Thursday, January 19, 2012

McCain's Hangar Queen on Trend

Looks like McCain's Hangar Queen is on Norm's trend.
Entire Defense budget to buy one airplane
See the video; linked from Make. Related post on Roger Pielke's site.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Nuclear Politics Prior

One of the recurring themes of Climate Resistance (which I've mentioned approvingly before) is that the politics around the solutions proposed for climate change are prior to any consideration of the science of the environment (or the more interesting question Lorenz asked about the existence and uniqueness of long-time averages of the earth's weather).

This state of politics prior is unavoidable, and therefore not unique to the field of climate policy. I think this talk by Kirk Sorensen on the history of US breeder reactor development provides another good example.

The policy maker (Nixon in this case) picked the solution based on desired political outcomes (jobs and lucre for politically useful districts). "The Science" was merely a part of the marketing and public relations campaign for that choice. Dissenting scientific positions (the molten salt folks in this case) were suppressed with "Rickoverian dedication".

See this extensive remix for lots of info on LFTR.
"There's been a very bipartisan approach to scaring the public." Kirk Sorensen (~1:20 or so)
"The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary." H.L. Mencken

Monday, January 2, 2012

Setting up a project on Github

I've been an SVN user for a while, but it seems like more and more projects are going distributed version control systems like Git so I wanted to learn how to use Git. I found this crash course on Git for SVN users which provides a useful Rosetta stone, and this warning:

SVN is based on an older version control system called CVS, and its designers followed a simple rule: when in doubt, do like CVS. Git also takes a form of inspiration from CVS, and its designer also followed a simple rule: when in doubt, do exactly the opposite of CVS. This approach lead to many technical innovations, but also lead to a lot of extra headscratching among migrators. You have been warned.
This sounds a lot link Linus Torvalds' talk, WWCVSND: What Would CVS Not Do?

Github has a set of steps for setting up on linux. Git comes in the Fedora repos (and probably every other repo), so install is easy. A nice bit of documentation that comes with the install is Everyday GIT With 20 Commands Or So.

Since I already use password-less ssh to hop between the boxes in my little network, I didn't move my old public key as in the instructions. I created a config file in the .ssh directory containing these lines:
User git
Port 22
IdentityFile ~/.ssh/id_rsa_git
TCPKeepAlive yes
IdentitiesOnly yes
Where is the key I uploaded to github. Authenticating to github is then just:
ssh -T
Then you accept their RSA key like you would for doing any other ssh login.

The next thing is to create a repo. Clicking through the instructions brings you to a page with several "next steps". Which for my example are:
mkdir FalknerSkan
cd FalknerSkan
git init
touch README
git add README
git commit -m 'first commit'
git remote add origin
git push -u origin master
Which gives some output ending in something like: Branch master set up to track remote branch master from origin.

If you'd like, you can read up on the Falkner-Skan ODE at the viscous aero course on MIT's OCW:

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Now you have N problems

(10:40) It's not that regulators don't understand information technology, because it should be possible to be a non-expert and still make a good law. MPs and Congressmen and so on are elected to represent districts and people, not disciplines and issues.

That couple of sentences reminded me of a recent post on single-issue advocacy by Roger Pielke Jr. So, in that spirit, here's a fun word game: How applicable is Doctorow's criticism if you substitute "climate" for "copyright" below?

(22:20) But the reality is, copyright legislation gets as far as it does precisely because it's not taken seriously, which is why on one hand, Canada has had Parliament after Parliament introduce one stupid copyright bill after another, but on the other hand, Parliament after Parliament has failed to actually vote on the bill. [...] It's why the World Intellectual Property Organization is gulled time and again into enacting crazed, pig-ignorant copyright proposals because when the nations of the world send their U.N. missions to Geneva, they send water experts, not copyright experts; they send health experts, not copyright experts; they send agriculture experts, not copyright experts, because copyright is just not important to pretty much everyone!
Canada's Parliament didn't vote on its copyright bills because, of all the things that Canada needs to do, fixing copyright ranks well below health emergencies on first nations reservations, exploiting the oil patch in Alberta, interceding in sectarian resentments among French- and English-speakers, solving resources crises in the nation's fisheries, and thousand other issues! The triviality of copyright tells you that when other sectors of the economy start to evince concerns about the internet and the PC, that copyright will be revealed for a minor skirmish, and not a war. Why would other sectors nurse grudges against computers? Well, because the world we live in today is /made/ of computers. We don't have cars anymore, we have computers we ride in; we don't have airplanes anymore, we have flying Solaris boxes with a big bucketful of SCADA controllers [laughter]; a 3D printer is not a device, it's a peripheral, and it only works connected to a computer; a radio is no longer a crystal, it's a general-purpose computer with a fast ADC and a fast DAC and some software.

Full Transcript