuse it, often in ways that cause real harm. Twitter is legally required to prevent criminal speech (e.g. child porn), and other criminal acts. They have to moderate, and they can't do community moderation. If they moderate too lightly, they risk becoming 4chan, Whatever they do will draw criticism. And yes, their moderation will be influenced by their politics and morality. What's that saying, "show me a neutral moderator, and I'll show you beryllium"? Eh, close enough. Even if there were such a thing, though, the perception of neutral moderation is always going to be biased towards one's own interests. They're in a no-win situation. The problem is intractable, the means inadequate, and every action is wrong.

Having written all that in response to your comment, and notwithstanding the importance of the issues raised, this story is bunk. The Twitter statement was simply that their terms of service applied to all accounts, whereas Facebook said they'd take into account political considerations. The latter seems a little more weaselly to me; all things considered I'd rather have a company that takes an explicit moral stance on an issue rather than one that bends to political expediencies, but either way, this is rabble-rousing clickbait posing as news. Wake me up when it actually happens.

Comment Fine, "nearly three quarters of a million". (Score 1) 590

No, that still sounds pretty unrealistic. It's far too easy to make that sort of thing look bad — because tearing people away from their friends and families is bad. Whether it's more or less bad than living in a country without permission is open to debate, but I find it very strange that you're taking an absolutist position on immigration law while being willing to compromise your beliefs about strong governments.

As Janet Napolitano was so good as to provide me with a timely reference for this discussion, it seems there are "nearly three quarters of a million" people who have been protected under the DACA. Also keep in mind that they're mostly kids and young people. Can you imagine the shitstorm that would erupt? Riots in the streets, lawyers coming out of the woodwork, and there's only one way the Press would spin this.

There are what, a million or so police in this country, right? And another million or so National Guard. Finding the manpower for this would be awful, and since the government is fortunately not regularly rounding up people en masse they are poorly prepared to do so. We're not going to get away with interment camps this time, either. And what good would deporting "a small fraction" of these people do? Wouldn't that still leave a larger problem? How is that an acceptable compromise to your principles? The idea that people will leave their jobs to follow their kids home is pretty naive. These are young adults, not infants.

I really do have to hand it to whoever dreamed up DACA, it seems like an excellent "thin edge of the wedge". I can understand why you'd be upset about it. I think you are wrong and your arguments ill-founded, even immoral. But I am completely sure that taking action against illegal immigrants would be impractical and politically suicidal.No, the safe and cheap and principled option is for amnesty. It's not like it would be the first time.

Comment Eleven Million (Score 1) 590

There are eleven million illegal immigrants in the US. That number is falling, and has been for some while. However, you're still talking about deporting more people than live in the state of Georgia. Are you going to pay for that? How do you imagine you would begin rounding people up? Are you going to start demanding citizenship papers from anyone with brown skin? Do you imagine you will be able to do that without mistakes and massive rights violations? Honestly, if that is really a goal of yours, I feel badly for you, because the logistics and legal challenges alone are probably insurmountable. I would also like to point out the inherent contradiction between supporting small government and calling for government action on an unprecedented scale.

Having many people do illegal things is not good for the rule of law. The problem however has gone somewhat outside the reach of the law. Expanding that reach is dangerous and expensive, especially when you consider the cost of removing those 11 million people from the economy. It kinda has a "Final Solution" vibe to it as well, but we'll forgo any direct comparisons.

Now I don't know if you have ever given up your language, your family, your job, and your culture, and tried to make life work in another country, but let me tell you from experience, it is unbelievably difficult. The people who can accomplish it are exceptional. I haven't ever heard of any particularly good reasons to restrict the free flow of labor, trade, ideas, and information. My ancestors came to this country to work and to build a better life, and they were spat on for it, but things have worked out well enough in spite of the fears prevalent at the time. From an economic standpoint it would seem to make more sense to get people registered and paying taxes than housing and transporting them, paperwork being generally cheaper than paperwork and plane tickets. All told, mass deportation sounds like an exceptionally stupid and spiteful move. There may be laws which are worthwhile to take an absolutist position on, where there is no good argument to be made for the opposing view. I'm not particularly interested in ruining our economy and society to pursue this goal of yours, and think your arguments for doing so are pretty poor, even if they are widely shared. However, my consolation is that while the electorate cannot be trusted to make an informed decision on the matter, the politicians are not so stupid. While there is certainly plenty of bluster about the issue (it's seemingly useful to rile people up), I don't believe there has been any actual legislation which attempted to do anything about it, nor do I believe that any will be forthcoming. The question of why conservatives keep voting for people who claim to oppose rights for queers and foreign-born persons, but who have a record of failure to do so, is left as an exercise to the reader.

Comment The America the Founders Wanted (Score 1) 345

The stories behind the creation of the Constitution are very fascinating and educational. The wisdom demonstrated is amazing. And most of it still applies today.

There were a few really important things they got wrong. First-past-the-post voting probably counts as a mistake; at the least there was no informed decision on that method. Choosing to place the onus for national defense on the militia fell apart very, very early. The adversarial system of justice made far more sense in an era where police did not exist, and given that people mostly no longer enjoy the right to swear out warrants, we should probably have far stronger standards of evidence for those.

Probably the Founders would be most appalled that we have installed soldiers in every city and given them official blessing to kill civilians at will. In the days of muskets and swords, what peacekeeping forces existed mostly carried wooden clubs. The first "Bobbies" in London carried clubs and wooden rattles to summon other police. Later they switched to whistles. The problems of violence they solved were small, and they were probably an improvement over the existing private security forces.

In the 19th century, there was a saying, "God made man, but Sam Colt made him equal." We, as a society, have yet to deal with the vast expansion of violent means available to the ordinary citizen. That may in itself have been survivable. However, there were no more restrictions on nascent police organizations from owning weaponry than any other citizen. So now we have given people employed by the State [a] guns, [b] inherent permission to use said guns, and [c] immunity from the consequences of using those guns as agents of the State. We've also militarized said force, given them broad surveillance powers, and stacked the justice system against the ordinary citizen, because America sees the limits of both intelligence *and* stupidity as challenges to be overcome.

The Founders considered standing armies to be inherent threats to liberty. Our foreign armies may or may not be a threat to liberty in general, but fortunately they have been little-used against the People. Our police forces on the other hand embody every sin that the Founders feared and then some. We have certainly failed to safeguard our rights, but we also must recognize that the Founders' vision was imperfect, or we will never be able to have a dialogue about fixing the Union.

It would be easy to dismiss your arguments about the Electoral College as an appeal to authority and appeal to tradition. Pretending that the Founders were perfect and that we're doing what they wanted is at the root of a number of huge problems this country is facing. "So shut the fuck up" is your only remaining rhetorical redoubt, but given that we just had an election in which either person winning could have been aptly described as a failure of democracy, maybe it's time you start thinking about what conditions *would* raise your doubts about our democratic traditions. Probably it's best though not to try to shut down discussions of how to make this country better, even if you think things are fine as they are.

Slashdot Top Deals

Nothing is more admirable than the fortitude with which millionaires tolerate the disadvantages of their wealth. -- Nero Wolfe