* Posts by I ain't Spartacus

5191 posts • joined 18 Jun 2009

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

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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?

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

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

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

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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?

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Drone exercise will transform future naval warfare, says Navy

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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...

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So. What's North Korea really like?

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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.

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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.

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

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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.

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Queen Lizzie awarded good behaviour medal

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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.

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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?

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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.

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

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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.

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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.

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Devil

Re: Education is generally cheaper than prosecution

It's a good, sensible, balanced post.

You're still a wanker though...

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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.

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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.

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Re: John Smith

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

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UK will build new nuclear bomb subs, says Defence Secretary

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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...

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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.

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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?

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Re: Shouldn't the new names all start with a "W"?

There aren't enough words beginning with X, Y and Z. Unless we want to have HMS Xylophone...

We've also had a few smaller classes of nuke boats, the Chuchill class of 3 and the Valiant class of 2.

They might go for some of the "I" names, often used on carriers/battleships/battlecruisers. So names like Invincible, Indefatiguable - because you don't want to be calling a ballistic missile submare HMS Surprise. Or HMS Swindon either...

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Re: Elephant in the room

They're going to spend £40 billion on these subs. The budget I believe is only £32bn, but with a contingency of another £8bn - which of course they're bound to spend.

But this is defence procurement, so the numbers are worked out in really weird ways - such that this might be a "lifetime" cost i.e. £10bn per boat but that includes servicing and one major upgrade of the computers/sonars mid-life.

Obviously it doesn't include running costs, which is 2 crews per boat and lots of food. Plus upgrades to shore facilities and the like.

There's another cost to come, which is unknown. We're upgrading the boats for 2030, and then I believe they plan to upgrade/redesign the Trident missiles sometime in the 2030s - so that work will start in the 2020s. And then there'll probably be another warhead redesign too - to put in more decoys to fool interceptor missiles.

But anyone who comes out with a number is probably spinning/lying. Especially some of the campaigners who come out with £200bn numbers. Plus big numbers are a lot smaller when spread over the 30-40 year cost of the program. So what we know is that we're paying about a billion a year over the lifetime of the boats in equipment costs (the boats) - plus whatever it costs to crew, dock and provision them. Which I'd imagine is considerably less. Then in a few years time they'll look at re-design costs for the missiles and warheads - which I guess will be more bills in the billions.

£100 billion looks high to me, as you'd expect the boats to be the biggest cost. I can't imagine that the Trident missile needs to get all that much better - so you'd expect a more incremental re-design. And more than a few billion on the warheads seems a bit steep. There are lots of costs to add in, like maritime patrol aircraft, patrol ships and hunter-killer subs that spend part of their time protecting the boats - plus satellite coms and a share of the overheads of the MOD. So you can probably build any figure you want. A bit like doing Google's tax accounts...

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Re: Vanguard, Victorious, Vigilant and Vengeance

I suspect if they've used the name Successor class, that they'll go with S names. So Swiftsure for example, which is an old Napoleonic era battleship, also was a Dreadnought and was a hunter-killer sub built in the late 60s early 70s. Superb, Spartan etc.

Unless the Navy have got some old S names kicking around that are more appropriate. So the last in class of the Polaris subs (Resolution Class) was called Revenge - and then when they went for V names with the Trident boats we had the last being Vengeance - so perhaps the 4th Successor class will be called Suck on That?

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

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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.

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When Pornhub meets the Internet of Fridges

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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...

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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.

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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.

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Where's the "Forums" link

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Found it, so I don't suppose it matters to me now. But might I suggest you make the text bigger, or colour that bar (which is white on a white background) so it's slightly less invisble.

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It's Pablo Pic-arsehole: Turner Prize wannabe hits rock bottom

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Re: Aeroplane

I got shouted at for climbing on a tank at the Imperial War Museum. I was 6 at the time. If the armour of your tank is incapable of handling the weight of a 6 year old, you're not doing a very good job...

At the Musee Militaire in Brussels the kids play seesaw on some of the cannon at the front. And they let you climb into the cockpits of some of the planes. Now I know why 1950s fighter pilots were small...

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Happy

Re: Tracey Emin...

What about art for arse's sake?

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Re: Pheeep

Okey-Dokey. All post-modern art is bollocks. Hmmm. OK. Let's be fair, most post-modern art is bollocks.

I did betake myself to Tate Modern a few years ago, with a friend. We decided that our opinion of this stuff was probably coloured by the unfavourable press it gets, so went for a long look round to see what we could see.

I got to see a large amount of tat, some of it accompanied by excellent punning titles, and very little work that actually took some skill to create. Probably even less that seemed to be saying anything original or interesting. I then heard a man after my own heart opine that, "this is all complete bollocks!" Looked round to see where he was, only to find others doing the same, and looking towards me. I then realised that it was my voice. My unconscious mind had taken control, in a desperate attempt to save my brain from turning to mush. And I was forced to beat a hasty retreat to the cafe, for an excellent cuppa and a very large (and delicious) piece of cake.

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Londoners react with horror to Tube Chat initiative

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werdsmith,

The tube tends to be more relaxed and friendly outside rush hour. In relative terms at least.

Or if you travel with a cricket hat and huge picnic, you get this sort of secret society of all the other people with enormous picnics converging on Lords or the Oval.

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My brother married a small-town American. His horror, as a Londoner, on introducing her to the tube was very funny.

As was the reaction of people she said good morning to, as she got onto the carriage. And her reaction at being grumpily ignored.

The Metro in Brussels used to be similarly grumpy. Plus the buggers never stand aside from the doors to let you out - then wonder why they can't get on the damned train! I did once hold my umbrella horizontally and just barge about ten people backwards out of my way because they were being particularly obstructive. But mostly I fantasised about sharpening the end and becoming Sven the Impaler.

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Devil

Re: I've never had problems with folks wanting to talk to me...

You were the muttering, dribbling loon covered in beef crumbs on the 7:33 from Barking.

I was the relaxed man opposite, smiling across at you and doing calisthenics while seated.

I think we'd make a great team. If you're interested In true love, and noshing on my jerky beef, contact me at Stamdard box no 666.

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Rosetta spacecraft set for smash landing

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Re: Applause

At that moment, 67P woke up and thought "Why the hell are the idiots on that little planet throwing things at me? Well, live by the sword, die by the sword..."

And changed direction.

Nooooo! Of all the ludicrous things the human race has done, surely even we don't deserve to be wiped out by a giant space duck?

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One-way Martian ticket: Pick passengers for Musk's first Mars pioneer squad

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Devil

Re: All of them?

If you avoid taking frivolities like say oxygen, water or food, you can increase the crew capacity considerably.

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Re: atmosphere

What wouuld the effect of those dust storms on say an orange toupee?

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If we're voting to send Trump and Piers Morgan, I also vote that we don't send spacesuits.

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Portsmouth bomb about to be detonated

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Mushroom

Did nobody ever tell these people about not going back to a lit firework?

I never did understand that advice. Were you just supposed to declare your garden off limits for the rest of time, or until the firework in question finally goes whoosh?

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Self-driving Google car T-boned in California crash

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Devil

Re: Crash Spike

Oh, I thought you were describing Google's next innovation.

In a crash which their car's automation determines is the other party's fault, the Google Crash Spike [tm] deploys towards the incoming car's windscreen. This impales the offending driver, thus making driving safer for everyone, by both removing them from the roads, and the genepool.

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Also, how many assassins can Google afford out of their annual profits?

Although, given they're probably in possession of his internet search history - they can probably save a few bob by just giving him the bottle of gin, the revolver and a single bullet.

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High rear end winds cause F-35A ground engine fire

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That's great! I'll order 150 of your jet fighters. What do you mean I can only have them in brown or orange?

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Smelly toilets, smokers and the Kardashians. Virgin Media staff grill top brass

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Re: Health and Safety

It is health and safety, in that hot water must be stored above 60°C in order to pasteurise it.

On the other hand it's not health and safety, because you shouldn't have water coming out of taps at more than 45°C.

I think the lack of mixer taps in the past is a legacy of people putting the plug into the sink, and filling it up to wash their hands in. Whereas there are often no plugs now, because most people wash hands under running taps.

So we now use more mixer taps, or TMVs (thermostatic mixing valves) on the hot.

However, if you want to kill germs on your hands in the few seconds they're under the hot tap, then you'd need to do it under water that was above 65-70°C. Even at 60°C, if memory serves, it takes a minute or two to kill the bugs. Don't try this at home though - unless you fancy serious burns. From memory, again, it takes about a minute to get burnt at 50°C, but only a second at 60°C.

That's why we use soap, which is what's actually doing the cleaning. The warm water is only there to make it feel nicer.

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