Slashdot is powered by your submissions, so send in your scoop


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

Comment Jewish Surnames (Score 4, Interesting) 280

Let's please not. The reason his last name means "sugar mountain" in German is because in the late 18th Century the various Germanic empires forced all Jews to have surnames, instead of being known as (e.g.) Yeshua ben Youssef -- a patronym, not a surname. If your family was on bad terms with the local magistrate then you might have had a surname that was actually insulting rather than merely ridiculous. So unless you're interested in reviving a particularly vile brand of antisemitism, please let's not give this man an insulting surname, even if you think he deserves shame and ridicule.

Comment Reading is Fundamental (Score 4, Informative) 139

Next time could you bother to read the article? Yes, titanium dioxide is common, which is the entire point of mentioning that element, because the elemental form is far less common, and even less common then.

It's not that your comments aren't valuable, it's that you don't know when you have fine caviar in your hand or fetid dogshit -- it's the same to you either way. In this case — so you know — this is dogshit.

Comment Pardons (Score 3, Informative) 273

Why would you repeat such an obvious untruth? Given that this subject comes up every time any such story is published, I have a hard time believing that you have never been exposed to it before. Nevertheless it apparently needs to be explained, you can be pardoned at any time at the President's discretion, whether or not you have been convicted. Those of us who are old enough will remember when this happened to Richard Nixon.

Comment Joomla Considered Harmful (Score 4, Insightful) 280

I figured it would have to be Joomla. I'm doing maintenance programming on a Joomla site right now, and it's just a complete mess. There is nothing good about any part of the framework and no one should use it for anything. There is no "right way" to do things, and the documentation is beyond awful: obsolete, incomplete, badly written. Beyond the official documentation, most books on Joomla either don't cover the latest major version, or mention it but focus on the legacy interfaces. One is forced to look at the code itself for examples of what to do, and apparently that means make it up as you go along, There is no consistency even in the unit tests, hell, even in which testing framework they're using. And (at least IMO) there is no consistent vision because the fundamental design is crap.

Use of Joomla for any purpose should be a firing offense.

Comment Monsanto's Toxic Monopolies (Score 1) 111

Anniston, AL and Sauget, IL, and some forty other past and current Superfund sites would like to have a word with you. Anniston in particular was knowingly polluted for decades:

In 1966, Monsanto managers discovered that fish submerged in that creek turned belly-up within 10 seconds, spurting blood and shedding skin as if dunked into boiling water. They told no one. In 1969, they found fish in another creek with 7,500 times the legal PCB levels. They decided "there is little object in going to expensive extremes in limiting discharges." In 1975, a company study found that PCBs caused tumors in rats. They ordered its conclusion changed from "slightly tumorigenic" to "does not appear to be carcinogenic."


Their pollution record is not quite the worst. They probably don't have as many direct deaths on their hands as Union Carbide, but I can't think of a more profound example of "damning with faint praise" than that. Also, their monopoly control over seeds and plant genetics cannot be discounted as "complete bullshit" -- it may be a complicated subject, but there are legitimate concerns. You would be completely correct to say that concerns about health effects of GM foods are greatly overblown, but Monsanto has a black history.

Comment Foundations of Geopolitics (Score 1) 733

Maybe you should take a look at this. I don't know how much influence this guy has in the halls of government. Wikipedia would seem to imply that there is a considerable faction of their civil and military leadership which is very much interested in destabilizing American politics by inflaming racial tensions and supporting any and all dissidents.

Russia should "introduce geopolitical disorder into internal American activity, encouraging all kinds of separatism and ethnic, social and racial conflicts, actively supporting all dissident movements â" extremist, racist, and sectarian groups, thus destabilizing internal political processes in the U.S. It would also make sense simultaneously to support isolationist tendencies in American politics."

You're generally arguing that it would be absurd for Russia to do these things, and it is absurd if you implicitly reject the notion that they would do so. Otherwise we can spin a pretty convincing narrative. Putin certainly has no love for Clinton, and is interested in increasing his share of world power. Since a direct military confrontation is a foregone conclusion, they turn to information and cultural warfare, and the well-worn tools of the spy trade. Hacking the voting machines directly is out of the question, but the majority of the people in the country are dumb enough to think that the major parties represent their interests, so the goal becomes controlling the narrative. Bribing journalists would be costly and prone to exposure. It's best to give them a story that is big enough that they have to report it. Hacking is deniable, doesn't require subverting anyone in a foreign nation, and has a fairly low cost and risk-reward ratio. Given the goal of destabilization, hacking a major political party becomes an obvious move. We've actually seen this exact scenario before, where state-level intelligence agents were caught attempting to hack the Democratic National Committee. We can probably assume that the intelligence interests between the major powers reflect the perceived threat level of the other powers, so it's probably safe to say that Russian hackers would be employed against US and Chinese targets primarily. It's likely that hacking attempts are made against the two major parties continually, but especially when the stakes are raised during an election.

So you're Putin. You exercise a great deal of power, but you are still ambitious. You don't exactly wake up every day thinking on how to knock the US off its pedestal, but it's never really far from your mind, and any ideas along that line will always find a willing ear. For Putin, this is nearly a foolproof solution, the only real consideration is what the US will do in response. You've already invaded the Ukraine and not drawn a military response. So why not do this?

So we have an established motive, an inarguable opportunity, and all of our intelligence agencies saying that there was at least some degree of influence. If Putin did not specifically authorize the hacks and subsequent leaks, he is certainly intensely pleased by this situation. Alexander Dugin and his friends in the Russian General Staff got everything they wanted, and not only that, they demonstrated the viability of this form of attack. If the goal is destabilization, one is led rather ineluctably towards this exact point of weakness.

The answer to this situation is to destabilize American politics. The voting system we have fairly obviously limits the power of minor parties, and encourages two large parties which are relatively homogenous in aims simply due to the laws of large numbers. So how are we, the electorate, driven to the polls? Wedge issues: global warming, border security, racism. The dissatisfaction with the major parties is very real, as are the underlying worldview differences, so it's not that we would not expect to see a strong conservative and strong liberal party, but these particular political parties have enough skeletons in their closets to sink the USS Enterprise.

The single most effective thing that we could do to improve American politics would be to switch away from "first past the post" voting. I suspect that ranked choice voting would have had Gary Johnson as a second preference on many Clinton ballots, but then again it's hard to see the major parties fielding these candidates if they didn't have the guarantee that people had to vote for one or the other of them. I can't stand Johnson's politics, personally, but I think he made a strong showing, and to the degree that anyone bothered to conduct any polls, I believe he was generally preferred to Trump.

Putin, or anyone else with the inclination, can massively destabilize this country by hacking one of the two entrenched parties. If it can be done, it will be done. The only way to cast a vote against the Establishment is to cast an instant-runoff ballot. If we don't have the ability to make real choices at the polls, both the domestic elites and our foreign enemies will exploit this. And this really should be a pillar of the Libertarian Party platform; for better or worse they are a major anti-establishment force, and although I oppose them with nearly every fiber of my being, I think that they could be successful enough to at least introduce this concept to the wider national dialogue. I also believe that libertarian ideas enjoy far stronger support than is represented in our government. There are downsides to coalition politics and populist movements, but doesn't it make sense to capture more information from voters about what they actually want? In market terms, right now we have two big entrenched regional monopolies, who can stay in business only because the laws prevent meaningful competition (you can supply your own car analogy). I'd really like for this country to all get together and give both major parties the enormous raised middle finger they so richly deserve.

Comment Partisan Politics (Score 1) 181

This is why we need to ditch First Past the Post. The voting system encourages two large parties, which tend to be more alike (and centrist) than not, just because of the large numbers involved. But then we still need voters, so our party politics focuses around wedge issues. Our politicians very deliberately set us against one another, because they must. They have no incentive to do otherwise, nor to de-escalate any of these issues. American politics has become more fiercely partisan over the last few decades, and I am quite concerned that if this trend continues, it will be politically expedient for some asshole to lead this country to another civil war. At the very least there can be no particularly good argument against getting more information from the voter about their preferences.

For the record, and not that I enjoy his brand of politics more, but I suspect that the real loser of this recent election was Gary Johnson. He had some gaffes, but I feel like he would have had much stronger support if anyone had any expectation that he would win -- which is exactly the problem with FPTP, it encourages people to vote tactically, against their actual preferences.

Want to cast a real anti-Establishment vote? Support ranked choice voting. It's time to kick the lizards out, and they can take their damned political machine with them.

Comment Re:Radiative Transfer (Score 1) 364

Dr. Christy certainly paints an alarming picture. It's a shame that he and Dr. Spencer are alone in their opinions. But I am sure that is the result of a vast conspiracy and not the quality of their ideas. So to repeat for both of your sakes, whether or not the GCMs are accurate is not an argument for or against AGW, any more than a potentially-flawed epidemiological model would invalidate the germ theory of disease. As it happens, Dr Christy's results are potentially interesting, but his presentation is fairly biased. I don't begrudge him that, I think. And if he or Dr. Spencer can come up with a plausible negative feedback mechanism then I am sure they would be taken quite seriously. The scientific consensus has reversed itself on this issue before, remember. The situation is analogous to the debate about dark matter. Yes, if you only look at galactic rotation curves, there is room for an alternate theory (MOND), and there have been a number of published papers. No presentations to Congress about the issue though, because it's not been made into a political issue. Multiple other lines of evidence however point to a different explanation. It's not completely impossible for some new observation to reverse the balance of evidence, but it hasn't happened yet, and the observations that would be required are about as unlikely as it is possible to get. Dr. Christy has already been a lead author on sections of the IPCC's assessments, it's not like people are ignoring his ideas or not incorporating them into the body of scientific literature. The issue is that his argument is flawed. Now, if you have nothing better to offer than Spencer and Christy I do believe we are done here. However, I would still encourage you to review the early history of AGW, as being fruitful for counterarguments. I would certainly like to see it disproven, and there were specific observations that have taken the theory from discredit to the consensus position. If your worldview can handle new information, you could potentially find additional reasons to sustain those objections. The argument you're presenting is crap, and everyone knows it. Find a better one.

Comment future's so bright, I have to wear p-n junctions (Score 1) 103

No, you're confusing youself. The lux measurement is the perceptual one, you know, the one that ignores wavelengths that humans can't see, and weights the wavelengths that we can see with peaks at the idealized human visual response. The actual radiant intensity at any given moment is going to be much greater. Measuring light levels in lux is completely useless unless you're a lighting director. It is a statement about human eyeballs, and should not be used when talking about things that are not human eyeballs.

Not that it matters to the point, but in fact they are pretty darn close

As it turns out, human visual response looks nothing likethe response of solar panels. Do note that, consistent with our other conclusions, the absorbed spectrum and peak are wider and differently located respectively. As far as I am aware, there isn't really a reason why we would expect people to try to build a solar cell that is less efficient than the human eye, especially since, as you say, clouds happen.

This was an easy mistake to make. Easy to the point where it's a little suspect why you're repeating it. The appropriate units would be watts per square meter, which is standard across the solar energy industry. I hope you are not using one cherry-picked (wrong) factoid as the basis for your anti-solar-energy stance. For anyone interested in some actual numbers, this calculator given an equation and computes the effective solar insolation (in W/m^2) for a given lat/long/percent cloud cover. Here's a calculator from NASA with many more parameters.

Comment Disproof (Score 1) 371

Disproving AGW would at this point require new physics, so there's not a lot of research towards it.There's a similarly distressing lack of research into over-unity devices and anti-gravity boots. It seems that after 150+ years the physics of CO2 are pretty well established. Did you know that AGW was completely discredited up until the mid 50s? Somehow the entire field completely changed over to thinking a different way, and scientists weren't fired en masse because there wasn't any sort of political controversy tied up in what the science said.

Comment Plant Growth (Score 1) 371

That chart shows that CO2 levels have not been elevated for some fifty million years. Very few species currently on Earth evolved under high-CO2 conditions, and that can especially be considered true for modern farming varietals, which tend to be genetically distinct from wild plants. Modern experiments with high-CO2 farming show decreases in growth above 1200ppm for most species,

And to the sibling poster, do any amount of research into the results of melting permafrost. It would be easier to farm the Sahara than the tundra under any climactic conditions.

Comment Climate Change (Score 1) 371

The most correct distinction to make about climate change vs global warming is to distinguish between the overturning of the theory that the climate was cyclical and self-moderating, and the subsequent understanding that not only could it be changed, that it is being changed, and that human activity is the primary cause. The idea that the climate was (somehow) static persisted through the 1950s. I found a textbook the other day printed in that year which explicitly dismissed CO2 as a source of warming, and Callendar 1949 ("CAN CARBON DIOXIDE INFLUENCE CLIMATE?") paints an equally explicit picture of the theory's "chequered history". Evidence for ice ages of course had been known since the early 19th century, and were widely accepted by the latter half of that century, so there were many theories of climate change which did not discuss warming, and indeed Arrhenius' foundational 1896 paper presents the warming scenario merely for comparison.

There is absolutely a difference between "climate change" and "global warming", and both concepts did have to establish themselves separately. One imagines that it is still possible to research paleoclimate without necessarily taking explicit note of ongoing climatic changes. However, the study of the current climate is synonymous with the study of global warming.

Slashdot Top Deals

Doubt isn't the opposite of faith; it is an element of faith. - Paul Tillich, German theologian and historian