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* Posts by Graham Dawson

1561 posts • joined 5 Mar 2007

STONEHENGE: Attack of the RAYGUN HISTORIANS

Graham Dawson
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Headmaster

Re: still seems funny to me

"Watching the sun" is exactly what these stones were built to do. They had to be accurate (or accurate enough) and they had to be permanent in order to provide a known quantity.

The summer solstice wasn't really that important as summer was a time of bountiful supplies of food. Devices like Stone Henge were built to collect the timing of the winter solstice, for both an agricultural and a religious reason.

The agricultural reason was quite simple: they had to have a point from which to count the days until planting began. It was their farmer's almanac and set the seasonal calendar without reliance on the moon.

The religious reason was a little more esoteric. It was the fairly commonly held belief that the winter solstice was the time when life hung in the balance, and not merely in terms of the cold and shortening of food supplies. The days were getting shorter and shorter, the nights getting longer and longer, and there was a very palpable fear that the sun might just decide not to come back next year. They had to know with absolute certainty that the days were getting longer, and they had to know when that change began, in order to time the big week-long celebratory feast. Similar religious practices are found throughout Eurasia, especially in the more northerly areas, and defined much of the form and function of Christmas (and no, before anyone claims it, christianity didn't coopt the old religious practices to trick or ease pagans into converting: converts to the new religion simply carried on their old feasts with new names, to the great dismay of the religious leaders of the time).

This is all well-known and has been for some time. What this particular study has done is directly verify that which was already known from other sources.

Still won't convince all those nellies that thing Stone Henge was built to measure the summer solstice and use it as an excuse to dance around in their underpants, but what can you do?

And now back to my little Florentine adventure. Ho the Medici! I require more culturally attuned steak!

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Astroboffins to search for mega-massive alien power plants

Graham Dawson
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Re: Hope it's just a Dyson sphere

Depends on the size of the shark.

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Bloke jailed for being unable to use BlackBerry Messenger freed

Graham Dawson
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Re: Hmm, should this have ever gone to court?

English criminal law used to be entirely about intent. Intent is a very important differentiator between criminal and mistaken behaviour. You can, for instance, be prosecuted for the simple intent to commit certain crimes and rightly so, without ever doing anything more dangerous than gathering the materials necessary to carry out the crime - if you can be proven to actually have that intent.

Even crimes that appear to lack intent, such as manslaughter (for example, killing someone by running them over while driving dangerously) are usually the restful of intent to commit a related action. In the example case, driving dangerously: you choose to commit a potentially criminal act and in the process you cause a death.

Unfortunately the burden of proof for intent is very high, which is why we now have all these laws that criminalise acts without consideration of intent - it makes it much easier to bring prosecutions and bump up the stats, and consequently makes it much easier for politicians and the police to look like they're being tough on crime, when all they're actually doing is criminalising acts that are often either the result of misadventure, or are entirely innocent.

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Scientists: 'Castration is the key to a longer life'

Graham Dawson
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Re: That's odd ...

Yes, but very tasty.

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iPhone 5 Lightning cables sticking in USB ports

Graham Dawson
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FAIL

Re: the white plastic surrounding the USB end slides right of revealing the medal connectors

They aren't, but did you check the other end of the cable?

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LONDON iPHONE 5 MADNESS: 'You must be CRAZY to buy Apple'

Graham Dawson
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Re: I *need* an iPhone5

By and large, yes. I use it for some writing, occasionally for SSH with connectbot. If you root it you can even install a debian chroot and have all your linuxy apps there to play with, though there are a few limitations on that method.

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Graham Dawson
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Re: I *need* an iPhone5

I can do nothing but praise the Xperia Pro and Mini Pro, though the mini was a bit too dinky for my big rough workman's hands.

But I suppose I'm partial given that the Pro was purchased almost entirely because it felt like my old n900. Now that was a marvelous phone.

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Graham Dawson
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I think you're showing a little prejudice if you think the Jesus story was "twisted" by a church that didn't even exist for much of the time said "twisting" was taking place.

From a purly historical perspective, Christianity arose as one of several offshoots of a temple-based religion that suddenly had to adapt to a world where that temple no longer existed. It's mirrored in the rise of judaism which, despite its claims, isn't actually older than christianity; it was also an attempt to cope with a world where the temple was gone. Both firmed up around 200AD into the religious we know and love today but they'd had very different starts.

Christianity based itself around a revolutionary concept. It was a revelation-based faith; that is, it waits for revelation to be provided in dealing with unforseen circumstances (the great mysteries), which is why there are so many christian denominations; they all had different revelations on particular subjects.

Judaism based itself on a consensus of opinion and is an evolutionary faith with some revelationary characteristics, which is why there are so relatively few jewish splits and why they tend to mix and merge again over the centuries.

On the subject of whether Jesus was married, there's a lot of speculation based on fantasy and hearsay and gnostic pseudographia written many hundreds of years after the events in question but no actual evidence. The bible itself implies that Jesus was celibate and may have been a nazirite for much of his life before having a revelation, breaking his vows and attempting to restore the "true path" of the temple faith of Israel. Being celibate would rather preclude marriage, I feel, and the nazirites were a very powerful sect at the time, with many thousands having taken the vows. Certainly they were powerful enough that Paul had to appease their leadership more than once.

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Apple iPhone 5 review

Graham Dawson
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Megaphone

Re: Let me just throw a question out there

Widgets. I can turn off my data connection, wifi and sound by tapping little buttons on my home screen. I have a calendar and more things one screen to the left, my music player widget one screen to the right. I don't have to trawl through an endless list of icons and settings to do all these things, I can just unlock the phone and bam, done.

I can install a completely different launcher if I want. I can completely customise the lock screen itself. I take ownership of my device by making it look the way I want it to look instead of just getting a grid of icons.

That's just off the top of my head.

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Pirate Bay’s neo-Nazi sugar daddy files for bankruptcy

Graham Dawson
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Re: To be Far Right in Sweden...

He may well be the lovechild of engels and hitler and have genghis khan as his godfather, but that doesn't mean the label hasn't become meaningless. The "far right" label is so abused in Swedish politics these days that my cynicism meter pegs as soon as I hear it. When it can encompass everything from being an actual jew-hating neo-nazi who wants to restart the ovens to being someone who considers that perhaps the government should be a little less involved in the citizen's daily life - that is, when it can mean just about anything the speaker wants it to mean - it is, by definition, meaningless.

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Graham Dawson
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To be Far Right in Sweden...

... one merely has to express the opinion that taxes might be too high and that the government should not be in the position to seriously debate whether men should be forced to sit down while taking a piss.

This label is meaningless and is purely used to denigrate and dismiss someone Andrew Orlowski does not like.

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Governments block YouTube over that video

Graham Dawson
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Re: During the meanwhile ...

Just for that I'm going to chop your head off!

Or would you prefer cake? I have cake too.

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Opportunity finds new patch of 'berries' on Mars

Graham Dawson
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Headmaster

Re: so, in a nutshell:

These spherules aren't exclusively produced by bacteria. Other processes also create them, such as electrical discharges, meteorite impacts and simple water deposition.

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Reg hack uncovers perfect antidote to internet

Graham Dawson
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@ The Axe Re: Barrier tape?

The regs regarding electrical outlets in Zone 2 are taken directly from EU regulatory directives (in turn taken directly from some ISO agency tasked with standardising such things). Regulatory directives are not passed through member-state governments and go straight on the books without even examination by the civil service, let alone parliament. The only oversight any UK body has on them is when the IET writes them in a form suitable for inclusion in BS7671 and that won't change anything except formatting or internal references to other parts of the regs.

The regs don't ban electrical outlets from bathrooms, believe it or not. They ban mains outlets within Zones 0 and 1 and require outlets within Zone 2 to be IPX4 or better (that is, protected against splash and mechanical ingress). Outside of zone 2 you can place any number of outlets you like. It's just that most modern bathrooms don't extend much beyond the dimensions specified for zone 2 due to the recent practice of building houses so small that a hamster could feel cramped.

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Work for beer, Neil Gaiman's wife tells musicians

Graham Dawson
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Re: I need to lie down somewhere...

I was with it up to the last line, when the hyperbole broke down into the fallacy of guilt by association. The fact that she's a grasping greedy little snit doesn't mean the people that she used for promotional purposes agree with that stance. In fact I'd suggest rather the opposite.

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Ten iPhone 5 challengers

Graham Dawson
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Re: Asus PadFone

There are some being sold online already, but the price is horrendous. It's almost cheaper to import from Taiwan.

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Health minister warns ISPs: Block suicide websites or face regulation

Graham Dawson
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The uh, minister in question is a Lib Dem.

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Why is the iPhone so successful? 'Cause people love 'em

Graham Dawson
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Re: Mobile Telephones Anyone?

Great job, Richard! You found the phone you desire!

But what does that have do do with the price of fish? Many people, such as myself, want a device that can do a lot more than just make phone calls. Many people require a device that allows them access to things that a dumb phone cannot provide. Some do in fact need mobile internet for their work or for something to do on a break, or perhaps they just want it. And they're willing to pay extra to get it. They may choose an overpriced piece of tat or they may make a sensible buying decision. They pick a device that they want and they spend their money on it.

You have the phone you want. Great! You spent your own money on it. Fantastic! But now you're proclaiming yourself superior because of that choice. You're just as smug as all the fanbois and fandroids and fan...whatever it is they call windows mobile users these days.

If there's one thing I hate, it's smug.

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New broadband minister snubs 'ugly' fibre cabinet gripes

Graham Dawson
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Re: Necessary equipment

Substations are usually housed in a building large enough to serve as a two-room dwelling, and in addition are full of very dangerous high voltage electricity, so there are very good, practical reasons why they need to be kept out of the way.

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Graham Dawson
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Re: Pictures?

I'd be chuffed if I had one right outside my place. The speed boost would be fantastic.

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Google's stats show few Android tablets in use

Graham Dawson
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Re: The main problem for fondleslabs...

Quick Office is pretty good. I use it all the time for writing, even on my phone. Does all the basic office productivity stuff and I doubt most people would need more than that on their slab. I believe Goog own it now but it was good even before they got their paws on it. The only downside I've found is that it doesn't support opendocument, which is a bit of a drawback, but one I'm willing to live with if it lets me write.

And OpenOffice or LibreOffice (can't remember which) is being ported to android as we speak. So there you go.

All it takes is a little searching.

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Home Sec to decide Gary McKinnon's fate by 16 October

Graham Dawson
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Facepalm

Re: The Condom nation

Ooh, I know the answer to this one...

Get a grip!

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Graham Dawson
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@Ian Johnston Re: probably not a very fashionable thing to say, but...

Actually Jon, it is a mental illness, in the sense that the physiology of an aspergic brain is different from the average to a significant degree. The general defintiion of mental illness includes differing perception of the world; by that measure alone Aspergers qualifies.

It's not an extreme "male" behaviour either. My wife is aspergic. Her behaviours aren't masculine, extreme or otherwise (and I believe I'd know), they're simply the typical behaviours of someone with Aspergers.

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Graham Dawson
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@Khaptain Re: probably not a very fashionable thing to say, but...

"After watching some of the videos in which he is interviewed I got the feeling that this chap does not really suffer too much from anything. I almost got the impression that he was proud of his achievements."

One of the symptoms of a more extreme case of Aspergers is the reduced ability to both properly understand and properly enact emotional cues. It's akin to a lack of empathy. Despite what some believe Aspies feel and express emotion but they don't do it the way "normal" people do and, as a consequence, they often appear to display inappropriate emotions. He might appear proud (arrogance is an accusation often levelled at aspies; they tend to be aloof as a coping strategy and that can often be interpreted as something malicious or purposeful) but any apparent pride he displays has nothing to do with the morality of a situation.

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Mozilla dumps iOS, pulls Firefox Home from iTunes Store

Graham Dawson
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Pint

Yes.

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Organic food offers basically no health benefit, boffins find

Graham Dawson
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I can't think of any other heir to the throne...

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Patent flame storm: Reg hack biteback in reader-pack sack attack

Graham Dawson
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Patents were once required to have a demonstration or a working model to accompany the application, which would significantly reduce the cost of checking whether the idea worked. You'd have a conclusive demonstration that it worked. It was eventually dropped as a requirement because of the warehousing costs.

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Here we go again: Critical flaw found in just-patched Java

Graham Dawson
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Re: 2 birds with one stone (@ Ignazio)

No stake in the whole Jave is good/Java is terrible thing, but I do agree that learning one language tends to make learning other languages quite a bit easier. It applies equally to programming and spoken languages.

I learned Pascal at college (6th form, that is) over two years. When I left I learned PHP in... well yes, actually, about two weeks. After a couple of years I was a reasonably good amateur coder.

Yes, in PHP. Yes, I know, shut up.

At university I learned the basics of C in just a couple of lessons. Four or five hours to get from never having read the language to understanding (if not necessarily any sort of skill). Got top marks on that module because I tried something more advanced than merely replicating the tutor's instructions.

I wish I'd stuck with that, come to think of it...

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Safer conjugal rights via electronic skin

Graham Dawson
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Coat

Re: Excessive precautions?

It's always the bloody deflector dish! Want to kill a marauding space alien? Re-route primary power through the deflector dish. Want to preserve all life on this planet we found? Reverse the polarity of the warp core and re-route it through the deflector dish. Want some popcorn? DEFLECTOR DISH!

... actually that one might work pretty well.

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UK ISPs crippled by undersea cable snap

Graham Dawson
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Only if it was a sealion.

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UK kids' charity lobbies hard for 'opt-in' web smut access

Graham Dawson
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Headmaster

Re: Title should've been

This "default option" requires ISPs or some other entity to take an active role classifying and listing sites as either "safe" or "unsafe" and its status as a default creates a situation where you have to ask for permission - in effect a license - to carry out acts that were previously free and unencumbered.

And the definition of enforcement?

1. To compel observance of or obedience to something

2. To impose (a kind of behavior, for example)

3. To give force to; reinforce

So they are in fact suggesting enforcement.

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British Minister likens Anonymous to fascists and racists

Graham Dawson
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The difference between Pinochet and Assange is jurisdiction: Spain had no claim of jurisdiction over Pinochet. The judge in question was acting on an assumed right to try crimes in another country over which he had no legal title. Assange, meanwhile, is accused of committing a crime in Sweden, against a Swedish citizen. We may argue with the legal merit of that crime but Sweden's law stands (even if might be alien to our own sensibilities) and it has that jurisdictional right to lay charges against the man. The Spanish judge demanding Pinochet's extradition had no such right.

So they are simply not comparable.

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Neil Armstrong dies aged 82

Graham Dawson
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Mushroom

Re: Cover-Up

They sent that great big rocket up, where the hell do you think they went if not the moon?

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Police mistake reveals plan for Assange's Embassy capture

Graham Dawson
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Re: sovereignty only important for your country

No, he's a douche because he's a self-publicising arrogant twit who would step over his own dead grandmother for a pot of tea if he thought it would get him an advantage and more publicity. He's skipped bail on very serious charges, refuses to defend himself, claims he's being persecuted by foreign governments and all the while pushing himself forward as the saviour of mankind, whilst those who did the actual work are languishing in jail or go completely unacknowledged.

He is an arsewipe of the highest order and he deserves not a single iota of respect from anyone. EVER.

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Akihabara unplugged: Tokyo's electric town falls flat

Graham Dawson
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Re: First Tokyo, next London?

Maplin still sell parts by mail order, though I suspect they're a little overpriced.

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Microsoft's new retro-flavoured logo channels Channel 4

Graham Dawson
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Re: I detect a familiar odor...

That's not saliva...

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LOHAN sets clock ticking for explosive climax

Graham Dawson
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Oh, I'm sure that was entire intentional and you're only inflating their egos to bursting point by focussing on it. Hate to burst your bubble and all...

Oh god, the puns. They're ballooning.

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Graham Dawson
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Re: Classified

Nah, he'll be racing against it in a Veyron. Possibly from the top of a cliff.

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Samsung Galaxy Beam Android projector phone review

Graham Dawson
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Re: A solution in search of a problem

Gingerbread is just the OS, I'd be surprised if it came with that sort of capability built in.

Like they say: there's an app for that. :)

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Curiosity's laser turns Mars rocks to 'glowing plasma'

Graham Dawson
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Coat

Re: RE:".....so that the rock shot first..." No, no, that's not how they'll do it.

But at least the president isn't trying to get his rocks off.

I had no other way to work that joke in.

... I'll leave now...

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Disney sitcom says open source is insecure

Graham Dawson
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Re: Guys, I think you're missing the point...

"it's just fiction" is all good and well but it does rather miss the point itself. Fiction is a very large part of our culture. An incredibly large part of it. As such fiction forms a large part of our worldview by influencing both our value structures and how we perceive the world.

A culture is the social mores, beliefs and opinions and behaviours of a group, who learned those social artefacts while they were children.

This is a show aimed at children. Remember that for a moment.

Consider: if you want to influence a culture, where's the best place to start? At the top, with its leaders? They're already inculcated with a particular worldview. They can be nudged but, by and large, they've settled on their opinions and are unlikely to be shifted, and any change in the underlying culture often threatens their powerbase.

In the middle with the general adult population? Again, they've already absorbed their culture. Again, they are unlikely to be shifted from it because it would require reanalysis of their core beliefs. One or two may have an "epiphany" and change their behaviour when presented with an alternative culture but even they are still innately linked to the prevailing culture in which they were raised. It's burrowed deep into their brain and forms the primary motivations for their behaviour.

The children? They are young and malleable. They are still absorbing the cultural mores of their parents. They are equally open to any concept presented to them.

There's a reason why political movements always focus on children. They know that children, above all others, are easy to impress upon with new ideas, new claims, motivations completely alien to the culture they were born in. The quickest way to create a sea-change in a culture is to capture the next generation and introduce the ideas of that change within them.

Which brings us back to fiction (which forms, as I asserted, the majority of our culture). A child watching this will soak up the idea unconsciously and it will become part of his belief structure in some way. One instance won't do much, but if there are more instances, more pieces of fiction (especially television which, for a variety of physiological reasons, is an extremely potent way to influence the way people think) containing similar ideas, a cultural imperative will be crafted within the child to view open source with suspicion.

So "it's just fiction" is a bit of a red herring. It's presented as fact.

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Graham Dawson
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Re: That reminds me of some dumb programme...

Who remembers Hackers?

"It has a bus!"

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Hipstamatic axes most of staff to focus on art, creativity

Graham Dawson
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Re: No! I do not understand!

I was bashing hipsters before it was popular.

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NASA picks the target for Curiosity's first road trip

Graham Dawson
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Re: Grand Challenge

Aye, and it's not like the rocks are going to suddenly get up and walk away.

Though it'd be fun if they did...

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Oracle: Google impurifying media's precious bodily fluids

Graham Dawson
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They keep telling the truth about us, they must be funded by google!

The vast conspiracy meme gets old...

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British boffin builds cool maser after argument with wife

Graham Dawson
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Mount a couple on SpaceX's Dragon capsule and we can invade Mars properly.

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Samsung's Wang was up 22 hours a day, had no time to copy Apple

Graham Dawson
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Re: Dodgy argument...

Er... mongo-what? Good god did you just cross a line, mate. Can't win an argument so you resort to disgusting insults.

Well done!

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Apple granted patent for in-cell touchscreen display tech

Graham Dawson
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.... wait, an apple patent that covers an actual, physical implementation of a novel idea that isn't just "basic software concept X but on a mobile device" or "round corners"?

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Hello nasty, don't use my music: Deceased Beastie Boy to admen

Graham Dawson
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Re: Very strange behaviour indeed

Hasham, the difference is simple: HMV and co are selling music. Advertisers are selling a product and using music to form part of that product's image. HMV and co don't alter the artist's creative intent by associating third-party imagery with the music. They don't blend it and break it and merge it with their own ideas, they just sell it. Advertisers transform a creative work, they associate that music with concepts that may be completely opposite the artist's original intent and in doing so they alter what the artist is trying to say. They are not selling the music. You're apparently labouring under the impression that selling music and using music to sell a product are the same thing when they are, in fact, completely different.

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