@ Sir Runcible Spoon
'What's beyond despair?'
3615 posts • joined 28 Feb 2007
'What's beyond despair?'
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?
We can flog the Israelis a shiny new biometric panorwellcon since it looks like the next government won't be needing it.
' 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:
Can we now bury that myth alongside the person who suggested I should take up drinking instant coffee?
Swindon and Walt Disney World have a lot in common - I wouldn't want to be seen dead in either of them.
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.
...Twitter it and the Guardian will run a full page probing feature with commentary by Stephen Fry.
...is it just me, or does the Psion 5 look more futuristic than that unpronounceable thing?
It's sacrilege in this day and age to have such horrifyingly bad Photoshopping going on round her feet.
'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.
If you're running on a treadmill why haven't you hooked that up to a dynamo?
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?
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.
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.
'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.
...of all those children who have been sexually molested by a dolphin?
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.
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.
Come on, let's send Lester to Mars!
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.
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.
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.
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.
'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!'
...it'd better have tentacles or I want my money back.
No, that's easy.
'Tell us what to do Rupert.'
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.
'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.
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)
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:
* I so wish I was making that up.
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.
...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'?
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.
...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.
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.
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!
Unless you're referring to a pretty little bird, 'tweeting' is NEVER an acceptable verb.
'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.
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.
'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!
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.
'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.
That can't even cover the number of Labour Party apparachiks running Manchester Council.
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).
'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.
Oh fuck, it's another Adam Sandler movie.
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.
'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...
Oh FFS - how thin is the bottom of the barrel after they've scraped this far?
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.