Monday, February 05, 2007

Off Topic

Super Bowl, immigration, web security flaw that you Must Read Now, and the global warming debate

  • Pretty ugly Super Bowl. I agree with the commentators who said that the Bears offense as designed played right into the Colts' strength.

    I think Grossman has to be running things according to script to be succcessful. If he gets pressured and has to improvise, he's in trouble, as we saw. And the Colts are good at getting after the passer.

    Not sure if this is something Grossman can improve on or if this is what he's destined to be. If the latter, I don't think you can win a Super Bowl with him

  • Kaus says immingration enforcement does not mean mass deportation. One way around this would be to "grandfather in" existing undocumented workers, and only require documentation for new employees. But what if a "grandfathered" undocumented worker changes jobs?

    If existing illegals tried to switch to a new employer they might get caught (though Congress could give them, say, a year to find a decent employer before an enforcement system took effect). Actually, if the new enforcement system worked, they would get caught. Which means they wouldn't try, no? They'd either stay with their existing employer, or try to work in the underground economy, or give up and "self-deport."

    Emphasis added

    Presumably, employers would be privy to the knowledge that undocumented workers now are bound to their current employers. Wouldn't tilt the scales of this relationship, already ridiculously tipped in facor of employers, even further in that direction? What incentive would an employer have to pay these people a decent wage or provide good working conditions? There would be no market for these people's skills.

    I don't think this is merely a "complication" that can be resolved with some legislative elbow grease. It's a basic structural problem.

  • I love stories like these. The Slashdot teaser is headlined "Study Finds Bank of America SiteKey is Flawed."

    Flawed? Yikes! I have a B of A account -- are people getting in? Or is it sweeps month on the web, too?

    No -- the way the system works is you choose an image. When you log into the bank, you enter your ID, but not your password. Only after the site serves up another page with your selected image should you enter your password, since the the site will have proven that it is B of A and not a spoof.

    It turns out most users enter their password even if their image doesn't show up. Thus, it's flawed.

    Which I suppose is true -- a piece of software is only successful if it is used to solve the problem for which it was designed. For most users, SiteKey isn't increasing security, thus it's flawed.

    But it's certainly not introducing any security problem, and does work correctly for those who utilize it properly. I'd call that win.

    If you read the tech press enough, you get used to the security Cassandras -- those who lament how little attention is paid to IT security, how vulnerable networks are, how little repsect security professionals get, etc. I understand -- if something goes wrong, it's their ass, so they may as well cover it.

    But there is a trade-off between security and convenience. I don't want to have to carry around an RSA token for everyone with whom I want to do business online. I suspect most others don't, either. I'm willing to accept this "flaw" in SiteKey for the convenience of being able to pay all my bills in about 5 minutes. And I don't think I'm alone.

  • Posts like this make me wonder what, exactly, it would take for, say, b-a to change his mind about global warming. There are different levels of belief on global warming:

    1. Global warming is happening.
    2. Warming will cause some catastrophic events if it continues.
    3. Human activity contributes to global warming.
    4. Changes in human activity can mitigate global warming.
    5. It is a moral imperative that governments act to compel these changes in behavior.

    I'd put myself between 4 and 5. b-a would probably put herself around 1. Most folks seem to be either 1's or 5's.

    I think we've reached the point in this debate where there's not going to be much movement betweeen the groups, b-a's post notwithstanding. It's hard to imagine what news would come out to which b-a would respond, "Geesh; I guess I was wrong -- warming is happening, and we better get on it." Likewise, it's hard to imagine what news would make Al Gore tell everyone to chill out. The alarmist camp seems to be bigger, but the no problem camp seems to big to dismiss. So where do we go from here?


twiffer said...

if i could link a single RSA token to all the sites i need to access, that would be alright. but to have a seperate token for each would be ridiculous.

as for climate change, one of the curious things about resistance to reducing carbon dioxide emissions is that, even if it doesn't help, it's still a good idea to reduce them. there is no reason to be pumping CO2 into the atmosphere. it's certainly not helping anything (well, it might be helping forests grow, but we tend to cut those down, so kind of a wash there). discussing it with people like b-a is frustrating, because they brandish ignorance as a weapon. she displayed an inability to distinguish between local and global events, how averages work and a tendency to just repeat talking points. such as "why does no one mention water vapor?" there are answers to these talking points, but those who wish to ignore them, do so. and so they persist. for instance, the oft cited fact that water vapor is a better greenhouse gas is misleading. it's factored in. thing is, the atmosphere has a saturation point for water vapor. it can only hold so much before it precipitates out. water vapor, therefore, is not a driving force; it can enhance warming, as warmer air can hold more water vapor. however, this still gets bandied about because some meterologist (dr. gray, or something like that. i forget) mentioned how atmospheric water vapor levels were about half current levels during the last glaciation. well, so? if the atmosphere is, on average, colder, one would expect that water vapor levels would be lower. it is more likely an effect, rather than a cause.

and so on. there are only so many times one can mention this and have it ignored before one just gives up.

i do, however, find it interesting that corporate action to address global warming seems to have coincided with the democrats gaining a majority in congress.

bEnder said...

Your design input please.
Go to

Hover your mouse over some links. I think applying the Snap preview to the Network Feed only over here might be a nice addition.

Dawn Coyote said...

Ender - I like it, maybe not as much as Cool Iris, which opens things big enough so that you can actually read the content, but that's Firefox-specific(?). I like that I can roll over comments in the feed and see where they're from.

Schadenfreude said...

Thrasymachus is an idiot:

Here and here.

At some point, I'm pretty sure that I won't be the only one who gets this.

twiffer said...

that's the other catch. we just don't know what will happen. desert? ice? not really all that much?

not to mention that our species can easily absorb the loss of a billion individuals, with no detriment to our likelihood of survial as whole. almost frightening to think of it in those terms, but there it is.

arguements can be made that humans, as a part of nature, are thus a natural cause. but that's playing with technicalities. the current climate, as it stands, is rather comfortable for us. when it changes, it may very well be less so. i think it behooves us to mitigate any detrimental impact we may have, such as decreasing CO2 emissions and deforestation. beyond what we are mostly certain is bad, we should really fuck around though. the system is intricate enough that no matter what we do, something will get fucked.

alarmism is, i think, as damaging as dismissal. both are extremes and clinging to them keeps anything from being discussed reasonably.

rundeep said...

twif: the marketplace has taken global warming more seriously than the GOP for a long time. Nearly two years ago, I first noticed that the much-maligned hedge fund and private equity communities started discussing it. For one, because there are a lot of funds that trade based on "weather events" and energy, and two, because every hedge fund trades on volatility, and weather and energy events have a real effect on vol. Now granted the agendas differ; some funds are buying up nuclear power facilities, some cleaning technologies for older energy production methods, but the point is that the smart money has long ago assumed the truth of global warming.

The corporations who are involved in producing things which contribute to this state of affairs may indeed be motivated a bit more by politics. Or by fear of an activist takeover.

sydbristow said...

Schad: I saw the first one and cringed. (And chuckled.)

I mean it's just wrong to even think about pulling resources off the really important stuff like, well, to name just two, halting continental drift and rescuing our galaxy from its inexorable slide into Andromeda.

twiffer said...

daveto: i think we need t-shirts for the cause. Stop Continental Drift Now!

rundeep: was the big guns i was thinking of, like exxon. could just be a matter of perception, but it seems like their reaction was along the lines of: shit! democrats in the majority! dust off the climate change remediation plan we developed 15 years ago!

sydbristow said...

twif and all: Now that I think about it, [Pause] I don't want to just stop it. That means that they/it got away with something. I'd like to reverse it. Cretaceous in my lifetime, with the ultimate goal of Permian.

on the oil companies: I would say to them: "Just shut the fuck up and sell your fucking gas. It's not your problem, and as long as you're not telling us bold-faced lies you're on safe ground. For now. We gotta figure out this thing ourselves, and when we do we'll let you know."

Archaeopteryx said...

You guys are a little behind on the continental drift.

twiffer said...

daveto: bah. movies are better

arch: pangaea is not gondwanaland. and t-shirts are much better than bumper stickers. sheesh.

Dawn Coyote said...

blah blah blah blah...something about an anomolous 11,000 of stable climate during which time humans learned to farm and stay put and build things, and maybe that's all done now, or soon, and perhaps we just need to figure out how to live in a world where the weather can dramatically affect food and shelter and things like that.

(5) links without comment

twiffer said...

caves and hydroponics. fun!

climate is extraordinarily interesting because it's so complex and intricate. what irks me is those who bring up other factors that affect climate and say "why is everyone focusing on CO2 and ignoring this?" the short answer is: they aren't ignoring it. CO2 is the varible that a) is changing and b) we can affect. other factors are either not as significant (water vapor), out of are hands (tectonic activity), or variant depending on what else changes (albedo).

reforestation (large scale) would likely be a decent stop-gap. reducing emissions is the goal. i could all be for naught (particularly as volcanic activity is unpredictable). but that's not reason enough to not behave ourselves.

Dawn Coyote said...

twiff: I agree that climatology is fascinating. All those interactive systems. I’m not that hopeful about reducing CO2 emissions. The effects of anything we start today won’t be seen for 50 years. How much do we care? How much are we willing to give up? We all think reducing reliance on oil is a good idea, but economically it’s a case of “everyone wants to go to heaven, but no one wants to die.”.

(re: above comment – 11,000 years, obviously)