* Posts by Alan Johnson

76 posts • joined 1 Sep 2008

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Is there ANOTHER UNIVERSE headed BACKWARDS IN TIME?

Alan Johnson

Re: Deep question with more than one mystery

Obviously we do not have space reversla symmetry if we have CPT but the mystery is still there why CPT?

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Alan Johnson

Deep question with more than one mystery

There is more to explain than just the strangely high degree of ordering for small values of time which leads to the arrow of time in macroscopic physics.

Why is space and time minkowskian so the time dimension is singled out as having a different sign in the space time metric. Why? Why not all the same or two timelike dimesions?

Why do we not have simple time reversal symmmetry but have to tie it all together with other symmetries as CPT. We have (or at least we think we have) space reversal symmetry. This is independant from the observed assymetry in entropy.

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Bernie Madoff's coders jailed for role in $65bn ponzi scheme fiasco

Alan Johnson

Re: WTF

No this is just silly writing some general purpose software does not expose you to being prosecuted.

If you develop software which is clearly and obviously intended to be used to commit a crime then you can be prosecuted rightly so you are at the very least conspiring to commit a crime.

In a similar way if you give somebody a lift to the bank it is not a crime but if you give a lift to a bank to somebody wearing a mask and carrying a shotgun and then take him home with a large bag of money you can be prosecuted.

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Apple slapped in YET ANOTHER patent battle

Alan Johnson

Where is the threshold for obviousness?

I read the first patent and the the trivial obviousness of it was stunning.

The hurdle is supposed to be not obvious to someone skilled in the art. The patent would not have cleared the standard of not obvious to an unskilled but reasonably intelligent child.

Nothing against patents but they MUST be non-obvious to someone skilled in the art. The opposite seems to be the norm.

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Judge: Terror bomb victims CAN'T seize Iran's domain name as compensation

Alan Johnson

Bizarre in many ways

The legal theory behind this is that because Iran funded Hamas Iran is responsible for attacks committed by Hamas.

The idea of sueing states for the support of organisations whose actions you disapprove of is clealry a case of the strong doing what they like to the weak and massive hypocrisy.

No compensation has been paid the shooting down of an Iranian civilian airliner killing hundreds (not even an apology!) or the bombing of an african pharmecutical factory which killed a low end estimate of 10,000 people. The US continues to fund many terrorist organisations and continues to launch drone strikes into countries which it is not at war at. There is no chance whatsoever of anybody getting money from thr US for any of this.

Hamas are quite clealry a resistance movement fighting a guerilla wa, approve or disapprove of their actions being able to use governmentsthat support their actions if universally applied would open a huge can of worms.

The issue of whether a domain name is property or not seems mild compared to this.

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Computer misuse: Brits could face LIFE IN PRISON for serious hacking offences

Alan Johnson

Seriously confusing draft

The drafting is fundamentally flawed at the most basic level. In some cases it is clearly intended that a list of conditions shoudl be logically ANDed together in another place that they should be logically ORed together with no text at all to distinguish between the to cases. This is just broken. Which interpretation will prefail?

At a more fundamental level why do we need it? I am still very sceptical about the idea of hacking causing deaths and similar and for the all the most serious consequences surely we have enough laws already to cover death, serious economic damage etc.

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It's 2014 and you can still own a Windows box using a Word file or font

Alan Johnson

Re: Why would you PARSE FONTS in the kernel?

I was going to ask the obvious question of why the hell fonts are parsed in the kernel but someone beat me to it.

The supposed answer that the reason is that video drivers are in the kernel is no answeer at all but points to the problem, a failure of architecture and design in windows.

You do not need to go all the way to a microkernel architecture to spend some time partioning graphics and video related subsystems so that what is in the kernel is a well defined minimum. Font parsing clearly would not be in the kernel of a well designed system.

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Jony Ive: Flattered by rivals' designs? Nah, its 'theft'

Alan Johnson

Response to: Now I know many techies don't have much in the way of creative capacity

I take it you are not a 'techie'. I have worked in product design almost my entire life and I need to deploy creative and tehcnical skills. In my experience the only people who think engineers and scientists are not creative are those who are ignorant and/or incapable of technical work and lack the imagination to see why creativity is important in technical fields.

In other words those who are both ignorant and stupid.

In the wider debate about Apple the reason they get such a hostile reception is that they managed to claim as their own design elements they themselves copied and which were well established before they entered the market. This reduces innovation and the ability to be creative.

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THE DEATH OF ECONOMICS: Aircraft design vs flat-lining financial models

Alan Johnson

Economics cannot be modelled

Economics cannot be modelled in this sense:

1. Any economic theory that works reasonably well is then used by financial organisations to calculate the consequnces of their own behaviour and 'optimise' for profit. This is a form of feedback that continues until the model fails which it inevitably will.

2. Economic theory is almost entirely based on the idea of a large collection of 'rational' agents acting in their best interest. This does not reflect reality where the psychology of people comes into play. In order to have an accurate model of economies we need an accurate model of people.

This does not mean that useful quantative and qualtative economic theories cannot be developed but economics as some sort of engineering disciplince is not possible.

The article itself seems written by someone devoid of significant knowledge about economics. The idea that GDP growth is tied to increased resource consumption is paticualarily bizarre for someone writing for a magazine read by software developers. The clus is that Software development and sales add to GDP.

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On test: Samsung 845DC EVO 3-bit Toggle MLC and 845DC PRO 3D V-NAND SSDs

Alan Johnson

Odd use of concentric

I found the use of read (or write) concentric to mean read (foccussed, biased, optimised, dominated, orientated ....) really disconcerting. Am I an old Foggie and concentric is used to mean this nowadays or is it just the author? Funnily enough I could live with read centred although it is maybe not the best word. There are certainly a lot of other words the author could pick. The use of concentric to mean having a common centre is certainly a useful one an one that does not have lots of alternative words to scribe.

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NASA tests crazytech flying saucer thruster, could reach Mars in days

Alan Johnson

Re: Here's another...

But the center of mass of the system as a whole is not affected. It is like running up and down a small boat. The boat will move backwards and forwards a little but you can't do more than oscillate the boat around an average position and the center of mass of the whole system does not move.

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Ukrainian teen created in lab passes Turing Test – famous nutty prof

Alan Johnson

Dod it really pass or is it just noise?

Even if more than 30% of the judges in one test could not tell it was a machine this does not mean it actually passes because of uncertainty in the measurment. If for the sake of argument a judge has a 25% chance of thinking the machine is human (ie. the machine fails the turing criteria) and there are 20 judges then there is a 21% chance that 35% of judges will give a pass result. How many time si the turnig test run if you consider all teh entrants every year? Just probability/statistics will give a pass eventually. The turing test has been run many times so the fact that we get an outlier result should not be a surprise.

The sample conversation was very poor and no noticeable improvement from early efforts.

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UK govt preps World War 2 energy rationing to keep the lights on

Alan Johnson

Politicians pandering to the Greens are the problem not the EU

The problem is politicians pandering to teh green fantasy in an attempt to buy votes by spending money on a power technology which is not just more epensive than any other but is fundamentally broken is teh problem.

Britain has spent more than enough money over a long enough time period to renew our generation capacity and reduce carbon emissions but it was spent on renewables which are useless as more than a marginal power source rather than a tehcnology that actually works. Gas would have been the cheap option, nuclear the environmentally friendly, safe, strategic power security option. Our politicians went for the politically convenient fantasy option that doesn't actually work and makes the technologies that do work more expensive by requiring constant hot backup.

In an ideal world this might rebound on the politicians and environmentalists responsible but I doubt it. The politicians who inherit the problem rather than those who created it will be blamed and the greens will probably take to responsibility at all and propose more broken technically illiterate solutions.

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E-cigarettes help you quit – but may not keep you alive

Alan Johnson

Extreme regulation?

E-cigarettes deliver a drug into the body. There are significant issues if impurities are in the fluid or concentrations are wildly incorrect.

At the moment there is no regulation of aspects related to the effect on physiology or health of teh drug delivery. This is waiting for some short cut manufacturing or adulteration process to cause serious injury. There was a proposal to piggy back onto medical device regulations that I thought made sense rather than create new regulations but others may disagree. Effectively no regulation is waiting for a serious problem. The fact that real cigarettes are much worse should be a sobering thought. The tar that causes the problem is basically just a badly formulated pharmecutical delivering uintended chemicals as well as the nicotine and how many die every year from this?

Even with regulation there may be some incidents without it the probability/frequency is likely to be higher paticularily given price competition.

At the moment the risk of a real cigareete outweights the risk of a dodgy E-cigarette but the risk of constantly inhaling an uncontrolled mixture is significant. We have regulation of the food industry and the pharmecutical industry for good reason and the body is likely through evolution to be able to withstand unpleasant substances ingested better than inhaled substances.

Some regulation is sensible and the real debate should be the nature of that regulation.

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Torvalds rails at Linux developer: 'I'm f*cking tired of your code'

Alan Johnson

Re: Mozilla

"Those sensitive gay people ruin everything huh? At least the UK establishment has never persecuted gay computer scientists. Oh wait that's right they basically murdered one of the greatest in history".

I am no fan of 'the establishment' but he was not 'basically murdered'. He was treated badly but they did not come close to murdering him. It is far from clearthat Alan Turing committed suicide. It is quite possible he died due to a stupid error but if he did commit suicide it was his own decision and not remotely forced upon him.

I do not understand the desire to turn a talented mathematician into some sort of martyred saint. Let his achievements stand for themselves without the embellishment of martyrdom.

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EXPOSED: bizarre quantum sibling LOVE TRIANGLE

Alan Johnson

No information transfer faster than speed of light

What this and other older experiments demonstrate is that QM is inherently non-local. Incredibly QM manages to be non-local yet prevents information transfer using the non-local nature. This is amazing when you think about it.

The non-locality also means it is not necessarily true that QM is inherently random, non-local hidden variables could be present and depending on your personal bias this may seem more or less likely than th3 traditional view.

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iOS 7's weak random number generator stuns kernel security – claim

Alan Johnson

Re: Never use RAND()

From the code Marsaglia's is just an LCG - nothing wrong with that of course as long as the values are well chosen. Efficency wise I do not see the benefit of the 64 bit multiply all the upper bits get dropped later anyway. I like having more state than the output so if you have a 32 bit output you have 64 bits of state and a period (with well chosen constants) of 2^64-1.

Teh real point is use a PRNG for test data, simulation, monter carlo methods, padding etc but not cryptographic key generation etc.

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Modern spying 101: How NSA bugs Chinese PCs with tiny USB radios - NYT

Alan Johnson

Re: Proving His Enemies Right

The US spy plane was flying right on the border of chinese airspace playing a game of chicken with the chinese airforce pilot who was trying to ensure the US spy plane did not enter chinese airspaces when both planes collided. The chinese plane and pilot were lost the US plane was only damaged.

It is very unclear and probably unknowable whether the US pilot, chinese pilot or both made the fatal mistake but the entire situation was instigated by the aggressive and provocative actions of US spy planes flying straight at the border of chinese airspace and seeing how they reacted.

Potrraying this as chinese agression is very misleading

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How Britain could have invented the iPhone: And how the Quangocracy cocked it up

Alan Johnson

No Sympathy - whining because one of many possible funding sources was used and they did not give as much funding as needed is entirely the guys fault. Why did he agree and sign a contract if they were only providing a derisory 20K an order of magnitude less than required to get to a manufacturable product? Thsi smacks of wishful thining by someone without any sort of commercial clue. yes the British establsihment is woefully bad at supporting industry with a shockingly poor understanding of science, tehcnology and how to get things done but they are at least trying. The fact they gave money to someone who is commercially naise and incompotent reflects badly on all parties but the prime responsibility for failure belongs firmly with the guy who conceive dthe idea and set up th eproject and company not a government body who provided funding.

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MPs: Ancient UK Border Force systems let GANGSTERS into Blighty

Alan Johnson

IT is not the issue

The very best an IT system can do is to assist in making decisions about which shipments, planes etc are high risk. Any sensible strategy has to include an element of random inspection to account for the certainty that there may be things we do not know and potential smugglers may anticipate what is and isn't considered high risk. Any sensible analysis has to assume that our risk categorisation will not be perfect. A potential 200 records that may be missed out of 650,000 does not sound that terrible to me.

If we have politicians trying to imply that border security could or should be perfect that is a bigger problem, potentially leading to all sorts of broken decision making.

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Call yourself a 'hacker', watch your ex-boss seize your PC without warning

Alan Johnson

Re: CEH'ers

Hacker has many meanings and is still in use to simply mean someone who codes quickly, perhaps without a formal design and likes playing with code. This was the original meaning in a computer context.

Descrbing oneself as a hacker absolutely is not equivalent to saying you are interested or expert in security areas let alone you are someone who illegally attacks systems.

The verb hack to mean quickly modify code is still very widely used.

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Boffins hide supercapacitors on silicon chips

Alan Johnson

Re: Still some way short of LiPo cells though

No idea whether your calculation is correct but the point about super capacitors is the very rapid charge and discharge capability and the number of cycles. They have nothing like the energy density of a battery. They can be used where batteries cannot and often make sense in conjuction with a battery to handle pulse power demands for example in a GSM mobile phone they make sense in addition to the lithium cell to make the most of the battery by evening out demand. Improvements to super caps are useful and integration within an IC is intriguing although I suspect a long way off. Integrating decoupling capacitance which needs good high frequency response seems a more urgent need in most applications.

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Microsoft: Surface a failure? No, it made us STRONGER

Alan Johnson

Re: they must be doing something wrong....

Even if you think SW patents are acceptable FAT32 is an issue.

The problem with the FAT32 patent is that it is a stunningly obvious solution to a problem that only existed because of the pathetic design of FAT. The value of FAT32 patent is only FAT32's status as a de facto standard. Nobody designing a new filesytem would do anything as broken as FAT32. Patents that reward obvious solutions are bad because they inhibit innovation and competition. Patents whose only value is to allow implementation of a de facto standard and have no independant technical worth are very worrying especially when they are not offered under RAND terms.

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UK investor throws £14.8m at firm that makes UNFORGEABLE 2-cent labels

Alan Johnson

No credibility

All credibility is lost with the statement that it is impossible to forge. A statement that it is hard or expensive to forge I could live with. I suspect any money invested has been thrown away.

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Oh noes! New 'CRISIS DISASTER' at Fukushima! Oh wait, it's nothing. Again

Alan Johnson

Re: At the risk of...

The more we learn about the reality of worst cas enuclear accidents the more we find that reactors ar esfaer than we though much less radioactivity is released than was assumed in modelling. If you compare the worst impact of a catastrophic ereactor failure, chrenobyl with atotal death toll of immediate and long tern affects of far less than 100 to the worst case effects of other industries and power sources you realise that not only is nuclear much safer on average but the worst case impact is relatively benign. A quick comparisson to the worst renewable energy disater with 170,000 dead and several towns wiped form the map is significant but strangely ignored by greanpeace etc.

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Big blue Avatar movie spawns THREE SEQUELS

Alan Johnson

Re: Great

I am stunned anyone can use the word good in association with the star wars prequels.

Avatar has a dull predictable and cliched plot poorly acted. It was saved by stunning visual effects. This will be harder to pull off with every following film. If the plot and dialogue are as bad as the star wars prequels they will be truely awful films.

Nothing says the sequels have to be poor but the omens are not good.

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SMBs are tumbling into the cloud? Oh get real

Alan Johnson

Where is the business case?

Until there is a substantial business case the cloud will remain an amorphous meaningless buzzword for most SMEs - appropriate name really.

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Radar gremlins GROUND FLIGHTS across southern Blighty

Alan Johnson

Re: Good

What makes too many?

I work extremely close to heathrow and it is remarkable how quiet the aircraft are nowadays. Modern economies are founded on easy communication and travel. I think there are far too few aircraft over SE england caused by the paralysis of our political and planning system that makes it impossiblw to sensibly increase capacity. This is damaging the UK economy and therefore jobs etc.

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UK Post Office admits false accusations after computer system cockup

Alan Johnson

Re: No systemic problem?

Is it possible to have a non-systemic SW problem? There are reasons problems may be intermittant, caused by uninitialised data, race conditions etc but at the end of the day they are caused by flaws in the SW system.

In the interests of justice they need to discols ethe nature of the problems they have identified. I am very suspicous that the problems were widespread and frequent. A very occasional problem would never have go to this stage.

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Cosmic blast mystery solved in neutron star's intense death throes

Alan Johnson

Re: Magnetic field

Maxwells equations elegant as they are are not the way to look at this. There is one four vector 'field' (mathematically a field but usually called a potential as the normal magnetic and electric field is derived from it. There is only one equation and it is obvious the electric and magnetcic fields are just observer specific ways of looking at it.

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MSX: The Japanese are coming! The Japanese are coming!

Alan Johnson

Re: Error

The 8088 was not an 8 bit microprocessor.

The 8088 and 8086 had a 16 bit architecture - 16 bit registers, arithmetic, addressing etc.

The 8088 did have an 8 bit external interface, the 8086 had a 16 bit external interface.

They both had a nasty, badly designed architecture and the 8088 in paticular was dog slow for its generation.

What is sobering as engineers to realise is that of the first generation of sixteen bit processors: 68K, 8086, Z8000, 32K the 8086 was by far the worst yet by far the most successful.

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Surprise! Intel smartphone trounces ARM in power trials

Alan Johnson

LIes damn lies and benchmarks

Benchmarks are notoriously 'fixable' and a benchmark that is not even described is a joke.

Intel may or may not have overtaken arm but this benchmark suggests that Intel is inferior to Arm if they were better why do this dodgy benchmark why not do a real one and publish the details.

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Jailed LulzSec hacker Cleary coughs to child porn images, will be freed soon

Alan Johnson

Re: No child porn involved

Fair enough I assumed the Copine scale.

On the SAP scale this clearly is pornographic and rightly punished as long as knowingly downloaded etc.

Do you usually filter because a comment is factually wrong?

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Alan Johnson

No child porn involved

You have to be veyr very careful with the COPINE scale, he confessed to accesing at worst level 4 images. This is defined as:

'deliberately posed pictures of children fully clothed, partially clothed or naked (where the amount, context and organisation suggests sexual interest).'

You have to get to level 5 for what most people would consider mildly pornographic images. Until then the context of the images is at least as important as the content which should be very disturbing.

The teacher who accepts a caution and there was a fuss about being alowed to teach was found to have acessesed level 1 images defined as:

'Non-erotic and non-sexualised pictures showing children in their underwear, swimming costumes from either commercial sources or family albums. Pictures of children playing in normal settings, in which the context or organisation of pictures by the collector indicates inappropriateness.'

The real worry is that someones life can be destroyed for possessing 'Pictures of children playing in normal settings'. More or less anyone who possesses a computer can be conficted of child sexual offences at the whim of the authorities. Long term this will undermine child protection as accusations and convictions sexual abuse and child pornography will lose any meaning.

The danger from organisations like CEOP is substantial to both adults and children but our tabloid media continue to drive us in a very dangerous diretcion.

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Microsoft parades Windows 8.1, the version you may actually want

Alan Johnson

Re: What would really make a huge difference is fixing the license

I am really interested why no GPL and no LGPL.

LGPL Is a completely benign license from a users perspective I really struggle to think of any reason not to use LGPL software.

GPL can have issues if you develop and distribute software you do not want to open source but even then only for software components. Tools and platforms have no problem and

If you need certified tools if developing high SIL level SW or similarGPLed tools could be an issue but they are usually better than the commercial alternatives ignoring the price advantage.

What is the problem your employer and customers are concerned about?

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Iran fingered for attacks on US power firms

Alan Johnson

Re: Utter nonsense

'As displayed so well by missile boats and patrol boats harassing US Navy vessels traversing the Strait of Hormuz. Or by repeatedly threatening to blow Israel off of the map. Or by denying the Holocaust'

But Iran has never theatened to blow Israel of the map or harassed US naval vessels.

They do sponsor Holocaust denial so that part at least is not propoganda but given the way Israel wields the holocaust as a justification to perform acts of aggression while claiming victimhood it is understandable if reprehensible.

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Alan Johnson

Utter nonsense

We are expected to believe on the basis of unattributted quotes from US officials that Iran has launched a cyber attack on the US.

The Iranian leadership is not stupid they know they are the focus of constant propoganda and that Israel and the US would love a pretext to attack them so why would they launch what could only be an ineffectual attack of no consequence except to give Israel and the US what they want?

Iran has shown itself to be remarkably cool headed. They have been the victim of cyber attacks from the US, they have been the subject of attacks by Israeli death squads, they have had a civillian airliner shot down by the US w and they have suffered US sponsored terrorist attacks. Through it all they have been remarkably restrained apart from the Lockerbie bombing for which they managed to get Libya to take the blame.

The chancethey would do something this stupid is minimal.

The chancethat the US would lie about it as a pretext is quite high.

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'Catastrophic failure' of 3D-printed gun in Oz Police test

Alan Johnson

Re: A Controvertial Topic (for a change)

OK I will bite.

The opposite is true and the fact that the overall crime rate in the US is slightly lower than the UK but the murder rate is much much higher is just one of many statistics which show the complete opposite. It would be interesting what explanation other than bizzare US attitude and laws about guns is suggested to explain this.

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Texan contends iPod EXPLODED IN HER FACE

Alan Johnson

Re: 'medical bills of an astronomical "amount in excess of $600.00,"'

You can have a CT scan in china for about 25$

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US woman cuffed for 'booking strippers for 16th birthday bash'

Alan Johnson

Even more ridiculous case when I lived in the US

When I lived in the US a local women was convicted of a crime of moral turpitude with 3 months in jail for arranging her sons 17th Birthday party. He had several friends round to her house who stayed overnight. She took all their car keys and then gave them a crate of beer. Seems very good responsible parenting to me but resulted in 3 months in jail. I had always wondered what the heck a crime of moral turpitude was on the visa waiva form so then I knew - responsible parenting.

The US is strangely alien and scary at times. I had a coworker tell me that she was looking forward to Nuclear war because all the true christains would go to heaven and all the rest straight to hell. She got annoyed when I disputed this. It makes me laugh when US politiians go on about religuous fundamentalisim as a threat to justify killing large numbers of civilians and poorly armed soldiers. I have been to many countries but by far the most dangerously fundamentalist is the US.

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Swartz prosecutor: We only pushed for 'six months' in the cooler

Alan Johnson

No one knows and no one will now know whether he was guilty of anything. He has at least a reasonable defence that he committed no crime at all. He had permission to use the network and he had permission to download the documents. Some of the charges seem without any foundation at all for example 'reckless damage to a protected computer system' .

The problem is completely disproportionate punishments for computer crimes and the plea bargain system. The combination drives people to think they have no alternative but to acept significant punishments without any chance to proof their innocence because of massively disproportionate sentance if they please innocent and are unlucky.

Computer crimes can be serious but when unauthorised log on to an insecure system of no real significance is classified as cyber terrorism there is a problem akin to the witch trials of the past.

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Alan Johnson

No one knows and no one will now know whether he was guilty of anything. He has at least a reasonable defence that he committed no crime at all. He had permission to use the network and he had permission to download the documents. Some of the charges seem without any foundation at all for example 'reckless damage to a protected computer system' .

The problem is:

Completely disproportionate punishments were computer crimes are concerne din the US.

Plea bargain system

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Apple-v-Samsung $1bn iPhone fine: 'Jury foreman was biased'

Alan Johnson

Bias is not the main argument

The guy may or may not have been biased but the more substantial problem is that he has publically stated that he advised the jury on what was or was not valid prior art, and that this made a big difference to the jury. His stated criteria for the prior art was totallly, laughably wrong, going completely against the Judges directions and common sense for anyone with any sort of technical background.

Samsungs main defence was prior art so his intervention removed any chance (IMO) of samsung receiving a fair trial. The judge in this case doe snot seem to have been very even handed and judges are rightly reluctant to use jury conduct to overturn verdicts so we will hav to wait and see.

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Sellafield's nuclear waste measured in El Reg units

Alan Johnson

Re: research is boring and facts ruin a story

The release of Caesium from Chernobyl has not been associated with any health impact at all. the only radiological effect on the population was a small increase in thyroid cancer presumed due to the I-131 release and probably the poor response of the soviet authorities as this has a short half life, it can be mitigated by advice over a period of weeks after release, the use of iodine supplements and monitoring for thyroid cancer. The number of extra deaths from thyroid cancer was from memory ~9 which is obviously a tragedy to those concerned but insignificant compared to say deaths from a single accident in the transport industry and compared to the worst ever renewable energy disaster it is very very very small approximately 10,000 times smaller in terms of deaths let alone environmental damage.

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Alan Johnson

Re: "barely radioactive at all"

I can't decide if NomNomNom has written a parody of the typical hysteria induced by ignorance of radiation, radiation safety and risk, combined with the media hyperbola and distortions or it actually is ignorant and ridiculous hysteria.

If Fukishima did teach us anything it is that even very old Nuclea rpower plants when hit by massive natural catastrophies and subject to unexpected combinations of evenst are very very safe.

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Alan Johnson

Rename all things nuclear

THE problem with nuclear waste as with all things nuclear is the word 'nuclear' at which point al debate becomes irrational and the media loves to scare the population. 26 Swimming pools is a tiny volume of waste compared to the vast amount of waste some of it hazardous generated annually about whcih nobody pays very much attention.

The great ething about nuclear waste is it is easy to track an dthe more active waste decays relatively rapdily.

I have a suggestion that we rename nuclear power stations to chromodynamic power stations and nuclear waste as residual power resource. We may then have some sort of rational debate.

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US accused of hypocrisy over cyber warfare

Alan Johnson

Talk Softly and carry a big stick

I do not remember CHurchill saying talk softly and carry a big stick. H emay have said something like it but he certainly did not originate it. It is such an obvious saying that I doubt anyone knows who truely originated it. The whole point of the expression though is that you should hav eth emeans to defend yourself so that an attack would obviously be risky and costly but you should not provoke potential enemies.

This is the complete opposite of the typcial US approach which is to threaten and attack who have not attacked or threatened them. In the hope of cowing them into following the US' preferred polciies. In some cases works in some cases not but in all cases it increases tension, resentment against the US and levels of violence. In the past it forced many countries to ally themselves with the USSR. Nowadays it is helping sustain the taliban and other extremist groups and is the main reason why we believe Iran is aiming at having the capability to make a nuclear weapon - it is there only sensible means of defence.

I am suprised that anyonewas remotely suprised that the US is the main aggressor in cyber attacks as this is simply an extension of the pattern for military aggression since world war II.

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New nuclear fuel source would power human race until 5000AD

Alan Johnson

The problem with any discussion of nuclear power is the emotional association between nuclear power, radiation and safety. A big part of teh problem is teh strong nuclear/radiation related safety culture. There is actually no strong evidence that low levels of radiation are a health hazard at all. Studies of radiation workers show they are healthier than average and once corrected for other factors; profession, environment, diet, smoking etc the health effects are tiny in boith directions and almost certainly artefacts of the statistics. A strong argumnet to me is that there is no observed correlation between high natural radiation levels and lower life expectancy.

As radiation was a new hazard a very very cautious approach was taken the effects of high levels of exposure were scaled down linearly to low doses. This is almost certainly an over estimate but it is cautious. On top of this very cautious safety limits were set based on this assumption. No other area takes such a cautious approach. Paradoxically it has increased fears because the extremely low limits are breached when incidents occur and it makes a good story. The thing to remember is that at these dose levels no health effect has been observed.

The other thing that occurs is people take these extrapolated low probability health effects and multiply them by huge population numbers generating scary numbers for example 2500 dying in an earlier comment. This is crazy from several points of view. Most radiation exposure is natural, there are many many more important risk factors we never treat in the same way or consider at all. The radiation emitted by fossil fuesl for example coal fire power statiosn dwarfs that from nuclear power stations.

We should argue about nuclear power based on cost, availability and dependability, not safety as it is far safer than anything else, but it is bogged down by emotional baggage. Future historians will regard attitudes to nuclear as bizzare and incomprehensible. Wind power is almost the opposite, completely impractical, almost no environmental benefit, extremely expensive but with positive emotional associations

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Alan Johnson

Re: we know that nuclear power is safe - becaus of Chernobyl

Chernobyl demonstartes that nuclea rpower is safe not that it is dangerous. I am using the normal definition of safe: 'freedom from unacceptable risk'.

Chenrobyl was a ridiculous design reactor which was recklessly managed and which as a consequence suffered the worst failure imaginable. The reactor core exploded and caught fire, there was a meltdown.

The point is not that even old western designs are much safer, or that modern designs are safer still or that a good safty culture would have prevente dthe acciddent but all are true. The point is that Chernobyl is pretty much the worst that coudl happen and the consequences were not very severe. Roughly sixty workers died. There have been 9 additional deaths of non-workers due to increased levels of thyroid cancer and that is pretty much it apart from psychological problems caused by fear of consequences.

In the grand scheme of thinsg one accident of this severity is better than most industries certainly better than renewable energy. The worst renewable energy accident I am aware of killed more than 30,000 people and caused massive destruction of property.

Three mile island and Fukishima are examples of the double standards applied to nuclear, nobody died or was ever likely to die in either case. The fact that these are brought up shows how extremely safe nuclear is. In what other industry would people constantly mention accidents in which no one was hurt?

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Iranian nuke plants rocked in midnight 'heavy metal blast'

Alan Johnson

Re: David Webb

".....Iran has a much better record with respect to agression against other countries than the US, Britain or Israel...." You are merely showing your lack of knowledge in the matter, try some more reading like the following just for a start (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1994_AMIA_bombing and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1983_Kuwait_bombings).

The fact that your argument is relatively small incidents and not full scale invasions or prolonged bombing campaigns makes it clear that Iran's alleged aggression while reprehensible is very minor compared to the US Israel etc. I dislike religous based government including Iran's but Iran has shown itself to be more moderate and restrained than the government of US, Israel or Britain at least so far as the conduct of it's foreign policy.

You seem to have missed the significance of my reference to wipe 'Israel from the map' this was deliberate? mistranslation of a speech that is frequently used to argue that Iran would use it's nuclear weapons against Israel. There is no evidence of this. Why should Iran not argue against the religous state of Israel? The US used to argue very strongly against the soviet union. This is very far from contemplating using nuclear weapons.

The idea the US would perform a nuclear first strike against Iran is chilling but inline with the two most profoundly disturbing conversations I have had. The first was in the USA with a lady who believed that the bible foretold a nuclear war and that it would be a good thing as all the bad people would go to hell and the good to heaven. The scary thing bwas that it was obviously a common belief in her church.

The second was in Israel where I met a lady whose son was shot in the head by the IDF while standing in front of palestinian children wearing a luminous jacket to try and reduce the number of school children killed by IDF snipers. The most disturbing thing being the IDF tried to stop her son recieving medical treatment.

Fortunately although religous bigotry and fanaticism is a problem in the US and Israel I think that just like Iran the leaders would not perform a nuclear first strike.

It is strange to argue against Iran having nuclear weapons because they may attack another state by arguing that other states would perform a nuclear attack on Iran.

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