* Posts by I ain't Spartacus

5810 posts • joined 18 Jun 2009

Pentagon trumpets successful mock-ICBM interception test

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Re: Just for the record ...

The USS Vincennes, or at least part of its task group, was under attack from the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Navy at the time of the missile strike on the airliner. Not that they handled the incident well, as they completely fucked up at all levels. But Iran don't get to play the innocent victim, given they were attacking a foreign navy's ships in international waters at the time - which meant that navy had every reason to also expect an incoming air attack.

A bit like Ukraine were criticised for continuing to allow an open air transport corridor over a battlespace where combat was happening involving SAMs (admittedly as far as Ukraine knew only low altitiude ones) - Iran perhaps shouldn't have been flying civilian airliners over areas where it was also attacking ships armed with surface to air missiles, and worried about air attack.

To be fair to Iran, I don't recall their airforce ever got involved in attacking neutral shipping in the Gulf. So it was quite possibly a bit of freelancing by the Revolutionary Guards, who're a law unto themselves, so quite hard to plan for, even for Iran. But what we have here is a fuck-up.

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It was heading for Florida, not the White House. Although I guess it could have been going for Mar-a-Lago.

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This isn't boost phase. I think it's coast phase. So hitting the warhead in space. Boost phase is covered by ship-based SM3s. Plus I guess the airborne laser, but didn't they kill that program? And supposedly some electronic warfare as well - which it's alleged may already have been used to bugger-up some Nork tests.

THAAD then deals with the incoming warheads near the target.

I guess the hope being that if you have enough programs, some of them might work, and hopefully the ones you miss are the ones that don't work - given North Korea's production and quality control issues.

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Re: Next steps...

Shipping containers aren't a very reliable method. And take lots of advanced prep. So they're a good covert first-strike option, but of limited use as a second strike deterrent.

Particularly as North Korea isn't plugged into the global shipping network, and their ships get monitored, as they're often carrying weapons to places people might not want weapons sold to. So they might have to ship their container via land through China, which might annoy the Chinese government somewhat...

At times of high tension, that threat massively diminishes, as none of North Korea's ships are going to be going anywhere un-watched.

You could of course pre-position one in a third country, but that requires giving a lot of control of a precious national resource (a warhead) to an independent group you can no longer shoot. And has a high risk of getting discovered.

Whereas a working ICBM on a train or truck that can be hidden gives second strike capability, even if the regime has been destroyed.

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This is a mid-course interceptor. It's to hit the warhead in space, in mid-flight. I'd assume while it's coasting. They planned to put a site in Eastern Europe to counter Iran's missile program, but didn't in the end. Partly because the Russians cut up rough, but I suspect mostly because it wasn't working yet.

MIRVs are really hard, and North Korea are still struggling to shrink their warhead down to one per rocket size, as well as getting the rockets to work reliably. So I doubt they're worrying about them yet - it took the UK billions, and nearly a decade, to get Cheveline in the 70s, which is similar but cheaper tech to get multiple warheads through ABM defences but isn't fully independently targetable.

Current US strategy on missile defence is multi-layered. Obviously it's all still in various stages of development, so I doubt anyone really knows what will work, or how well.

So you've got THAAD which is already deployed in Alaska I think, and is being deployed in South Korea as we speak. That's the Terminal High Altitude Area Defence System - aimed at hitting the incoming warhead/MIRV on final approach to the target. They're the last line of defence.

They've then got the early shot, which is the SM3. That's a naval SAM, carried by the US Arleigh Burke destroyers and their AEGIS cruisers. Japan also use them. And they're capable of hitting satellites, and missiles in flight. The US have a deal with Japan where there are always a couple of ships in the Sea of Japan to try and shoot down incoming missiles at an early stage, where they're obviously most vulnerable, as they're going slowly and can't manoeuvre. Japan obviously also maintain patrols to do this.

There are also apparently various electronic means of getting at rockets in the early stage of flight, and rumours the US have been actually using them to bugger up North Korean tests. I've no idea how much of that is true, wishful thinking or even possible.

Then you've got these mid-course ones.

There's also someting I can't remember the name of but is basically a land based AEGIS system. It's cheaper, and already proven to work using SM3 - but obviously not on a ship. And the US are talking about putting one of these bases in Romania, to replace the mid-course missiles that would have gone to Poland. But that was to counter the Iranian threat, which is much reduced, as a nice nuclear deal has been signed. It also annoys the Russians on principle, so may or may not happen. But would seem to make sense in South Korea.

However putting that near China might really annoy them, given they've already complained about THAAD - even though that's aimed at blocking warheads, and not Chinese missiles in flight.

Russia has many missiles, so shouldn't be too worried about ABM weapson taking out a small percentage. But China only operates a few hundred warheads, as it has a similar limited nuclear posture to the UK and France. We aren't aiming for global destruction, just to take out your top 10-30 cities.

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India sets June 5 as the day it will join the heavy-lift rocket club

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Re: I'm impressed that we have 64 and 70 ton low earth orbit payload capability coming.

$160m for nearly 70 tonnes isn't too bad when the normal Falcon is supposedly about $60m to get 22 tonnes up. It's basically a slight volume discount.

Both those figures are also going to drop if/when SpaceX can get their recycled rockets working regularly.

Obviously though the best way to get decent tonnage into LEO is Project Orion. Admittedly the launch costs are going to be very large indeed, and you're going to struggle to find anywhere willing to let you use them as a launch site. Well I say that, but in reality someone in posession of a few hundred small nuclear devices shouldn't have trouble persuading people to do pretty much anything they tell them to...

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Much-hyped Ara Blackphone LeEco Essential handset introduced

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The funny thing is, there's tons of room for innovation in the Android handset market. Not that this is it, obviously.

There's clearly still a large market for physical keyboards, a la Blackberry. But not served. Surely that's something that could use a clip-on technology - rather than a pointless sticky-out-camera-thingy.

Next there's a desperate need for someone to design a phone that doesn't need a case. I've never seen a phone case that didn't make it harder to use, and the kinds of phones that are designed to be used on building sites are usually not very nice. So what about a happy medium? Some protection from water and some protection for the bloody screen! Or just an easily replaceable, sacrificial surface layer.

The essential problem with the smarphone is the screen. They're still bloody hard to read in daylight, consume most of the power, make text input horrible and are massively fragile. And yet the whole industry seems to just ignore these problems and keep iterating the same bloody design, as if it's the best they can do. Well I guess it is the best they can do, and that's why only two of the companies actually make any profits.

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At $600 that's a funny definition of "essential'...

For that money I can get a decent phone, a case, a tablet and still have change for a nice curry.

I find it bizarre that the price of top end smartphones has actually gone up, since they stopped improving rapidly 4-5 years ago. Completely at odds with how other tech goes.

I admit my £120 Microsoft Lumia 735 is totally rubbish for apps. If you need those, I'd spend up to double that to get a decent Android. I never got on with the iPhone, even though I like my iPad a lot. But I understand paying the Apple tax, if that's the ecosystem that suits you. But with Android you have a choice.

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Sysadmin finds insecure printer, remotely prints 'Fix Me!' notice

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Re: Biggest surprise to me...

We got a new printer yesterday. Small office, small network. So last thing I set it up and it worked. Then I went home for some well-earned dinner.

This morning, it didn't work. But weirdly, though my PC couldn't see it, it could see my PC and so I could scan direct to my pooter.

So I then fixed it, and got the printer working again. Now I can print to it, but it can't see my PC to scan to it. I guess this is like the uncertainty principle. My PC can either know where the printer is, or the printer my PC, but not both - or the universe explodes...

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El Reg straps on the Huawei Watch 2

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Re: Does it do WiFi and tethering?

Given what WiFi hotspot does to my phone's battery, I can't see a watch being any use in that respect.

Not until it can leach power from the nanites in your bloodstream, which are hijacking the excess calories from the food you eat. At which point you won't need a fitness tracker anyway, as you can eat what you want without gaining weight. Until the programming bugs mean you are no longer able to absorb any calories at all, and so you starve to death...

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Attempt at building kinder, gentler Reddit downvoted off the Web

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You're right. They should have called it fluffi, or maybe cuddli?

Obviously the other thing you need in order to get web success is an inability to spell. Well to be fair it's a word deliberately spelled badly so you can trademark it - but I don't see why I should let sense get in the way of a good rant.

Anyway, I should stop reading this thread, as it's giving me an overwhelming urge to reply to everyone with gratuitous and childish insults, just to dispell this myth that El Reg is a civilised place...

Bum!

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Orbital boffins cut four years off NASA mission to shiniest object in the Solar System

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Happy

Re: 2024!!

Ah, but can you actually eat food that's designed to last that long?

I rememeber reading a few years ago that the US Department of Defense were dead chuffed with themselves for creating the MRE pizza. Yup that's a heat-in-the-bag pizza with a 3 year shelf-life. Yum!

I guess it's a bit like after your plane's crashed in a remote location. And you've run out of other passengers to eat and are forced to [the horror, the horror] eat the airline "food".

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.Science and .study: Domains of the bookish? More like domains of the JERKS!

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Re: Block all email from vanity TLD's

I used my first one last week. A new customer has a .plumbing domain. I work in the building services trade - though was a bit surprised as we're at the commercial end of things, and I'd have thought that TLD was more aimed at the bloke after a tradesmen to fix his boiler market.

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Could ICANN just do it properly, admit they're all about the money, and set up the following:

.scam

.phishing

.junkmail

.fakenews

That should make everyone's lives easier, and of course increase their bonus pot - which is far more important.

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Huawei Honor 8 Pro: Makes iPhone 7 Plus look a bit crap

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Re: Not sure why people moan about Androids interface...

Who can be arsed to change it? How many different launchers would you have to try before finding the one that's stable and decently useable? How long would you waste? I can remember wasting an hour on the Android store just to get an app that actually worked to copy texts from one phone to another (the first three didn't actually work as advertised) - and I just can't be arsed.

For me at least, a phone is a very important tool for both work and personal life. And so I want one that works properly out of the box, doesn't need hours of tinkering, and in an ideal world can be set up and fully operational in an hour or two.

Other peoples' mileage may vary of course.

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Has AI gone too far? DeepTingle turns El Reg news into terrible erotica

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Devil

Dinosaur? More like Dino-Phwoar!

With apologies to Sir Phillip Flip-Top-Bin...

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Julian Assange wins at hide-and-seek game against Sweden

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I'm pretty sure he was a dead issue in the US as so much time had passed with not much happening. But then he started overtly interfering in the elections - he didn't just dump the Clinton emails on Wikileaks, he kept releasing new bunches at inconvenient times throughout the campaign - to make sure it got maximum and continuous coverage.

Of course it may be that he thought Clinton had a grudge against him. Or that the US are out to get him and so Trump might be grateful and save him. However Trump has the attention span of a gnat, doesn't appear to reward loyalty for very long and is totally self-obsessed. So nailing Assange might look to him to be a way of "proving" that it wasn't Russian influence that won him the election after all.

The only reason I don't automatically assume Assange is a rapist avoding his just deserts is that I think he might be genuinely paranoid enough to believe all the bollocks he spouts about the US being out to get him. Even though he was talking about becoming a Swedish citizen, and only fled their supposedly US corrupted system after the rape charges were about to be made. The very night before his appointment with the prosecutors in fact.

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Happy

Re: Sweden

Error 8008!

This device has performed an illegal operation.

Please reboot and re-insert floppy.

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Re: Actions == consequences

I don't believe the Aussies get a veto on where we send him to, if and when we eventually deport him somewhere. He's subject to UK law, as he's in the UK and came here legally and of his own choice. The usual procedure would be that we'd bung him back to Oz, because that's whose passport he came here on - although he could presumably be deported to Ecuador if they gave him citizenship (so far he only has asylum).

It is correct that the EAW gives our courts a veto on what Sweden can do with him though. They're not allowed to exradite to a third country without our permission.

As it happens the Swedish extradition treaties with the US are far tougher than ours, which was a pile of shit written by Blair's lot in a fit of stupidity, and sadly not yet repealed. In my opinion no extradition treaty should be in place that doesn't allow the Home Secretary a public interest veto over extradition, which neither the US or EAW do - hence I'd personally like to get rid of both, and replace them with the normal kind of extradition treaties that most other countries use, and that we use with everyone but the US and EU.

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The brave British boat men hoping to poke Larry Ellison's lads in the eye

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Re: Can't..

I think a better trick is to send the yacht as usual, and station a nice quiet submarine in the race area to subtly slow the other boats down. You only need torpedo them if it's obvious they're going to win.

The only problem is if the Americans have the same idea and our two subs crash into each other.

As an additional advantage, submarines have sails.

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Jimbo announces Team Wikipedia: 'Global News Police'

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Re: Other fact checkers exist already

Radio 4's More of Less is superb. It's a shame that BBC telly current affairs can't/won't do stuff like that.

If handled right, news doesn't need to be boring, depressing or without humour. I remember when Radio 5 started Vincent Hanna (of Blackadder the Third election fame) had a 2 hour show late in the evening. He covered news, but a lot of his show was done as long form interviews/discussions with people. Not the kind of Humphreys and Paxman showing off bollocks, but proper interviews where you allow the politicians the time and space to express themselves properly, before questioning them. From which you actually really learn about them and their beliefs and policies. I learnt a lot about Northern Irish politics from him. And there was always time for a bit of humour. As well as time to reflect and be a lot less partisan.

Andrew Neil's 'This Week' sometimes manages it, but mostly the show tries to do too much in too short a time, and too often becomes partisan - rather than taking a step back. You often need ex-politicians around to help with this - as they don't feel forced to resort to the approved soundbites - and also won't get jumped on by the press for any slip - which can be quoted wildly out of context.

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We know what you're thinking: Where the hell is all the antimatter?

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Re: The little man who wasn't there

Method:

1. For this experiment, we first manufactured a 1/2 lightyear cube of lead.

2. Then we sat and had a cup of tea, while waiting for some neutrinos to come along.

3. ...

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Re: Mexit, of course

It's nothting to do with physics at all.

All the anitmatter in the universe got used up making Antipopes.

Wikipedia (I know, I know, but I'm too lazy to do the research properly) lists 41 of them over the years.

Since we've not had an antipope since the 16th Century and we can't see any antimatter (except that we create ourselves), this proves that there's none left. QED.

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Goodbye, cruel world! NASA's Cassini preps for kamikaze Saturn dive

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Re: "Goodbye"?

"What's this thing rushing up towards me. So big, and flat and round it needs a sort of wide sounding name, like ow, row, grou, Ground. That's it! Ground! I wonder if it'll be friends with me?"

Or possibly it'll just be thinking, "Oh no, not again."

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'No deal better than bad deal' approach to Brexit 'unsubstantiated'

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Re: For Queen, Country and St George!

Almost there ... no deal means the EU countries get you banking sector, your manufacturing sector that uses parts from the EU ... like Airbus, Ford, Vauxhaul, Honda ...thanks, close the door as you leave.

So, no deal is indeed better than a bad deal, but certainly NOT for the UK.

Hans 1,

Now who's being delusional...

Is the Eurozone in a position to survive another recession? And how will all the City jobs move to Frankfurt when there are more people working in Finance in London than live in the whole of Frankfurt? Some London jobs will move to New York if things go particularly pear-shaped, which the EU has even less chance of controlling. And if madness does defeat common sense and our supposed NATO allies gleefully destroy our economy, how will our government justify staying in NATO?

A deal may not happen, because it's very complicated and there's a very short timescale. And there are all sorts of very childish people jeering from the sidelines about "punishment". But a messy break-up with no deal will not be good for either party. And both sides will suffer for it. The EU is not exactly in the strongest of positions at the moment, which is admittedly one reason why some would like to see the UK do horribly badly outside - but that only works at defeating dissent if the EU (i.e. the Eurozone) can survive the fallout of creating that crisis. Italy's economy is smaller than it was when it joined the Euro 20 years ago, it has debt to GDP of 140% and could only muster €20bn in a fund to sort out its banks. Most of that is going to disappear into just bailing out Monte dei Paschi and Unicredit is currently trying to raise another €13bn without help. Not to mention the clusterfuck that is Greece.

If you read the draft negotiation document from Tusk and compare it to what May is saying, you'll see that there are an awful lot of areas or agreement there. On at least one subject I noticed that May and Tusk have used identical wording - which I very much doubt is a coincidence. So there's plenty of scope for things to go wrong, but there's easily the basis of a mutually beneficial agreement - if the will exists.

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Re: walk into a negotiation ...

Well, you try to maintain goodwill before you walk into the negotiations or you can make a lot of angry noises. Just be aware that the politicians on the other side also have to win elections and that their local Boulevard papers will match all belligerent statements word for word.

This works both ways. There's far too many people on this side of the Channel having a go at May, who's broadly said as little as possible. It was the Commission that bunged the €60 billion ludicrous-grenade into the press, not May. Merkel and Hollande have both shot their mouths off about making sure they're "tough" (Hollande will be out of office before anything's even started) - and that's why May has tried to say the less said the better. Of course she's got her own unruly backbenchers (and some front-benchers) too - plus the very level-headed (and not at all hysterical) British press...

But the biggest issue so far has been that €60bn. Which may not even be a bill. After all, we're leaving in 2019 already - most of it is committments as part of the 2014-2020 budget - so we only have to sign an transitional membership period of 1 year, and all but a few billions of that exit bill disappear.

I'd say one reason May has made the point about walking away is that I don't think her government could surive paying €60 upfront in order to leave. And who would be the next government were that to happen? Which is why the loud talk from Brussels about no deal before the money is agreed is not what it says in the draft negotiation agreement published by Donald Tusk. Because I don't see May being able to agree that huge a payout with absolutely nothing to show for it in return. So if the EU play the tough-guy they'll be the ones that nuke the negotiations. Which would be bad for everybody.

Who knows what Spain want. It could just be that they will only give up on Gibraltar if we give them continuing access to our very valuable fishing grounds. After all they did a lot of vetoing EEC agreements after they'd first joined in order to get the fishing access they wanted. Or it could be they want to knacker Gibraltar's financial services - as if their own tax evaders won't suddenly find somewhere else to park the cash.

Or they may try to push for negotiations on joint sovereignty. Which would be bloody stupid. Gibraltar voted to remain, all they needed to do was wait a few years, and maybe that might started to look attractive. If they try the blackmail approach, they don't exactly make themselves look like an inviting partner. A bit like with Argentina and the Falklands. A few years of being nice and constructive, might actually win some local support. It's only 5-10 years since Spain were last blocking the border, and making people wait 2-4 hours to cross.

What would be nice is if everybody calmed down, got a sense of proportion and waited to see what happened - rather than making shit up.

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Disney plotting 15 more years of Star Wars

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Re: Oh No

Star Wars has managed 4 decent films. Are you sure Star Trek has even managed that?

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Boeing details 'Deep Space Gateway' for Mars mission staging

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Happy

Would it be cheaper to just pile up loads of money outside Boeing HQ, until you can just walk to the Moon?

Mars is a bit more difficult. But surely once you've got to the Moon, you just burn a few more dollars that you've carried up there to fuel your rocket?

Dollar-fired steam powered rockets to Mars. Why not?

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Re: More USS Gravy Train than USS Enterprise

If the goal is a permanent foothold in space - i.e., colonization - then robots have yet to equal humanity at making babies. ;)

Haven't El Reg recently been advertising a seminar on this very subject?

Humans in space can clean the dust off the solar panels, and change the broken wheels, thus making science experiments work that might otherwise not. Of course they can't hang around as long (but do work quicker) and are much heavier (needing boring stuff like oxygen and food).

Humans can also do things like fixing the Hubble telescope (that robots can't) - and the only commercially viable thing I can currently see working in space is maintenance of our huge fleet of satellites. I'd have thought we're getting to the point where that's technologically and financially feasible, just about. Assuming something lilke the Bigelow habitat can get human-rating.

In general if you're unsure exactly what task you'll be carrying out, then you're likely to need humans to improvise. But robots are always going to be cheaper and safer - and capable of longer endurance.

Another thing you need humans for (sadly) is to get on the news. Robots don't make front page news in the way people do. And as they said in 'The Right Stuff', "it's funding that makes these birds go up. No bucks, no Buck Rogers."

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Devil

Or there's no court jurisdiction in orbit - so nobody can impeach you.

Plus the low stress on your heart means you could live until you're 150 (so long as you don't come back to Earth). Oh and the zero gravity sex is going to be amazing.

Come to our space hotels for Zero-Bumpy Trumpy-Wumpy Rumpy-Pumpy!

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Lee D,

Distance isn't all that important - at least when you're talking about the inner solar system. It's just a matter of how much weight of fuel you're willing to boost out of earth's atmosphere - and how much time you're willing to coast during your journey.

Long term presence in space is either going to mean a massively more efficient way of getting to orbit - or mining in space (asteroids or lunar surface I guess). Launching modules/ships isn't so much the problem as constantly launching consumables - but if you're in space and mine water/methane (plus solar power which is free) - then you have breathable air, rocket fuel, drinking water, stuff to grow plants etc.

The big problem is radiation. This is why we haven't ventured out of the Earth's magnetic shield, except for the few Apollo trips to the moon. And they were only gone for a few days at a time. Had a solar flare happened in those brief time periods - they'd have probably got lethal doses - if not immediately fatal.

Short of some miracle invention that gets our arses to Mars in a couple of days - radiation shielding is far more important than drive technology at this point. If there really is easily accessible water at the Moon's south pole, that would also be dead useful, but sadly I'm not sure anyone's seriously looking at that resource at the moment.

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Assange™ keeps his couch as Ecuador's president wins election

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Re: Immunity

It would have been hard to transfer him to another emabassy. South American countries generally recognise the convention of diplomatic asylum. However this isn't part of the Vienna Conventions, which are the global 'rules' covering diplomats and embassies - so it's something that only applies if both governments agree. And our government don't, along with most others.

In South America it's common practise for the outgoing government during a coup to hole up in various embassies, then (often delicate) negotiations over the next few months get them out of the country and into exile. Obviously you might really want to kill the ex el Presidente when you've just taken over, as that should make your new regime more secure. But, on the other hand, some ambitious colonel might soon be pitching you out on your ear, so having a way to get out suddenly looks a lot more attractive.

Hence in South America, Assange would have sat in the Ecuadorian embassy for a few months, and a deal would probably have been quietly done to get him to Ecuador. In this country the government can't do that, as there's a court order to send him to Sweden.

On a side note, if he stays there much longer, he might get his own clause in the Brexit deal. If we don't stay in the European Arrest Warrant system, then I don't know if the outstanding warrant would still apply (as the law was valid when it was issued), or if Sweden would have to apply for extradition. So there's something for him to look forward to...

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UK.gov confirms it won't be buying V-22 Ospreys for new aircraft carriers

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Re: . . . from Rosyth, where she was assembled . . .

Those "Lego blocks" were built in other UK shipyards.

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We should build our own

They built a working biplane on Scrapheap challenge once in 4 days. So it can't be that difficult.

All you need is a shed, a handy junkyard, a mail order propellor supplier and lots of shouting.

On the other hand, I think this lacks ambition. I really don't see the point of just strapping two helicopter blades to a plane, when you could strap 100 round the outside of the carrier - and just fly the whole thing. that gets rid of the need for separate AWACS and refueling planes, and just leaves you the need for some fighters. Also, if the carrier was able to do about 120 knots, you wouldn't need catapults for takeoff.

The problem I see here is that the Navy are refusing to take this eminently sensible, and logical step, purely because of inter-service rivalry. They're worried that if their carrier no longer spends the majority of its time at sea, but airbourne, that the RAF will try and take over.

The simple solution is to make the carrier airtight, with backup rocket motors, then call it a space ship. We all know that space has navies, not airforces, so for a few pennies more they can kill two birds with one stone.

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Amid new push to make Pluto a planet again... Get over it, ice-world's assassin tells El Reg

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Happy

Re: just wait for the 9th planet

I thought the home planet of humanity was called earth or dirt or something...

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Re: Pi=3

It's too late for that now. If science hadn't labelled Pluto as a planet for 70 years, there'd be no problem. But they did, so now they're stuck with it. And people will keep being annoyed that they've changed it.

The solution is either to change it back, and admit that there isn't a particularly satisfactory "perfect" definition of a planet - or to put up with loads of people complaining until the generations who learnt it was a planet die.

It's a bit like being told that a banana is a berry. That's all very interesting, but nobody but a biologist needs to care. Similarly I believe a coconut isn't a nut.

Or, as the saying goes, knowledge is knowing that a tomato is a fruit - wisdom is not putting one in a fruit salad.

Although saying that, my Nan used to make delicious tomato jam.

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My Very Easy Mnemonic Just Says Use Nine Planets.

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Happy

Re: How many angels can dance on the head of a pin?

So as I understand it what you're proposing is a solution where all can save face. So yes, Pluto is a planet. Except we're changing the word planet to "scubble-wang-doo".

Thus the next question, does that mean Pluto remains as a planet, along with perhaps Ceres and the like - leaving us with 8 scubble-wang-doos in the solar system? Or is Pluto also now a scubble-wang-doo as wee?

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Brexit White Paper published: Broad strokes, light on detail

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Re: cost benefit analysis

Because it is not EU interest. UK should get the worse treatment to convince other countries leaving is a bad idea

Hmmmm. Well I guess you can try it. I'm sure it'll work as well as ignoring the growing waves of Euroscepticism, and the fact that almost all the referenda on the Constitution (then Lisbon Treaty) and Maastricht were lost. Except the ones that were re-run of course.

I'm sure nothing can go wrong with a democracy choosing to ignore the voters.

Hmmm Italy's 3 main opposition parties are now all in favour of a referendum on leaving the Euro, the Front National are leading the polls in the presidential election, the UK has just voted to leave. Euroscepticism is at an all time high, even in core countries like France and the Netherlands.

In punishing the UK there will be costs you understand. The EU have the ability to cause us a lot of economic pain, but can they do it without pushing Italy back into recession? Because the Euro cannot survive another recession.

As well as being immoral, it would be a catastrophically stupid policy. Rather like what was done to Greece in 2015.

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Re: Business must be delighted

strum,

I don't forget the Great Depression. France suffered more than Britain because they stayed on the gold standard until it caused a massive crisis that brought down the government - whereas we came off. In this case, the Euro is the gold standard. It's just you can't leave it without destroying your economy. And staying destroys your economy. It needs to be fixed with common debt / common umemployment insurance / cash transfers, working banking union, the ECB doing its fucking job as lender of last resort and enforcement of all the rules (including the excessive trade surplus rules, that Germany has broken for the last 7 years).

But Greece has suffered a deeper and longer depression than either Germany or the USA did. We're supposed to have learnt from history. Obviously the original reason was Greek corruption and msigovernment. But the Troika prediction for the 2012 bailout was a recession costing Greece 8% of GDP in year one and 3% in year two. And government spending cuts of 25%. So that's already vicious levels of contraction and the largest government cuts in peacetime history. Of any democracy.

Actually the economy shrank 13% and 8% the second year! So what did the Troika do, having fucked up so egregiously? They called for more cuts in the third year, and the fourth and the fifth and still are!

They're not going to get their money back. They're just torturing the Greek electorate until either their governmental system completely collapses or they voluntarily leave the Euro. At which point they'll have to default.

Oh and to mention the past again. In 1950 Greece wrote off Germany's debts. Not many years after the Germans had killed 5% of their population, bankrupted them, and in leaving their country gifted it a vicious civil war. This was done becuase it was seen as wrong to cripple Germany with decades of unpayable debt after the 1920s experience. How generous Germany have been in return...

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Re: Words fail me

strum,

I disagree. A referendum is fine on a limited constitutional question. I admit they're not perfect, but no form of democracy is. They've been used by dictators, but so has everything else. Including normal democratic elections.

In the normal political process, no major party had supported leaving the EU in 30 years. And yet regularly 30% of the population have wanted to leave in polls, since at least Maastricht. And as the referendum proved, it's now 52%. So normal democracy had also failed. The referendum was the way to square that circle. Democracy is sadly a messy business.

On your other post, QMV applies to a lot. Like voting to destroy the Greek banking system, in probably breach of the treaties, by the ECB. That was done on a majority - as Greece obviously wouldn't have voted for it.

Hhe hedge fund regs were done on QMV. The Tobin Tax was being done under "enhanced cooperation" though that was possibly going to get shot down by the European Court, as it mainly penalised us, who weren't joining. But I've little trust in the ECJ. After all, they brought a holiday entitlement into UK saw under health and safety regs, when we'd got a specific opt-out in written into the Maastricht Treaty only about 3 years before. Not that I object to the policy, but the court overruled the Treaties in order to advance the federalist political agenda - because it's basically a Toytown court that usually does.

I agree with you on Turkey and the army obviously. Turkey joining was our bloody policy in the first place, like enlargement into Eastern Europe - and was done for execllent diplomatic reasons. But France had promised a referendum on Turkish entry, which meant it would never happen. And we have a veto on the army idea. But there are plenty of important areas that are under QMV.

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Re: cost benefit analysis

Aitor 1,

One of the reasons I voted out was the Tobin Tax. Given that various of our European "partners" were already trying to impose one on us by the back door in order to basically tax the City's profits for their gain. Sometimes the EU works like that, a majority can be put together to do something that only damages one or two countries - whose voters then get fucked because nobody else has much skin in the game - and they only have the power to depose their own government who'd already voted against it.

Hence the anti hedge fund regulations that sent a bunch of money from the City to Singapore, Hong Kong and New York but cost the rest of the EU almost nothing. What did they gain from this? Nothing but a bit of now forgotten cheap publicity. It was done as a sop to the baying hordes after the banking crisis (that basically didn't involve the hedge funds), but punishing the banks publically was too difficult. And it was done because it only really hurt London.

Anyway the Tobin tax got dropped because the Commission's own research showed it would shrink the overall size of the economy by about 10 times as much as the revenue it raised. Plus if they imposed it on sales of government bonds, it might re-start the Eurozone debt crisis, and if they didn't it wouldn't raise much cash.

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Re: Words fail me

The Scottish referendum White Paper was a pathetic joke. At least May's is a basically admitted cynical ploy designed to get the bill through on the information she's already given out, and no more. For which she's given her reason.

The SNP paper said that everything would be fluffy and kittens, that the EU would let Scotland stay in without even having to leave, or fast-track them in if not, that the rest of the UK would share the currency with them - no strings attached and that oil prices would of course remain above $100 a barrel basically forever.

In other words It was wishful thinking bollocks.

To be fair, the issues are massively complex and depended just as much on goodwill in negotiations. For example a huge chunk of the Scottish economy is also financial services, much of it trading with England. Yet there was little discussion of "passporting" - where a hostile rUK government could easily have forced large chunks of the financial industry to repatriate to England. Unlike the EU that would also be a credible threat, a London does have the infrastructure to absorb it, in a way that Frankfurt and Paris simply don't.

So I agree that in a mythcial perfect world all referenda should be conducted with weighty independently generated tomes of wise impartial advice, covering all the angles. But in the real world, I doubt it's possible.

I don't think the Bank of England deliberately forecast economic doom in order to subvert democracy and force the recalcitrant plebs to vote as ordered.

I do believe they were part of a policy elite that are as subject to groupthink and faulty assumptions as anyone else. Hence they got it so badly wrong.

Equally much of the top business and policy bods thought it would be a disaster if we didn't join the Euro. When in fact William Hague was 100% right (maybe for the only time in his political career) when he said that joining the Euro was like entering a burning building with no exits.

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Re: Business must be delighted

That drop from 60% to 42% is not fully reflected, namely by value the UK's exports to the EU have remained very stable, we've just massively increased our non-EU exports!

This is because most of the Eurozone has been in Depression since 2010. Which is because they're in a pisspoorly constructed single currency system which amplifies asymetric economic shocks with no correction mechanism. This is also because German economic orthodoxy calls for suppressing internal demand and exporting as the cure, rather than shifting resources from the richer areas of the currency zone to the poorer (as all sensible single currencies do). This is why Southern Europe is operating at hidesous levels of continuing unemployment that will eventually bring down their governments (if that hasn't happened already), and why their youth unemployment is often well over 25%!

This has caused their economies to stop growing for nearly a decade, while the rest of the world grew, and so our exports to them have not grown along with the rest of the world.

This makes me quite angry. It is the worst economic policy fuckup in democratically run economies since the 1930s - and unlike the Great Depression was entirely self-inflicted!. Despite much advice to the contrary from economists.

One of the reasons our recovery from the great recession wasn't quicker, and the world recovery too, is that the Eurozone has sat and stagnated for 8 years, doing nothing substantial to fix its problems.

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Re: Never mind what we think of it

The White Paper was meant to be shallow and lacking detail. It's a bit like the Brexit Bill only being 2 clauses long. This is an exercise in doing what they must to get Article 50 agreed by Parliament, not in outlining the government's negotiating position.

Right or wrong, May has publicly said she's going to share as little detail as possible, and that's what she's doing. If there was stronger opposition she might be forced to reveal more. Or equally, she might deliberately lose in Parliament, in order to trigger a general election on the subject, in order to give her a stronger mandate.

The last polling I saw suggested that although if the referendum was held again it would give the same result (few people have changed their minds on leave/stay), Only 26% of voters actually want another referendum and nearly 70% of the electorate think we should leave the EU due to the referendum result. So unless something goes catastrophically wrong, I'd say May will have the ability to get most of what she wants through Parliament.

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Roland6,

You've forgotten the other half of the CAP. It obviously subsidises production. It also used to subsidise massive overproduction that we then dumped on world markets and destroyed African economies, but we've stopped that and moved some of the subsidy into the environment.

But the tariffs and quotas on imports also artificially raised the price of food coming into the EU. Thus it also raised the going rate for food. As obviously our producers not subject to the tariff don't have to sell at their cost of production plus profit, they can sell at just below what their imported competition can sell at.

Thus European food costs are much higher than elsewhere.

People often forget that the EU isn't just a free trade zone. It's a customs union with trade barriers put up against the rest of the world, but mitigated with lots of free trade agreements. It's a hybrid of the protetionist instincts of say France and the free trade instincts of the UK or an exporter like Germany. This tension has existed in EU trade policy for decades. it's why France and Germany support the single market in goods, helping their trade surplus with us, and but have resisted the free market in capital and services, which would assist our already large trade surplus with them in that area.

As for your point about tariffs on imports, that's a choice we can make.

As others have said though, we're going to need to carefully think how we subsidise our farmers. The big wheat businesses may not need anything more than subsidised insurance against bad harvests. I believe the cheese industry would suffer hugely if we can't get a free trade deal. I'd forgotten about sugarbeet - so that'll be more fun for the civil service. Other EU countries will also suffer though, so there's hope of common sense, and a deal, breaking out. The French farming lobby gets listened to seriously in France, or it blocks the motorways with its tractors.

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Re: TL:DR We want it all but we want to keep the same prices as now from the EU.

That's not what she said when Gordon Brown was in the same position.

Indeed. It was bollocks then, and it's bollocks now that Labour are saying it.

About half the 20th Century PMs have been appointed not elected. Many went on to win an election afterwards.

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No, we really didn't vote to leave the single market. The referendum was on the EU. There are many options:

We could easily transition into the EEA. That means none of the EU's political nonsense and continued membership of the single market and customs union. Also we get out of the CAP and possibly Common Fisheries Policy.

But the downsides are much less say in EU regulations (though we get our seat back on the international standards committees so can work on some stuff "upstream" of the EU. Also we continue with free movement and large payments into the EU budget. Plus, being in the customs union, means we can't make our own free trade deals.

Or we could go looser still, and go the EFTA Switzerland route. More limited Single Market access, negotiated on a sector-by-sector basis. But that web of agreements have taken decades to build up, and bits are controversial in Switzerland, so I don't think the EU would offer that option to us.

The other option is the Turkish one. Which is membership of the customs union in large sectors of the economy, but Turkey have also no say in regulations and have to accept the EU's trade agreements.

The Turkey deal is up for renegotiation next year, and the EU also have problems with countries like Ukraine that will not be allowed to join in the foreseable future, but it would be good to influence, and try to keep stable. The same is basically true of Turkey - they'll not be allowed to join but we want to keep some of the leverage we've had to nudge them towards democracy. So if there was anyone with vision within the EU leadership they'd be creating a sort of associate block of countries with broadly free trade and rules to facilitate easier movement which would make the whole region richer, more integrated and increase the EU countries' influence. And the UK could be slotted into that structure somehow. Looks like that won't happen though. That's not even the vision to try to fix the Euro crisis - let alone indulge in complex geo-politics.

Hence we'll get a much harder Brexit, and may even struggle to get a free trade deal. On balance I voted leave expecting the Norway/EEA option (well actually expecting to lose), but I don't think that's politically acceptable, hence I don't see that May has any choice.

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David Hockney creates new Sun masthead. Now for The Reg...

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Sorry, no can do.

I have all the artistic talent of a cluster of colourblind hedgehogs. In a bag.

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Devil

Re: OMFG!

Only the other day I saw two middle-aged white men stand up and offer their seats on the bus to a young black man carrying a small child, and an elderly black woman.

Well they shouldn't have. If the guy is fit enough to be carrying a child and an elderly woman at the same time, then he doesn't need a seat...

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