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IRS Can Now Seize Your Tax Refund To Pay a Relative's Debt

cirby Re:And they've already stopped TODAY (631 comments)

Yeah, those darned conspiracy theorists, all crazy and stuff - complaining about a policy that was stupid and evil.

But now that it hit the news and EVERYONE said it was stupid and evil, the government has stopped doing the stupid, evil thing.

So those people are now wrong and crazy.

Until the government starts doing it again.

about two weeks ago

How Well Do Our Climate Models Match Our Observations?

cirby A problem... (560 comments)

...with your links.

The first one? The guy who uses Rush Limbaugh and other TV folks to show how unredeemable the skeptics are? Instead of actually quoting the folks who did the research and found the quotes?

He makes a big deal about finding "trick" in scientific papers to represent a clever solution for a problem. Fair enough.

However, he pretends that the problem with "hide the decline" is about something other than tree rings... when the hinge of most of the AGW models was tree-ring reconstruction. Basically, the guys "hiding the decline" desperately needed to hide the decline in temperatures for that part of their reconstruction in order for that reconstruction to be used as a metric for past temperatures versus CO2.

Yes, it's a nice snarky propaganda video, but it's wrong.

The second one? the one you refer to as "in depth and impartial?"

You're kidding, right?

For example, he handwaves "the divergence problem" with tree rings, which is something that those particular climate models can't survive. Remember the Hockey Stick? Notice how nobody uses it any more? Based on tree ring models. So yeah.

The thing you also missed about the Climategate problem for AGW fans: a lot of what they said would be fine, in a publication, or in an answer to a paper. It was, however, stuff they never told anyone, because it poked huge holes in the foundation of their work.

about 2 months ago

How Well Do Our Climate Models Match Our Observations?

cirby Re:Does this 'trick' adhere? Nope. (560 comments)

Except, of course, that it was not "valid" at all.

When you have to hide your own results, you're doing something wrong.

A lot of dedicated alarmists have tried to pretend that "the trick" was above-board... but it wasn't.

In any other field, if a scientist had tried this sort of thing to hide a bad result, they'd be in deep trouble.

about 2 months ago

How Well Do Our Climate Models Match Our Observations?

cirby 97% - bogus poll... (560 comments)

Just so you know: That "97 percent of all scientists in the world" silliness came from a rigged "poll."

Basically, an AGW-supporting scientist polled a number of his AGW-supporting scientist friends and co-workers - 30 or so - and asked them if they thought AGW was real.

That's where your number came from. Which should tell you something about the actual support for AGW among the scientific population at large...

They recently came up with another poll, where they cherry-picked a bunch of papers, and said "97% of scientific papers agree!" While not mentioning that only about a third of them actually addressed AGW, and they got their "new" 97% by only looking at 65 papers. Out of 12,000. Oops.

about 2 months ago

How Well Do Our Climate Models Match Our Observations?

cirby A very interesting answer (560 comments)

A big reason you won't see any critiques of that sort is that the influential folks in the AGW alarmist camp made a big effort to block any critical papers from even being considered. Threats to blacklist journals for publishing "anti-AGW" papers, for example, or to take behind-the-scenes action against anyone who tried to submit such papers.

This all came out in the Climategate emails. But you never heard about those, did you?

They also admit in those emails that most of the actual criticisms of "mainstream" AGW were valid, and discussed ways to cover it up.

"Hide the decline" ring a bell?

Or "The fact is that we can't account for the lack of warming at the moment and it is a travesty that we can't. The CERES data published in the August BAMS 09 supplement on ... shows there should be even more warming: but the data are surely wrong. Our observing system is inadequate."

about 2 months ago

How Well Do Our Climate Models Match Our Observations?

cirby One small problem... (560 comments)

The State of the Climate 2012 paper is... get this... from two years ago. After they had to start "adjusting" their models to reflect reality.

When you look at the actual historical AGW models, we're below their "optimistic" model (the one where we cut CO2 drastically over the last couple of decades - which didn't happen). And a good 0.2 C below their "probable" models.

If you're looking at predictions, go back and look at the climate models from the late 1980s and early 1990s. They're off, by a ridiculous amount.

Out of 90 models (yes, ninety), a grand total of TWO managed to predict the current temperature.

about 2 months ago

Reducing Climate Change Uncertainty By Figuring Out Clouds

cirby "Paid" (249 comments)

Those "record breaking massive storms" were, overall, not much worse than average. A couple of large ones, but they got large mostly because there weren't that many medium-sized storms along their paths. Meanwhile, we didn't seeing much of anything in the Atlantic (record-breaking "dud"), and areas outside of that one patch of Pacific Ocean were pretty average.

On the "paid" issue:
You do realize that even the guy who wrote that study you mention says that the reporter who wrote the story pretty much lied their ass off, right?

The short form: The actual study took any group that published anything at all that might, maybe, sorta could question AGW. Even one article or study. Then they took the entire budget of each organization and added it up. That's how they got that $900 million plus.

The actual amount that could actually, sorta, maybe be tied to anti-AGW funded studies or articles? About enough to fund Greenpeace for week and a half. If you counted things like studies showing that people don't like paying extra taxes for green energy stuff that doesn't actually work.

On the other hand, the "green" businesses are funding all sorts of sketchy "science" to support their industries. Like the guy who makes money off of "carbon remediation," who funded the really stupid "expedition"/tourism group that's currently being evacuated from their ice-trapped Russian ship.

about 4 months ago

Reducing Climate Change Uncertainty By Figuring Out Clouds

cirby Models vs models (249 comments)

The study assumes that the models that show lower amounts of warming are the "less accurate" ones, and the models with higher warming are going to be "more accurate." Eventually, that is.

The problem is that all of the climate models that predict AGW have been wrong, and the ones that show the least amount of actual warming are the ones that are least wrong at this point. So their solution is to come up with yet another one-dimensional computer model that shifts the possible warming a few decades into the future.

The study also suggests that the water vapor in the lower atmosphere will more or less migrate up - which is not happening, according to actual observations by satellites.

It's like the old AGW models, which predicted a "tropical hot spot" a few miles up that would happen due to AGW - and which never appeared.

about 4 months ago

Harvesting Power When Freshwater Meets Salty

cirby Re:I pay 11 cents per kWh (151 comments)

You should note that, despite what many believe, we don't really "subsidize" fossil fuels to any major degree. The majority of the "subsidies" people whine about are just plain old tax deductions - the same ones that other businesses get. The oil companies didn't even get those deductions for a long time, and people complained when they finally got to deduct for exploration and drilling expenses in the same way normal businesses deduct for operations.

There are a few real deductions they get, though - alternative energy research, for example. And, technically, the Strategic Petroleum Reserve counts (although that's just the government buying and storing oil in case of an emergency - and counts for about 2/3 of all actual subsidies). Compared to the size of the industry, it's tiny. Overall, the "subsidies" fossil fuels get don't affect the end-user price much - maybe a half-cent per kilowatt-hour in some markets.

Compare to the various alternative energy sources, which get massive subsidies - and are still three to five times as expensive.

about 5 months ago

Woman Fined For Bad Review Striking Back In Court

cirby Re:Waiver of rights (249 comments)

The problem with that line of attack is... KlearGear apparently added that part after this all happened.

No, you can't take action against someone for a "contract" you put up after you did something wrong. They also deleted the web page with the "contract" after someone pointed that out.

Not to mention that KlearGear never actually sent the items in question, and PayPal cancelled the purchase automatically.

about 5 months ago

CMU AI Learning Common Sense By Watching the Internet

cirby It's Easy... (152 comments)

Number one rule: "Don't Do That."

about 5 months ago

ACA Health Exchange Contractors Have History of Security Failures

cirby A few problems with that list... (144 comments)

While you see a lot of US companies there, they were either providing support services (like surveying people about possible use of the system) advertising and publicity services, or secondary systems.

Most of the rest were "consulting" jobs, with only a few real hardware/software production contracts in the mix.

Once you get past the obvious $93 million for CGI, the next one of any size is Maximus Federal Services, which has a certain track record for handling this sort of thing - they were obviously hired to do the connections between the ACA site and things like CHIP and Medicaid. Makes you wonder why they're a secondary contractor, though, instead of the primary.

The big thing to remember is that even CGI isn't the effective primary contractor. That job effectively fell to HHS government bureaucrats, who had a stranglehold on the management of the whole mess, even though they definitely had no experience or training in such matters.

about 6 months ago

How To FIx Healthcare.gov: Go Open-Source!

cirby Re: ...the ONLY bidder (307 comments)

Yes, it was the lowest, but there apparently weren't any other bidders, or at least none that anyone can find or name.

You see, they didn't actually put it out to open bidding, and instead awarded the contract to someone with political connections.

They used something called "task orders," which allows bureaucrats to completely bypass open bids. Basically, if you win one government contract somewhere along the way (even for a completely different project), it's possible for the government to award you future contracts on other projects without worrying about all of that pesky "low bidder" stuff.

about 6 months ago

A Ray of Hope For Americans and Scientific Literacy?

cirby Re:actual "platform" (668 comments)

First, that "Tea Party Platform" isn't THE Tea Party Platform, it's just one that some guy put together as a suggestion. There is no "official" platform, even though you can probably get most Tea Party members to agree with what's in it.

"Exactly what are 'excessive taxes?'"

Historically, the United States works quite well with a lower tax scheme - somewhere between 15% and 19% of GNP, and seems best around 18%. Every percentage point above 19, and the economy starts hurting. Every percentage point below 15, and we start having to cut essential services. Remember that "taxes" includes Federal and state and city-level taxes.

In short, '"excessive taxes" are the ones that reach the level where the US, as a whole, start saying "hey, that's too much money for what we get out if it." We passed that mark a long time ago.

"Because once you start cutting revenue you have to start cutting programs."

Yeah, but which programs? There are a LOT of programs, and quite a few of them are nowhere near necessary. Cowboy Poetry festivals, bridges to nowhere, shrimp running on treadmills, et cetera. Yeah, each of those are "small," but there are literally thousands of them. That adds up.

You might also note that most real Tea Party folks agree that we spend too much on the military - on the waste, that is. Medicare reform is also good, due to massive Medicare waste. Look up what the Tea Party folks are actually saying - and don't look at HuffPo or Kos for your quotes.

In other words, the Tea Party you have in your head isn't the Tea Party that actually exists.

You might have noticed that we had a "government shutdown" recently, in which only 17% of the actual government shut down. And almost nobody noticed outside of the bureaucrats who had to spend a week or so at home. People complained about the "losses" of the shutdown, but a fair amount of that "loss" was "money we didn't spend." We also just took out another $328 billion in loans to keep spending.

You don't think we could lost 5% or 10% of the US government without noticing? The last couple of weeks show that we can.

about 6 months ago

Are Cable Subscribers Subsidizing Internet-Only TV Viewers?

cirby Costs? (223 comments)

I'm paying about $2.50/day for 60+ megabit internet.

I'm also paying about $1/day for HDTV cable.

Plus $8/month or so for Netflix and another $4/month for a legal anime site.

Not really a problem.

about 6 months ago

British NHS May Soon No Longer Offer Free Care

cirby Re:NHS hospital death rates 45% HIGHER than USA. (634 comments)

You're taking a statistic and misreading it.

More Americans choose to die at home. When you have an incurable illness like cancer, a higher percentage of Americans choose to die in the comfort of their own home than at a hospital. Even the British are beginning to do the same - getting away from "institutionalized death."

It's not an economic choice, or at least, not primarily one.

about 6 months ago

What Developers Can Learn From Healthcare.gov

cirby They spent a billion dollars. On ADVERTISING. (267 comments)

No kidding. They have a billion dollar advertising budget to get people to sign up for Obamacare.

They had three years to set up the online exchanges, but apparently didn't really start working the IT angle until this Spring...

The load on the Obamacare servers, while large, is nothing compared to something like Amazon or even Travelocity.

Note that all of the games you cite, while having problems, managed to actually work for most of their users.

Final Fantasy XIV:ARR is a great example. While they had issues, the biggest problem is that they had about twice as many people sign up at the start as originally planned, and they still managed to have the game working for most folks. After restricting logins to keep the individual server loads down to a manageable level, they added server capacity and fixed a few bugs. A week after launch, the wait times dropped to a few minutes at most.

The Obamacare sites are, quite frankly, terribly programmed. They should have a clean interface which asks just the right questions and drops them down to the servers. Instead they went JavaScript-happy, and each time you load the site, you get dozens of little independent scripts loading in your browser (11 CSS and 62 JavaScript files per PAGE) - a (probable) big part of the reason for the disaster is the 62x overload in JS loads.

The system was originally supposed to hit the secure IRS and HHS databases, but they couldn't get that to work, so they dropped the IRS hookup - which means your reported income is on the honor system.

There's also the recurring rumor that they might not be cleaning their database inputs quite thoroughly enough. That alone means I'm not going anywhere near this mess for at least a couple of months... or much, much later.

about 7 months ago

What Developers Can Learn From Healthcare.gov

cirby "Launched" is such an optimistic word... (267 comments)

"Launch" suggests that it actually, you know, worked.

When a quarter million people hit a game company's servers and only half of them get to play, it's a disaster of unrivaled proportions.

When millions of people hit billions of dollars in government investment and a few thousand of them actually get the site to work at all, it's a "learning experience."

about 7 months ago

Do Comments On Web Pages Ruin Science?

cirby "The Study" (281 comments)

...actually doesn't say what Popular Science claims it does.

What it DOES say is that, when confronted by rude or over-the-top comments, most people's views don't change - but the people at the "edges" get slightly more dogmatic about their opinions. We're talking about a very small percentage of comments overall which show any influence at all.

That's it.

No, contrary comments do not turn people off of the stories, keep them from commenting on-topic, or anything drastic.

What the study does end up doing is give journalists (with second-rate or nonexistent science backgrounds) a good excuse to ignore people who notice that they wrote a bad or scientifically incorrect story - or a completely overblown one. Like the meta-story about comments on science stories.

about 7 months ago


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