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Climate Change Could Drive Coffee To Extinction By 2080

Budenny Re:Unlikely (345 comments)

'terroir' is a myth. Its the creation of the European Union in response to die hard resistance to the opening of markets which the EU tried to bring about. This would have abolished the protectionism and mercantilism which the French, for instance, have been famous for. When markets were opened, the next step was to protect, for instance, the various cheeses by saying that they had to actually be made in certain geographical areas. So we now have the claim that the Cornish Pasty must be actually made and baked in Cornwall. That Greek yoghurt must be made physically in Greece. Chanpagne refers only to a sparkling wine made in that specific region of France. 'Italian' olive oil on the other hand can be and is grown anywhere, as long as its packed in Italy. There is no reason to think that sparkling wines made to the same formula using the same grape varieties will be any different if they are made in other parts of the world. There is no reason to think there is anything special about the air in Greece which makes yoghurt made there any different from if its made in Italy, Germany....etc Roquefort cheese can be made equally well in other places than Roquefort. Peking Duck can be cooked in Chinatowns everywhere, not only in Peking, China. The idea is simply to impose protectionism by the back door. As to what will happen to coffee given global warming? Probably nothing. But the last thing we need to worry about is that if the same beans are grown in different parts of the world, they will somehow taste different because they have lost this mystical imaginary property due to something called 'terroir'.

more than 2 years ago

Study Finds Growing Up WIth Gadgets Has a Downside: Social Skill Impairment

Budenny What is normal? (203 comments)

Problem is, what is normal? Suppose for instance we thought that Amish social culture and relations between teenagers was normal. Then we might say that the excessive use of cars and shopping malls and fast food led to the development of abnormal attitudes to social relations among teenagers. Suppose we thought arranged marriages the norm. We might say then that excessive levels of consumption of mass market women's magazines led to abnormal attitudes to marriage, including resistance to proper levels of parental influence over future marriage partners. We really need to get away from this crazed desire to have everyone be something identical called normal. These girls and guys will, almost all of them, just find their way through life in the end, get married, have kids, have jobs. And the ones that will not, well, its doubtful their lives would be any happier deprived of tech. They'd either find something else, or they'd be miserable.

more than 2 years ago

2011 Was the 9th Hottest Year On Record

Budenny In other news (877 comments)

In other news it was reported that today was the seventh warmest day this year. Ten of the warmest days this year have occured in the last two months, June and July. Scientists advise that there is no reason for the trend to stop any time soon, and that August will probably see a new crop of warming records. The world is warming, it is impossible to deny it any more. The time to implement strong cooling measures through the agency of the UN is now. We must restore the historic stability of temperature across the seasons before it is too late. The scientific consensus is that the way to do that is to erect more giant metal structures in windy areas, but some people are in denial about the merits of doing that. That is probably because they have been paid off by the ski or tobacco industries.

about 3 years ago

All Your Stonehenge Photos Are Belong To England

Budenny Speaking as an ancient monument myself (347 comments)

I am something of an ancient monument myself now, and I do notice that the young take lots of admiring pictures of me when I am out and about, doubtless to show their friends this extraordinary old thing they have seen at Tesco. So I look forward to taking ownership of these photos and selling them back for a small fee to defray my ever growing wine bill, and maybe be able to shop in a better class of store one of these days....

more than 4 years ago

What To Do With an Old G5 Tower?

Budenny Use in an educational Marketing Exhibition (417 comments)

The thing always was an overpriced dog. Yet, it sold, and its merits were totally believed in by the Apple community.

So it should be placed side by side with a couple of similar era Windows machines which sold for about half the price or less. It is not necessary for specifications to be identical in terms of memory and disk space, you just need roughly competitive products from the same era. It should be loaded with benchmark software and Photoshop, and set up for similar tasks.

The lesson of course will be that you could do the same things faster for half the price.

Then visitors can meditate as they watch on a number of questions, the leading one being, how on earth did Apple get away with it for so long? How did people manage to argue that Apple hardware was cheaper than PC hardware if you bought the same functionality? Why on earth was there universal opposition among the Apple people to a move to Intel. And why did they simply roll over and applaud as soon as the move was made?

An alternative suggestion would be, if there are young children around who have never travelled by air, it could be used to introduce them to the authentic sound of a jet taking off, so that when they do finally travel, they will not be alarmed. That noise, you can explain to them, is turbine fans.

more than 4 years ago

Murdoch's UK Paywall a Miserable Failure

Budenny Re:It's not the paywall that's failed (428 comments)

"We in the UK pay for the BBC willingly because it is worth the price..."

No we don't. We pay for the BBC because if we want to watch any TV, Sky, any commercial channels, we are obliged by law to subscribe to the BBC, or get hauled up before the courts.

I would still subscribe if I had a choice. But don't tell me that 'we in the UK' do so willingly. Its the state broadcaster, the law consequently gives it a special status unlike any other broadcaster, and we pay because its legally obligatory if we want any TV at all.

My view is that this is completely wrong. Not because I dislike the BBC, on the contrary, I'm a great admirer. Because forcing people to subscribe to the state broadcaster, or any broadcaster, in order to be allowed to subscribe to other broadcasters, is wrong.

more than 4 years ago

Murdoch's UK Paywall a Miserable Failure

Budenny Problem is the business model (428 comments)

News has a model of the world in which you buy and read one paper, as you did back in the days when there were only paper editions. The reason you only bought one paper is that as papers rose in price, it got too expensive to buy all of them. So back then, unless you were a business person who really needed them all, you would buy one and read it. However when papers went online, all of a sudden people started reading the Guardian, Telegraph, Independent and Times, all of them.

Total newspaper readership therefore rose dramatically. The model had changed. We were now in a world of non-exclusive newspaper readership, where people find it natural to glance through all the broadsheets.

Rupert would now like to turn back the clock, and have all papers go behind the paywall. However, he fails to realize that if that world were to come about, total readership would fall. He would then only have those people who were prepared to restrict themselves to the Times.

It is not that people particularly want to get their content free. They will pay for it, if its distinctive and of value to them, as the FT, Economist, and WSJ show. What they do not want however is a model in which they subscribe to a paper as in the old days. So what happened when the Times went behind the paywall is that everyone deleted that bookmark but carried on as before reading Telegraph, Guardian and Independent. They don't really need the Times, as long as the market is using the model of non-exclusive readership.

This is the critical point that Rupert is failing to get. He is trying to operate a model of the past, in a world in which non-exclusive readership has become the norm. The effect of this is going to be to take the Times out of the running. It is no longer part of the broadsheets that you glance through online. People are not going to subscribe to just one, and in a world in which only one charges, they are going to carry on scanning through the others, without particularly missing the Times, which has nothing very distinctive to offer.

Historically, News has always had a problem thinking the content issue through. Consider the case of LineOne, many years ago. The argument then was, we have all this distinctive content that we will use to force people to subscribe to our Internet Access service because that is the only way we will allow access to it. They will pay a premium for the access in order to get the content. In those days the contrary argument was made: if the content is so valuable, just sell it to anyone, regardless of who they get their access from. At which those in charge of the content rightly flinched, and admitted that it was unsaleable.

OK, then, what made them think it was saleable at a premium when bundled with access? And as it turned out, it was not, and the access business was sold off to Tiscali and the Times went online free.

They have been obsessed with the model of Sky, where they got exclusive rights, used those to sell dishes and subscriptions. But it depends on having 'must have' content. What Rupert is refusing to accept right now is that, except in the case of the WSJ, he has no 'must have' content. None. Columnists? Who cares?

As the article says, the Times has simply vanished from online. No-one links to it, no-one quotes it, as far as can be seen no-one subscribes to it. It has vanished. Give it another few months, and the effect will be the same as if it had no online presence.

Now ask yourself: if someone had gone to Rupert six months ago, and proposed closing down their web presence, would he have agreed? It would probably have been a short meeting, and a very blunt one. But that is what, probably without in the least intending to, he has now done.

more than 4 years ago

The Sun's Odd Behavior

Budenny Re:Effects on the weather (285 comments)

"So, alas, apparently I *once again* need to point out: Local temperature != global temperature. Seriously, people, how many times does this have to be repeated before you start to actually get it?"

Of course local temperature = global temperature. The science is settled on this one.

Deniers can say all they want about this, but this was proved by Michael Mann and colleagues in MBH98, and their studies have been replicated many times by independent researchers. You will recall, or perhaps people need to be informed, that in that seminal groundbreaking article, which was accepted by the IPCC as reflecting the mass of the evidence, and indeed in subsequent publications, a couple of bristle cone pines in the US and a few cedars in the Gaspe Peninsula turned out to represent the climate of the whole planet. You had to use a sophisticated method of PCA analysis to get to the truth of the matter, so sophisticated and so ground breaking that the full method was too valuable to reveal in its entirety, but once you did this, bingo, you had it.

It was an excellent thing that we had these bristle cone pines and Gaspe cedars, because otherwise we'd have had no way of measuring global temperatures for that period. Fortunately however, these trees showed local temperatures which were also global temperatures.

It was similarly proved, I think by UEA researchers, that one or two trees in Yamal, or someplace in Northern Russia, maybe it was Tornetrask, could accurately represent temperatures there, and that these temperatures were those of the entire planet.

So it is a filthy lie to say that local temperatures are different from global ones. People who say this are denialists funded by the fossil fuel lobby. They probably do not believe in evolution either, they are right wing neo conservative fundamentalists, and many of them used to campaign against the connection between tobacco smoking and cancer. Dreadful people. The consensus is that Exxon and Dick Cheney are behind this well funded campaign of disinformation.

Anyway, the science is settled, as long as you pick the right local temperatures, they are the same as the global ones!

more than 4 years ago

Ofcom Unveils Anti-Piracy Policy For UK ISPs

Budenny This is simply wrong (234 comments)

"Under plans drawn up by Ofcom, UK ISPs are going to draw up a list of those who infringe copyright, logging names and the number of times infringement took place. Music and film companies will then be allowed access to the list, and be able to decide whether or not to take legal action."

No, its not those who infringe. It is ONLY those who are ACCUSED without proof of any kind in any forum which is legitimate to establishing the truth of that accusation.

We should consider similar cases. Do we want to draw up lists of those who three people accuse of speeding, and on the fourth accusation, take away their driving licenses?

The utterly ridiculous and anti-democratic aspect of this is the following: there is a move in this particular case to substitute accusation for proof. This is wrong. We need to treat all violations of law in the same way: require proof before sanction.

more than 4 years ago

Large Irish ISP To Enact "Three Strikes" Rule For Copyright Violation

Budenny the issue is, how proven (288 comments)

We appear to have, as always in these matters, sanction on accusation. The subject is accused three times of having broken a law. The fourth time he is found to have done this (not by a court, but by a supplier of goods and services) his Internet connection is cut off for a week. Another time, and he is disconnected for a year.

At no point in this process do the courts intervene, and you will notice that the penalty is different from normal criminal sanctions, in that it is not either fine, community service, or imprisonment. There are some exceptions, some kinds of driving offences are punishable by withdrawal of permission to drive. But its rather rare, and the characteristic appears to be where there is a danger to the public, and where the sanction is directly related to the offense. We do not, for instance, ban someone from driving because he engaged in false accounting, or because he breached copyright. He drove while intoxicated, and we banned him from driving.

The problem with the disconnection penalty, apart from the fact that it is punishment on accusation, is that it is not an appropriate punishment for the crime. I have no truck with copyright breaches. They should be prosecuted before a court, and on conviction there should be punishments of the usual sorts, fines, community service, perhaps even jail terms in serious cases. But it makes no more sense to disconnect someone's house from the Internet than it does to ban him from driving in a case of false accounting. Or to ban him from shopping for food, because he has sold counterfeit goods in the local street market. Or to disconnect his phone. Or ban him from visiting public libraries, or using the bus service.

We need two things to deal with this matter in a way that has regard to civil liberties. One is that all punishment shall occur only when an offense is proven in court, and shall only be imposed by a court, not by a service provider. The second is that the punishment shall make sense in the scale of other offenses. Neither is true of the 'three strikes' proposals. The fact is, this breach of the law is no different from any other breach, and needs to be handled in exactly the same way as all others.

more than 4 years ago

A Contrarian Stance On Facebook and Privacy

Budenny Dead wrong (160 comments)

"....we need to be exploring the boundary conditions -- asking ourselves when is it good for users, and when is it bad, to reveal their personal information....."

Wrong. Dead wrong. What we need to be exploring is how to make it easy for users to delete information about themselves they want to delete, and delete it permanently. And how to make it easy to keep private what they want kept private.

What we think is good for users is neither here nor there.

more than 4 years ago

London's Mayor Promises London-Wide Wireless For 2012 Olympics

Budenny Boris is what is known as a national treasure.... (130 comments)

Boris is what is known as a national treasure in the UK. That is, someone whose utterances should be greeted with an amused smile of appreciation, but is sometimes, maybe a lot of the time, very much on target and right. But usually not conventionally right, right in a sort of coming out of left field way. Boris is as likely to be heard making comparisons to ancient history, complete with Latin or Greek quotations in the original, as to opine on Wifi. Don't take this stuff too seriously. On some things, like the subway, Boris will be crisp, matter of fact, to the point, and obviously correct when you think about it. On other things, like these here lamposts, all Londoners will know this is Boris being a national treasure, and smile indulgently. There is a code for when to take Boris seriously, which is most of the time, and when to take Boris as joking, which is some of the time, and when to take Boris as being a national treasure, as in the present instance. In this case all Londoners know that he is not to be taken all that seriously. There will be some wifi, and there will be some lamposts. But no, the whole of London will not be blanketed with open relays, and Boris, as soon as someone explains that to him, will see immediately that it is not on.

How you have to see Boris, he is Mayor Koch, but in London. That is, he is like Koch was a real New Yorker, Boris is a real Londoner. The code is different, but its the same animal. Like Koch, he will get elected over and over again. He's what the Londoners think of as one of us. Though, of course, he is not at all one of us in any real sense. But he is a real Londoner, and people look through differences of class and education, and see that. As they looked through Koch's differences from them and knew they were looking at a real New Yorker.

more than 4 years ago

UK Election Arcana, Explained By Software

Budenny Americans may not quite realize the differences (568 comments)

Americans may not fully appreciate the differences between the US and the UK systems. The most important is that the US system was deliberately set up to have lots of checks and balances. If you like, think of them as safety catches and damping mechanisms. The UK system has just about none of these.

If you look at a UK election, you see that one of three things has occurred to bring it about. One, the government of the day decides to call one. It can do that any time, and this is a very powerful weapon, as it can time elections to coincide with upsurges in the polls, caused by, among other things, short term financial booms. Two, it loses a vote in the legislature on some important issue. Three, it comes to the end of its term, which is a maximum set in statute. There is no minimum term. The UK does not have fixed length terms.

Once elected with a majority of seats in the legislature, the party winning now owns both the legislature and the executive. The leader of the party becomes Prime Minister, with something like presidential powers. There is no doubt of his/her ability to get legislation through - he has a majority in the legislature, and it was that which got him to be Prime Minister.

There is no written constitution. Parliament, by a majority vote and consent of the monarch, can pass any legislation at all. If it wanted to (for example) repeal Habeas Corpus, it could. If it wanted to implement rule by decree, it could. If it wanted to leave the EU, it could. There is no safeguard of any sort of civil liberties or human rights from an Act of Parliament. It could, to take a ridiculous and extreme example, legalize slavery. There is no constitution to be modified by a complex process of two thirds majority voting, it just needs a majority vote in the legislature, and its done.

The US of course is completely different. Various bits of the governmental apparatus are elected from time to time - there is no equivalent of a general election of the kind the UK has just had. Only part of Congress or the Senate is elected in any given year. And when the legislature is elected, it does not get to specify who is the President, that is a completely separate election process. The legislature and the executive were deliberately separated by the Founding Fathers. The result is that the process of getting legislation through the legislature is quite complex and difficult, and subject to delay and prevention. In effect, the US is most of the time in a sort of coalition government, in UK terms - one in which negotiation with other parties is necessary, for the party in charge to get legislation through. This situation is one that happens very rarely in the UK, the party in power can almost always get its legislation through at once.

So, in this system, the debate about proportional representation has a very different force from what it would have in the US. Winning an outright majority in the UK gives a party a degree of power in both executive and legislature that can only be dreamed of by a US President. This is what neither Labor nor the Conservatives are prepared to relinquish, and why only desperation to get into or stay in power would lead them to make the necessary concession on PR to get into bed with the Liberal Democrats.

Right now the Liberals have some 23% of the vote and 57 seats in the legislature. If the UK system were truly proportional, and seats were in proportion to share of the vote, the Liberals would have around 150 seats and the other parties less. Conservatives now have 206, they would have under 200. Labour would be, on their current share of the vote, in the low 200s.

The end result would be, as in Holland, that the Liberals would be in every government, with one of the other two parties as partners. In Holland, this role is played by the CDA. The effect of this is that by very different means you have a sort of check and balance which is similar to that which the US system imposes. It becomes very hard to loot the country and divert the proceeds to your special interests, whether they be the bankers and landowners, or the trade unions. As soon as you go too far, you lose the centre, the government falls, and the centre party goes into government with the other guys.

As I write, the Conservative Party has offered the Liberals a referendum on one particular form of PR - something that always was anathema to them in the past, which is a measure of their desperation to get into power. The Labour Party has offered in reply a form of PR by means of primary legislation, no referendum. Which is also a measure of their equal or maybe even greater desperation.

In effect, what we have is both of the two large parties pawning their future to get power now. If they really were to enact PR, their future would not be, as they are now dreaming, absolute power by a total majority. It would be at best being the senior partners in coalition governments for the indefinite future. However, politicians rarely think beyond getting office, and these guys are no exception. They are probably thinking, we'll deal with that when we get to it, we'll wriggle out of it somehow.

Its going to be an interesting couple of days going forwards.

more than 4 years ago

UK Election Arcana, Explained By Software

Budenny The problem both parties have with PR (568 comments)

The problem both Labor and the Conservatives have with PR, is that it would lead to coalition governments. This is easy to see. The Liberals had 23% of the last vote, the Conservatives 36%, and Labor 29%. This is more or less the share of the popular vote that the three parties have had for the last 30+ years.

You can see that if each party has the same number of seats as they have percentage of the votes, then no party is generally going to have a total majority over the other two. You will just about always have a situation, like in Holland, where the third party is in every government, sometimes in coalition with Labor and sometimes with Conservatives.

The reason why both of the two larger parties do not want this, is that they represent essentially minority interests. The Conservative Party historically represents inherited wealth and also the rural areas. Which are dominated by large landowners. The Labor party represents big cities, the industrial workforce and the public sector trade unions. And of course the large welfare population of dependents. Both are ready and eager to impose heavy costs on the country as a whole, as long as they get some, often fairly small, percentage of those costs for their own interest groups. This tendency, which is a form of looting, gets more extreme with the second and especially the third term of any government. In the first term of any government, it tends to behave responsibly. The first Blair term, for instance, was marked by restraint in public spending and no deals with the public sector unions.

The second and third terms have seen enormous public spending, mostly on public sector union wages, which has been marketed as 'investing in our great public services'. This has imposed costs on the country which dwarf the benefits to the recipients of the benefits, but no-one cares what it costs the country, as long as they are doing better.

The Conservatives are no better. We can expect something similar in the second and third terms of any Conservative government. The interesting difference about this Labor government has been its approach to the finance sector, which is referred to in the UK as 'the City'. This Labor government has been much closer to the City than any previous one.

You can see that this pattern of behavior will be eliminated by coalition governments. The problem is, in your first term you generally govern for the country, the better to get a second term. When in the second or third term you move to payoff time, and start the outrageous rewarding of your interest group, if its a coalition government, the other partner will just say no, force an election, and then move into coalition with the other large party. It will be game over.

The sheer rage that the idea of proportional representation arouses in the hearts of Conservative Party stalwarts is due to this. They are seeing the prospect of the second and third term troughs being smashed before their eyes. No more feasting. The whole rationale of the parties goes.

What happens with coalition government, on say the Dutch lines, is that it replaces the focus on who is in power, with a focus on what the program is going to be, what the policies are. In the UK at the moment all anyone cares about is who is in power, because whoever it is, can hand out the spoils. Once you cannot do this any more, you have to focus on governing for the country. Now that is not what either of the two large parties want to do, at least, no more than they absolutely have to.

And this is why far more of the UK wants PR than anyone in either of the two big parties will admit. It is not just the 25% that vote Liberal. It is also those who routinely switch from one party to the other, to give the other guys a chance.

If you think about it, in the situation I have described, what does the rational voter do? He/she is confronted with a two party system in which the second and third terms of any government are going to feature irresponsible looting of a sort most damaging to the country as a whole. What he does is alternate. He forms a policy of, at most two terms. So its, get them out and get the other lot in, before this lot can do too much damage. This motivates the floating vote, who are not the beneficiaries of either of the main parties' looting.

Of course, neither the Labor nor the Conservative party will admit any of this in public. In private it is well understood. And this is why there is such a struggle over PR. Its interesting. We are about to see just how desperate the Conservatives are for power. Will they accept it, if it comes with conditions which limit their ability, and that of Labor, to loot in the second term?

We'll find out together.

more than 4 years ago

US Says 4.3 Billion People Live With Bad IP Laws

Budenny How many are living without adequate fatwas? (229 comments)

The real thing we have to worry about is the fatwa gap, never mind the IP gap.

There are billions of people all over the world living in jurisdictions where their clergy have not issued fatwas for generations. You will be surprised to learn that it happens in the developed world, too. The Episcopalian Church in the US is one of the worst offenders in this respect, it seems not to have issued any fatwas since the Revolution. We need to act now to remedy this desperate situation and to restore the feeling of certainty that a robust fatwa regime would give to these troubled flocks.

And in the meantime, we need to be very careful in how we conduct ourselves in regard to these fatwa deficient countries. We should not get contaminated by their insecure, rootless, fatwa deficient moral wanderings.

Thanks to the OP for drawing this general problem of the lack of robust cultural norms to our attention, a pity that he got diverted to one of the smallest and least problematic examples of it.

more than 4 years ago

Was Flight Ban Over Ash an Overreaction?

Budenny Re:Not that I really have any idea, but... (673 comments)

"Wouldn't flying an airliner through some airborne ash, be like a couple hours worth of sandblasting? I'd hate to think what that does to the engines."

Yes. No sensible person would advocate allowing planes to fly through clouds of ash. The question is not that, the question is whether they could have taken more energetic and prompt measures to assess and monitor where the dangerous levels of ash were, and whether the continued ban was necessary. It seems, in retrospect, that this was the failure. We seem to have substituted cries of 'safety first' for immediate and continued investigation of what the situation really was.

more than 4 years ago

Was Flight Ban Over Ash an Overreaction?

Budenny The Precautionary Principle in action: test case (673 comments)

The way to look at this might be as follows. We have an example of the precautionary principle in action, and can use it to assess the probably results of making this a guideline for setting public policy. The leading case where it is claimed that we should apply the supposed principle is Global Warming. It is argued that the precautionary principle mandates immediate drastic action to lower CO2 emission levels if there is even the slightest chance that continuing at present levels would lead to the end of human civilization on Earth.

We had a similar argument about ash: if there is even the slightest chance that flying through the ash will cause planes everywhere to fall out of the sky, we should ground them all at once.

In fact, the situation turned out to be much more nuanced and complicated. When the analysis was done, it turns out that there there was probably no need to ban all air travel, though there was a real danger, and a real need to take precautions and do proper assessment of damage. It is not safe to fly through clouds of ash. But there were not clouds of ash everywhere that was closed. In fact, we would in retrospect have done better to investigate the real situation carefully by test flights immediately. We'd then have discovered that quite a lot of flying, quite a lot of the time, would have been perfectly safe, and that there are ways of telling when its prudent to limit flights in the light of changing weather and eruptions.

The bottom line is, we incurred huge unnecessary costs, and worse, until quite late in the crisis the authorities acted as if their use of the PP made it unnecessary to investigate in detail what the real situation was.

Now if we imagine a world in which the PP is used all the time, on larger and larger issues, including Global Warming, we see that the result for public policy would be one in which policy makers neglect proper analysis and start to jump in fear at shadows. That is, cases in which there is neither real danger nor any proper analysis will increasingly dominate expenditure on measures which are done with no proper reason behind them, on a 'just in case' basis. The costs of these measures, which it is thought 'denialist' to weigh, will be huge, will in fact be so great as to prevent any proper treatment of the real danger.

This case shows that there is no substitute in public policy for proper risk assessment, and for proper analysis of the benefits and costs of proposed actions. Its a commonplace in medicine, where we have the 'number to treat' parameter - that is, how many do we have to treat to save a life, what are the side effects on those we treat? We need exactly the same thing with all public policy issues.

The difficulty with the Precautionary Principle, which you can see here, is that its invocation is used to avoid rigorous analysis of the real risks and costs of alternative actions. And it results in completely pointless and inordinately expensive measures being taken.

Think about that, the next time you see some huge windfarm, blades stationary, in a flat calm on a prolonged cold spell in the winter, when electricity demand is soaring. If there is only the smallest chance that covering the planet with windmills will save civilization, surely we ought to do it? Not really!

more than 4 years ago

Volcano Futures

Budenny Prediction (284 comments)

They resume flights. Things appear perfectly normal. In a few weeks time, small numbers of engine failures and instrument and control failures start happening, apparently randomly. It is said to have no relation to the dust. It is very hard to track down the cause, or tell if its unusual for some reason, or just statistical noise, because the planes have been flying all over the world, not just in the affected areas. A few weeks after that, we have three or four total engine failures at once over built up areas in Europe. Or maybe over the Atlantic. People meet and consider what to do.

Then a 747 goes down in the middle of the Atlantic.

more than 4 years ago

New MacBook Pros Launched

Budenny Re:Still Overpriced? (411 comments)

Same old, same old. Always start with an arbitrary point in the Apple line, and demand to have it met at a given price. Wrong, proves nothing. Always start with a need, then find a Dell or HP that meets it, then look at how much you'll have to pay for a Mac that meets it. You'll pay double. Sometimes a bit less.

I can't find the spec you are asking for at under $2k - well, I haven't tried, but doubt that you can. So what? Its not what I need, either at $2k or $1500. So at either price, its too expensive.

more than 4 years ago



Text authorship identification

Budenny Budenny writes  |  more than 3 years ago

Budenny (888916) writes "For the usual not very pleasant reasons I have a passage of text and need to identify whether it is written by the same author as one of several other passages I've also been asked to look at.

The passage is about one page, fairly well spaced, not dense prose. The passages to which it needs to be compared are similar in length, some longer.

Has anyone successfully done this, what did you use if so (package or raw algorithm, which algorithm)?"

Would you accept lockin to one unique machine?

Budenny Budenny writes  |  more than 4 years ago

Budenny (888916) writes "A small charity I do work for has bought some tens of thousands of dollars worth of equipment. This requires the use of a specific software package. This software package, on installation, generates a machine ID at first use. You send this machine ID to the supplier, who then sends you back an install key good for that and only that machine. He will only supply two keys. The software has no use apart from the equipment — it is a sort of iTunes for it. The only thing it can do is download material onto it.

They are not happy bunnies and are asking me what I can do about this. Their argument, which so far cuts no ice with the supplier, is that they are volunteer-run by senior citizens. Their staff only come in one morning a week. They need to be able to install the software at a one home machine, but they do not accept that if this guy gets ill or leaves, they will have to take his machine into the office to carry on using their equipment. They don't accept that if they swap out machines, they have to buy or beg for new codes. They particularly don't accept that if the supplier goes bust, they are out of luck for new codes.

I have told them maybe virtual machines could help, but will certainly violate the spirit and likely the letter of the EULA. They are quite ready to go ahead with this regardless if it will work. They have asked me about editing the machine id that the install will be locked to. I do not know about this.

What would you do? Don't suggest a different hardware supplier. (a) there is not one (b) they have bought already."

What advice would you give Damien Green?

Budenny Budenny writes  |  more than 6 years ago

Budenny (888916) writes "Damien Green is a senior (front bench) opposition politician in the UK. He and his office and home are therefore subject to intensive surveillance by the police and other agencies, acting with the collusion of the UK government of the day. He has recently been arrested on the charge of receiving leaked information from civil servants. His offices and home been raided, his computers taken into custody, and his email account frozen. What advice would you give him and other UK opposition politicians on minimizing the consequences for privacy for themselves and their constituents when rebuilding their offices, if and when this happens again? First thoughts include, only use off-shore based email accounts, move all computers to Open BSD rather than Windows, sign up to end to end encryption for your internet activity, have an encrypted hard drive with a hidden partition.... Is this a start, is it enough, and what would you all advise? Doubtless your advice will also be valuable to opposition MPs in Zimbabwe and other authoritarian third world countries, so you'll be doing the world a great service by getting this right."

Global Warming and Greenhouse Effect

Budenny Budenny writes  |  more than 7 years ago

Budenny (888916) writes "In which Monckton purports to prove, using data from Hadley Centre, and the IPCC models' own predictions, that the key prediction which the theory of man made global warming makes has been falsified. If this article is right, it is game over for the theory of man made global warming, climate catastrophe and a lot of other stuff. Its over for usufruct also (if you have read Hansen's latest rant)."
Link to Original Source

Global Warming: The Surface Temperature Record

Budenny Budenny writes  |  more than 7 years ago

Budenny (888916) writes "An extraordinary correspondence will be found at climateaudit.org. The participants have been attempting to reconstruct exactly how Hansen gets from the raw station data in various parts of the world to the data as reported by the IPCC. Russia, India and other parts are being scrutinized. Turns out its very hard to do, Hansen will not reveal what he did or how he did it, when you look at the results half the time they seem nonsensical. And we are all being asked to spend billions if not trillions on the basis of this 'evidence'."
Link to Original Source

Civil Liberties in Britain

Budenny Budenny writes  |  more than 7 years ago

Budenny (888916) writes "This important and sobering essay is by the Home Affairs Editor of the Daily Telegraph. It summarizes some of the changes to British civil liberties made during the present Administration's tenure, and puts together in one place, with concrete examples of their implications, most of the legislation and some of the proposals. It also gives links to supporting material. When you read it (and it is quite long) bear in mind that it leaves out a number of other items relevant to the topic. There is for instance no mention of the Mental Health legislation, which will allow compulsory medication; of the Family Courts, which meet in total secrecy and with no appeal; or of ASBOs, which allow acts not forbidden by any law to be made criminal for particular people."
Link to Original Source

xml editors/browsers for Linux and Windows

Budenny Budenny writes  |  more than 7 years ago

Budenny (888916) writes "In the effort to move our organization away from a fairly small proprietary database using a locked format, we have discovered that it will export our data, but only as xml. What would you all suggest as appropriate tools to use and edit our data in this format? Whatever we use, we need to give access both browsing and editing from Windows as well as Linux — though probably we could use different packages if that were the only way. The database is a few thousand records of a few tens of fields. The ideal solution would be to use the xml that the package exports exactly as it comes out, and then we would have the added security of being able to go back if we ever needed to (some organisational nervousness is felt about leaving the old and familiar too far behind....)"

Budenny Budenny writes  |  more than 8 years ago

Budenny (888916) writes "The latest installment of what passes for political thought these days in the UK can be found at http://news.independent.co.uk/uk/politics/article1 223182.ece. The government seems to have had the brilliant idea that "dysfunctional" families can be identified and databased, and that we can predict, doubtless by computerized analysis, that their unborn children will be criminals and dysfunctionals. We will deal with this by obliging them to accept "intervention", and if they don't, well, we will just chuck them out of their state housing and stop paying their state benefits. Yet another page in the ongoing saga of New Labour's effort to turn Britain into the former Soviet Union with the help of yet another giant database of questionable validity."

Budenny Budenny writes  |  more than 8 years ago

Budenny (888916) writes "I have a friend with Mac OS X and a hard drive that was failing. What do people recommend to make a bit for bit copy he can boot from? He has now removed and replaced the drive to avoid further deterioration, and reinstalled the OS. But his problem is not so much the data files, but the sort of data that in Linux would be either in /etc or in /home in the .xxx files. Its a whole lot of keyboard shortcuts for apps, stuff like that, that will apparently take weeks of work to recreate. Its also license data on old installed apps that he no longer has readily available.

Before removing and replacing the drive, he tried Carbon Copy Clone — it failed to complete.

What I am looking for is something like the copy partition function in Acronis. If this were Windows or Linux I would just boot from Acronis and then use it to copy the partitions over to a new drive, make it bootable, and away we would go — assuming the drive held up long enough to make the copy. What would you all recommend with hfs+?"


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