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* Posts by Marshalltown

266 posts • joined 30 Sep 2011

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Most Americans doubt Big Bang, not too sure about evolution, climate change – survey

Marshalltown
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Hmmm

As I recall a poll in the mid-70s discovered that while a minority of Brits believed in God, a large majority believed in the devil, so it its pretty clear where us 'mur'cans inherited our approach to learning from. Not being religious myself, I am at a loss what the aitch-ee-double-broomsticks "belief" and "consensus" have to do with science. As far as I am concerned the jury is still out on the Big Bang, there are too many contending modifications from MND to String Theory being advanced to handle the original theory's short comings to think otherwise. Nor is there a handy guide to what properties the universe should have IF the Big Bang were wrong and Hoyle's steady state were really correct.

Concerning global warming, well of course, and laboratory experiments show quite clearly that CO2 traps LWIR energy and slows its departure from the planet. That might well constitute warming if, in the process of taking up the LWIR, the energy is converted to sensible heat. But, consider geological history and GeoCarbIV. How is it that vastly higher levels of CO2 in the past have not already triggered the apocalypse, or is someone going to insist that "man made" CO2 has magical properties that the natural stuff never had? The empirical evidence flatly disproves the hypothesis of anything seriously anomalous going on that never happened before. If CO2 were really as scary as the government funded types liked to make it out to be, we would be living on a planet that resembled Venus. Science is not about friggin' consensus and belief. It's about empirical reality, data, debate, argument and discussion.

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UFO, cosmic ray or flasher? NASA rules on Curiosity curiosity

Marshalltown
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Re: Small meteorite strike

All you do is take a new image of the area and run a difference between it and a previous image. They find new craters that way quite often on both Mars and the Moon.

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Marshalltown
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Holmes

Small meteorite strike

They need a scan of the location by a mapping satellite. I would say the best possiblility, given the geometry of the flash is a small meteorite strike between the more remote ridge and a slightly lower one nearer the rover.

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BOFH: On the PFY's Scottish estate, no one can hear you scream...

Marshalltown
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China

... imports hay from California. That will be costly this year. You can bet that if they don't waste arable land raising animal feed, they won't waste acres on paper fiber crops either.

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Barclays warns freelance techies of DOUBLE DIGIT rate cut

Marshalltown
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Pint

Re: Dangers to Projects ... isn't an honorable way to act.

And there you have it.

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Apple to grieving sons: NO, you cannot have access to your dead mum's iPad

Marshalltown
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WTF?

Look at themselves?

"...Apple need to have a damned good look at themselves here."

I always thought they were a bunch of narcissists any way. I doubt that they would see anything that didn't please them.

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RSA booked TV's Stephen Colbert to give the final speech. This is what happened next

Marshalltown
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The anger of the unrealistis and the uninformed

You really need to actually read those books that mention Kissinger. If you don't learn from history, the only alternative educational system is hard knocks. Since possibly Nixon or Kennedy at least, there has been ample historical evidence that the president has come to be more and more the target for political darts, a scape goat, and has effectively nothing to do with running the country. The candidate runs for office, wins and then is informed in a secret briefing, "you are now owned." If you think about the campaign of John McCain, it seems pretty clear that he chose Palin as a running mate not because she was female, but because she was a lunatic and would guarantee he lost. A friend had come by and whispered truth about being president and he responded, "no thanks." The US government, like the UK's, consists of political mayflies who come and go, and career bureaucrats who aren't responsible to anyone. Complaining about the "promises" this president didn't keep is a waste unless you are willing to complain about the promises every president since Kennedy failed to keep.

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Marshalltown
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Re: Ah yes, Colbert. Another unfunny guy.

One of the sad realities of the US these days is that the educational system really has failed. It persists in (mistakenly) encouraging every one passing through that their opinion is legitimate. I'm fairly sure this approach is behind the statistical rise in autism in the country. Psychological tests simply aren't sophisticated enough to differentiate between the actual condition and mindless self-centered egotism, but psychologists are certain their confidence in their tests is legitimate. The schools also fail to teach students to identify irony when they read, hear or see it.

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Fukushima radioactivity a complete non-issue on West Coast: Also for Fukushima locals, in fact

Marshalltown
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Re: Detectors at beaches - Rocky Mountains????

Ah, that would be the Sierra Nevada,Klamath and Cascade mountains. The Rockies don't contribute any sediment to California beaches. On the other hand we have the Sierra Nevada which are largely granitic and thus embarrassingly radioactive. The Klamath Mountains are geologically similar and the Cascades are volcanic, and as everyone knows, or should, the energy that drives vulcanism is radioactivity.

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Marshalltown
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Sr 90

Strontium (Sr) 90 has a half life of a little less than 29 years. If figure that Sr 90 generated by Fukushima has a point origin in time, then each since the Fukushima media disaster there has in fact been LESS Sr 90 around that can be attributed to the reactor. There's also the matter to dilution to consider. As Lewis Page pointed out, the actual amount of radio decay is only measurable in terms of decays per tonne of sea water. So, in California, where I live an breath, the only manner in which I could be exposed to Sr 90 would be through ingesting it, i.e. via sea food. And, given the extreme dilution provided by the Pacific Ocean, significant biological amplification would only occur via a route that included critters preying on or scavenging large filter feeders - whales, in other words. So frankly, speaking as a Californian, I am not concerned about radiation from Fukushima in any form. At the time of the earthquake, I explained why I was so relaxed to several acquaintances, pointing out that you pick up a bigger dose walking past the banana display in the market. A couple of them DID stop eating bananas, but the rest went on with their lives. No one was willing to give up sea food. The truth is that an article in the SF Chronicle is comparable to one in the Grauniad. For some peculiar reason the writers seem to believe that their audience consists of folks from the same small pool of worriers that spits out folks convinced that the mathematical sign of any human contribution to climate change is settled science as well. There is a reason news paper circulation is in trouble.

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BOFH: He... made... you... HE made YOU a DOMAIN ADMIN?

Marshalltown
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Self evident

The allusion is self-evident. The BoFH is not. So while being beguiled by the obvious, you are plainly mislead.

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Marshalltown
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Re: "He used my access to make you a domain admin?!"

I thought better of Simon. Obviously he was unwilling to confess that either "the boss" got him so pissed one night he was able pry the information out of Simon, or, like one of mine, he just said, "your access or your job. I own those machines, not you. So cough up the access." The handiest way of curing that attitude is to monitor the system and, when he starts traipsing around where he shouldn't, booby trap the system so he panics and screams for help. You then respond, "you're the admin. What did you do?"

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Mathematicians spark debate with 13 GB proof for Erdős problem

Marshalltown
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Chat

They probably should have just had a sit down and chat with the ghost of Georg Cantor.

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NatWest 'spam' email cockup got me slapped with late payment fee, says angry Reg reader

Marshalltown
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Devil

Re: It happens with snail mail as well

Happened to me here in the US as well. In fact, I received a late notice post-marked two weeks before the actual bill. I sent the total balance on the card - less the late payment amount, xeroxes of the cancellation stamps on the envelopes, which included their internal stamp when mailed, the card in pieces, and changed banks. They tried to collect the late payment for six months. I simply sent them copies of the envelopes with cancellations and no money.

Finally a real human called. Our discussion ended when the person admitted that if the customer is lead to expect a regular billing, and does not receive it - and the company insists on the bill stub being returned with the check before they will credit the payment - that if they, for some reason, delay mailing the billing, then despite my agreement to pay on time, I cannot, since THEY set the the "acceptable" conditions for receiving the payment, and they failed to be timely themselves. In this case they told me I was late before they actually sent out the bill. So they forgave the late payment then spent several years trying to lure me back.

Lesson learned: read the fine print. If they insist on conditions that cannot be met unless they fulfill their own responsibilities, as set out by their very own lawyers, before you can make a payment, then it is their problem.

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Coffee a memory enhancing drug, say boffins

Marshalltown
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Historically

The Mormons and the Seventh Day Adventists have sponsored a great deal of research to show that caffeine is bad for you. The bias was doctrinal (neither group uses caffeine because their understanding of their founders instructions was to avoid caffeine (coffee AND tea), though "Mormon tea" contains ephedra. The studies were often "justified" by the observation that coffee was addictive, caused jitters and heart palpitations in the extremely wired, and headaches for those enduring withdrawal. The puritanical reasoning was that "it's a drug (and the drinkers really enjoy it), therefore it MUST be bad for you."

The rebuttal research was often funded by coffee industry money and by folks who really wanted their morning coffee (or tea). But their initial views were often more or less summarized as, "caffeine isn't 'that' addictive, so it really isn't a strong drug, and its more harmless than alcohol." They were largely hoping for a "mostly harmless" finding. So, the discovery that there really did appear to be benefits to coffee and tea were actually a surprise to both groups. You will note that the wikipedia entry is considerably more negative in the initial paragraphs, but then is described as mostly harmless - even pregnant women can consume up to two cups a day of a drug that is labeled as both a teratogen and a mutagen. So, clearly the debate goes on.

The irony is that while the evidence that caffeine is harmful to individuals is mostly absent, socially it has been considered a threat for several centuries. It has been outlawed far more often than any other drug until the drug wars of the last century.

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Tales from an expert witness: Prior art and patent trolls

Marshalltown
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Re: Very interesting read!!

One of the ironies here is that in an article about the use of prior art to invalidate a claim, we see the old saw about Galileo and his telescope. That the earth revolves around the sun is a self-evident fact to anyone who spends time observing the night sky for a few years and bothers to consider even briefly the fact that the "cycle" of the stars is slower than the cycle of of the sun. It is simply the simplest way to understand what you see. Ptolemy had to postulate multiple independent shells, a complex view that needed several miraculous elements to operate unseen before it could make any sense. The alternative view is much simpler, since it all can be drawn from everyday experience. Omar Khayyam considered the sun the center of the system long before Galileo and reached that conclusion using only the Mark 1 eyeball.

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Ex-Oracle manager claims he was fired for asking to give Indian staff equal pay

Marshalltown
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Re: probably should have left it

I can tell you that there are big organizations that will call employees in to let them know "we are going to reduce your pension/ rehire you all to reduce seniority/ *&^% you over in general because we can and want to..." and then tell you, "you are not to discuss this with anyone." Healthcare providers can be particularly egregious that way. "We particularly do not want you discussing this where patients may hear you. They might mistakenly get the idea that we really don't give a flying &*^T$%# about their care or safety (well we don't but they don't know and don't need to)."

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Marshalltown
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Irish

The pay was not "market based." You probably should take a few remedial reading lessons. Oracle was not proposing to have the Indian employee work in India, where 50K a year would indeed be good pay, but in the US, where it is not that thrilling, at all. Being Irish, Spandow's family history, like mine, probably has some stories of just how difficult it could be to Irish in England or the US merely because of your last name. The odds are that the Indian employee was considerably better educated than the louts in HR any way and was worth a great deal more in a real "market" than an HR would be.

A market is negotiated. When HR sets the pay scale unilaterally, biases offers based on hopeful ignorance, and won't negotiate in in good faith, there really isn't a "market." In fact, the market ower should all on the other side. Oracle is proposing to "buy" skilled labor to produce a product that none of the HR staff or - likely - company management are competent to produce. Unions came into existence to deal with that kind of crap.

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Connecting Gmail to Google+ is SENSELESS, says Digg founder

Marshalltown
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Long ago

I worked at a hell desk because my employer decided to tack on ISP to the various other services he provided - which mostly involved archaeological investigations. During the period while he was running the system up, we were drafted as "help." One new account holder called in and I took the call. He was upset because during the two weeks he had held the account, he had received no mail "from the E." He fully expected his mail box to contain all the typical crap the shows up in the standard snail-mail box. I signed him up for several spam sources and he was there after a happy camper. As far as I can see, Google+ (and most other "social" networking) is for people like him.

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Marshalltown
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Attachment limits

The sole reason I ever acquired a gmail address was as a means around send and receive attachment size limits on my "real" email account.

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Marshalltown
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Re: Off Topic

Depends on where your reside. In the US your name, DOB, and a social security no., and your well on the way to a passport you never knew you applied for.

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Marshalltown
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Re: Hate G+

No argument. One of the most horrible interfaces deployed in the last decade. What I want is antisocial networking: deFacebook, shoottheangrylittlebirds, noSpace, ....

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How to kill trolls and influence Apple people: A patent solution

Marshalltown
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Re: actively trying to invalidate applications by searching for prior art.

The true problem with "prior art" is that it often is not patented. All too often the "inventor" is a mediocrity who has *had an idea* and the experience is so overwhelming, he or she patents the idea simply because they have discovered their own personal brilliance. Corporations treated as people are even worse since their "creativity" is entirely parasitic - yeah maybe they did pay some shmuck to write a program or "design" a prism with rounded corners, but the "corporation," per se, never produced or invented anything.

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Pervy TOILET CAMERA disguised as 'flash drive' sparks BOMB SCARE on Boeing 767

Marshalltown
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Re: Haven't you seen Fringe ?

That, my lad, was a shaped charge, which was designed to direct the explosive energy at a specific target. A USB stick is a different form factor, and unless the "stick" was specially engineered, would pretty much result in an explosion into the compartment rather than directed into the bulk head.

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Blame Silicon Valley for the NSA's data slurp... and what to do about it

Marshalltown
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Re: So what's to be done?

You may want to reread some history. The Sunni and Shiites have been in conflict longer than the Catholics and Protestants by several centuries. Various outside interests may very well have taken a hand in conflicts between the two in the hopes of an advantage here and there. That is not "engineering" a conflict, merely opportunism - well opportunism like throwing gasoline on a fire. The fire was already alight though, and there was and is no sign of it dying down.

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What is the difference between a drone, a model and a light plane?

Marshalltown
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Propeller avoidance - hmmm

"...never knowingly getting into anything with propellers...."

Never really considered how your garden variety jet air craft engine operates I see. Short of a ram jet or a rocket no plane propulsion system in use is lacking in canted blades on rotating wheels that pull/push air for either direct propulsion or to compress it. Real prop jobs also usually glide better too.

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DJANGO UNCHAINED: Don't let 'preview' apps put you off Fedora 20

Marshalltown
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Devil

Re: Liveblogging "At the Fedoras of Madness"

OpenSuse 13.1 can be a problem. I actually forget what the problem was now - only a month - but that hang does have a fix, which, IIRC, has to do with the floppy driver. Unfortunately the fix is to manage the hardware BIOS settings at POST rather than a fix in the OS. It took me several days to track down the fix. The probelm is actually a zombie bug that has risen from older releases. Apparently the pain of discarding code once written can be so painful that the authors may fail to delete older versions with known bugs. They then resurrect the buggy code in "new" releases. The pathetic part of this is that this something Microsoft was notorious for, with particularly egregious examples repeated in the history of Excel's development over a span of nearly 10 years.

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Oi, bank manager. Only you've got my email address - where're these TROJANS coming from?

Marshalltown
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You think so?

"...spammers just trying everything@the_domain," Grooten told El Reg. "That’d be a huge waste of resources – and I’ve never seen it happen."

With a computer to roll the dice, the procedure is childishly simple and involves minimal work for the spammer. I've received spam where the cc list is open and it is quite clear that a machine is generating permutations of strings and firing off emails to each permutation@domamin.com in batches. By scanning the bounced "no-such-address" responses the list can then be refined to active email addresses. Someone who wanted to stay away from the strictly illegal side of things could then compile and sell lists of "good" email addresses. I've suspected this for years since I've received identically sourced spam simultaneously to different addresses that are specifically "purposed." Much of it was "legitimate" spam attempting to market some POS I had no interest in. Others carried payloads of trojans or viruses.

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James Bond's 'shaken not stirred': Down to trembling boozer's hands, claim boffins

Marshalltown
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Re: Mixology

You must realize that putting vodka in a mixed drink and calling it a "MartinI" is something invented by a Phillistine to begin with. It is as nonsensical as making a "vodka and tonic."

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Marshalltown
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Indeed

"It doesn't matter what the vice or issue is, there is always somebody out there who will position worst case possibilities as near certainty ..."

You ought to read up on Seventh Day Adventist and Mormon research on the evils of caffeine. It gives terms like "anecdotal" and "cherry picking" new meaning.

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NSA alleges 'BIOS plot to destroy PCs'

Marshalltown
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Re: @Christian Berger

You really need to consider your semantics. "Security" and "privacy" simultaneously? Seriously? The entire debacle is due to a quest for "security." Privacy of individuals is simply the first casualty of that quest. There are others:

https://www.gov.uk/find-out-if-i-can-buy-or-carry-a-knife

for instance.

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Marshalltown
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Re: Sadly Trevor

"Why hasn't Obama stopped any of this like he promised he would?"

That is a multiple choice question, probably with more than one correct answer. Anyone who has watched "Yes Minister" knows that elected officials: presidents, prime ministers, etc., come and go, and so do their appointees: heads of the NSA, CIA, FBI, etc. So, regardless of "promises" made by politicians, there are always permanent employees in the background who simply carry on carrying on. So, perhaps he made a "politician's promise," possibly, he made a promise he thought he could keep, possibly .....

Apparently civics are no longer taught in any detail in US schools, or most citizens here would know precisely how limited, constitutionally, presidential authority is. Primarily he signs or vetoes congressional bills - never really uses the veto nearly enough, and he can start a war (but not declare one), which can paint congress into a corner where they either follow along or trigger a political crisis. He can also declare a state of emergency which can suspend many constitutional rights within a "limited" purview related to the putative "emergency" a limited but renewable period and make an end run around congressional authority without having them actually declare war.

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Marshalltown
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Re: @Trevor_Pott Re "I'm not a US person...."

Besides, biblical authority has it that God does it too, kind of like Santa Claus when you get down to it. .

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Marshalltown
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Re: Sadly Trevor

"You want a budget of *how much* to track 60 people?"

Actually, what they told 60 minutes was that they were only tracking 60 US citizens. They never mentioned how many foreign nationals were on their monitor list. I think the most interesting thing that was stated was that in effect there should be no surprise that they listened to foreign heads of state when those very same states do the very same thing "to us." The only important difference would be that the NSA "saved" money by hiring outside contractors who were - ah - unreliable.

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Cardslurping kingpin caged for 18 years over Carderplanet forum

Marshalltown
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Re: Who appointed America as the world's policeman, judge and jury?

There are a couple very different ways of addressing this. The simplest is that at the time, the vast majority of wealth being created was in the US. Europe was a close second. So, quite simply, the largest number of crime victims an targets was in the US and Europe. In that sense, it has nothing to do with being appointed "the world's policeman..." and everything to do with protecting US citizens. Since Vega was targeting European as well as North American interests, there was some very enthusiastic international cooperation to collect the guy, possibly not excluding elements in Russian and Ukraine, where the help may well have been from his competitors. While US prisons can't compete on the nasty scale with Russia and Ukrainian models, they are apparently fairly dismal compared to British pens.

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Marshalltown
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Nope

The Postal Service is in charge of mail fraud across state lines and over the internet as well as via envelope. From the USPIS site: "U.S. Postal Inspectors investigate any crime in which the U.S. Mail is used to further a scheme--whether it originated in the mail, by telephone, or on the Internet. The use of the U.S. Mail is what makes it mail fraud. " Presumably that means the USPS considers the internet part of the US Mail.

The Secret Service was part of the Treasury Department until 2002 when the drooling idiots we had in congress instigated the DHS. The SS then was transferred to the DHS.

Given the start date of the investigation the USPIS and the SS would have been the lead agencies.

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Los Angeles' weather is just like MORDOR, says Brit climate prof

Marshalltown
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What part?

The part about whose computer he ran the model on, and who paid for the computer time.

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Accused Glasshole driver says specs weren't even turned on for traffic stop

Marshalltown
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Re: "nothing illegal to be wearing Google Glass"... yet.

Four-ways work atleast. Mini-roundabouts are accident generators. There's nothing like coming into one when the yahoo coming in the opposite direction decides to make a left the wrong way 'round - in the US going clockwise around the circle instead of counter-clockwise. Little aware that they are the cause, they scream about right of way, despite traveling the wrong way in the lane.

My own favorite traffic "calming" measure is the widened divider at a non-stop intersection, which causes traffic to swerve toward the Class II bicycle lane. I call these setups "bicyclist elimination zones." It offends every traffic engineer I've tried it on too!

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BOFH: It's DANGEROUS to go alone. Take THIS

Marshalltown
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Re: BS

Plainly you must be in administration, either that or a heavy smoker with no sense of smell.

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Dry, cold and volatile: How to survive Mars, and your fellow crew

Marshalltown
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WTF?

Pretty sure ...

"Without radical progress in reducing the speed of the Mars journey ..."

I'm pretty sure you would want _increased_ speed. There are several propulsion systems being studied that appear to be practical and would decrease trip significantly once they are deployed.

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Who’s Who: a Reg quest to find the BEST DOCTOR

Marshalltown
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Pertwee defintely

Always my favorite. Tom Baker was also excellent, but not to my mind as good as Pertwee, who had a sense of style that I liked. None of the Doctors were ever bad per se though, so its down to personal preferences.

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Fukushima fearmongers: It's YOUR FAULT Japan DUMPED CO2 targets

Marshalltown
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Re: The Tooth Fairy and Molten Salt Thorium Reactors

Read more. There are other types of Th reactors that don't require fuel in the form of rods. Wikipedia isn't always your best source. For instance, look up the first operating Thorium reactor and why it was closed down. No miracle involved at all.

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Linux backdoor squirts code into SSH to keep its badness buried

Marshalltown
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Inherently _safer_

Open source is not inherently safe, just safer. For instance, no matter how clean the code is, a back door could be inserted into the compiled executable through the compiler or assembler, if they were compromised before being compiled. It could even be lurking in the code in the hardware on the compiling system.

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BOFH: One flew over the PFY's nest

Marshalltown
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Black Helicopters

What??

You want to create more Scientologists?

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Galaxy is CRAMMED with EARTH-LIKE WORLDS – also ALIENS (probably)

Marshalltown
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Re: Cool..but also oddly disturbing

We toss ours over the fence into the county forensic science center's lot.

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Marshalltown
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Re: Cool..but also oddly disturbing

"We also known from the history of the Earth that there isn't space for multiple sentient species."

No we don't. What we know is that there does not appear to be "room" for multiple *technological* species. That is a very different kettle of fish. We occupy a singular ecological niche based upon our dependence on externals to survive. That would place us in direct, ecological competition with any other species that required tools and extracted materials for basic survival. But, there are plenty of species that are highly intelligent, yet do not need recourse to tools to survive. Some, like some crows are capable of manufacturing tools and even your common west coast scrub jay is bright enough to manipulate environmental objects to bring food into reach. I've seen them do it. They are not however dependent upon tools. Very different situation.

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Marshalltown
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Re: Cool..but also oddly disturbing

Life only evolves once it appears. You might say that the distinguishing characteristic of life is the manner in which it adapts and evolves.

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Marshalltown
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Safe betting

One of the problems with any guess at the occurrence of life and intelligence in the galaxy is that up until the current generation of 'scopes, we had only our own planet and our own solar system as sample. The reasonable hypothesis was always that the solar system was not atypical, even if we could not see any planets out there. If that was true, was the earth atypical? No real answer, but the fact was, the earth IS atypical in the solar system. But is it atypical because life is present, or is life present because the planet is atypical? What we now know is that the most unusual aspects of earth are due to the presence of life. The evolving knowledge base suggests that life is much more likely to be common than to be rare. As regards intelligence, there are plenty of nominally intelligent species on earth. Human's stand out because we adapt through "extrasomatic" means: tools, clothes, language, etc. Now we find that not even those are strictly limited to humanity, merely the scope with which we depend upon them. Bayes theorem says, given the new data we have, that we are no more unique than earth like planets are.

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Your kids' chances of becoming programmers? ZERO

Marshalltown
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Mmmh, punch cards

The mention of punch cards and the delays really took me back. I recall seeing a woman walking toward the computer center with two large boxes of punched cards. Not sure how many. If it had been paper, she would have been carrying at least a thousand sheets. Give the sive of punch cards maybe twice that many? Anyway, she tripped on a bit of poor pavement and all those cards went flying. She just sat down on the sidewalk and wept.

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Don't crack that Mac: Almost NOTHING in new Retina MacBook Pros can be replaced

Marshalltown
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FAIL

Real humans????

Tchah. "Real" humans use tools. Says so right in the manual.

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