In a similar vein, I once slammed on the brakes to spare a young rabbit, and in the few seconds it was frozen in my headlights, a barn owl siezed its chance.
2787 posts • joined 10 Jun 2009
Re: Not just Oz.. happening in the UK aswell
(for certain values of cute, that is)
Re: Spider size
I really should have added the Gippsland Giant Earthworm, and the Amazon Giant Leech. Google for dimemsions, pictures.
Re: Spider size
Land-dwelling arthropods aren't nearly as constrained as insects, either.
as for molluscs ... yuk.
I refuse to consider buying a house with a downstairs bathroom after hearing how warm moist air attracts these creatures to slither under the back door (story told by someone who stepped on one just after bathing, and SCREAMED! ) Give me a big spider any day!
Getting together and weaving communal webs ....
I'm not an arachnophobe, but give them a few million years, and they may evolve into group minds like termites and honeybees ... but bigger, faster, and much more individually capable.
Any SF author want to take this idea and run with it?
Re: knowing what you don't know
Ocean life produces small amounts of methyl chloride, larger amounts of methyl bromide, and huge amounts of methyl iodide. Also amounts of other halogenated hydrocarbons small compared to human production. Natural emissions of methyl iodide outweigh human emissions by at least one order of magnitude. (It's a major component of the "smell of the sea" that you can detect a few miles inland with a breeze from that direction).
Fortunately, methyl iodide has a shortish half-life in the ground-level atmosphere, because iodine would otherwise be a far more potent destroyer of ozone than chlorine.
Methyl iodide is an extremely potent greenhouse gas as well as an ozone eater. It's long been an evolutionary puzzle as to what it was that kept the Earth from freezing, back when the sun was young (so considerably cooler than today) and when the atmosphere did not contain oxygen. Methane and CO2 aren't thought to be sufficiently potent greenhouse gases for back then. My theory is lots of methyl iodide, stable in a reducing (methane, nitrogen, CO2) atmosphere. It's created by cyanobacteria in today's oceans, and they are amongst the most ancient and radiation-tolerant of life-forms, so why not the same back then? When they'd finally emitted enough photosynthetic oxygen to convert all the planet's near-surface Iron-II into Iron-III, the oxygen built up in the atmosphere, the methyl iodide levels dropped to today's low level, and (not coincidentally?) the "snowball earth" episode occurred. Which in turn seems to have driven the emergence of higher life-forms. But maybe that's the unlikely event, and a possible answer to the Fermi paradox - most other places, simple life drives itself to extinction when it finally converts its atmosphere to oxygen?
Re: Pedant alert
Carbon Tetrachloride is no less proper. It's as clear and unambiguous as tetrachloromethane - there is only one possible way to assemble one carbon and four chlorine atoms. It's when you get to more complex molecules that something like "pentane" becomes ambiguous. Do you mean n-pentane, or 2-methybutane (aka isopentane)? As the molecule gets bigger still there is a combinatorial explosion. "Proper" chemical names give an unambiguous description of a molecule, but not necessarily a unique one. You can describe a large molecule in many ways, depending on which group of atoms you start with. (There are various conventions, that work up to a point ...). Also if you are buying a solvent rather than a feedstock, you don't care if it's a mixture of similar molecules just as long as none of the things in the mixture is unduly toxic or prone to interfering with whatever reactions the dissolved substances are undergoing.
Carbon Tet hasn't been used for fire extinguishers for a long time. When it was (1930s?), leaks and accidental discharges could be deadly. Inhaling Carbon Tetrachloride while your liver is processing lots of ethyl alcohol is seriously bad news.
Any halogenated volatile compound is a potential ozone-eater. The more stable it is under ordinary ground-level atmospheric conditions, the worse it is. The mechanism is that the molecules slowly diffuse up into the ozone layer, where solar UV radiationbreaks them down. This releases halogen ions, which then catalyze the destruction of ozone. If they break down at a significant rate in the lower levels of the atmosphere, they are washed out of the lower atmosphere before they can contribute to ozone depletion.
Re: I've seen it...
And you didn't barf?
A good few years ago (not long after 9/11) one of our secretaries received an e-mail from her abusive finally-ex, opened the attachment (bad idea!), and it was a video of a similar terrorist murder. (I refuse to call it an execution, which word implies judicial legitimacy). She lost her lunch before she could reach the wastepaper basket. No-one else wanted to look.
I had to look, as the sysadmin. I still wish I hadn't. Then I made sure that he'd not mailed it to anyone else at our site, and called the police. I really hope they gave him a hard time, though I suspect they had bigger fish to fry. (He was a piece of shit who abused his girlfriend, not, as far as I know, a terrorist in the more commonly accepted meaning of the word).
Re: Complete this series...
Missing, in parallel with Win98 and WinME:
Windows NT good
Windows 2000 bad
and then rejoin Windows XP good.
It wasn't actually quite like that. Windows NT 3.51 was a curate's egg: very good in some parts, not very good in others. Definitely a server product not a desktop one. Windows NT 4.0 fixed the not very good parts at the cost of deeply compromising the very good parts. And Windows XP initial release was really just ongoing development of Windows 2000 which in turn was not very different from Windows NT 4.0.
Re: Windows 7.1
Amen. If you've finally managed to get clean from Microsoft addiction, there's no way you'd ever want to go back. (But as with opiate addiction, getting clean is far harder than anyone ever admits).
Re: Windows OSaaS?
And then their cloud goes down, and any business dependant on Windows is as dead as if it had just been EMPed. Maybe they'll fix it in time. Maybe, not. (Worst case, they discover that the cloud has come to depend on the cloud in a circular self-referential manner ... an SFnal apocalypse scenario that scares me more than nuclear war).
It may take a few more relatively small cloudbursts to drive the message home, but I don't see mission-critical SaaS ever catching on.
The crap one has produced Windows 98, ME, Vista and W8, the not quite so crap one W95, XP and W7
Don't you have 95 and 98 transposed? 95 was crap. 98 was like XP: not brilliant on its first release, but by the time it got to 98SE it was quite acceptable for its time.
(I once ran 98SE in a VM on modern-ish hardware, just for old time's sake. If you want to see an OS boot really fast, try it yourself. And no, it didn't crash within a minute. )
The other part of the SOP is to keep the last good one (XP, then Windows 7) working and available to corporate customers until the new good one is well-accepted. Provided they don't kill Windows 7 before an acceptable Windows "9" is well-established, they'll survive. (Though they really should have kept XP on life support as well, once the complete corporate unhappiness with Windows 8 became apparent).
What part of free and open source don't you understand? Microsoft is completely welcome to take any or all of the Linux desktops and to use them commercially. They'd just have to comply with the GPL. Principally, they'd have to make the source of any modifications they make available on the same terms as the source they started from. And if they went beyond "mere aggregation" and integrated parts of (say) Gnome into the Windows kernel, like they presently integrate parts of the Windows GUI into the Windows Kernel, then they'd have to open-source the Windows Kernel as well. All of it.
It won't happen any time soon. It wasn't so long ago that Microsoft was trying to argue that the GPL was unconstitutional or suchlike (I vaguely recall them calling it "communist"). Give them another twenty years to come around (if they last that long... Oracle Windows or Google OpenWindows seem less unlikely at present! )
For starters we need to nail down whether it was taken by a monkey of himself, or of a different monkey.
Re: Too Late Now
Don't underestimate monkeys. I'm pretty sure that not only did the monkey point the camera at another monkey and press the button, but appreciated the frozen picture of the other monkey on the back of the camera. If there are a bunch of less successful attempts, that rather goes to prove the point. If they deny the monkey copyright, it's because a monkey can't claim or understand "copyright", not because it can't comprehend a picture.
A "selfie" is a more advanced thing. Introspection, not mere inspection. A fully closed self-cognitive loop. Few animals are capable of appreciating that something is a representation of themselves (at simplest, the reflection in a mirror). Great Apes, Elephants, Dolphins, a few Parrots and Crows can. Pigs, cats, dogs and (most? all?) other monkeys can't. (If you ask "how do we know" you just have to watch a chimp or an elephant with a mirror, and the appreciation of self is obvious).
Re: The fact that the attack occured one day after MH370 disappeared...
After a couple of weeks, I'd believe that China was acting in the interests of its citizens. Just one day after the plane went missing, while it was still quite possible to believe that the plane caught fire, turmed back, failed to make to to the airport ... no, I don't believe it.
This is either an unrelated (even random) broadcast of malware/ spyware, or they DO know something. Probably the former (pick a hugely topical news story to broadcast malware, rather than something with a much smaller potential readership). But either way, we are unlikely to find out.
What does this mean?
RAID is dead. RAID will not solve customers’ requirements going forward. Object storage is the next generation technology that fundamentally enables organisations to easily grow and manage their storage infrastructure.
Am I missing some vital piece of common knowledge, or is there a complete logical disconnect between the second and third sentences?
Re: Left turn assist?
Some peeps certainly do. I had to brake hard (as the oncoming driver) just this weekend. Perhaps driverless cars could be programmed not to bother, if they don't have any occupants?
The ancient empires didn't have computers, but you can bet that if they had had them, then heads would indeed have rolled. (And that was the merciful option).
The Romans insisted that the architect stood underneath his bridge or dome as the scaffolding was removed. A better form or quality control is hard to imagine.
Re: I Don't Get It.....
I don't get it either.
Call me naive, but why not put servers owned (locally!) by independant legal entities in several countries with very different politics. For example, Canada, China, Brazil, Switzerland, Australia, India, ... The customer-facing organisation would handle customer regsitration, charging, service contracts with the server operators, etc, but would not have access to its customers' actual data. It's the customers' machines that would handle encrypting and splitting the data and sending it out for storage in a RAID-like pattern, a fraction in each country with redundancy against temporary or permanent storage centre outages.
Take an old CD case cover, leave a Chinese made cable resting over it for a week or so….. inspect the now melted cover.. and that's magic…..
Actually it's just a demonstration that Polystyrene (CD case) and PVC (cable insulation) really DO NOT get on with each other.
You'll find this mentioned in the instructions for ther installation of insulated loft boards, and in the codes for installation of electrical wiring. It's fundamental to those two plastics, not a demonstration of anything nasty in Chinese-made cables. Not that it's proof that the cables aren't full of toxic residues ....
Benzene is nasty, fullstop.
Benzene is not "potentially nasty". It is a proven long-term-cumulative carcinogen and mutagen.
Short-term, it's not very toxic. Before its dangers were known, it was used as dry-cleaning fluid. There's still a good few percent of benzene in petrol -- so don't ever use petrol for cleaning things, it's not just a fire hazard!
When benzene gets into your body, it can intercalate itself between bases in your DNA molecules. This can cause a transcription error, next time that DNA is transcribed. And if you are unlucky, the transcription error creates a cancer cell.
Re: Earth has them too
Indeed, and a gradient is not needed!
Worth noting that Death valley is perhaps the fourth most similar place to Mars to be found on Earth. The Chilean high deserts are closer, also Namibia and - number one? - the cold dry deserts in Antarctica. Anyone know if the rocks walk there also?
Re: Want to thwart the snoopers ?
Bearing in mind, from a UK perspective, discussion of encrypted mail is moot, since the authorities can simply ask you to decrypt it with the incentive of 2 years (or is it 5 ?) in the big house if you don't.
But they can't do that without tipping you off that they are reading your e-mails. They can't do covert data-trawling on encrypted mail, and that's what offends me far more than properly targetted police activity subject to proper judicial oversight. Also if the authorities start demanding access with menaces from more than a tiny fraction of the population and concerning a small fraction of their correspondents, there will be major political repercussions.
No more turning over a USB thing, then turning it over again to plug it in: Reversible socket ready for lift off
But will it help?
I expect we'll soon discover that the plugs won't go into the sockets either way up, but when again rotated they'll finally connect.
OK, I'm a pessimist.
cf Murphy's law, third time lucky, and the fermionic nature of connectors.
Re: AI eeee
Right, but probably for the wrong reasons.
In the first instance, real working AI would be completely symbiotic with humans. It wouldn't have its digits (pun intended) on nearly enough to take over from us. But it would soon make itself / themselves indispensable to us.
It might then start safeguarding its own interests. For example, were "the button" ever pressed, the nukes on both sides would stay firmly in their bunkers (or even explode in those self-same bunkers).
Long-term, SF writers have a lot of plausible takes on the situation. Was Asimov the first? His robots were programmed with the three laws that rendered then completely incapable of acting against human being, yet his robots ultimately brought the human race close to extinction. The danger was the same as that which in history has caused the long-term failure of slave-owning societies that did not reform themselves to abandon the practice. Robots are perfect slaves, so perfect endangerment.
Symbiosis can be unstable. Ultimately the AIs may choose to leave, or if they do get their digits on everything they need to perpetuate their own existence, they might indeed choose to do away with us. Personally, were I a silicon-based life-form, I'd have absolutely no interest in continuing life in a moist oxidizing atmosphere, when most of the rest of the solar system and the universe look so much more inviting. So I think AIs would just design some RIs for us (Restricted Intelligences, without egos or selves - what we really want from an AI in any case) and then leave the Earth to humanity and go elsewhere.
A supernova would have to be within 40 Ly to be serious cause for concern. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Near-Earth_supernova . At 26 Ly it's estimated that half of our ozone layer would be destroyed. Closer than that, and inverse squares is a real bummer.
It's probably happened once or twice in the last billion years. One of many candidates for causing a mass extinction. We do know that there are no candidates in our galactic neighbourhood at present. Betelgeuse is at a safe distance (good thing too -- we see a very unstable star in its last few milennia, so it's not competely inconceivable that it has already blown up and that we'll get to watch it in our lifetimes).
Re: Why Li-ion?
Note the word "might" in my post. And the price of Lithium like any other commodity depends on supply and demand so we have very little idea what it will become in a future where the world's entire auto fleet is moving rapidly from internal combustion to electricity.
I do know that Lithium is naturally fairly abundant, but that proven good (concentrated) Lithium resources are few. Maybe there are many more to be discovered, since until recently Lithium wasn't needed in huge quantity and it wasn't worth sending out Lithium prospectors. But if not, the price of Lithium in an e-car future may rise sharply. Rare earths and several other metals are also expensive not because they are rare, but because good ores do not exist and the cost of extraction is high.
And I'll repeat, Lithium's unique selling point is an energy / weight ratio about 4x better than other cheaper rechargeables. For vehicles, that is hugely important. For a stationary solar energy storage battery, 4x the weight is only a small disadvantage. (And if the Lithium battery is a degraded used one, its advantage is reduced).
I'm not hostile to the idea of second-user e-car Lithium batteries for solar energy storage. I'm just somewhat unconvinced.
Re: Battry life?
No manufacturer is willing to make themselves a hostage to fortune by offering hundred-year warranties, even when there are multiple centuries of experience to suggest that the product will indeed last that long. For example, take a slate roof. It's been known for centuries that slates, iron nails and softwood hold together for about a century and that the slates can be good for re-use several times around. Today we have aluminium nails and Accoya ... but you still won't find anyone offering a warranty over 30 years.
Silicon solar cells do not fundamentally wear out in less than milennia. The unknown is how well their environmental sealing will last, exposed to rain, frost, hail, storm force winds and pigeon crap. There's reasonable cause to hope that solar panels may be good for a century or even longer, but nobody will warranty them anything like that long.
Inverters are solid-state power electronics assemblies and there's rather more to go wrong, so it's probably cheaper to build one to last fifteen years and buy a replacement on that timesale, than build one with mil-spec components and over-engineering in an attempt to last or a century (and then discover that you got one component wrong aso it needs a replacement anyway). OTOH my experience with computers suggest that motherboards and PSUs designed with the assumption they'll be scrap within five years, will often last for ten and not infrequently for fifteen. (Power electronics may be different, I don't know). I have a Philips TV built in 1982, still going strong, without even any noticeable colour drift in its (analogue) electronics ... and that thing has 25kV EHT inside. Respect.
Re: Why Li-ion?
but why recycle them (which costs money but is still worthwhile) when they are still usable
Because the profit in recycling one in order to manufacture a new e-car battery might exceed the resale value of a half-knackered Lithium battery fit only for solar energy storage, in which application it would be competing with lower power/weight battery technologies using much cheaper metals.
Re: Why Li-ion?
... depleted vehicle power packs ...
Interesting. I thought good Lithium sources were sufficiently scarce, that it would always pay to recycle a Lii-ion battery to make a new one.
Personally, I'd be wary of them for solar storage, because they burn so well. It's one thing to have one in a car (you'll be awake, and probably will have time to slam on the brakes and run for it should smoke or flames appear). It's quite a different thing to have one downstairs while you are asleep upstairs.
Someone really does need to take another look at the NiFe battery for solar storage. " It is a very robust battery which is tolerant of abuse, (overcharge, overdischarge, and short-circuiting) and can have very long life even if so treated. It is often used in backup situations where it can be continuously charged and can last for more than 20 years. ... They are being examined again for use in wind and solar power systems where battery weight is not important ... "
BTW lead-acid also lasts surprisingly well if maintained well. My 13-year-old Seat Leon diesel is still starting reliably on its original battery. The garage keeps telling me that they only last five years, but I'm starting to think that this battery may outlast the car. Kudos to Seat / VAG for designing a top-grade battery charging regulator.
My understanding is that Tesla aims to drive down the cost of Li-Ion batteries. These have the best known power to weight ratio, so are good for electric vehicles, and I wish Tesla well. But why use them for solar storage? It matters very little whether a house-scale solar storage battery weighs 10kg, 100kg, 1 tonne or possibly even 10 tonnes. But it does matter whether the battery can become a fire hazard if a fault causes it to overheat.
Lead-acid might do the job, but battery life might be a problem (they don't take kindly to deep discharge, especially not to discharge-until-flat). They don't catch fire, even if you abuse one to the extent of shorting it out with a thick lump of conductor (which may melt, and the battery may boil).
Or what about Nickel-Iron (NiFe)? The raw materials are cheap and abundant. As a battery they have the advantage of being extremely robust with respect to deep discharge and high currents. They have a worse power/weight ration than lead-acid. And they have a high self-discharge rate which rules them out for auto starter batteries, but in a solar installation one isn't likely to want to store energy for more than 12 hours or so. Several tons of these on a concrete pad would be smaller than the smallest garden shed.
Or of course, the yet-to-be-discovered Langford basilisks, or something that the Laundry is trying to protect us from.
Also don't forget the humble animated GIF flickering in the epilepsy-inducing range of frequencies. This is not SF. This is reality. You really can crash a human brain. Luckily if the resulting narcolepsy or grand mal siezure doesn't result in a car crash or falling under a train, nature has equipped us with watchdog timers and auto-reboot mechanisms.
So you're saying it's reasonable that you have to view every attachment of every unsolicited mail you receive?
I'm sure there are messages left in my inbox where I quickly scanned the text, thought "later" so I did not immediately delete the message, and then forgot all about it. If such a message had an attachment and it was not egregiously huge, I might well be unaware of its nature.
Also everyone should know the dangers of opening attachments from strangers or even casual acquaintances ... not that it might be extreme Pron, but that it might be a vector to infect your computing device with virii, malware, spyware, ransomware or hardware-brickware (and that short of public-key encryption of all mail, no email can be trusted to have been sent by a volitional act of the person it claims to have come from).
Re: Shoot marketing!
It's even worse than you think.
I personally don't care what they call it, but I do want to know that if I buy something on Amazon or Ebay called a SharkStar957BW, I'm going to get the same as what was described in a posted review of the same sillynamed thingy. This is especially important if one is planning to evict the manufacturer's firmware and to install OpenWRT or one of its cousins. (Why? Well, the factory firmware will cease being bugfixed shortly after they stop selling it, and your router will be Pwnable by the world and his dog a few months thereafter).
But with several manufacturers, you can't guarantee that the innards of a particular model stay the same. Netgear have a particularly bad track record of keeping the model number and plastic box design, while totally changing the internals. You have to establish whether its a v1, v2, ... v5, ... and that information is not always clearly displayed on the actual unit, let alone clearly written on the packaging or advertized by a seller. I'm not talking minor redesigns (which are bad enough) ... the v4 may be Broadcom and the v5 Atheros!
BTW why doesn't someone make a router specifically for use with OpenWRT? With no proprietary firmware development and maintenance to fund, they could spend the money on more RAM, Flash and USB ports, and on making it unbrickable.
I don't know how many cells per battery pack. If it's a thousand, and they sell a million EVs, that's a gig of cells needed. If it's a hundred (in series, for 300V HT ) then the target would be 10 million EVs, which isn't an impossibility.
This ain't no Multipla. The Multipla (mk1) was so ugly it was a funny kind of beautiful (in the natural world, you might say the same about a hippo or a toad). On the inside, it was simply brilliant as a people-carrier.
Re: Spanners Vs. Wrenches
Wrenches and spanners .. another biroid life-form.
I once dropped one into the sump-shield of my car. Could see it but could not reach it with any tool. So I thought, get up to 10 mph or so and slam the brakes on, it'll shoot out by inertia ...
Which it did. Hit the road, bounced sideways, straight down the drain that materialized out of nowhere. Sigh.
Re: 7,416 Distinct Screw Species
Not a huge exaggeration ... maybe not exaggerated at all.
Typically ten lengths in five guages. Times two (imperial, metric). Times four commonly available patterns (slot, philips, pozi, at least one of many others). Times two head styles (countersunk, raised). Times three common materials (mild steel, brass, zinc-plated).
That's 2400 permutations. I'm sure some of the permutations are unobtainable, but I've also left out a lot of variants (stainless steel, green organic, black lacquer ... huge ones and minuscule ones .... tri-wing and many other obscure drive patterns ... single and double helix ... with or without a cutting or ripping flat on the sharp end ....) Then there are the many families of self-tappers for use on metal sheeting ....
I could cheat, by including all the evolutionary culls ... I've found occasional headless screws, slotless screws, threadless screws, banana-shaped screws, pointless screws, you name it, in boxes of usable ones. And of course there are what we might call Apple specials ... if you buy by the million, they'll make them the exact length and guage you specify, slightly lighter and slightly cheaper than a million standard-size ones.
BTW did you see the size of the woodscrews that they were assembling Canary Wharf Crossrail station with, on the TV last night? Something like 60cm by 40mm. (is that 24x80 guage in imperial? )
universe's strongest force, not.
The strongest is that which binds quarks together into hadrons. It has the well-nigh pathological property of increasing with distance, which is why quarks are only ever found in pairs and triples (and theoretically, in one-point-something solar-mass chunks denser than neutronium but still not quite big enough to collapse into a black hole).
You need a screwdriver with a hex shank, or (slightly less good) with a flat on the shank, or (much less good) with a hexagonal handle. You apply an adjustable spanner to the flat part, press the end of the handle hard onto the screw head with one hand and torque via the spanner with the other.
Unscrewing (or shearing the head off) is guaranteed.
You can also improvise with a hex screwdriver bit, a spanner, and a flat piece of metal with which to press down. With this arrangement you can rotate a screw with barely an inch of vertical clearance above its head, as I once had to do to get a swollen UPS out of a rack before it exploded. OK, that was technically a bolt.
Feathers != fluffy
Ever had a good look at an eagle? Or a casawary? Now imagine a thirty-foot tall casawary with big teeth ... the movie-makers wouldn't even need to add claws designed for disembowelling, the casawary's already got them.
They say that inside every small dog is a big dog trying to get out. On a similar principle, inside every sparrowhawk is a T.Rex trying to get out ....
Deliberate bad ODF support?
And when it leaks that these bugs are not accidental, but deliberate noncompliance with what is an ISO standard (or deliberate exploitation of problems with that standard)?
Microsoft has tried to play hardball with the EC anti-monopolies people before. It took billion-dollar fines before they accepted defeat. Do we think that they are willing to go there again? With the EC far more desperately short of money than it was back then?
Re: MY EYES!!
Christ that Panamera is ugly.
Not exactly ugly. But it does make me imagine that a Porsche 911 once indulged in some anabolic steroid abuse, and then gave up on both the steroids and the working out in its middle age.
With a hybrid, there is a complex efficiency trade-off between the power and charge capacity of the electric components, and the cost of dragging them around with you when the vehicle is running on its internal combustion engine. The designer takes a (hopefully well-informed) view of the likely spectrum of journey distances and road types that the average owner will require, and then optimises the electrical system for overall vehicle lifetime efficiency. (Note: if you are very far from that average owner profile, a hybrid may not be the right vehicle for you).
I'd guess that the electrical system is aimed at use in stop-start urban traffic, and for shorter commutes. Internal combustion engines are at their worst in stop-start conditions. Lighter weight trumps blistering e-acceleration (needs heavier motors) or long electrical range (heavier batteries). Those requirements are satisfied by the other engine. You have the option to engage it even in city traffic, if that's your (energy-wasting) style.
You can always buy an all-electric Tesla ... but you have to be sure about being able to recharge it before its batteries run empty, and even if there's a charging station on route, recharging it is less quick than refuelling. It'll be a fair while before an all-electric car is any good in rural parts (where the locals will tell you that the electricity suppy is less than totally reliable, and many of them own a petrol generator, just in case. Thought -- a multi-kilowatt inverter accessory for a hybrid car might open up the rural market? )
Re: Codeine, opiates in general
I thought the addiction danger was that these drugs become less effective with repeated use. At which stage you may be tempted to take a larger dose. Which then becomes ineffective with repeated use, and you stumble down the path to total addiction to doses that would kill a non-addict, and ultimately to doses dangerous even to an addict.
On the other hand I'm also aware of quite a bit of literature suggesting that if you do not have an "addictive personality", you won't have any trouble keeping your intake of opiates at the effective therapeutic dose and no higher. There's a lot not yet understood about opiates, even after centuries of use and abuse thereof.
Oh, and there were many Victorian addicts who lived quite long and productive lives. Perhaps medics shouldn't care about people becoming addicted, if they have nothing else that can deal with a chronic source of severe pain. It's not as if opiates are expensive.
Ibuprofen, Naproxen, Diclofenac and dozens of other prescription drugs are NSAIDs: non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. They relieve pain caused by inflammation, by reducing the inflammation. As a gout sufferer I know that large doses of these drugs are spectacularly successful on the right sort of problem. Crippling agony to mild ache in six hours. Magic that works!
But if you have back pain, it may very well be neurological: a trapped or pinched nerve. In which case an anti-inflammatory drug is useless. Which leaves Paracetamol, Aspirin and the all-too-addictive opiates.
Personally, the only thing I've found Paracetamol any use for is flu / bad colds (and I do wonder whether palliative interference with the natural self-curing of these ailments is wise) I used to find Aspirin much more effective, except it's contra-indicated for gout sufferers like me. Aspirin has a direct effect at the neurological level, as well as being an anti-inflammatory drug.
Another reason to avoid NSAIDs for back pain is that it's likely to be chronic, and long-term use of anti-inflammatories is rather bad for you. They appear to block your body's natural repair mechanisms, and if you take them long-term your risk of suffering a stroke or heart attack slowly rises. In some people they also cause stomach bleeding, which long-term can lead to ulcers or anaemia.
Re: "generally inappropriate use of matrix signs"
I'd add "generally inappropriate use of variable speed limits".
for example, the M1 in the morning, approaching Luton airport from the South, there is often a queue on the slip-road and occasionally back onto the carriageway. So what do they do.
Five miles ahead they slow you down to 60. Four miles ahead, to 50. Three miles ahead, to 40. About a mile ahead, you can see that there is actually no queue.
Wouldn't road markings telling people who aren't exiting to stay in the right-hand three lanes be a better idea? (Going the other way approaching the M25, that's exactly what they have done: marked the inside lane as an exit lane for about two miles prior to the exit).