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* Posts by Steven Roper

1363 posts • joined 10 May 2011

Curiosity succeeds – Mars was wet enough for life!

Steven Roper
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Silicon-based life

is an interesting fantasy, but because of chemistry, silicon life cannot exist. Silicon, while in the same period as carbon, cannot form the huge molecule chains required to establish and sustain life. A common example is the silicon equivalent of the alkane series: methane -> silane, ethane -> disilane, propane -> [does not exist]. Attempts to create a silicon equivalent of propane, butane and so on inevitably result in the silicon-based molecules instantly breaking down into silane and disilane, even in any conceivable conditions such as high pressures or cryogenic temperatures.. Since silicon cannot form even these simple molecules, it obviously cannot even begin to form the huge protein chains required to establish a living organism.,

Carbon is the only element on the entire periodic table that can form such huge and complex molecule chains. As a result, all life in the universe is either carbon-based, or is artificial 'life' (e.g. sentient robots/computers) originally created by carbon-based life.

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On International Woman's Day we remember Grace Hopper

Steven Roper
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Re: "insisting on special treatment"

"I dont think feminism demands 'special treatment'."

What do you think affirmative action is, if not 'special treatment'?

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Ten serious sci-fi films for the sentient fan

Steven Roper
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One of my favourites

is a little-known 1985 movie called The Quiet Earth (IMDB link). Its stark minimalism (there are only 3 people in the entire movie) sets an eerie background for the complex story and the science behind it, and for it's small budget it's a seriously underrated piece of hard SF.

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Steven Roper
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Chronicles of Riddick?

You mean they made a sequel to Pitch Black? Whatever next - you'll be wanting me to believe they made a sequel to Highlander as well? Yeah, right.

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Farewell, Reg: This hack is hanging up her Apple jacket

Steven Roper
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Joke

Re: Ashamed

You need to wash your brain out with soap for thinking that even for a nanosecond.

My immediate, instinctive reaction - from the instant the photons from that picture hit my retinas - was that I would not be seen dead and rotting with that jacket anywhere in the vicinity of my office, let alone actually on the back of my chair, or - [suppress gag reflex] - in actual contact with my person!

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Pirate Bay to world: We're not really off to NORKS

Steven Roper
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Re: Yo Dawg

"Yo Dawg... I heard u like jokes about jokes so I put a hoax in ur hoax so u can prank while u prank!"

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Steven Roper
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"Wow: Back-handed buuuurrrnnn."

As Wanda from Corner Gas would say: "Scorch - Pow!"

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Boffins implant almost-cellphone in the BRAIN

Steven Roper
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Re: The original for this tech dates from the late 1960s

Michael Crichton wrote a sci-fi novel, The Terminal Man about the same time, about this very topic. In the story, a temporal-lobe epileptic was fitted with a set of brain electrodes that stimulated the pleasure centres of his brain whenever the implanted computer detected the onset of a seizure. The problems began when the patient, called Benson, started subsconsciously triggering repeated seizures to get the pleasure rush, doing it more and more often until he entered a constant fugue state - at which point he then goes on a murderous rampage.

I remember reading this story back in the late 70s, and it had particular relevance to be because I was also diagnosed with temporal lobe epilepsy, and I wondered then if they were going to plant electrodes into my brain too, but they never did.

But it's weird seeing something from so long ago becoming current technology. I guess for me The Terminal Man joins Arthur C. Clarke's 2001: A Space Odyssey and 2010: The Year We Make Contact in the list of sci-fi books about the future, that has now passed.

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Carrie Fisher dusts off THAT bikini for Star Wars VII

Steven Roper
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Childcatcher

Re: I read the book ...

"Strange morals they have in a galaxy, far far away."

Funny, that, considering the movie was made in a time when moral and political ramifications weren't the be-all-and-end-all of what should be in a movie. Things were simpler then. You had good guys and you had bad guys. Bad guys do bad things, good guys get together and fight them, bad guys die, flee, or repent, and everyone lives happily ever after, or at least until the sequel.

These days a movie maker has to consider all the moral and political implications of every little thing, because otherwise some nitpicker somewhere will be offended and make a huge song and dance about it...

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Torvalds asks 'Why do PC manufacturers even bother any more?'

Steven Roper
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Agreed

I'm with you streaky, have an upvote. What the hell is with 6 downvotes on streaky's post? He's absolutely right: many of us use desktops for work and play, and while I do have a Sammy Slate and it's very useful, I also find my desktop PC just as useful. And there's obviously a market still there, otherwise they wouldn't still be making motherboards, graphics cards and hard drives.

I really don't get this "tablets are the ONLY thing now, PCs are so dead" craze. You'd think owning a desktop is like smoking in public, the way people are carrying on! Tablets are great, yes - as an adjunct to the desktop workstation. But they don't replace the workstation. Try using Photoshop or Cinema 4D on a tablet sometime. Or playing games. Sometimes you just need a keyboard, mouse and a big fat monitor in front of you, and that isn't going to change.

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Apple: OK, we tracked your every move... but let's call it a caching bug, m'kay?

Steven Roper
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Meh

Re: So in The Register comments Apple - Is assumed guilty etc.

So that'll be pretty standard 21st century democratic jurisprudence then.

If Apple have nothing to hide, they have nothing to fear, right?

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Report: Danish government hits Microsoft with $1bn tax bill

Steven Roper
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Ballmer might want to read his history

This one time, there were these monks at Lindisfarne...

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US lawmaker blames bicycle breath for global warming gas

Steven Roper
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WTF?

This guy redefines the term "oxygen thief"!

And if we're going to talk about oxygen thieves, maybe this guy should set the example and stop breathing my air first.

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Australia ratifies cybercrime convention

Steven Roper
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The UNDHR, like its counterpart the US Constitution, is a piece of toilet paper written up in a more idealistic age for the sole purpose of quietening the proles. It doesn't actually mean anything; it isn't a law, because there's no means of enforcing its ideals.

The only rights you have are what you can a) take by force and b) retain by concealment from those who would take them by force - either alone or in concert with others. It's called "the law of the jungle", and it's the only absolute law, enforced by physics, that applies universally to all life, intelligent or not. You either hunt or hide. Everything else is window dressing.

I've noticed that when I've posted these sentiments before, I seem to attract a few downvotes. I probably will this time, too. But it does make me wonder; do the downvoters not understand basic physics or something? A stronger force will overpower a weaker force. A force will take the path of least resistance. It's not something you can argue with. It's just the way this universe works.

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Banged-up Brit hacker hacks into his OWN PRISON'S 'MAINFRAME'

Steven Roper
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Re: I am conflicted...

"One the one hand, the point of prison is surely the rehabilitation. He deserves as much chance to make good as anyone else."

Well, he's not showing much likelihood of that is he? Banged up for computer fraud, and he can't stop himself hacking the prison system as well? That looks to me like somebody who doesn't give a fuck and will simply re-offend as soon as he gets out.

I believe these kinds of sociopaths who don't give a fuck that their activities ruin people's lives cannot be rehabilitated. You can't force someone to have a conscience if they don't have one. A psychologist of my acquaintance described a victim reparation meeting between a home invader and the family he robbed, and when confronted firsthand with the trauma he'd inflicted, he showed no emotion or remorse whatsoever. This hacker is probably similar - he doesn't give a fuck whose lives he ruins, as long as he gets what he wants.

I'm strongly opposed to the death penalty, but at the same time I don't believe these sociopathic creatures can ever be returned to society, no matter how long they are "rehabilitated." We don't let lions run around loose in our streets for much the same reasons as these fraudsters and scammers shouldn't be let loose. You can't stop a lion acting like a lion, and you can't stop a sociopath acting like a sociopath. They are what they are, and what they are is incompatible with the behaviours required to function in civilisation.

So what I advocate is a kind of "Coventry", or gulag, like that described in the second part of Robert Heinlein's Revolt in 2100. This is not like transporting convicts to Australia, that still functioned as a regulated prison. Instead, you simply drop these sociopaths into the "Coventry" area, and leave them to fend for themselves, no guards, no cells, no rules. They have the absolute freedom to do as they want, limited only by their capacity to take it from each other. Like a lion safari park. I'd sterilise them first though. You don't want Darwinian selection breeding for the perfect sociopath...

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Pirate Bay 'seeks asylum' in, er, 'North Korea'

Steven Roper
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Pirate

If copyright enforcement is TPB's problem

then they would be a lot better off hosting their servers in Iran. Iran has good connectivity (a hell of a lot better than the DPRK) and they've made it perfectly clear that they will not respect or enforce US or western copyright laws or interests in any way, now or in the foreseaable future. In fact, they're actively encouraging infringing activity in their country.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Iran-United_States_copyright_relations

So now your piracy really can support terrorism! ;-)

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Health pros: Alcohol is EVIL – raise its price, ban its ads

Steven Roper
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Re: In other news...

" and the overpowering urge to strangle the living shit out of yet another do-gooder incapable of minding their own fucking business."

-and-

"The PC, we-know-better-than-you, can't-ever-offend-anyone, want-to-rule-your life brigade need to be rounded up and taken somewhere far away. May I suggest Antartica."

You two are unbelievably generous and kind-hearted to these sorts of do-gooder fuckwits. I prefer a much harsher remedy.

With regard to moralising busybody PC do-gooders, I have a fantasy.

I like to imagine that there's this international organisation of vigilantes called IDEA (International Do-gooder Extermination Agency), which is made of up ex-SAS, SEALs and other paramilitary-trained problem-removal specialists, spread around the globe. No country is safe from them. Every time one of these fucking moralising busybodies publicly calls for something enjoyable or popular to be banned or restricted, the IDEA team swings into action, hunts down the bastards, and blows their fucking houses up.

After a few years of this reign of fire, the numbers of busybody do-gooders has been thinned enough that the world gradually becomes a more pleasant place. Things like road rage, shop rage, general public anger and lack of respect for others largely disappear, because a large part of the (but not the only) reason people are so angry all the time is because of the constant erosion of our freedoms by these fuckers. Kill them all off, and everyone else would start to calm down...

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Nominet tosses plan for shorter .uk domains in the bin (for now)

Steven Roper
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Re: Why?

SLDs provide important information about the nature of the site. For example, .co.uk is a for-profit business, .ac.uk is an educational institution, .org.uk is a non-profit, .gov.uk is a government department. It gives me some idea of the intentions and identity of the site I'm visiting.

In Australia, our equivalent SLDs are .com.au, .org.au, .net.au, .edu.au, and .gov.au. All these SLDs give vital information about the nature of the site. .gov.au, for example, is a secure guarantee that the site I'm visiting is owned and maintained by the Australian government, since only government departments can register them.

Likewise, our government has quite stringent controls on who can register what; only accredited schools and universities can register .edu.au domains, you have to have a non-profit tax exemption to register a .org.au, and you have to have an ABN (Australian Business Number) to register a .com.au. You also have to assert that your business has a substantive relationship to the domain; so if I were to try to register, say, sydneyplumbing.com.au for a bookstore in Adelaide I'd most likely get knocked back.

So with a .SLD.uk or SLD.au site you know exactly what you're dealing with. Removing that would create a lot of unnecessary uncertainty and in many cases could undermine and compromise security. That is why SLDs are important.

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Australian Bureau of Meteorology apps to map future rain

Steven Roper
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Thank fuck for Adblock indeed

My first thought on reading the article was that I probably wouldn't notice that they'd introduced ads. It does a very good job not only of blocking ads, but also of not leaving any evidence (like white spaces) that there were any ads to be blocked!

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Chinese Army: US hacks us so much, I'm amazed you can read this

Steven Roper
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Go

The more things change...

Rattle those sabres a bit louder, lads. We're having trouble hearing it down here at the back.

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Stargazers spot first-ever planet forming in dusty disc

Steven Roper
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Re: Aussie names

Also Mount Lofty in Adelaide. Although I'd say we were being ironic with that one, since at only 727 m (2385 ft) it's barely deserving of the title of "mount", let alone "lofty"!

But at least we call a spade a spade...

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SHIELD Act proposed to make patent trolls pay

Steven Roper
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FAIL

No problem for the trolls

They'll just sue their victims in Texas. Then they'll never lose!

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Colombian boffins reconstruct flight path of Russian meteor

Steven Roper
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Headmaster

Re: Bah!

Verily He hath smitten them. Verily He smote them. Pick one.

This is a similar grammatical construct to "I have written this" or "I wrote this."

Not "I have wroted this".

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Steven Roper
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Facepalm

Re: A modest proposal...

Why didn't the system warn us?

Because their budget is limited, as others have pointed out, and the reason their budget is limited is because of all the whingers and moaners going on about first-world problems and why we aren't spending our money feeding starving African children instead of blowing it on useless and expensive space probes...

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Four firms pitch hi-def DRM for Flash cards

Steven Roper
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Re: the problem with DRM systems

That's why I made the point about if you were worried about quality. If the movie is still only in the cinemas then yes, cams and screeners are all you can hope for. But once the DVD or BD comes out - it's fair game.

Suppose your playback device (say a PC or set-top box) keeps the video signal encrypted even through the monitor cable, and so the monitor itself has a revokable key to decrypt the signal. At some point between the encrypted video-in port and the screen, the signal has to be decrypted so it can be displayed. A competent cracker can open up the monitor and patch in an intercept circuit that captures this unencrypted signal as it's hitting the screen. This captures the video in the original quality.

Likewise, even if the audio going to a loudspeaker is encrypted and the speaker box itself has to have a key, at some point inside that box, the signal gets decrypted so it can actuate the coil that drives the speaker cone. A cracker can capture that signal, again in its original quality, and combine it with the video to create a near-perfect copy of the original. There may be some loss depending on how he does it, but using these methods it's perfectly feasible to produce a high-quality HD copy that's visually and aurally indistinguishable from the original. And this holds true regardless of the depth and sophistication of the DRM system used.

And it is also true that this requires some technical knowhow, and so may be seen as being beyond the means of the average Joe to achieve. This is the stated object of modern DRM - to make it difficult rather than impossible to copy. But this is where Bob being Mallory comes in; the encryption only needs to broken once. As Mallory, Bob has cracked the message and can now distribute it - via bittorrent, bitlockers, USB sticks, or the P2P system du jour, whereby the average Joe can easily get a high-quality, unprotected copy. And the more the DRM imposes limitations on what Joe can do with the file, the more he will continue going to P2P to get himself a DRM-free copy - even if he's done the right thing and bought a restricted original.

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Steven Roper
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Re: the problem with DRM systems

The problem with DRM systems is that the entire concept is cryptographically flawed.

In any cryptographic scenario, you have at least three parties: the sender (usually called Alice), the intended receiver (usually called Bob), and the middleman attacker (usually called Mallory). Any given cryptographic scenario is then based on Alice encrypting a message to transmit to Bob, and Mallory tries to intercept and decrypt the message without Alice or Bob knowing.

Where DRM fails in all this is that the receiver is, ipso facto, the attacker. DRM is built entirely around this contradiction: the presumption that the receiver simultaneously should and should not be able to access the message. In this scenario, Bob and Mallory are the same person. The logical flaw in this then becomes self-evident. The customer is also the criminal.

What this amounts to is, if the message can be seen or heard, it can be copied. No amount of copy protection, no matter how sophisticated, can prevent this: what the human eye can see, a camera can photograph; what the human ear can hear, a microphone can record. If you're worried about quality, the unencrypted video data going to a screen or audio signal going to a loudspeaker can easily be captured. And once the recording is made, subsequent digital copies can be made ad infinitum. Even if you need specialised equipment to capture the video feed from within the monitor, or a tap on an audio cable, it only needs one person to make a copy, and all the DRM in the world is useless.

For this reason, DRM is snake oil, and nothing but. I'm frankly stunned at the blindness of copyright holders in not understanding this utterly simple, obvious and inescapable flaw underscoring all DRM. They've been trying for better than 30 years, and they still haven't realised that the whole concept is completely fraudulent.

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Outsourcing your own job much more common than first thought

Steven Roper
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Re: @Steven Roper

"but here in the real world a company is not a person"

Er - yes it is. Companies and corporations are regarded as persons having human rights for legal purposes. Their often unscrupulous exploitation of this fact is where many of the perceived social problems with them comes from.

As for the rest of your post, I can only say that your ideals sound rather Pharaonic to me. I may live in a weird entitlement utopia, but that sounds a lot better than the master-slave plutocracy you seem to be advocating.

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Steven Roper
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@ romanempire

Not quite - unless you explicitly state that the service must be given personally by the employee. And I've never heard of such a clause being part of a work contract.

A work contract, or to give it its proper title, a "job and person specification" is a list of tasks, and their outcomes, the incumbent is expected to accomplish. How they are accomplished is in most cases up to the person tasked with achieving that outcome. If the job includes cleaning the toilets, then my only expectation in that regard is clean toilets. If the employee then goes and finds someone to clean toilets in his behalf at a lower rate, what boots it as long as the job gets done? Of course, if the substitute hired to actually clean toilets then goes and cleans out the company safe, the employee who hired them has to bear their share of the responsibility for that.

It's like subletting a rented house. Here in Australia, the law forbids a landlord from preventing a tenant from subletting rooms in the house to other tenants. The tenant has to notify the landlord of course, but the landlord cannot stop the tenant from doing so. But if the sublet tenants then knock holes in the walls, it's the original tenant who has to foot the bill, because they're the ones who signed the contract with the landlord.

So if an employee outsources all or part of their job, as long as the company security is maintained and policies and procedures respected, then there's no problem. To punish an employee for simply finding a cheaper solution when that is what the entire company is about doing, is nothing more than sheer mean-mindedness.

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Steven Roper
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Re: ummmm

Exactly. The hypocrisy of these companies here stinks to high heaven, a perfect example of do-as-as-we-say-not-as-we-do, we-can-but-you-can't mentality. If companies can outsource, why can't employees? And I part-own a company myself. If I found one of my staff doing this, I'd commend them for their resourcefulness.

The only problem I can see in this is one of security. I'd want to see what measures the employee has taken to ensure company confidentiality; if they'd thrown open our codebase to some two-bit Chinese outfit THEN some stern words would be spoken. I'd want to see all the paperwork, contracts, quotes and so on, but if they'd addressed this satisfactorily then I'd have no problem with it.

After all, I spend a fair whack of my work time perusing and posting on El Reg. I can hardly complain if my staff want to do the same, as long the work gets done one way or another!

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US insurer punts 'bestiality' to wide-eyed kiddies, gasp 'mums'

Steven Roper
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Stop

Re: American organisation offended by breathing

"But now show me a gay sex scene (or even a kiss) in a Hollywood film. Heaven forbid!"

Maybe not in a film per se. But try watching Game of Thrones some time. Or Spartacus.

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North Korean citizens told: Socialist haircuts are a thing... go get some

Steven Roper
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Re: Fifty years and counting...

It took the Soviet Union more than 70, as I recall.

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Steven Roper
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Re: Socialism

Socialism, communism, capitalism, democracy - they're all myths and fantasies.

The only form of government ever practiced by any human culture anywhere, throughout history, is plutocratic feudalism, backed by the Gold and Gun Rule; i.e. who has the gold owns the guns and makes the rules. Rich people have children who will grow up to inherit their rule over everyone else's children, ad infinitum.

Occasionally there's a revolution; the proles are recruited by the revolutionists with promises of a better life; they storm the houses of the rich with torches and pitchforks, then as soon as the revolution is complete the revolutionists become the new feudal lords, the proles get kicked back to the gutter where they belong, and feudalism continues unaltered.

No other form of government exists, ever has existed, or ever will exist, as long as there are human beings.

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Steven Roper
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Coat

Re: I wish! (Homer 1 - 14:07)

Grass does not grow on a busy street, nor hair on a smart man's head.

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Trekkies detect Spock's Vulcan homeworld ORBITING PLUTO

Steven Roper
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Stop

Re: Mass Effect

I read Greek mythology in my childhood, and so to me Cerberus (Kerberos) is, and will always be, the giant three-headed dog that guards the gates of the Underworld and prevents the spirits of the dead from leaving (i.e. he's there to keep the dead in, not the living out). Notably captured and brought back to Tyrins by Heracles as the last of the twelve tasks assigned to him by the cowardly prince Eurystheus. The monster dog so terrified Eurystheus that he hid, gibbering, in a brass pot for three days, until Heracles returned the creature to Hades.

Cerberus was also put to sleep by the singing of Orpheus, who was given permission by Persephone, daughter of Demeter and wife of Hades, to lead his dead lover Eurydice out of the Underworld - as long as he didn't look back to see if she was following. He did, and thus lost her forever. (A happier alternative ending has it that Orpheus died soon after of a broken heart, and he and Eurydice were then re-united in eternal bliss in the Elysian Fields.)

Anything else is just a rip off. It's as abrasive (to me) as someone hearing a Beethoven sonata and going, "Oh, that's the tune from the [insert brand name here] commercial!" Gaaack!

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Linus Torvalds in NSFW Red Hat rant

Steven Roper
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Not really

since I wouldn't hire anybody with that thin a skin.

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Climate scientists link global warming to extreme weather

Steven Roper
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A fair analysis

"In addition, global land mass is concentrated in that hemisphere, and land masses warm and cool more quickly than do oceans. "These two factors are crucial for the mechanism we detected,"..."

That's a good explanation for this effect. What's interesting is that if these two factors are the main drivers of this mechanism, then it cannot be anthropogenic, since you can hardly blame humans for the fact of landmasses being concentrated in the northern hemisphere, nor the fact that land gains and loses heat more quickly than ocean.

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Boffin shows pics of germs grown on SPOTTY STUDENTS' MOBES

Steven Roper
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H.G. Wells put it best

"By the toll of a billion deaths, man has bought his birthright of the earth, and it is his against all comers; it would still be his though the Martians were ten times as mighty as they are. For neither do men live nor die in vain."

Though those bacterial colonies may look disgusting, without them we could not live, our earth would be piled neck-deep in dead animals and plants, we'd have no immune system, and awesome foodstuffs like yoghurt and cheese would not exist!

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Ancient lost continent discovered lounging on Mauritian beach

Steven Roper
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Re: Mu and Lemuria

I've always thought that Lemuria was Zealandia, the massive V-shaped sunken continent east of Australia, of which New Zealand, New Caledonia, Fiji and Vanuatu are the tops of the highest mountain ranges. It's easily visible on Google Earth, or any topographic ocean-floor map of the southwest Pacific.

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It begins: Six-strikes copyright smackdown starts in US

Steven Roper
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Thumb Up

And don't forget

you have to have The Machine That Goes 'PING!'

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Bees use 'electrical SIXTH SENSE' to nail nectar-stuffed flowers

Steven Roper
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Boffin

Re: Ironic

Wow. All I can say to you, Sanity Soapbox, is that your statements are not just wrong, they are fractally wrong, which means any effort at refutation would result in an infinite recursion of wrongness. Since a first-level refutation has already been made, I'll spare myself the infinite time required for successive ones...

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Steven Roper
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Re: Bees not as amazing as Australian face flies.

That is why I, and everyone else I know, explicitly ignore the big capital-letter warning DO NOT SPRAY DIRECTLY TOWARD EYES OR MOUTH printed on every Aerogard can. The only way to guarantee 100% coverage of every square millimetre is to close your eyes and mouth and do exactly that.

If you obey the warning and do what you're supposed to by spraying it on your hands and rubbing it on your face, then as you say, there'll be one fucking fly that finds the three square mm that you missed.

I also noticed the flies seemed particularly bad this year. At Victor Harbor last December, on top of the Bluff, we were mugged by the fucking things, even though a fair breeze was blowing that should have cleared them off. These flies seemed immune to wind, Aerogard and even the traditional Aussie salute. And the last time I'd seen so many was when I was up in the outback round Arkaroola years ago!

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Dalek designer Ray Cusick passes away aged 84

Steven Roper
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Re: Americanism.

Actually, I encountered "survived" in a similar context as a small child back in the 70s, learning about the wives of King Henry VIII: "Divorced, beheaded, died, divorced, beheaded, survived..."

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BOFH: Climb the corp ladder - and use your boss as a bullet shield

Steven Roper
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Facepalm

I've

also noticed the increasing use of "Architect" as a JD buzzword.

First we had "Manager". Everyone from the janitor up was a "manager" of some kind. Then there was "Specialist". Then "Engineer". Now we have "Architect". What's next? Doctor?

That'd be good: Toilet Cleaner -> Waste Manager -> Hygiene Specialist -> Sanitation Engineer -> Health Systems Architect -> Epidemiology Doctor...

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Bundestag holds 'unusual' hearing on German Copyright Act

Steven Roper
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Trollface

Re: re. John Lilburne

Don't bother.

John Lilburne is a known copyright troll down there with the likes of Turtle and PirateSlayer et. al. and, like them, probably an RIAA / MPAA staffer. His brain cell likely isn't capable of assimilating the concept of publicity and revenue provided by big search engines linking to content, because all it's capable of is something like, "duh, it's all mine and I don't want anyone to see it without paying, duh..."

Just ignore him. If you can be bothered wasting the few seconds it takes, downvote him if it helps you feel a bit better after being subjected to his drivel. ;)

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John Sweeney: Why Church of Scientology's gravest threat is the 'net

Steven Roper
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Re: Yes. In a civilised society ;-)

As opposed to a politically correct one...

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Steven Roper
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Joke

@Eurypides Pants

Drop-bears would have no need of an autogyro to clean out Psychlos. Or anything else for that matter, since I'm sure they could depopulate the galaxy with just their claws and teeth...

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Microsoft legal beagle calls for patent reform cooperation

Steven Roper
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Linux

This is interesting

" Microsoft plans to make information explaining exactly which patents it owns available to anyone on the web by April 1, 2013."

Does that include the still-undisclosed 240-odd patents MS has been threatening and blackmailing the Linux community with for the past few years?

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Rid yourself of Adobe: New Firefox 19.0 gets JAVASCRIPT PDF viewer

Steven Roper
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Re: @AC 04:40 @Lusty Mixed blessing

Actually I do understand technology, better than you might think.

"Locking" electronics documents from being changed is simply not reliable or trustworthy, not now, not ever. There's not a DRM schema ever invented that hasn't been cracked. Ever heard the adage "What man can make, man can break?" There's no such thing as "uncrackable", and that means any electronic document can be untraceably altered, no matter how secure the DRM snake-oil purveyors claim the locking technique is. I know this because way back in the 80s I was a member of a well-known cracking crew and I've seen firsthand how these guys operate.

You obviously don't live in Australia, where power outages, while not that frequent, when they do occur can run to several hours. The longest one I experienced was nearly two days, during the floods in 2005. And travel across town to recharge my laptop? That wouldn't be necessary for paper records, would it? And even in a major natural disaster, paper records can be recovered a lot more readily. Even if they are fire- or flood-damaged, there's still a chance that some of the information can be recovered - which is not true of, say, a fire-damaged thumb drive.

I will grant that PDF is not likely to lose support any time soon, but as to old records being lost because of media and format issues, even with the most industrious record-keeping, archives can be forgotten until it's too late. Things turn up in basements and attics that were thought lost years ago and which could answer many unanswered questions. Yes, in most cases people will transfer data to new formats as they become available, but only if they know or remember that it's there. You know, PEBKAC - the human factor!

I'm not saying electronic storage is inferior to paper, or that every single thing should be printed out. I'm simply saying that both have their place and their uses.

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Steven Roper
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@AC 04:40 Re: @Lusty Mixed blessing

I'm not just being contrary here. Lusty didn't mention anything about a paperless office and neither did I, nor did I state or insinuate that he had. As for documents specifically being "from the internet", how does that invalidate my argument? My first point in particular has validity here, since documents on a website can and do change frequently, so printing one out as it was on such-and-such a date is prima facie proof that this was what the document stated on that date. This is especially true of things like ToS and EULA documents where a print copy made before an online change could make or break a court case.

Lusty stated that he could think of only two reasons for printing a document, from the internet or otherwise. I added three more reasons to explain why people print out documents. So no, I didn't just feel like disagreeing. I simply articulated the arguments that were most likely to be behind the downvotes he got (none of which are mine, BTW.)

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Amazon ditches 'neo-Nazi' security firm over alleged harassment of workers

Steven Roper
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Re: There's something

The media outlet that made the documentary may very well have gathered evidence. But media bias is a well-known phenomenon; in fact it's the primary driver of the witch-hunt mentality I'm concerned about. Selective evidence gathering is an obvious part of this process. What if you were in that business's position; who would you trust more - a team of police investigators out to uphold the law, or a two-bit media outlet out to make a quick sensationalist buck?

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