Daniel Eran Dilger
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Fraud science used to promote Flash performance over web standards

Daniel Eran Dilger

A report purporting to vindicate the performance of Adobe’s Flash plugin in comparison to open standards broke through the weak editorial barriers of the tech community yesterday. It’s wrong, here’s why.
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The report was created by Jan Ozer, a proponent of Flash who makes his living selling books and seminars about Adobe’s technologies. The original article is even interrupted by an advertisement promoting Ozer’s “Streaming Production and Flash Delivery Workshop.”

After noting Ozer’s bias, one site commenting on it wrote, “we don’t think that [his bias] has any effect on the test outcomes [his report presented].”

The problem wasn’t that Ozer faked data to promote Flash; some of his findings actually indicate that even the early beta implementations of HTML5 beat the latest version of Flash in video playback tests. The real issue is that Ozer framed the debate around an absurd premise to shift the conversation from real issues to contrived garbage.

Flash Player: CPU Hog or Hot Tamale? It Depends.

A press release of fake science

Coverage of Ozer’s press release uncritically reported his findings that certain browsers were no better (or at least not much better) at rendering video from YouTube via Google’s experimental HTML5/H.264 site than via the standard Flash version of YouTube.

Ozer detailed only the reported “CPU Utilization” for his test Mac running Safari, Chrome, and Firefox browsers, and a PC running the same three browsers in addition to Internet Explorer. He compared the performance of Flash 10 with the latest Flash 10.1, and contrasted HTML5 playback on browsers that supported that as an alternative to Flash, not too subtly suggesting that HTML5 and H.264 were riddled with problems that inspire fear, uncertainty and doubt, while Flash simply works everywhere.

However, his results made no comment on the visual quality of Google’s Flash vs raw H.264 implementations. Previous tests I performed indicate that Google’s beta version of YouTube running HTML5 delivers raw H.264 video with remarkably better picture equality compared to the HD version of its Flash video for the same file. You can see for yourself by viewing anything on YouTube in “HD quality” via both Flash and HTML5.

Additionally, Ozer seemed to gloss over the fact that his tests really say next to nothing about the efficiency and performance of the Flash runtime compared to the use of open standards, because he wasn’t testing Flash content rendering, but really only the playback of video data delivered via a Flash wrapper.

To deliver video, Flash really isn’t doing anything special. That’s why browsers supporting HTML5 can do this themselves without needing something like Flash (or its doppelgänger, Microsoft’s Silverlight).

HTML5 savvy browsers like Safari and Chrome can also animate content and even (with a little more work) do the kinds of fancy interactive apps and games that Flash was originally targeted toward, all using open web specifications.

Why Apple is betting on HTML 5: a web history
Flash Wars: Adobe in the History and Future of Flash

The Flash problem

Flash is promoted by Adobe as being a great way to create everything from simple website navigation and interactive content to full-blown Rich Internet Apps. Using Flash is an alternative to using open web standards to build these types of content.

The problem is that when content creators built stuff using Flash, they’re locking up their code in a form that can only be rendered by Adobe’s sanctioned Flash Player plugin. Nobody else can create their own legitimate implementation of Adobe’s Flash Player because Flash isn’t an open specification. It’s a proprietary technology fully owned by Adobe.

That’s a problem for Apple because it wants web-based content to play back well on everything from the Mac to its iPhone platform. If content is created in Flash, that means Apple has to wait powerlessly for Adobe to fix the situation in its Flash Player plugin, something that Adobe (and Macromedia before it) consistently failed to deliver for the Mac platform over the last decade. Apple gave up on Flash in the mobile realm in part to hasten the development of open alternatives.

Flash content also forces Mozilla, Opera, and the other WebKit developers outside of Apple to similarly sit back and idly support Adobe’s poorly performing Flash platform in preference to independently optimizing the rendering of open web standards that were designed to scale better from desktops to mobile devices.

Adobe’s current mobile strategy has literally emerged just over the last year or two, largely in panicked response to the iPhone. Prior to that, Adobe was pushing the joke that is Flash Lite on mobile platforms, and a different version of Flash on PC desktops.

Ten Myth of Apple’s iPad: 2. iPad needs Adobe Flash
An Adobe Flash developer on why the iPad can’t use Flash

Ideological fraud science

Much like Microsoft and its new Windows Phone 7 initiative, Adobe is hoping everyone will forget that it has done an abysmal job in deploying appropriate mobile technology over the past decade, and has its fingers crossed that everyone will abandon the much better options that have become available over the past few years and instead turn back to subservient dependance upon refreshed version of 1990s monoculture instead.

Much of the ignorant tech media is actually cheering on this absurdity, which is a bit like right wingers hailing more Reganomic deregulation even as the economy fell into ruin due to misguided efforts at putting financial institutions (rather than the law) in charge of regulating themselves in the first place.

In both cases, ideologues are quick to leap upon the most ridiculous fraud science in order to support what they’ve been told they should shill. Ozer’s “report” on Flash conveniently ignores the real problems (which include both replacing the open web with a closed plugin architecture owned by Adobe, and Adobe’s terrible performance in building and delivering this).

Instead, he creates a strawman problem (suggesting that Apple is accusing Flash of being really bad at simply delivering H.264 video in comparison to open HTML5, and then attempting to show that’s not the case at all) while launching a conspiracy theory (that Apple is out to get Flash for malicious reasons) and a dramatic morality play (that Apple ought to instead work to invest its efforts into making Flash play slightly better, so Ozer can keep writing books about Flash for his captive audience of Flash creators and users).

HTML5 assault on Adobe Flash heats up with ClickToFlash

The truth is that Flash is irrelevant in the future

What Ozer should do instead is present the plain truth that Flash is a terrible platform for creating web content because it violates everything the web was designed to do: openly share content using openly documented specifications that any vendor can implement in competitive ways that advance the state of the art in hyperlinked, multimedia communications. Flash smothers the web with closed binaries that require Adobe’s interest to play back.

Additionally, Ozer should stop presenting half-truths comparing Google’s currently experimental version of H.264 playback with its refined existing implementation of Flash. Ozer fails to admit that Flash isn’t primarily a video distribution system, nor that video playback is really where Flash really exhibits its “CPU hog” problem. Flash is an interactive content platform that rivals the open web. Trying to subtly suggest there is not really a problem with Flash is the opposite of being honest.

Anyone can open a web page embedding a simple Flash visual and watch their CPU performance tank in real time as Flash Player is called upon to render a simple interactive graphic. Render the same element using JavaScript, and the browser itself can deliver optimizations and enhancements that cause it to play faster or more efficiently.

This is already the case in Safari and Chrome, where much work has been invested into making JavaScript execute many times faster than previous generations of browsers. Flash is really just an alternative version of JavaScript sold by Adobe that nobody else can enhance or accelerate on their own.

By presenting trickery in numbers, Ozer is playing the same role as climate change doubters: creating a distraction that lasts just long enough to turn the conversation away from meaningful changes and toward a false controversy that invents blame where none exists. In Ozer’s case, he deflects real criticism of the terrible performance of Flash (particularly on mobile devices) in order to shift the conversation to one that demonizes Apple for not rescuing Adobe from its own terrible implementation of its Flash platform.

Rather than encouraging developers to use open standards for creating interactive web content, and imploring Adobe to drop its dead end Flash runtime acquired at great cost from Macromedia and instead focus on creating tools for modern and open web standards, Ozer attempts to instead suggest that Apple is a bad company for not focusing most of its efforts into shoring up the performance of a fatally flawed web-alternative so that Adobe can serve as the sole beneficiary of all web development going forward, without actually doing anything but tainting the web with a proprietary binary trap.

Shame on you, Mr. Ozer. … and all of you in the tech media who gobbled up his fraud science while remarking how delicious it was.

  • kilroywashere

    luis,

    ummm. who do you think ran the soviet block? It was socialists. Socialism has always been a mechanism for the intellectual class to convince the poor masses to revolt against their established leadership and put the intellectual class in charge. They continue that behavior to this day.

    Why in the world would you admire a system that puts a handful of elite people in charge of dictating how the average person lives?

    I certainly don’t want somebody like Al Gore telling me what I can drive, what I can eat, where I can live and what medicine I take.

    The only way I understand the fascination with socialism that developed in intellectual circles in the early 20th century is to realize that the whole concept played into their egos. They think they are the smartest people and should therefore be in charge of running everything.

    I often see claims that this country or that country does well with socialism…you’ll pardon me if I’m skeptical of such claims on the surface based on what I know about socialism. I do live in the Socialist Republic of California and I can assure that it has been a disaster here. The state is in shambles. I used to live in the Socialist Republic of Pennsylvania. It was no picnic there either. I grew up in Louisiana which has a long history of populist socialism going back to Huey Long. I can tell you that the place was a cesspool of public corruption and abuse of the common man by the aristocratic elite who ran everything.

    As for “greenest”, I don’t buy into that whole fad. That fad is cultivated by people who need religion in their lives, but rather than picking a real one, they create one in which meaning and purpose in life is derived by their roles in “saving the planet.” All that nonsense is no different than a fundamentalist running around saying “believe in Jesus and be saved”…sounds great as a mantra, but totally useless in practice.

    BTW: one of my junior engineers lives in Rotterdam. He tells me that Amsterdam is quite code this year. I wouldn’t go around saying the place doesn’t freeze any more.

  • http://themacadvocate.com TheMacAdvocate

    Were there 5 comments that had to do with the article? I guess that’s the price Dan’s going to pay for bifurcating his readers along OS and political axes. It’s a shame that some meaningful back-and-forth about tech has to obscured by a couple of offhand comments in the body of the article.

    I love your writing Dan, but every one of those polarizers adds 30 cruft comments that take away from it.

    Just sayin’.

  • JohnWatkins

    “Were there 5 comments that had to do with the article?”
    Well TheMacAdvocate,
    By your observation that means I am responsible for 40% of on topic comments ( although I would not agree,) and yet I was still attacked by the Wacko RustyZipper (apparently thoughts on empowering participants to filter out psychotic rantings makes me “a lefty” — or was it my thoughts on Flash and the bias of Jan Ozer?)
    I don’t think its Dan’s fault some some people are immature, inflexible, and intolerant of ‘other,’ as you seem to contend. It appears to me your comments are only about 10% on topic. Did you have anything to say, or did you just want to whine about Dan’s writing and blame him for the actions of obvious trolls?

  • kilroywashere

    I wouldn’t have even bothered taking the time to create an account if I hadn’t once again had to endure a condescending remark directed at me just because I dare to not fall in line with the high-minded thinking of san francisco liberals.

  • rufustfirefly

    I think Daniel might have made a very valid point about “junk technology” not junk science, in relation to Flash. The discussion about junk science in other areas, like the banning of DDT, global warming, the air regulations against diesel engines in California by the Air Regulation Board, is related. Junk science and junk tech should all be analyzed and exposed. Junk is junk whether it is science or tech. And Daniel does go out of his way to create the political debate when he makes gratuitous and uninformed comments in the political realm where his knowledge is not deep – like it is with Apple. That is OK though. Political debate is good, and is better than silencing debate, or just cutting it off with the lame technique of just name calling to end discussion when your arguments run out. So, I say it is fine. How many of the posters on this board who live in California knew that the main scientist responsible for producing the scientific reports for the Calif Air Resources Board bought his PhD at a UPS store. And then, when this was discovered by real scientists, the CARB demoted, but did not fire the fake scientist who had lied in his job application. Makes you wonder about the standards for Government Employment. Have a great weekend all.

  • kilroywashere

    Quite frankly….I’d rather be walking around a wal-mart in Tulsa, Oklahoma rather than walking around Market Street in San Francisco dodging the smelly drunkards and moochers that wander around there shoving their hands into your face….and don’t get me started on the Tenderloin. That place is a cesspool.

    I go to SF once a year for WWDC and I have to shake my head at what I see. I can’t believe such a thing exists in the wealthiest nation that has ever existed.

  • rufustfirefly

    JohnWatkins – your whining is unmanly. Quit the lame talk about trolls after you spend half your time taking cheap shots. You love trolls. You are a troll.

  • harrywolf

    Evolution is a heavily-researched idea about how creatures (including humans) developed on this planet.
    Creationism is a fantasy based around fear of death.
    Neither is ‘proven’ beyond doubt, but they arent really comparable, are they? One is a decent attempt to understand, the other is paranoia.

    Flash is a way of delivering content that depends on, and is the property of, one company.
    HTML etc. is a way of delivering content that depends on many people and isnt the property of anyone.
    Obviously a monopoly is NOT preferable to open source, especially when neither has an advantage.

    Global warming is unproven and so far remains so. Its an emotive issue and isnt really ready for prime-time debate. It is monetized however, and money makes truth irrelevant.

    Global Capitalism however is proven to be a BAD idea, and is heavily monetized and emotive – impossible to debate at all, common sense and truth vanished long ago.

    In the end, its all about co-operative behaviour or competitive behaviour. The choice should be yours, but it isnt because Darwin said that only the fittest survive and we have been fighting and eating each other ever since.
    Why we base all our lives on Darwin (not even an original thinker), and Newton, a documenter of the obvious, is beyond me.

    911 and Muslim extremists are two ENTIRELY unconnected concepts, Dan. The supposed connection is an invention of the media.
    Please consider (or reconsider) the rather obvious arguments for a ‘false flag’ operation on 911.

    And finally, if any of you Americans want to understand the USA, move to another continent for a while and look back. You may be shocked.

  • harrywolf

    @ rustfirefly:

    ‘unmanly’ means what exactly? Womanly perhaps?
    Where are you going with this?
    Stop digging now, that hole looks awfully deep…..

  • JohnWatkins

    Take your meds Rusty.

  • http://www.tofinotime.com tofino

    back to flash – i remember there was a time when you could set quicktime to handle flash. can you enlighten me how that was accomplished and why that’s no longer the case? it’s been a long time, and i seem to recall there were problems – i think it could only handle flash 4 (?) and below. was the flash player spec more open at some point? maybe during the macromedia days? what changed? thanks.

  • olambo

    @ ulicar
    I sometimes find your comments more entertaining than Daniel’s original prose. Don’t run away and why don’t you create your own blog.

  • luisd

    Kilroy,

    You are all confused and unwilling to listen to other points of view. A discussion is impossible that way.

    There is a big difference between socialism and soviet communism… But that is irrelevant, as you are entrenched in your point of view.

    There is not such a thing as socialism in the US. Not even in California. You guys have the right wing party and the ultra right wing party. You have been fed (since the days of the cold war) the idea that anything to do with socialism is bad, and equates to the destruction of your moral system. The ultra-right wing party uses this feelings deeply carved in the american psyche to discredit the right wing party, by calling it socialist. It is just like calling them names!

    About Rotterdam… I am confused. I few posts ago you were saying that the weather is changing since millennia. But in this last comment you are saying the opposite (or at least the tone seems to have changed to “my mate told me the weather in a city he is not living in at the moment is cold, hence the weather in the whole world is not changing”). Is this the way you ” read and understand scientific information”? It seems a bit bias depending on the point you want to make…

  • Joel

    I somehow think Roughlydrafted needs an “Ignore” button…

    “ummm. who do you think ran the soviet block? It was socialists.”

    Thanks for giving me my morning chuckle. Its good to know there’s a new bogey man haunting the USA. Used to the British, turned into the Commies, and for a while it was the Terrarists with silly hats. Now its the Socialists…! Always gotta be scared by someone…!

  • gslusher

    @rufustfirefly: “Your lame attempt to bring up “facts” like the iPhone, iPad, etc. is just a sad indication of your denialism. It is over for Apple.”

    Perhaps you’re trying to be sarcastic/funny–maybe I’m just too old (62) and too stupid (I only have 3 degrees from MIT), so I don’t recognize tongue-in-cheek. However, a minor “fact” is that Apple just became the third-largest company in the US in terms of market capitalization. Apple ($205.48B) moved ahead of Wal-Mart ($205.09B) and Berkshire-Hathaway ($202.2B), but still behind Exxon ($315.38B) and Microsoft ($256.71B). To put things in perspective, Google’s market cap is $184.28B, Amazon’s is $58.6B. During a deep recession, Apple has continually grown and shown quite a few record quarters, including the latest. That’s an odd fact for a company that’s “done.”

  • twujr

    @rustusfirefly via gslusher:

    Not only does Apple have the third-larges market cap, but is a company that has earned that position by profitably making tangible products. When you examine the kind folks from Redmond, they appear to lose money on each physical item they produce. (I’ll capitulate they make money on having someone press and box DVDs for them.) There is a completely different league of product complexity between writing software (albeit very complex software) and producing something as simple as an iPhone which is composed of very complex software, custom and custom-packaged technology, manufacturing budgets, infrastructure partnerships, network integration, multi-supplier manufacturing partnerships, fulfillment, etc. That they can do this and rank #1 in customer support is even more of a singularity in the market.

    If it was so easy to bring a new, market-defining product to market then I would have expected working tablet-format computers and the Windows Phone Series 7 long before now. Examine what happened with the JooJoo tablet (whatever it was going to be or is now named): the inventors couldn’t have it manufactured anywhere near the price point they originally told everyone they would hit.

    I feel confident enough in the iPad to speculate $700 that it will do what I need and help me build my business and produce a healthy ROI on this investment.

    Sorry for using big words. I happened to drop out of college twice.

    t

  • http://themacadvocate.com TheMacAdvocate

    @JohnWatkins

    My point is that illustrating your arguments by making politically charged analogies is going to attract trolling. I’m fine with Dan doing whatever Dan feels like doing: I’ll read him regardless. I’m just offering a little practical advice for maintaining a readership and warding off trolls.

    You may want to be more familiar with my body of comments before you use pejorative words like “blaming” and “whining”, but I will say they do indicate a level of insight consistent with your other “contributions”. Stick to your knitting, John.

  • berult

    I love Science; it weighs, measures, estimates, projects, postulates, describes, ponders… It’s all pure discipline.
    I love Journalism; it weighs, measures, estimates, projects, postulates, describes, ponders… It’s all pure discipline.

    I love Scientists and Journalists; they over and under weigh, measure up and measure down, over and under estimate, project, postulate, describe, ponder… in a pure undisciplined, human way.

    There is a conflictual relationship between reality and its human vectors. Let me illustrate the reality conundrum by asking a question:
    which one of the following two scenarios would have achieved the best end result, the greater positive impact on the Planet in terms of its environment?

    -Al Gore and Joe Lieberman summon the then left-leaning Supreme Court for a ruling on the Florida vote count in 2000. They prevail. Gore and Lieberman can drive their environment agenda through at least one term and manage to keep control over Supreme Court nominations. Having been out of the White House for eight years, Republicans and Rightists are up in arms and dispute the very legitimacy of their Administration. Hence internal strife bordering on civil war makes it immensely hard to push through any kind of agenda, let alone a progressive environmental one. And then there is Joe Lieberman; I’ll leave it at that. It takes guts, intelligence, humility, patience, gravitas, and more to take the Helm in such troubled waters . Above all else, you have to believe that you do what is right for America even if It sends you to your political grave and to the dustbin of History. It is risk taking at the highest level of human endeavor. You seek to turn the tide of History even if it breaks you personally. …They fail on all counts and get ousted after one miserable mandate. And yet, they achieved the extraordinary feats of keeping Dick Cheney nowhere near the levers of power, and control over the Supreme Court for another generation.

    -Al Gore yields the Floor in 2000 and fades into the conference circuit background. He bears the mantle of environmental advocacy, circles the Globe, builds up his reputation amongst peers of the environment realm. He preaches clean energy, invests in it. Nobel Prize in tow, with a seat on Apple’s board, his real and figurative voices can be heard loud and clear in the debate. He makes a difference and he thrives on it.

    A broken, self-effacing man in an enriched reality scenario;
    an enriched reality man in a broken impoverished reality scenario.

  • arun

    116twujr,
    I agree with you on all your points except the last. There’s no need to be condescending here. If Rusty thinks that Apple’s bad and Microsoft products are the best thing to hit the world ever, let him/her hold to that opinion. We who moved from the Microsoft mess know otherwise.

    Harry,
    Global Capitalism is proven to be a bad idea? Where do you live? From your response I surmise that you’re from the developed world. IF so, you need to go to any of the hell holes across the world. Try Sub-saharan Africa or wonderful communist Cuba or N. Korea or any of the innumerable other places where the reach of Global Capitalism is naught. Spend some time there and find how Global Capitalism compares to every other economic model. Truth is, while Capitalism isn’t perfect by any means – its not even known whether there’s a perfect system – it’s loads better than anything else we have right now. It’s certainly better than seeing your countrymen starve to death or seeing them as bag-of-bones paupers in the streets.

    As for 911 and Salafi jihadis being unrelated items, I’m not sure I understand. How are the planners of 911 and the movement they belong to not related to the attack they carried out? An attack, that I might add, cost the lives of a couple of thousand innocent people. Or do you have incontrovertible proof that the Salafis did not carry out the attack and that the Americans planned to do in the twin towers themselves? Anyways, I’m curious why you think that drug-running, pro-slavery pimps and murderers who’d murder you for being a christian/jew/hindu/buddhist/member of any other non-salafi muslim sect or crucify you for being an atheist are more trustworthy than America?

    FYI, I live in India. And I love the US. If I ever choose to become a citizen of another country, I’d choose USA over any European nation any day of the week.

  • rufustfirefly

    @ gslusher (respectfully)

    You say “Perhaps you’re trying to be sarcastic/funny–maybe I’m just too old (62) and too stupid (I only have 3 degrees from MIT), so I don’t recognize tongue-in-cheek. However, a minor “fact” is that Apple just became the third-largest company in the US in terms of market capitalization. Apple ($205.48B) moved ahead of Wal-Mart ($205.09B) and Berkshire-Hathaway ($202.2B), but still behind Exxon ($315.38B) and Microsoft ($256.71B). ”

    Your arguments that Apple’s supposed growth in Market Cap, Revenues, etc. show that you are anchored in “old science”. You probably got your degrees from MIT before new science had evolved. Now – a trend like you describe – increasing popularity of Apple – is actually proof that it is dying and shrinking. You see, the Theory of Microsoft Market Dominance, is more important than the facts. So the real scientist today can easily devise an explanation. You see, today if global temperatures go up, that means that the mankind has created global warming and the CO2 we produce will lead inexorably to higher temperatures. And if the last 10 years show declining temperatures that means – the world is warming too. No matter what the temperature trend, it supports the theory. So, likewise, Apple’s increasing revenues are just anomolous and completely predictable signs that Apple is surely losing to Microsoft. Facts to the contrary don’t matter. All facts support the theory. And it is settled. I say so.

  • miloh

    Well, at the very least Dan is getting some ad revenue from all of this crap.

  • HandyMac

    @ rufustfirefly: Priceless. You’ve made my day.

    Btw, I wonder how many here recognize the reference? One of the greatest films ever, even more timely now.

    @ gslusher and others: Maybe I’m wrong (first time ever, of course), but I do get the impression that Rufus’s first half-dozen comments, anyway, were, shall we say, of the “tongue-in-cheek” variety. Brilliant, though.

    Rufus, you should stroll on over to http://www.lewrockwell.com and write something for them. The proprietor is a Mac guy, but I bet he’d publish an expanded version of your argument in favor of Microsoft.

  • HandyMac

    Daniel, as a 22-year exclusive Mac user and Mac support consultant (and longtime reader of RDM), I’m with you (and Steve, and John, et al.) on Flash — installing ClickToFlash two weeks ago revolutionized not only my computing experience but my life, as the fans on my MacBook Pro no longer run constantly, thus substantially lowering my chronic stress level.

    But you lost me with the gratuitous swipe at “climate change deniers”. I suppose I am one, since I don’t believe the propaganda in favor of this theory — not that the climate is changing, which of course it is all the time — but that (a) the change is anthropogenic, (b) it is necessarily and fatally catastrophic to humanity, and (c) it requires a response that will result in a totalitarian New World Order that would beggar the imaginations of Orwell and Huxley.

    I wouldn’t be at all surprised if the Earth is warming up. Nor if it is cooling. Both have happened in the past, both historical and pre-, and both will happen in the future. Change is the universal constant. I am not convinced that whatever climate change is happening now (because it *is* changing, there is not a nanosecond when it is not) is caused by human activity. It may be, but the fact that this theory is being promoted by people I know to have lied about practically everything in the past — as well as the present — does not encourage my trust.

    What is clear, however, is that human activity — primarily the universal breeding frenzy — has placed the species in a situation where *any* major climate change, whether anthropogenic or not, will be disastrous. What I do find interesting is that no one is talking about this simple, easily observable fact.

    Bangladesh is in trouble not because of whatever climate change is happening, it is in trouble because there are too many people there on too little land at or near sea level. It is a fact that in some time in the future the sea level will rise at Bangladesh, regardless of human activity or inactivity. If not tomorrow, then in 50 or 100 or 1000 years. It will also fall at some point, maybe even before it rises. In either case, Bangladesh will be unable to cope, and there will be massive suffering. The only way to improve Bangladesh’s chances is for its population to be reduced to a level that could allow some flexibility in responding to crises, either natural or human-produced.

    (For the record, no, I do not propose some draconian NWO solution to Bangladesh’s problem, such as forced mass sterilization. Nor is mass abortion a solution, since abortion is murder. I am opposed to *any* initiation of force. However, constantly pumping up Bangladesh’s poor-thing victimhood does not really help Bangladesh. It is not kindness, nor “compassion”, to enable their self-delusions. They could solve all their problems, if they had the will. As could we all.)

    As for Stockholm, same story: Planning for the future on the basis of an assumption that it will be exactly like the present or past is a recipe for failure. If not next week, then next year, 100 years, or whenever. If Stockholm’s bridges are too low when the sea level rises a foot or two (or five), then Stockholmers have several choices how to respond. They could, for instance, rebuild their bridges higher. The world will change. Those who adapt, survive. Those who refuse to adapt, proclaiming their “right” to have the world meet their needs, will perish.

    Imposing a “carbon tax” (and other draconian universal mandates) on the whole world, whose only provable effect will be to make Al Gore and his friends even more astronomically rich (and powerful) than they already are, and which is very likely to have “unforeseen” (that I don’t believe) catastrophic effects on world economies, is not a rational solution to whatever problem there may be.

    Btw, I am not a “Palin-american” or a “creationist”. I was brought up a liberal Democrat, and was a hippie, draft-dodger and more-or-less socialist in my youth (mostly in San Francisco — remember the Peace & Freedom Party?). But I am also a skeptical, thinking person, and began to realize some 30 years ago that — as I have learned since — practically everything I had been taught and told, by all the “authorities”, and believed, throughout my life regarding political, historical, economic, social and other subjects was a pack of lies. Many times burnt, many more times shy.

    As for the theory — and note it is a theory, not proven fact (nor could it be, until a time machine is invented) — of evolution, it does seem to be a pretty good explanation of a lot of observable fact. But there are some gaping holes in it — see for instance http://www.lewrockwell.com/reed/reed59.html (the writer is *not* a “creationist”, merely an intelligent critical thinker) — and the fact that its proponents attempt to cover these holes by raising the volume and ad-hominem attacks makes me suspect that maybe the theory doesn’t entirely hold water as a one-size-fits-all explanation of what it purports to explain.

    I don’t see any reason why we couldn’t just agree that we don’t, after all, know everything. But fanatical evolutionists seem to be just as fundamentalist in their thinking as the “creationists” they excoriate. So no, I don’t “believe” in evolution, any more than I “believe” in the dogmas of Christianity (never having been any kind of Christian).

    “Secular humanism” a.k.a. “scientism” turns out to be as much a religion as “fundamentalist” Christianity, and its adherents just as committed to remaking the world in their own image — by force, if necessary. As an independent “think for myselfer”, I have no use for either, just as I have no use for either the Democratic (a.k.a. “left”, “liberal”) or Republican (a.k.a. “right”, “conservative”) Parties, as it is clear to me they are run by the same people/powers behind the scenes. Like the Iraqi Christian community, I am the real endangered species.

    In short, your pejorative characterization of “climate change deniers” and “creationists” as unthinking “true believers” rings hollow. Pot, meet kettle.

  • HandyMac

    “Gore doesn’t blow up buildings and kill children. – Dan” I can’t let this one pass. How many Iraqi children died due to US sanctions during the Clinton/Gore years? Something over a million, as I recall. Of course, as their Secretary of State Madeleine Albright assured us, it was “worth the cost”. Worth the cost to her, apparently.

  • lahaina

    124 comments and running on this one. Looks like it was hijacked around comment #9. Great article as usual, though.

  • http://www.tofinotime.com tofino

    looks like daniel learned from prince at appleinsider that trolls are good for clicks. there can be no other reason to mix his excellent articles with off topic politics… sad to see.

  • chandrac

    @rufustfirefly
    I guess you were neglected as a child and given hand me downs. Your passion for all things Microsoft is telling, as is your enthusiasm for its current, if declining, dominance.
    I see your name is Fly. That’s very telling. There is a saying about the tendency of the mass of humanity to happily settle for mediocre crap because it’s cheap and because one feels a sense of being in with the crowd. Not a contrarian. Afraid of being an unique individual in all aspects of our lives etc. The saying goes something like this, as you know. I include it here so it may help others here to understand where you’re coming from (and, sadly, where you’ve been and your habits etc., while you’re there). This is for you.
    ‘A hundred zillion flies eat shit daily. They can’t all be wrong, surely? I’d better eat shit too. I like to belong and so, to become unnoticeable’.
    Somehow this makes it easier to understand you. Not to agree with you. Eeeeuw no! But it helps us to get where you’re at and what works for you.
    Peace.
    And bon appetit!

  • chandrac

    @HandyMac
    You’re mostly right, but Mankind has seriously compromised air quality and is causing the rapid decline of water quality too. There’s more besides, like toxic landfill and nuclear waste. Enough cumulative reasons to change behaviour.
    Population should become issue #1, I agree wholeheartedly.
    On topic, the point behind Dan’s article is also that if a Flash ‘expert’ proponent is seen to be lying to defend Flash, It’s an automatic fail. A definite non-QED.
    What’s needed in Tech issues like this which impact the user and UX is an independent point of reference. A simple report, like any product review, publishing verifiable test results of like for like comparisons would silence all the noisemakers of disinformation. How about it Daniel? You have the tech savvy to get such a ball rolling. It’s a necessary resource that is MIA.

  • gctwnl

    @Handy Mac:
    All these discussions started because of Daniel’s ‘fraudulent science’ theme. Now science is not perfect and people are sometimes fradulent, even in a honesty-based enterprise as science is. But it is the best thing we have to get the facts to base our decisions on.

    With respect to climate change, science tells us the climate is changing rapidly and science tells us also that the most likely cause is our behaviour as (too many, I agree) humans.

    Currently, the sun has been underactive for a while. The Sun has cycles of different activities. Over the last 10 years or so the overall temperatures on earth have been stable, not going up, nor going down. But they should have gone down. So I expect a more rapid increase in the next ten year and an end to climate change denial.

    What is than left is the question, how much are we humans to blame? Here also, science is the best we have. And other explanations (like sun cycles) have far too small effects to explain the rise.

    Still, whatever we do, the best way to find out what is happening and what is causing it is science. Alternatives (what are there? tarot? gurus? dice? ignoring?) are all worse than science.

    The IPCC was founded by politicians hoping in fact to make a bureacracy that would kill the unwelcome warnings from science. The result has been a rather groundbreaking world wide scientific effort, which, some issues notwithstanding, largely tell us that the climate is changing and that we are a major cause. Welcome to the anthropocene.

    As humans, as long as there remains enough oxygen in the atmpsphere and we do not get a runaway Venus effect we will probably survive thanks to the fact that we are the most adaptable large sized species on earth. Most likely even, our technology is probably (barely) sufficient to do geoengineering to dampen the effects (and cause other problems). But the catasrophe will be far less inhumane if we move to clean energy asap (and as a Westerner, that also makes the stranglehold of questionable regimes like Arab and Russian less, so it is a win-win). For that too, we will need science, and massive amounts of it.

    What the Reed fellow writes is about things we do not know, mainly how did cells start. But the absence of proof is not the same as proof of absence. And btw, new findings on the sea bed have found cell-like structures in hot vents which are eerily like proto-cell-scaffoldings. So maybe the answer on that one may be not too far off, though we will never be certain. New Scientist reports on research about these issues in its October 19, 2009 issue. Also an interesting read about how science works, in this case a lonely scientist going against all common scientific assumptions and working in his home lab (and still being a true scientist).

  • luisd

    @gctwnl,

    An excellent summary!

  • Imapolicecar

    rufustfirefly
    Now – John Watkins, Imapolicecar, ChuckO, Luisd, and Borker – you can resume the name calling.

    What on earth are you talking about Rufustfirefly? What name calling did I do? I injected a little bit of light humor. No rude words. No ad hom attacks and you then accuse me of name calling?

    Considering you called several people “other assorted Lefties” I think perhaps you are the name caller! I’m quite shocked by your attack on me.

  • Imapolicecar

    luisd @ kilroywashere ,
    Do you understand the mechanics of weather patterns?
    luisd @ Kilroy
    I entirely agree with you, but all extremes are bad. I’m a scientist myself, and do perfectly understand the relationship between science and society.
    The weather patterns have changed. And that is a fact.
    (…) If this is not weather change I don’t know what it is.
    The river Cam in the UK used to freeze regularly 25 to 30 years ago. It hasn’t frozen in over 15 years. Same the canals in Amsterdam.

    luisd @ Kilroy

    You are all confused and unwilling to listen to other points of view. A discussion is impossible that way.
    About Rotterdam… I am confused. I few posts ago you were saying that the weather is changing since millennia.
    ————
    May I make a couple of observations. The first is that being a scientist myself and studying the relationship between science and society for near to 30 years I would be unable to claim that “I perfectly understand the relationship between science and society”. I don’t think that’s because I am either stupid, poorly trained or a sloppy researcher. It’s a complex situation that changes very often. As the relationship is not one that can be analysed using scientific tools it relies on social science methodologies which have a great deal of imprecision although can generate broad understanding of some issues.

    The second observation is that both Kilroy (is that the same user as Kilroywashere?) and Luisd are commenting about weather. Climate change has little to do with weather which is a relatively localised effect and is not indicative of overall patterns in global change. Issues such as sea level changes, ecosystem destruction, postitive feedback due to the defrosting of the tundra permafrost, rainfall pattern changes, pest increase or decrease, weed increase (and other general competition to agricultural crops) are all issues that humans have faced for millenia. There are numerous examples of these changes (such as the medieval warming period in the UK), the reduction of monsoons over north africa (leading to the movement of peoples to the Nile delta and the increase of size of the Sahara) and so on. We have dealt with these all to a greater or lesser extent – mainly because these weather changes have been relatively slow.
    However, the great possibility arises that we will have climate change not weather change. Climate change will have major effects on the world and this will not be a slow change but a devastatingly quick one (weeks or months if we are lucky) with extreme consequences that are unlikely to be quickly reversed in our children’, children’s lifetimes. The consequences will cause decades of problems such as reducing transport and trade (ships and planes will not be able to have relatively predictable routes) and making much of our current infrastrutures useless. If climate change occurs it will not be something that we will handle particularly well such as a mere increase of sea level by a metre.

    Just so you are aware.

  • http://www.copperhead-design.com Mr. Reeee

    Good article.

    I generally come here for intelligent articles and reader commentary. It’s a shame that the comments here have devolved into something I expect to find on Mac Daily News.

    @rufustfirefly… Some advice: try to develop a sense of humor in line with your namesake, Groucho Marx.

  • luisd

    Imapolicecar,

    We seem to be in violent agreement. Thanks for expanding on climate vs weather. Good point.

    About science and public interaction, YOU must perfectly know that what I said, was exactly what you explained. When I wrote I perfectly understand the interaction between science and society it was as in how complex it is. I really can’t stand patronising professors.

    It is clear from your comment that you have been 30 years in science! Old school indeed. Your opening is what I call the “Professor’s syndrome”. Discredit your colleague from the onset so you can qualm any guilt about rejecting his grant application/paper. Never-mind is good work/good science/exciting. The “If I didn’t do it, it can’t be good!” old maxim. I get that a lot at work… I was going to ignore it here, but I just can’t.

  • luisd

    Imapolicecar,

    I should have concluded, that you must be careful with that professor’s syndrome. If you are using outside of your academic work, it is really really damaging you! It’s bad enough is the academic circle, but to apply it in a blog!

  • http://www.lowededwookie.com lowededwookie

    It is somewhat interesting that people keep bringing up religion and evolution as though people who believe in God are fools and those who believe in evolution are right.

    The problem is that real science all seems to point to some form of design which goes against evolution. Hell, when questioned as to what would happen if science proved there was such a huge jump from one entity to another how could evolution explain that (evolution requires very small changes to happen), Darwin himself said that his theory would be disproved. Guess what, science is continually finding things that require massive changes. Hell, there’s a form of bacteria that 75% of its makeup cannot be explained by evolution.

    Evolutionists are just as gullible as what they make us God worshippers out to be believing fraud science over real science so the comparisons are moot.

    However, getting back to the topic at hand I have to agree that all the tests I’ve done show Flash to be very very resource intensive.

    Play a simple crappy Facebook game like Farmville for 5 minutes then play DHTML Lemmings for the same time and look at CPU usage. DHTML Lemmings is much much less than Farmville and yet it is doing much much more than Farmville. DHTML Lemmings is classic Lemmings done with nothing but HTML and Javascript whereas Farmville is done in Flash.

    Sorry but it’s going to have to be a rabbit out of a hat for Flash supported to make me believe that Flash is the better product, especially since it is actually based on Javascript as well.

  • Dorotea

    Why is it that it is always God Vs Evolution. I figure God created the rules of the universe – including evolution. So – no problem.

    Btw. I hate flash. Click2Flash rocks. I load flash when there is a video to watch. No more ugly dancing people banner ads for me.

  • http://allasloss.com Nick R

    Humans love to choose sides. They like to claim tolerance, but never really act on it. Most people criticize others as if they are the ones with all the answers. It is this sort of prideful behavior at the heart of all humans that prevents us from truly loving one another.

    Daniel was extremely upset when Prop 8 failed to pass, and felt a huge injustice happened against a large group of people. He wanted people to show tolerance to them, while not showing tolerance to people that disagreed with Prop 8.

    Just as he made the comments about climate change deniers and creationist. He thinks he has all the answers (or access to them), and treats people accordingly.

    Climate change deniers and creationist are all backwoods right wingers that are dumber than a box of rocks. As if they blindly believe whatever is thrown at them. I agree that there are people like that, but don’t act like they only populate one side.

    The fact is, brilliant people have researched climate change, evolution, the Bible, religions, etc. Those brilliant people have not all agreed. Just as I read the above article and got one thing out of it, read the comments and got one thing out of them, while others hated the article and hate the comments. Some think thoughtful discussion is going on, while others think the trolls have taken over.

    We all want to think our way is the right way, since none of us would (sanely) support a lie.

    My beliefs – which I would contend are historically and scientifically viable – would make me hated by some people here. That is the world we live in. The real questions are do you believe enough to be hated, and are you going to be kind to others that don’t believe like you?

    Imagine being stuck with the worldview that you had 10, heck 5 years ago. We are all constantly learning and evolving our thinking.

  • Imapolicecar

    I’m not apologetic Luisd. You are not writing and explaining yourself clearly at all. If you really can’t stand patronising professors then that’s your problem. However, I’m not a professor and no matter how well intentioned you are it would be nice not to be labelled as some “professor” with all the abstract connotations that it beings along. Yes I have been 30 years in science. Is that a problem for you? What is “old school” got to do with it? Is that a mark of respect or derogatory. I don’t know. You are simply unclear and come over as big-headed.

    This “professors (sic) syndrome” you mention is something I haven’t heard of. I googled it but didn’t find anything. Are you being ad hominem here? I suspect so. However, you seem fed-up with everyone, including me. Don’t know what I can do about that.
    And just so you know, I work in technology, industry and education not academia. However, I don’t know any academics in my fields of study who only work in academia land. They all have important experience in technology and industry.

  • Imapolicecar

    @ Nick R

    Well, the issue is that we are damned if we do and damned if we don’t. The worst thing is inactivity as game theory tells us that it is a lose-lose situation.

    We can take extreme action now and if global climate change is averted we will have been justified. It will be expensive in many respects but not always justifiable (climate change hasn’t taken full effect so we will have no worst situation to judge by).

    We can take no action and hope that our technological might can cause a reversal/partial reversal or alleviate the issues. This will ultimately be possibly less expensive but less effective. However, if no climate change occurs then it will save us all a lot of resources.

    Ultimately, it is governmental policy that makes the difference. At the moment, there is a fragmented approach to most non-local policies. The grass-roots level is advocating controls in reducing climate change issues. The money says to let it wait and see as there is still profit to be made. It’s ec0-centric vs techno-centric in essence.

    I don’t have a fixed way of looking at solving the problem but currently will go grass-roots as the money isn’t financing the solutions as fully as it should nor acknowledging the problems. In the end, usually any development in technology brings profit so I just wonder where the inertia really is and why?

  • enzos

    A bit baffled Luisd’s “Professor’s syndrome” as well. I think he means he found your post didactic. But why use a real word when you can make one up ad hoc? And why engage in study and discourse of evidence-based climate science when waving your hands around agreeing with half-arsed Big Energy propaganda makes you all hip and New School (as opposed to that nasty Old School that 99% of research scientists subscribe to)?

    Your restraint is admirable.

  • http://allasloss.com Nick R

    I have plenty of friends that believe in the God of the Bible and evolution. Wayne Grudem has excellent thoughts on the subject. The big bang works with Genesis 1, and so does evolution for some: man was made from the dust of the ground.

    @iamapolicecar
    thanks for the reply. I personally agree with you, I was just presenting how little tolerance we really have (including myself!).

  • luisd

    enzos,
    I did not mean didactic at all. I meant patronising and big-headded.

    About “Professor’s syndrome”, what part of “what I call” was not clear. You will not find it with google.It is a term I use, and that is why I defined what I mean by it in my post.

    Finally, I am a firm supporter of global warming, and all my posts before the police car one, where aimed at trying to fend off sceptics of global warming. Please read my posts before labelling me!

  • luisd

    Imapolicecar,

    Yes, of course, professor. Sorry to contradict you :) Won’t happen again.

  • Chipotle

    Dan: crazy suggestion here, but maybe you should consider avoiding analogies which are guaranteed to create pile-ons of largely irrelevant debate.

  • http://www.metrokids.ca Conrad MacIntyre

    Woah, woah…

    @Dan:
    I love your blog and I come here often to read the great articles you write… HOWEVER… Lumping anyone who claims to believe in Jesus in the same pile is excessively unfair. I suppose you’d like me to equate you with anyone I’ve ever met who was an advocate of Apple? Or a Democrat? Or a San Franciscan? I doubt it. I whole-heartedly believe in Jesus, but I am also an Apple fan, a climate-change believer, a Democrat (Canadian, actually, and I endorse the NDP), and I think that a universal healthcare bill would be great for the average American. I’m not a Republican, I do not want to be associated with George W., Pat Robertson, or James Dobson. Watch your generalizations, sir.

    @rufustfirefly :
    You are an idiot: Here’s why; you trot out your ‘settled science’ as though everyone should just fall to their knees and thank you for enlightening them about thing of which we know not. All Christians are wandering around blindly avoiding the issues and content to live in our churches but there be dragons outside. No. And as for your so-called PROOF of evolution, Piltdown Man and Nebraska Man… HA! I say again, HA! These are the two biggest hoaxes in the history of evolution! Piltdown Man was an INTENTIONAL FORGERY created by knowingly putting together an Orang-utan jaw with the Skull of a modern human, then doctoring them up to look older than they were! And Nebraska Man was the PROOF of the missing link based on a single, solitary tooth! It was eventually PROVED that the tooth was not from a man OR an ape!! It was from a Peccary (from the swine family)…

    Please, if you’re going to bring evidence at least make it viable. These have been known hoaxes since 1953 and 1927 respectively. Grow a brain.

  • enzos

    Chipotle > maybe you should consider avoiding analogies which are guaranteed to create pile-ons of largely irrelevant debate. <

    Dan's adding a few chillies and stirring the pot so things don't settle and get stuck. Looks like he's having a ball!

  • enzos

    Conrad;
    different categories: religion is about certainty, science is about doubt. Neither can used to ‘disprove’ the other.. (despite Dickie Dawkins’ best efforts). For me Creationism would take a monumental and heroic suspension of disbelief but I wouldn’t call you a fool for doing so.

    Enz

  • twujr

    I hate to break up the debate and bring things back to Flash… but I found a wonderful example of Flash-inspired laziness.

    Take a look at drphil.com with a Flash blocker enabled. It’s bad enough the entire home page is two Flash elements, but it gets worse. Enable Flash and click through to a past episode (I was looking for the one concerning Facebook games and Farmville). These pages are a combination of Flash headers and menus, which are “acceptable”.

    The site designer also created the headline in Flash. In this page’s example, there were four individual Flash boxes at the top of the text. Each one contained one word set in what looked like Arial with no animation.

    This is the type of laziness and poor interface design that I see as a complete break-down of designer competence.

    t

  • gctwnl

    Just curious: what options are there to do a non-Flash site with interactive graphs (as in sliders move, contents of graph changes), animations, movies, etc.? And then two sides: what is needed at web browser side and what is available for the developer?

    I wonder, because I noticed a big firm who recently decided to move to Flash (Adobe Flex) for their Rich Internet Applications and I wonder if they really had a choice at this stage.