Category Archives: Random Musings

Was Clinton's Server Hacked?

I've been silent on this site recently because as of late I don't think anything I say matters. As I've mentioned a few times lately, the blog I respected the most used to be Cilmate Audit. It and its proprietor, Steve McIntyre, had a huge impact on me as I grew up.

I discovered McIntyre's first website back when I was in high school, and I followed his the subsequent blog for well over a decade. Following it taught me a great deal, both about technical matters and how the foibles of people shape aspects of our world. I could go on, but I don't want to as I've lost any and all respect for the site as of late.

To demonstrate part of why I've become disillusioned, I'm going to discuss the question of whether or not Hillary Clinton's private mail server got hacked. Following from this, I'll ask, did someone commit a felony by destroying the evidence which would have shown whether or not that server was hacked? Finally, did the person investigating this topic ignore such a felony to cover things up? Thses may seem like strange questions, but they stem from McIntyre stating:

Comey whitewashed the situation, saying that there was no evidence that the Clinton server had been hacked. “No evidence” because all the server logs had been destroyed. Comey ignored the obstruction of justice.

According to McIntyre, the head of the investigation into Clinton's use of a private mail server, James Comey, whitewashed the situation by ignoring a felony then misled people by saying there was "no evidence" Clinton's server had been hacked when that was tautological as the evidence which would have shown such was destroyed. This narrative is delusional.
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Totally Plausible

Hey guys. I've been spending way too much time over at Climate Audit this last week or so because they've been discussing the (supposed) Russian hacks of various computer networks within the United States. System security is a topic I've long been interested in so naturally I was curious what people were saying there. I regret have even looked now.

The quality of the discussion for the last few posts at Climate Audit is surprisingly low. It's nothing compared to what used to be found on the site, which is a shame as I alwlays held the site in high regard. Don't worry though. I'm not going to start some inter-blog argument today. Today, I just want to show you one of the most hilarious arguments I have ever seen anyone make, an argumend endorsed by Steve McIntyre, proprietor of Climate Audit.
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My Conspiratorial Thinking

The tweet which led to my last post also led to an exchange on Twitter which I found somewhat peculiar as it involved things like being told I was promoting conspiratorial nonsense. Despite my best efforts, I was unable to find out what this nonsense was, and alas, it appears we may never know what conspiracy theories I have been espousing.

That mystery aside, the exchange allowed me to state why I think people deriding the pursuit of e-mails from climate scientist via legal means like Freedom of Information requests are in the wrong. It's not that I care about the e-mails themselves. I don't. However:

There has been a long history of climate scientists involved in the global warming debate refusing to share information/data. One of the most famous examples was when climate scientist Phil JOnes responded to a person asking for data by saying:

We have 25 or so years invested in the work. Why should I make the data available to you, when your aim is to try and find something wrong with it.

This sort of reaction is not limited to climate science. Examples of it have been discussed in many fields. I think it's silly. If you're a scientist who believes in his/her work, you should have no problem with people examining it. Refusing to share information/data with people, especially because of perceived traits you believe that person has, is completely unscientific.

When scientists behave in such an unscientific manner, I see no problem with people trying to get access to information they were denied in other ways, such as using the legal system. I don't think that's a remarkable view, but my tweet above led to this response:

I think that question is silly as it seems it should be easy to see at least some examples of what i referred to. If a person publishes a paper and refuses to archive the data used in it, the lack of such an archive can often be apparent. If an author of a paper fails to describe steps they took in their analysis, that can often be apparent. So forth and so on.

That said, the person I was exchanging these tweets asked me to state what data I cannot find several times so I offered to write a post highlighting some examples. What comes next will be a list of just a few examples of data and/or information I have wanted to examine but been unable to because researchers refuse to share it.
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Pardon Me

Is that really what's happening in this country nowadays? Is the President of the United States really going to pardon racist sheriffs who repeatedly break the law and willfully violate court orders? The President of the United States is pardoning Joe Arpaio for intentionally disregarding the courts of the United States when they repeatedly instructed him to stop using unlawful practices to target minorities.

We can leave aside how Arpaio is a racist who flouted the law at every opportunity. We have leave aside how Arpaio is so narcissistic he plotted a fake assassination attempt against himself then framed a man for it so he could get good publicity. We can leave aside how Arpaio is responsible for numerous deaths and the continued sexual abuse of many people, including children.

We can leave aside just how horrible a person Arpaio is. It won't change the nature of this case. Arpaio did used unlawful practices as sheriff to target a class of people he didn't like. The courts told him to stop. He responded (metaphorically), "Screw you!" The courts told him to stop again. And again. And again. Each time, he responded, "Screw you!" The courts finally got tired of this and recommended he be prosecuted. He was, and he was convicted.

Then Donald Trump came along and told the courts, "Screw you!" and pardoned Arpaio. Because apparently the President of the United States wants to defend individuals who intentionally engage in unlawful practices to target people he dislikes. Trump basically just told everyone who might want to target minorities, "Hey, don't worry about the courts telling you what you're doing is illegal. Just keep doing it. I've got your back."

I don't have the words.


Post about math is scheduled to go up tomorrow when I'll have time to discuss it/correct errors people might find. In the meantime, I want to share something which amuses me.

In the United States, people have the right to remain silent when questioned by the police. The Supreme Court has ruled to invoke this right, a person must unambiguously indicate they do no wish to speak to the police, such as by saying they want to remain silent. If they do so, the police cannot continue to interrogate them.

To invoke your right to remain silent, you must speak out. Being silent is not invoking your right to remain silent. In fact, remaining silent can actually be a waiver of your right to remain silent:

Thompkins makes various arguments that his answers to questions from the detectives were inadmissible. He first contends that he “invoke[d] his privilege” to remain silent by not saying anything for a sufficient period of time, so the interrogation should have “cease[d]” before he made his inculpatory statements. Id. , at 474; see Mosley , 423 U. S., at 103 (police must “ ‘scrupulously hono[r]’ ” this “critical safeguard” when the accused invokes his or her “ ‘right to cut off questioning’ ” (quoting Miranda , supra , at 474, 479)).

This argument is unpersuasive. In the context of invoking the Miranda right to counsel, the Court in Davis v. United States , 512 U. S. 452, 459 (1994) , held that a suspect must do so “unambiguously.” If an accused makes a statement concerning the right to counsel “that is ambiguous or equivocal” or makes no statement, the police are not required to end the interrogation, ibid. , or ask questions to clarify whether the accused wants to invoke his or her Miranda rights, 512 U. S., at 461–462.
Thompkins did not say that he wanted to remain silent or that he did not want to talk with the police. Had he made either of these simple, unambiguous statements, he would have invoked his “ ‘right to cut off questioning.’ ” Mosley , supra , at 103 (quoting Miranda , supra , at 474). Here he did neither, so he did not invoke his right to remain silent.

I can't get past this. Remaining absolutely silent for three hours while police interrogate you is not invoking your right to remain silent, but speaking out to say, "I don't want to talk to you" is.

Why Did the Civil War Happen?

My last post was more rambly than I care for so I'm going to take the time to make one more post on the subject of the Civil War before moving on. I mostly want to because over the last few days I've been derided, and even labeled a racist, for saying it is wrong to summarize the Civil War by saying, "The Civil War was fought over slavery."

Slavery was obviously an important factor in the Civil War, but for the first two years of the war, slaves weren't freed. More than one Union state had slaves during the war, and the last slaves to exist in the United States were actually ones held by members of the Union. To claim the war was just because of slavery is absurd.
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Not Math

I had a post scheduled to go live today to follow up on the mathematical discussion of my last post. However, the recent unrest in the United States over racial issues, particularly in how they relate to the Civil War, has provoked me to write a different post for today. If you're not interested in such things, or in what's bound to be a lot of rambling, I suggest skipping this.
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What is Correlation?

I've been struggling (a lot) with a series of posts I'm trying to write, and I recently realized the problem is I need to start at the beginning. These posts are supposed to be about how "correlation scores" are being misused and abused within the scientific community. The problem is, what are "correlation scores"? That's where we'll begin today.
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Red is Red, Blue is Blue

I'm supposed to have another post about mathematics going up today, but I can't figure out how to write it. I have all the calculations done, but some good news over the last couple weeks has left me in too energetic a mood to write about slow, detailed stuff. Rather than skip posting, I thought I'd do something different. Here is a recent headline:

Climate denial is like The Matrix; more Republicans are choosing the red pill

Based on that headline, what do you think the article would say? Specifically, how would a person make this comparison work? Continue reading