* Posts by I ain't Spartacus

5810 posts • joined 18 Jun 2009

Ecuador admits it cut Assange's internet to stop WikiLeaks' US election 'interference'

I ain't Spartacus
Gold badge

I did see a report from the trial that said Manning was getting help on how to get all the data off the servers over IRC and that this help was coming from Julian Assange. Of course saying that and proving it in court are two very different beasts indeed. But that was obviously the way the investigators were thinking at the time - and I presume that would be a crime under US law. Although as that crime would be espionage, I don't think Sweden would be allowed to extradite him?

If the public accusations that the Russians hacked the DNC and Clinton are correct, then presumably Wikileaks are legally in the clear over those.

1
0
I ain't Spartacus
Gold badge

Re: Whils I Generlly Support the Principles or Wikileaks and Cryptome ....

So now exposing corruption in a candidate is "diddling with elections." Sure, anything to shut his mouth, right?

If Wikileaks had just published their trove of Clinton emails, then you could argue that was them doing what they do. But to publish them in small chunks, to keep those emails in the headlines for the whole campaign? That's another thing entirely, and looks much more like an attempt to garner publicity. The next question is then to ask who's that publicity to benefit? Is it just more good PR for Wikileaks - or is he intentionally attempting to influence the election in favour of Trump?

Obviously it's hard to know that. Although the fact that they produced another release of emails just after Trump's lovely tape came out, where he admitted to grabbing women "by the pussy" and maybe asking later - does start to look suspiciously partisan. Maybe that's the motive? Perhaps St Julian would like to be a celeb who can just do what you like, "and they'll let you" too? Or perhaps those rape charges in Sweden are all trumped up by the evil global conspiracy, he's not a narcissistic dickhead and it's just my tinfoil hat slipping?

5
1
I ain't Spartacus
Gold badge
Coat

Re: Why does President Correa support Clinton?

You are clearly only an apprentice. So let me give you a hand with that.

You're saying you want to see Trump's fortune hair today, gone tomorrow.

And him tumbling from the toupee the rich list, to the bottom - leaving just a lingering smell and us wondering, who trumped?

8
0

US reactor breaks fusion record – then runs out of cash and shuts down

I ain't Spartacus
Gold badge

Re: @Etatdame

Please tell me that is not a thing.

As happens one of our best new products is a unit for providing people with a warm clean bum after a visit to the toilet while also complying with the water regulations. So no paper is required. We haven't put a dryer on it yet, but you can always do a handstand above the Dyson Air Blade...

0
0
I ain't Spartacus
Gold badge
Happy

Re: @Etatdame

Why? Do you not know how to use the three seashells?

6
0
I ain't Spartacus
Gold badge
Happy

Re: We should not forget

Theres always that eCat thing... The one that lives in a shipping container full of AA batteries that nobody is allowed to open when they "test" it.

I'm sure that uses fusion. And cold fusion too, which is the best kind.

Or perhaps it's powered by Schrodinger radiation? Which is of course why it can't be opened, as it disappears when you open the box. Which is when you find that the cat is neither alive nor dead, but in a state known as "bloody annoyed".

Personally I don't believe in trying to control exotic matter with magnetic fields. I prefer the honest reassurance of tinfoil to protect my head.

4
0
I ain't Spartacus
Gold badge

Re: @Etatdame

OK, so the list so far goes:

Brexit

self-driving cars

fusion

running out of IPv4 addresses

paperless office

paperless toilet

100% national broadband coverage

heat death of universe

middle management allowing people to work from home

Is that about right?

5
0

Basic income after automation? That’s not how capitalism works

I ain't Spartacus
Gold badge

Re: Automation hasn't happened so quickly as now and not everyone's cut out to be a rocket scientist

Unemployment is not the jobseekers allowance claimant count. That's a separate stat.

Unemployment is measure according the ILO (International Labour Organisation) method - which is the Labour Force Survey. This is a large survey which asks people if they're economically inactive by choice, or looking for work, or if they're part time and want more hours/full time. Plus other stuff. The ONS say they interview 40,000 per quarter to get it.

So whatever government does regarding who can claim benefits is irrelevant to it.

The unemployment rate is the numnber of people who are looking for work but don't have it. There's another stat for people who are "economically inactive", another for those claiming out-of-work benefits and yet another for those who are part-time who want to be full time/have more hours.

Zero hours contracts appear to be on the rise, though only the name is new - there have always been people employed like this. According to the ONS, it's about 2.5% of the workforce - and of those only 20% want more hours, 10% a different (I'm guessing full time?) job with more hours and 70% say they've got the number of hours they want.

Linky to ONS here.

2
3
I ain't Spartacus
Gold badge

Re: Errrm

The author presumes that future economies must be Capitalist ones and then continues on that basis.

Pro Corporate Propagandists always do that.

Society need not be so constrained.

Vendicar Decarian1,

I don't think any society that isn't free market capitalist has ever risen above what we now call "middle income" level.

Of course I'm generalising horribly here, as there aren't many purely capitalist systems out there. But all the world's rich countries are free market mixed economies. Many countries did their catch-up growth under less free-market systems, but liberalised more as they got richer.

China is going to be an interesting case study. There's a lot of discussion as to whether they'll get caught in the "middle income trap", Only about ten countries have managed to make the leap from middle income to rich since WWII. The worst performing bit of the Chinese economy is now the state owned bit, and that's what's looking to drag them down at the moment and causing their huge credit spike. They've done the "easy" catch-up growth, and now need to transition to a more mature economy where you need more innovation. If you want long-term investment you need the rule of law, so the local Party bosses can't just take your stuff/company.

So no, capitalism isn't the only answer. In fact it's not the answer at all, as most successful econmies have a mix of state, cooperative, private and share ownership.

But no state that's tried to run the whole economy has ever succeeded (apart from maybe the UK in WWII) - and it's unlikely to ever happen because it's too difficult. So increasing cooperative ownership might well work if you want less inequality, plus maybe a bit more nationalisation - but if you start seizing assets from the rich and giving them to the poor, the rich bugger off as fast as their little legs will carry them, nobody will invest, and everyone ends up poorer. And the more you redistribute via taxation the more you end up trying to run the economy, and relying on the government's ability to do it competently.

Free markets are best of anything we've tried so far, requiring much regulation from government and a legal system to keep everyone as honest as possible - and mixed economies with a large capitalist element also. Though who owns stuff (capitalism) is less important than free markets.

As for your comment about US wages, that isn't true. US wages didn't stagnate until a few years before the recession. What is true is profit has been taking a bigger share of the pie than wages in the US, UK and large chunks of Europe - but the pie has been growing for both until just before the recession. Also I seem to remember from looking at stats that average wages in the US have grown slower than housing and medical costs since the mid 90s - so people have felt poorer - although consumer goods also got massively better and cheaper in that period so it's not all been one-way traffic. Plus all the stuff you can get on the internet for free, that's only been around for 15 years, but doesn't really hit GDP calculations.

In the UK real wages stopped going up in about 2003 - and housing costs have been rising even more ridiculously since the 90s - which obviously makes everyone who's not got a house feel much poorer.

On the other hand, while large chunks of the West stood still for a few years, billions in Asia, South America and now Africa became massively richer, in the largest rise in living standards in human history. So globalisation has helped companies to make more profit, and hopefully we can rebalance this back to wages in the next few years, but the upside is still pretty huge for the millions of people who didn't starve to death, the hundreds of millions who didn't die of preventable diseases and the couple of billion who now live much more comfortable and longer lives.

We could have managed things better, but it's hard to predict the future and globalisation has still been a good thing.

4
2
I ain't Spartacus
Gold badge

Re: And for my next trick...

Lyal Commenter,

As I said, Child poverty used to be measured as any child growing up in a household with less than 60% of the median income. That tells us nothing about poverty, but something about inequality.

For exmaple, 60% of the median income in Luxembourg is lots and lots, whereas 200% of the median income in Syria is bugger-all. So child poverty actually went down during the recession, because incomes fell - i.e. almost everyone got poorer. I assume it will have gone up again, as wages start rising faster than (the very low) inflation, which is what benefits are linked to.

Using relative income as a measure of absolute poverty is ridiculous. Otherwise deporting Richard Branson (insert name of any other very rich person) would reduce child poverty - and allowing Bill Gates to move to London would increase it. In fact a rise in the average wage, or say pensions, would also cause a rise in child poverty.

It's a stupid measure. As I said, it doesn't measure poverty, it measures income inequality. That's something worth doing, as it's also important - but children living in poverty is a serious issue and we can only target resources on it properly if we measure it properly.

As for your mention of foodbanks, the figures from the Trussel Trust about how many people rely on these were about the number of people who'd used a foodbank once during the year. I wouldn't call that relying. I think their rules limit the number of times you can use them - i.e. they're an emergency "it's either this or a payday loan" thing, rather than a charity that provides food to families every week.

Poverty is complex.

5
0
I ain't Spartacus
Gold badge

Re: Calculations

Apparently one economist described basic income as a brilliant thought experiment but an awful policy...

1
0
I ain't Spartacus
Gold badge

Re: And for my next trick...

We don't have an incease in poverty. We've had (but the recession caused this to go down) an increase in inequality. Up until 2005 for the UK almost everyone was getting richer, but those at the top were getting richer faster.

The usual figures given for poverty are for households earning under 60% of the median income. So it's a relative thing. Poverty is much harder to measure, are you poor if you can't afford one family holiday? Or if you can't afford a mobile phone and broadband? Or are we going for washing machine and fridge?

3
4
I ain't Spartacus
Gold badge

That's if you believe AI is going to replace accountants and lawyer, doctors and the like. Not to mention musicians, personal shoppers, fish pedicure specialists, party organisers.

Actually this argument forgets skilled trades and small manufacturers. We make a unique product in the water industry, but only sell a few thousand a year. The market is probably ten times that - but only if people choose to comply with the regulations - which they won't unless forced. So only those at risk of inspection buy our kit.

In that circumstance automating the manufacturing process would cost us hundreds of thousands and cause our prices to rise massively. The only way it would be financially viable to automate production of that unit is if we first invented the robot water regulations inspector to drum up trade...

1
0
I ain't Spartacus
Gold badge
Happy

Re: It's True...

Electric monks don't cause unemployment.

Their job is not to replace priests, but to believe them, so that you don't have to waste your time doing so and/or listening to their sermons. So you could argue that the electric monk is a job-saving device, as well as a labour saving one...

3
0
I ain't Spartacus
Gold badge

Re: No it isn't

That's what the Labour market is. Obviously there are distortions, but binmen get paid less not because they don't work hard, but because there's no shortage of binmen. Whereas HR departments require people to have a university degree for some reason and no soul - which is a smaller subset of the population than those able to walk and lift a bin.

When companies can't recruit people to do the job, then they put the wages up, or train their own staff to do the new thing. Well admittedly they first complain about lazy people not wanting to work, then complain the government doesn't train enough people, and then do those things. On the way though, they look at automation. One reason why UK productivity hasn't risen in the last few years is that it's been relatively easy to employ people, as we've had a fast-expanding workforce and relatively stagnant wages - which gives less incentive to take the risk in buying capital plant to do a job. Even if the plant can do it cheaper than employing people, you've got to tie a lot of money up in it for a long time.

3
1
I ain't Spartacus
Gold badge

Re: Universal Basic Income

UBI also means different things to different people. For some it's a utopian idea of only working when it suits you in an automated economy. That looks far enough in the future to me to still be science Fiction.

To others, it's a way of saving loads of admin money, by abandoning a huge chunk of means tested benefits (pensions, tax credits, unemployment etc). You also lose your tax free allownces on income of course. The basic income is lower, I think the theory is it's to cover basics but not housing - but then you can do without some complex and expensive government benefits admin. Plus you don't get the huge marginal increases in taxation that are caused by the banding on benefits, where it's possible to work a couple of hours longer a week and actually lose money because of the benefits you lose.

5
0
I ain't Spartacus
Gold badge

Re: One problem with these models

There are always more things we can buy. Obviously there's a limit, once we've mined all the available metal, but that's going to take a while. Then there are services. Personal shopping, troupes of 30 actors in a disused shopping centre who'll play zombies for a day for your stag do / corporate jolly to shoot paintballs at, fish pedicures, whatever.

If we've got more leisure time and cash, then we're likely to spend more cash on our leisure time - which then employs someone and so it goes round.

Automation has tended to change the jobs we do. And we're not going to have general purpose AI and general purpose robots for ages.

3
1
I ain't Spartacus
Gold badge

Re: Make robots pay tax

Re: Make robots pay tax

It's called VAT and it's not going to drop below 20% anytime soon.

VAT isn't a tax on the robots, or the company.

VAT is a consumption tax. It's paid by the final consumer of a good, or very small businesses.

Once your turnover is more than the threshhold (£60k?) then your only VAT obligation is to be an unpaid tax-collector for government. You invoice with VAT on, but then hand over the loot to the government at the end of the quarter - minus the VAT you've paid on stuff you've bought.

The tax on robots is corporation tax, which is a tax on the profits of business. So if they can cut salaries and so increase profit, then they're going to be paying more of that. Plus of course more tax from the shareholders on their dividends.

3
1
I ain't Spartacus
Gold badge

Re: Errrm

There's quite a bit wrong with the article - but then that's because there's limited space, so it can'd talk about its assumptions, or go into detail.

So in our shoe factory example your factory owner has many choices. Firstly though, the piece ignores that they have to pay for their extra technology. This will be a large chunk of cash that they're going to have to pay off for many years. This means that the factory owners are taking risk which is a reason why they might be due some of the rewards for the money they're investing in that upgrade.

They then have a choice of making more profit at current output by sacking people, or redeploying them to other roles - or they can increase output and try to win some market share. In which case they'll probably have to cut costs.

But then they're not stealing all that market share off the competition, as they're going to bring new customers into the market at the new, lower, price point.

They might also decide to pay higher wages, especially if they have to train people to use the shiny new machine - and they then want to keep their staff.

Too many people think of economics as a zero-sum game, and it really isn't. In some situations everyone can be winners. And in others, everyone can be losers...

There is no similar public grudge against people who live off our work by other means: by living off dividends and off government transfers like tax exemptions. While welfare recipients form the bottom of our social hierarchy, the idle rich are even admired.

That's total bollocks for a start. There's plenty of public grudge against rich people.

But living off dividends doesn't necessarily mean you are doing nothing you're (actively or passively) choosing which risks to take with your money. Whether you earned it yourself or inherited it is another matter. Similarly tax exemptions are often made for a reason, i.e we want people with money to invest it in certain ways deemed to be socially beneficial which they otherwise might not. One downside is that the more of this we do, the more complex we make the tax system, and the more chance for people to abuse it.

But unless the author is calling for the end of private property, then there are always going to be people with more than others, and some of them are going to be investing their surplus - and are going to want interest/dividends.

In which case we're going to be trusting government to decide how much we're allowed to have and what we can do with it, and what new technologies we're allowed to invest in. Free market capitalism has many faults, but I'm not sure we've found any better alternatives yet. It's also pulled more people out of poverty due to globalisation in the last 30 years than has ever happened in all of human history - so I'd need some convincing of the alternatives.

What we need government to do is to regulate things (you can't have a functioning free market without a reasonably honest and effective government), stop people from taking the piss, and help those who get hurt by sudden changes. Government is also great for collectively doing the things we need to maintain a civilised society, like education/health/justice/social insurance. Not that it's perfect at any of them either. I think fetishising the caring power of government is as stupid as fetishising the uncontrolled free market.

24
2

Sextortion on the internet: Our man refuses to lie down and take it

I ain't Spartacus
Gold badge
Devil

Re: Potential paramour?

I prefer to meet my lover in the chatroom at 11pm.

I'll be the one furiously masturbating while licking whipped cream off a bronze bust of Margaret Thatcher, by the light of a burning Samsung.

2
0
I ain't Spartacus
Gold badge

Oh no! One of Vyvyan's socks has escaped!

Oh look! Some of Felicity Kendall's underwear, and it's really dirty!

17
1
I ain't Spartacus
Gold badge
Happy

Re: Using an Iphone?

And the iPhone is definitely under 16 years old too!

I only ever show my john thomas to my ancient Motorola MicroTac - which is over the age of consent, but sadly doesn't have a camera...

Ah... Nostalgia. Rememebr the days of green screen ascii porn?

4
1

Drone exercise will transform future naval warfare, says Navy

I ain't Spartacus
Gold badge

Re: Navy obsoletes itself, not many medal wearers dead. Film at 11

Drone planes make sense. They're on station for short periods of time, and extra weight is a big disadvantage. So the stuff needed to keep the meaty pilot happy slows them down.

Ships and subs need to be big. The systems they carry are bulky, the power requirements large, and they need endurance on station. Which means much fuel, or a nuclear reactor. That also means they need repairs, something else human pilots don't do inflight. So the extra bulk of crew is much less of an issue, even if robots could do the job, which they can't.

A torpedo is already pretty large, and basically a drone. But only has a range of a few miles. We're decades, and autonomous mini nuclear reactors, away from drones replacing submarines.

Aerial drones might be cheap and capable enough to make surface ships obsolete years before drone surface ships are worth it. Except you can defend against that drone swarm with your own, carrier based, drone swarm...

1
0

So. What's North Korea really like?

I ain't Spartacus
Gold badge

Re: Communism and Korea

North Korea is 1984. It's at least as repressive as Stalin's Russia. With gulags, random executions, mass starvation, terror, paranoia, the whole works.

Of course in one way it's not. 1984 assumed a competence from the secret police that no state has ever achieved. There were plenty of people in Stalin's Russia who managed to walk out of the Siberian gulags, get back home and live "happily ever after" without papers - and still not get spotted by the police. I saw an interview with one guy who went back to live in his own apartment on Moscow un-noticed. Or take the Gestapo, who missed the von Stauffenberg plot to kill Hitler even though several hundred people knew about it, as he'd been going round most of the major military headquarters for months trying to get support. Most of the Abwehr and the planning staff of army group centre (in Russia) were actively plotting to kill Hitler from at least 1942.

7
0
I ain't Spartacus
Gold badge

Re: "only around a hundred outsiders get to see it each year"? Really?

They've officially been trying to massively increase tourist numbers for years. The target was hundreds of thousands when my mate went in 2001. Of his tour group, over half failed to get visas. Which is one reason, of many, why they'll fail to achieve it.

But the reason they'll keep doing it is that it's a good source of foreign currency, which the regime can spend on luxury goodies. I doubt it causes much local discontent, as it's so tightly controlled.

8
0

Pound falling, Marmite off the shelves – what the UK needs right now is ... an AI ethics board

I ain't Spartacus
Gold badge
Happy

Re: Don't ...

Well, we know that the French don't have emotions. They just have the parody of emotions...

And the Germans have no word for fluffy.

3
0

Queen Lizzie awarded good behaviour medal

I ain't Spartacus
Gold badge

I bet she hasn't got receipts for all those crowns! Philip does the safes, while she smuggles the stones. What we need to find out is who their fence is.

2
0
I ain't Spartacus
Gold badge

Re: Wellington quote

When the daily ration was a third of a pint of rum a day, wouldn't you want to join the army?

1
0
I ain't Spartacus
Gold badge

Re: Ah yes. More confirmed kills than anyone else

To be fair Philip probably had enough frontline action for both of them.

But you don't know that the Queen isn't secretly in the SAS - and that's why they had to put that bit in the Olympic opening ceremony, as part of the cover story. Hiding it in plain sight.

11
0

Social media flame wars to be illegal, says top Crown prosecutor

I ain't Spartacus
Gold badge

Re: Go kill yourself?

They're not from Microsoft anymore. They're now, "from your internet service provider". And just telling them to kill themselves isn't enough. I need the right to kill them personally. I want some kind of method where you hit them, but there's a two second delay before the pain kicks in - just to punish them for the awful cheap VOIP they always inflict on me.

And also chuggers. Although I'm willing to commute their death sentence to life imprisoned in Ikea guiding visitors to all the shortcuts, so they can get round in reasonable time.

0
0
I ain't Spartacus
Gold badge
Happy

Re: Flame wars illegal?

No, they're both shit. Microsoft Word is best! And anyone who doesn't prefer the ribbon interface probably has sex with antelopes.

2
1
I ain't Spartacus
Gold badge
Devil

Re: Education is generally cheaper than prosecution

It's a good, sensible, balanced post.

You're still a wanker though...

2
0
I ain't Spartacus
Gold badge

Re: Good news everyone

No jury in the land is going to convict you for calling Piers Morgan a shiny-faced arse.

Or is it a shiny-arsed face?

After all, you've got the defence of truth, as well as provocation.

0
0
I ain't Spartacus
Gold badge

If I say go kill your self that should not land me in hot water.

Depends how you say it, and who you say it to.

I know someone who sent that message, "everyone hates you go kill yourself" to someone we both worked with who's bipolar. A nice little anoymous email.

That got him sacked. Would it have been reasonable to prosecute him? What if the guy in question had then tried to kill himself? I don't think I'd have been any more sympathetic had he got prosecuted than I was to him getting the boot.

On the other hand what if he'd said it just to be nasty and not known the guy was bipolar and had attempted suicide before? Would that still merit prosecution?

It's a difficult area to legislate for - and there's no way we'll ever get it right. At least we have juries to try and stop the legal process from disappearing up its own fundament.

I suspect that society is going to spend the next fifty years flailing around before we come up with the a decent balance of laws and etiquette for interacting online where you can feel anonymous and safe from the consequences of being a total arsehole.

I'm struggling to think of many circumstances when "go kill yourself" is a socially acceptable thing to say though. Particularly to people you don't know.

1
0
I ain't Spartacus
Gold badge

Re: John Smith

But... But... But... My name really isn't Spartacus!

3
0

UK will build new nuclear bomb subs, says Defence Secretary

I ain't Spartacus
Gold badge

Re: Vanguard, Victorious, Vigilant and Vengeance

When the Navy were testing the German Walther cycle subs in the 50s - using high test peroxide as an oxidser for diesel (yippee!) - they were called HMS Explorer and Excalibur.

Or Exploder and Excruicator.

Apparently they generated so much smoke when you could finally get the buggers to start (or fizz), that they once didn't notice a fire becuase the crew had got used to it.

4
0
I ain't Spartacus
Gold badge

Archtech,

In stark contrast, the Americans are now lining up their ABM installations pretty much right along the Russian border, so they can shoot down Russian ICBMs as soon as they get off the ground. Then they have another opportunity against surviving ICBMs as they approach their targets.

Nope.

Firstly you need to remember that the US system is being deployed to defend US allies. That's not something that the Russians are quite so bothered about - for one thing they don't have as many allies. So it makes things a bit more complex - and deployment just at home doesn't work.

Secondly the US aren't deploying in sufficient numbers to do anything serious about the Russian strategic missiles, and aren't talking about doing so in future. They're talking about 1 or 2 installations in Europe, 1 in Alaska and one in South Korea, with a couple Aegis ships kicking around to cover North Korea. That's not enough for Russia, but China (like the UK and France) only operates a minimum deterrent - so is talking about upping its nuclear forces.

Thirdly the US sites are in the wrong place. They're in Romania, the Southern tip of Korea and the Sea of Japan - whereas the Russian missiles are in Siberia and on submarines. Plus Russia are threatening to station them on cruise missiles in Kaliningrad. None of those interception locations works for missiles being fired over the Pole (apart from Alaska a bit).

So no, the Russians are just pointlessly whingeing. China has a bit more of a point, but then if they didn't want the US to station missile defence in Korea, they could do more to control North Korea.

4
0
I ain't Spartacus
Gold badge

Has it been tested against anything at near orbital velocity? Bearing in the mind the US THAADS system has only had partial success in tests. Of course that was designed to deal with threats from Iran and North Korea, who weren't expected to have the most complex missiles. But I'm sure they'd have made it better if it was that easy.

The UK already fit fewer warheads to our Trident missiles than the spec allows. Which obviously gives more room for decoys - and also more space/weight to stick small rockets on the warheads so they can change direction and make interception even harder.

Intercepting the missiles on the way up still looks a lot more doable than getting them on the way down.

3
0
I ain't Spartacus
Gold badge

Re: Vanguard, Victorious, Vigilant and Vengeance

Peter2,

We've already had Revenge and Vengeance, out of the 8 SSBN's we've built. But the Navy are traditionalists, and so prefer to re-use names, rather than make up new ones.

I think we had a WWII destroyer called Spiteful, which might suit if we're going for an S class. Otherwise there were a bunch of ships named from Greek/Roman myths, so we could go for Nemesis.

3
0
I ain't Spartacus
Gold badge

Re: Yes, truly a pity

I think Russia might have thought a lot harder about attacking a nuclear armed neighbour - whereas their actual decision to invade seems to have been rather quick and casual. I seem to remember that Putin said in an interview that he decided on the invasion of Crimea only the day before, and events were moving to fast for it to have been planned - although I'm sure they had contingency plans. Obviously the use of troops in Eastern Ukraine was over a longer period, and so must have been a more considered decision.

Whether Ukraine would have thought it worthwhile going nuclear is another matter.

NATO's Cold War plans were a lot more graduated. Since we didn't have the forces to deal with the 35 divisions that the Soviets kept in East Germany, plus their reinforcements, the plan was to use tactical nukes on battlefield targets. This would have been river bridgeheads and large targets of opportunity. But not fixed targets near population centres, as that was regarded as more of a strategic attack, likely to receive a larger response. This would of course make the tightrope even narrower, assuming the nukes even helped NATO to hold the Warsaw Pact at bay. In which case NATO's doctrine called for the strategic nuclear forces to act as a deterrent "shield" for the cities - while everyone merrily nuked away to their hearts' content on the battlefield.

As I understand it, we now know that Soviet doctrine didn't really buy this difference between tactical and strategic use of nukes - which could have had WWIII turning into armageddon pretty quickly. But then the nuclear uncertainty may well be the reason that the Soviets never tried their luck, despite having an overwhelming conventional advantage. It's impossible to prove the counter-factual.

5
1
I ain't Spartacus
Gold badge

Re: Outsource!

There is an exisiting Rolls Royce reactor design for submarines - which has been in constant development since the 1950s. The Polaris boats used the same one that had been used in HMS Valiant. I've no idea whether the modern ones are an evolution or totally different, although the new ones no longer require refueling. However we've just build a bunch of Astute class subs, so I assume they'll bung the same reactor in as used in those.

The problem is this is only a small reactor - and so we would need a totally brand new design for large-scale power generation. I believe as the French are building a new design in Finland, with a second of the class in France, it was decided to take some risk out of the equation by going for that, instead of a brand new design. Which obviously Rolls Royce wouldn't do unless the government subsidised them to do the design, as they've not got any commercial reason to do it otherwise. That may have been the best option, or not. Or they may not have been interested.

2
0
I ain't Spartacus
Gold badge

How do you know it's not a flying submarine?

I seem to recall the US call them boomers, but the RN call them bombers.

5
0
I ain't Spartacus
Gold badge

Re: Why does something we've done before have to be so challenging?

Nope. The workforce spent the intervening period building the last of the T class boats, and then the Astute class ones. Obviously they're smaller, but it's the same tech, and they share the same reactors, and so I'd guess machinery and controls/sonars/computers/aircon etc.

2
0
I ain't Spartacus
Gold badge

Terrorists aren't the biggest threat, just the most likely.

I believe if you do the actuarial calculation you're more likely to be killed by a meteorite strike than in a plane crash. Both are very unlikely, the meteorite much more so of course, but a big one might kill all 7 billion of us, whereas plane crashes only kill a few hundred.

I admit that sometimes it might feel like there are 7 billion other people in cattle class with you, but we haven't built any planes big enough to do that yet. Let alone the security scanners, luggage carousels and giftshops to cope, if we did...

So terrorism and the nuclear deterrent are not relevant to each other. The nuclear deterrent is there because we're worried about Russia. And France. Don't forget France...

11
0
I ain't Spartacus
Gold badge

Re: How to keep us safe...

I'm sure Ukraine are dead glad they gave up their nukes. That's turned out fine for them hasn't it?

As for cruise missiles, we could do it. There is/was a US nuclear version of the Tomahawk - but that's been withdrawn as part of the 90s nuclear treaties. I don't know whether they've kept any in storage, and just don't deploy them. Our hunter-killer subs carry Tomahawk - and of course we could build a bigger attack sub to fill full of cruise missiles, as they're useful in operations like Libya - and then equip that with some nuclear ones. From memory it's got a range of over 1,000 miles.

Or we could build one specially, we've got decent missile tech nowadays. Or an air-launched cruise missile. Or both.

I just happen to be reading Peter Hennessey's history of the Royal Navy submarine service at the moment. So I know that when they ordered Polaris, the other options were an air-launched cruise missile and a submarine launched one. They worked out it needed 4 subs to carry Polaris, with one always at sea - or 7 subs with cruise missiles - which could be used for other stuff as well. And even that was a worry, as if you're using them, then they're much more detectable - so ideally you'd need more. Which is why they decided on Polaris.

For every 4 subs/ships you own, you expect one to be in long term refit and at least one other to have broken down or be undergoing more minor maintenance. Which leaves one for training/spare and one you're actually using.

That was also before anti-air missiles were capable of shooting down other missiles. So you'd need a lot more cruise nukes. Long range ones are slow, they're just small aeroplanes after all, but you need range as you're firing from the sea. That makes them much more detectable.

Air launched is easier, but then you need to get your aircraft within range of wherever you need to shoot at. And that means forward bases, then fighters to protect those and jammers and tankers. And you're still going to get many of those cruise missiles shot down.

Obviously you could use carrier based planes, but then we'd need several more carriers. And escorst to protect them.

So basically anything other than ballistic missiles means we'd need to seriously expand either the navy or RAF. And that would cost much more than 4 subs.

Then you get to the cheaper option of having your ballistic missiles on land, as opposed to at sea. Land based ones are much more vulnerable to a surprise attack - whereas an at sea deterrent has historically been much harder to deal with. And can return fire after the UK has effectively been destroyed.

13
0
I ain't Spartacus
Gold badge

Re: How to keep us safe...

Didn't the Israelis develop their own nukes, with the help of science, good spying and a French nuclear reactor?

11
1

Google's hardware extravaganza: Ad giant takes on Sonos, Roku, Linksys, Amazon, Oculus... you name it

I ain't Spartacus
Gold badge

The "advantage" of this kind of Google kit is that it's always going to update. Given that little Google do is every out of beta - or to put a positive spin on it, they're still improving everything.

Most of the hard work will be being done on a Google server somewhere, so all they have to do is update that program. Which means voice recognition and multi-account support is potentially only a software update away.

Whether you want to buy into that whole world is another thing. You're giving Google a huge amount of access to all sorts of information about you - and you're also buying into whatever changes and upgrades they choose to give you.

For example I've still got privacy concerns about allowing Apple/Google/MS off-device access to my calendar and addressbook in order for them to do their fancy Siri/Voice/Cortana stuff. And I'm not sure voice recognition has improved much in the last twenty years - since I used Dragon talk to type. It doesn't seem much more accuracy, the difference is that you don't need to train the software for a few hours anymore.

So it could all be good, or go wrong. Finally though, their reputation for customer service is awful. And deserved. They have a habit of dumping projects at very short notice, without ongoing support. Including hardware from Nest. And they've never built retail level customer service, if you remember they launched their first Nexus phone on direct sales without it. And had to hastily pay HTC to bail them out of the mess they made. If they're serious about this venture, then that could all be changed easily enough - but it's a matter of trust. I'd rate Amazon of Apple much better than Google on support/customer service. It requires a change of corporate culture from Google, and I'm not sure I've seen the signs of that yet.

1
0

When Pornhub meets the Internet of Fridges

I ain't Spartacus
Gold badge

Re: Ah... right... slight misunderstanding there. So you wanted ...

I need to know the contents of all my drawers, so I know if I have mayo on my meat and two veg...

2
0
I ain't Spartacus
Gold badge

Re: and a side order of...

Our algorithm has ordered you carrot and oyster pie. Carrots so you can see in the dark, and oysters so there's something to look at.

8
0
I ain't Spartacus
Gold badge
Happy

Re: Cold Beer at Orgies

Personally I prefer the hard stuff.

Pass me the ice, and pour me a stiff one.

No, don't stop pouring. Mine's a large one.

7
0

Forums

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2017