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Comment Reliability is a safety feature (Score 1) 1013

If you put yourself in the mindset of someone who owns a weapon for personal defense, then the single most important safety feature is that the weapon goes "bang" when the trigger is pulled. From an engineering standpoint, any additional gizmos on the gun to keep it from going "bang" on command are *guaranteed* to reduce reliability. If someone is coming at you with deadly force, having an unreliable gun in your hand is a huge safety issue.

This particular gun design debate is similar to the "Boeing versus Airbus" design philosophy debate, and for similar reasons: ultimately, do you let the safety systems over-ride the pilot, or do you let the pilot over-ride the safety systems?

Comment Why do we have juries, anyway? (Score 5, Insightful) 982

As an American, I am profoundly depressed by this thread. I respect the juror who is posting his perspective here, and greatly appreciate the fact he's taking the time to explain what happened from an insider's perspective. But his account reveals a terrible devolution of our system of justice: the ordinary citizens on a jury no longer protect us against an inappropriate or unfair application of the law.

It makes me furious every time I hear a juror come out of the jury room and say "I don't think he really did anything bad, but according to the judge's instructions, I had no choice but to convict." No, you had a choice. The brilliantly cynical and untrusting rebels who wrote the Constitution put you there to make the choice. Not an unfeeling robotic choice, not a judge-directed decision, but an independent decision that truly reflects the informed judgment of a "jury of peers."

The jury has become, not an independent check against the juggernaut of government prosecution, but a mere puppet of the system. In such a legal system, any one of us can be sent to jail for life on the government's whim, because there's not one of us who doesn't -- knowingly or unknowingly -- violate several laws daily; we count on juries to say, when appropriate, "ok, maybe he technically violated the law, but this prosecution is unreasonable, and we're not going along with it."

Our system was designed to make it really, really hard to convict. And really easy to acquit. If the prosecutor doesn't like the case, he can toss it out. If the judge doesn't like the case, he can toss it out. Heck, if the judge doesn't like the jury's "guilty" verdict, he can toss it out (but he can't set aside a "not guilty" verdict). Why has the jury come to believe they can't exercise at least the same power as the prosecutors and the judge routinely do: the power to toss out a case that just ain't right?

Comment Temporal Discontinuity in Data (Score 2, Insightful) 344

Looking at the pop-up labels that show up when you mouse-over the data, there seems to be a huge temporal discontinuity in your data set: right at the first vertical stripe, the displayed date/time labels jump from 2009-09-17 to 2009-09-27. Maybe I'm just misreading the display, but a 10-day discontinuity would seem to account for the anomaly you describe.

It couldn't be that easy, could it?

Comment Re:Nice try (Score 1) 736

The researchers did not use certain tree ring data post 1960 because it was not properly calibrated to instrumental data.

"not properly calibrated" means they did not match temperature, were pointing down while temperature up. And there was no way to "calibrate" them.

There has been much hoo-hah about this "throwing out" of data when really it is the instrumental data that matters, not the proxy data. If temperature is what you are after, thermometers are the gold standard. Therefore the post 1960 results really aren't in question.

Yes. But if post 1960 results of proxy vs temperature do not match, PRE 1960 proxy temperatures ARE in question. In other words, how can we know that proxy shows correct temperature for MWP, if it cannot be "calibrated" to match instrumental record?

If one completely ignores any of the above data sets (whether they be direct measurements or proxies), there exist many disparate observations of global warming ranging from the rise in sea level which threatens various nations' lands to the melting of the arctic tundra to the loss of glaciation document global warming independently of these scientists' data.

No dispute about that.

All the data seem to indicate is that the warming is happening on a scale that it has not before.

But a lot of question here. Was there MWP? Was there little ice age? Is this really happening on a scale not known before?

By itself, this should indicate that the hockey stick curve is real.

It can only indicate that there was warming 1975-2000. Nothing more. If you join random noise for 1000-1960 and then put 1975-2000 intrumental record next to it, you will get the curve too.

This year, the Chinese government limited fossil fuel burning before the Olympics with apparently stunning results. When I was in Beijing for nearly a month 10 years ago, smog was a daily occurance. Even miles outside the city at Badaling (the Great Wall), it was hard to see for more than a mile. Smog is considered to be the third most important greenhouse gas by the IPCC. Evidence that we are changing our own atmosphere by fossil fuel emission is obvious just by looking.

Nice anectodal story, but what that has to do with AGW?

Comment Iran isn't doing this alone! (Score 5, Interesting) 313

When Iran cracked down on their citizens last time, during this summer's protests, Western companies such as Siemens and Nokia provided them the technology to do this.

I also highly doubt they're building massive databases with worldwide surveillance on Iranian citizens -- for the purposes of going after their relatives within Iran -- with their own home-brew technologies.

This takes some scary stuff some Iranian University students could not simply hash together -- things like deep-packet inspection of all internet traffic and massive data-mining algorithms in the scope of millions upon millions of megabytes.

Comment Re:Nice try (Score 1) 736

While personally I agree that in an ideal world journals should archive data used in publications, there are several real world issues:

  • Journals have a small circulation. This means that they already charge an arm and a leg per issue.
  • Journals have a small staff. In fact most reviews are sent out to unpaid 3rd parties because the journals don't have the in-house staff to do the reviews themselves.
  • Journals have very limited resources even when supported by publication giants such as Elsevier. Adding the burden of holding the raw and processed data along with source code for every one of the 20x articles per issue would require an increase in staff to maintain the additional server space, an increase in cost to support the additional IT geeks and servers, and would ultimately result in the journals NOT getting distributed due to cost-related issues.

Bottom line is that the journals would only do this under duress because it would hurt their bottom line and probably make the publication process even more forbidding than it currently is.

Now that said, there is an attempt to create open-access journals which I am all for, but this is still a bit of an experiment. Many faculty are evaluated for tenure based on the reputations of the journals which have accepted their articles. If I publish all my research to an unknown journal which is experimental and hasn't established either readership or gravitas, I'm not likely to be taken seriously by the community nor my peers when I am up for tenure. It's sad, but true.

Comment Re:Terrible P2P Regulation Bill Will Be Fast-Track (Score 2, Insightful) 203

IANAL, but I'd never before heard of a law that explicitly required software to behave in a very specific way, and display very specific warnings. That alone tips this bill into the "big deal" category for me.

Add to this the tendency of prosecutors to misuse Federal statutes in ways that clearly exceed the legislative intent, and this law seems to open the door for prosecution of any government-targeted "bad guy" who also happens to have such 'illegal' network software.

And, of course, the original reason for this bill also stinks: it's almost certainly an RIAA-bought-and-paid-for law clearly designed to eliminate the "I didn't know" defense when suing file-sharers.

Comment Terrible P2P Regulation Bill Will Be Fast-Tracked (Score 3, Insightful) 203

For months now, some RIAA-influenced Congressmen have been working on a crazily overbroad P2P regulation bill, H.R. 1319: The Informed P2P User Act. It just passed out of committee last month.

I would expect Congressmen to be falling all over each other to bring this to a vote now. After all, it's they're no longer just doing it for the RIAA/MPAA "campaign contributions." Now, it's personal.

Comment Re:When will device makers respond? (Score 1) 447

The situation is already far worse than anyone in this thread has mentioned. Sure, you can strongly encrypt your laptop, and then, at the US Border checkpoint, adamantly refuse to provide your password. Fine. If you're a US citizen, they have to let you in anyway. And, of course, they'll confiscate your laptop for forensic analysis, which will yield nothing.

And, most importantly, the now royally pissed-off customs agent will document the fact that you were uncooperative (and carrying potential contraband) in the US Customs database. The database that is automatically checked every time you enter the country. Expect an anal probe *every* time you deal with US Customs from then on; and of course, losing your laptop at every subsequent entry into the US is a given.

US Customs' ability to mark you and make all subsequent travel *miserable* has greatly improved in recent years. "Land of the Free" my ass.

Comment Re:Reminds me... (Score 1) 402

Chile is very clear and upfront about the reason for the $131 entry charge: it's because that's exactly what the US charges them for a visa. If the US quit charging, so would Chile.

In that respect, I found Chile *far* more civilized than the US.

Comment Re:lithium is well known (Score 1) 458

In the USA, the "emergency personnel" that respond to a suicidal person call will probably be cops. The odds of that suicidal person getting himself shot go way up once the police are involved.

I would exhaust *all* other possibilities before calling the US police on someone I cared about.

Comment Re:War Surgery in Afghanistan and Iraq (Score 3, Insightful) 130

When I received Red Cross first aid training, I was taught that applying a tourniquet is a decision to "sacrifice a limb to save a life." Having to pre-apply one of those things to each of your limbs before going into combat has got to be immensely sobering.

For an 18-year-old kid, the theoretical possibility of getting killed in combat probably doesn't hold as much dread as the very real possibilities of traumatic amputation symbolized by those tourniquets.

I hope that they built Hell large enough to contain all those national leaders who enter "wars of choice," as well as all military recruiters who play up the "money for college" aspects without mentioning the "wear four tourniquets to work" bit.

"A rational army would run away." -- Montesquieu


Submission + - Madeleine L'Engle, 1918 - 2007

mosel-saar-ruwer writes: Madeleine L'Engle Camp Franklin passed away, on Sept. 6, aged 88, at Rose Haven nursing home, in Litchfield, Connecticut. Even before we discovered Tolkien, CS Lewis, or Robert Heinlein, many /.-ers' first exposure to Science Fiction and Fantasy was surely L'Engle's 1962 novel, A Wrinkle in Time. The Washington Post has an obituary, and the New York Post's John Podhoretz relates his childhood memories of life at 924 West End Avenue with Mr. & Mrs. Franklin.

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