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Firefox Signs Five-Year Deal With Yahoo, Drops Google as Default Search Engine

Tenebrousedge Redrum (395 comments)

I've been using Linux Mint lately, and fucking up my system royally. So I've had to fall back on the LiveUSB installation to repair the system. Mint doesn't get a financial kickback from Google, so they ship Yahoo! as the default search engine instead. This has led me, by accident, to use Yahoo! a few times when looking for information.

I'm not saying that I would rather gouge my eyes out with a spoon than use Yahoo! search; that wouldn't make my system boot. Was it worth it to continually type in 'google' and hit Ctrl+Enter before entering a search query? Yes, every single time, and I deeply regretted each lapse in memory. The only reason Firefox might care about Google is if they care about the quality of their search results.

For me, as a web developer, even though the built-in tools in Chrome and Firefox have come a long way since 2006, I still prefer debugging in Firebug, and installing Adblock Plus, NoScript, and Tree Style Tabs. Firefox is my web browser of choice. However, Google is still my search engine of choice, and having one without the other is a serious issue for me. I hope that I will remember every time to go to google.com when I need to search for information, but every time I forget, I am sure that I will curse this deal.

about a week ago
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MARS, Inc: We Are Running Out of Chocolate

Tenebrousedge Chocolate Farms (323 comments)

Not only is chocolate labor-intensive, it's a terrible excuse for a plant. If its seeds are not spread by animals, it will either rot on the tree, or fall right next to the parent and compete with it. Also, at least in Central America, the primary pollinator of the cacao plant is some sort of tiny sandfly -- locally they call them "chitras". And it's not like they're growing this stuff on nice flat fields in neat rows either. Even after the harvest, you have to hope that the weather stays nice long enough to ferment and dry the beans. And then, as you say, they have to contend with a miserable pay scale. There may be worse occupations, but I can't think of any offhand.

about two weeks ago
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The Downside to Low Gas Prices

Tenebrousedge Re:Lucky America (554 comments)

You should have debunked Mandelbrot's Misbehavior of Markets instead. You understand Fama's efficient market hypothesis was a mathematical proof, yes? Where is your math?

Your price theory is obvious bullshit, simplistic on the level of "What comes down must go up." I hope that being a nutcase was worth your "federal conviction and permanent ban from the securities industry."

about two weeks ago
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The Downside to Low Gas Prices

Tenebrousedge Cars and even SUVs do not cause much damage (554 comments)

Damage to roads is usually considered proportional to the fourth power of the axle weight. Cars are generally calculated to average 2 tons, even "big" SUVs aren't usually as heavy as their size might imply. I don't like SUVs either, but that's no excuse for bad policy. According to this GAO report, a fully-loaded tractor-trailer does as much damage to the roads as at least 9,600 cars. Fuel consumption is proportional to weight at low speeds, and at higher speeds wind resistance rises as the square of velocity; it is obvious just looking at the exponents that a simple fuel tax will not tax large vehicles in proportion to the damage that they cause. Taxing consumers as opposed to commercial vehicles is a terrible idea; it would have the effect of subsidizing heavy vehicular traffic. If we're going to subsidize freight, we should invest in rail infrastructure.

about two weeks ago
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Rosetta's Philae Probe To Land On Comet Tomorrow

Tenebrousedge Re:Electric Universe Preditions (74 comments)

It's not what they believe that makes them intellectually dishonest, it's denying and inventing observations. Crackpot is not nice but it is accurate.

I await your wonderful discoveries, submitted to the appropriate scientific journals...

EU people have a hard time getting published, and never in reputable journals.

Whoever wrote that definitely fancies himself a scientist. That's enough.

This contradicts the above, and fancying yourself a scientist is enough for what exactly? Enough to lie to people? No, the important part of being a scientist is not dressing in a lab coat, having a PhD (the EU guys are in no danger of that), or making predictions. The important part is being empirical, testing your predictions in a methodical way, and adapting your theory to match those observations. There is no more value to what Thornhill and Talbott's writings than any other lunatic's ravings. If you want to cheer on pyramid energy, crystal therapy, homeopathy, or the Electric Universe, that is your business, but it has no place in science.

about two weeks ago
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Rosetta's Philae Probe To Land On Comet Tomorrow

Tenebrousedge Re:Electric Universe Preditions (74 comments)

There's about as much chance of that happening as you revising your theory when it doesn't match observations: practically none.

I'm wondering what Talbott and Thornhill have been reading, or perhaps I should say what they have been smoking, because their description of the observations does not match the ESA's. It has lots of water and a dust trail, and while there has been some unexpected magnetic activity, there isn't some electrical bogeyman waiting to jump out at the lander — and it's not like the scientists involved aren't paying attention to such things. Apparently in order to believe in EU not only do you need to ignore a century's worth of physics (including Einstein), you also have to ignore current observations and make up your own. This is beyond intellectually dishonest and far into flat-earth crackpot territory.

about two weeks ago
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Multi-Process Comes To Firefox Nightly, 64-bit Firefox For Windows 'Soon'

Tenebrousedge The Paradox of Tolerance (181 comments)

The so-called paradox of freedom is the argument that freedom in the sense of absence of any constraining control must lead to very great restraint, since it makes the bully free to enslave the meek. The idea is, in a slightly different form, and with very different tendency, clearly expressed in Plato.
Less well known is the paradox of tolerance: Unlimited tolerance must lead to the disappearance of tolerance. If we extend unlimited tolerance even to those who are intolerant, if we are not prepared to defend a tolerant society against the onslaught of the intolerant, then the tolerant will be destroyed, and tolerance with them. — In this formulation, I do not imply, for instance, that we should always suppress the utterance of intolerant philosophies; as long as we can counter them by rational argument and keep them in check by public opinion, suppression would certainly be unwise. But we should claim the right to suppress them if necessary even by force; for it may easily turn out that they are not prepared to meet us on the level of rational argument, but begin by denouncing all argument; they may forbid their followers to listen to rational argument, because it is deceptive, and teach them to answer arguments by the use of their fists or pistols. We should therefore claim, in the name of tolerance, the right not to tolerate the intolerant. We should claim that any movement preaching intolerance places itself outside the law, and we should consider incitement to intolerance and persecution as criminal, in the same way as we should consider incitement to murder, or to kidnapping, or to the revival of the slave trade, as criminal.

Karl Popper, Vol. 1, Notes to the Chapters: Ch. 7, Note 4

Paradox is not necessarily a fallacy, and blind moral relativism is not a good thing. There is no need to be tolerant of the views of murderous dictators, rabid extremists, or any other group which opposes freedom and tolerance. Resisting bigots results in more tolerance, not less (although if you're a bigot you might think the distribution is unfair).

about two weeks ago
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When We Don't Like the Solution, We Deny the Problem

Tenebrousedge Re:Fundamentals of AGW (282 comments)

Well if your asserting that I'm in denial of the problem because I don't like the solution, then in all honesty, you have to seriously consider that there are significant numbers of persons that have created a problem for the purpose of requiring their desired solution, such as UN Agenda 21.

Non sequitur. Unless you were trying to give another example of that same flawed reasoning.

They know that weather is an instance of climate, and if weather is chaotic, then by definition climate is chaotic...

This is a tired argument. The path of an individual photon as it travels from Earth to space is chaotic and unpredictable; that it will be either absorbed as heat or ultimately re-emitted to space is a certainty. It's very easy to make statistical claims about how often this will happen and how long it will take, and this can generally be confirmed by satellite measurement.

...some models are counting butterflies in a 22.5 km^2 cell and others in a 62.5 km^2 cell.

And some models are two-dimensional and do not use cells at all. You are very obviously not qualified to evaluate the usefulness of any of them.

Even worse is 70% of the planet is water and water is where most of the planet's most effective heat engine is, and there is almost no monitoring of conditions there.

This is an important area of study but it is a non sequitur in discussions of composition changes in the upper atmosphere and the effects on radiative transfer. The oceans are a heat engine, but their effects are confined to this planet; the other end of the heat pipe is not in space.

The bottom line is if we can't predict the weather 30 days out, there is no reason to believe we can predict the climate a century from now.

False. You can easily make statistical claims about weather more than 30 days out; in most areas in the Northern Hemisphere you may confidently predict that July will be warmer than December, and further make accurate predictions about temperature ranges given a set of historical data. Weather predictions on a daily basis are also frequently given as statistical claims, especially the chance of precipitation.

A further note on models would be that even obviously wrong models can still give useful results. A one-dimensional model will tell you what the black body temperature of Earth is. From that you can calculate the "greenhouse effect" of Earth's atmosphere, which makes the difference between a permanently frozen world and abundant life. A simple two-dimensional model can tell you what percentage of this can be attributed to various gases, based on absorption spectra. From there you can start calculating heat transfer due to convection and other effects, working from known physical principles, and mathematically describing the world as we know it in as much detail as possible, and comparing it to observations.

Your rationalizations are ignorant and false. If you're going to drag in a bunch of obviously wrong talking points, you should try a Gish Gallop. If you want to construct a rational argument, you might try arranging your thoughts around a central premise ('climate is unpredictable', e.g.). The best way to argue against a scientific theory, however, is with another scientific theory, but that requires you to learn something more about the subject than just what factoids match your preconceptions. Personally, I'm not really interested in responding to a string of incoherent factoids, so if you are still convinced you have some sort of rational response to make, maybe you can find some other forum.

about two weeks ago
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When We Don't Like the Solution, We Deny the Problem

Tenebrousedge Re:Fundamentals of AGW (282 comments)

I believe your cost estimates are greatly overestimated, but I did not actually address that subject. I don't really care what gets done or how much it costs, honestly, just that something happens. It's probably too late for my home to ever look the same again, but maybe yours will not be too badly affected. For more information about possible mitigation strategies, I would consult the IPCC report. However, you should know that your theory of no-feedbacks was the prevailing theory about seventy years ago, and it's taken a long time for scientists to come around to the idea that people/CO2 can affect the climate in a noticeable way; this did not happen without evidence. Everyone is hoping that we can find some physical system that lets us ignore atmospheric CO2 levels. Also, an increase in the global average does not imply an equal distribution of heat; temperatures in the Arctic have already warmed by 2 degrees C. There are a lot of other very visible changes, but I don't feel like going into them at the moment.

Simple models show that the CO2-water vapor feedback loop can lead to almost arbitrary temperatures; obviously that is not observed. Scientific predictions have their limitations, but my powers are even more limited; I know I do not have the decades of experience necessary to evaluate either the observations or the climate models. I would strongly advise against the application of "common sense" to massive chaotic system, however: getting the number of butterfly wing-flaps wrong could produce very unexpected weather conditions. To give an example, take a piece of Arctic tundra. You heat up the Earth, making the underlying permafrost melt. This releases a lot of carbon from sudden decomposition. The land then subsides and creates a swamp. Swamps are good at trapping carbon, but you've also changed the albedo so that the land absorbs more sunlight. Does this result in an overall warming effect, or cooling effect, and in what kind of time frame? The only thing that you can know about these sorts of problems without tons of research is that any simple answer is probably wrong.

Personally, I think that an appropriate first step might be to stop subsidizing oil and gas companies to the tune of tens of billions of dollars per year. Another important step would be to change building standards so that heating and cooling are more efficient -- the cost of heating in an Alaskan winter is mind-blowing, just because it's cheaper for the construction company. Similarly, many homes are designed so that air conditioning is a necessity, rather than using passive cooling techniques. Hopefully electric cars will be able to compete on their own merits, but it would be nice to not subsidize auto manufacturers (the numbers I saw worked out to about $30 billion for the industry) to keep making internal combustion engines. Introducing some sort of carbon tax for manufacturers may or may not be a good idea -- I'm not an economist either, but I'm given to understand that markets are bad about pricing externalities -- but it may not even be necessary. It may be that if we stop giving handouts to massively polluting industries, green technologies will prove to be more efficient and competitive. If not, we can cross that bridge when we come to it.

You're pretty much the embodiment of this article. Because you don't like the solution, you are pretending like there isn't a problem. I can't tell you definitively if there will be a huge problem, but the best available science seems to point that way. However, you also seem to be listening to extremist rhetoric about possible solutions, and I am pretty sure that there are a lot of very reasonable things that would improve world regardless of whether there was a climate change issue, and might make a significant difference there as well.

about two weeks ago
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Computer Scientists Ask Supreme Court To Rule APIs Can't Be Copyrighted

Tenebrousedge Famous Titles (260 comments)

Also, notably, book titles are not copyrightable even though they may arguably be the most important part of the work. Neither are slogans, recipes, telephone directories, or substantially non-creative works. There are good and bad APIs, and you can do a creative interpretation of an API (a poetic reading, perhaps) which may be copyrightable, but the API itself is not a sufficiently creative work.

about two weeks ago
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When We Don't Like the Solution, We Deny the Problem

Tenebrousedge Fundamentals of AGW (282 comments)

There are useless predictions, damned lies, and statistics all around if you want to look. Clearly the scientific community has failed to predict all aspects of the future. This has nothing to do with the evidence for AGW and you're disingenuous for suggesting so.

There is a very simple set of measurable facts that are the foundational basis for the theory. Solar irradiance is constant to within .1% as far as we have been able to measure. Carbon Dioxide is known to absorb outgoing long-wave radiation. Human activity has increased the partial pressure of CO2 markedly, extending the CO2-rich region further out into space. There is only one way for the Earth to radiate heat to space. That is enough to determine that CO2 causes warming, and what the direct effects of a doubling of CO2 will be (roughly 3.7 W/m^2 of warming).

However, it is well known that Earth has large reservoirs of a much more potent greenhouse gas covering about 70% of its surface. Given that warmer air can hold exponentially more water vapor, it is unlikely that the CO2-water vapor feedbacks will be anything but strongly positive. By itself, a doubling of CO2 would only produce about 1 degree C difference to the global average temperature. With water vapor and other feedbacks, no one knows for sure, but you can read the IPCC report if you would like to know what the current estimates are.

You can argue as much as you like about the scientists' moral character, about their predictions, and whatever credibility you think they do or do not have. The science is inarguable, and you can even measure the warming effect of CO2 yourself with simple lab equipment. The deniers need to bring more facts to the table. Unless they can poke holes in the fundamental theories of radiative transfer, all the rhetoric on either side is worthless.

about two weeks ago
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Using Naval Logbooks To Reconstruct Past Weather and Predict Future Climate

Tenebrousedge Re:Exxon Valdez (102 comments)

Definitely a lubber, I appreciate the info. There's never been any evidence to suggest that the radar was off, and at midnight in a totally unpopulated area prone to foul weather, it sounds extremely unlikely.

It seems the citizenry were sold a bit of a package with the double hull tankers, although perhaps it helps with low-energy collisions.

about three weeks ago
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Using Naval Logbooks To Reconstruct Past Weather and Predict Future Climate

Tenebrousedge Re:Exxon Valdez (102 comments)

Where did you get the impression that I was unaware of those things? I did mention the concept, honestly. I am just saying, from long personal experience, that the weather in the specific area of the Valdez Narrows and Arm is extremely unconducive to seeing anything at all, but especially not the celestial sphere. As a method for navigating a supertanker through those same waters, it is entirely useless. Tits on a bull, seriously.

about three weeks ago
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Using Naval Logbooks To Reconstruct Past Weather and Predict Future Climate

Tenebrousedge Re:Exxon Valdez (102 comments)

Joe Hazelwood may or may not have been drunk, but he was provably not on the bridge when the ship struck. Also, he could have been drunk as a lord, and if the ship had not been a glorified Capri Sun, it wouldn't have mattered what he hit. Overall, his role in the spill was pretty minor. Blame Exxon for hiring him, blame them for the tanker's condition, the spill response, and for the travesty of justice perpetrated afterwards: Hazelwood might have had the official responsibility, but singling him out as a scapegoat only ignores the real problems of the spill.

Honestly, I don't know what issue people still have about this. Yes, it was a disaster, but so was the spill response, and either way it's completely invisible today. The salmon fisheries are as healthy as they ever have been, and there are as many eagles, sea otters, and sea lions as you could possibly want and then some. If you want to point out real, permanent damage, you might note how far the Columbia and other nearby glaciers have receded in that same period. That is the real damage that oil companies have wrought in Alaska.

about three weeks ago
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Using Naval Logbooks To Reconstruct Past Weather and Predict Future Climate

Tenebrousedge Exxon Valdez (102 comments)

Well, the thing about the Exxon Valdez spill, is that it happened at night, shortly after leaving Port Valdez. Taking elevations at noon only tells you your latitude, unless you have a very accurate clock, and the sun can only be used in that manner at noon (AFAIK). You could try using another celestial object, but the visibility in the Valdez Narrows tends to be bad even for the region, although the seas are generally less than in Prince William Sound or the rest of the Gulf of Alaska. I presume you're referring to allegations that Exxon Valdez's radar navigation was turned off, but there has never been any evidence to that effect. Personally, I don't know Greg Palast, but I did grow up in Valdez, and I was there for the spill, and while I have no definitive evidence, I am pretty sure he is not only full of shit, but paid to be so. Even if the radar was off, you detect reefs with sonar, and that was working perfectly.

The biggest factor in the Exxon spill was the lack of a double-hull construction. It should not have been a disaster. Even if everything else that went wrong had still happened, it would have been mitigated to a great degree with better construction. It wasn't a problem of double-checking procedures or equipment, it was a fundamental design flaw.

about three weeks ago
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Marijuana Legalized In Oregon, Alaska, and Washington DC

Tenebrousedge Alaska was first, actually (588 comments)

No, actually, possession and manufacture (growing) of marijuana has been legal in Alaska since 1975. I've grown myself, and even had the attention of the authorities called to the matter, which worked out favorably. I've also had friends have growing equipment confiscated by the police, and subsequently returned with an apology. Nota bene: the legal protections applied (almost) exclusively in one's house or primary residence.

There are some cultural differences at work here; Alaskan marijuana was (semi-)legalized under a privacy clause, which mostly stems (ironically) from a far-right desire to be left the hell alone by everyone but especially the Government. Except in the form of pork barrel projects, which everyone knows are necessary in order to compensate for the state's underdeveloped "frontier" status.

Generally speaking, while it was legalized in the sense that cops were not going to bother one for private use, public consumption was strongly discouraged. This was not the first time full legalization has been on the ballot in Alaska, there were similar ballot measures in 2000 and 2004. It's a complicated situation; Alaska is almost ludicrously conservative compared to the other states which have legalized.

One must give credit where credit is due, I think it's significant that after years of effort and a long history of consumption in Alaska, this measure did not succeed until after Colorado and Washington. However, ultimately, I think that the most influential state in marijuana politics would be California: their medical marijuana dispensary system has paved the way for the de-demonization of cannabis. Now, the onus is on all of us to reverse the damage that the War on Drugs has caused, particularly in America's having pushed its drug laws on the entire rest of the world through the UN.

A side note on that: I suspect that this last part will involve the US pushing its drug laws on the rest of the world once more, but it would be nice if there were some process by which the international community could come to sane decisions about these drugs.

about three weeks ago
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Will HP's $200 Stream 11 Make People Forget About Chromebooks?

Tenebrousedge Re:They did it on purpose (232 comments)

Well, that's true to some degree, but it's still possible to do a "clean room" implementation. These sort of things have been done before, perhaps most notably by ReactOS. It's a hell of a lot better than starting with nothing in any case. I suppose it's less common to have a device for which Linux drivers exist but not equivalent Windows drivers, but it's still a little odd for reverse engineering to be normal in Linux-land and completely unheard-of (by myself, at any rate) on the other side of the fence.

about three weeks ago
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Will HP's $200 Stream 11 Make People Forget About Chromebooks?

Tenebrousedge Re:They did it on purpose (232 comments)

Next thing you'll tell me is that I can't run Linux on my clockwork zombie badger. That, sir, is the kind of nonsense up with which I will not put!

TBH getting Linux to run on a Chromebook is a bit of a process, too, and some of the drivers just made it to the kernel in 3.17. While we're on the topic of irony, it's strange to think that it's normal for closed-source drivers to be reverse-engineered for Linux, but no one is likely to use the open-source Linux drivers to produce Windows drivers for the Chromebooks.

about three weeks ago
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Will HP's $200 Stream 11 Make People Forget About Chromebooks?

Tenebrousedge They did it on purpose (232 comments)

It's ironic that it doesn't run Linux well, given that [a] Linux can be installed on everything from mechanical watches to dead badgers, and [b] Google insists on the non-release of Windows drivers for their Chromebooks.

about three weeks ago

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