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Monday links

  • America’s largest bank joins the war on cash. This isn’t surprising, but nevertheless darned scary, especially considering it’s also a war on gold and silver coins.
  • Since we don’t have a full name for this guy, I wouldn’t yet take this story as gospel. But if true, tragic (and stupidly so on the part of dog-breed bigots). Danish man kills himself after his dog is forcibly euthanized.
  • For those who can stomach a once-secret report on surveillance. (Tip o’ hat to MJR)
  • Seven epic fails of environmental predictions.
  • And five phony fields of forensics.
  • One more reason not to live in California (did you really need another one?): you can be busted for a Swiss Army knife. (H/T H) But they probably won’t break your neck for it. Guess you could be grateful for that.
  • Like to try to close with a little humor. But I’m not sure whether this is funny or not: you and your smartphone, perception vs reality.


  1. MamaLiberty
    MamaLiberty April 27, 2015 7:41 am

    Ha!!! I don’t have a “smart phone,” and don’t want one. The computer is bossy enough, but it can’t follow me everywhere. 🙂

    As for forensics, extend that suspension of trust to any testing. Those conducting the testing are merely human beings. Even those who work for private enterprise are apt to get lazy or complacent unless closely supervised and held personally accountable. That, of course, is nearly impossible when the tests are performed in a government facility with government employees. Without the pressure of the free market, there is precious little accountability or transparency.

    Millions of people trust the results of medical testing every day. We don’t hear much about their error rate, and only occasionally when a bad string of errors or malfeasance is revealed. But as someone who dealt with the labs, technicians and the results over long years, I can confidently state that, if the results are critical to your health, you had best get a second, even a third test – from a completely different lab – whether the results are bad or good. A false negative is of no use any more than a false positive, and heaven knows the sample may never actually have been tested at all. Worst case scenario, of course, and only you can determine on what and whom you bet your life.

  2. Ken Hagler
    Ken Hagler April 27, 2015 7:44 am

    California actually has pretty good knife laws. It appears that Mr. Castillolopez’s actual offense was Driving While Brown. Cops really hate that.

  3. Paul Bonneau
    Paul Bonneau April 27, 2015 9:25 am

    I used to get caught up in environmental crazes. This is definitely a “boy who cries wolf” scenario. I don’t think it’s impossible for some catastrophe to happen, the record shows that the cause of mass deaths of humans is almost invariably other humans. The defense against that is a battle rifle, heh.

    I wrote a little article that is germane:

    Part of the picture of the forensic analysis fakery is the jury. Keep in mind these people are indoctrinated all their lives by watching programs (e.g., “Bones”) where amazing stories can be constructed just by the close examination of a corpse. Their bullshit detectors are no longer working.

  4. Bear
    Bear April 27, 2015 11:28 am

    That forensic junk science piece missed another one: bullet composition. The idea that they can match a crime scene bullet to a box of cartridges possessed by a suspect based on chemical analysis- alloys, trace contaminants. Sounds good, but when people tried actually testing the idea under controlled “scientific method” conditions, it turned out not to work so well. Partly because the lead alloys specified are so precise that bullets from different manufacturers could “match”. Partly because when there are composition variations, it can vary within a single batch (poor mixing). Then figure that all cartridges in a given box weren’t necessarily assembled from sets of components that all came from single batches, and the analysis is pretty damned useless, except to state a degree of probability (as opposed to the dead — pun intended — certainty that the “expert” witnesses like to declare).

    It’s worth noting that positive identification by DNA is still not 100% either. Yet. It’s based on looking for known markers at certain points in the genome. As more markers are identified, the probability of a positive match goes up, but right now just differentiating between regular siblings takes extensive testing — nothing like the quickie tests you see in TV crime shows. Identical twins? Forget it; they can’t tell them apart at all, although someone is working on a way of tracking specific genes that get activated or deactivated in response to environmental cues, changes that might be different in twins after years of life apart.

    DNA exclusion can be pretty definite. “Sorry, the forensic sample shows markers found only in sub-Saharan males, and your suspect is a white guy without that marker.”

  5. LarryA
    LarryA April 27, 2015 9:39 pm

    •Seven epic fails of environmental predictions.

    It’s too bad we don’t have a database of environmentalist’s predictions, so we could give scientists a batting average the way we do baseball players.

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