3344 posts • joined Wednesday 28th February 2007 21:13 GMT
Depressingly, John Denham, the minister in charge of science funding at DIUS, is a chemist by training.
The rest of his dog's-dinner department seem to be the usual bunch of third-rate lawyers and straight-out-of-university political science graduates, who'd get more of a kick out of an episode of 'Money Box' than they would out of 'Cosmos'.
Denham's building quite a legacy isn't he? Not content with effectively gutting the Open University, he's about to shut down British science.
The Home Office: Be Safe. Be Suspicious
Thousands of people phoning in because the guy on the bus next to them has two phones / took a photo containing a CCTV camera (try and find a place in London where there isn't one) / was very interested in an official building / looked a bit shifty / was one or two shades too cappuccino to be an honest citizen / for the hell of it.
As Clarkson might say, 'What could possibly go wrong?'
Oooh hold on, I've got to call the police, I don't like the look of my colleague's Sony MP3 player - he's clearly a dangerous subversive and needs to be tortured immediately.
Does this mean I'd get a natty outfit like Tron?
That's almost one camera per Starbucks!
How many people will they need to monitor half a million cameras? Ahhhh now I see how Nu Labour are going to massage the unemployment figures - everyone on incapacity benefits will become a 'trainee community surveillance operative'.
Ah very clever...
...the Home Office says ID cards are going to be compulsory for people employed in sensitive areas such as airports; all they need to do then is embrace and extend the definition of 'sensitive'.
Work with children? What could be more important than our children? So you'll need an ID card. Work in a hospital? We need to check you aren't a psychopath (there'll be a check-box on the ID card application form where you can say if you're mad). Work in Starbucks? Have you thought of the damage a terrorist could unleash with a poisoned hazelnut latte? ID card please.
Soon the only people who won't need to account for each and every movement will be MPs.
Time for Greenpeace to show how it's done
When the back-to-the-13th-Century eco-hippies produce a useful computer built from knitted lentils and powered by recycled Guardian social worker job supplements maybe THEN we'll pay attention to their press releases.
In the meantime, mine's the dolphin skin coat with mahogany toggles.
Phorm and paedophiles
I'm a bit confused here.
BT and other ISPs claim they are common carriers and can't intercept the bits of customers to actively hunt out illegal activities such as the trafficking of paedophile images. Instead, they insist the police get warrants to tap specific data.
But along comes Phorm and all of a sudden common carrier be buggered, BT say it's perfectly possible to intercept data in order to earn money.
If I was in the Home Office, I might be asking questions why BT and other ISPs aren't willing to help crack down on serious crime when they clearly have the tools to intercept paedophile data in real time.
Channel 4 site
Yay! and they're even using the correct Registerese - 'data pimping'. Let's make sure that Phorm, BT and 'data pimping' become part of daily conversation:
Now I wonder if they'll run the story on the television news?
HTTPS should be okay
HTTPS uses SSL which uses two forms of encryption to guarantee speed and security. Public key cryptography gives lots of protection from the problems of key distribution, whilst symmetric cryptography - nice and fast - encrypts most of the data.
When you start an HTTPS session your machine requests a copy of an asymmetric public key held by the remote server. Your computer then generates a unique symmetric session key, a copy of which is then encrypted with the server's public key and dispatched across the net. When the server receives the encrypted session key, it uses its private key to decrypt the session key. From then on all transactions are encrypted with the session key.
Phorm could intercept the public key - but can't decrypt messages encrypted with that key. It could also intercept the encrypted session key - but again it doesn't have a decryption key. The bulk traffic of the exchange can also be intercepted, but Phorm won't have a copy of that key.
So HTTPS is safe, but there is plenty of information slopping over the Internet that could cause you lots of damage - from your emails, to just the profile that could be built from watching one of your sessions.
I am with BT and demanded a full explanation of their plans and how I can possibly trust them again. I'm also threatening them with the DPA, RIPA and Ofcom. I don't expect I'll get a useful response, so I'll be switching ISP RSN.
Oh dear I can't believe I'm going to write this...
...but in the UK, the word 'hoover' is a genericised trademark.
Hoover failed to sufficiently defend their trademark on vacuum cleaners in the UK, as a consequence the word now refers to any brand of vacuum cleaner or the act of using a vacuum cleaner. Hoover aren't alone - aspirin, petrol and sellotape all used to be trademarks in the UK, but are now used when discussing any comparable brand.
Oooh I feel all dirty now.
There's never really been any competition for cheap rockets in the past. The US expendable rockets could be expensive because the bulk of their launches went to the military who'd pay almost anything. The only serious attempt to cut costs was the original plan to turn the Shuttle into a space truck, but the Shuttle proved to be about the most expensive way imaginable of putting stuff into orbit and the commercial launches were all suspended anyway after the Challenger explosion.
The Russians did produce cheap rockets because they needed to launch several hundred rockets EVERY year in the most appalling conditions. So their Soyuz family of rockets was built on an assembly line out of cheap components with fairly loose tolerances. However, Soyuz has had trouble getting into the commercial business because of concerns over technology transfer to the Russians and the lack of an equatorial launch site which limits the amount of payload that can be fired into the most valuable geostationary orbits.
Soyuz is by far the best cheap launcher at the moment, but it's worth remembering it is based on half century old technology - all those small thrust chambers and strap-on boosters make it inherently less effective than a rocket designed today with more advanced materials and engines. So there is a market for a competitor, but the Soyuz IS going to be a tough act to follow.
You'll be glad to know that the Americans previously imaged the surface of Venus with Earth-based during the early 1980s. These maps were superseded by data retrieved by the orbiters Pioneer Venus, Magellan and Veneras 15 and 16.
More recently they've used the Goldstone telescope to examine the Martian surface and done several surveys of Earth-crossing asteroids. The resolution is usually pretty low (Mars maps were in the tens of kilometres per pixel level), but they can reveal large geological features and the relative roughness of the surface. IIRC as long ago as the 1970s radar surveys of Mars were used to identify areas of the surface where the Viking landers could touch down safely.
Lunar altitudes are calculated as differences from the centre of the Moon. The most up to date figure for the mean lunar surface is 1,737,988 metres from the centre, with spot heights being given as +/- that number. IIRC the highest points on the Moon are something like 4,700 metres above the mean surface. Calculating altitude is not as easy as it sounds since the Moon is noticeably aspherical with a considerably thicker crust on the far side than the hemisphere we see from Earth.
Pretty good value
I'm guessing 'server grade' means a drive with an exception MTBF - we'll find out as soon as someone gets their hot little hands on one and cracks it open. If it is a good drive then Apple's pricing seems reasonable.
(Currently about the third most odious NuLabour minister)
They may not kill you, but perfluorocarbons ARE potent greenhouse gases - has McNulty done an environmental assessment of releasing these chemicals? And how many hippies will we have to plant to offset this test?
And to go back in the thread, some basic chemistry.
Argon wouldn't be a very good gas to use as a tracer in the atmosphere, since there's already about 0.8% of the stuff floating around
And no, you shouldn't swallow U238, not only because its toxic, but because its an alpha emitter and could do various nasties to your GI tract as it worked its way through.
'with' or 'by'?
'Banged up with Blunkett' - a series in which liberals are incarcerated with New Labour's own mad, bad and dangerous to know bearded demagogue would qualify as cruel and unusual punishment in any book. Grown men have been known to beg to go to Guantanamo Bay rather than share the Today programme with our big-budget Mullah Omar.
Meanwhile, that positively engorged bonkbuster 'Banged up by Blunkett' a the racy story of American millionairesses, their third world nannies, our deliciously stern ex-Home Secretary and a dog - must be deemed too disturbing for sensitive viewers.
An economy built on tax fraud and dentures
is all I know about Liechtenstein.
On second thoughts, does Liechtenstein actually exist? Has anyone ever been there? Has anyone ever met a Liechtensteinian? Real country or a cartographic rounding error?
'I'm not about to cast aspersions on the Chinese, but it might be nice if someone could give examples of interesting things they've created in the last 1000 years or so? Or better yet, the last 100?'
Well *I* find her interesting ;)
And if ISPs finger the wrong person?
Will the record companies be willing to share the fines imposed by the court? Or will they be busy buying another archipelago for Cliff Richard.
(slightly offtopic, but what is it that makes Andy Burnham quite so inherently slappable?)
'"I want to thank the lord Jesus Christ for this opportunity," said team leader Richard Speck at the press event, holding up a piece of paper with a cross printed on it.'
Is it so *VERY* wrong to hope this one goes tits-up in a thrillingly telegenic coast-to-coast tribute-to-Gerry-Anderson launch pad explosion?
And I thought it was only Channel 4 who decided it makes sense to repeat the news.
And who doesn't think a cockroach would do a better job of the news than GMTV?
No, there's no need for biocides. The algae would be cooked in a fermenter to produce a liquor containing either ethanol or butanol. That's recovered using distillation to make a near pure product.
I assume Virgin aren't going to try scumjet because Branson's worried about burning close relatives?
What you forgot to mention...
...is that the government is refusing to publish the detailed findings of the Deloitte report on the grounds that if they did so people might use that information to target the database.
Clearly someone in Whitehall thinks that security through obscurity is still a reasonable argument.
Was it just me and everyone I know with a 360 who thought that GoW was just far too hard to control, too difficult to get into and too muddy?
And as for the list of upcoming 360 exclusives - 'Too Human' is ALWAYS on the upcoming lists, it was upcoming for N64, for PS1, PS2...
Good day for Chinese missile scientists
The Americans have shown their seaborne anti-missile missile works perfectly given enough space to play with. So any Chinese military scientists looking for a cool billion or ten to build a submarine-launched solid-fuelled MIRVed missile will be to buy that Porsche after all.
Mandarin clears government and police outrage - shock horror!
I'm so surprised by this finding I might need to lie down for a while in a dimly lit room.
@ Yarrow Paddon-Butler
'Next thing you know, Princess Leia'll be coming out of the TARDIS.'
In the chain mail bikini? Say she'll be wearing that outfit!
How big an area?
Looking at Google Earth the region of the Pacific it makes sense to avoid right now is about the size of Mexico!
What if you're going on holiday?
It's okay for BA to say that you can rebook a flight at a later date, but there's every chance your holiday company will not cooperate and rebook. You could also find yourself SOOL when claiming on insurance.
And remember, Terminal 4 is the *nice* terminal at LHR. The other three are even less fit for purpose.
FoI exemption and other public companies
Anyone know if that other New Labour fiasco, National Rail, is exempt from Freedom of Information requests? That too has a huge balance sheet and engages in commercial deals.
And agree with captain kangaroo - this isn't nationalisation; NR's juiciest assets have been packaged offshore in the Granite portfolio which has not been included in the bail-out. The public is now underwriting NR's less attractive assets including all their high loan/value accounts. We're about to be shafted.
The only saving grace is that we're not being shafted by Beardie.
First to eBay?
Anyone in the Pacific with a bit of BacoFoil and a Tamagochi they need to get rid of on eBay?
So the taxpayer is to keep Cliff in desert islands?
I caught part of News 24 last night where they were interviewing some douche bag from U2. Apparently this isn't about artists needing a fleet of Lear jets or hot and cold running hookers. It's actually a tragic story; many multimillionaires were so busy shovelling Colombian marching powder up their sinuses for the last half century that they never got round to organising a pension. If we don't say 'please keep gouging us' various superannuated has-beens will have to quit crashing hotel suites into swimming pools and start living in the real world. They're simply not ready for things, it'd be like letting your gran loose on a PS3.
On grounds of balance, I have to ask, is a 50 year extension on copyright such a terrible price to pay to keep Cliff out of the recording studio?
If you need me, I'll be billing the government for some work I did 20 years ago and only got paid for once. Hopefully U2 will back my claim.
Toshiba is a *huge* company
Actually Toshiba is only very slightly smaller than Sony, although much of its output is not known to us in the West. They're one of the biggest semi-conductor manufacturers in the World, they have a very successful heavy engineering arm and they recently bought the Westinghouse company which designs the majority of pressurised water reactors.
Losing HD-DVD would be an accountancy headache for the company, but it wouldn't endanger it. And they have powerful friends, Toshiba was one of the original zaibatsu conglomerates and are now a major keiretsu having a strong, favourable relationship with the Mitsui Bank.
They're probably better off than Sony which has recently become highly dependent on one or two product lines - Bravia and PlayStation - for the vast majority of its profits.
I seem to recall there were plans to trial a fleet of liquid nitrogen powered cars in Mexico City where the thin air is a stew of ozone, nitrogen oxides and finely powdered human sewage. A zero emission car running on cheap as dirt liquid nitrogen would have helped a little tiny bit.
Anyone know if anything happened with this?
Nice sense of national priorities
Our telescope programmes are being gutted and hanging on by a thread, we've pulled out of a major particle physics project on grounds of cost but we've got moeny to pull a suitably telegenic Brit in the World's most expensive tin can to do - ermmm...
I can't remember which hapless government minister was on the news this morning saying that satellite programmes were of great use because they let people play the Lottery. Which, even if it were true, has nothing to do with Dumbo the ISS White Elephant.
Not a geologist are you John?
So many errors, such a short article:
Firstly Ephesus lost its access to the sea because of the silting up of the Menderes River. Nothing to do with sea level change. It's actually one of the few places in the Eastern Med and Aegean where sea levels *aren't* a major factor - over much of Greece, recent massive changes in observed sea level are down to tectonic movements. Yet remove the tectonic movements and sea levels still change, so there is a climatic effect
You wrote: 'Yet, with the notable exception of the extinction of the dinosaurs, it seems life has happily trundled along through it all.'
You mean it's trundled happily along - APART from the repeated mass extinctions observed in the geological record; the biggest of which are: end Ordovician, late Devonian, end Permian, end Triassic, and end Cretaceous, some of which were much more serious than the one which killed off T-Rex and friends. There are also the PreCambrian Snowball Earth in the Proterozoic and the Oxygen Catastrophe in the PalaeoProterozoic.
Increased greenhouse gases the best explanation for the Palaeocene - Eocene Maximum; a relatively minor, recent mass extinction which did huge damage to oceanic diversity. It has also been proposed as the driver for the end Triassic extinction which saw something like 20 - 25% of species go to the wall.
Finally, you'll be glad to know, climate models DO include factors such as water vapour and they include climatic information from deep ocean oozes, O16/18 isotope ratios in shells, ice cores, lake sediments, tree rings... to help establish climate records going back hundreds of thousands of years.
It's also worth noting that climate scientists have been desperately trying to tighten up their models. Last year the Open University released a PC client to let everyday users help resolve some issues with the parameters in existing climate models. Users could download a model then their computer would change some of the parameters, run the model and transmit information back to the central server where it could be compared against historical records to see if the model became more accurate or less accurate. More information and download links here:
With so many mistakes, it kind of makes me wonder why you wrote the article?
Will be posted on an HD-DVD so no one will be able to read it.
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