3565 posts • joined 18 Jun 2009
Re: NUH! LAND!
Destroy all Monsters,
That's funny. I thought it was Putin who was smirking and awarding medals to his special forces troops who'd just conquered and annexed Crimea. Or did I imagine that?
Loss of trust in the Russian government.
Whose trust? Their citizens apparently love the bare-chesting
The citizens of Russia don't trust their government. That might not mean they can get rid of it, but it does mean they like to keep their money in other countries. Which cripples the Russian economy. It's one of the reasons they keep needing foreign investment to exploit their mineral reserves. And the more of these international joint ventures that get stolen, or the more scary it looks to operate there, the less investment will happen. And the weaker the economy. In the end, be it military, diplomatic, strategic or political affairs - it's the economy stoopid.
According to the Russian Central bank, $60 billion of foreign capital fled the Russian economy in the first 3 months of this year. According to the ECB that's now up to $220 billion (as of last week! No economy can survive that.
Putin became popular because he sorted the economy out. He may be staying popular because he's making Russia look strong. But if the economy collapses, he''ll lose popular support, and have no money for military adventurism.
Re: "... could cripple ongoing research efforts..."
If you're working purely on money, it's a very interesting question if Apollo was actually worth it. Sure we developed a lot of tech - but some of that tech would have come anyway from missiles and other military work. From memory Apollo cost around $24 billion 1960s dollars! That's pre-70s inflation money. You have to look at the opportunity cost of all that moolah.
After all, spy, GPS, weather, mapping, and communications satellites were going to happen anyway. Which would have got us some of the tech, and are the parts of the space program that have 'paid their way'. The manned space program hasn't given us a direct pay-back at all. Obviously medical sensors and such are great, but then all those billions could have been invested in medical research instead - and we'd have got the same thing.
Again what has un-manned deep-space research got us? The earth sciences satellites and the solar-activiity stuff is important, but all the planetary fly-bys are just for fun and the advancement of science. I suppose we may have got better at geology because of it, and that does have practical applications. Obviously basic research is a public good, and you never know what you'll get.
As you say, the shuttle was a dead-end. Although I'm not sure if that was obvious at the time - and I wonder if we were to have fewer military compromises we could now do a better job, with modern materials science. But I suspect not. I think Musk has some of the answer, with re-useable rockets and capsules. I don't know if it's worth re-using the 2nd stage or not. And there's hope for the SABRE engine too.
But the ISS has actually achieved some practical benefits already. It's paid back some of its investment. Admittedly it's boring old political / diplomatic. But it was part of binding Russia into a post Cold War world (even though that might now be falling apart). Also it was explicitly about keeping the old Soviet ICBM infrastructure working, when the Russian economy was collapsing. That's no small thing, given that in that time period North Korea, Pakistan Iraq and Iran have all been doing heavy nuclear weapons and missile research. As well as trading both technologies amongst themselves and to others. Without the ISS, North Korea might have a working IRBM (even ICBM) to go with its barely working nukes.
I was listening to a Radio 4 program about the disappointment about the research conducted on the ISS. I believe there's more going on now, as the thing's built. A lot of the early stages were spent putting it together. These damned Ikea flat-pack space stations take forever!
But a lot of that stuff is still going to be basic research that has no immediate/obvious pay-off. There's the alpha dark matter detector, and aren't they about to try one of these electric plasma engines on ISS too?
So yes, lots of ISS stuff is basically practical research into manned spaceflight. And if you think that's pointless, I guess the ISS is a waste of cash. Although the ISS has given the US the impetus to fund SpaceX, which is going to make satellites much cheaper. And that's a definite plus point in its favour.
I'm no chemist, but I always understood that there was hope of super new medicines / useful chemicals that could only be made in micro-gravity. I don't know if that's still believed to be the case. But obviously that's going to require decent numbers of humans living in orbit. And no way is that going to happen without government pork getting laid out in vast amounts first, to learn the technology. Also asteroid mining ought to be perfectly feasible - and give us extra resources that don't kill the environment. Once you get a space economy going, it's going to be somewhat self-sustaining, as power would be incredibly cheap, once you could make solar panels in space.
Also there's the topic of space defences. Chelyabinsk nearly took a hit last year. If the Tunguska impactor hit London or New York, you'd be talking hundreds of billions of damage to the global economy. Of course there's only a few targets that would do damage worth the investment to build counter-measures, and we don't know how frequent actually dangerous impacts are. Plus there's much ocean to act as a decoy target. But the knowledge to do this is going to be applicable to moving asteroids around, so there's a huge potential economic gain. And a Tunguska level hit in a major city could have killed several million people. Money would likely be forthcoming after an event like that. It would be so nice if we could manage it beforehand...
So in conclusion, apologies for the mega-post, I'd say the ISS may almost have been worth it for the diplomatic-political advantages alone. It's helped to give us SpaceX, and is doing basic research into whether we can have space-based industries. Which will hopefully start to pay off this century. If it's possible, and actually worth doing.
It's also done some basic research, and is now doing more. But that alone is almost certainly not worth the money. Anything to add? Disagree with?
Re: "... could cripple ongoing research efforts..."
The ISS is an experiment. Into international space cooperation (mostly a success so far), oh and it was also designed to funnel US taxpayers' money into keeping ex-USSR rockets scientists in Russia - Iran had a $1m a year salary on offer to anyone who could help them build an ICBM in the 90s (at least according to The Economist at the time).
It's also an experiment into large scale construction in space. Something which is bloody hard. Along with just living in space - also very hard. Yes the Soviets then Russians did manage to keep someone up there for over a year, but at one point their space station got punctured by a flight carrying the dinner, lost computers and therefore stability and power, then nearly caught fire from the oxygen generators. They very nearly died in some very interesting (and different) ways, several times over. And were nearly forced to abandon ship at several points.
We've still not spent very long up there, and there's lots to do and learn. Plus there are many experiments into life sciences, crystalography, dark matter, environmental studies of the Earth. Admittedly with only 3 or 6 people up there, they spend a disproportianate amount of time just staying alive, rather than experimenting. But if we want to do space manufacture, we need to learn this stuff. And it's expensive and dangerous.
I think we need to get into space for the resources and the science. Maybe even living space, eventually. Plus possible micro-gravity manufacture. The only pracitcal way to do that, is to start building stuff up there - rather than lobbing it expensively through the atmosphere. Which means permanent habitation. We've now got a water recycling space toilet. But still no space farm to do food and oxygen. So much work to do.
Re: "the irreplaceable orbital station"
How will we get the funding out of government when ISS 4 just randomly disappears though?
The problem with this bluff is that people only have to half-believe it, for it to backfire.
After Russia cut off gas to Ukraine last time, partly over re-negotiating the lease on the Crimean bases they just annexed, Europe spent quite a lot of cash on upgrading its gas interconnectors. It's still reliant on Russian gas, but can at least push the stuff the other way down the pipes now, so if Russia chooses to supply only Germany, theoretically the Germans could share. It also pursuaded others to invest large chunks of change in LNG - so lost Russia customers.
Threatening to do this again in a few days is likely to mean Europe has to move to other gas suppliers, and therefore has less reason/excuse to avoid sanctions over Ukraine.
Equally just the threat of removing access to those rocket engines means that the US government will have no choice but to find another US source. Which there wasn't at the time. Once they've done that, why pay defence dollars outside the US, when there's pork to be dished out funding a factory in someone's constituency?
Result, loss of income to the Russian economy. Loss of trust in the Russian government. These ex KGB guys seem to be excellent at the diplomatic/tactical/military stuff, but not so good at the economics and strategy. Still, I guess you don't need to know economics if you can just nick your cash off someone else.
Re: Debate worthy of a playground
no matter what Cameron says about not resigning after any Yes vote the PM and cabinet that reside over the breakup of the United Kingdom are finished.
Not sure about that. Just like the results of Scottish independence, or the whole lot of us leaving the EU, 'tis impossible to predict.
I do think the Nats are a bunch of shysters, without the courage of their own convictions though. There are some big risks to independence, which they keep either glossing over, or outright lying about. I don't think there's any way to predict the outcome, but Scotland has a well-educated population and a modern economy. I'm sure they'll cope. And the SNP should say just that. If it's about policitical independence anyway. I'd say this equally on the EU debate. There are economic risks to coming out, but also opportunities. Staying in has some serious costs, and a challenge to democratic legitimacy.
Therefore, in my book at least, both are as much emotional issues as practical ones. Personally I feel British. Englishness to me is sporting identity. And it would be less fun being rude about the Scottish rugby/football team if were were separate countries. So I'd be sad to see Scotland go, but I don't think there's anything the government could, or should, do to stop it.
I'd say the feeling I encounter amongst most of the people I talk to (in the South East) is a mild exasperation. Some have taken up the nationalist Scots welfare scroungers position, but that's quite recent and relatively rare. I think it's more a reaction against the rise in overt Scottish nationalism. For example, up until 20 years ago, most English people would have supported a Scottish sporting team unthinkingly - until the anything but England stuff became so common. And of course a natural reaction to devolution, with no tuition fees etc. But I'd say the most common reaction is "whatever". If that's what people want, good luck to them. It would be a shame.
Course, after a YES vote, that could turn into a backlash. We loved you, now we hate the bastards that pushed you away. But my strong suspicion is that it'll turn a bit uglier. It'll be "we loved you, and you rejected us you bastards", from a significant number of people. Which is why I can see the government gaining popularity from being tough in the negotiations. Hence I'm certain it's not a bluff that Scotland won't be allowed a formal currency sharing deal with rUK. And discussion on the subject will often turn unpleasant for a few years. Rejection being a powerful emotion.
I think a fudge will be found that allows Scotland to stay in the EU (probably), and if Salmond can show some diplomatic sure-footedness. He comes across too smug and demanding at the moment. But Scotland will have to lie through its teeth about promisiing to join the Euro. Well it's worked for Sweden... And it will probably cost Scotland their budget rebate and opt-outs.
Meanwhile no pound-zone. And lots of fights over national debt, assets, oil zones and the like. Can't see the government going then. But I wonder if the rest of the Union will last the long term.
Not being able to print any more of it is probably the stupidest feature of Bitcoin. Unless it was deliberately designed as a pyramid scheme/scam, so that the early adopters could make loads-a-money selling off their easily mined hoards of coin.
To keep an economy stable, you need to be able to print enough money to grow the money supply at about the same speed as the economy. Even with the gold standard, there was mining. And every time you read about historical economics you come up against long-term depressions/inflations caused by fluctuations in supply of precious metals.
Admittedly continual printing leads to hyper-inflation. But QE looks to have worked far better than was expected, the upside of saving the economy was worth the downside of the current asset bubble. And remember QE isn't actually printing, it's reversible.
As an example, look at those paragons of virtue at the Bundesbank. Oh sorry, I meant the ECB, silly mistake... They've loudly lectured us Anglo-Saxons about how they'd never touch that smelly QE. As they've presided over the virtual collapse of some of the economies they were supposedly managing. Into debt-spirals and now deflation. Bitcoin fans, look at what's happening to the economy of Italy. That is what deflation does. I've been saying for 2 years that Italy would be the country that destroyed, or forced genuinely workable reform in the Eurozone. So far nothing that's been proposed that might actually work has been acceptable to Germany. Anyway, there's no excuse for not understanding the evils of deflation, when there's the example of Japan's economy to look at. Or the 1930s.
So Central Banks would be right to laugh at the idea of using crypto currency. The nerds were needed to come up with the technical jiggery-pokery, but they really needed to consider some basic economics, the reality of human nature and common sense, if they wanted bitcoin to work.
Oh and a fundamental tenet of being a Central Bank is the ability to print money by the way. Not as in QE or hyperinflation. But as in being 'a lender of last resort'. If you're not one of those, you're not a proper central bank. Even the ECB did that. They avoided QE, but they did print €1 trillion in order to fund the LTRO (2 year loans to various banks). But even before that, when the Euro was days from collapse the time before last, they had something like €500m on short-term loan to various banks to stop them from collapsing when the repo market broke down. That's what Central Banks are for, and it wasn't inflationary because the loans have mostly been paid back already.
The last time the Euro was days from collapse (9 months later), they only threatened to print money, and it saved the day. Draghi promised to "do whatever it takes", and that's been enough so far.
Although the countries that did the evil money printing to finance government debt, US, UK and Japan came out of recession. Whereas the Eurozone allowed 25% unemployment in Latvia, Spain and Greece, and not much less in Ireland, Portugal and Italy. Sometimes printing is the lesser of two evils. This time being a damned good example. The Italian economy is now at the same level it was in 1995 - fuck knows what they've done to the Greeks.
Re: UK Chancellor George Osborne doesn't want iScotland to use the pound
So are you saying it was the SNP who hacked Mt Gox and stole all the goodies? In preparation for a referendum win, and adoption of the bitcoin?
What is a more technological solution to a Scottish currency?
How you arrange things, for example going cashless and all Scots having smartcards, is utterly irrelevant to what currency Scotland chooses to use. That's all fine and dandy, but it's a mere detail.
The question is whether Scotland would be better off with the Euro, Sterling-in-monetary-union-with-the-UK, sterling without union, or a new Scottish currency. They all have various advantages and disadvantages of course. But those factors are about who Scotland trades with, interest rate risk on its share of UK national debt, who'll be back-stopping Scotland's huge financial services industry, credit ratings and the huge risks of currency union without political union. None of those factors are technology related. They're mostly about confidence and the allocation of risk.
The Bitcoin economy is tiny. Were Scotland to adopt it, in some bizarre fantasy world, Scotland would take control of it, and marginalise all other users. Were Scotland to create the ScotCoin, then it wouldn't be valued as some bitcoin wannabe, it would be treated as a national currency and traded as such.
Due to having to carry 2 pairs of glasses + sunglasses around, I carry a bag. Hence my tablet goes with me 90% of the time.
My ideal device would be something like an old Motorola RAZR V3. Slim and comfortable to hold. With a mouthpiece that reaches your mouth, and a speaker that reaches your ear. Plus it folds, so you can't accidentally press buttons, and don't need an inconvenient screen-lock. Looked nice too. With ecent ergonomics.
The keypad is fine for most navigating / texting, though I'd want a touchscreen too. But I dial a lot of calls from the keypad, as I talk to a lot of new people at work.
If should do GPS, and internet. Then either share its connection via WiFi or throw the screen to a tablet, it would be wonderful for mobile web browsing (which I don't enjoy on anything less than a 5" screen anyway.
Then I could do quick email or browsing from the small screen, or get the tablet out for anything longer. And still only have a very small, practical phone with me at the pub.
Should something like Google Glass ever take off, it would be perfectly equipped to throw email and GPS to that as well.
I'm a little worried. Why are the sheep to the East of the map, vertical. But all the others horizontal. Is there something untoward underway?
I believe what you meant to say was, I'm sorry, I haven't a clue what you're on about...
Re: To be honest, here...
Exactly. Who wants flashy? What could be more amazing than flying into space? Bling just makes you look like an arse.
Of course, I can dream that in my lifetime going into space will become boring and routine. "Where are you taking your holidays this year Sandra?"
"Well, I was thinking of goin' Magaluf and getting in some serious clubbing. But me 'n Wayne have decided that we're goin' to the Moon instead. It's only a bit more expensive to get a Bacardi Breezer up there, and it's dead cultural innit. We get to see Buzz Armstrong and that Neil Whatsisname's feet an' everythin'...
Aha! Rumbled! ISS = International Space Shed
That explains why they're always taking seeds up there and propogating them. Who's in charge of the Algerian sherry? Or have they got a still up there?
At least the passengers will get a good view of the captain tight-pants...
Yes. Those will be the solid rocket boosters...
That's why they're only developing the capsule. Flight testing of the boosters is already underway.
The outfit is “in the process of identifying the extent of the attack and potential impact on user's funds."
That's OK then. No big story. If there's only one user, there's probably not that big a loss.
I guess it's the pedant icon for me...
Re: Are You Sure You Want to Unlike This Friend?
You bastard! You introduced me to your friend Amy, and she absolutely refused to sleep with me! I'm suing your ass for every penny you've got!
Re: I heard it too! Have an upvote.
It's not like the accusations about Zuckerberg weren't already commonly known. So if you did a verbal-only deal with him after all that, then I have absolutely zero sympathy. Particularly given the dodgy way Facebook is run.
Plus the usual reason for a verbal agreement is trust, or inability/disinclination to pay lawyers. But in this case there were already lawyers in the meeting to set out the property deal. So it's clearly total and utter bullshit.
This sounds to me like a shakedown. Find rich celeb. Threaten building overlooking their house, hope they pay you to bugger off. If not, you can still make something on a building project in that kind of area. Even better if you can persuade them to tell you where all their friends live, you can buy up property near them too
and threaten the same thing I mean offer them the same generous deal...
Re: Pono Player
I like the jokes, but then I also like Toblerone. And bright yellow things.
There might be a whiff of audiophile woo about the Pono - and a silly name. Perhaps he should have gone for the PwnO?
But it looks like you can get a good quality equivalent of the iPod Classic for about the same price (maybe a touch cheaper). With a better UI, although that might just be becuase I hate the crappy clickwheel thingies. And it's got solid state memory. I've not seen a dedicated mp3 player with flash memory with more than 8GB. Dunno why. Many phones can manage that. I think it's 32GB + as many 32GB SD cards as you want. So better than the iPod, as no hard disk.
Another killer feature is that you won't need iTunes. Does happy dance.
There's also stuff about how it's got better quality DACs and is all lovely and engineered for perfect sound. I'm not qualified to comment on that. The sound from my iPod when bunged through decent speakers is pretty good. And that's only using high bitrate mp3. I've mixed live music, I've got pretty good ears, but I'm not sure I'd back myself to tell the difference in a blind test.
Oh and the triangle shape is quite practical. It'll probably be comfortable in the hand (and pocket). As well as standing up nicely when you plug it into a set of speakers - and will sit on the desk at an angle so you can read the screen. I believe there's a black model for those who find that lovely yellow a bit too conspicuous.
So even with all the downsides. If I can get a Pone when my iPod finally snuffs it, I'll look at it. I buy CDs anyway, then rip the music. So I'm not going to be paying double-price for super-bitrate FLAC downloads. And with Amazon I get my CDs at a reasonable price, and when they lost one in the post last week it didn't matter. Because Amazon Cloud Player meant I could have played it within 30 seconds of having hit buy, til it turned up twice today.
Sadly for Neil Young, I can probably get a Moto G or cheap Nokia Lumia for £100 - and put a 128GB SD card in that. Then I've got both a spare phone and a replacement for the iPod. Sadly the current work iPhone is only 8GB.
...a malaria vaccine that's made by taking parasites from the glands of mosquitos, irradiating them so that they grow to enormous size and kill everybody in the lab, which then has to be bombed by the air-force in order to destroy the mutant monster.
[I guess I ought to have emailed this to the corrections@elreg, but I've done it now.]
Re: To aid science
You can have mine. My body is a temple.
A temple of Dionysus...
Well red wine and choccy are still good for me. Check.
But they're not sure which component of them it is.
Conclusion: The same compound in red wine and dark choccy that makes you live longer, is also present in belgian buns and bacon.
No one can disprove me! So I've got at least ten years excuse to get noshing on that lot, before the killjoys can tell me it's bad for me.
Would it be pushing the point to try and claim the same health benefits for M&S Percy Pigs?
I still put my money in a bank, rather than keep it all under the mattress. YMMV of course :)
Banks have this thing called a deposit guarantee. The first £100k of your money is safe. Unless the government goes down at the same time as the bank of course. But then your economy is collapsing anyway.
Apparently someone's run off with the tulips. We're now waiting to find out whether they've taken the field as well...
Dogecoin seems appropriate. If you pronounce the 'e', you get dodgycoin. Or close enough...
Re: Over their heads...
Well to be fair, if flights over LAX are in danger of crashing into the ISS, or worse the Moon, then I think LA has bigger problems to worry about than just a few delayed flights...
Where's the Space 1999 silver jumpsuit logo when you want it?
Re: Pair of twits?
Have you ever seen them and Jedward in the same room? Aha!
I say old chaps. I'm awfully sorry, I'm afraid I didn't catch a word of that. Would you mind repeating it in the Queen's own? Top-hole what!
For some unaccountable reason, El Reg doesn't have a twiddling moustache icon! Well I mean, dash it all! What a total shower!
Re: I can't say I blame them
You do realise you've got that backwards, don't you?
China has spent the last decade selling stuff to the West and not buying as much of our stuff in exchange. To balance the books they've bought debt instead. This doesn't mean they get to take over though. As it's 'credit card debt', not 'mortgage'. It's un-secured. And there ain't no bailiffs.
Therefore they're likely not to get it all back.
Some inflation, a bit of QE, an inevitable Italian default...
Re: Sony like Samsung?
I can't comment on Sony's software, having not played with any of their kit in a while. But I can comment on Samsung.
My friend has a Galaxy Note II, on my advice. A brilliant piece of kit... but...
Oh the software, oh the horror, the pain, the duplication... erk!
I believe I saw on a review that there were 247 options to choose from. The menu is huge. And has many sub-menus. It took me 3 hours to set the thing up (there's no way my mate could have done it). I admit it's my first 'Droid in a couple of years, but all I was doing was syching to the cloud Exchange server and downloading his photos. And going through page, after page, of menus. With crap defaults. Wonderful geek toy though.
Anyway, my real complaint is that not only have Samsung duplicated all of Google's software, but they're no duplicating their own! In their last update, they took away his program for making sketches on photos (the reason I recoommended the damn thing to him). Bastards! I hate updates that remove software. So I was called in to try and fix it.
It's OK though. They took away the software that allows photos to be exported to the sketch app. But they have 2 other apps, that do similar things. It's just it takes about 5 clicks to get into one, and 7 or 8 for the other!
Kudos to them for bringing back the stylus though. Shame their idea of innovation seems to be to ship every feature currently in R&D - then hope for the best.
Google control the Play store. So I think Google have them by the balls. Even Samsung.
Well that's not totally true. But it would take a lot of work to get the same variety of apps out there - even for an Android fork. I don't know what tools Amazon have made available - but they've only got 20% of Android apps on there. After several years and very decent market share. And I'm not sure any of the mobile manufacturers are up to getting the software, store and developer stuff all sorted at the same time.
Look at what's happened to Microsoft and Blackberry. And I think a large component of that is lack of apps. Both the phone OSes are nice.
The place you can do well despite a lack of apps, is at the bottom end. The sub £150 smartphones. But there's almost no profit to be had there. All the cash is at the top end. People paying £30 a month plus for their calls (and hire-purchase on the handset), those people want apps. The latest and shiniest apps.
Re: So just to clarify,,,
Does this piece criticise Google?
I read it more as a warning. There are big pros to having one company set the standard. You get interoperability, a drop in costs, simplicity, a chance of believable roadmaps.
There are also some pretty big possible cons. The risk of predatory monopoly, and the loss of interesting innovation being the two biggies. Also the fact that you're totally reliant on one company, who might cock everything up.
Re: I was in Carphone Warehouse, during lunch,
Yeah. I've talked to Carphone Warehouse staff who knew what they were talking about - and could answer complex technical questions. When I was away a friend went in for help with his Galaxy Note II, and the guy zoomed through a bunch of settings and showed them some of what was up, and suggested a possible fix. Rather than trying to sell them a Note III, or going um.
Last time I was in PC World (with the same friend) they couldn't even tell me the spec of the laptop they were holding in their hand. All I wanted was what graphics chip it had, it was for custom CAD. It wasn't on their website either, so I had to look it up on my phone, from their small business advisor's desk.
The guy I'd asked a question of 5 minutes before simply looked down and started reading off the price/product details card a foot in front of me. Cheers! I never thought of that. Fortunately that one was turned on, so I could just ask it to tell me what goodies it had inside.
The only time I've been there and 4 of them have approached me and asked if I wanted help. Rather than the usual of having to lasso the buggers, as they run away.
There's too many elements to make anything out of the name. Other than maybe a poem? Haiku anyone...
Re: New IP?
I've got an original game idea that will save them! You have a road, with lots of cars and lorries whizzing by on it. And you have to get a
frog *ahem!* I mean toad across the road to safety. It could be called toady-roady-crush...
Re: "Player Milking System"
you get nailed again and again by huge numbers of candies from one side of the balance
So there's an imbalance in the force,
suddenly you stop having three straight yellows drop to tip the owl off
This is obviously some sort of bizarre sexual perversion. I mean I've heard of dogging, but tipping owls?
and you start getting neutral colours instead.
And after the rumpy-pumpy comes inevitable decorating...
It's possible there's more to this game than I previously thought...
Why didn't he taser them then? Just because I wonder what the effect of tasering during sex would be?
"Did the earth move for you darling? For me it felt like 10,000 volts shooting between us!"
Re: Migratory Robin?
So you're basically saying that Northern robins are harder - and don't consider your winters cold. Shall we go South for winter, or just put a t-shirt on?
Bloody migrant robins, coming here taking our nests - with their fancy magnetic beaks!
Re: Fake Snake oil
OK, so much for silver. But I've got tinfoil underpants, to match my tinfoil hat. Let's see your government control-rays get through that!
Re: I agree
How long would it survive Daley Thompson's Decathlon?
Well done to all you deprived noshers. Keep up the good work til tomorrow. And then you can bask in the bacony delights of brekkie.
Re: national security
There was a lot going on with TNK-BP. It's always hard to know what's government sponsored and what isn't. Certainly it's not safe to rely on equity in the Russian court system under Putin. And from what I read about the case BP (and probably the UK government) had to lobby Putin in order to fix the logjam and get some sort of resolution that avoided another UK/Russian joint venture getting hijacked. And Putin's inner circle aren't exactly unknown for seizing the assets of other peoples' companies.
I think the UK government regarded the Litvinenko murder as official. Even if it wasn't, the Russian government made it quite clear that they were glad he was dead, and that they weren't going to do anything about it. The particular poison used is also indicative that the operation was state-sponsored. You can't just pick Polonium up in your local chemists. And the fact that the killers don't seem to have understood how dangerous the stuff was, and contaminated a couple of planes a couple of restaurants and several hotels with it (as well as themselves) - also rather strongly suggests that they weren't the brains behind the operation. Which again suggests that it was a state-organised job. Finally, everyone involved, including Putin, seems to have been ex-KGB/FSB and all seem to have known each other quite well. Not that you'd call Litvinenko totally trustworthy. At one point he was working for the FSB and Berezovsky simultaneously, as well as working/consulting for MI6 and maybe MI5, plus being a journalist. There's not much trustworthiness in that CV...
Re: INSTANT DISQUALIFICATION!
Russia broke a treaty with the US, UK and Ukraine guaranteeing its territorial integrity. It invaded and annexed part of a neighbour. For no good reason. And did so illegally, with no negotiation or attempt at diplomacy. It followed this up by attempting to forment civil war in what remains of the same neighbour.
If you don't see those as actions that are both worrying, and deserving of some response, then you're a fool.
Re: I like Elon.
We have no way of knowing if Musk is throwing a tantrum. It looks from outside like he was trying to get in on the bidding on a project, and got muscled out by a cosy group of cronies who've been ripping the US taxpayer off for years. It may be that he's unable to fulfill certain parts of the contract and therefore has no hope of winning. However, the suspicion is that underhanded things have happened.
Personally I like his tactics. I've no problem with him throwing the odd sueball. Where you have $70 billion contracts you have lawyers. 'Tis unavoidable. If you don't manage to fulrill the contract, then many lawyers will descent upon you with great wrath, evacuate your bank accounts, pillage your villages, and leave you with nothing, in the smoking ruins of your dreams.
In this case, ULA may be in breach of sanctions on Russia. Oops. But they're also massively more expensive than Musk. I seem to recall they've had more NASA money for SLS (which isn't even out of design stage yet) than he's had for his launches to the ISS. In fact, They just love their government pork. Sooooo taaaaasty!
I also like his guerilla marketing approach. In his press conference last week where he complained that he's charing (and making profits!) a quarter what they are - he made some nice comments about how many fighter squadrons and battalions of marines this would pay for. So I supect he's trying to get a bit of a war going on amongst the top brass at the Pentagon. Smart tactics.
Meanwhile, at the same time as fighting for all this lovely government cash, he's also researching like a looney.
His is the first company in history to launch a rocket into space and land the first stage vertically. The 1st private company to achieve orbit. The first man to orbit a giant cheese... They've got a capsule and rocket well on the way to man-rating. So he's extremely likely to replace US manned capability before ULA manage to get their system off the ground.
And he's taken risks, rather than just replicating old tech. So by having his capsule have the rockets on board, he can manage landings on land instead of at sea. This also gives Dragon the capability to escape a launch fire, essential to get a man-rating. And further gives it the ability to land on Mars or the Moon. Plus a re-usable first stage coming real soon now.
How much more could NASA have done with its budget over the years if it had been partnered with companies like SpaceX, rather than getting ripped off by Boeing and Lockheed Martin?
Re: national security
Litvinenko wasn't a fat cat. He was a journalist. Although I'm not sure how successful. He'd also been involved in security for Boris Berezovsky as well as working for KGB/FSB before. But that murder did a lot of damage to relations.
There was also Hermitage Capital, where Putin's mates stole the assets of a London hedge fund. Sadly for them, the head office found out the night before and took all the money out. But they did torture and murder their accountant Sergei Magnitsky.
Then there was the seizure of the Sakhalin-2 gas field from Shell 8 years ago. And all the shennanigans with TNK-BP, where it was assumed that BP would be forced to sell at a loss. But in the end they got what looked like a reasonable price, but only as a stake in Rosneft. Which I ssuspect they can't sell to get the cash out of Russia, so it may turn out that they won't get paid on that either.
So there are many reasons for UK / Russian relations to be so cool.
Also, as to Russia having 'reasonable' relations with Germany, as Voland's Right Hand puts it, I'm not so sure. Germany seems to have sold its partners down the river to some extent. Perhaps we could have got better relations with Russia if we could have had a unified position? Rather than letting Russia use divide and conquer tactics.
The policy that I think Germany should be ashamed of is the Nordstream pipeline. After Russia cut off Ukraine's gas in the middle of Winter (2008?), obviously the pipeline goes through Ukraine, so Eastern Europe also suffered.
Germany's response wasn't to get together with its EU partners to try and arrange a system where Russia couldn't blackmail various states into submission. The Ukraine cut was heavily tied up with negotiations to renew the lease on the Sevastopol naval base. Which Russia so recently annexed...
Instead it was to build a Baltic pipeline that would bypass Ukraine and also Poland (who are supposed to be an ally), so Germany would get gas, even if everyone else was cut off. The Schroeder government pushed this, and in fact Gerhard is now on the board of Nordstream - and turned up in Moscow last week praising Putin, and saying that illegally annexing Crimea was just thee same as recognising Kosovo's independence. Which is damned well isn't. The German government were rather embarrassed by that.
Re: "A teardown report on Google Glass"
Well it's $5,000 for the kidneys, $10k for the heart, 8 pints of blood at $20 a go...
Oh' sorry, you didn't mean that kind of tear-down? Ahem! I'd best get my coat. The one with the fava beans and chianti in the pockets please.
Real programmers do it at 4am, hyper on pizza and coffee. Then press commit, and run away.
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