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Global CO2 Concentration Passes Threshold of 400 ppm -- and That's Bad for the Climate (time.com) 371

The average concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere hit the symbolic level of 400 parts per million (ppm) for the first time in 2015 and has continued to surge in 2016, according to the World Meteorological Organization. From a report on Time:Scientists say humans may need to take some carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere to stop global warming. The carbon dioxide concentration is unlikely to dip below the 400 ppm mark for at least several decades, even with aggressive efforts to reduce global carbon emissions, according to the WMO report, which confirms similar findings reported last month. Carbon dioxide can last in the atmosphere for thousands of years without efforts to remove it. "The year 2015 ushered in a new era of optimism and climate action," said WMO Secretary-General Petteri Taalas, referring to the landmark Paris Agreement to address climate change. "The real elephant in the room is carbon dioxide, which remains in the atmosphere for thousands of years and in the oceans for even longer."

First New US Nuclear Reactor In 20 Years Goes Live (cnn.com) 343

An anonymous reader quotes a report from CNN: The Tennessee Valley Authority is celebrating an event 43 years in the making: the completion of the Watts Bar Nuclear Plant. In 1973, the TVA, one of the nation's largest public power providers, began building two reactors that combined promised to generate enough power to light up 1.3 million homes. The first reactor, delayed by design flaws, eventually went live in 1996. Now, after billions of dollars in budget overruns, the second reactor has finally started sending power to homes and businesses. Standing in front of both reactors Wednesday, TVA President Bill Johnson said Watts Bar 2, the first U.S. reactor to enter commercial operation in 20 years, would offer clean, cheap and reliable energy to residents of several southern states for at least another generation. Before Watts Bar 2, the last time an American reactor had fired up was in 1996. It was Watts Bar 1 -- and according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, it cost $6.8 billion, far greater than the original price tag at $370 million. In the 2000s, some American power companies, faced with growing environmental regulations, eyed nuclear power again as a top alternative to fossil fuels such as coal and oil. A handful of companies, taking advantage of federal loan guarantees from the Bush administration, revived nuclear reactor proposals in a period now known as the so-called "nuclear renaissance." Eventually, nuclear regulators started to green light new reactors, including ones in Georgia and South Carolina. In 2007, the TVA resumed construction on Watts Bar 2, according to the International Atomic Energy Agency. The TVA originally said it would take five years to complete. The TVA, which today serves seven different southern states, relies on nuclear power to light up approximately 4.5 million homes. Watts Bar 2, the company's seventh operating reactor, reaffirms its commitment to nukes for at least four more decades, Johnson said Wednesday. In the end, TVA required more than five years to build the project. The final cost, far exceeding its initial budget, stood at $4.7 billion.
The Internet

Anti-Defamation League and Pepe the Frog's Creator Are Teaming Up To Save Pepe From Hate-Symbol Status (businessinsider.com) 379

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Business Insider: Matt Furie, the creator of the widely known "Pepe the Frog" meme, is joining forces with the Anti-Defamation League to reclaim the symbol from the alt-right and make it a "force for good," according to a press release. Furie and the ADL plan to start a social-media campaign by creating "a series of positive Pepe memes and messages" and promoting them with the hashtag #SavePepe, according to the release. The ADL declared "Pepe the Frog" to be a hate symbol in late September. "It's completely insane that Pepe has been labeled a symbol of hate, and that racists and anti-Semites are using a once peaceful frog-dude from my comic book as an icon of hate," Furie said in a column for Time magazine. While fiercely condemning the "racist and fringe groups" that use Pepe to propagate divisive views, Furie said Pepe was meant to "celebrate peace, togetherness, and fun." The meme, which originated from a 2005 cartoon, has been hijacked by the alt-right movement in the past several months. Members of the movement have used the meme to convey often racist and anti-Semitic messages. The messages prompted the ADL to add Pepe to its "Hate on Display" database, which documents anti-Semitic hate symbols. According to the ADL's press release on the #SavePepe campaign, Furie will speak at its "Never Is Now" summit against anti-Semitism on November 17 in New York City. The panel will focus specifically on online hate campaigns. Furie published a new Pepe cartoon on Monday detailing his "alt-right election nightmare," which depicts a sad Pepe morphing into a frog that resembles Donald Trump and then a monster. Pepe appears trapped in the mouth of the monster. The next panel depicts a nuclear explosion. Pepe then awakes and hides under his mattress.

Comment Clinton, Podesta, Putin and Trump (Score 4, Insightful) 435

A few points on this alleged story:

1. The Clinton campaign desperately trying to distract attention away from Hillary's fundamental dishonesty.
2. Maybe the story is true, and the Clinton campaign hires people with the security acumen of a burned-out toaster.
3. Buzzfeed? Really?
4. Maybe they figure if they keep yelling "Trump is a Putin pawn!" enough we'll ignore the fact that Podesta is a registered lobbyist for Putin's bank.

There's one candidate in this race who has a proven record of taking money for favors from Russian sources, and it isn't Trump.


When Mercedes-Benz Starts Selling Self-Driving Cars, It Will Prioritize Driver's Safety Over Pedestrian's (inverse.com) 366

From a report on Inverse: When Mercedes-Benz starts selling self-driving cars, it will choose to prioritize driver safety over pedestrians', a company manager has confirmed. The ethical conundrum of how A.I.-powered machines should act in life-or-death situations has received more scrutiny as driverless cars become a reality, but the car manufacturer believes that it's safer to save the life you have greater control over. "You could sacrifice the car. You could, but then the people you've saved initially, you don't know what happens to them after that in situations that are often very complex, so you save the ones you know you can save," said Christoph von Hugo, Mercedes' manager of driver assistance systems. "If you know you can save at least one person, at least save that one. Save the one in the car. This moral question of whom to save: 99 percent of our engineering work is to prevent these situations from happening at all. We are working so our cars don't drive into situations where that could happen and [will] drive away from potential situations where those decisions have to be made."As long as they are better at driving and safety than humans, it is a progress, in my opinion.

Comment Anita Sarkeesian: Destroyer of Shareholder Value (Score 1, Insightful) 313

It seems that Twitter's stock price has nosedived precipitously since appointing radical Social Justice Warrior Anita Sarkeesian to their newly formed “Trust and Safety Council.” Since then, Twitter has:

* Banned Robert Stacey McCain
* Banned Milo Yiannopoulos, AKA @Nero, permanently
* Suspended Instapundit
* Shadowbanned Anna Maria Perez
* Forced James O'Keefe to renove a Tweet and perform a spite reset

And after having damaged their brand and destroyed billions worth of shareholder value, lo and behold, no one wants to buy them! Gee, turns out that alienating half your user base at the behest of a tiny cadre of radical feminists is a lousy business strategy...


No One Wants To Buy Twitter (theverge.com) 313

At one point, it seemed that many were interested in purchasing the micro-blogging social platform (which now calls itself a news service) Twitter, but its fate is quickly drying up. Salesforce (which couldn't buy LinkedIn) showed the most interest in Twitter, but this week its CEO Marc Benioff said his company has "walked away" from making a bid to buy it. The Verge sums up the situation: If you're keeping track, that's now... pretty much everyone who's said they're not interested in buying Twitter. Neither Google nor Disney plan to bid on Twitter, despite reports saying both were interested. Recode says that Apple is likely also out of the picture. And Verizon immediately dismissed speculation that it was considering a bid. Facebook is also said to be uninterested, according to CNBC. And while Microsoft's name has been tossed around, no one seems to think the acquisition would make any sense for an increasingly enterprise-focused company.The situation is so bad that as soon as the news of Salesforce withdrawing its name from the bidding race broke, its stock quickly went up by 6 percent, while Twitter's stock registered a 6 percent drop.

Submission + - "Clinton Is Not the Tech Privacy Candidate. Not Your Privacy Anyway." (reason.com)

Nova Express writes: The lengths Hillary Clinton has gone to in order to protect her own tech privacy are well documented. Protecting the tech privacy of ordinary American privacy? Not so much. "Amid the dump of hacked emails from Clinton campaign Chairman John Podesta are bits and pieces of discussion that help indicate her mindset on citizen privacy and the use of encryption to protect data." When asked to come out for privacy, the Clinton campaign demurred. "When a top politician appears to take an uninvolved stance in a conflict between the executive branch and private citizens or companies, don't mistake it as neutrality. It's deference to authority. As a candidate running to be in charge of the executive branch, 'staying out of it' is really approval for the Department of Justice to push the issue to see what would happen."

Google Research Promotes Equality In Machine Learning, Doesn't Mention Age 149

An anonymous reader writes: New research from Google Brain examines the problem of 'prejudice by inference' in supervised learning -- the syndrome by which 'fairness through unawareness' can fail; for example, when the information that a loan applicant is female is not included in the data set, but gender can be inferred from other data factors which are included, such as whether the applicant is a single parent. Since 82% of single parents are female, there is a high probability that the applicant is female. The proposed framework shifts the cost of poor predictions to the decision-maker, who is responsible for investing in the accuracy of their prediction systems. Though Google Brain's proposals aim to reduce or eliminate inadvertent prejudice on the basis of race, religion or gender, it is interesting to note that it makes no mention of age prejudice -- currently a subject of some interest to Google.

Climate Change Doubled the Size of Forest Fires In Western US, Says Study (time.com) 191

An anonymous reader quotes a report from TIME: Man-made climate change has doubled the total area burned by forest fires in the Western U.S. in the past three decades, according to new research. Damage from forest fires has risen dramatically in recent decades, with the total acres burned in the U.S. rising from 2.9 million in 1985 to 10.1 million in 2015, according to National Interagency Fire Center data. Suppression costs paid by the federal government now top $2 billion. Now a new study, published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, has found that a significant portion of the increase in land burned by forest fires can be attributed to man-made climate change. Other factors are also at play, including natural climate shifts and a change in how humans use land, but man-made climate change has had the biggest impact. That trend will likely continue as temperatures keep rising, researchers said. Climate change contributes to forest fires in a number of ways. Fires kill off trees and other plants that eventually dry and act as the fuel to feed massive wildfires. Global warming also increases the likelihood of the dry, warm weather in which wildfires can thrive. Average temperatures in the Western U.S. rose by 2.5 degree Fahrenheit since 1970, outpacing temperature rise elsewhere on the globe, according to the research.

Comment Science Fiction is busy destroying itself (Score 3, Informative) 252

Due to the Social Justice Warrior influx, the genre's awards are no longer given on merit, but rather on meeting the proper criteria of political, ethnic and gender correctness.

If you question this turn of events, expect to find yourself expelled from Worldcon for voicing anti-Social Justice Warrior thoughts.

Before the SJW invasion, the Hugo Award used to mean something, and the best of science fiction was gaining increased literary respect. Neither of those are true anymore.

And if SF awards have become meaningless, this designation applies doubly to literary awards. Quick, name the last ten winners of the National Book Award for Fiction. Outside a small circle of literary devotees, no one knows or cares.


Why Is Science Fiction Snubbed By Literary Awards? (galacticbrain.com) 252

Slashdot reader bowman9991 quotes an essay from GalacticBrain: Science fiction authors have long been outcasts from the literary world, critics using the worst examples of the genre as ammunition against it. Unfortunately though, at times even science fiction authors themselves can turn on their own kind: "Science fiction is rockets, chemicals and talking squids in outer space," mocked Margaret Atwood, one of her many attempts to convince people that she is not a science fiction author, even though one of her most famous novels, A Handmaid's Tale, is exactly that...

Considered by the literary establishment, and frequently by non-SF award-giving institutions, to be trashy, pulpish, commercially driven lightweight gutter fiction, it's no surprise that very few works of science fiction have won major literary awards... Kim Stanley Robinson, author of the award-winning (not "literary" awards obviously) Mars novels, [in 2009] hit out at the literary establishment, accusing the Man Booker judges of "ignorance" in neglecting science fiction, which he declared was "the best British literature of our time".

The article ends with a simple question. "Will science fiction authors ever escape the publication ghetto?"

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