* Posts by Mike Richards

3603 posts • joined 28 Feb 2007

Drayson locks Forces chiefs out of Defence budget carve-up

Mike Richards

'uniformed opposition' - should be 'informed opposition'

Drayson is a pointless waste of perfectly good carbon isn't he?

A jumped up Labour Party donor who made his first fortune selling a batch of life-expired vaccines to - oh - a Labour government and then made another one selling smallpox vaccines to - a Labour government - without ever having to tender for the contract.

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Boffins spy liquid water on Saturn's moon

Mike Richards

Naming water

'Water' is the English name of the molecule H2O. Its phases are water ice, liquid water and water vapour. Since water can be found in all three phases in space, the clarification is needed.

'Ice' is also incorrect because some of the outer planets and their satellites are made of water ice with greater or lesser amounts of ammonia ice, methane ice... and don't get me started on the clathrates...

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Mike Richards

Answer

'Anyone know how many tonnes of extra water will be required to put Tuvalu under a foot of water?'

Depends if you're aiming it at Tuvulu or not.

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Viking frogmen chase Street View spymobile

Mike Richards

Could it be...?

I reckon Lewis has been on holiday to the sub-Arctic paradise of Bergen.

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US gov's emptying of vast Texan helium-tank dome 'wrong'

Mike Richards

Zeppelins

The Graf Zeppelin was always planned to be filled with hydrogen, it was only after the R101 burned that Zeppelin began considering helium as a lifting gas. Had the Graf been filled with helium she would not have been able to make transAtlantic flights. Zeppelin even cancelled the planned LZ128 for the same reason and began work on the much bigger LZ129 Hindenburg which would have been viable with helium.

Zeppelin did not have formal negotiations with the American government about using helium in Hindenburg, instead relying on their chief Hugo Eckener's close friendship with Roosevelt to try and release the gas. However, the President's hands were tied by Congress passing the Helium Control Act which forbade the large scale export of the gas. Hindenburg was redesigned at a late stage as a hydrogen-inflated ship (she would have originally had two sets of gas cells, the main ones filled with helium for lift, the second filled with hydrogen acting as anti-ballast which would be vented to offset the loss in weight from burning fuel).

Hindenburg was inflated with hydrogen on her first season, Zeppelin were confident they could handle the gas safely - they had never had a hydrogen fire on any of their civilian ships - and the airship performed superbly. During the winter of 1936/37 she was laid up and her accommodation expanded to take advantage of the greater lift from hydrogen. She returned to the TransAtlantic route in the spring of 1937 and burned shortly afterwards.

It was only after the Lakehurst disaster that the Zeppelin company approached the US for an export license for helium to inflate Graf Zeppelin II - the Hindenburg's near twin. The ship had been redesigned to accommodate helium, including advanced water recovery systems that would reduce the need for venting gas. Once again Eckener appealed to Roosevelt and was given permission to have the gas. However, Harold Ickes blocked the export in retaliation for Germany's annexation of the Rhineland.

Graf Zeppelin II was inflated with hydrogen but never made a commercial flight, the US having blocked any hydrogen-filled ships from their territory. She spent a short life on propaganda missions for the Nazis and trying to ferret out the secrets of Britain's radar chain. The original Graf Zeppelin was deflated and turned into a museum. Both were scrapped early in World War 2.

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BAE cops to arms-deal violation, pays $400m US fine

Mike Richards

So

Any chance Tanzania will get its money back?

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E-book readers are a satisfied lot

Mike Richards

'The Sony will go flat just in standby in about 5 days..'

Really? I can get a couple of weeks out of the 505 - even more if I don't put a memory card in it and just rely on the internal memory.

Fantastic device, the iPad will have to be REALLY impressive if it is to be a better way of reading on the go. But I agree with you over the terrible Waterstone's eBook store. It's simply shocking, how Sony tolerate it I don't know.

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DNA pioneer lambasts government database policy

Mike Richards

New Labour response

Scientists!

What do they know?

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Think Aussie election rules are draconian? Look at the UK's

Mike Richards

Does this mean

We can continue to call Alan Johnson a complete twunt right up until the moment the election is announced?

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ID minister promises virtual immortality for all Britons

Mike Richards

Terry Gilliam

Really should have sued New Labour for nicking all their policies from 'Brazil'.

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Mike Richards

Seriously, it's not just you

But has anyone given any thought what sort of job Meg will be capable of after the election when she, her party and this ghastly project are finally put on the scrapheap.

Hillier (check - yup typed it right) comes across as not quite the sharpest tool in a knife drawer filled with rolling pins.

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Obama scraps Constellation moon mission

Mike Richards

Meanwhile on Wall Street

The banks that got us into this mess will be paying out $118 billion in bonuses.

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748704281204575003351773983136.html

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Mike Richards

Since you asked

'While it is true the Shuttle flies a more complex mission (0-M23_0 as opposed to airliners less than M1) with more engines (about 44 in total with 4 different propellants) and some unique systems (TPS, Fuel cells) is it *really* 12.5x more complex?'

Yes.

HTH.

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Mike Richards

AAP

Yep they existed and got to quite an advanced stage, but Apollo was gutted when the Vietnam war and inflation began to eat the American economy for breakfast. By the end of the 1960s NASA could essentially have the Shuttle and that was it.

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Airport scanners go live today, kids included

Mike Richards

Children

How can children give informed consent for scanning? And what if they say 'no' (as any parent knows only too well) - does the child get taken off the flight? does the family not fly? or do they get dragged through the scanner come what may?

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Mike Richards

Lord Andrew Adonis

As the Guardian's Simon Hoggart once put it, 'he's much more an Andrew than an Adonis.'

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Mike Richards

According to the BBC

The regular metal detector arches will be randomly selecting people to surrender to the Pervatron, the human element (or indeed the element of the security staff) won't get a look in.

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Mike Richards

Wow!

I think you've just come up with the idea for ITV's next big Saturday night show. A new version of 'Blind Date' with a freshly botoxed Cilla and a Pervatron.

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Mike Richards

Everyone through the Pervatron

If you want everyone to go through you'd better get used to the five hour check-in. These devices aren't quick and I have a strange suspicion they're not going to be that reliable.

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Obama to boost US nuclear power industry

Mike Richards

Reprocessing

The British and French have far more experience of reprocessing than the US and neither has managed to turn their businesses into profitable entities. The last time anyone in Britain looked at reprocessing it was with the view of determining if it was worth continuing at all. I suspect if Sellafield wasn't such a major employer in an area with sod/all other employment it would have been closed down by now.

As for why America never went down the reprocessing route, it was in part because they had a separate plutonium production industry based at Hanford. Their power industry quickly standardised on BWR and PWR systems using enriched uranium and long burn times producing relatively little bomb-friendly Pu239.

The UK on the other hand went with Magnox and AGR stations consuming natural uranium with on-load refuelling after short burn times. Their reactors produced plenty of Pu239 and the Magnox fuel HAD to be reprocessed because it corrodes rapidly.

So yes, reprocessing kind of makes sense in getting the most out of the fuel, but it won't make for cheaper energy and it will make for a lot of high-level actinide waste which will have to be processed and stored. Good luck with finding a permanent solution for that.

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Silicone implants that generate 'leccy invented for US spooks

Mike Richards

Works in reverse

We might have just found the perfect silent notification for SMS messages.

THWUD - BOING! You have mail!

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India eyes man in space by 2016

Mike Richards

Re; Budget?

India had a growth rate of about 7% last year. I'm guessing they can afford it.

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Mike Richards

No, not really...

It's an incentive for Indian companies to develop high technologies which can be exported and lift even more people out of poverty. China has become the most successful country in history at uplift, not by rural aid, but by industrialisation.

Just as Victorian Britain had the slums of the East End which were every bit as unpleasant as those of Mumbai, it was also capable of scientific and engineering accomplishments such as the Beagle voyage and the Crystal Palace.

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Apple iPad vs netbooks: fight not over yet

Mike Richards

RAM

It's not the small screen, slow processor or tiny keyboard that means I've pretty much given up on netbooks - it's that they're still shipping with Windows and 1Gb RAM. It's just not enough to make them useful over a long period of time.

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Verified by Visa bitchslapped by Cambridge researchers

Mike Richards

URLs

Good point, but (IIRC) some sites - like Tesco - bring up the VbV in a frame or iFrame so you can't even see the URL - only an unexpected shonky page which looks nothing like the retailer's own asking you for confidential information.

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Mike Richards

In Sweden 10 years ago

SwedBank rolled keyfobs out over a decade ago, but then their banking system seems to be somewhat better managed than the UK's.

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Mike Richards

Ah that explains it!

I'm also with HSBC and used my Visa card heavily in the run-up to Christmas buying travel tickets from all and sundry.

Christmas Eve arrives and my card is locked, meanwhile the World's Local Bank (tm) has buggered off down the pub for a bonus-fuelled piss-up.

When I eventually got through to someone called Charles (in Bangalore) they couldn't explain why the card was locked, only that certain security issues had been raised - but nothing so serious that a few minutes listening to the godawful three bar HSBC anthem (all of their long-suffering customers will know it well) couldn't put right with a short spot of [tappity] and the requisite 'have you thought about buying home insurance from HSBC?' question.

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Mike Richards

Looks like phishing

Every time I hit the dreaded VbV page I do a double-take - it looks utterly shonky as if it was knocked together by some script kiddie. Wonky fonts and justification, the company logos haphazardly placed on the page. If it at least looked like the public face of a faceless private corporation it would be mildly reassuring.

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Compulsory perv scanners upset everyone

Mike Richards

ECHR

Is nothing to do with the European Union, it's run by the Council of Europe and was created largely by British lawyers.

Having said which, the EU is also doing a lot more to protect us than our own government.

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Only nukes can stop planetsmash asteroids, say US boffins

Mike Richards

Measurements

Are these perpendicular gothic cathedrals or just the regular Roman basilica type?

And as for the nuclear weapons - roughly how many cardinals would they weigh?

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MPs frozen out of super-secret copyright talks

Mike Richards

'Junior business minister David Lammy'

He's just as clueless when professing to be the universities minister.

In a heap of really shit government officials, Lammy stands out as especially bad - forget 'Blears bad' - he makes her look competent; travel far past 'Hoon bad', take the second exit at 'Blunkett bad' and you'll still need to fill up the tank to reach the particularly pointless realm inhabited by David Lammy.

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Mike Richards

That's not how it works

I'm not sure this is going to form a new Copyright Act or whether it will simply be incorporated into a new copyright treaty (which is the prerogative of the government and does not need any debate).

There have to be three readings of the Bill in both the Commons and the Lords to enact an Act of Parliament. If Parliament is prorogued before the Royal Assent the bill automatically falls and has to start from scratch. There's almost no chance any new copyright bill could pass through these stages, even if both sides were in agreement, before the end of this Parliament.

The first reading is a formality. The government minister (or occasionally a back bencher) announces that a bill on such-and-such is going to be introduced. There's rarely a vote at this point. The real chance to change things is at Second Reading. Here's where all the debate occurs. MPs can post amendments (which must be voted on) or the whole bill can be thrown out.

The bill then goes off to committee for scrutiny (make your own jokes here). The government decides whether to accept the amendments from committee and the bill is then introduced for Third Reading. Usually this is a formality, but the amendments from committee can be voted on. However it's very restrictive and usually guillotined.

If the bill gets to this point it then goes to the Lords for three further readings and a committee stage. The Lords can also suggest amendments or reject the bill. After which it's back to the Commons. Assuming the Lords have no objections the bill goes for Royal Assent. If the Lords have suggested amendments, the government can either choose to accept them or to reject the amendments - at which point, back to the Lords again.

But I suspect, Mandelson's Law, which is fully supported by the Tories will be worded in such a way that any changes to copyright will become law without any public debate.

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Super-soldier exoskeleton to get 3-day fuel cell powerpack

Mike Richards

A nuclear powered exoskeleton

Oh my - this is the sort of things dreams are made of!

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Airport scanner staff object to vetting

Mike Richards

Yes, but look on the upside...

...a clever government will soon realise each of these images is indecent and probably breaks the law. In which case each passenger can be fined for indecent exposure with the money going to the State - let's just call it a Security Levy.

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Mike Richards

Surrender to the Pervatron!

I think I've worked this one out.

I'm a threat to mankind because I want to fly. Meanwhile the bloke operating the man-sized microwave isn't - because he's got a peaked cap.

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Police arrest MD of dowsing-rod 'bomb detector' firm

Mike Richards

'We are working on a new model that has flashing lights'

'Hello? Is that Keyboards Direct? Hi, I seem to have sprayed coffee over my old keyboard and I need a new one - now. What? You'll be right round you say? That's fantastic! Thank-you Keyboards Direct.'

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Egyptian mobile users warned off Koran-based ringtones

Mike Richards

Saint of the day and 'Daily Pope'???

Oh if only Father Ted were with us now.

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Avatards rush to name sprogs Pandora

Mike Richards

Makes a good case for the Swedish taxman

Our Nordic neighbours wouldn't put up with this nonsense; the kid would be called Annifred or Agnetha or possibly Lars.

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Mike Richards

1bn box office

Does that mean a whole lot of kids got named 'Titanic' or 'White Star Line'?

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Selfridges punts £1,800 Spanish ham

Mike Richards

Thank goodness for the banking bailout

Otherwise there wouldn't be a supply of gullible morons with huge bonuses to buy a bit of dried up pork.

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Discrimination warning over airport body scanners

Mike Richards

Approaching the Daily Mail event horizon

AIRPORT PAEDOPHILES SAW MY CHILD'S NAKED BODY

Kerry Katona's shock revelations pages 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 and special commemorative pullout

Also inside. Do immigrants cause cancer? Melanie Phillips investigates.

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Is Mandy right to cut science funding?

Mike Richards

Real problem is

Mandelson is concentrating on immediate gains in relatively well understood fields where Britain will be competing against other countries - most of which will still have large manufacturing bases ready to commodotise discoveries. So even if we do find something cool, we won't be able to make it.

He should be doing a DARPA and funding seriously blue-sky research in the full knowledge that things might not work out - but if they do, we will have a field more or less to ourselves.

In short, John Naughton is bang on the money.

Oh and the majority of money will still go to the Russell Group of universities whether they deserve it or not.

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No World Cup anthem for England football heroes

Mike Richards

Football missing in on 'cashing-in' opportunity shock horror

I'm no Prince of Darkness, Simon Cowell, but did no one in the FA realise that there was an opportunity to run a prime-time, phone-in, six-month-long, Saturday night TV 'talent' contest to find the 'best' team song?

ITV are gagging for content and cash right now and here was the perfect chance to fill more of our gutter-scraping tabloids with slebs.

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Secretive Brit millionaire buys Segway Inc

Mike Richards

What do Stockholm and Milton Keynes have in common?

The answer is Segways!

One is a glorious Baltic port with stunning architecture, beautiful people and an enthusiastic embrace of the herring. The other has a large shopping centre.

But both of them are natural homes for the Segway. American visitors can zip around the Swedish capital on guided Segway tours if they find the city's frighteningly efficient public transport, or generously proportioned pavements all too European for comfort.

As for the little utopia that is Milton Keynes - the security guards at 'The Centre: MK' as it likes to be called, stand on them so they can see over the heads of shoppers.

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NASA Titan moon-balloons to run on cloud fuel

Mike Richards

Bottled gas

Is butane and/or propane, neither of which vaporises in Titanian conditions.

As for exploring the place, can't we just drop the tedious Bear Grylls on the moon and see if he can survive using nothing more than a block of frozen hexane and his underpants?

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Brown offers free laptops to deprived UK schoolkids

Mike Richards

OLPC XO-1?

Cheaper and it was designed to be suitable for bankrupt countries with lousy education and appalling infrastructure.

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China's doomed attempt to hold the world to ransom

Mike Richards

Not holding the World to ransom

It's just common sense economic policy. China needs to keep its economy growing and is aware that the next lot of cheap manufacturing countries are following along behind. Moving up the manufacturing ecosystem to produce finished objects is good practice.

As for China being left behind when the next technological leap occurs. I doubt it; their R&D (especially in rare earths) is second to none.

Oh and because it's China, I wouldn't be surprised if their mining groups end up being the ones who eventually get the contracts to extract rare earths elsewhere in the World. They'd only be following the example of Sinopec which has been tying up exclusive development contracts for oil and gas in the Middle East and Central Asia.

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Kodak strikes at Apple in iPhone, Mac patent dispute

Mike Richards

Why do these patent cases come along so late?

The iPhone's been on sale for three years, the Blackberry for even longer - and yet Kodak have only just got round to noticing an infringement?

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Avatar expands 3D TV interest

Mike Richards

What would have been nice

Is if Avatar had expanded interest in well-told, dramatically engaging, complex storytelling. But 'Dances with Wolves' for the ritalin generation didn't have any.

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New Labour bring old Nuremberg Laws to Britain

Mike Richards

Headline 'Nuremberg Laws'

The Nuremberg Laws are nothing to do with the defence plea at the Nuremberg War Crimes Trial. Instead they were a series of edicts first announced at the Nazi Party Conference in 1935 which stripped Jews of German citizenship and their rights.

I think you're thinking of the 'Nuremberg Defence'.

So while the new British law is bad, it isn't comparable to the Nuremberg Laws.

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