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Comments

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VA Supreme Court: Michael Mann Needn't Turn Over All His Email

Obfuscant Re:Why do these people always have something to hi (322 comments)

So the goal is to allow a guy who made baseless claims to go hunting for a base?

No. The goal, as I said, is to allow the person being sued to defend himself. You want to take a public squabble to court and have a judge rule on it, you have to accept the side effects. You don't want those issues raised, let the character of the person making the statements you don't like speak for itself. Personally, I find it hard to believe that anyone in the climate science field would put much weight behind anything Mark Levin says, so it would be hard to prove there is much damage from it. I also find it hard to imagine that anyone will change their mind about Mann whether he wins or loses.

You're worried that whatever is discovered might be taken "out of context" or twisted somehow? Well, you're already going to court over the matter, it's not like you have to find a lawyer and file suit over that. It will be part of the proceedings THAT YOU STARTED.

Whether the claims that were made by the defendant are baseless or not is not entirely clear, and are a matter for the courts at this point. But also as I said, the fact that this is about AGW makes it a fascinating story but is really irrelevant to this issue.

Here's a bit of information that might shed light on the baselessness of the claims. I recall an email from a handful of years ago, after the initial appearance of the hockey stick, from NCAR scientists who were quite giddy with glee that they had been able to modify some of the parameters of the model to obtain a much more significant upturn in the rate of change. It was pretty clear from that email that the goal was not to accurately represent the physical processes involved but to get a scarier result. No, I don't have that email anymore so I can't quote it, but I do remember the message it conveyed. It wasn't "we understand the physics better and here's the new results", it was "we changed the parameters and got a higher rate of increase."

Now, I assume that Mann was on the NCAR mailing list that came out on, and I'd say that were I him, I'd really not want that email showing up in a trial.

Take that as you will.

yesterday
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VA Supreme Court: Michael Mann Needn't Turn Over All His Email

Obfuscant Re:All publicly funded research needs public relea (322 comments)

And yet, for decades after that original publishing of the US Constitution, those very tos and fros of negotiating were slowly trickled out, leading to some of the most foundational Supreme Court rulings which have preserved our country's freedoms.

This. It is called "original intent", and it is often the crux of cases before SCOTUS. What did the legislators intend? The only way to get that is to look at the work product and not just the final published result. The Federalist Papers are one bit of the puzzle, but not the only part, and limiting the determination of original intent to that one document is limiting oneself to one man's opinion of what was intended. And, of course, the FP cover only the founders and the Constitution, ignoring completely the legislation created over the last 240 years.

What were the arguments about the law in question? What were the compromises? What was never considered?

yesterday
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VA Supreme Court: Michael Mann Needn't Turn Over All His Email

Obfuscant Re:Why do these people always have something to hi (322 comments)

The goal here was to destroy the reputation of a scientist that came to conclusions that someone did not like.

The goal here is to allow someone to defend themselves against a lawsuit filed because someone who has made himself a public figure didn't like what some other public figure said about him in public. In this case, the person who filed the lawsuit is a scientist. The person who didn't like what was being said was the scientist.

Now, if you admit that releasing the scientist's email would destroy his reputation, that's a pretty damning statement about that scientist, I would say.

But as has been pointed out by another, the fact that this deals with AGW makes it interesting reading but has no relevance to the legal issues involved.

yesterday
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Americans Uncomfortable With Possibility of Ubiquitous Drones, Designer Babies

Obfuscant Re:Plenty of speculative finction to consider (153 comments)

Heh, tell that to the 39% of survey respondents who apparently believe teleportation will be "solved" by 2064.

And tell that to Jules Verne and his whacky idea that people could to to the moon, or to the nitwit who came up with the fictional idea of "waldoes".

yesterday
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Americans Uncomfortable With Possibility of Ubiquitous Drones, Designer Babies

Obfuscant Re:Personal Drones (153 comments)

"X is absurd" is a statement that X is false in an extremely obvious and ridiculous way. "Babies should be issued handguns for self defense" is absurd because it is such an obviously false and ridiculous statement. Or "Slashdot needs yet another car analogy" -- ditto. Therefore:

  1. As a consquence of this rule you've proposed X is true.
  2. X is absurd
  3. Because X is absurd, it is also false.
  4. It is also absurd that X is true and false at the same time.

yesterday
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Americans Uncomfortable With Possibility of Ubiquitous Drones, Designer Babies

Obfuscant Re:Personal Drones (153 comments)

Yeah, sure, tell me how that works out for you when you tell a judge that after you buy yourself some yellow cake.

They can take my twinkies away when they pry them out of my cold dead hands, judge or no judge.

yesterday
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VA Supreme Court: Michael Mann Needn't Turn Over All His Email

Obfuscant Re:All publicly funded research needs public relea (322 comments)

Actually it isn't sarcasm, it's reducto ad absurdum. "The final product is published, there is no reason to look into the thought behind how it was achieved" is the current argument. Scientists publish their work in journals, there is no honest reason to look into the process or thought behind how the results were produced. No scientist could ever fudge anything, so it is a waste of time looking. And if one does look, they'll just start colluding and conniving in private, which would somehow ruin a good communications medium for no gain.

Well, apply it to any other area where FOIA applies and see if we can't get rid of the pesky FOIA altogether. But wait, we immediately find an application where we do NOT want to get rid of FOIA, so maybe the goal isn't worthy after all.

yesterday
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VA Supreme Court: Michael Mann Needn't Turn Over All His Email

Obfuscant Re:All publicly funded research needs public relea (322 comments)

Set a precedent of publishing emails between legislators and the result is they just move any such incriminating conversations to other media, or to face to face meetings.

You ruin the use of a valuable communications medium fishing for something that's unlikely to be there anyway. It's not very likely that anyone would offer a senate seat vacancy appointment to someone as a payback, so why bother looking?

yesterday
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VA Supreme Court: Michael Mann Needn't Turn Over All His Email

Obfuscant Re:Why do these people always have something to hi (322 comments)

There is lots of administrative stuff, human resources details, meeting arrangements and much more in daily mails, which all belong to your work, and none of them belongs into the public.

Yes, you've said that before, and your example is why there are HR exemptions to FOIA. That's why open meetings laws also exempt some kinds of meetings. But discussing the interpretation and use of data is not an HR issue and does not merit an exemption, and the fact still remains that his private email is not the issue at all. (And "meeting arrangements" don't merit HR exemptions, either. Nor do the nebulous "much more" which is part of your argument.)

yesterday
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VA Supreme Court: Michael Mann Needn't Turn Over All His Email

Obfuscant Re:Why do these people always have something to hi (322 comments)

His private emails are not "publicly funded academic research".

The issue is not his private email, but email sent and received as a public employee working at a public institution. Were this about his private email, UVA would have no standing in the case and could not claim an exemption.

yesterday
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VA Supreme Court: Michael Mann Needn't Turn Over All His Email

Obfuscant Re:All publicly funded research needs public relea (322 comments)

Legislators publish their completed regulations in the federal register. There is no genuine reason for publishing emails that were exchanged whilst the creation of regulations was still in progress. Only in-genuine and dishonest reasons.

yesterday
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Click Like? You May Have Given Up the Right To Sue

Obfuscant Re:If only (214 comments)

I mean, you might think a little thing like the Constitution is perfectly clear when it lays out the rules for regulating interstate commerce.

Anyone who has read the Constitution would know that it is certainly not perfectly clear in laying out the rules for regulation of interstate commerce. Why would anyone think that it is?

yesterday
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Click Like? You May Have Given Up the Right To Sue

Obfuscant Re:Possibly Worse Than That (214 comments)

Second, you do not have to have the opportunity to modify terms period, let alone before exchanging money. Terms may be offered on a "take it or leave it" basis;

Which is an opportunity to modify the terms which was refused by one of the parties. The act of "tak[ing] it" is the agreement upon the terms; the act of "leav[ing] it" is the rejection. But even the party that is told "take it or leave it" has the opportunity to offer other terms, it's just very unlikely they will be accepted.

The point was, of course, is that both parties are aware of the terms and have agreed to them, whether or not the terms are a compromise.

2 days ago
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Click Like? You May Have Given Up the Right To Sue

Obfuscant Re:Possibly Worse Than That (214 comments)

I know that it's said that ignorance of a contract is no excuse for breaching it.

Of course ignorance of the existence of a contract is an excuse for "breaching" it. What you're probably thinking of is "ignorance of the law is no excuse". But just because GF says "buying a box of our cereal creates a contractual relationship" doesn't make it so.

2 days ago
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Intuit, Maker of Turbotax, Lobbies Against Simplified Tax Filings

Obfuscant Re:Not even much money (416 comments)

I also don't doubt that there are times when 3rd parties are served or even well served by the outcomes of such lobbying.

So lobbying can have good outcomes.

But these things ought not be decided based on who has money and who doesn't. I am all for impacts being analyzed and plans being made to make sure people are not unduly disrupted, but decisions should be made on merit.

It is difficult to separate the feelings that someone bought a result you don't like from an objective analysis of whether what you wanted them to do was rejected after an analysis of the issues. In this case, a "tell me how much I owe" version of federal taxes -- I seem to recall that there was such a system in place many years ago (1970's?) where the taxpayer would send in a form saying "tell me what you want" and the IRS did. I don't hear much about that anymore, so I suspect that it died, and why it died may give a clue to why it wasn't a good idea to bring it back. I don't know.

We should not allow buggy whip manufactures to be able to lobby to ensure their livelihood.

Why not? If you grant that there are sometimes good outcomes from lobbying, just how do you write this new law prohibiting buggy whip makers while still allowing the useful lobbying?

What SHOULD be the rule is that decisions are made based on merit, and anyone who wants to lobby should have the right to make that speech.

4 days ago
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Intuit, Maker of Turbotax, Lobbies Against Simplified Tax Filings

Obfuscant Re:Not even much money (416 comments)

Let's face it, there are a lot of people employed as accountants and I guess nowadays, a fair amount of software developers and business.

The people who this simplified "let the government figure it out and send back what they think I deserve" plan wouldn't apply to the vast majority of people who use accountants or probably even most of those who use TurboTax. They're using an accountant because they want every penny back that they deserve. Yes, I said deserve -- the legal amount.

There are already several free tax filing systems. TaxACT Online, H&R Block, The IRS, and even TurboTAX, the very company that is being slammed for allegedly standing in the way of free tax filing. If you are a die-hard, you can download the forms and send them in for the price of a stamp or two (my state forms, seven pages of paper, cost $0.70 to mail.)

4 days ago
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Mathematicians Use Mossberg 500 Pump-Action Shotgun To Calculate Pi

Obfuscant Re:Only in America... (307 comments)

I'd be tempted to accept annexation just for the entertainment of watching the Quebecer's try to pull their entitlement nonsense with the US government.

Nobody would notice just one more group with their hands out.

5 days ago
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Mathematicians Use Mossberg 500 Pump-Action Shotgun To Calculate Pi

Obfuscant Re:Drop stones in a circle (307 comments)

Trace a circle on the ground and drop stones at it.

1. Trace a circle on the ground, measure the circumference and the diameter and divide.

2. Trace a circle on a square of paper, making sure it touches all four edges. Weigh the paper. Cut out the circle, weigh the circle. Do the math.

3. Put a valuable piece of difficult to manufacture metal on a post and shoot valuable rounds of ammunition you may need to save your life at it.

4. Read the Bible. The number there, correct to one significant figure, is probably close enough for anything you're doing in a post-apocalyptic time anyway. If it isn't, remember 22/7.

5 days ago
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The Best Parking Apps You've Never Heard Of and Why You Haven't

Obfuscant Re:Fill your head with crap (163 comments)

I think the more important issue is the general inefficiency in the marketplace for apps

If that was the important issue then you should have led with that and used the parking app issue as support for whatever conclusion you wanted to come to, instead of droning on and on and on about how nobody knows about parking apps for Seattle and how bad some of them are and how you think people on some survey website are your friends, and only then writing a tiny bit about "the more important issue".

By the way, you keep talking about parking apps finding garages, but you don't consider "is there a space there", and you repeatedly say that garages are important only if "it's hard to find on-street". You don't know the on-street is filled until you get there and the time you save going straight to a garage instead of wandering the street looking for cheaper parking is worth something. And if the garage you pin your hopes on doesn't have any open spaces, you're screwed anyway.

5 days ago

Submissions

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Comcast encrypting basic digital cable

Obfuscant Obfuscant writes  |  more than 4 years ago

Obfuscant (592200) writes "Comcast of Oregon, the friendly cable company that once allowed people with ClearQAM-equipped TVs to eavesdrop on other people's On-Demand programs, has decided to encrypt even the Digital Starter channels it was carrying in the clear. These are the channels that anyone paying for digital service gets. The reason: to prevent signal theft.

They're claiming that they cannot simply trap out the digital channels from those getting the analog Basic service, even though the digital goodies start way up at channel 64 and the analog tops out at 30. "Traps don't work", according to customer service. (Someone please explain why RF traps care what modulation is on the frequencies they filter out, or how a trap that makes analog signals undetectable will provide a viewable digital signal when even an unfiltered digital signal drops out on a regular basis.) This is the same cable company that used to be able to trap out channels 31 and above if you didn't have Expanded Basic.

They point the finger at the program providers — like ESPN and SyFy. "It's a contractual requirement" for people who are paying for the programs to be prevented from using their own DVRs to record them for later use. "Of course we'll rent you a Comcast DVR..."

Perhaps it's time to dust of those old copies of the Cable Consumer Protection Act of 1992, which deals specifically with this issue."

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