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Comment Re:Two questions need to be asked (Score 4, Insightful) 546

cold fjord writes:

Why is all the blame heaped on Snowden?

Because he is the one that arrogantly ignored the democratic process, stole a massive store of intelligence documents, incompetently encrypted them, and made them available for friend and foe alike, and then fled to be among Americas adversaries.

I was unaware that the activities of the NSA were carried out under the auspices of the "democratic process". We live in a representative democracy. When someone like Bruce Schneier (who has access to the Snowden documents) can meet with legislators (that is, the people who are supposed to be our representatives in this democracy) and tell them what our government is doing rather than the other way around, I think it can be argued that the activities of the NSA no longer constitute part of a democratic process but rather, an arrogant ignoring of the democratic process (as you put it).

Comment Re:Pacific Decadal Oscillation (PDO) (Score 2) 235

Bullshit. If I have a glass half full of boiling water, and a glass half full of ice water, the two glasses have an average temperature of around 50 degrees C. If I pour one into the other, the hot water will cool, and the ice water will warm; but the average temperature is still 50 degrees.
The heat was redistributed, but the average temperature hasn't changed.

No, in your example the average temperature will drop but the total heat of the system will remain the same.

In the commonly understood meaning of ice water, you will have a mixture of ice and water. Such a mixture is understood to have a temperature of 0 degrees centigrade but additional heat needs to be lost to make the transition from liquid water at 0 degrees C to solid water at 0 degrees C (heat of fusion). The mixture of your water at the boiling point and your ice water will equilibrate at a temperature below 50 degrees C. The actual temperature will depend the percentage of water that is in the form of ice in the ice water.

So if the heat can go somewhere other than to change the temperature of water you can have changes of the mean temperature of the water.

Likewise in the rest of the comment, a global energy balance surplus need not mean a short term global surface temperature increase and an energy balance deficit need not mean a short term surface temperature decrease because the energy balance affects more than air temperatures. The oceans, in fact, act as a massive heat sink (and the data is there showing that surplus heat is going there). That is, additional heat affects more than surface air temperatures, it affects ocean temperatures. As a result, anything which affects the heat balance into this heat sink will affect air temperatures. This means that a heat surplus can be masked if additional heat gets temporarily dumped into the ocean but it also means that if the process that is dumping surplus heat into the ocean decreases you will see an atmospheric temperature rise.


Submission + - Inventor essentially patents USB logos (

cosmicaug writes:

Although the various embodiments of configuration aids in accordance with the present invention were described with reference to geometrical shapes and colored surfaces those skilled in the art will appreciate that numerous other embodiments are also possible For example the configuration aid may comprise any lettering numbering symbol or the like that allows a user to distinguish between the first and second sides of an electronic connector Furthermore the configuration aid may be marked on the cormector with any suitable marking means such as by printing painting dying inscription adhesive or the like.

Gosh, I wonder if one could use a USB logo for this? Too bad the USB specification doesn't tell you where to put it. Oh wait, it actually does (see section 6.5.1 of the USB 2.0 specification or simply consult the FAQ)!

This joker wants three and a half million dollars for the right to mark one side of a polarized connector differently than the other. He actually uses the USB connector as a case study and example in both patents. That is, the very same specification of what he is using as an example in both of these patents specifies the prior art which should have properly invalidated these patents: it requires putting the USB logo on the top side and not on the underside. Both patents, US 8,142,220 & US 20,110,165,792, seem to be referring to the same concept (I assume there must be some legal reason for this).

I can only assume that the patent examiner(s) never used a USB connector and could not be bothered to do a few Google searches.


Submission + - Obama's Justice Department seeks expansion of surveillance (

ericjones12398 writes: "The Obama administration was elected on a promise of "hope and change." One area where the Obama administration has not differed much from its predecessor is on the subject of surveillance. Lawyers for the administration argued Tuesday that the American public has no expectation of privacy when it comes to mobile-phone location data."

Submission + - How to boil water without bubbles (

ananyo writes: "One trick to test whether a frying pan is hot enough is to sprinkle water on it. If the surface is sufficiently above the boiling point of water, droplets will skip across the pan. Those jittery beads of water are held up from the hot pan by a cushion of steam. The vapour cushion collapses as the surface falls below the 'Leidenfrost temperature', causing furious bubbling and spitting when the water droplet hits the surface and boils explosively.
The Leidenfrost effect lies behind the discovery, published today, that water can be made to boil without any bubbling if a surface is specially treated so that the vapour cushion does not break down. The key is to make the surface very water-repellent (abstract). The effect might be used to carefully control how metals are cooled and heated, or to reduce drag on ships. There's a video in the source showing the effect."

Social Networks

Submission + - Update on Journalist Arrested By Interpol For Tweet (

cosmicaug writes: For all practical purposes, he’s dead. Islam is going to be demanding a blood sacrifice on this one. The international attention is going to turn this into a loss of face for the clerics if it goes any other way.

Sadly, the most likely outcome is that they are going to execute this man for three tweets.

Comment Re:and where is exactly the problem? (Score 4, Informative) 915

True as that may be, what the hell was Interpol doing passing on the arrest note? Don't they at least bother to look at what it's actually for?

Like the article says, it's against Interpol rules to be involved in something like this.

Article 3
It is strictly forbidden for the Organization to undertake any intervention or activities of a political,
military, religious or racial character.

The proper thing would be to not extradite him. What will actually happen is he well be extradited because of (pre-election) politics and he stands a reasonably high chance of being executed.

Comment Re:Did it "confirm" it was caused by man? (Score 5, Informative) 967

It was probably caused by man.

By measuring temperatures in dumb-ass places, the BBC link in the article sums it up nicely with a picture of a weather station next to an airplane, and you could argue that jet exhaust and black tarmacs are natural, but you can't argue that jet exhaust and black tarmacs are representative for the earth surface in average.

Actually, the heat island effect was one of the things that this study was meant to address. The climate skeptic's contentions on this are basically threefold:
- Urban heat islands exist and they are warmer than they otherwise would be if urbanization had not happened (I don't think anyone disputes this).
- Urban heat islands exaggerate warming trends.
- Unlike TV weathermen, climate scientists are too stupid to realize that urban heat island effects could affect their data and too stupid to correct the data for it (even though it is quite likely that clever TV weathermen probably read about this effect in the climate science literature in the first place).

What this group has found on the matter, to their great surprise, is that not only doesn't the urban heat island effect not exaggerate warming trends, it actually dampens them a little bit. In other words, if you are not accounting for the urban heat island effect it makes the hockey stick less steep, rather than more steep.

Which is no great surprise to me because others have already looked at this due to the stink Anthony Watts was raising and found the same thing (though I would guess Watts probably doesn't talk about that too much).

Comment Re:thanks Princeton! (Score 1) 101

Researchers are pretty good about sharing their work through alternative channels. Most researchers will host PDFs of their work on their department web page. If not, email them and ask. I've never had a request for a PDF denied after contacting the author.

I've had a researcher send me an encrypted PDF which I thought was a pretty weird thing to do. It was weak encryption so no biggie. Still, pretty odd.

Comment Re:erroneous conclusions (Score 2) 458

"These observations should dispel in one fell swoop any notion that recent global warming could be natural."

Really? Because climate has never, ever, not even once, shifted quickly?

Note the huge uptick in average temperature starting roughly 11.5k years BP. I'm pretty sure the foot-powered cars the Flintstones drove didn't warm the earth, so this must've been a natural event. Saying that it's impossible for current temperature trends to be unnatural flies in the face of something that has already happened once, almost within recorded history; not to mention all the times when it happened outside of recorded history.

This is why some people, like myself, do not take climate alarmists seriously. They make these grandiose pronouncements that have little, if anything, to do with the facts.

That's not a very reassuring comparison if you want to calm down the alarmists. You know what else happened at a time when, despite what you are suggesting, temperature change was slower than what we seem to be getting now, at ~11.5k years BP? Yup, that's right, a mass extinction.

Comment Re:Amazing (Score 1) 458

Scientists have been fairly unanimous in predicting warming since the mid 1970's, and so far they've been right.

No, sorry, I remember the 70's and global cooling was all the rage then. Search 'global cooling 1970s'. Global Warming has been since the 90's.

Science popularizer, Isaac Asimov, never got the memo:

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