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Extent of Antarctic Sea Ice Reaches Record Levels

locofungus Re:It's getting hotter still! (516 comments)

This might a good "negative" feedback mechanism that reduces overall infrared absorption

Unfortunately not. it's night in the Antarctic so the Antarctic sea ice has negligible effect on the albedo of the planet, melting out each year (almost) completely.

Arctic sea ice is significant for planetary albedo because millions of square km (still) survive though the peak sunlight summer months.


Extent of Antarctic Sea Ice Reaches Record Levels

locofungus Re:You Fail at Quotations (516 comments)

Since 9/15 is also the day of lowest ice cover in the Arctic, how does this year's minimum compare with history?

It's one of the lowest in history but not the lowest. It's very close to tieing with last year.

Sea-ice volume appears (it's harder to measure reliably although it's more significant that area or extent) to be up on last year which in turn was up on the previous year. That might be a good sign for Arctic ice feedbacks or it might not - 2-3 years is far too short a time to separate signal from noise. Volume is still exceptionally low compared to the historical record.


Exploiting Wildcards On Linux/Unix

locofungus Re:Question... -- ? (215 comments)

Back in the (iirc) bsd 4.2 days, su was a suid shell script - at least on the machines I was using at the time.

Setup a symlink to su called -i

$ -i
# rm -- -i

There was a security bug handling suid shell scripts where the user was changed and then the #! interpreter was run, i.e. /bin/sh -i

and you got an interactive root shell :-)

Was very informative when the 'script kiddies' (although I don't recall that term existing in those days) had symlinks called -i in their home directory that they didn't know how to delete ;-)

about 3 months ago

I Want a Kindle Killer

locofungus Re:No thank you to all that (321 comments)

I agree.

One thing I do NOT want is a touch screen. I don't want my screen to be covered in fingerprints.

One thing I would like is the ability to have a (wired) remote page turn button - so when I'm reading in bed I don't have to move my hands from a comfortable position to turn the page.

about 4 months ago

Google Unveils Self-Driving Car With No Steering Wheel

locofungus Re:So when will the taxi drivers start protesting? (583 comments)

and we wouldn't have to worry about being late so much because of traffic jams

I'd expect there to be far more traffic jams because no longer is there an incentive not to let your car drive into the city.

Can't find a parking space - just leave your car driving around. Intelligent cars would actually seek out traffic jams so as to minimize fuel use.

Almost at your destination and crawling along. Get out and walk the last bit and let your car get there in its own time.

Stuck in traffic jam, get out, pop to the newsagent catch up with the car and get back in again.

For the more proactive, stick your Brompton in the back and let the car drive most of the way to the city. Once it starts getting snarled up in traffic, hop out, cycle the rest of the way and let the car do the rest of the journey on its own ready for when you want to leave.

Time it right, and the car will arrive just as you're ready to load your shopping (and bike) back into the car. Hopefully, these automatic cars won't block the roads for the drivers trying to leave the city so the route out will be fast, unlike human drivers who block junctions all the time.

about 4 months ago

Rising Sea Level Could Put East Coast Nuclear Plants At Risk

locofungus Re:CO2 and climate: my take (323 comments)

And now I've realized why my original number looked right. My original calculation was per day, not per year.
The trend is 0.007C/year over the last 17 years or around 0.11C increase over the last 17 years.

about 4 months ago

Even In the Wild Mice Run In Wheels

locofungus Re:Motion from the outside not counted. (122 comments)

There was a pet shop - I think this was in the North East of England but I cannot remember why I would have been in a pet shop so maybe not - that had a cage of chipmunks.

Two of them (always the same two) would get onto a wheel side by side and then run like mad.

One was slightly faster/had more stamina than the other one and eventually the other one couldn't keep up at which point it just held on and got a ride "over the top". The wheel would then come to a standstill and then they'd start all over again.

Was hysterically funny and I remember watching them for ages.

about 4 months ago

Rising Sea Level Could Put East Coast Nuclear Plants At Risk

locofungus Re:CO2 and climate: my take (323 comments)

Yes, of course. Which says that we need to use a longer interval to get a significant trend.

I'm not sure what the point you're trying to make is. If the signal is sufficiently noisy it's easy to find intervals with almost any desired trend, they just won't be significant.

The last 17 years are consistent with the long term trend which is, itself, statistically significant (and positive). Over the last 17 years the trend is (probably - I haven't actually done the calculation) not significant but it's still positive.

about 4 months ago

Rising Sea Level Could Put East Coast Nuclear Plants At Risk

locofungus Re:CO2 and climate: my take (323 comments)

Oops, Sorry, the GISS figures I got are in 0.01C increments so it's still positive but 100x smaller.

about 4 months ago

Rising Sea Level Could Put East Coast Nuclear Plants At Risk

locofungus Re:CO2 and climate: my take (323 comments)

I don't know why I bother but:

I took the GISS monthly data from May 1997 to April 2014. Spreadsheet gives me a slope of 0.001828 - or approximately 0.02C per year or 0.2C per decade.

This might not be significant, I can't be bothered to do any more, but to say there has been no rise in temperature is disingenuous at best and an outright lie at worst.

The strongest (negative) statement that can honestly be made would be that "there might not have been a statistically significant increase in warming over the last 17 years."

about 4 months ago

The US Vs. Europe: Freedom of Expression Vs. Privacy

locofungus Re:The Problem Isn't "Free Speech vs Privacy" (278 comments)

There are two problems here. First, why should search engines not enjoy the same free speech rights as newspapers?

You're asking the wrong question.

First - why should search engines be exempt from the data control regulations that other people who compile databases of personal information are obliged to follow?

The court has ruled that what Google is doing is _legal_. That is huge! Everybody else has to get a licence from the data controller, has to provide all the information they hold on a person in a readily accessible form[1] for a small (capped) fee and has to delete information on request.

[1] When a subject access request is made, the company has to go through and remove all the personal information relating to other people - so Google could not just point to their search engine.

Google (search engines) only have to comply with the last of these. I've not read the judgement, so I'm not sure why search engines were given a free pass on the other items (although I agree with it)

about 4 months ago

EU Court of Justice Paves Way For "Right To Be Forgotten" Online

locofungus Re:Mario Costeja González (199 comments)


This is a canard. Nobody in his right mind, even on this site, contends that free speech ought to allow one to break laws.

Google is breaking the law in Europe. The European court didn't make a new law, the European court merely ruled that *EXISTING* laws require google to delete the information when requested.


about 4 months ago

7.1 Billion People, 7.1 Billion Mobile Phone Accounts Activated

locofungus Re:Sanity check (197 comments)

In Europe, it's common for people who travel frequently abroad to have a sim for a local provider in each country they visit.

On some bits of the south coast of England, some people get better (or only) reception from France. They have a sim for France which they put in their phone when they're at home and a UK sim for when they're out to avoid accidental roaming charges when at home.

about 4 months ago

EU Court of Justice Paves Way For "Right To Be Forgotten" Online

locofungus Re:Mario Costeja González (199 comments)

The EU does cherish freedom of speech. But it also cherishes the privacy of the individual.

The US - based on comments on this site - appears to have decided that freedom of speech trumps everything else. You can lie, cheat, shout fire in a crowded theatre, call in fake bomb scares, basically anything at all because it's all "freedom of speech."

The EU takes a much more nuanced view. Sometimes there's an overwhelming reason why freedom of speech should trump privacy. Sometimes privacy should trump freedom of speech, and sometimes it's a grey area that has to be litigated through the courts.

In this particular case, the court hasn't ruled that the information has to disappear - all they've ruled is that google (and presumably other search engines) need to give people the right to remove search results about themselves.

Most things are "allowed to be forgotten" in most circumstances. So, for example, most employers aren't allowed to ask "have you ever been made bankrupt?" although I think they can ask "are you an undischarged bankrupt". Google is allowing employers to sidestep the protective regulations that were built into bankruptcy law before the internet existed. The EU is now merely trying to reinstate them.

about 4 months ago

London Black Cabs Threaten Chaos To Stop Uber

locofungus Re:It's about power, not being a customer (417 comments)

The argument that black cabs are making is that Uber is using a taxi-meter for their fares and its illegal to have a taxi-meter installed (in London) unless you are a black cab.

(I'm making no comment about whether that rule is reasonable, I don't know why it exists other than, presumably, to deter non-black cabs from answering hails - the price needs to be agreed which should be done at booking time)

Black cab drivers are complaining that that law isn't being enforced for Uber, hence their protest. TfL have said that they don't consider using an app, having a meter installed.

At the end of the day this can only be decided by:

a) repealing the law - Uber is welcome to lobby to get that done - but they haven't.
b) bringing a test case - this is where I suspect the black cab drivers problem is. It's probably TfL who has to bring the test case. The courts will then have to decide whether an app is an "installed taxi-meter"

After (or possibly before) b, parliament can decide to clarify the law. Generally parliament doesn't act unless there's a perceived problem though - so it won't be until: 1) The courts rule that an app isn't an installed taxi-meter but parliament decides that they intended to catch the Uber case - the law will be modified to make it explicit that an app counts as a taxi-meter.
2) The courts rule that an app is an installed taxi-meter but parliament decides that that wasn't intended to be caught and clarify the law (probably after lobbying)
3) There are a series of high profile assaults/robberies/etc by Uber drivers so parliament clarifies the law so then TfL prosecutes Uber drivers.

Black-cab and mini-cab services coexist in London. I've used both and no doubt will again in the future.

Uber appears to be treading the line between a mini-cab service (which would be legal) and a black-cab service (which would be illegal). One of the great things about London is that, late at night, when you're the worse for drink, you can get into some random strangers car and be as confident as it's possible to be that that person will deliver the promised service.

There's quite a lot of (TfL) advertising warning people that "unless it's pre-booked it's a stranger's car".

about 4 months ago

London Black Cabs Threaten Chaos To Stop Uber

locofungus Re:It's about power, not being a customer (417 comments)

So in this particular case it will be interesting to watch the fairly well monied Uber fighting with the zillion somewhat less monied cab companies.

They're not fighting the cab companies. They're fighting the black cab drivers.

London has a peculiar system. There are black cabs - which can be hailed on the street, within certain limits they are obliged to take you to your destination (so if they're waiting at a major station hoping for a lucrative fare and you want to go around the corner, they have to take you and lose their place in the queue at the station), and the fare is calculated by an installed meter and is relative to time and distance travelled. (There is a minimum fare)

Private hire cars must be pre-booked (the booking only has to be a few minutes in advance - typically you ring up the office and then they send the nearest car to pick you up), and they're under no obligation at all to take you when you call when they hear where you want to go.

Uber uses a metering system linked to an app. Black cabs are the only taxis allowed to have a meter fitted. TfL (Transport for London) have said they don't consider the app to be "fitted" and therefore the law banning other cars from having a meter fitted doesn't apply.

Black cabs also have to pass a rather impressive test. Within the area they're obliged to carry passengers, they're required to show they know every street, landmark etc. (Apparently, when they're examined, a favourite trick of the examiners is to ask them to do a journey where roadworks have temporarily closed the "usual" way and the drivers are expected to know about it and not just "follow the diversion" but take the best route knowing in advance that there are roadworks.)

about 4 months ago

Siphons Work Due To Gravity, Not Atmospheric Pressure: Now With Peer Review

locofungus Re:wrong (360 comments)

We learned in grade school that it works because a lot of liquids, especially water, stick together. The water going downward pulls the water upwards because the whole amount in the hose is bonded together. THAT is how it works.

But if you fill a large diameter pipe with water then the water falls out of the pipe even if you keep the top end closed. Put a piece of card across the low end though and air pressure will hold the water in.

Based on looking at a drip, I'd guess that water doesn't have enough tensile strength to support anything more than a couple of mm of itself.

about 5 months ago

Siphons Work Due To Gravity, Not Atmospheric Pressure: Now With Peer Review

locofungus Re:Actually it's both. (360 comments)

The claim in the paper (linked from one of the first comments) is that it's the tensile strength of water that allows the siphon to work.

For the case of water I think that's garbage. Water doesn't have enough tensile strength to support more than a very low siphon. It's air pressure that allows siphons of usable height. Because of it's relatively high vapour pressure while a liquid it's going to be hard to prove anything either way using water though.

Mercury would be a better bet. It has a very low vapour pressure.

If you set up a siphon so that no mercury is flowing (source and destination reservoirs are at the same pressure) then you can make it flow either way by lifting or lowering the reservoirs relative to one another. (You can do this with water too)

I predict that if you were to then move the apparatus to a vacuum chamber, the mercury in the siphon tube would come out due to gravity and there would be a vacuum in the tube too. Raising and lowering the reservoirs would then not cause any mercury to flow either way.

about 5 months ago

The US Public's Erratic Acceptance of Science

locofungus Re:Shocking... (600 comments)

The energy captured in coal, gas, and oil is the result of many millions of years of sunshine. How, exactly, does one reasonably maintain an expectation that our releasing that in a matter of a couple decades should have no significant effects?

Except that the energy being released by burning all that fossil fuel is trivial.

Google gives me 144000TWh in 2008 world energy consumption. Call it 2x10^17Wh

Solar flux at Earths surface is around 2x10^17W. Geothermal is around 5x10^13W.
Almost 10^5 hours in a year, so Geothermal heating is about 4x10^18Wh/year

The heating from burning all that fossil fuel is small in comparison to the heating due to natural radioactivity in the Earth's crust which, in turn, is negligible in comparison to the energy from the Sun.

It's the CO2 that is the problem. Even though it traps a tiny extra fraction of that incoming solar radiation, a tiny fraction adds up to a lot of energy and it's year in, year out.

about 5 months ago

Study Finds US Is an Oligarchy, Not a Democracy

locofungus Re:Are you kidding (818 comments)

In order to test among our theoretical traditions, ... the policy preferences of economic elites (measured by policy preferences at the 90th income percentile); ...

That says that "economic elites" in their study are the top 10% not the top 0.1% or so.

They later say (page 18)

What we cannot do with these data is distinguish definitively among different versions of elite theories. We cannot be sure whether we are capturing the political influence of the wealthiest Americans (the top 1% of wealth-holders? the top 1/10th of 1%?), or, conceivably, the less affluent but more numerous citizens around the 90th income percentile whose preferences are directly gauged by our measure.

I'm not sure why you think the study talks about the 0.1% when they explicitly state that they're capturing the preferences of the 90th income percentile and they cannot distinguish the different versions of "elite theories".

about 5 months ago


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