Former GM CEO does his Steve Ballmer impersonation


Apple would be crazy to make cars, former GM chief says 
[Via - CNET]

Talk of Apple entering the car market is serious enough that former General Motors CEO Dan Akerson has felt the need to offer his two cents: Don’t do it!

Akerson, who left GM in 2014, told Bloomberg in an interview published Wednesday that if he were an Apple shareholder hearing news of the company considering building an electric car, he “wouldn’t be very happy.”

“I would be highly suspect of the long-term prospect of getting into a low-margin, heavy-manufacturing” business, he told Bloomberg.


The former CEO of the worst car maker in the US doing his best Steve Ballmer impersonation. Here is what Ballmer said about the iPhone in 2007:

There’s no chance that the iPhone is going to get any significant market share. No chance. It’s a $500 subsidized item. They may make a lot of money. But if you actually take a look at the 1.3 billion phones that get sold, I’d prefer to have our software in 60% or 70% or 80% of them, than I would to have 2% or 3%, which is what Apple might get.

 That sure went well. The iPhone is not only increasing market share but also making most of the smartphone profits. Having your stuff in 60% of anything but making no money will never overcome 10% of the market with all the profits.

Because of Apple’s money, it can leverage all sorts of things to give itself a competitive edge. Few other makers can meet Apple’s prices and make a profit because Apple acts so much like a monopsonist by tying up long term contracts for parts that no one else can meet and even loaning the foundries money to upgrade themselves, as long as Apple gets first dibs.

The profit margin for Tesla is 25%. GM’s is 12%. Apple would love ot get Tesla’s and probably could.

In fact if Apple is going to make cars (something I really am skeptical of) it will follow Tesla not GM.

But if Apple ever does make a car, it will not be anything like what GM makes, just as the iPhone, iPad, iPod and Mac were not like anything that was being made before they entered the market.

Speculation is fun. I’m not even sure it will be private cars. Maybe combining auto-guided cars with flight.

Or perhaps coupling an electric car with Musk’s Hyperloop. The Hyperloop itself looks to be moving forward. Maybe you drive in your electric Apple car and get special pricing and perks (like a rest room).


Climate change denialists bring up argument debunked two years ago

The Piracy Imperative 

Temperature data is not “the biggest scientific scandal ever”
[Via Ars Technica]

Over the weekend, another editor pointed me to this piece in The Telegraph in which columnist Christopher Booker calls scientists’ handling of the temperature data “the biggest science scandal ever.” The same piece also appeared in a discussion today and was sent in via the reader-feedback form. So, it seemed worth looking into.

Doing so caused a bit of a flashback—to January 2013, specifically. That was the last time that the previous year had been declared the warmest on record, an event that apparently prompts some people to question whether we can trust the temperature records at all.

The culprit that time was Fox News, but the issue was the same: the raw data from temperature measurements around the world aren’t just dumped into global temperature reconstructions as-is. Instead, they’re processed first. To the more conspiracy minded, you can replace “processed” with “fraudulently manipulated to make it look warmer.”


This is one problem with denialists – they use zombie arguments that have been shown to be wrong, again and again.

This is what eventually provokes feelings of anger and frustrations. “We have answered this already. Many times before.Why will you not change your arguments?”

This creationists bring up ‘transition fossils” even though this has been seen. Or “actually see evolution happen” even though this has been seen. Or “the chances of an airplane being built from random parts in a hurricane”. Ad infinitum.

Here it is “how can it be snowing if the world is warming”. Or “It’s a conspiracy.” Or “scientists are lying.”

Hey, denialists, asked two years ago and answered. Try something new. 

It won’t happen because what defines  denialists is denying. It is fascinating I guess, to watch people again and again fall  into the same irrational argument, totally couched in pseudo-rationaities.

But it is not helpful at all.

A rational argument I can agree with

Semana de Vacunación en las Americas 2014 - Paraguay 

Anti-vaccination alarmists are no strangers to bad math
[Via Daily Kos]

Anti-vaccination hysteria isn’t just a set of wild conspiracy claims, it’s become a big business. And like any business, the business owners aren’t about to close up shop in the face of facts. Indeed, they don’t view recent press on the topic as a a setback, they see it as an opportunity to pitch their debunked claims to a whole new audience. Among those long debunked claims now cropping up anew is this is one, laid to rest by Mark Chu-Carroll at Good Math, Bad Math:

[T]here’s a paradox that some antivaccine people use in their arguments. If you look at an outbreak of an illness that we vaccinate for, you’ll frequently find that more vaccinated people become ill than unvaccinated. Therefore, they say, it’s not the fault of the unvaccinated. We’ll look at the math to see the problem with that.

Mark’s post is well worth reading in its entirety. But here’s the short version in non-medical terms: imagine 100,000 seat belt users and 100 non seat belt users are involved in identical rollover collisions. If a thousand seat belt users are killed and 25 non seat belt users are killed, then 97.5 percent of those killed were wearing seat belts! Does this mean buckling up is more risky? No, in fact it means the opposite. In this hypothetical illustration, non seat belt wearers were 25 times more likely to be killed.


Math alway as outs those who cannot make a logical argument and rely on ‘gut’ reactions. Denying reality is the resort of those trying to maintain their Cargo Cult worlds.

Anti-vaxxers are making the choice to put others who are weaker at risk, as well as costing all of us a lot of money dealing with epidemics. With Colorado having vaccination rates below herd immunity levels, it will get worse.

Stay away from Colorado: Under-vaccinated state likely to become disease-ridden soon.

 Measles and Scarlet Fever

State With Lowest Rate Of Vaccinated Kids Proposes Bill To Make It Even Worse
[Via ThinkProgress]

As the United States grapples with a widespread measles outbreak that originated from an unvaccinated woman’s visit to Disneyland, lawmakers have started to discuss potential policies that could prevent the future spread of infectious diseases. California lawmakers, for instance, have introduced a measure that would make it harder to parents to opt out their kids from recommended vaccines.

But other states are taking the opposite approach. Colorado — which has the highest rate of schoolchildren who have not been immunized in line with federal guidelines — is proposing a measure that would underline parents’ rights to turn down vaccines.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), just 82 percent of children in Colorado have gotten the two-dose vaccine that protects against measles. That’s far below the national average of 95 percent, as well as below the threshold needed to achieve herd immunity, which hovers around 94 percent. And certain parts of the state are even worse. Some school districts in Western Colorado have undervaccination rates five times higher than the state average.

“We are going to have a large outbreak of measles,” Dr. Edwin J. Asturias, a pediatrician with the Colorado School of Public Health and Children’s Hospital Colorado, told the Denver Post this week. “For almost a decade we have been accumulating people without protection. We are like a forest waiting to catch fire.”


82% is likely below the threshold for herd immunity for diphtheria, polio, measles, mumps, whooping cough, rubella, and smallpox. In fact, in some parts of the state, it is much lower than that.

Without herd immunity, not only is it very likely that all their kids will get sick, but that infants, the elderly, people whose immunity has worn off and immune-compromised individuals will also get sick. The selfishness of anti-vaxxers places large numbers of others at risk.

And these people shut down an attempt last year trying to educate people, calling it harassment and coercion.

You may have a right to be willfully ignorant in this country but not a right to harm others through your willful ignorance.

Their selfishness – which could result in major outbreaks of preventable disease, disabling many and costing millions – is more important than public safety.

That is not what made America great. But if they want to game the system for their own benefit, while harming America, fine. There should, however, be consequences.

Do not allow their children into public spaces or into contact with others. Go ahead, do not vaccinate but no public schooling. No trips to the mall. Or to football games. They should be civilly sued for getting sick and spreading the disease.

Heck places like Disneyland should look into technology to prevent children or adults who are shedding virus (and may not even be showing symptoms yet) from entering their parks. (Sure, these may take minutes now but who does not expect that to be greatly reduced in a few years.)

Heck, a smartphone attachment was just described and the results published. SO, go ahead and do not vaccinate. Just look forward to a whole lot of finger pricks for blood.

If I was an onwer of any place where people congregated, I would be worried about my employees’’ health and that of their families with weakened immune systems.

As well as law suits from anyone getting sick due to my facility.

I’m sure this will do wonders for the ski resorts when infectious disease spreads like wildfire throughout the state.

People are perfectly free to make decisions about their own health but they should not  be allowed to jeopardize the health of others.

The Climate Change denialist media continue to lie

 Concentration of Atmospheric Carbon Dioxide from Earth's Mid-Troposphere, 2002 to 2013

Scientist Slams News Site That Used His Research To Imply Climate Change Is Fake
[Via Think Progress]

Last week, a new, peer-reviewed paper from scientists at Germany’s Alfred Wegener Institute was published in the journal Nature Geoscience. The paper is important: for the first time, it shows that scientists can use incredibly old permafrost to find out what temperatures were like in Siberia thousands of years ago. By using this permafrost, the scientists found that temperatures in Siberia have been gradually rising for the past 7,000 years.

Enter the climate denier media. After the findings were published, notorious climate denier Anthony Watts re-published portions of the Alfred Wegener Institute’s press release for the research on his site, Watts Up With That. It was then picked up by Michael Bastasch at the Daily Caller, who wrote that “solar radiation has been melting Siberian ice for 7,000 years,” evidence that “global warming is nothing new.”

In other words, the Daily Caller is using the research to reinforce a common trope among climate deniers: that the climate has always been changing, and humans therefore have no effect. In this case, it implies that Siberian permafrost is thawing due to natural causes. Greenhouse gases have nothing to do with it.

Here’s the problem. The research does not say any of that. It does not show that Siberian ice is “melting,” and certainly does not show that “solar radiation” is the cause. It also does not imply that global warming — a term that describes the effects of man-made climate change — is a phenomenon that has existed prior to the Industrial Revolution, when humans began pumping exorbitant amounts of carbon into the air.


It is so easy to understand why so many people misunderstand what is going on, when we have media that are so willing to confuse things with lies and misrepresentations.

Here they take a work and present it in a fashion meant to mislead. They want people to be confused, to think that scientists are showing climate change is not happening.

They write that there were things stated in the paper that were never stated. And they use the same tactics again and again. Repetitive and shameless misrepresentations can only be called lying.

The exact same tactics were used with smoking cigarettes. How many thousands of people died because of the selfish, myopic and stupid lies spread then? How many will die because of the selfish, myopic and stupid lies spread now?

The world is warming. Anyone who refuses to acknowledge that cannot accept facts and is simply not acting rationally. 

Now why is it warming? We construct models to test different hypothesis. The ONLY models which come close to fitting reality are those that include the carbon dioxide released by humans. 

And these same models can be checked by running them backwards, or starting in 1900 and running forward. Guess what? They fit the real data within experimental error throughout the 20th Century. 

But only if we include human generated greenhouse gases.The models do a great job describing the data we have already generated.

As with any scientific model, if you want to remove it, you had better produce and support one that does a better job.

So, if one wants to posit that human-generated carbon dioxide is not responsible  one not only has to come up with an unknown source to explain the increasing temperature, but also why the greenhouse gases  we release have little to no effect.

It could happen since science never proves anything with certainty.  But the climate change denialists are not trying to really find that model that explains the world better than the current models.

They simply take potshots and tell lies. Exactly what every other denialist does.


Unfortunately, looks like there are a lot of cafeteria fundamentalists


New survey shows extent of scientists’ divide with the public
[Via Ars Technica]

In conjunction with the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), the Pew Research Center has conducted a large poll that measures both public attitudes toward science and the attitudes of scientists themselves. Although there are some substantial areas of agreement—the public values science almost as much as scientists themselves—the data also highlights many areas where there are huge gaps between the two.

Good and bad news

The good news first. Almost 80 percent of US citizens feel that science has made life easier, and substantial majorities feel that it has improved food, health, and the environment. Roughly 70 percent of the public feel that research pays off in the long run, with support similar for both fundamental research and applied research. Over 60 percent see an essential role for federal funding in scientific progress.

Things get pretty grim from there. One bit of bad news comes from a comparison of these numbers to results obtained by Pew in 2009. Back then, 83 percent of the public felt that science had a positive impact on people’s lives. All the numbers on the specific areas—food, health, and the environment—were down slightly as well. The number of people who are enthused about the US’ scientific achievements, however, saw a more substantial drop, with an 11 point plunge in those thinking we’re doing above average or better compared to other nations.


Not surprising, people generally like science and have a good view of researchers.

Until science buts up against what they believe. Then many people refuse to acknowledge the facts.

But it appears to be more complex than that. Traditionalists – take a literal view of the Bible, don’t accept evolution or the Big Bang, and tend to score low on science literacy – are 43% of the population. They simply refuse to acknowledge entire areas of reality.

Secularists – more scientifically literate and either viewed the Bible as inspired by God or simply a collection of myths – were about 36%.

The other 21%? They are called post-secularists. They pick and chose the facts they will acknowledge.

As the authors describe:

These people are just as knowledgeable about science as the secularists, but only if the questions about evolution and the Big Bang are left out. Nearly half of the post-secularists view the Bible as literal; only six percent accept the Big Bang, and a tiny three percent are ok with the idea of human evolution. They’re also relatively uncertain about plate tectonics.

No evolution and no Big Bang. Like the traditionalists. But not all believe in the literal Bible. They, like secularists, love science, but only when it does not impact their beliefs.

It appears that traditionalists may, in some ways, fear science and what it will do to their religious beliefs, so they stay away from it as much as possible, preferring ignorance to knowledge.

The secularists love science and have found ways to fully incorporate it into their belief systems. The post-secularists are intermediate, choosing what science they will acknowledge and which they will not.

Traditionalists construct Cargo Cult Worlds that  have the least connection to reality. Secularists construct ones that model reality much better. The post-secularists are in between.

In a complex cultural environment, the further one’s model for reality departs from the real world, the more likely one will make poor decisions and die. 

This would mean that 43% of the population hold views that make them less likely to survive in a complex environment, while another 20% may be at severe risk, depending on just what science they chose to put on their plate.

The question becomes just how far one’s Cargo Cult World is from the real world and how many bad decisions will be made because of their bad models of the world.

Cool picture of rockets



Laser Rocket Aurora!
[Via Bad Astronomy]

This is one of the coolest pictures I’ve ever seen. And bonus: It’s science!

Geez, where to start? OK, this is the Poker Flat Research Range in Alaska, where NASA launches what are called sounding rockets. These are not as big as rockets you might be used to, but they’re still hefty enough to get a payload up as high as 300 kilometers.

On Jan. 26, 2015, four such rockets were launched. In this wide-angle composite picture, you can see the fiery trails of the rocket as they headed skyward (I suspect the exposure started late or was interrupted for the launch on the right, since it starts already off the ground).

In each, you can see where the first stage booster cuts out, and the engine glow gets much dimmer. Then, higher up, the second stage ignites, propelling its payload even higher. The first stage booster continues up on a parabolic arc, then begins to fall. If you trace those arcs down, you’ll even see the impact points on the ground! That’s pretty wild.


So much science in a single picture. Like also seeing the aurora. Like seeing the stars move around the sky in this long exposure.

And look, the rockets were launched directly at the center of the wheeling stars.Cool.


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