Thursday, December 12, 2019

Wolfgang endorses this

Shamelessly stolen from Gorges.  His one about Snippi Longstockings in 2065 is pretty funny, too.

It takes someone really smart to screw up that phrase

But Gun Controllers are up to the challenge.

Of course, it may just be that nobody is as blind as the man who refuses to see ...

Consumer Electronics and Security for the holidays

People are buying presents for the holidays and so here is a smorgasbord of security news that can help you pick more secure electronics.

Some important bad news: Ring video device in 8 year old girl's bedroom remotely hacked:
Any smart device is also a gateway to everything in your home connected to the Internet.  A "smart speaker" is no exception - and many of them contain video now, not just audio.  Just yesterday, it was reported that a hacker had accessed a Ring video camera and speaker in a little girl's bedroom.  Go read that report - it's spine-chilling.  What if that were your daughter?  Would you want nude images of your 8-year-old, undressing for bed or getting dressed in the morning, spread all over child pornography or pedophilia Web sites?
This is no joke.  I would not allow ANY video or audio devices in a child's bedroom because of the long history of lousy security in these devices.  This means webcams of all sorts (including Ring), Amazon Echo/Alexa, Google Home, Apple Homepod, or Facebook's new Portal device - which has pretty compelling TV commercials (but it's from Facebook who doesn't give two hoots about your - or your kid's - privacy).

The same thing goes for "Smart" TVs which increasingly have both cameras and microphones, and which have a terrible record for both security (easy to hack) and privacy (they upload basically everything about you to the 'Net).

I would go farther and say that none of these should be in your house, period but for the love of everything that's holy especially not in your children's rooms.

Some good news: Toy manufacturers are getting generally better about security:
Back in 2017, the consumer group found toys with security problems relating to network connections, apps or other interactive features. The results of its latest round of testing show manufacturers are struggling to improve standards.
Working with security researchers NCC Group, Which? found a karaoke machine that could transmit audio from anyone passing within Bluetooth range because of its unsecured connection. It found walkie-talkies from VTech which anyone with their own set of similar equipment could connect to over a 200-metre range. It also found a Mattel-backed games portal which appeared to be unmoderated, allowing users to upload their own games with content inappropriate for children.
Now this sounds bad, but the good in the bad is that most of the problems require close physical proximity to compromise - generally its done via Bluetooth which while it has a nominal range of 30 feet in practice is maybe half of that.  I've worked professionally with NCC Group in the past (I hired them to do a security test) and they know their stuff.  The fact that they only found these problems is very reassuring.  I wouldn't think twice about giving one of these toys to my grandkids, although I'd want them supervised when they download content.

More Bad News: KeyMe "Smart" lock can be trivially bypassed and there's no fix coming:
File this one under "not everything needs a computer in it". Finnish security house F-Secure today revealed a vulnerability in the KeyWe Smart Lock that could let a sticky-fingered miscreant easily bypass it. 
To add insult to injury, the device's firmware cannot be upgraded either locally or remotely. This means the only way to conclusively remediate this problem is to rip the damned things from your door and replace them with a bog-standard lock. 
The KeyWe Smart Lock is primarily used in private dwellings, and retails for circa $155 on Amazon. It allows users to unlock their doors through a traditional metal key, via a mobile app, or with Amazon Alexa.
The communication protocols really didn't think much about security - yes, there is encryption but it seems like it was broken from the very beginning.  A Bad Guy can remotely (say, from across the street) extract the encryption key and use that to open the lock any time he wants.

Even worse, there is no way to update the firmware so people who bought this have basically blown $155 on a lock that won't stay locked.  If you have one of these turkeys, get on down to Home Depot and buy a new dumb (key) lock, tout suite.  Like it said, not everything needs a computer.

Bad news for health nuts: Antitrust review of Google Fitbit acquisition:
The FTC is keen to have a piece of Google, in part because it has just set up a new technology task force specifically to monitor tech giants for anti-competitive behavior. But the agency also wants to rebuild its reputation following an embarrassing climbdown in 2012, when its staff found that Google was rigging the search market, but the agency’s commissioners cut a deal and tried to hide the staff report (it is still hiding part of it.) 
But the DoJ reportedly called dibs on Fitbit because it has an ongoing investigation into Google.
There's a huge amount of Orange Man Bad in the linked article but it's good to see the Fed.Gov getting serious about the single greatest privacy violating company on the planet today.  Remember, if you give a fitbit to someone for a holiday present, you're giving Google their private health data as another holiday present.

Wednesday, December 11, 2019

Thoughts about the Impeachment articles

Hat tip: Chris Lynch.


The Queen Of The World won't let me do this at Castle Borepatch.

Ah well, perhaps it's for the best.

While I was gone

I've been re-posting stuff from ten years ago.  Usually it's serious stuff (heavy on the Global Warming, thankee very much).  But this one just made me laugh.

Originally posted 6 December 2009.

Cookie Monster is gonna rock your world

With a little help from his friends, Rammstein.

More Rammstein here.

The Democrat Frontrunner

Last time they gave a choice between Hillary and The Donald. Now it's Uncle Joe Biden. You have to assume whoever is doing this is sitting around the pool on a private island and laughing until the champagne comes out their nose.

Anyway, here's a reaction video to Joe Biden's comments about his hairy legs and children.

I'm not sure what he was supposed to be talking about and neither was he.

Miami-Dade police body armor

There's a new design being issued, it seems.

Tuesday, December 10, 2019

Michael Buble and Thalia - Feliz Navidad

I've been gone, but now I'm back and it's the Christmas season.  Let's get into the spirit with one of my favorite renditions of one of my favorite Christmas songs.

The hits keep coming

The Beetles: During the week of 4 April 1964, we held twelve positions on the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart, including the top five.

Bill and Hillary: Those are rookie numbers.

Cities cause Global Warming

I have for years been posting on the dreadful state of the climate databases, and the unnatural acts performed upon the poor data by "adjustments" made by computers.  I have also posted often about the problem of the "Urban Heat Island" (UHI) effect, where a weather station in what was once a grassy field becomes surrounded by a growing city and finds itself in the middle of a parking lot.  Or worse - most airfields in the 1930s had grass runways, and that's where a large number of weather stations reside.  How those stations are not in the middle of a field but rather surrounded by tarmac and washed by jet blast.  Sure, they read hotter temperatures than in the 1930s, but this sure isn't a climate change.

Interestingly, the IPCC says that UHI is negligible, amounting to only 0.05°C warming over the 20th Century.  This seems absurdly small.  Ten years ago I posted about an excellent science experiment where a 6th grader (!) and his Dad analyzed dozens of urban weather stations and compared their reported warming against matched nearby rural weather stations.  The result is inescapable that the IPCC way underestimates the UHI effect.

Originally posted 10 December 2009.

So who peer-reviews a sixth grader?

I don't know, but this kid (and his dad) do a simply outstanding job of analyzing the GISS temperature data to see if there is an "Urban Heat Island" (UHI) effect - basically, are cities hotter than the surrounding countryside:

Here's why this is excellent work:

1. The analysis is controlled for time period: all stations were active from 1900 through 2006.

2. The analysis was controlled for population: only cities of 150,000 or more were used.

3. The hypothesis - that urban areas are warmer than nearby rural areas - was controlled by matching the cities with corresponding rural stations within 30 and 100 miles. This is far enough away to not be effected by any UHI from the city, but close enough to be in the same climatic region.

4. The methodology is described clearly and the data is available to anyone. Go ahead - try this at home!

In other words, good science from a sixth grader. So how does this compare to Peer-Reviewed articles on the same topic? It kicks their butt:
The newest entry in the theological literature is Parker (2004, 2006), who, once again, does not show the absence of an urban heat island by direct measurements, but purports to show the absence of an effect on large-scale averages by showing that the temperature trends on calm days is comparable to that on windy days. My first reaction to this, and I’m sure that others had the same reaction was: well, so what? Why would anyone interpret that as evidence one way or the other on UHI?
That's some mighty impressive peer-review, right there. Let me translate Dr. Parker's wicked-scientific article into the vernacular:So what can we say about Dr. Parker? Is he smarter than a fifth grader? Well, we don't know, but the smart money is not backing him against this sixth grader.

And well done to young Padawan Peter for showing how Science is really done.

UPDATE 10 December 2009 14:53: From Rick in an email:
Come on. There is no question that they are all smarter than the sixth grader. After all, he couldn't fudge the data and they could.
I don't care who you are, that's funny right there.

Disband the FBI

The FBI Inspector General's report is out, and while it is being portrayed by the media as "exonerating" the Agency, it lays out in explicit detail things like the 17 errors and omissions in the FISA warrant application used to spy on the Trump 2016 campaign.  Remember: the FBI lied on the FISA application used to spy on you and that's no crime; but it is a crime for you to lie to the FBI about the spying they did on you based on the FISA warrant they lied to get.

And so the question is: what to do about the FBI (please, no peaking at the post title).  Don Surbur lays out the cold hard truth of the situation:
The perps of this crime do not have to explain a thing. They are retired and can flip Congress the bird. Their pensions are safe and a few of them have book deals, a reward for keeping their mouths shut about Obama's corruption.

I have told readers for months, no excitement without an indictment. Without prosecution, no one is held accountable, and it will happen again because no penalty is attached to abuse of office.

And this will trickle down the FBI. It rolls downhill in government. The top men in the FBI lied to a judge to get the warrants to spy on a future president. They will go unpunished. The message is clear to the FBI: Lie. Fib. Do whatever it takes get a warrant or a conviction. The inspector general has your back.
Does anyone really expect indictments?  Heck, General Clapper perjured himself before Congress and was not indicted.  The FBI perps here didn't (quite) rise to that level.  And so, the question remains: what to do with the FBI?

The Organs Of The State do not self-correct.

The Agency needs to be shut down.  There is no possibility of reform, not when its leadership is staffed with Obama/Democrat partisans.  They don't want to reform, and even if the people named in the IG report do end up serving hard time, the remaining FBI leadership still won't want to reform.  Donald Trump will someday no longer be President, and someday a Democrat will put his loafers on the Resolute Desk.  The Agency has to go, QED.

Quite frankly, this can be useful for Donald Trump.  The messaging is "the Deep State is corrupt and politicized and not reformable, and the Republic is better off with no Agency than a corrupt one".  The story is so big that the media will amplify his message despite themselves, and despite their desperate attempts to spin it.  After all, who wants a corrupted national police force?  And it will have much more impact at other Agencies (hello, IRS) where the leadership might just think that they're next in Trump's cross hairs.  Maybe they won't want to reform either, but maybe they might.  After all, the Democratic Party is better off if they're left with an Agency that is reduced in power, rather than with no Agency at all.

One thing that Donald Trump is good at is (politically) slitting someone's throat and watching them twitch.  Sadly, this needs to happen now at the FBI, on a much larger scale than anyone is talking about.

What a depressing place that our Republic has ended up.

UPDATE 12/10/19 12:12: "They don't want to reform" - man, that came quickly:

FBI Director Wray should be invited to spend more time with his family in this Holiday Season ...

Monday, December 9, 2019

How the Climate Science sausage is made

Ten years ago I laid this out.  This is where the action is when it comes to actual climate science.

Originally posted 9 December 2009.

How to create a Scientific Consensus on Global Warming

We keep hearing people tell us that there is a "consensus" that the planet is warming, because the "science is settled". Longtime readers know my feelings on the latter, so there's no need to rehash old arguments. Instead, I'd like to look at how one might go about manufacturing a consensus. It's actually not hard.

Step 1: Change the data

There are a very small number of data sets on global temperatures, and these are used by essentially all Climatologists worldwide. One (CRUt) is from the Climate Research Unit in the UK, the second (GHCN)is the US Historical Climate Network, and the third is GISS (from NASA's Goddard Institute).

However, not all data sets are created equal: GISS and CRU get almost all of their raw data from GHCN, so that's the one that counts. Meaning, that's the one we'll look at today.

There are two parts to the GHCN data: the raw temperature readings, and adjustments to the readings. The raw numbers are easy - they're just the instrument reported temperature for the weather station. Look outside your house at your thermometer - that's the raw data. Here Chez Borepatch, my thermometer says that it's 39°.

Adjustments are modifications to the readings, to "remove inhomogeneities" in the raw data. You (like me) may look at that and say Whiskey Tango Foxtrot are inhomogeneities? CRU helpfully provides an answer:
Most long-term climate stations have undergone changes that make a time series of their observations inhomogeneous. There are many causes for the discontinuities, including changes in instruments, shelters, the environment around the shelter, the location of the station, the time of observation, and the method used to calculate mean temperature. Often several of these occur at the same time, as is often the case with the introduction of automatic weather stations that is occurring in many parts of the world. Before one can reliably use such climate data for analysis of longterm climate change, adjustments are needed to compensate for the nonclimatic discontinuities.
OK, we don't want a jump in the historical record if you move a station or replace a thermometer with a better one.

But. All the Climatologists in the world will look at this data. How much do the adjustments change the results?

We don't know, but people are starting to look. They're starting to find that adjustments change the data a lot. They change the data so much that they show that the earth is warming when the raw data may show that it's cooling.

Let me say that again: Thermometers may be showing that the Earth is cooling, but adjustments to this data show a rapid temperature rise.

Let me give three examples.

Darwin, Australia:The blue line is the raw data from the five weather stations in Darwin. It shows a 0.7°C cooling over the 20th Century. The Black lines are the adjustments to this data, showing a big jump in 1940 and a substantial increase since then. They turn the raw data decline into a 1.2°C increase over the course of the 20th Century.

Woah. So what's with the adjustments? Fortunately, there is an explanation:
They pick five neighboring stations, and average them. Then they compare the average to the station in question. If it looks wonky compared to the average of the reference five, they check any historical records for changes, and if necessary, they homogenize the poor data mercilessly. I have some problems with what they do to homogenize it, but that’s how they identify the inhomogeneous stations. OK … but given the scarcity of stations in Australia, I wondered how they would find five “neighboring stations” in 1941 …
So I looked it up. The nearest station that covers the year 1941 is 500 km away from Darwin. Not only is it 500 km away, it is the only station within 750 km of Darwin that covers the 1941 time period. (It’s also a pub, Daly Waters Pub to be exact, but hey, it’s Australia, good on ya.) So there simply aren’t five stations to make a “reference series” out of to check the 1936-1941 drop at Darwin.
Yikes again, double yikes! What on earth justifies that adjustment? How can they do that? We have five different records covering Darwin from 1941 on. They all agree almost exactly. Why adjust them at all? They’ve just added a huge artificial totally imaginary trend to the last half of the raw data! ...
Those, dear friends, are the clumsy fingerprints of someone messing with the data Egyptian style … they are indisputable evidence that the “homogenized” data has been changed to fit someone’s preconceptions about whether the earth is warming.
You might think that this sort of "adjustment" process is incompetent. You might also think that this process is convenient (but only if you are as nasty and suspicious as I). There is much, much more, and it's much, much worse.

It's not just Darwin, either. Brisbane sees exactly the same thing:
Just out of interest I decided to plot the raw temperature data for my home city of Brisbane, Australia from the GISS (ie the raw GHCN data) against the homogenized or adjusted GISS GHCN data. The temperature sensor is located at the Brisbane Eagle Farm Airport which is now our busy main international airport. The data used is the series available from 1950 to 2008. I have aniumated the result to highlight the difference.

As you can see the raw data shows a downward trend of about -0.6 C per century. The unadjusted data however shows an opposite trend of +0.6 C per century. Intuitively as the airport grew from a quiet strip to a busy international jet airport one would think the more recent data would be adjusted downwards for the heat island effect. Instead we see that the data prior to 1978 is adjusted down and the data in recent times was adjusted up.
He helpfully plots the raw data overlayed with the adjusted data.Don't need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows.

And remember, we already know what the adjustments to the lower 48 states look like:New Zealand, too:Take away the adjustments, and all the warming from 1850 disappears. Change the data, and all the Climatologists will discover that the Earth is "warming". [intentional use of scare quotes]

Let me say this explicitly: I used to believe that the planet was warming, and that this was likely due to natural (as opposed to man made) causes. Now I'm not sure that the planet is warming. The data do not show warming over the last 70 [now 80 - Borepatch] years, maybe longer.

Step 2. Fund only scientific research that confirms warming.

We've seen for some time anecdotal evidence suggesting that researchers are afraid to come out publicly against the "consensus" view:
You can almost smell the fear - the article discusses a series of climate changes over the centuries (not a surprise to either of my regular readers), strongly correlated with changes in Solar activity. But the author feels the need to add a non sequitur about Carbon Dioxide. E pur si muove, indeed.
Well, we now are starting to see explicit charges of warming bias in the research grant application process:
Personal anecdote:
Last spring when I was shopping around for a new source of funding, after having my funding slashed to zero 15 days after going public with a finding about natural climate variations, I kept running into funding application instructions of the following variety:

Successful candidates will:
1) Demonstrate AGW.
2) Demonstrate the catastrophic consequences of AGW.
3) Explore policy implications stemming from 1 & 2.

Follow the money — perhaps a conspiracy is unnecessary where a carrot will suffice.
On a personal note, one of the traits that I find the most charmingly naive among the more shrill of the warming alarmists is their claim that the skeptics are funded by the Oil companies. As if "their side" couldn't possibly have an interest in the outcome.

When you consider that the CRU had received at least £14M and was looking at another £75M more, that's real money.

Opportunity and motive. Does this mean there was a conspiracy? Of course not. It does mean that they data is not to be trusted, that we simply don't know whether the planet is warming or not, and that there is a plausible explanation for why someone would want to manufacture a phony consensus.

The science is settled? Don't make me laugh.

UPDATE 9 December 2009 17:37: Looks like West Point, NY is only warming due to adjustments. Here is the raw data:The Machiavellian explains what's happening:
So, after the raw data is run through the homogenization process, in other words, statistical manipulation, temperatures from 1900 through 1980 are depressed at West Point and temperatures thereafter look as if they are increasing in comparison to the average temperatures based on the raw data.
No warming at all in 100 years in the raw data; a degree warming after adjustments.

UPDATE 9 December 2009 17:47: It looks like the CRU emails include this from Prof. Wibjorn Karlen, who was trying unsuccessfully to reproduce the temperatures shown by the IPCC AR4 report for Scandinavia.
In attempts to reconstruct the temperature I find an increase from the early 1900s to ca 1935, a trend down until the mid 1970s and so another increase to about the same temperature level as in the late 1930s.

A distinct warming to a temperature about 0.5 deg C above the level 1940 is reported in the IPCC diagrams. I have been searching for this recent increase, which is very important for the discussion about a possible human influence on climate, but I have basically failed to find an increase above the late 1930s
This is email 1221683947, to Dr. Jones of the CRU. Jones was particularly unhelpful - essentially blowing Karlen off. So add Scandinavia to the list of places where adjustments look particularly dodgy.

UPDATE 9 December 2009 17:56: Wow, Detroit, too:
Once again, the raw, monthly average temperature for the Detroit area, over the last 111 years shows an amazingly constant climate. It seems that only when the data is run through and adjusted by the proponents of global warming do we get an upward tick in temperatures.
The Machiavellian has more: California, Southwest Ohio.  Click through and scroll.

Here is the $64 Trillion Question: Are there any locations where adjustments are net negative over 100 years? Any at all? I'm willing to listen to justifications why all adjustments are long term net positive, but it will have to be good. There are very well known and documentedissues that cause thermometers to run hot; adjustments for this should cause raw temperatures to decrease, not increase.

UPDATE 9 December 2009 22:24: Joanne Nova has an information-rich post that dissects the adjustments. If the adjustments come mainly from nearby weather stations, what if none of them show warming, either? Someone at GISS or CRU or HCN have some 'splaining to do.

Dealing With Reality

Glen Filthie asked in the comments, "Well ASM, what would you do?" in response to my comment that I am not in favor of an endless, pointless war.

It's not just what I would do, it's what I would have done.

I would have declared war on 9/12/2001.

I would have renamed the Department of Defense back to the Department of War.

I would have identified all  as many as possible of the sources of terrorism and sent the appropriate assets to eliminate those threats. That might have been quiet operatives making things go away. It might have been Tomahawk missiles, it might have been Marines or Army. 

I would gain control of all the U.S. borders and ports of entry and established a wartime level of security on those potential weaknesses.

I would arm personnel on all U.S. military bases. It could be selective. It could be volunteers that undergo additional training. But I would not ever again want to read about a dying Ensign crawling out of a active shooter scene to raise the alarm.

I would look clearly at what the threats are, what the beliefs of those threats are, and then act to counter those threats. This could be everything from more carefully considering what individuals and groups I allow into the U.S. to Curtis LeMay style threat removal on a large scale.

I would not have my investigative services tying themselves in knots trying to not use the T word when talking about attacks. We would be honest about the source and nature of the threats.

I would end the occupation and nation building in Iraq and Afghanistan. We didn't win this war yet. The nation building is premature. We didn't negotiate with the Nazis in Germany or Imperial Japan. We did help them rebuild in the years after they unconditionally surrendered.

I would do this with enough force that for the next thousand years when some teenager popped off with a suggestion that he was interested in SJS, his family and friends would beat him until he changed his mind.

I would establish these policies in perpetuity. If they turned out to be inadequate, I would reassess.

Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty.

Back now

The Queen Of The World and I are back from a week's cruise, celebrating our anniversary.  Some friends on the ship fixed up our cabin:

The cruise was the High Seas Rally - the entire ship was chartered for a motorcycle rally.  It was a blast - formal evening dinner meant wear your leathers.  I'll put up some more pix later, but apologies to all for the light posting (I scheduled some posts but it wasn't as many as usual) and the complete failure to reply to your comments.  We didn't get the phone/Internet plan and so were entirely off-grid for the week.  It was awesome.

The Sunshine Skyway bridge, St. Petersburg FL

Saturday, December 7, 2019

Update on Pensacola

Six more Saudis have been arrested at Pensacola. Three of them filmed the attack and the response as it was taking place. This will provide information for planning future attacks. These were "vetted", "handpicked", "from elite families", students that we were training to fly military aircraft.

Rather than calling it a day of infamy, our President took to Twitter.

It's 6,661 days past what should have been a declaration of war.


Update: Now it's 10 detained students and the FBI is hunting for an unspecified number of other Saudi students that have not been seen since the attack.

Dang, that Climate Change!

Sneaky little bugger, isn't he?

Wednesday, December 4, 2019

Nerd memes

This cracks me up, since it's Meme to the power of Nerd squared.

It reminds me of the difference between the temperature scales (Fahrenheit, Celsius, and Kelvin), explained from a practical perspective:

0° - You're cold.
100° - You're hot.
0° - You're cold.
100° - You're dead.
0° - You're dead.
100° - You're dead.
Yeah, I'm a nerd

Monday, December 2, 2019

15 Minutes and a Search Engine

We all know people like this. There was that kid in high school who had to lie to make himself feel cool. He lied about his exploits with his dates, or his car, or how much money he had. The guys that pin on medals they didn't earn are like this. They want to be heroes without the price.

Elizabeth Warren is like this. On simple things, where the truth wouldn't be better or worse, like her ethnicity, she lies. On things that are easily verifiable, where lying can only backfire, she can't help it.  When she was talking about education, she denied that her children went to private school. Because her platform is opposed to charter schools and school choice, she said her kids went to public schools.

Except, her son didn't. For six years, from 6th grade through 12th, he attended the Haverford School. Looks like an excellent school. Their vision and mission statements are lofty. One thing it is not, however, is a public school. Tuition is $39,500 a year.

Every President politician lies. Every one. In today's environment, what I am asking for is a Presidential candidate that is smart enough to know when lying is the appropriate course of action and when telling the truth is the only smart thing to do. Because when you're going to get caught by a reporter with 15 minutes and an internet connection, what was the point of the lie?

It's just sad.


Politics sucks

Sunday, December 1, 2019

Charles-Valentin Alkan - La chanson de la folle au bord de la mer

Charles-Valentin Alkan was a highly sensitive man, which led him both to friendships with the greatest composers of his day and a series of disappointments that led him to withdraw from society for years.  He seems to have been quite an unhappy man, although his talent caused him to be recognized as one of the greatest performers and composers of his day.

His ability on the piano was precocious, and he entered the Paris Conservatory at the age of 5.  His transcription of Beethoven's Seventh Symphony for two pianos and eight hands was famous in its day but has sadly been lost.  He was close friends with Frederic Chopin - Chopin on his deathbed asked Alkan to finish one of his piano compositions - but Chopin's death hit him hard and he retired from performing for almost 25 years.

He composed this piece just as he was about to enter his reclusive phase.  It is perhaps a farewell to Chopin.