* Posts by Chris

143 posts • joined 19 Jun 2007

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David Carradine found dead in Bangkok

Chris
Thumb Up

kung fu skills

Apparently the ability to snatch a pebble from a blind old man's hand does not render a man able to untie a rope with his penis.

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LG announces European watchphone launch

Chris
Boffin

re: Cuckoo Land

If it includes bluetooth then you wouldn't need to put your wrist against your ear. I've been waiting for one of these since Dick Tracy...

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Asda clamps down on killer teaspoons

Chris
Thumb Up

weapons

I'm sure everyone who has flown out of a UK airport remembers being asked "Are you carrying a weapon or anything that can be used as a weapon?" I always replied "Why of course. Haven't you ever seen a Jackie Chan movie or an episode of MacGyver? In the right hands, ANYTHING, even a sheet of paper, can be used as a weapon."

Chuck Norris could kill someone with his bare hands."

Shall we insist everyone with hands be ID'd as well?

"Thumbs up," because you could poke someone in the eye with it.

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US prof says 'bioelectric' cars much better than biofuel

Chris
Boffin

Aviation

high speed jet aircraft may need to burn some sort of hydrocarbon fuel, but lighter-than-air craft (blimps or zeppelins) could probably operate on electricity easily. If a light enough solar cell is developed to cover the envelope with, I could see them possibly able to operate nearly indefinitely.

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Green-laser micro-projectors green-lighted

Chris
Boffin

voice recognition

The main problem with voice command/recognition software is that English has too many Homophones, dialects, accents, etc. That is not the only language on Earth, however. It isn't even the most widely spoken (although it comes close as a 2nd language).

I don't speak any myself, but I understand tonal languages are ideally suited to machine control. In the future we may find ourselves typing to our computers in English, but talking to then in Chinese.

Never mind the 100" screen from low wattage, Can it project an image directly on my retina? How many watts would that need?

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US game plods deploy robot enforcement menagerie

Chris
Linux

wasscally wabbits

I'm going to agree with SuperTim. I'd even go so far as to say having an operable robot grizzly is preferable to a dead real one.

So now that the word is out, can you get off from a true poaching charge by claiming "I never intended to shoot that deer your honor. I thought it was one of those robotic decoys."?

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Victoria Principal 'pulled pistol' on maid

Chris

RE: Lawsuit?

"Pulling out and levelling a gun is legally the same as firing it...but without the damage."

Uh, IANAL, but no, I don't think they are the same. Not on this side of the pond. Pulling out a gun and threatening someone with it is "assault with a deadly weapon", while actually pulling the trigger is "attempted murder."

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New Kindle: Wider, but still no broadsheet

Chris
Thumb Down

They need to learn from Kodak and Gillette

and now HP and Lexmark et al. Give the flipping device away (almost), and make your money off the books and other content. I'm not paying almost $500 for that and another $10+ a book when I can get a netbook for less and read anything on the web for free.

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NASA micro-satellite eyes space bacteria

Chris
Boffin

RTFA

The article clearly stated they are using BAKER's yeast, not brewer's yeast, an entirely different critter. So no Imperial stouts or other tasty beverages. I'm not sure I'd want to drink something fermented with mutated space yeast anyway. I'll stick with tried and true English Ale or California Ale strains from White Labs, with an occasional lager or Hefeweizen.

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Chris
Alien

Nothing could possibly go wrong with that!

Didn't any of those idiots ever see The Andromeda Strain?

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Star Trek halted by pig plague

Chris
Thumb Down

Animated film?

Last I heard, these films were all inanimate objects, incapable of contracting diseases. What purpose is served by delaying the release other than not deflating the per screen BO numbers?

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Pizza-polluting YouTube plonkers soil Domino's

Chris
Boffin

RE: just desserts

Actually, it's just deserts, although I thought it was the other kind for a long time too, since desert is a rarely used form of the verb deserve.

See http://eggcorns.lascribe.net/english/599/dessert/

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Microsoft to offer Windows 7 downgrade to XP

Chris
Gates Horns

for a price

A few months ago Dell was offering the downgrade option for $100 MORE than a straight Vista installation. The gimmick is "upgrade at your own pace". and they sold the machine with XP installed, but included a Vista upgrade disc, that you could "install when you are ready"?!

I imagine the Windows 7 downgrade offer will work similarly.

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BBC goes live... over Wi-Fi

Chris
Thumb Down

Why?

With the trend being toward larger and larger screen size at higher and higher resolution, why anyone would want to forgo such a thing and watch TV on a teeny tiny phone screen is beyond me. What's that you say? "Watch while away from home"? That's what DVRs and Slingbox are for, you twit.

Until they can wirelessly transmit images directly to my optic nerve, I'll pass, thank you.

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PS3 players prefer gaming to bonking

Chris

For most of them

their partner is "Rosey Palmer", so it's understandable.

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WiReD UK: ET found in 19 years

Chris
Alien

RE: the talking dog effect

You may well be right, but OTOH, there are certain physical and chemical facts that do not change anywhere in the Universe.

1) Carbon-based life forms. Carbon is pretty unique in the periodic table in being able to form long complex, chain molecules. Non-organic compounds tend to be rather simple. A possibility exists for silicon to do something similar, but I think the reaction times are too long.

2) Square-cube laws. Volume (and hence mass) increases with the cube of the radius. A life form is most likely going to be approximately man-sized within an order of magnitude or so. Sure the possibility exists for planet-sized life forms (e.g. John Varley's Titan), but resources to support such a thing are going to be pretty scarce, unless it can subsist on raw sunlight. Something too much smaller than a human will probably not be complex enough to be intelligent.

3) Science & Mathematics. Prime numbers, pi, the speed of light in a vacuum, Plank's constant, Schwartzchild radius, etc. are all the same everywhere. We'll have plenty to discuss.

4) Doggie conversation could be useful. Scratching behind the ears or rubbing the belly? Fetch slippers or lick my face?

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BOFH: Defiling the profile

Chris
Alert

limey lingo

What's a slapper?

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Budvar beats Anheuser-Busch in latest Budweiser battle

Chris
Thumb Up

@By The BigYin

Budvar is known as Czechvar in the US. Fairly tasty, but we have some really remarkable craft brews over here now. For those of you who still think "All American beers taste like pi$$", you are badly out-of-date. Some of the best-tasting beers in the world are being made over here now. But we keep them all for ourselves! Bwahahaha! The craft beer aisle in my local liquor superstore is much larger than the import shelf.

Anheuser-Busch is actually now owned by the Brazilian-Belgian conglomerate InBev, so it technically isn't even American beer now. The largest 100% American-owned brewery in the US is now D.G. Yuengling & Sons of Pottsville, PA. (Also the oldest in the US.)

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'Transportable' raygun 'deploys' - across Albuquerque

Chris
Thumb Down

RE: Ray guns won't be any good until ...

...they stop making mirrors.

Go ahead, spend millions on a laser weapon, which can be easily defeated by simply putting a highly polished mirror-finish on whatever it is supposed to be able to destroy. For a few extra bucks, make the mirrors aimable and wipe out the laser weapon's base while you're at it.

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World's first proper flying car makes debut flight

Chris
Gates Horns

Idiot drivers

So now I'm going to have to watch out for morons in the sky who try to text while flying in addition to the ones on the ground. Please tell me it won't be allowed until every one is centrally managed by a traffic-control computer that isn't running a Microsoft OS.

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Science-boosting thickie questionnaire backfires

Chris
Boffin

Re: RE: conceptualising the question

[quote]"Given that the diameter of the Earth is approximately 8,000 miles, if you plot the position at which the sun is directly overhead at the equator, roughly how fast does this move?"

Your question makes it sound like the sun goes round the earth. No wonder they were confused.

[/quote]

Uh, no it doesn't.

Of course, it would be more understandable to say "Given the diameter of the Earth is approximately 8,000 miles, and rotates once every 24 hours, how fast does a spot on the equator move?" Having the sun directly overhead is irrelevant, and only happens twice a year anyway.

After 20 years experience with giving "story problems", I can pretty much guarantee the same percentage of students will get it wrong. The ability to convert words to numbers has pretty much vanished. Even when the words are essentially an equation "out loud". Oh, the stories I could tell...

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Illinois restores Pluto's planetary status

Chris
Boffin

They're late

New Mexico did it two years ago:

http://www.spaceref.com/news/viewsr.html?pid=23558

It seems Dr. Tombaugh made the actual discovery while he was a professor at New Mexico State Univ.

What's next, California, because he once vacationed there? Or what do the Plutonians have to say about it?

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US cops called to McDonalds menu cock-up

Chris
Alert

You want fries with that?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dDFyNqKHu7k

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Study: Girls still not swarming into sci-tech, dammit

Chris
Boffin

@wize

"So, do you abbreviate economics to econ and physics to phys? I've never seen those abbreviations before."

Yep. Well, econ, anyway. Physics is generally short enough as is already. So how do *you* abbreviate Economics?

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Chris
Boffin

math vs maths

Why should mathematics be abbreviated maths? It isn't mathSematics. We don't shorten economics to econs, or physics to physs. So why should we shorten mathematics to maths? The proper way to abbreviate a word is to lop off letters from the end, not extract them from the middle.

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Lockheed offers ready-to-go supersoldier exoskeleton

Chris
Coat

RE: Starship Troopers

That's what I immediately thought of as well. I saw the first one - Mmm Denise Richards - but that was it. Didn't know about #2 or #3 until recently. From all accounts they make #1 look like Citizen Kane.

Now they need to make them smaller and form-fitting like in John Varley's _Blue Champagne_.

Mine's the powered one...

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Martian volcano could harbour hot underground pondlife

Chris
Boffin

color coding

On the topographic map, there are certain regions coded as below 0 in elevation. How do they determine where sea level is when Mars has no seas?

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Child porn suspect ordered to decrypt own hard drive

Chris
Thumb Down

RE: passwords, who needs em

"create an encryption system that encrypted the data using a completely random password if the computer wasn't shut down properly"

Oh, what a brilliant idea that is! Your battery runs down, so you plug it in, and then trip over the power cord, pulling out of the socket. Oopsy! there goes all your data into an encrypted file that you can't access.

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Hollywood to totally recall Total Recall

Chris
Alien

RE: Cirocco Jones, not Indiana

Oooh, I like it! Or any other Varley. Ophiuchi Hotline has much the flavor of H2G2. Oh wait, They already screwed up Millennium. But then again, Varley asked for it himself by turning an excellent short story into a mediocre novel.

I also second the Niven idea. They could make a whole series of just the adventures of Beowulf Shaeffer alone, although a tall skinny albino isn't right for an action hero.

Let me also be the first to nominate Ursula K. LeGuin, particularly "The Left Hand of Darkness".

The there is Gordon R. Dickson's Dorsai trilogy (or the whole Childe Cycle), or Harry Harrison's "Stainless Steel Rat" or Deathword Trilogy.

Phillip Jose Farmer's Riverworld series, and more.

Alien, because... well, duh!

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Boffins: Send robot lawn tractors to the Moon

Chris
Alien

@ Flocke Kroes

"(We are already at least a decade behind schedule with the moon - not a single nuclear reactor. There should have been enough to blast the moon out of its orbit ten years ago ;-)"

It wasn't reactors, it was a nuclear waste dump where the waste was a little too close together and started a runaway chain reaction.

Anyway, never mind that, we are also 8 years behind on that orbiting space station that rotates in time to Strauss waltzes. And where is the Pan Am shuttle?

Alien, of course.

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Obama balks at recovery of lost Dubya emails

Chris
IT Angle

re: Title Error?

WTF does the 2 key have to do with anything?

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Home Office plans to force CCTV on shops and pubs

Chris
Thumb Down

RE: Backdoor ID?

So wait. In Blighty it isn't already necessary to provide proof of age to buy alcohol?

It is over here. I don't generally have to, as I am more than twice the legal drinking age, and look it, but one large liquor store near me was cited for sales to minors in the recent past. As a consequence, they card *everyone*, regardless of how old they look, and the DOB must be entered into the cash register before it will process the sale. In addition, anyone under 30 must fill out and sign an affidavit testifying they are over 21, which is kept on file, to protect the establishment against the use of fake IDs (extremely common over here).

Some states have extremely weird regulations about alcohol sales. In Pennsylvania, wine and spirits can only be purchased at state-owned liquor stores. But not beer. For that you must go to a beverage distributor, which only sells it by the case. If you want less than a case, you have to go to a bar, but you are only allowed to buy a maximum of 12 there (not sure about the total volume, but I think a dozen 750 ml bottles of an Imperial IPA are probably out). Then they have strange rules about bars, like ashtrays are not allowed to have more than 2 cigarette butts before they must be emptied. (This was years ago, before smoking began to be banned in bars. I don't know if it is still in force.)

Utah is even worse, since the state is controlled by non-drinking Mormons.

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Chicago Bears fan hit for thirty grand for a bit of Slingbox

Chris
Pirate

The real Question

"once Ms Reding has battered EU operators for unreasonable behaviour, we can ship her over the pond to sort out the septics."

Being from "over the pond" I have no idea who Ms Reding is, but is "sorting out septics" the sort of job those of you in Blighty would like to see her doing? Perhaps Wacky Jacqui even more so.

The way most cruises in the US operate, the ship leaves port Sunday afternoon. Football games are also usually played on Sunday afternoon. I imagine he would not have been able to attend the game (or even watch it at home) without "missing the boat." Especially considering it probably didn't sail from Chicago in the winter. An avid fan would probably be willing to pay a $220 one-time fee to see his team while on vacation, (which was probably the wife's idea anyway).

Pirate because it looks sort of like the Oakland Raiders logo, and you don't have one for "Da Bearss."

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Boffins to unveil gesture-controlled 3D TV

Chris
Thumb Up

Already got it

Well, the gesture part anyway. And it only works for her - she wags her fingers at me, and the channel changes from sports to some drama or other.

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McDonalds to cook up EV charging station network

Chris
Boffin

charge time

I agree with all the other commenters on the disparity between the amount of time needed to charge an electric vehicle and the average stay at McDonald's.

That is why fully electric cars are never going to catch on over here in the States. Either you need to be able to fully charge it in around 5 minutes (the same time to fill a tank with gas/petrol), or it needs to be able to run all day on a single charge and recharge overnight no matter where you might find yourself - particularly every parking space at hotels and motels, long term garages at train stations, airports and the like, etc.

Until that happens, they will just be a curiosity, like horseless carriages were 100 years ago.

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Info chief slaps Met on CCTV in pubs

Chris
Black Helicopters

More suggestions

I think dave lawless and Dave (Bar Towels) are on the right track. Is there anything that says the camera has to actually be plugged in to anything? What about the recorder? Does it have to have tapes in it?

Maybe the camera is on a dedicated circuit and the breaker "accidentally" got tripped, and no one noticed for a few months (or years).

Is the camera installed in an unlighted foyer?

Say there's a pile of free advertising papers next to the door that everyone gets a hankering to read very carefully (right in front of his face) as he enters the establishment.

Perhaps the shutter is out of adjustment and it snaps its photo a half-second AFTER the person has passed.

Come on folks! Get creative here. Maybe a playmobil re-enactment would get the creative juices flowing...

No anonymous posting for me, I don't think the "long arm of the law" is long enough to reach across the Atlantic, but it sure looks like the black helicopters are circling.

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Dalai Lama's Twitter account is a fake

Chris
Boffin

RE: Very Zen

Reminds me of my visits to Area 404.

If a "Error 404: page not found" page goes missing, how will anyone ever know?

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Prof: Save up fossil fuel reserves to fight the next ice age

Chris
Boffin

RE: Permanent Effect? and Better uses

Chris Gray: You need to pick up and read "The Mote in God's Eye" by Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle post-haste. Basically, our successors, be they human survivors of an apocalypse, or intelligent cockroaches, will need to be able to progress directly from flint knives and burning wood, directly to fusion, without any stops in between.

Ian: I was wondering when someone would point that out. Our descendents many years hence are going to be saying to us "You had abundant complex hydrocarbons practically lying on the surface, and the best thing you could think of to do with them was to BURN THEM??!!! Are you insane?"

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Vatican endorses Darwin, slights intelligent design

Chris
Boffin

RE:Darwin got it very wrong

Darwin wasn't an atheist, and in fact, he mentions g*d (or a Creator) in his Origin of Species, as the one who laid down the rules for natural selection. That is what makes the whole ID/Creationist argument so funny. If they only read what they criticised...

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Freeway-averse Peapod runabout to go on sale in April

Chris
Black Helicopters

RE:so it's a golf cart

That was my initial thought as well. For just about every one of these short-range, low-speed electric vehicles.

I live halfway between Baltimore, MD and Washington, DC, and work in the DC suburbs. If I stand on my back deck on a quiet night, I can hear the trucks on I-95, about a mile away, maybe two miles by road. Then it's 15 miles of freeway, and another mile or two of surface streets, to work. Until they make something that will make that trip at highway speed and give me a fighting chance in a collision with a semi, an SUV, or even a Japanese sedan, I'll take a pass.

Black helicopter, because I'd make the trip in one of those, if I could...

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Brits and Yanks struck with embarasment embarrassment

Chris
Boffin

RE: spelling beee

"Went to the Times speling bee and it needs Flash!!!! Ridiclous. Why can't they just have the words writen on the page nd ask you to spel them."

That might be just as effective. When I was a teaching asst in grad school, I gave a quiz to my class on which one of the questions was "Spell asymptote: _________________."

(Yes, the word was written right in front of their faces.)

About half the class got it wrong. When queried on how they manged to pull off such a feat, their responses were mostly along the lines of "I thought it was a trick question, and you spelled it wrong on purpose." I pointed out that it didn't matter. I asked them to spell the word wriiten on the quiz, not the word for the mathematical line that is approached arbitrarily closely.

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Congress gives analogue TV signal 4-month reprieve

Chris

There are commercials?

If you have a DVR you don't need to watch commercials. But the gov't has really mishandled the whole DTV transition. (Big surprise, there.) Not just the coupons. Why do they need to expire in 90 days? Oh, yeah, because they din't provide enough money in the program, so they WANT them to go unredeemed so they can reissue them to someone else. Except they also didn't fund the administrative overhead to send them out more than once.

One could order a coupon begining Jan. 1, 2008, and a great many people did so (myself included) to ensure they didn't run out. But the selection of converter boxes available within 90 days of issuance was pathetic. This is why many (most?) expired unused.

Oh, BTW AC of 16:47, the boxes DO NOT cost exactly the same as the coupon. They are mostly $20 to $50 more (plus S&H and/or tax), although a very few are $10 or less above the coupon price.

I have satellite TV, but I still bought several boxes for myself, in case the dish goes out for one reason or another, and I want to watch something on one of my several analog sets, and I also needed to check them out for my mother-in-law-to-be who relies entirely on rabbit ears.

Then there was the fact that the FCC didn't require TVs to have digital tuners until 2007. So there were people buying a product that normally lasts 10-20 years, but was going to be essentially worthless in less than two. Do you think the PFY in BB or CC who sold it knew or cared? He just wanted the sale.

This whole delay is more of a CYA measure than anything. Stations are going to switch as soon as they can because it costs them money to simulcast. Lazy procrastinators are still not going to be ready, no matter how long they delay it, but now Congress can say we gave you more time, it's not our fault the stations are greedy money-grubbers.

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EU funds Antipodes-in-90-mins rocketliner concept

Chris

daily rocket service

Wasn't Heinlein and his contemporaries writing about ballistic rocket passenger service in the 50's? The technology is pretty much the same as an ICBM, except protoplasm has slightly less tolerance for G forces than plutonium.

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The A-Team flies into Hollywood

Chris
Paris Hilton

Noooooo!

If they're going to make cheesy 80's TV action series into feature films, I want to see "The Fall Guy" with Jessica Alba as Jody.

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Hitachi highlights gesture-controlled HD TV

Chris
Boffin

Universal Remotes

How do you program that into, say, a Harmony One?

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'Miracle' plane crash was no miracle

Chris
Stop

Re Do Not Fold Spindle Mutilate

I don't know about either incident, but I think your correction has to be even more wrong. No way could a plane that ran out of fuel over the Pacific manage to land in the Azores, which are located in the middle of the Atlantic.

I suggest you read the wikipedia article you referenced yourself.

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National Safety Council seeks total* cell-phone driving ban

Chris
Thumb Up

@ Amanda

Thank you. I drive I-95 between DC and Laurel every day, and I'm glad to know that at least one other person is paying attention. I will answer or place a quick call, but that's all. I also don't believe listening to "books on tape" while driving is a good idea. It can be just as distracting.

When I read that Va. was passing a law against texting while driving, I couldn't understand why it was needed. Surely there was no one stupid enough to try to do that. But I apparently vastly under estimated the stupidity of the American public.

I think automatic transmissions should also be banned. People would pay more attention to driving if they had to shift and use the clutch. Power steering is bad too.

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US teen clocks up 14,528 text messages

Chris
Paris Hilton

RE: Texting is just email for kids

Why, um, anyone would, um, use it if they, you know, have access to, um, a phone, on which they could, um, carry on an actual, you know, um, conversation is a mystery to me.

Paris, because she knows what thumbs are REALLY for.

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How you pay for tomorrow's scares, today

Chris

Piracy

Global Warming doesn't cause piracy. In fact, it's the other way 'round. Lack of piracy causes Global Warming. The correlation is clear from the graphs at http://www.venganza.org/about/open-letter/

So increasing piracy is good news! It means that Global Warming should start to decreas and everything will go back to normal.

Where's the FSM icon when you need one?

May you me touched by his Noodly Appendage!

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New York mulls terrorist cell phone jamming

Chris
Coat

we be jammin'

"It would also do little to prevent the use of satellite phones."

Not to mention good old fashioned walkie-talkies, or CB radios, or ham radios, or something built from scratch that transmits on an unlicensed frequency. Then there are smoke signals, signal mirrors, carrier pidgeons, ...

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