* Posts by I ain't Spartacus

4334 posts • joined 18 Jun 2009

Giant sea scorpion which prowled ancient oceans revealed

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Re: Thank $deity

Normally I quite like spiders. But if the wife complains about finding one of these in the bath, she's on her own.

We're also going to have to re-write that song about the old lady who swallowed a fly. I don't think a bird is going to cut it, when it comes to dealing with this spider. Which I'd imagine won't so much wriggle, as rampage...

I know an old lady

Who swallowed a lion

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The Raspberry Pi is succeeding in ways its makers almost imagined

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Re: The human mind is amazing

Though can you imagine the flame wars between Leibniz's tribe and Newton's boyz 'n' girls?

Choco Leibnitz are delicious! Fig Newtons are horrible! End of debate.

Although, Jaffa cakes are better than both.

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Re: The human mind is amazing

The internet is amazing. A woman sitting next to me on the train asked me for directions to somewhere obscure in London. I'd no idea, but I did have a smartphone.

I support all our company's IT (under ten people, and we pay for Cloudy solutions for the many things I can't do). Years ago I used to struggle to fix PCs. I'm not in IT, I just use the things. Now I can just hit Google, find the right page on Microsoft's site (I wonder if they've fixed internal search on there yet?), found that there's a troubleshooter to fix Windows update, searched the code number it gave out, fixed it. Admittedly I should have thought to try the troubleshooters, as MS have written many of them, and they often now work, but I only fix a pooter every few months, so forget most stuff. But now the internet can remember for me. And I can search on my iPad, while the laptop is in front of me.

Or Google solved the worst emergency possible this Saturday morning. I'd forgotten to make bread on Friday night, as we were too busy drinking cocktails. Yum. What were we going to have with our bacon?!?! But I had some left over sour cream, and maple syrup. Can you make American pancakes with sour cream instead of buttermilk? Theoretically it's acidic, so should do the job. But what if our breakfast goes wrong and I'm forced to go to the shops before I've eaten my bacon? The thought was too horrible to contemplate! Found a couple of nice looking recipes in but a few taps of the iPad, made vanilla pancakes, and the recipe said that warm maple syrup was a human right, so I warmed it up (and it is indeed nice).

And the other day I found the legislation on consumer contracts and wrote a nice letter for a friend's Mum and got her back the £2k that some scumbags had legally scammed her out of. They forgot to update their terms and conditions when the legislation was updated in June. Ooops.

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French woman gets €800 a month for electromagnetic-field 'disability'

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I am willing to believe that they may *eventually* cook their testicles.

I know the French eat some weird stuff, but surely even they draw the line at that!

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Re: KU the pedants

It's not the satellites that I'm worried about. It's the emissions from all those bloody pigeons! Only I'm really worried that my tinfoil hat won't stop Coo band radiation...

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Ashley Madison hacked potential competitor, leaked emails suggest

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Die! By the Pork Sword of Boromir!

Oh sorry, cultural references clash there I think. Mine was probably from a more specialist source, for the discerning gentleman only.

I'll get my cloak...

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Oh no Wikiwon't: Russians plan own version of 'distorted' Wikiland

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Re: Delusional or deluded?

It's an interesting question. All the Russians I've spoken to were well aware of Soviet era media censorship/fabrication. And they had that joke about there being no News in Pravda and no Truth in Isvestia.

So are people fooled, too scared to say, or deliberately allowing themselves to believe stuff they'd know was propaganda if they bothered to think about it? People are perfectly capable of holding contradictory political beliefs simultaneously, just because so few people think too deeply about politics, given they're rather busy leading their own lives.

I remember having several online discussions with a Serbian guy. Said he was a political liberal (whatever that label meant in Serbia a decade ago). He was aware that their media and education systems had been distorted with propaganda for years. He now checked foreign and domestic news sources to get his information. He was glad Milosovic was out of power.

And yet still, Serbia were the poor, misunderstood victims of everyone in the Balkans. And it surely wasn't that Serbia had been aggressive to most of its neighbours in recent years.

It was very odd. Intellectually he knew he'd been fed a whole bunch of propaganda, but I guess it's hard to then go back through your assumptions and memories, and re-assess what's true and what isn't. And any time I might score a point in a debate, then it would obviously be because I'd fallen for the propaganda put out by my own government... Not that Western governments aren't above trying that, but they neither control the press in their own countries, or ban foreign media - so it's much harder to put lies out, without the facts also being avaible. Although there are always things that are kept secret. But if you're aware of the risks, you should be able to stay relatively well informed, and unspun.

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Perhaps the AIpocalypse ISN'T imminent – if Google Translate is anything to go by, that is

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Re: Stribrnice

And that's what I told my wife, when she caught me having sex with that fish. But she wouldn't believe me...

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I saw a news story from Wales, possibly in El Reg a few years back. It was painted on the road in Welsh. It should have said something like "Give Way to oncoming traffic". But what it actually said was "I am currently out of the office and will return tomorrow".

They'd sent the email off to the usual person who did their translation, and painted the response on the road. Oops.

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Re: Machine translation is always good for a giggle!

Ah yes, reminds me of my favourite restaurant in Brussels. Now long since ruined. Although, I've not been in a while, so I can hope for redemption.

They had menus in 6 languages. But the English translation of tete de veau was "tete of veal". Which is all very well if you remember that tete means head - but if you just think it's a french cut of meat, then you're in for a surprise when you open the stock pot and there's a baby cow's head staring up at you.

There weren't many screams while I was eating there, so I can assume that not too many people made that mistake.

Or perhaps the waiters were aware, and warned people. My brother bought some horse from the butchers, when on holiday in Sardinia. It was deliberate. But the butcher knowing that the English are traditionally squeamish about eating horses tried to make sure, to his credit. He didn't speak english though, so this involved making ear signs with his fingers while blowing out his lips and making brrrr and whinnying noises.

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Prof Hawking cracks riddle of black holes – which may be portals to other universes

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Re: There's only one bit of 'information' I want from another universe

I've got copies of all the Firefly box-sets. Only mine are from the alternate universe where it was written and produced by David Hasselhoff. Did I mention that he also starred as Captain Mal Reynolds?

Would you like me to post them to you? You can have them for free...

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Re: Experiement

Surely we just send BT's crack customer service commando unit. The black hole will give up all its information in self defence, after the 3 millionth iteration of Greensleaves and attempt to get through to the right department.

I know that confession under torture is inadmissible in court. But is it acceptable for scientific papers?

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NASA's Dawn gets intimate with Ceres

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Re: "Crater" and suspiciously close "mountain"?

Ceres is where the Buggers' forward base was in Ender's Game, if memory serves. So it could be either the Clangers or the Buggers. [Now there's a sentence I never expected to be using.]

Funny how they just became the bugs for the film, for some strange reason... Unfortunately, about the only decision they got right.

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What's Russia smoking? Kremlin bans Wikipedia for dopey article

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Re: Crowd Control

hplasm,

If the police are equipped with vodka cannons, then - I predict a riot.

Personally I will be looting all the tonic and limes I can get from Sainsbury's - and then waiting for the police to come and quell the angry mob.

Note to self: Must remember to loot some snacks as well.

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AshMad search outfit Trustify to El Reg: 'Trust us, we're the good guys'

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Re: Scary

If you've got a gmail/hotmail/outlook/yahoo address, then it might be quite likely to see your email address randomly turn up on there, if it's not too unusual. Similarly if you own something like johnsmith.com.

My 6 year old nephew has been sending me messages in his school IT lessons via the company website contact form - as he doesn't have an email. But he knows enough to fill in the mandatory email field with hisname@hotmail.com. So I'm sure an AM user can manage the same.

As my email address is obadiahfullentrousers@spankmonkey.com, I'm not too worried...

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FBI probed SciFi author Ray Bradbury for plot to glum-down America

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Re: FBI sponsored?

But William had an invitation. He was coming to build a mobile phone network...

I think that's also why no-one ever seems to mention the French invasion after John reneged on Magna Carta, which only stopped after he'd randomly snuffed it, and the barons got together under William the Marshal and told the French to bugger off - oh and by the way thanks for the help.

I guess it comes under the general heading of foreign help in civil war, rather than invasion.

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Re: Jesus

That particular carol is unspecific as to crapping and puking though...

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White Stork mates with ISS, delivers bundles of resupply joy

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Re: Dehydrated beer...

Does that mean if I take some, mix with water and put in a sodastream I'll get lager?

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Re: RE: dehydrated beer

But there is plenty of urine up there already...

Astronauts wouldn't give a XXXX for anything else...

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The Ashley Madison files – are people really this stupid?

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Re: umm...

Journalists usually get public interest exemptions to various laws. Given that part of their role in society is finding out information they're not supposed to know from peple who aren't supposed to tell them.

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Google reveals OnHub WiFi router, complete with GLOWING RING

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Re: If you like this

Can we not have the GCHQ Doughnut home router? The shape is both nice looking, and will remind us of how lovely their building is.

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Are you a digital leader or a high-maintenance digital dunce?

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Re: "batting mobile out of the park"

So what you're saying is that companies should be like a monomaniac, emotionally repressed, psychopath with a nice line in S&M clothing and go to very expensive parties. Great! Where do I sign up?

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Facepalm

This article leads me to two conclusions:

1. Should you be taking advice on how to run your business from HP? How much did they spend on Autonomy again? Also they've not been notably successful at picking CEOs, or mergers, or making consumer tech that isn't horrible or writing printer drivers less than half a gigabyte in size...

2. Actually HP aren't totally stupid. Their metric of being an IT leader is if you spend more money on HP kit. And everyone wants to be a leader. Those nasty laggards only spend their budget on maintaining what they've already got. So Booooooo to them, I say. Booooo!

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Hey, folks. Meet the economics 'genius' behind Jeremy Corbyn

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Re: WTF?

You know you're not actually forced to read it don't you? Worstall articles are pretty easy to spot, so just don't click on them. Then your problem is solved.

If you can't cope with reading contrary opinions, then you'll be kept nice and safe. Although I notice you haven't actually pointed out anywhere where Worstall is actually wrong...

It would be nice if El Reg could get a tame lefty to come on and mud wrestle with Worstall though.

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Neither main party is much of a good representation of their base. That's because they want to get elected. But the two big parties memberships have hollowed out over the years, such that the majority of their supporters and campaigners seem to be further from the centre than their MPs and leadership.

Which is why you find almost as much anti-Cameron vitriol in the Telegraph as you will in the Guardian or Mirror. And I'd guess why Cameron has consistently polled as more popular personally than the Conservative Party.

The Americans have a similar situation, where Donald Trump appears to be appealing to the Republican base at the primaries. But I suspect would get slaughtered at the national election. Although early leaders in the primaries do tend to get slaughtered before the end.

If Corbyn doesn't win at this point, it's going to leave painful scars, and either Burnham or Cooper will have their work cut out to heal the party.

But if he does win, I can't see Labour's parliamentary party holding together. They might be no formal split, but they will be totally unable to work together. There's blame on both sides for that, but a serial rebel like Corbyn has no right to claim anyone else's loyalty. And there have been some pretty hair-raising comments from some of his supporters about purging the opposition.

Even if he had the best policies in the world, if he can't command the loyalty of his own party, he can't win an election. Miliband was given a reasonably easy ride by the Parliamentary party. There was no more grumbling than any other leader has to face - and he did well at keeping the party united. Corbyn has no hope of that. If he wins it will be a horrible mess.

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Re: Bonds

Tim,

Sure. QE could die a natural death. But at some point, might some future Chancellor not be tempted to say - "we've got low inflation and there's £umpty billion of QE bonds coming due next year, so we're simply going to write them off, and not pay the BofE"?

In a few years, QE will have already caused what inflation it was going to. And some future Chancellor will be looking at the extra interest payments if that debt is sold back to the markets, and feeling sad about the next election. I'm sure some will be, to mop up excess liquidy, I'm surprised the Bank of England haven't done a bit of it already.

So they'll maybe keep rolling the bonds over at the BofE, paying them the interest and then taking it back as profits - and that's going to start looking increasingly silly, so why not just write the whole lot off? In ten years time, is anyone going to care all that much?

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The Guardian are a Labour paper. They think Corbyn will knacker the party they support. Opposing him therefore makes sense. I've seen no smears in there against him, please point some out if you have. All I've seen is disagreement. Which surely is part of normal politics. If you can't stand the heat, get out of the kitchen.

It may be we need PR. So we can have centre left and further left parties, as well as centre right, libertarian, green, nationalist and whatever else. Then we'd get to see who really supports what.

The problem then, is that you've no idea what you'll get after the election. Which is the reason I don't like PR. But politics have to work, and if not enough voters can agree on being in the two main parties, then PR is a better solution that watching them becoming more and more remote from teh voters.

Also, remember the vitriol is not one way. The number of Corbyn's supporters who've been screaming that anyone inside Labour who disagrees with them is an evil Tory is unpleasantly large. It's looking uncomfortably close to splitting the main opposition, and leaving us with an effective one party state - until we get a new opposition sorted out. And that worries me as much as Corbyn's policies (which I also believe to be economically illiterate).

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Re: ha ha ha

What's wrong with Corbyn-bashing? As long as it's polite, and is attacking his policies.

As many people believe that a lot of his policies would have seriously bad effects, it makes sense to point that out before he's elected Labour leader. People can then make their own minds up as to whether that criticism is fair or not.

As a Conservative voter, I still believe in a strong opposition. Parties that are in power for too long lose their grip. They risk becoming corrupt, incapable of having new ideas, riven by factions, or all three.

It is my belief that Corbyn is un-electable. Someone viewed as competent with Ed Miliband's policies might well get a good hearing from the electorate. Corbyn appears to be further to the left of him. Being seen as principled I'd imagine will be good for his political image - but on the economy I think he's too far out of step with the majority of the electorate.

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Re: Not impressed

Joe Harrison,

in the context of the current worldwide insanity (central banks printing like crazy to buy up bonds and stocks)

This isn't total insanity. I believe QE worked in Japan in the 1930s. But it's the mainstream response to people studying the 1930s depression over the intervening years. Economics tried to learn someothing from why that happened. Ben Bernanke at the Federal Reserve made his name on the topic, and so happened to be in the right place at the right time to test his theories. And seems to have done a retty good job, there was no repeat of the Great Depression.

Note that the things governments got wrong were:

To stay on the gold standard too long, which caused the money supply to collapse. Causing deflation, which lead to a drop in demand and businesses to sack people they could no longer afford to employ.

To let the banks go bust, destroying confidence in banks leading to a cascade of failures.

Cutting government spending too much, leading to an even bigger drop in demand in the economy.

So most governments did make cuts, but much more slowly, and they compensated by lowering interest rates, doing QE and bailing out the banks.

Note that the Eurozone is a bit like the gold standard in our current example, and so those countries in trouble have struggled to fix their problems, hence the problems in Spain, Ireland, Portugal etc. And the total disaster, and hideous policy clusterfuck, in Greece.

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Re: Oh puhleeze

A bit too ranty, and very much too ignorant of basic economics.

Inflation is too much money, seeking too few goods. That pushes the price up, as you've only got so many goods to go round - however much money you have. Hence the spectacle of billion mark or Zimbabwe dollar notes.

If the government sells bonds, then someone has to buy those bonds. With money. They give that money to the government in exchange for the bond. So the government can spend that money. So the money supply has remained the same.

If the government has printed money, and therefore not sold a corresponding bond, then the money supply has grown. Thus there is now more money around, so all things being equal that will result in the price of goods and/or labour going up.

Obviously if you're way below full employment, then wages need not rise. The government of Greece say could easily print a few billion (if only they were allowed to) and pay some of those unemployed people to do something useful. That would grow the economy, as they'd then have cash to spend on other people's goods and services - and yet with unemployment at 25% - you need to employ a lot of people before you start pushing wages up.

Actually it would cause some inflation, but as Greece currently has -2% inflation, that would actually be a good thing for their economy.

For Britain, which has much lower unemployment and is now getting some welcome small wage inflation, printing would be inflationary. Inflation is low, we might even get away with bit anyway. But the hit to the credibility of our government might be disproportionately large, such that inflation expectations suddenly rise, leading to an inflationary devaluation in the currency - and the requirement to have higher interest rates or inflation than otherwise needed.

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Who's pursued "austerity at all costs though"? The UK are still running a budget deficit of nearly £80 billion. Down from £150 billion in 2010. Sure there have been cuts, but not as huge as some people would have you think. The US continued stimulus for longer, and then had some pretty steep cuts because of the gridlock, and not renewing various tax cuts.

Now austerity at all costs was imposed on Greece. With truly disastrous results. But even then, there was an alternative. If Greece were willing to leave the Euro, they could have a sane economic policy.

Ireland, Spain and Portugal have had some pretty heavy cuts though. But again - that's more part of being in an unworkable currency union and trying to force economics to submit to politics. Which they're still managing to do - but I'm not sure how long they can keep it up. Of course they only made less than half the cuts that Greece was forced to, and 2 of them are back to growth.

The really ideological austerity fetishists are in Germany. Who are running a budget surplus, despite having the cheapest government borrowing in their history available - and infrastructure investment at a low. But they're also running at historically low levels of unemployment and huge levels of exports. Actually I'd argue that's a bad thing, Germany is becoming a less equal society and damaging the Euro because of it.

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Your comment comes across as a bit of buzzword bingo - so I'm afraid you're going to have to say why you think Worstall's understanding of money mechanics is poor.

Worstall's understanding of the quantity theory of money and QE seems pretty mainstream to me. There's certainly plenty of debate about cause and effect though - I don't recall whether he's outed himself as a monetarist a Keynesian or somewhere in the middle.

But my understanding from studying economics, politics and history is that if you get large rises in the money supply you get inflation. The argument in economics is whether the rise in the money supply is the cause or the effect. If you print money, you raise the money supply. If you do it to buy things from foreigners then you get currency devaluation, leading to higher inflation and the need to either make cuts or the temptation to keep on printing, leading to a vicious inflationary cycle.

You can get away with it for a short while, or on a small scale. Particularly if no-one finds out. But not long term.

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Re: At least you declared an interest this time

No, abusive means exactly what I meant it to "using hurtful language".

Will 28,

You're really going to have to go and find some of this hurtful language that you see, because I really don't. I even went off and read that Morozov article you linked to. I see no vitriol there.

Worstall spends both that and this article debating the issues. So he explains the technical points that he believes are important and then talks about the things that he believes they've got wrong.

He might make the odd comment about how he doesn't know what Morozov is banging on about, but that's by no means abuse. And to have a go at Murphy for having failed economics is perfectly legitimate if Murphy is trying to claim expertise in economics. Particularly as I've now had Murphy's arguments pointed out to me three times, and each one of those times he's made a basic error in understanting how accounting or economics actually work - and then refused to accept it when his error is pointed out to him.

He then uses these misunderstandings to build startlingly huge figures like the supposedly £190 billion tax gap, which he then uses to get publicity, in a sort of Daily Mail headline writing method writ large. Those figures then get into the mainstream political debate, and need to be challenged - otherwise we may end up with people making policy based on them.

Even if there was 7% of GDP of tax avoidance, you can't just magically grab all that cash for government with no effect on the economy.

There's plenty of legitimate economists, who do understant what they're talking about, to make the left wing argument. Such as Wren-Lewis or Krugman.

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Re: Bonds

Be that as it may, it doesn't have to be inflationary - as long as the government isn't competing for *real* resources - commodities, people, etc, then inflation doesn't have to follow.

G Mac,

You can't follow a statement like the above with this:

Again, MMTers know this because they follow how money works in real-life, not just a theory on how it should work in a perfect world.

You're basically trying to say that in theory, in a perfect world, the government can print money to spend without inflation. Just so long as it doesn't compete with everyone else in the rest of the economy.

But unless it's paying unicorns to do the stuff it wants, of course it's competing with the rest of the economy. If you print money to build a road, then you're going to be employing people who would otherwise be doing other stuff - using their mechanical diggers (that now won't be digging holes for other clients), and concrete/aggregate/fuel that other people now won't be using.

The same if you employ more nurses, someone else now won't be paying those people to do stuff.

Now you can get away with this in Greece for example. Where they have deflation and mass unemployment and under-utilisation of resources. Printing money in Greece is exactly what the Eurozone should have done, but they deliberately decided to exclude Greece from Quantitive Easing - due to being incompetent fuckwits.

In the UK, with much lower unemployment, and wages already slowly rising, printing money to spend would be inflationary.

Secondly you have to remember that economics interacts with politics and public expectations. If enough people believe there's going to be a recession, then there will be. Banking crises are all about confidence. People's belief in what future inflation will be, drives their current actions, and can cause that future inflation. So if you allow the feeling to develop that you're going to lose all monetary discipline, you'll get more inflation than a government that is believed to be prudent doing the same thing.

As an example, I don't believe that QE will in fact be unwound. The Central Banks will use it as a tool to dampen money supply growth without having to raise interest rates so much. So they'll sell some bonds back to the markets. But at some point, I believe a Chancellor will stand up at the budget and quietly just write-off a chunk of the government debt held by the BofE. Because it's a one-off, we'll get away with it with just some minor harrumphing from The Telegraph and the FT. I think that'll have no effect on inflation, and be seen as a one-off. Although it's important not to do it until we're sure we won't need QE again for a nother few generations. As it would make QE (and us) much less credible if say we did that now, then China and the Eurozone economies both collapsed, and we needed to resort to it again.

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China shutters 50 websites for spreading explosion 'rumours'

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Re: Anybody know what the rumors were?

It's so hard to calibrate the paranoia when an authoritarian system responds to something like this. One story I heard on the BBC World Service was that a bunch of journalists researching the company whose warehouse it was tried to get on the Chinese company registration database. I guess trying to find who owns them, or how big they are. Only to find a notice on that website that it was down due to being switched off to stop the spread of unhelpful information.

I'm not sure whether that means it's owned by someone or some entity that would be embarrassing, or if this was just the kneejerk reaction of "hide everything!"

It must be hard to run a company in a country where vital business information resources can just disappear for a while due to an embarrassing media story in a different city from you.

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Assange™ is 'upset' that he WON'T be prosecuted for rape, giggles lawyer

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Apparently there is a statute of limitations in Sweden on rape. And that's 10 years. So if they don't drop it, he may have to hole up for another 5 years in the Ecuadorian embassy. Then it's just the UK bail-jumping sentence to face.

I hope Ecuador are charging him rent. Knightsbridge is an expensive area...

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Re: Guilt all round

From the High Court hearing into the Assange case it was shown that the accusations of rape met with the UK defnition of rape. At the time there were two accusations:

1. That he'd been told no sex without condom. After a bit of sulking they went ahead. So it was made fully clear what the rules were But when she was asleep he allegedly had another go and didn't put on a condom. That's clearly sex without consent, as her consent was conditional. The definition of which is rape. Obviously it's not rape with violence, but it's still rape. And the UK judges confirmed this would also be so under UK law. I could equally imagine it getting prosecuted as a less serious charge though.

2. In the other case he also had been told no condom, no sex. But in this case he's accused of not just complaining but trying to carry on regardless. She claims to have closed her legs, while he was lying on top of her trying to force himself on her. No violence is alleged, just superior size, weight and leverage. Eventually he realised it wasn't working, put on his condom like a good boy, and got some sex as a reward.

Not the most serious accusations ever for sure. But not minor either. As Ken Clark got into trouble for saying, there are degrees of rape, and some are more serious than others.

But if using your superior size and weight to force yourself on an unwilling partner isn't being counted as rape - then the people trying to make that claim in Assange's support need to take a long, hard look at their idea of morality. Because they're doing it wrong.

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Re: WTF?

This is why he's unhappy about not being able to have these trumped up charges put before a court.

Craigness,

You're quite right! He was so desperate to clear his name that he fled the country, went to every legal effort possible in the UK in order to avoid being sent back for his pre-charge interview, and then when that also failed broke bail and ran away again (as close to South America as he could manage). Incidentally costing his "friends" a few hundred grand that they'd put up to cover his bail.

Then he loudly shouted how he was eager to be interviewed in the Ecuadorian embassy, but amazingly, that hasn't happened either! Who would have thought it? Ecuador and/or he, managed to find various excuses as to why the interview couldn't happen until the statute of limitations kicked in.

Now were I an uncharitable chap, I would be mighty suspicious of this series of actions, that has led to him not having to face any of the charges he's apparently so eager to have his day in court about.

If you put an impossible condition on your willingness to do something, that suggests that you are in fact trying to avoid doing it. Being given a legal indemnity against unspecified future charges is impossible. QED...

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Re: So is there a statute of limitations about skipping bail?

I don't think we have a statute of limitations on crimes in English law. I'm less good on the Scottish legal system.

Civil matters usually have time limits, but I don't think there's anything even for minor crimes. Although the longer ago something is, the harder evidence is to produce.

I remember there were a bunch of rape prosecutions and convictions in the 90s, based on the new ability to process DNA evidence. I think the police had a program where they re-opened unsolved cases where they still had physical evidence from the crime scene, from as far back as the 70s.

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Re: Here’s an idea for the journo’s

Do people still send faxes?

Horrible, nasty things fax machines. I was very glad when email finally killed them. We killed our company fax number 3 years ago, I had one request to send us a fax about a year later - but haven't had anything since.

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Re: generic comment form

Is there an option for beer and a pork pie? My local pub has started selling enormous (and delicious) pork pies. They've always sold beer. I like beer and pork pies! Where's my option?

They also sell scotch eggs. The perverts!

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Re: WTF?

william 10,

Your ignorance of UK law is total.

How would we charge Sweden for policing our laws? I suppose we could pass some fancy new law to do so. Although it wouldn't be worth the vellum it was written on in Sweden of course.

And there is no legal mechanism for a UK government to give a guarantee not to prosecute or extradite someone for an unspecified crime - of which no charge currently exists. It would have no validity with the courts. I know nothing about Swedish law, and what their government is allowed to do.

There is also no ministerial discretion in either the European Arrest Warrant, or the US extradition treaty. They are entirely a process for the courts to enforce, only our extradition treaties with everyone else allow for the Home Secretary to have the final word.

We did admittedly give letters of guarantee to certain IRA suspects, as part of the peace process. But that was not legal and therefore done in secret. And only came out as one seems to have been given out to someone in error. The Blair government managed to combine their usual lack of respect for due process and competence again... I don't know if the letters would stand up in court anyway, but of course political influence could be brought to bear on the police and prosecution services to stop any investigation from getting to court in the first place. It was also a rather unique situation, and frankly, Julian Assange just isn't that important.

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Re: Is there any point in having a comment section?...

Astroturfing for who? There's plenty of comments both for and against St Julian. Plenty of them from regular posters on here, who'd be going to an awful lot of effort if they were posting all their usual crap just a cover for the odd bit of shilling on behalf of Uncle Sam / the UK / Sweden / Space Lizards / whatever...

I can confirm that my opinions (not very sympathetic to Assange) are entirely my own, and not paid for by anyone. If you can tell me where I can sign up to get paid decent money for posting any old crap online, please let me know. I might be tempted to quit my job, and sign up. So long as the hours are good.

Otherwise, if you're going to accuse people of shilling, kindly come up with some sort of evidence, or at least argument. Put up, or shut up.

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He is indeed innocent. I have to say that he's innocent of these charges, because Swedish law says they have to be dropped, if you can successfully hide for 5 years. And I do believe in the rule of law. Although in the UK we don't run our system the same way, so the same trick wouldn't work.

But the Swedes have a much more liberal judicial and penal system than us, and there's much to admire about how the Nordics go about running their societies.

Of course that, and the fact that Assange said he was planning to seek permanent residency in Sweden, does rather undermine his claims about fearing that he's been set up by the evil Swedes to be fitted up for a crime he didn't commit without fair trial, then shipping off to the States. Given that he'd chosen to hang out in Sweden when he already claimed that the US were after him, and then chose to run to the UK - not a sensible place to be if you want to avoid Uncle Sam!

So I am entitled to be of the opinion that everything he says is total bollocks. And that he's got a proven track record in this case of getting his lawyers to put out misleading statements, and has many loyal supporters willing to do the same.

And no, he wasn't in hiding before all this blew up. He only went into hiding after the UK courts had finally blocked his final attempt to avoid being sent to Sweden to face the charges he'd already run away from. At which point he broke his bail, and fled to the Ecuadorian embassy.

So he is entitled to the presumption of innocence. Which means I am very careful with my language. But, I am entitled to take a view on his actions too. And I find them rather objectionable. He came to my country, got a more than fair hearing from our courts, who ruled that there was at least enough evidence to answer to charges of rape, but obviously it wasn't their job to rule on how good that evidence was. Only that it was enough for charges under UK law. Then he abused our hospitality, and buggered off, costing us quite a bit of money to enforce the laws of the land.

The only conclusions that I find that fit the data are that he's insanely paranoid, or that he's guilty. Admittedly the paranoia bit is quite likely, from everything I've read about him. But his attitude to women and what he's said about the charges could equally be interpreted to say that he's guilty as hell, and getting away with it.

Although as he's voluntarily locked himself in a tiny embassy for years, "getting away with it" obviously isn't true.

From a distance it's hard to know what combination of narcissim, his political beliefs, paranoia, publicity seeking and a weird childhood drives his actions. But he doesn't strike me as a particularly admirable human being. His supporters are often as self-righteous and annoying as he is. And I'm not all that convinced by Wikileaks. The Afghan war logs don't seem to have shown anything untoward, certainly I've seen nothing to justify the risk to the life of innocent Afghan locals of publishing them. Although I believe Julian Assange did say something like "they're informers, so fuck 'em". Which was nice...

Anyway the 'Collateral Murder' video showed nothing of the sort, just the usual fuck up you get in warzones. Someone pointed a camera at a helicopter during a convoy escort operation, and got shot at. The initial version edited out the weapons that the party who were attacked were carrying too, not that those weapons were a reason to attack them, but the cockpit audio suggested that the crew thought they'd seen an RPG and so fired. They sounded more inexperienced, and a bit panicky, than malevolent.

The diplomatic cables were interesting. I'm not sure they told us anything we didn't already know. It's hard to know whether they did more good (political transparency is worth something after all) than the probable slight harm to diplomatic communications - but I'm not sure they were worth Chelsea Manning going to prison for.

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Re: Just to clear this up...

Bloody hell! Are people still peddling this shit? Have you guys never heard of the separation of powers? It's only basic political theory, not complicated, or new or anything...

We have separate judicial systems for a bloody good reason! So that politicians can't pick and choose who gets tried and who doesn't. It's not perfect, but it's set up that way for a reason.

And Assange is asking for a get out of jail free card, where he gets a guarantee of immunity from unspecified crimes he's not even been charged with. The legal advice given to a UK Minister would be that this would not be legal for them to do, as they have no legal power to give immunity. Also even if they gave such a guarantee, it would have no legal validity, and would be ignored by the courts.

There is normally a right for the Home Secretary to use discretion in the case of extradition. But the last Labour government, in some bout of collective insanity, decided that in both the case of the posspoor US extradition treaty and the European Arrest Warrant, the Home Secretary would give up that power to protect out citizens. Sadly the coalition failed to correct this monstrous fuck-up, and so far the Conservatives haven't talked about it either.

I don't know Swedish law. So don't know what their ministers can or can't do. Although I believe they have a standard block on extradition for "political crimes", so would be unlikely to extradite anyway. And of course with a European Arrest Warrant in place, Sweden would not be able to extradite without the permission of the UK courts as well.

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Huge explosion kills 44+ in China, blasts nearby supercomputer offline

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Re: Talk about risky locations..

(*) EG: Oil depots. I was a little surprised when first I moved to the UK and noticed noticed that none of the major storage depots have containment berms.

They should do. I thought that was a requirement.

It was actually the cause of the Buncefield explosion a few years ago. So loud that I heard it 50 miles away - and went downstairs to see if my telly had exploded (as it made a louder version of that noise you got when you hit the degauss button).

There was a weird combination of events, where the main and back-up float valves/switches in a stororage tank that was being filled had failed. Petrol continued to flow in, but obviously started coming out of the overflow. But the temperature was just a few degrees, and so it started to form a cloud of cold vapour. This vapour was heavier than air, and so started to collect in a huge massively explosive mixture inside the berm. There's a reason that it's illegal to store gas in a bunded area.

I don't recall if they found out what caused the spark, but the vapour cloud had built up for several hours, and I believe it was called the largest peacetime explosion in Europe.

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Cheers, Bill Gates. Who wouldn't want drinking water made from POO?

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Re: nice

Since the dawn of time, people have been drinking water from natural sources.

True. And suffering child mortality of staggeringly high proportions, such that only half or fewer of their children would survive until adulthood. Perhaps you feel that this is "natural" and isn't a problem?

However most other people would disagree. Hence we in the developed world, developed. We got sewerage, and healthcare, and pharmaceuticals and food hygene standards and health and safety. And the X Factor - but nothing's perfect...

Pure mountain spring-water might be totally safe to drink. But anywhere where the temperature is warm (water temp above 20°C), will have contaminate water. Bacteria require light, nutrients and heat to thrive. This is why drinking water tanks are sealed, made of non-translucent materials, insulated and should be tested, cleaned and chlorinated regularly under your legionella control plan.

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Larry Page was held back by Google execs from flooding world with new dot-word domains

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I don't see how this move to alphabet will help him anyway. Presumably the only suits than can stop him are the board. Seeing as all the old Google shares are being converted to Alphabet shares, so that Google will simply become a wholly owned subsidiary of Alphabet - nothing is changing. There'll still need to be shareholder representation on the Alphabet board.

To be honest, Page and Brin can probably overrule them anyway. As I understand it, they still control lots of votes, as they kept high voting weight shares for themselves at the float. Much as Zuckerberg did with Facebook, so he had 50% of the votes with only something like 5% of the shares.

Then again, as with Amazon, the shareholders can't complain they didn't know what they were getting. Google still make big profits, but like to invest heavily in odd areas of R&D, of which something might pay off handsomely. And Amazon don't do profits, they spend them all on growth.

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Budget UHD TVs arrive – but were the 4Kasts worth listening to?

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Re: Sky and UHD

It's funny, because we're not even fully in an HD world yet. The TV broadcasts are mostly only 720, rather than 1080, and yet we're upping the ante even more. Cricket is better in HD, and so I'd imagine tennis and golf are too. I'm not sure it really matters for slower moving sports with bigger euqipment like footie.

There's a brief mention in the article of HDR. And I think that could be a big leap forward with 4K. I've never even bothered getting a Bluray player, DVD is enough for me - I don't believe there's enough of a difference to be worth shelling out so much extra per disc.

I've also got very poor eyesight though, so my opnion is of less value in judging what other people are seeing. Although given how poorly set up many peoples' tellies are, I think it's safe to say that they're not really caring.

But I do struggle in those films and shows where the director wants to shoot everything in moody darkness. I've even had to resort to changing the picture settings, if turning off the lights doesn't help. And HDR might be excellent for that.

Otherwise, it'll have to wait until my TV dies. At which point I'll get whatever's sensibly priced. If we aren't on to 16K by then...

Although the smart stuff can bugger off. If I want smarts, I'll get something not coded by gibbons, which is what the TV companies seem to use to write their user interfaces. At the moment that's a Chromecast, so the UI is my tablet or PC.

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Typewriters suck. Yet we're infinitely richer for those irritating machines

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Re: Ah, spirit copiers.

Ah, happy days. But you're all wrong. It wasn't the march of technology that killed them off.

Bandas died out because they won't breed in captivity...

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