Scientific American talks evidence, digging into seven arguments against the reality of climate change that, if not the most frequently-cited in general, are certainly the most frequently cited in BoingBoing comment threads. Personally, I've started trying to avoid the snarky, dismissive tone this piece veers a bit into...I just don't think it helps anything to make the honest skeptics feel mocked. (The oil lobbyists, the anti-semetic conspiracy nuts, etc. can be easily and freely mocked on an individual basis.) But that aside, the article is worth reading. Good answers given for:
- Anthropogenic CO2 can't be changing climate, because CO2 is only a trace gas in the atmosphere and the amount produced by humans is dwarfed by the amount from volcanoes and other natural sources.
- The alleged "hockey stick" graph of temperatures over the past 1,600 years has been disproved. It doesn't even acknowledge the existence of a "medieval warm period" around 1000 A.D. that was hotter than today is.
- Global warming stopped a decade ago; the earth has been cooling since then.
- The sun or cosmic rays are much more likely to be the real causes of global warming.
- Climatologists conspire to hide the truth about global warming by locking away their data. Their so-called "consensus" on global warming is scientifically irrelevant because science isn't settled by popularity.
- Climatologists have a vested interest in raising the alarm because it brings them money and prestige.
- Technological fixes, such as inventing energy sources that don't produce CO2 or geoengineering the climate, would be more affordable, prudent ways to address climate change than reducing our carbon footprint.
Scientific American: Seven Answers to Climate Contrarian Nonsense
- More Insight on Those Leaked Climate Change Emails
- Climate Change Now - Boing Boing
- Hacked climate scientists' emails in context
- The Hard Questions of Climate Change - Boing Boing
- Scientist explains why climate scientists talk trash - Boing Boing
- Guest blogger - Saul Griffith's "Energy Literacy Series"
I'm a photographer for the [New York City] DA's office and there is a women there who makes these models (trains, apts, buildings, etc) for court cases, as a visual aid for the jury. The train is perfectly hamster sized so I brought my super tame hamster into work yesterday for a little photo shoot. They came out better than expected. I'm really excited about them.(newyorkshitty.com, alternate link for partial gallery is here)
Read the rest
Man, I am all over these $45 space-marine "Bertie" robots from Tenacious Toys -- rusted and beat up and full of character, designed by Ashley Wood.
- Junk robot sculptures - Boing Boing
- Junk robot sculptures from Guy Robot - Boing Boing
- Junk robot sculptures -- Boing Boing Gadgets - Boing Boing
- Junk robot sculptures from Jason Lane - Boing Boing
- Small robot sculptures made from junk - Boing Boing
- Homemade R2D2 steampunk junkbot - Boing Boing
- Vietnamese junkbot builder - Boing Boing
- Kitchen appliance junkbot - Boing Boing
- Nerdbots: found-object junkbots - Boing Boing
Quantifying human group dynamics represents a unique challenge. Unlike animals and other biological systems, humans form groups in both real (offline) and virtual (online) spaces--from potentially dangerous street gangs populated mostly by disaffected male youths to the massive global guilds in online role-playing games for which membership currently exceeds tens of millions of people from all possible backgrounds, age groups, and genders. We have compiled and analyzed data for these two seemingly unrelated offline and online human activities and have uncovered an unexpected quantitative link between them. Although their overall dynamics differ visibly, we find that a common team-based model can accurately reproduce the quantitative features of each simply by adjusting the average tolerance level and attribute range for each population. By contrast, we find no evidence to support a version of the model based on like-seeking-like (i.e., kinship or "homophily").Human group formation in online guilds and offline gangs driven by a common team dynamic (via /.)
(Image: Guild Wars, a Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike photo from dalvenjah's Flickr stream)
- New ACTA copyright treaty dodges the UN, poor countries and ...
- Secret copyright treaty leaks. It's bad. Very bad. - Boing Boing
- EFF analyzes the legal creepiness of ACTA, the secret copyright ...
- Everything you want to know about the scary, secret copyright ...
- Secret super-copyright treaty MEMO leaked - Boing Boing
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Evgeny sez, "The Turkish government has a very disturbing Internet plan, which includes 1) creating a new search engine that would reflect 'Turkish sensibilities' (i.e. filter out certain results) 2) supply each of 70 million Turkish citizens with a 10 GB email account that would be linked to their national ID numbers (in fact, they will be provided with an email account from birth). This is all done under the pretense of strengthening national security, as the government doesn't want communications data to 'leave Turkey and then come back'."
(Image: CAMERA ISTANBUL, a Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike photo from Material Boy's Flickr stream)
Guatemala's Lake Atitlán, surrounded by volcanoes and Maya settlements, has been taken over by a massive bloom of cyanobacteria (blue-green algae). I'll be traveling to a K'iche' Maya village not far from this place in a couple of weeks. The image comes from the Advanced Spaceborne Thermal Emission and Reflection Radiometer (ASTER) on NASA's Terra satellite.
It's no shock to realize that decades of environmental damage have led to this, but it is still very weird to see an image that shows this huge, seemingly pristine body of water transformed into a big pool of slime, with growing "dead zones" where fish and other critters can no longer survive. Guatemala is facing a widespread hunger crisis already -- so, for the at-risk human populations around the lake who live off a subsistence farmer/fisher lifestyle, this means more hunger, more death.
Cyanobacteria are a serious problem both because they are toxic to humans and other animals and because they create dead zones. As the bacteria multiply, they form a thick mat that blocks sunlight. Dense blooms can also consume all of the oxygen in the water, leaving a dead zone where other plants and animals cannot survive. The density of the bloom also affects the cyanobacteria. Since only the top layer of the bloom receives life-sustaining light, the bacteria in the rest of the bloom die and decay, releasing toxins into the water. These highly toxic harmful algal blooms cause illness in people and other animals.
From the "Cute Animals Devouring Other Cute Animals" file, I bring you this BBC video showing a mob of starfish ravaging the carcass of a seal pup. (That starfish covered mound in the picture? Seal pup.) Granted, they do this very, very slowly. The video speeds things up with time-lapse photography, which only adds to the alien creepiness as you watch thousands of starfish (plus sea urchins and giant meat-eating worms) damn-near gallop across the ocean floor.
How do starfish eat a seal? Glad you asked. Turns out, they latch onto the seal's side, pop their stomachs out through their mouths, dump digestive juices onto the seal flesh and then slurp up the dissolved "soup". Happy Monday.
Oh, and beware the scene at about 1:50 into the clip. It's a little, erm, not cute. Nature, red in tooth and claw, and all that. Fair warning.
Understanding scam victims: seven principles for systems security (via Schneier)
This illustrates something important. Many people feel that they are wise to certain scams or take steps to protect their property; but, often, these steps don't go far enough. A con artist can easily answer people's concerns or provide all sorts of proof to put minds at ease. In order to protect oneself, it's essential to remove all possibility of compromise. There's no point parking your own car if you then give the valet your keys. Despite this, the mark felt more secure when, in actual fact, he had made the hustler's job easier....
...Much of systems security boils down to "allowing certain principals to perform certain actions on the system while disallowing anyone else from doing them"; as such, it relies implicitly on some form of authentication--recognizing which principals should be authorized and which ones shouldn't. The lesson for the security engineer is that the security of the whole system often relies on the users also performing some authentication, and that they may be deceived too, in ways that are qualitatively differ- ent from those in which computer systems can be deceived. In online banking, for example, the role of verifier is not just for the web site (which clearly must authenticate its customers): to some extent, the customers themselves should also authenticate the web site before entering their credentials, otherwise they might be phished. However it is not enough just to make it "technically possible"18 : it must also be humanly doable by non-techies. How many banking customers check (or even understand the meaning of) the https padlock?19
- Man hunts for poo-squirting con artist in Delhi - Boing Boing
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- Enron was a real, non-metaphorical Big Con - Boing Boing
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- How to Cheat at Everything - Boing Boing
- Kids' how-to-cheat videos - Boing Boing
The Wolverton Bible (Basil Wolverton):
Wolverton wasn't just a funnybooks illustrator: he was also a member of a millenarian evangelical church called the Worldwide Church of God, a sect that believed in obeying Old Testament lifestyle laws and the literal truth of Revelations. So it was natural that Wolverton ended up with a regular, paid gig illustrating a series of Bible stories for kids and adults published in the Church's magazines like Plain Truth and in booklets with titles like Prophecy and The Book of Revelations, overseen by Church leader Herbert Armstrong, who had converted Wolverton to his faith.
Full review | Purchase
Norman Saunders was a
prominent illustrator for Captain Billy's Whiz Bang,
Modern Mechanics, pulp detective, western, war, and science
fiction magazines, men's adventure magazines, and bubblegum cards and
stickers, including Wacky Packages and Mars Attacks. Anyone interested
in 20th century magazine illustration pretty much has to have this
book in his or her library. I devoured the 368 technicolor pages
filled with examples of his work from the 1920s to the 1980s.
review | Purchase
Last week, I had far, far too much of several good things. Turkey, stuffing, green beans, sweet potatoes, mashed potatoes, corn, biscuits, gravy, cranberry sauce, green Jell-o salad and pie.Read the rest
New Zealand's National Business Review stuck a paywall in front of its website back in mid-July, betting that enough readers would stick around and pay for "quality" that it would make up for the stupendous drop in readership. Looks like they bet wrong. Their traffic plummeted, and traffic to their free competitors skyrocketed. On every metric, NBR is failing: pageviews, session duration, unique readers, and total time on site. NBR has a high paywall price, so maybe they've got enough money from corporate subscribers to make up for the advertising losses -- but how long will they keep them for, with all the links, visits, and attention going to their competitors?
- Newspaper columnist quits over paywall - Boing Boing
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Iain Banks and other prominent Scots call for reform of Royal Bank of Scotland: "Royal Bank of Sustainability"
More than 30 signatories, including Gordon Roddick, who founded the Body Shop with his late wife Anita, leading green campaigner Tony Juniper and Rev Ian Galloway, convenor of the Church of Scotland, take the government to task for failing to push RBS and the other bailed-out banks into supporting socially useful investments.Celebrities, MPs and clergy urge government to rein in RBS
In their letter, written to mark the first anniversary of the British taxpayer becoming its largest shareholder, they call on Darling to transform RBS into the "Royal Bank of Sustainability".
The strongly-worded communication criticises the Treasury for standing on the sidelines while RBS took a controversial decision to support US foods group Kraft in its bid for chocolate maker Cadbury, despite the fact the bid will put jobs at risk and therefore work against the interests of the UK taxpayer. The bank's conduct has also raised eyebrows in the City because it breached protocol by neglecting to inform Cadbury of its planned defection to the Kraft camp, despite having a decades-long relationship with the confectioner.
Incidentally, why is a raven like a writing-desk? Because Poe wrote on both of them.
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John sez, "Batman: Year 100 creator Paul Pope illustrated three Japanese concept cars for GQ, as well as a flying car of his own design. You can see all the illustrations at the GQ link."
- LIFE photo gallery of old cars - Boing Boing
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- Concept car spins passenger-cabin around instead of 3-pt turns ...
- Boing Boing: Cool concept car
- Honda's concept car for dog owners - Boing Boing
- Amazing hot rod auction - Boing Boing
- Small wheelchair car you drive with a joystick - Boing Boing
R. "Diesel Sweeties" Stevens sez, "These steel keychain-mounted screwdrivers are the ultimate in unbranded, unbreakable gadget gifts. I've had mine since the summer and they work like a charm and make great boxcutters. Planning to pick up a few more sets for stocking stuffers! Unlike a Swiss Army Knife or the like, I've never had trouble flying with these."
Marilyn sez, "Until 375,000 years ago, plants had be by physically close to each other in order to reproduce. Pollen changed all that. From the article by Rob Dunn in the Dec. issue of National Geographic:"
Update: not sure about Marylin's source for the 375k year stat above, but it looks like pollen is at least as old as the late Devonian
In the 300,000 pollen-bearing plant species on Earth, there are 300,000 different forms of pollen. The great variety in colors, shapes, and textures of the grains has evolved in accordance with each plant's biological particulars. Beetle-pollinated plants tend to have smooth, sticky pollen, the better to adhere to the lumbering beetles' backs. Plants pollinated by fast-moving bees or flies may have spiny pollen that lodges easily between the insects' hairs. Plants pollinated by bigger animals, such as bats, sometimes have bigger pollen, though not always -- perhaps not even most of the time. In the details of pollen's variety, more remains to be explained than is understood.
A friend with allergies once compared living through high-pollen-count days as "being the involuntary star in a vegetage-kingdom bukkake movie." I haven't been able to think of pollen the same way since.