* Posts by Mike Richards

3596 posts • joined 28 Feb 2007

Big Climate's strange 'science'

Mike Richards
Flame

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:

http://www.climateprediction.net/science/strategy.php

With so many mistakes, it kind of makes me wonder why you wrote the article?

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Government wants every English child on 'secure' database

Mike Richards

Secure database

Will be posted on an HD-DVD so no one will be able to read it.

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US may shoot down spy sat to safeguard tech secrets

Mike Richards

Soviet nuke sats

There *was* one serious incident; in 1978, Kosmos 954 re-entered the Earth's atmosphere and crashed into Northern Canada. 954 was a RORSAT which used a miniature nuclear reactor to power a large radar. At the end of its life it should have ejected the core into a high storage orbit, this didn't happen and a large chunk of enriched uranium and fission products ended up amongst God's Frozen People.

A number of people were exposed to radiation in excess of 1 Sievert (aka. 1 metric shit-load of radiation) and less than 1% of the core was ever recovered. Much of it probably burned up in the atmosphere, but there are almost certainly pieces still waiting to be discovered.

The RORSATs were in polar orbits which meant that they covered most of the surface of the Earth. We were very lucky Kosmos 954 didn't come down somewhere less barren. To give you an idea of the size of the contaminated area; had Kosmos 954 landed in the Gulf of Mexico, there would have been intensely radioactive particles stretching from the coast of Texas to Toronto.

Fortunately, there are no more of these nuclear-powered satellites left in low-Earth orbit.

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Europe hails foothold in space

Mike Richards

@ Andrew Heenan

The 2016 closure date has nothing to do with the ISS being life-expired at that time; it's because NASA have no plans to budget for the ISS beyond 2015. Their plan is to switch funding from the ISS to the Orion/Ares lunar exploration programme with a landing on the Moon by 2020.

The remaining partners in the programme, Japan, Europe and Russia, want to keep the ISS open beyond 2015 but have so far refused to pay the additional contributions if the Americans pull out.

HTH.

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When poor people pollute - the Tata Nano and eco-crime

Mike Richards

Biggest problem about the Nano

Is that it is going to increase Indian oil imports, with China's own burgeoning car population hot on its heels. These two new oil-hungry economies are going to force the price of a barrel ever higher. Painful for us in the West, potentially disastrous for African countries dependent on oil imports and the very poor in these emerging economies.

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Sarko calls for global Mars exploration gig

Mike Richards

Re: RyanAir

Nice idea, but RyanAir's service to Mars actually terminates at Phobos from where you need to take a connecting bus service for the last 10,000km.

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EU squeals over US pre-flight personal data grab

Mike Richards

Will Gordon jump?

Britain has a long and dishonourable history of making unilateral deals with the Bush administration - our appalling lop-sided extradition treaty overseen by Blunkett and our kowtowing to American refusals to deal with the court in the Hague being just two.

I'd be amazed if the Home Office as part of its 'Building a Safe Just and Tolerant Society*' schtick wasn't gagging to hand over this data and more - yes much, much more - absolutely free - to the DoHS**.

* I couldn't find that fine piece of strategy boutiquery on their site - perhaps not even the Home Secretary can say it and keep a straight face.

** Assuming of course the DoHS hasn't already received a pair of mislabelled CDs.

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Police bugging of lawyer visits might see flood of appeals

Mike Richards
Flame

@ Mike

'I thought our justice system was to protect the innocent? As far as I am concerned, anyone who commits a crime in this country gives up their human rights, privacy rights and any other rights while they serve their time.'

Conversations between a lawyer and their client, however unwholesome, are confidential. If you really value the justice system you have to accept this

Some of these conversations took place when the people were on remand awaiting trial. At this point they were legally innocent, anything that could have interfered with the outcome of the trial is an abuse of the justice system.

Other bugging would have taken place when a person was appealing against a sentence. Again it could have distorted the outcome of the trial.

If Huntley was bugged then serious questions must be raised as to *why* he was bugged. If it happened after his initial trial it is unlikely to mean the verdict would be set aside, but it should result in a real enquiry as to what the hell the police are up to. If they can't explain it, then heads, right up to the Chief Constable and the Justice Minister *MUST* roll. Neither of them should be allowed to get away with 'I wasn't told' - they are paid huge sums of money to run their organisations, if they can't do it, or if they turn a blind eye, then they have to go - and hopefully be prosecuted.

With any luck this will sink the whole New Labour Big Brother state built by a succession of control-freak Home Secretaries determined to look tough and a pair of inadequates masquerading as Prime Minister.

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More videogames to face censor scrutiny

Mike Richards

Bloody Channel 4

We've got Channel 4's favourite therapist, Tanya Byron, telling Labour what we can play - if she has her way things won't get more exciting than Tetris. Meanwhile on the other side of the non-existent ideological divide, Channel 4's favourite grasping property magnate, Kirstie Allsopp, is guiding the Tories' housing policy (bet it won't involve building council houses).

So the only question is when do the Lib Dems team up with Gillian McKeith (not a doctor however much she likes to say otherwise) and tell us to love our poo?

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Stopblair.eu tries to halt Tony's march on Brussels

Mike Richards

How does he find the time?

Blair's meant to be resolving the territorial, economic, military and religious difficulties of the Middle East. He's got not one, but two jobs with banks, a sports foundation and a think tank pondering the issue of faith. Now okay, bank hours aren't that long (they're always closed when I need a branch), I assume Tony can get similarly recently-unemployed Tim Henman to continue his winning ways with the sports thing and I expect a quick before-bed prayer covers the whole faith issue. But isn't the Middle East worth at least a full time job?

In reality it all boils down to him not being able to wait for the BBC to announce 'President Blair...'

But our best hope is that the UK government won't back this bid for glory by a political has-been. At the end of the day Gordon Brown has the final say.

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Brit firm levitates floating chair

Mike Richards

Rails

Put it on a suitable track and we could all have our own maglev monorails.

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Smith plugs into wired police plans

Mike Richards

Getting rid of paper

Makes it easier to get rid of evidence when someone tries to prosecute the police. You can stake money on these wireless messages and other technogeegads not being archived anywhere.

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Top cop urges RIPA review in coded attack on snoop code

Mike Richards

Over interpretation?

Ah Sir Ronnie (Omagh anyone?) means police are finding it too onerous to follow the rules.

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US spooks won't get UK census access

Mike Richards

@ Nomen Publicus

Ooooh I'm sure the government saw that giving data to Lockheed was a good idea about thirty seconds after Lockheed's lobbyists mentioned they might need a some more non-executive directors in a few years time. It's an ancient political maneouvre known as 'doing a Hewitt'.

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Britt Ekland on board for 'Wicker Man 2'

Mike Richards

Christopher Lee

'horrific enough to loosen the bowels of a bronze statue'

Ooooh I wish I could hear him say that - it'd be the scariest thing since Balmer did 'Developers' (see how I slipped the IT angle in there?)

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MoD goat-bothering boffinry to cease

Mike Richards

Where will they get their kicks now?

No more goat in rubber suit action for the Navy boys? Guess they'll have to go back to the staples of rum, sodomy and the lash.

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Bunker-nobbling US megabomb test delayed

Mike Richards

Delays, delays

If they have many more delays Dubya won't be able to drop one of these on Iran before he's out of a job.

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BBC excludes Grange Hill after 30 years of misbehaviour

Mike Richards
Paris Hilton

We'll always remember the enormous sausage

Paris (natch)

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eBay gets negative feedback about ban on negative feedback

Mike Richards

@caffeine addict

Brilliant idea! You should patent that (you never know, 1 Click helped make Amazon rich)

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Scientists warn on climatic 'tipping points'

Mike Richards

Vikings

Yep that old warhorse about Vikings and Greenland has reared its ugly head again.

Let's get it straight. (Putting his trained geologist hard hat on)...

Greenland in the Viking Period was not a lush paradise, its coasts had isolated patches of marginal land, the interior was the same ice cap that's there today. Greenland was always colder than both Iceland and Norway; its winters were harsher and summers short and frost prone. The Greenland communities remained heavily reliant on imports from Iceland and Norway for even quite basic materials.

Greenland got its name through Erik the Red's nordic spin-doctory; as the Icelandic sources put it: "He named the land Greenland, saying that people would be eager to go there if it had a good name."

The whole situation ended with the passing of the Medieval Warm Period - a time of unusual warmth in the North Atlantic region. There is much less evidence of a global warm period at the time, especially in the Southern Hemisphere. It is therefore not analogous to the current warming which is not only global, but occurring much faster than the MWP.

Scientists are much less concerned about the absolute temperatures we're seeing (it's still relatively nippy compared to the Eocene about 50mya when London had a pleasantly African climate including hippos), than the rate of change which is unusual.

Admittedly it is not unprecedented; the aforementioned Eocene kicked off with the Initial Eocene Thermal Maximum which is associated with a major extinction event and massive changes in sea level; but it is one of the fastest we know about. At the moment, the best explanation we have is that our CO2 emissions are driving the warming.

Oh and before I go, the ice age fears of the 1970s were well founded considering the state of knowledge of the time. Although it is worth pointing out that even then, the majority of scientists predicted climate to either remain unchanged or warm slightly.

But back to the cooling hypothesis.

For the last 12,000 years we've been living in an interglacial (periods of relative warmth between glacial advances). Isotope work done on Pleistocene deposits showed repeated advances interleaved with relatively short interglacials of between 10,000 and 20,000 years. The present Flandrian interglacial is already 12,000 years old it seemed to be reasonable to assume the climate would be turning inevitably towards the next glacial advance.

We now know that interglacials can last in excess of 100,000 years and the switch between the two extremes takes much less time than we thought - ice ages don't take tens of thousands of years to develop or end, they appear quite abruptly.

There was some evidence to support the cooling theory. The climate between 1940(ish) and 1970(ish) had cooled somewhat, especially in the Northern Hemisphere. We know know this was mainly due to heavy industrialisation during the post-War economy and the newer economies of the Soviet Union, China and Japan producing huge amounts of particulates from coal and unchecked emissions of sulphur dioxide. Through the 1960s and 70s, the West rapidly switched to oil and gas and began to filter SO2 from its emissions, the skies cleared and the climate turned back to normal.

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Iran fires rocket 'into space', plans satellite for '09

Mike Richards

@ captain kangaroo

Why is Washington so obsessed with Iran?

Easy - it used to be theirs. They once had a tame dictator with impeccable fashion sense and a ready love of torture to act as a balwark against the Soviet Union. Sadly the people of Iran were less enamoured of the Shah than those in the West (even after many of them had been tortured to love him all the more) and got rid of him in a revolution. This had the nasty side-effect of putting some religious nutters with an even more free-loving addiction to torture and terror in charge of one of the largest oil reserves in the World.

All in all, not a good thing.

So it was time for plan B. America (and its faithful sidekick Britain) found another accommodating Middle Eastern dictator who if anything was even more stylish and torture happy than the erstwhile Shah. They promised him lots and lots of weapons (including some of the grown up toys) if he'd just pop next door and hold an impromptu invasion on our behalf.

Sadly, the Iranians didn't play ball, and despite our new best friend getting lots of satellite info cribs and gee-whizz poison gas, they didn't roll over and die (well not all of them at least).

After ten years of murder, mayhem and merriment, things were pretty much where they started; Iraq said 'sorry' to the mullahs and did the silliest thing imaginable by invading an even bigger oil field.

They weren't our friends any more! We were especially angry when we found out the Iraqis weren't as silly as we'd thought and had actually read the instruction leaflets on all those nuclear thingumjigs, biological doohickies and chemical wadjamacallits we'd sold them - and been building grown-up weapons.

This was not only bad, it was wrong, which is where the current Middle Eastern hilarity all began.

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HMRC still waiting for EDS cash

Mike Richards

Nice idea

I wasn't aware that paying fines was something that could be done by installments as and when I feel like it and if I find any spare 5 pence pieces down the back of the sofa.

Thank-you EDS - you found a solution!

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Freeview lobby cries foul on Ofcom HDTV plans

Mike Richards

Meanwhile in Milton Keynes

The 'city of the future'(tm) is still waiting for regular old Freeview. At the moment, thanks to sitting in a transmitter black hole, we get analogue Beardie TV over cable.

It's hard to describe the quality of the Virgin operation in MK but try to imagine watching a Baird televisor through an old sock. But perhaps I'm being unfair - what other TV service allows you to watch the scrolly News 24 ticker *EVEN* when you're not watching News 24?

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Atlantis looks good to go

Mike Richards

Translating NASAese

"used a special tool to guide the hose back into its storage box while the payload bay doors were closed"

Aka. an old Bic biro.

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Local copper: Met secret police requested MP bugging

Mike Richards

RIPA hilarity

Yesterday MPs asked Jack Straw to confirm that there were no bugging orders being operated against Members of Parliament. Straw said he could not, because RIPA 2000 makes it a criminal offence to disclose if a bugging order exists.

Who was the genius Home Secretary that brought in RIPA?

Well, one Jack Straw of course.

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Mike Richards

Human rights lawyer

Didn't take Khan long to throw all that human rights rubbish aside once he became an MP. The only question being, did he jump on ID cards, internment without trial, war, DNA evidence and endemic surveillance *faster* than Emily Thornberry - a fellow human rights lawyer and ultra-loyal New Labour MP?

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A380 superjumbo in natural-gas powered test flight

Mike Richards

@Matt Bryant

The flares you've seen on oil platforms are there as a safety measure in case of a sudden pressure spike elsewhere on the platform. If any part of the rig becomes overpressurised, the gas is sent to a flare stack where it can be burned safely. The flare is kept continuously burning much like a pilot light on a gas stove to prevent icing or debris getting into the stack.

Most operators are cutting back on flaring on production platforms as technology has improved and petroleum gas is now quite valuable. You'll continue to see it at oil refineries and exploration rigs for some time to come. IIRC the total amount of CO2 released from flaring all round the World is something like 1% of the total produced by Man - but one of the highlights of a long flight to the far East or over North Africa is to see the gas flares.

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Brits can't distinguish history from the TV listings

Mike Richards

Worse than UKTV History

National Geographic Channel.

As best I can tell it's forever running 'Top Ten Air Crashes' - not a patch on UKTV's offerings of 'Hitler's Gardens'.

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Straw launches inquiry into Muslim MP bugging case

Mike Richards
Flame

Anyone feel sorry for Sadiq Khan?

No thought not.

He's emblematic of everything that's wrong with the Commons - rank up rank of careerist lobby fodder blindly doing the government's will, stripping away our rights in the 'war against terror', always willing to parrot an identikit soundbite straight from the spindoctors, always preaching to the proles.

Well now Khan's found himself on the sharp end of an intrusive state I wonder if he'll be so willing to spout the 'nothing to hide, nothing to fear' mantra that's got him quite so far up the greasy pole.

Doubt it. He'll probably demand an apology and seek ministerial reassurance that mighty MPs like the Member for Tooting should be immune from the laws they pass.

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Scientists create 'no-tears' onion

Mike Richards

Scientists?

Why aren't they 'boffins'?

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Shell IT staff disgusted at mega profits

Mike Richards

Guys, this is embarrassing, we're making far too much money...

...so let's throw most of it away by employing EDS!

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Sarko Killer and Bruni sue Ryanair

Mike Richards

Rumpi?

Love it, once again the Register proves to be a lexicographical powerhouse.

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Reg readers bring down HMRC website

Mike Richards

Clear evidence of a disturbing trend in Britain...

...we are facing a celebrity gap.

Not nearly enough tax-paying Brits are sufficiently famous to be exempt from filing online. It's a shocking inditement of 11 years of New Labour that Britain is still lagging America in the growth of trivial celebriosity.

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VOIP and the web baffle Brit spook wiretappers

Mike Richards

Let the countdown begin...

Until some Home Office genius reanimates the grotesque idea of compulsory key-escrow (with the government being the escrow agency) as mooted under Jack Straw. The proposal died a quiet death and was not widely mourned.

But that was before September 11th and the government's all-encompassing terrortastic policymaking.

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Chinese make Olympic weather bow to Party's will

Mike Richards

@Joe and @Harry

No you're right. I remember seeing it on Tomorrow's World and Pravda ran an article on it a few years ago:

http://english.pravda.ru/science/19/94/379/15693_weather.html

Let's hope the environmentalists get sufficiently wound up about weather mod that there's no chance of preventing the driving drizzle that will inevitably blight the 2012 opening ceremony.

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Michael Bay to relive A Nightmare on Elm Street

Mike Richards

Michael Bay might have a real problem with Elm Street

Because I don't think anything blows up.

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US military prepares for plummeting spy satellite

Mike Richards

@M Burns

Actually America has orbited one nuclear reactor - the SNAP 10 in 1965 which was injected into a low polar orbit for 43 days before an unrelated failure caused the automatic ejection of the core into a higher storage orbit.

The US abandoned nuclear reactors on satellites fairly early as it perfected efficient solar cells for its reconnaissance satellites. They could put their satellites further out where solar arrays were less prone to atmospheric drag and make up for the greater distance with superior optics.

They continued with radioisotope generators (RTGs) on missions to the Moon (to get round the 14 day Lunar nights) and outer planets; but it's worth remembering that two American RTGs been lost when coming back to Earth...

In 1964 an RTG was launched on the unsuccessful Transit 5BN mission. The RTG burned up over Mozambique releasing something like 50,000 curies (1 metric shed-load) of plutonium 238 into the atmosphere. This led to a change in American RTGs to use ceramic plutonium and graphite construction. Which was handy when Odyssey, the Apollo 13 Lunar Module (which was meant to be left on the Moon) came back to Earth and burned up in the atmosphere. NASA deliberately steered the craft into the Tonga Trench in case its RTG leaked. Later surveys found no sign of contamination.

The Soviets not only continued using nuclear reactors in their radar satellites, their radars and solar cells were relatively poor requiring very low orbits where atmospheric drag would have brought a solar-powered craft back to Earth presto pronto, but they also used polonium 210 to heat some of their lunar missions. IIRC one of their Lunokhod missions never made it out of Earth orbit and eventually burned up along with its exciting cargo.

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UK gov issued 250k snoop licences in nine months

Mike Richards

Quarter of a million?

Would anyone like to estimate the cumulative total of how much civil service time would have to be spent reading and signing cases for 250,000 intercepts?

ah silly me, they don't read them and authorise them with a stamp.

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MPs slam costly war-tech projects at MoD

Mike Richards

@dervheid

'Why in Satan's Name would ANYONE think that the UK forces would need 232. '

Easy...

At any one time half of them will be out of service waiting for a component to come through under the Mastercare extended warranty.

Another fifty or so will have been filled with red diesel to cut costs at the RAF and are having their tanks drained round the back of the hanger.

Thirty of them will be back at BAe because they've been delivered with two left wings.

The pilots of the next twenty will all be on patenity and or maternity leave for the next six months and no one knows how to adjust the cockpit seat for another pilot.

Of the remaining twelve, five of them will be on loan filming episodes of 'Top Gear'; leaving just seven to defend the nation - one for each day of the week as they'll each need six days with their bonnets up just to get them working again.

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Scientology website shielded against DDoS attack

Mike Richards

Big difference between most religions and Scientology

AFAIK, Scientology is the only one that's not happy for its teachings to be widely distributed outside of the organisation.

[SPOILER ALERT]

Xenu turns out to be the bad guy

[END OF SPOILER ALERT]

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Mike Richards

‘Scientology website shielded against DDoS attack’

Tom Cruise and the rest of the crazy gang better not relax yet, Xenu will always find a way past their pitiful proxies.

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'Wii workout' for overweight pupils plan slammed

Mike Richards

Campaign for Real Education

Aren't these the lot who've complained every education act since the mid 19th Century has been a regressive step that will only hasten the end of Empire and a lack of respect for the Empress of India?

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UK withdraws from Gemini telescope programme

Mike Richards

Yeah but we're getting the Olympics!

I'm surprised the government hasn't pointed out that £70 million of public money spent on stars not only gets you Jonathan Ross and Graham Norton, but also that binary system - Ant AND Dec!

What a crap country...

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Mike Richards

@Anonymous John

If only Northern Rock was only costing us £25 billion, it's probably twice that with another billion in tax-free profits going to Beardie.

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MoD asks UK Forces personnel to submit DNA samples

Mike Richards

@Mat

In accordance with strict new governmental security guidelines when the laptop is left overnight on the backseat of a car, it must now be hidden under a copy of the Daily Mail.

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US looks to old Herr Kohle for energy security

Mike Richards

Look West young man

The future of coal isn't in the Appalacians, its the mountain states of Colorado, Wyoming and Montana. These coalfields have been powering the US electricity industry ever since Nixon did one good thing and inaugurated the Clean Air Act.

But the real gold rush is likely to get started if the mining companies start turning the 120 billion tonnes of coal (that's 40% of all the reserves in the US) under Montana into oil. Brian Schweitzer, the current (Democrat) governor is a big fan of synthetic petroleum and got a lot of votes on plans to turn the state into America's gas tank. It's a poor state with few well-paid jobs; open-cast coal mining pays well and doesn't have the health risks of deep mining in the East, so the mining industry has a lot of sway.

Whether Montana's environment can take the strain is another question. The region has been suffering a drought for a long time now, and hydrogenation is a prodigious water user. But I'm sure that problem can be overcome - after all, no one's dammed the Yellowstone yet. :(

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Spy satellite to slam Earthside

Mike Richards

Beryllium

(Atomic number 4) is extremely light, strong over a wide range of temperatures, nonmagnetic and corrosion resistant making it ideal for satellites and aerospace applications. It is either used pure or alloyed, especially with copper. Satellites can use beryllium alloys in their structure, or sometimes in their engines.

The serious downside of beryllium is that many of its compounds are extraordinarily toxic, especially when ingested (interestingly, many beryllium compounds are very sweet - at least briefly). It's a top-notch carcinogen and also causes an extreme allergic lung reaction called beryllosis. For this reason, there aren't many elderly experts in the study of beryllium.

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IPS leak suggests ID card fingerprint chop

Mike Richards

@Damian

Abandon it?

Abandon a flagship policy of the last New Labour manifesto? Don't you understand the ID card scheme is the 21st Century version of the 5-year tractor production plan? Just as it didn't matter if the proletariats glorious tractors only had three wheels; it won't matter if the people of Britain don't have working ID cards - they will have ID cards. And isn't that what the late, great David Blunkett would have wanted?

Give up now, just when unreformed science is saying the whole scheme won't work? You might as well say the Dear Leader before the current Great Helmsman showed signs of human fallibility. And we're not quite ready for Gordon's secret speech to the 20th Party Congress on the topic of 'the Personality Cult and its Consequences.'

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/On_the_Personality_Cult_and_its_Consequences#Excerpts

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MPs squeeze science back onto select committee list

Mike Richards

Re: why no chair with a science background?

New Labour would have to hunt for a long time to find a chairman with a science background - their Parliamentary highfliers are dominated by third-rate lawyers, ex-union smoothies and those who've done nothing but grease the party political machine since leaving their politics course at uni.

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Critics split over DDoS attacks on Scientology

Mike Richards

For anyone still wondering...

Here's the definitive pocket-sized summary of Scientology:

http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=4572326307756845678&q=south+park+scientology+youtube&total=50&start=0&num=10&so=0&type=search&plindex=1

South Park - it is educational!

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