Which is the Freest Country on Earth?

An interesting index, which allows you to assign how much a given freedom matters to you. If you don't care about freedoms at all, the rankings are purely alphabetical. If you set all indicators to maximum -- you demand the greatest of all freedoms! -- the United States comes in 10th place.

If I set the indicators as seems right to me we rise to 5th place, which isn't so bad given the company (Switzerland, the Bahamas, Chile). The one I'd object to is Hong Kong, because they clearly don't appreciate how much Hong Kong is under the thumb of a much more oppressive state (China, #158 by my scale). But we still come in well above a number of places I'd be happy to consider living (like Iceland, New Zealand, Australia, Ireland, the UK...).

So if you accept the tradeoffs I am prepared to accept, we're in good shape judging by the company we keep. Of course, this assumes the accuracy of their ratings: the United States gets a corruption rating of 73% (higher is better), which may be doubtful given other recent conversations. The limited government rating for the USA is 48, which is shameful even if it is true -- and it might be over-generous after the ACA.

Your mileage may vary -- try it out.

The Advocate

Having just finished a very large undertaking, months or perhaps more than a year in the making, I am rewarding myself with a week or so to read things I just wish to read. The first thing that came to mind was Moby Dick, which I first read in China. I might not have ever read it, except for the wonderful censorship policy they had there at the time. Western literature was thought to probably contain some sort of suspect messaging, so the only English-language books you could find for sale were classics of approximately 100 years age. (The youngest I found, which I certainly read, was The Thirty-Nine Steps and Greenmantle by John Buchan, the latter of which is a surprisingly relevant treatment of an Islamic radical dated 1916, and also dated by its openly racist language).

A moment of praise for Chinese censors! They did me a world of good; in my time there, I read a host of classics of literature that I don't know I would have found time to read otherwise. Their motives were impure, but the effect on me can hardly be disputed: it was wholly positive.

In any case, in rereading Moby Dick I encountered this chapter with pleasure because it reminds me so much of several of you. It is praise for the capital, honest, workmanlike business of whaling -- horrifying to many, I suppose, in the way that fracking (and indeed whaling) are horrifying today.

CHAPTER 24. The Advocate.

As Queequeg and I are now fairly embarked in this business of whaling; and as this business of whaling has somehow come to be regarded among landsmen as a rather unpoetical and disreputable pursuit; therefore, I am all anxiety to convince ye, ye landsmen, of the injustice hereby done to us hunters of whales.
In the first place...

Whistleblowing at the Fed

Should we think differently about this Goldman-Sachs case than the Snowden case? Both involve a kind of basic disloyalty, a thieving of secrets not one's own, a revealing of them to the world in violation of trust and given word. Both were done (at least allegedly) out of a basic patriotism: the one because the government's spying apparatus had been turned on Americans in overwhelming ways and the violator thought the public ought to know; the other because the government had proven to be captured by the banks it was allegedly supposed to regulate, with the effect that both key institutions had become corrupt to the core. In both cases, the idea was that revealing it all to the public was the way to begin to right the ship.

If we think differently about it, it is because we think a primal loyalty is owed to the political system -- the nation state -- that is not owed to one's employer. That's a plausible distinction. We ordinarily hope that people who discover that their company is violating the state's laws will come forward and report them. Perhaps we should also hope that people who discover that their company is violating the country's basic system of beliefs, and is not violating the laws only because it has corrupted the laws, will also come forward and report it. The reporting agency is then the citizenry, because the government can't be trusted. It is implicated in the corruption.

Does that distinction hold up? Is there another valid difference? Or should we condemn or spare them as equivalent cases?

Changing life

This is a fascinating account of a stroke that affected a young woman's thalamus.  Don't worry; she seems to have come out pretty well in the end.


Earlier today when I was looking for background materials on gravity waves, I stumbled on a Wiki page listing some prominent unsolved problems in various fields of science, and very interesting they were, too:  most of them not purely armchair curiosities but specific examples of theoretical predictions that annoyingly fail to match the best experimental data we have so far.  Anyway, one of them was "homochirality," or the puzzling tendency of life on Earth to settle on either the right-handed or the left-handed version of various prominent biological molecules.  DNA helices, for instance, always twist in the same direction.  Was it a primordial accident that simply got copied and spread in the case of each molecule?

By coincidence, Not Exactly Rocket Science linked today to an article about a new idea on the subject: electrons are unusual elementary particles in that they have a consistent spin.  Electrons that are spit out in various reactions, such as beta decay (in which a neutron leaves a nucleus and decays into a proton, a neutrino, and an electron, previously bound together by the nuclear "weak force"), appear to exert a consistent, predictable twisting action on some biological molecules.
The researchers found that left-handed bromocamphor was just slightly more likely to react with right-handed electrons than with left-handed ones. The converse was true when they used right-handed bromocamphor molecules. At the lowest energies, the direction of the preference flipped, causing an opposite asymmetry.
In all cases the asymmetry was tiny, but consistent, like flipping a not-quite-fair coin. “The scale of the asymmetry is as though we flip 20,000 coins again and again, and on average, 10,003 of them land on heads while 9,997 land on tails,” says Dreiling.
Over evolutionary periods of time, even tiny assymmetries can add up.

Such a bad idea

I completely understand the desperate temptation to buy the blood of Ebola survivors, to get the advantage of their antibodies.  Hospitals have been using survivor serum, with some success, since the first Ebola cases in the 1970s.  But talk about procedures that won't "scale up"!  It's one thing for a first-world hospital to do transfusions with blood that's been subjected to tests for other diseases, especially when at most one patient, already in grave danger, will be exposed.  I hardly like to think what will happen if a large third-world population starts trading blood products willy-nilly.  Despite my preference for free markets, there are a few areas where I've always felt strong central controls make sense, and epidemiology is right up there.

Ebola very probably got a foothold in Africa in the first place, way back in the 20th century, because people didn't know any better than to initiate vaccination campaigns with not-particularly-sterilized reusable needles.  The first documented Ebola outbreak, in the 70s, was hugely amplified by the same problem:  Belgian nuns doing the best they could with reusable needles, only indifferently sterilized.  Direct blood-to-blood contact on a large scale could create an amazing Ebola nightmare, to say nothing of the other diseases it might inadvertently amplify.

Family Civil War, 2014 Edition

That was an amazing game. In the end, it was the Mighty Bulldogs.

Certain cousins, aunts, and uncles are just going to have to deal with it this year.

Fuel alternatives

It'll never work!  The infrastructure challenges are insurmountable! . . . OK, maybe they're not so bad, but fracking is evil.

We can confidently predict a concerted effort to prevent the development of a clean, reliable natural gas fuel for cars.

No Big Bang?

It hasn't been a good month for the Big Bang Theory.  First, a much-ballyhooed interpretation of data that was supposed, in March of this year, to demonstrate left-over gravity waves from the primordial explosion now turns out to have been premature.  Now, a respectable mathematician claims to have demonstrated that the usual explanation for the formation of a black hole is internally inconsistent, thus potentially calling into question another assumption critical to standard Big Bang mechanisms.

It's not at all clear I'll live long enough to see results from the Laser Interferometer Space Antenna (LISA), whose "projected" 2034 launch date can't inspire much confidence, but that's the sort of detection device that may be needed before we can clarify the business of whether gravity waves can be detected and, if so, what they show about events almost impossibly distant in space and time.  Work proceeds apace, but the project presents some staggering challenges.  For one thing, the interferometer array is intended to follow a trailing-Earth solar orbit, which means it will be seriously out there, and not amenable to casual repair like the Hubble telescope.

As for black holes and "Hawking radiation," I've never known what to think; it's another area in which I'm curious whether things will get cleared up in my lifetime.  By "cleared up," of course, I mean nailed down to the point where the explanations can penetrate even to laymen such as myself.  In the meantime, the events of this month are generating spirited discussions about the human temptation to cling to elegant theories when, as one commenter put it, sometimes Nature makes us erase the blackboard.

Credit is not a substitute for progress

This Weekly Standard article ostensibly is about Neil deGrasse Tyson's dishonesty, but on that subject it's a mere re-hash of a sordid record and a banal career.  The fresher material is this quotation from Peter Thiel:
Like technology, credit also makes claims on the future. "I will gladly pay you a dollar on Tuesday for a hamburger today" works only if a dollar gets earned byTuesday. A credit crisis happens when earnings disappoint and the present does not live up to past expectations of the future.

The current crisis of housing and financial leverage contains many hidden links to broader questions concerning long-term progress in science and technology. On one hand, the lack of easy progress makes leverage more dangerous, because when something goes wrong, macroeconomic growth cannot offer a salve; time will not cure liquidity or solvency problems in a world where little grows or improves with time. On the other hand, the lack of easy progress also makes leverage far more tempting, as unleveraged real returns fall below the expectations of pension funds and other investors.
This analysis suggests an explanation for the strange way the technology bubble of the 1990s gave rise to the real-estate bubble of the 2000s. After betting heavily on technology growth that did not materialize, investors tried to achieve the needed double-digit returns through massive leverage in seemingly safe real-estate investments. This did not work either, because a major reason for the bubble in real estate turned out to be the same as the reason for the bubble in technology: a mistaken but nearly universal background assumption about easy progress. Without fundamental gains in productivity (presumably driven by technology), real-estate values could not go up forever. Leverage is not a substitute for scientific progress.


Common Core remains a mystery, but there's no mystery about how disturbing it is to see two parents arrested and led out of school board meetings, or to see the rest of the crowd put up with it.

I may have mentioned before that I support vouchers and home schooling, not to mention casting an informed ballot in school board elections.

End Jedi Privilege

A heartfelt plea.

Beheaded in Oklahoma

No link to terror groups say the authorities, which is plausible given some definitions of what it means to be "linked to terror groups."

Good shooting by the COO, though.


Should we be outraged that Apple is making virtually unbreakable encryption a default option on iPhones?  I'm not seeing it.  Allahpundit argues that law enforcement should be able to get into your phone with a warrant.  I'm content to let people expose themselves to penalties for contempt if they refuse to unlock an encrypted phone and a warrant holds up on appeal.  Also, it's a little hard to take seriously claims that an encryption technique will stay unbreakable for long.

Sheep & Horses

Especially for Tex, but also anyone interested in her course on the history of English, some a tale from the Proto-Indo-European.

Cop shootings no one cares about

Some weeks back I posted about a fishy shooting of a black man by cops in a WalMart, which got practically zero coverage or comment.  Every time I found a brief update in the news, the story got a little uglier for the cops, but for some reason the event didn't resonate with the American public and now has dropped into a deep, dark hole.

This week videotape has surfaced of a white cop shooting a black guy in South Carolina about three weeks ago under nearly inexplicable circumstances.  Again, little apparent interest.

What in the world makes a murky case like Ferguson fertile ground for race riots and national posturing while these other two shootings fall right off the radar?  A cynical view might be that the Ferguson cop wasn't immediately disciplined, while the South Carolina cop was promptly fired and may face 20 years in prison, but that theory doesn't quite work:  as far as I could tell no one has suggested any disciplinary action in the WalMart shooting, which seems hunky-dory with both Al Sharpton and Eric Holder.

It's pretty clear no one should put me in charge of propaganda.  I lack the touch.

So That's How They Do It!

If, like me, you've been wondering how smugglers so easily pass by the US Border Patrol, at last there is video exposing their methods!

Three Hundred Percent

One of my old Iraq comrades used to be a big fan of a play called "Avenue Q." It was a kind of parody of Sesame Street. This was his favorite song:

I was thinking about this because of a headline I saw that suggests that 'Every man's a little bit rapist.'

To say that a frat boy is 300% more likely than other men on campus to rape a woman is to say that your control group is at least a little bit likely to rape a woman. After all, if a frat boy is 300% more likely than I am to rape a woman -- or even if he were three hundred times more likely -- nevertheless there's no problem. Zero multiplied by anything yields zero, which is the appropriate number of rapes.

It's only if any given man in the control group can be assigned a 'little rapist' factor that you can get the multiple to work. So, in pushing these numbers, we really need to conceptualize every man in college as having at least some rapist in his constitution.

How much? Well, according to the study you can read if you track back a couple of links, the figure for frat boys who admitted to rape or attempted rape is nine percent. Now one way of expressing that is that 91% of frat boys are not rapists. That means that 97% of the general population of college men are not rapists. That's a pretty substantial percentage. We may not be all the way to where we want to be, but we've still established that the overwhelming majority of these men don't commit rape.

But if we express it the way the headline expresses it, we can condemn all frat boys -- including the 91% who haven't raped anyone -- for being more rapist than the general population of men. By the same logic, we can condemn the whole population of college men -- 97% non-rapist -- as being part of a group that includes a statistical number of rapists.

Alternatively, you could say that your 97% of college men who never rape women are the norm. Then, of course, you can't make a statistical claim about how much more likely frat boys are to rape than normal college men -- presumably you would have to say that they are infinitely more likely to do so!

Fun with statistics. But there's a serious consequence to the way we end up conceptualizing college. Is it a place of tremendous sexual danger, with college men who are as a class statistically likely to rape young women? Or is it a place where, actually, almost every man you meet is the kind of man who doesn't rape? A lot hangs on that answer.

1st ID HQ to Deploy to Iraq for a Year

This is a really interesting deployment decision. In a way they're pushing the command down, since currently the ARCENT Deputy Commander is doing what the 1st ID CG will now be doing. In another way, although they're falling in on some existing structures and duties, it's very odd to split the headquarters the way they're going to do.

A serious commitment, though, and one that could very easily expand outward. Once you have a division headquarters in place, you have everything you need to insert several Brigade Combat Teams. 1/1 ID is in Kuwait already.

Cory Gardner goes too far

The DSCC has strong words to say about this vicious attack ad from Cory Gardner, the republican candidate for U.S. Senator from Colorado, who is running against Democratic incumbent Mark Udall.

It’s clear Congressman Cory Gardner’s campaign is struggling to overcome the damage done by his support for laws that could block a woman’s access to common forms of birth control, take away women’s personal health care decisions even in cases of rape or incest, and roll women’s health care rights back decades. It’s disgusting that Congressman Gardner would stoop as low as attacking Senator Mark Udall’s late father and it is beneath a candidate running for the U.S. Senate. Congressman Gardner should apologize to Senator Udall and his family and pull the ad off the air.
And yet if you watch the actual ad, you'll see that Gardner says his opponent, Mark Udall, is a nice guy who will never change the Senate, that he comes from a political family, and that his father ran for President.  Did you ever hear such a scurrilous attack?

Holder is out

I won't miss him, but this NPR article is a little valentine to his career.

Sound the Pibroch

Since we were talking about the Clancy firm, and lately have spoken much of Scotland, here is their retelling of Culloden:

The Highland Clearances were the great betrayal of the late 1700s, to which we owe a kind of debt for the good we got from those who came here. They were a grave betrayal, all the same.

'America & The Cycle of Neverending War'

I was kind of disappointed by the article, which I had hoped would refer to something a little more like this:

Finding out what's in it

Obamacare's been around for more than four years now, and I should have thought the many, many people who hate it like death would by now have discovered everything incredibly stupid that's written right into it.  But it turns out that massive new insanities are surfacing as the tens of thousands of pages of implementary regulations gradually come to light.  Here's a fabulous one:  all new plans must be Bronze, Silver, Gold, or Platinum, defined by their actuarial valuation.  Bronze means the average plan pays 60% of bills, Silver pays 70%, Gold 80%, and Platinum 90%.  I'll bet you would have assumed that Bronze was really 60-69% and so on.  Nope!  The "safe zone" is only 2% in either direction.  If your plan turns out to pay 65% on average, it's neither Bronze nor Silver and must be cancelled at the end of the year.  No problem, you'll just sign up for a new one, right?  Sure, but it will have all new terms to learn, and there's no guarantee that you'll keep your doctor or your hospital.  Not that there was any guarantee of that anyway, since we can all expect our networks to degrade steadily.

I really have to ask myself:  what kind of moron thought it was a good idea to make all plans fit within four bands and outlaw big chunks of actuarial rating that fall between them?

Speaking of things that aren't science

Never liked Tyson.  Liking him less and less, and shame on Wikipedia.

Cracks in ivy walls

There's getting to be so much education available on the Internet that I don't feel there are enough hours in the day to stuff into my head even the things I'm most interested in.  It's a shame how much time I wasted in school.

I'm interested to see what kind of market can be developed in selling education now, with so much of it free.  Of course the credentials are irrelevant to me, but not to a big potential market, so it should be feasible to charge for those.

Cupcake outlaws

Good to know I could start selling bread without breaking the law here in Texas.

Nine lives

Just as the main facade of this hotel is starting to tip over into the street, at 0:17, you can see a cat appear in an opening about halfway up, to the left of the "S" in "Towers."

The Strangest Civil War Argument I've Ever Heard

At the end of this piece on that pro-secession poll, the author posits a cause of the war that I've never heard anyone float.
Much of the fervor for war in 1860 was driven by a moral crusade against slavery. Some of it was fueled by patriotism, and some by state, local, and even just family affinities.

At the highest level, however, Lincoln recognized that the cosmopolitan North—teeming with immigrants, churning with class conflict, surging into the prairie and mountain west—would have lacked a logic of unity if the South were permitted to break off in peace. The Southerners had history, ethnicity, culture, slavery, religion, and a quasi-aristocratic honor society to hold them together.

What did the North have?

Not much more than we have today. Although the spell of American superpower and an almighty government is in some ways more dominant than ever, the moment that spell is broken, many will find themselves in a kind of freefall of political principle.
So Lincoln fought the war because the North lacked any other organizing principle?

I understand the argument for slavery as cause. I understand the argument for economics as cause. I understand the argument for culture as cause. My own sense is that all of those things were factors in the tension that led to the conflict, but that the proximate cause -- the thing that made a war necessary, and a peaceful secession impossible -- was the union of technology and geography. No President of the United States in 1860 could accept control of the port city at the mouth of the Mississippi river passing to the hands of a foreign power. Before the proliferation of railroads, before trucks and interstates, before airplanes, there was no alternative to the Mississippi to move the wealth of the middle of the country to market. It was as critical a national interest of the United States then as access to warm-water ports has always been to Russia.

Quite possibly it still is.

It would never have occurred to me, though, that the North couldn't have held itself together except on the principle that the Constitution was a suicide pact. Nobody gets out alive, because then the whole thing would fall apart!

Carry a Sharp Stick but Then Speak Softly

This Ain't Hell links to a heartwarming tale of a Texas homeowner who defended his (small) home with a spear. Probably took the Havamal literally: "Unsure is the knowing when need shall arise / Of a spear on the way without." Or within, either. But he should've paid attention to another part: "The hasty tongue sings its own mishap / If it be not bridled in."

In the TV interview he handled himself well but admitted that the intruder appeared to be unarmed. Now I'm convinced he was still in the right -- just looking at the invader's size, I'd say the homeowner was properly in fear of life and limb; and he stopped stabbing when the intruder retreated, which looks good on him (it shows he was after "defense" and not "revenge"). But intimate facts like that don't need to be spoken out in the open air which is full of police and prosecutors too. If someone wants to make an issue out of it (and in some places, the difference in races alone would make that likely), better to make the prosecution prove what did or didn't appear, rather than to offer it as a gift to the public.

I wouldn't wish a home invasion on anyone, but if I were faced with that situation and the press came 'round for an interview, I'd take my advice from the firm of Clancy and Makem.

Is Oklahoma next?

The shale boom that has transformed the economies of Texas and North Dakota may be about to hit Oklahoma.

The Autumn King

Hail the Equinox, and the coming of Autumn! No day of the year is more welcome in Georgia. This has been a difficult, but productive, summer. I am glad to bring it to a close, and complete its work.

Since Cassandra was reminding us of him, some of you might wonder how King Arthur Pendragon is celebrating the Equinox. He's celebrating at Stonehenge, of course. Would I could join him -- I imagine it's quite a party.

Horns of a dilemma

An interesting perspective on the Scottish independence vote at Protein Wisdom, starting with the reflection that Scotland can't have a socialist paradise if it continues to belong to the UK, or the funds to pay for it if it doesn't.  Beyond that, though, the votes didn't break down quite the way everyone expected.  Generally, for instance, my impression was that older voters said "no" while young ones said "yes," but it turns out that the very youngest voters said "no" by 57%.  Also, the Labour Party was officially against independence, possibly because the UK Parliament stood to lose so many Labour members if it lost the Scottish contingent, but the rank and file tended to vote "yes."

Death Threats and the "Sex-Positive" Blogger

So let's say you were to read that a "sex-positive" blogger was forced to go underground and shut down her efforts for a while because she was getting death threats. Who would you suppose would be the most likely candidates to be sending such threats?
The trouble began Friday when Green received a message from Tumblr user doctorswithoutboners accusing her of transphobia:

“Hi Laci. Why do you use the word ‘tranny’ in your video about Haters from 2009? … You really shouldn't be using that word as a cis girl and it's really disappointing for the people who look up to you.”

Green conceded her mistake and apologized (emphasis her own):

“Probably because I was 18 and ignorant. You are totally right and I sincerely apologize for my mistake. Before I educated myself about trans issues I had not the slightest inkling of how the word is used to dehumanize nor its place in the cycle of violence against transfolk. Now I have seen people hurt by it and seen it used as a nasty slur. Words have power, and ‘tranny’ is not a word for anybody but transfolk themselves to use because only they can reclaim it. If I knew that was in a video, it would have been long long ago removed. Consider it banished forever.”

Green took down the video, but some Tumblr users apparently didn’t find this adequate, also citing an apparent opinion Green once made about sexism and Islam.

The blogger tweeted she’d spent the morning on the phone with police and was becoming deeply concerned for her safety.
Good job, Robespierre. That'll teach her to agree with you.

I'm not sure how 'sex-positive' I am, although I certainly approve of sex in its proper and well-reasoned bounds. I'm sure not going to be forced to adhere to anyone's special-snowflake vocabulary about how I allegedly have to refer to them. Her mistake was apparently caring what they thought enough to listen to them and show some sensitivity to their feelings. Once they smelled out that she could be intimidated, it was time to pile on.

Or, as John Wayne put it: "Never apologize. It's a sign of weakness."

What we heard at the People's March

Via Reason Magazine, via HotAir:
“We live in a grotesque era where we have everything we want right now,” one protester told Foster, graciously packaging her entire movement up in one self-hating nutshell.

Getting over the bad boyfriend

Good political ad.  "I'm stuck with him for two more years, I know that.  But I'm not stuck with his friends."

Another reason not to overwithhold taxes

IRS refund checks have never been part of my life, since I go to great lengths never to have too much tax withheld, or to have any withheld at all if I can help it.  This is simple matter, in my case, of not wishing to loan the government money interest-free, but it turns out there's another good reason not to do it.  It's fantastically easy for criminals to file electronic tax returns in your name and claim a fraudulent tax refund.  The con man in the video linked here found that about 40% of the dozens of returns he used to file every week would be paid within 7 days.  When the real taxpayer later files a return seeking a refund, he finds that he will have to spend months standing in line and fighting with the IRS to prove his identity.

Have a Smoke, Brother

The NYT says:
THIS weekend, the singer and songwriter Leonard Cohen is celebrating his 80th birthday — with a cigarette. Last year he announced that he would resume smoking when he turned 80. “It’s the right age to recommence,” he explained.

At any age, taking up smoking is not sensible. Both the smoker and those who breathe his secondhand smoke can suffer not only long-term but acute health problems, including infections and asthma. And yet, Mr. Cohen’s plan presents a provocative question: When should we set aside a life lived for the future and, instead, embrace the pleasures of the present?
I took up smoking cigars when I went to Iraq, and largely -- nearly entirely -- gave it up after coming back. But I figured, how much worse could the cigar be than the polluted, dust-filled air we were breathing anyway? And it was the only pleasure General Order #1 licensed, so we often smoked cigars together in the rare moments of rest. Finally, when the sky drops rockets and mortars and heavy-caliber rounds on you regularly, who gives a damn about the threat of cancer twenty years on?

Now that I'm home, and for as long as I stay, I'll smoke less -- as I said, very nearly not at all. Just once in a while, to remember bold men and brothers. That's worth any tiny risk coming from the rare single smoke, that memory almost like being with them once again.

Most likely I'll be lucky to live long enough for it to threaten me, as has always been the case. Best to live that way, anyhow. Cuts down on the meddlers trying to tell you how you ought to live.

Orpheus In The Underworld

Two armed “polygamist women” dressed like “ninjas” were subdued by a sword-wielding man during a home invasion, according to police in suburban Utah....

The women “violently attacked one of the adult males in the house who came to see who was coming,” Ian Adams of the West Jordan police department told the Guardian.

“Another adult male joined the fray in defense of the first male victim. He was armed with a sword, and using a sword…”

“I went to the bottom of the stairs and saw a couple of ninjas coming down,” the man was quoted as saying. “They were all dark gray or black, and they had black rubber gloves on and masks. All I could see was their eyes.”
Cassandra couldn't dream so well as that.

Attorney-Client Privilege?

So, what happened here?
The FBI wiretapped 2 conversations and one voicemail defense investigators for Mohamed Osman Mohamud had with Khan in June 2011 and then handed those recordings over to the prosecutor who prosecuted Mohamud and is prosecuting Khan.

In a filing in April, Khan’s lawyers moved to obtain information about the government’s minimization procedures. They pointed to 4 different privileged conversations that had been included in discovery...

While all this doesn’t explain what the tie between Khan and Mohamud is — in its response, the government actually claims it is “unrelated” and that it was not handed over to prosecutors until after the conclusion of Mohamud’s case (which would mean it wasn’t provided to the prosecutor before he indicted Khan) — it does make it clear that the government would share the privileged conversations of one defendant with that defendant’s prosecutor via the prosecution of another defendant under FISA.

Transparent rigor

A surprisingly sane take on climate science from a guy who was politically connected enough to serve as Energy Undersecretary in Pres. Obama's first term:
We can and should take steps to make climate projections more useful over time. An international commitment to a sustained global climate observation system would generate an ever-lengthening record of more precise observations. And increasingly powerful computers can allow a better understanding of the uncertainties in our models, finer model grids and more sophisticated descriptions of the processes that occur within them. The science is urgent, since we could be caught flat-footed if our understanding does not improve more rapidly than the climate itself changes.
A transparent rigor would also be a welcome development, especially given the momentous political and policy decisions at stake. That could be supported by regular, independent, "red team" reviews to stress-test and challenge the projections by focusing on their deficiencies and uncertainties; that would certainly be the best practice of the scientific method. But because the natural climate changes over decades, it will take many years to get the data needed to confidently isolate and quantify the effects of human influences.
Policy makers and the public may wish for the comfort of certainty in their climate science. But I fear that rigidly promulgating the idea that climate science is "settled" (or is a "hoax") demeans and chills the scientific enterprise, retarding its progress in these important matters. Uncertainty is a prime mover and motivator of science and must be faced head-on. It should not be confined to hushed sidebar conversations at academic conferences.
Society's choices in the years ahead will necessarily be based on uncertain knowledge of future climates. That uncertainty need not be an excuse for inaction. There is well-justified prudence in accelerating the development of low-emissions technologies and in cost-effective energy-efficiency measures.
But climate strategies beyond such "no regrets" efforts carry costs, risks and questions of effectiveness, so nonscientific factors inevitably enter the decision. These include our tolerance for risk and the priorities that we assign to economic development, poverty reduction, environmental quality, and intergenerational and geographical equity.
Individuals and countries can legitimately disagree about these matters, so the discussion should not be about "believing" or "denying" the science. Despite the statements of numerous scientific societies, the scientific community cannot claim any special expertise in addressing issues related to humanity's deepest goals and values. The political and diplomatic spheres are best suited to debating and resolving such questions, and misrepresenting the current state of climate science does nothing to advance that effort.
Any serious discussion of the changing climate must begin by acknowledging not only the scientific certainties but also the uncertainties, especially in projecting the future. Recognizing those limits, rather than ignoring them, will lead to a more sober and ultimately more productive discussion of climate change and climate policies. To do otherwise is a great disservice to climate science itself.