* Posts by Mike Richards

3615 posts • joined 28 Feb 2007

New DNA rules may still breach human rights

Mike Richards

@ Sir Runcible Spoon

'What's beyond despair?'

Margate.

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Darling promises IT cuts, years of pain

Mike Richards

UK vs. France and Germany

The UK's economy is about the same size as France's; a little smaller than Germany's. It's hard to directly compare taxes but levels across business and personal taxation are pretty much in the same ballpark.

If you go to either of those countries, public services work, the education systems aren't in permanent crisis, the roads aren't crumbling and you can pretty much guarantee your train or bus will turn up.

So what are they doing right that Britain isn't?

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Israel tests biometric database

Mike Richards

Reduce public borrowing

We can flog the Israelis a shiny new biometric panorwellcon since it looks like the next government won't be needing it.

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'We must all stop washing to save the planet'

Mike Richards

ARGH!

' is it really a surprise that we're heading towards another one (which is due anyway).'

No it bloody isn't!

Can you please find a geological textbook that says the next glacial maximum is due? The best claim you can make is that in the early 1970s a *minority* of scientists studying the climate proposed that the Earth was likely to head into a period of general cooling which might end up as an ice age (we'll skip the technicality that we're actually still in an ice age).

The work began with Stephen Schneider at NASA Goddard Flight Center and got into the New York Times. Around the same time, a report by the National Academy of Sciences also suggested a 'finite possibility' that the Earth's climate would begin cooling within the next century. The stories got traction for a number of reasons:

Research had been going on into Milankovich Cycles - regular changes in the tilt of the Earth's axis on a geological timescale which appear to be *partially* related to glaciations. Running the Cycles forward showed that the Earth was heading towards a part of the cycle which would produce greater amounts of cooling.

The then state of knowledge of glaciations was very poor - we had not done any deep drilling of ice cores. There was a general assumption that the warmer interglacials, such as the current Holocene, lasted no more than 10,000 years; and that the previous interglacial had lasted less than 5,000 years. The Holocene interglacial had been going for about 10,000 years, so it was reasonable to assume the ice sheets were most likely to begin expanding again in the geological near future.

There had been a very mild cooling from the 1940s onward which was believed to have been driven by rapid industrialisation producing smoke, soot and dust and by the cultivation of previously virgin land producing even more dust.

Schneider performed a simulation contrasting the cooling effect of these aerosols against the known warming effect of increased CO2 from fossil fuels. He made a prediction of the future climate if the known trends continued into the future. His 1971 paper suggested the cooling effect was dominant and would tip the Earth towards another glacial.

Schneider quickly realised his numbers for future cooling were not realistic (he had used local concentrations of pollutants on a global scale - there were too many of them), when he dialled the aerosols back to more realistic values in his second simulation, it was clear that the warming effect was dominant.

Since then we've learned a lot. Milankovich Cycles are a good, but not total explanation of glaciations. We now know interglacials last up to about 100,000 years and we're pretty sure (again from the ice evidence) that much of the cooling in the middle part of the 20th Century was caused by an upspike in volcanic activity.

Schneider's paper came in a poorly established field without a large amount of supporting work. It was a good piece of work and he deserves credit for re-running his work with better figures. But he was not the only person researching future climates. Between 1965 and 1979, 44 scientific papers were published that predicted a warming world - and some were pointing to CO2 as the driving force, 20 thought there would be no overall change; just 7 predicted cooling.

There's a review of those papers here:

http://ams.confex.com/ams/pdfpapers/131047.pdf

Can we now bury that myth alongside the person who suggested I should take up drinking instant coffee?

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Swindon twins with Walt Disney World

Mike Richards

Have a magical day

Swindon and Walt Disney World have a lot in common - I wouldn't want to be seen dead in either of them.

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Walking With Dinosaurs star goes walkabout

Mike Richards

Not Liverpool then

Where Diplodocus would have been left burned out propped up on bricks.

I really, really hope there will be some CCTV of a dinosaur sneaking out under the cover of darkness.

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No more UFO reports please, says MoD

Mike Richards

Easy...

...Twitter it and the Guardian will run a full page probing feature with commentary by Stephen Fry.

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The return of the Psion-sized PC

Mike Richards

Spookily...

...is it just me, or does the Psion 5 look more futuristic than that unpronounceable thing?

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Catholics slam PETA nude adopt-a-mutt poster

Mike Richards

Even as an atheist I'm shocked and appalled by this imagery

It's sacrilege in this day and age to have such horrifyingly bad Photoshopping going on round her feet.

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Gov confirms plans for Sky box in charge of your house

Mike Richards

The who? The what?

'The machines will be run like Sky or TiVo boxes, under remote control from outside the home - users will have no control over them.'

Can't speak for Sky boxes, but TiVo is completely under user control. The only connection to other computers is the daily phone call and you can switch that off if you want.

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Mike Richards

Treadmill

If you're running on a treadmill why haven't you hooked that up to a dynamo?

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Navy's £1bn+ destroyers set to remain unarmed for years

Mike Richards

@ David Adams

The good news is that they did put the pointy-bit at the front.

I wonder how many Swedish stealth ships we could have bought for the price of this fiasco?

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Cartoon smut law to make life sucky for Olympic organisers

Mike Richards

“The London 2012 logo depicts the figure 2012 and nothing else.”

Well that passed me by. Am I unusual in never recognising those objects as numbers?

I'd love to know if this logo was ever considered by focus groups before being unveiled to a slack-jawed in disbelief public by the arbiters of artistic fashion - Tessa (I'm married to a crook) Jowell and Sebastian (I was almost strangled once by William Hague) Coe.

And sorry LOCOG, once you see Bill Clinton and Lisa Simpson in the logo, you can't see anything else.

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Apple tweaks T&Cs for Blighty customers

Mike Richards

@ Individual #6/42

Re: faulty Time Capsules

Did you have one of the original ones which has died a death - and if so, did they replace it with one of the new models?

'Cos if so, I think I might try that with my Apple Store who've been promising me a replacement Mark I TC for nearly 2 weeks now, but singularly failing to get their fingers out.

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Johnson refuses to intervene in McKinnon extradition

Mike Richards

@ h4rm0ny

'So here's to Strasbourg. I will personally reverse by previous cynicism about the EU and celebrate them if they actually save him from extradition. I hope they do.'

You're getting your European courts mixed up.

An complaint of any violation of human rights legislation (the UK's Human Rights Act is a watered-down version of the European Convention of Human Rights) would be heard by to the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg. The ECHR is authorised by the 47 nation Council of Europe and nothing to do with the European Union.

Judgments of the ECHR are NOT automatically binding on member states - the judges can issue an advisory ruling which member states are obliged to consider to see if their domestic law is accordance with their obligations under the Convention.

Aspects of EC Law (no it's not called EU Law) are resolved by the European Union's court which is called the European Court of Justice and sits in Luxembourg. Most of its business is interpretation of aspects of the various EU treaties. For the record, judgments of the ECJ are binding on members of the EU.

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Aus gov dredges up cuter panic-button for kids online

Mike Richards

And won't somebody think...

...of all those children who have been sexually molested by a dolphin?

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Tivo to return to UK in 2010

Mike Richards

Woohoo! Shit!

Awesome, my TiVo series 1 is still going strong but it could really do with HD support and twin tuners.

But what a pisser that the new TiVo is going to be tied to Virgin's crappy cable service which I can't get.

Let's hope TiVo tie up with a Freeview box manufacturer and put their awesome software in a useful box.

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UK jails schizophrenic for refusal to decrypt files

Mike Richards

9 nanograms?

So in ball-park numbers around 1/100,000th the mass of a grain of sugar.

It makes me wonder if that sort of quantity found on any suspect is a reasonable grounds for suspicion or could be achieved through nothing more than chance contamination. I wonder what the figure would be if you pulled someone off the street.

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NASA plans robot rocket aeroplane to fly above Mars

Mike Richards

One for Vulture 1 surely?

Come on, let's send Lester to Mars!

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Mike Richards

Too many Areses

We have Ares I the huge manned rocket, Ares V the stupidly big rocket and now ARES the plane - this is a recipe for confusion.

I'm with Tom_ above - ARSES please.

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Spain warned on filesharing cut-offs

Mike Richards

Thank god for the EU

The supposedly communistic undemocratic demagogue seems to be the only thing looking out for the individual these days.

Let's hope a serious slapping is heading towards the UK.

Preferably complete with a real slapping for Mandelson.

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Weather balloons no longer a crazy idea for rural coverage

Mike Richards

@ Steve Coffman

Helium's not the only lifting gas. Some weather balloons use ammonia although it has a lower lift. And there's no reason why hydrogen couldn't be used in this case provided the operators only recruited non-smokers.

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eBooks: What to read on which reader

Mike Richards

Crappy customer service from Waterstones - beware!

Beware of duff eBooks even from legitimate sellers. Waterstones offer China Mieville's 'Perdido Street Station' for the Sony eBook Reader, but the book has been completely ruined by the morons who did the conversion - there are whole sections of the book in the wrong order, typos and weird characters aplenty and whole blocks of text have been repeated throughout the document.

I alerted Waterstones to the fact they're selling a version of the book the author couldn't possibly want people to see. What does Britain's leading bookseller have to say on the issue? Well let's have a look at their mission statement:

'Waterstone's mission is to be the leading Bookseller on the High Street and online providing customers the widest choice, great value and expert advice from a team passionate about Bookselling. Waterstone's aims to interest and excite its customers and continually inspire people to read and engage in books.'

So you'd expect an 'oh dear, we're really sorry, here's a corrected version of the book. Thanks for letting us know.' (You know, like they would if you found a paper book which had been incorrectly printed or was barely legible). Well to spare you the illiterate emails I got from customer services; they couldn't care less. They've got your money and they're not going to give it back without a fight.

Don't expect to get a quick refund on duff eBook purchases. Retailers assume you're a pirate from the start and you have to fight to get your money back, Amazon even considers eBook purchases to be final.

Instead, if an eBook is shite or if you can't get one thanks to DRM or stupid policies about only selling books in certain countries; write to the author and let them know their work is being ruined by their publishers or that their income is suffering.

You might not get a refund, but you'd be surprised how sympathetic writers are about customers getting what they want and what they paid for. You might even make a new friend.

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US forces developing 'miniature weapons' for killer robots

Mike Richards

@ The First Dave

'How much do you think DARPA are expecting for a lousy half-mil? That's barely enough to buy a full-sized hellfire at retail prices.'

As that great sage Opus the Penguin once said 'Physicists need Porsches too!'

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LHC dimensional apocalypse from midnight: Your thoughts

Mike Richards

If something does come through...

...it'd better have tentacles or I want my money back.

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ISPA slams Mandy's copyright land grab

Mike Richards

'What action the Tories would take on the issue is not clear.'

No, that's easy.

'Tell us what to do Rupert.'

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Mandelson to get Nominet reform powers

Mike Richards

because Mandelson doesn't really have enough powers does he?

And why does word that the powers are unlikely to be used *NOT* set my mind at rest? I seem to have heard similar comforting words before - usually just before those powers are used.

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Anti-filesharing laws are go

Mike Richards

@ Bassey

'it still has to be singed off by the Monarch before it becomes enshrined in law. No Monarch would ever sign such a law and would immediately disband any government that attempted to pass such a law.'

I think you're being overly optimistic there. The sovereign has the option to withhold Royal Assent, but it is generally acknowledged this will never happen to a government-sponsored bill. The last time withholding assent was even considered was when George V wanted to veto Home Rule for Ireland. He took legal advice and was told he should not do so unless the security of the nation was threatened by the passage of the bill. That advice holds.

The sovereign appoints Lords Commissioners who state Royal Assent on their behalf. Most of the time they don't even get involved with the process, instead; convention states the sovereign takes advice of their ministers - if they say grant assent, it is granted.

All of which is good reason to ask the Americans if we can have a use of their Constitution. There are far fewer conventions and assumptions and a damn sight more transparency.

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MS store staff in spontaneous electric boogie

Mike Richards
FAIL

I made it all the way through!!!

So okay the only way to do it was to switch off the sound and minimise the window.

But I *knew* it was still there wibbling and wobbling away in brightly-coloured SoCal Ballmervision - and that must count for something.

After that I think I need some quality fare - something like the complete Steven Seagal collection, played backwards with a Swedish dub.

(BTW. I think we need a special, extra-large FAIL icon for occasions like this)

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Mike Richards

Sorry forgot

There's only way to cope in places like this. When someone wishes you to 'Have a Magical Day!'* or breaks into a perfectly choreographed 'spontaneous' dance, the socially correct response is:

'Fuckity Bye!'

* I so wish I was making that up.

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New Zealand rated least corrupt country

Mike Richards

Iceland...

Just a point of order.

The average Icelander is pretty much as honest as they come, hence the country's high rating. But the dozen or so of them that ran the banks and managed to bankrupt one of the World's richest countries must be in a league of their own.

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Hacktivists ransack Hitler defender's email

Mike Richards

Yeah it's wrong to hack someone's account...

...but part of me can't help but think that anything that makes the life of this grubby little fascist (he described himself as such) a bit harder can't be bad. Irving has made a nice little income from Holocaust denial.

As for free speech, that really is a tough one. After all Irving has variously claimed that Hitler knew nothing about the Holocaust, that the Allies faked the story, that there were no gas chambers, that there was no organised extermination and so on and on... His stories have been disproven in academic journals, books, papers, even in court and yet he still rattles round the far-right circuit spilling his venom. I can't begin to imagine how much distress he causes to survivors and relatives of the dead. But yes, he should be allowed to speak - and as soon as he steps over the line, then he should be dragged in front of a court and bankrupted all over again.

One thing that's easy to do would be to stop calling him a historian. Court judgements say he has faked and exaggerated his evidence. So perhaps the next time he turns up in print or on television they can just call him 'David Irving: Nazi fantasist'?

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V-22 Osprey, stealth jumpjet 'need refrigerated landing pads'

Mike Richards

Using NASA tech

Just two points.

The tiles on the Shuttle might well be heat-proof but they're insanely fragile. You can scratch one with your fingernail, hell they're even dented by raindrops. So there's no way they'd survive having a plane drop on them.

To answer Pyros point above. No, there's small flexible felt pads under each tile, but they're there to allow the aluminium skin of the Shuttle to expand and contract without popping the tiles.

And Nomen Publicus's question about the water dumped on the Shuttle pad during launch. That's not there for heat protection, it's a sound deadening system preventing shockwaves bouncing off the concrete apron and tearing the rocket apart.

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Mike Richards

Silly question...

...but wouldn't the Brits have fixed this problem long ago when they had to deal with Harriers performing vertical landings on their pocket-sized carriers?

Either that or the US Navy can fit a giant oven glove* on the landing pad.

*They can put a camouflage pattern on it if the usual daisies aren't sufficiently Oooh-rah for the Marines.

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Latest Navy carrier madness: 'Sell 'em to India'

Mike Richards

Can someone come and invade us?

Because I don't think we're making it as an independent grown-up country.

So do we have any takers?

Large(ish) archipelago (GSOH) conveniently located off of the Western Coast of Europe would like to meet professional empire. Somewhat neglected for the last century but would make an excellent second territory. This competitively-priced country comes complete with fully-fitted drizzle, threadbare transport network and a decorative German monarchy. The landmass* is available to the highest bidder in possession of a half-baked system of government.

*offer does not include the Republic of Ireland. Northern Ireland negotiable.

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Mancunians finally get to open bank accounts, go to Europe

Mike Richards

2000 lucky Mancunians

This is BRILLIANT. If you're a shyster selling duff tech to an illiterate government.

Come the next New Labour government they'll be able to spin that there's been a public trial in one of Britain's largest cities and they've only had 2000 complaints!

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Twitter preps paid plans for 'business' Web2.0rhea

Mike Richards

"to the extend that Tweeting is an acceptable verb"

Unless you're referring to a pretty little bird, 'tweeting' is NEVER an acceptable verb.

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The best mad scientist memoir of the year

Mike Richards

@ Anonymous Coward

'Using nuclear weapons to dig a newer, wider, better Panama canal.

'Who'd ah thunk it?'

The answer to these sorts of question is always Edward Teller; a man always one secret volcano lair away from certifiable Bond villain.

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Apple wins attack of the clones

Mike Richards

@ Ivan Headache

If you put a new drive in a Mac and insert an update disk you are then prompted to install the OS disk which came with the machine in the first place.

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Channel 4 to become Channel 3D tonight

Mike Richards

Channel 4 in 3D

'Location, Location, Location' normally only makes me queasy, now I can be guaranteed to throw up when the posh bint and the bloke who can't pronounce his 'r's show Tarquin, Jocasta and darling Bubblejet around their fifth home - in 3D!

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Olympus PEN E-P1 Micro Four-Thirds camera

Mike Richards

Six hundred quid???

Bloody hell you can buy top quality dSLRs for that much.

Try as I might, I really can't see the point of the micro four-thirds if the prices are going to be higher than better featured dSLRs. You don't save that much space in the camera bag and if that's your most pressing concern the Lumix range from Panasonic would be a better bet.

It's a bold move, but without heavy discounting I think micro four-thirds is doomed to go into the 'interesting but no way' bin alongside the Foveon sensor.

I'll stick with my Alpha 700 and Ixus combination thanks.

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Mantis Reaper-clone drone flies

Mike Richards

Ooopsie

'For the British the smart thing to do would be to produce their own domestic drone, even if it is more expensive than the US counterpart.'

You haven't been round here long have you? The track record of Britain's defence industry to produced sub-standard gold-plated garbage is a regular feature of Lewis' articles. They'd be really enjoyable if it weren't for the fact they cost us so much money.

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Border guards get first dozen ID card readers

Mike Richards

Only 2000 in Greater Manchester?

That can't even cover the number of Labour Party apparachiks running Manchester Council.

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Atlantis crew gears up for Monday launch

Mike Richards

Sartorial point

They really should get better outfits - they look like someone who might come round to fix your boiler.

Something in silver methinks and catsuits for any ladies who might be about to blasted into orbit (UFO purple wigs optional).

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Michael Jackson planned 'robot duplicate' of himself

Mike Richards

@ tiggertaebo

'Does anyone else expect a conspiracy theory to start now implying that he's not dead and they buried a robotic duplicate?'

I hadn't, but I think this is the perfect opportunity to start one.

And it's also a good time for him to start appearing in the Reg's unrivalled Playmobil CCTV footage - possibly replacing Optimus Prime during Transformers religious holidays.

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Revealed: The amazing premise behind Ridley Scott's Monopoly

Mike Richards

'I created a comedic, lovable loser...'

Oh fuck, it's another Adam Sandler movie.

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Play.com leaves Modern Warfare 2 buyers empty handed

Mike Richards

'Guaranteed'

How can a company guarantee delivery on the day of release when it admits that it has no control over the delivery process?

Sounds like a dodgy advertising claim to me.

It's been a long time since the likes of Blackstar (remember them before they morphed into the entirely shite SendIt?) used to post stuff a couple of days ahead of release and it wasn't uncommon to get titles BEFORE release day.

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Wikipedia sued for publishing convicted murderer's name

Mike Richards

Beautiful phrasing guys

'The dispute is the latest example of a party reaching halfway across the globe in an attempt to deprive the world of content that may or may not violate the laws of a single jurisdiction. If such actions succeed, they will largely gut free speech rights such as those guaranteed by the First Amendment, '

The irony of that section just keeps on giving...

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UK.gov denies innocent will be hit by filesharing regime

Mike Richards

Sion Simon is a minister?

Oh FFS - how thin is the bottom of the barrel after they've scraped this far?

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Regulator warns on school CCTV schemes

Mike Richards

Local MP's view would be interesting

I'd love to know what the local MP, the ever delightful Hazel Blears, has to say about this. After all it was on her watch that a lot of the moronic 'but who'll think of the children?' legislation was passed.

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