* Posts by Smooth Newt

779 posts • joined 6 Jul 2009

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Can North Korean nukes hit US mainland? Maybe. But EMP blast threat is 'highly credible'

Smooth Newt
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Meh

Telecommunications cables

The telecommunications cables that make up the communications backbone of the US, and the world, would also be extremely vulnerable.

Twenty years ago perhaps, but most trunk cables are optical now.

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Smooth Newt
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Re: Never understood the obsession with ICBMs

Better yet, don't use nukes, just send 2,000,000 norks in groups of 50 in little boats and only arm one in 5 boats.

The world gets to see the us navy killing 500,000 unarmed starving people.

I don't think that would happen because the North Korean government rules by terror and is doubtless loathed by most of its population. Instead virtually all of those people would immediately ask the nearest US naval vessel for political asylum.

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British snoops at GCHQ knew FBI was going to arrest Marcus Hutchins

Smooth Newt
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Special Relationship

So this is what the 'special relationship' amounts to, is it?

Many British people imagine there is Special Relationship between the UK and the US. It didn't originally mean that at all, it was a phrase from a speech by Winston Churchill accepting an honorary degree from an American college, where he talked about "a special relationship between the British Commonwealth and Empire and the United States", i.e. not just the UK, but the self-governing dominions of Canada, Australia, etc along with what was the Empire - India, Nigeria etc. But when the British talk about the Special Relationship they just mean with the UK. However, the US don't view that bit of misremembered history in quite the same way - to them the UK is just another client state.

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Sorry, but those huge walls of terms and conditions you never read are legally binding

Smooth Newt
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Re: The trouble is..

Why would you need to be a multi-millionaire?

A defendant in a criminal case is entitled to legal aid (or a public defender if you prefer to call it that) if he can't afford to pay for representation.

Only a small proportion of the adult population are entitled to meaningful legal aid. In the UK, you are entitled to legal aid covering your full costs in criminal cases if your income is no more than £12,475 and you have assets (including your car, any equity in your home etc) of no more than £3,000. It tapers down quickly and e.g. you won't get anything at all if you have more than £8,000 in assets.

If it is a complex case, which it would almost certainly be for the Appeal Court, you will need experienced counsel at around £200 per hour for a solicitor and double that for a barrister, and you will probably have several of each. So you can easily be looking at a bill of £50k if you lose, plus the Crown Prosecution Service's costs, probably a similar amount. So, unless you are either very poor or wealthy enough to be able to bet £100k on the outcome, then the Appeal Court is probably out of reach to you.

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Re: The trouble is..

Did they not have appeal courts back then?

I am sure they did, but they probably also had clients who weren't multi-millionaires too.

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Q: How many drones are we bombing ISIS with? A: That's secret, mmkay

Smooth Newt
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Joke

Re: I counted them all...

"I'm not allowed to say how many planes joined the raid, but I counted them all out and I counted them all back."

If Brian Hanrahan was alive today, perhaps he would be reporting "I'm not allowed to say how drones joined the raid, but I counted it out and I counted it back."

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Smooth Newt
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Re: Interesting stuff

What I don't get it why does it matter?

Because it is an embarrassingly small number, like 0 or 1.

"Prejudicing the promotion or protection by the United Kingdom of its interests abroad" means that various troublemakers will start questioning what sort of capability £50 billion a year on defence should actually be buying.

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Defra recruiting 1,400 policy wonks to pick up the pieces after Brexit

Smooth Newt
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Re: Brexit

You get it [British citizenship] back once just by asking, if you try the same game again it gets harder, of course. The Home Office only wants a say if you're not a full British citizen at the time you renounced it, i.e. if your citizenship was obtained by some other way than birth in the UK to British citizens. Read the official form, it is quite clear.

It is indeed quite clear. The Government website says "In some cases it’s possible to resume your British nationality after renouncing it."1 which doesn't sound like "just by asking" to me.

It costs £321 to renounce British Citizenship and then £1163 to apply to get it back and the application form is 10 pages long.2 It asks detailed questions like "do you have any criminal convictions in the UK or any other country or any civil judgements made against you (including traffic offences)?" - so that's the 9.2 million people in the UK who have criminal records who may be screwed, and civil judgements include someone successfully suing you, evicting you or even just divorcing you. And then there are several "what the fuck does that mean" questions like "Have you engaged in any other activities which may indicate that you may not be considered a person of good character?"

As for your characterization of British citizens not born in the UK to British parents as not "full British citizens", I guess that means that people like the Duke of Edinburgh and indeed our illustrious Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs aren't "full British citizens". Has anyone told them?

1https://www.gov.uk/renounce-british-nationality/resume-your-british-nationality

2https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/417594/rs1_form_mar_2015.pdf

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Smooth Newt
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Re: Just wondering

Not that I want such a job but I wonder how many commentards would be qualified.

Beyond warm and breathing, that is.

Well, some of us know a little bit about agriculture, at least what chickens coming home to roost looks like.

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Re: Brexit

= jobs for the boys!

If they can find them e.g. try and hire 1,400 Java programmers overnight, and those are relatively common folk. And some other HMG departments, such as the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy are probably in a similar pickle and also trying to recruit.

Maybe Theresa May has a magic policy wonk tree that we don't know about, especially as I imagine non-UK EU nationals aren't invited to the party in case their insecurity and status as a Brexit bargaining chip doesn't give them a sufficiently positive attitude towards slow motion train crashes.

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Creepy backdoor found in NetSarang server management software

Smooth Newt
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Re: QA != shit

Perfection is a fool's dream.

They were up against an intelligent attacker not a random zluttz.

I'm not sure their customers want perfection, but something they can rely upon to do what it says on the tin would be nice. And since this particular tin says "Secure UNIX/Linux connectivity solution", I think their customers have the right to be angry.

Since this is hardly the first time that backdoors have been incorporated into products and firmware in the supply chain, it is high time that hardware and software manufacturers took this sort of issue more seriously in their QA processes. And I think those that don't will soon be seeing the consequences on their bottom line.

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Police camera inaction? Civil liberties group questions forces' £23m body-cam spend

Smooth Newt
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WTF?

the Civil Liberties of a thug

There is a certain kind of person that studies Civil Liberties, the same kid of people that want to give paedophiles protection and radicalists rights to stay in the UK

And yet you would be grateful for the rights they have fought for if you were accused of a crime.

Or perhaps you think that, for example, you should be thrown into prison for the rest of your life without any sort of hearing, and until that happens that any random thug should be allowed to come and beat the shit out of you if they feel like it.

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UK publishes Laws of Robotics for self-driving cars

Smooth Newt
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Re: But but but...

The supposedly tight, technical specs around emissions testing and compliance didn't prevent car companies trying to find ways around it and any eventual prosecutions in Europe will not simply be about not meeting the specs (which is sort of proven), but about proving an intent to defraud.

But they only found way around it by, allegedly, breaking the law. If the regulations had vaguely said that "nitrogen dioxide emissions should be managed appropriately" then the law would be so vague that any prosecutions would be impossible.

The principles need to reference subsidiary standards so that we know what, e.g., "sufficiently secure" means. As it stands, "Sufficiently secure" means absolutely nothing, since "sufficiently" is just a matter of opinion, and what happens if a manufacturer thinks, e.g. DES encryption, is "sufficiently secure"? Standards mean you have to justify what you are going to do in advance if you want to influence the standard, rather than "screw it, let's do it" and only worry about the consequences when someone gets hurt.

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Smooth Newt
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Re: But but but...

The communication must be secure? But the government wants to ban encrypted communications!

Fortunately (for the Government), the whole document is so packed full of weasel words that it is pretty much meaningless. The document looks designed to give you a warm feeling, but not actually do you any good, a bit like when you piss down your leg. What do you think "sufficiently secure", "managed appropriately", "where possible" etc actually mean below. This is the entire text of the Principle 7!

"Principle 7 - the storage and transmission of data is secure and can be controlled

Principle 7.1

Data must be sufficiently secure (confidentiality and integrity) when stored and transmitted so that only the intended recipient or system functions are able to receive and / or access it. Incoming communications are treated as unsecure until validated.

Principle 7.2

Personally identifiable data must be managed appropriately.

This includes:

what is stored (both on and off the ITS / CAV system)

what is transmitted

how it is used

the control the data owner has over these processes

Where possible, data that is sent to other systems is sanitised.

Principle 7.3

Users are able to delete sensitive data held on systems and connected systems."

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Autonomous driving in a city? We're '95% of the way there'

Smooth Newt
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Re: Strong push?

Really makes me wonder why government and megacorps are willing to throw so much money, time and effort at something unwanted by the masses, unless there is an ulterior motive they have not told us about, but will benefit them immensely at our expense.

Fashion is a strong driver. Corporations and governments invest in these things because other ones are doing so, so they feel they will be left behind if they don't. Anyone want to buy a supersonic airliner or an advanced gas cooled reactor? On the other hand personal computers and mobile phones were technology pushes that worked out.

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Facebook's freebie for poor people under fire again

Smooth Newt
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Facilitating exploitation

The interesting thing is that to make money out of very poor people you have to enable them to make money.

That's not true. There is plenty of money to be made by providing facilities and information to the people that control, exploit and impoverish them.

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Cyber arm of UK spy agency left without PGP for four months

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Re: Source

"Why don't they just buy critical kit from strategic allies like the US?"

Because allies are not friends. Do not put all your eggs in one basket.

I don't think the "eggs in one basket" analogy works here. The proper analogy is about how many people have "keys to the kingdom". Minimising the number of people who can potentially damage your infrastructure is surely the good thing to do, not maximising it.

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Smooth Newt
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Re: Source

Is it uniquely Huawei whose kit they are using without source? Or might they also use other Usual Suspects like Apple, MS, Samsung, etc on the same basis?

Which makes one seriously wonder why they bother with this HCSEC nonsense? Why don't they just buy critical networking kit from strategic allies like the US?

After all, virtually every personal computer in the country runs closed source operating systems produced by American corporations and even our nuclear warheads are mounted on American missiles. Buying American network kit for critical national infrastructure wouldn't make us any more vulnerable than we are now. Is Huawei kit really so much cheaper/better than Western stuff?

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Brits must now register virtually all new drones and undergo safety tests

Smooth Newt
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Re: Chicken gun

Ahaha you fell for the chicken gun story. One of the oldest urban legends on the internet.

I hadn't heard that version before. The one I am familiar with is that the chicken punched right through the engine/train/airframe etc and out the back of the vehicle because they had bought a frozen chicken and forgotten to defrost it.

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Smooth Newt
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Dog licence

HM Gov will make a bollocks of this like they do with anything else.

It will just mean that criminals will steal drones for prison drops that are registered to someone else.

Or buy them second hand. Or give false details when they buy them. Or buy them from someone who will not bother with the registration malarkey for an extra twenty quid. Or perhaps just pull the sticker bearing the serial number off.

There might be a wider incentive to do this, as it will be implemented with the usual profitable PPI inefficiency and price gouging by the contractor, and the Government will doubtless view this as a perfect revenue raising opportunity too.

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Another Brexit cliff edge: UK.gov warned over data flows to EU

Smooth Newt
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Re: @ Dan 55

Yup. Definitely seeing the error of your ways. I am not even sure where to start if your world view is that far wrong.

Perhaps the Chinese will just buy various additional goods and services from us instead of whoever they are currently buying these things from, because We're British Dammit. Or perhaps because they like paying more for them, what with China having so much lower labour costs. Plus, unless you are already selling into China, your business's sales force etc won't speak Chinese, won't understand the Chinese market, and your company's products won't be designed for it or conform to their regulations.

The economic consequences of Brexit might be relatively painless if it was spread over a generation or so, but not if we have just 618 days, 6 hours and 46 minutes.

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Smooth Newt
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Re: @ Dan 55

Nobody will want to trade with us. Oh no. Erm wait. We might even end up with a trade deal with China before the EU get one!

I cannot see hundreds of British companies just rocking up to China on 30 March 2019 and opening hundreds of widget shops or whatever which instantly displaces most of the existing competition selling widgets, and who may have spent decades building up their market share.

How long do you think it takes to build up significant market share from zero in the face of existing competition and a mature market for your product, because in most cases that is what they will face?

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Smooth Newt
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Re: @ Dan 55

You can't compare percentages like that, the EU is a tad bigger than the UK.

UK exports to EU, 44% of £550bn = £240bn

EU exports to UK, 16% of £1800bn = £290bn

so to answer your question, the EU loses more.

But the effect is far less significant to the EU than the UK because the EU is substantially larger. e.g. the UK loses about £4000 per head of its 60m population in export earnings, whilst the EU only loses about £640 per head of its 450m population (540m less the 60m British). So I'll take a £640 pay cut if you take a £4000 one...

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Smooth Newt
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Re: @ Dan 55

If the EU decide to be petty and make outrageous demands then our side just need to laugh and walk out.

The EU represents 44% of the UK's current export market, and at the UK represents 16% of the EU's "export" market. So who do you think loses the most if the UK delegation walks out?

And whilst we are on the subject, what are you going to live on for the decade or two that it will take the UK to replace nearly half of its export market with markets outside Europe. Markets for which many UK products and services are not designed, and which in any case are already saturated with foreign competitors who already have market share that the UK would need to displace.

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Hackers able to turbo-charge DJI drones way beyond what's legal

Smooth Newt
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WTF?

Ferraris don't have speed limiters

I don't really understand why this is the drone manufacturer's problem. e.g. Car dealers sell cars which are easily capable of exceeding the maximum permitted speed on UK roads, and normally even register it for use on these same roads as a standard part of their standard service.

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Blighty watchdog Ofcom has a butcher's hook, clocks spectrum for 5G

Smooth Newt
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Re: Brexit Imperial Wavelength of 16.89inches

But doesn't the United States use inches? You must mean 0.085 perches, surely.

Although I expect we'll be getting North America back along with the rest of the Empire, once Brexit has happened.

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Brit unis bunged £16m in gov cash for 5G test

Smooth Newt
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WTF?

Why...

...does the hugely profitable mobile telecommunications industry need a subsidy? They'd be doing this anyway. Couldn't the money have been used to pay for some research activity which wouldn't otherwise be done?

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Civil rights warriors file US lawsuit: Let us see Five Eyes agreement

Smooth Newt
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Re: Fair point

I agree but the harm it could do is immeasurable to the governments.

Or perhaps you mean that the good it could do is immeasurable.

It depends whether or not government is just about individual bureaucrats and politicians grasping as much power as they can and hanging onto it for as long as they can. I think that correctly describes the British Government's historical priorities, but I don't know about Canada, New Zealand etc.

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New work: Algorithms to give self-driving cars 'impulsive' human 'ethics'

Smooth Newt
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Meh

Re: Ethical decisions

Chances are that the "algorithm" that decides who should be saved and who is expendable will be based on which of the person(s) involved is a premium account holder and which isn't.

Yes - we'll quickly find that "high net worth individual" means what it says.

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Smooth Newt
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Re: Ethical decisions

I've always wondered if, in the trolley problem, people would really throw the lever. It's one thing to say kill one person rather than five but if it requires a physical act to make that happen would most people actually do that or just stand frozen rather than taking responsibility?

Of course not. If you don't throw the lever, it's a nasty accident and not your problem.

If you do throw the lever, then you don't get some sort of medal - instead you are on trial for murder, you are being sued for everything you own by the relatives etc etc. So, a life of prison and penury. Society might win, but you personally lose, big time.

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Why, Robot? Understanding AI ethics

Smooth Newt
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Re: The problem with academic exercises in ethics

is that they are academic exercises.

Indeed.

robot, noun, a machine capable of carrying out a complex series of actions automatically, especially one programmable by a computer.

A cruise missile is a good example of a very sophisticated real-world robot. It's designed to kill people, and will destroy itself in the process. I don't see how the "Three laws of robotics" would fit into it.

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NASA: Bring on the asteroid, so we can chuck a fridge at it

Smooth Newt
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Overstating the effect needed

Only a small change in a threatening asteroid's orbit would be needed to swing it away from Earth, as long as it happens “well before the predicted impact”.

A collision occurs when the asteroid and the Earth are at the same place at the same time. Since the Earth's diameter is only 13,000 km, and the asteroid would be impacted at say 500 million away, it only needs to be slowed down by less than a millionth of its orbital speed to avoid its orbit passing through the Earth's orbit at the instant that the Earth was also at that point. Passing through the Earth's orbit six hours later than the Earth passes through the same point would more than sufficient. This is more "imperceptibly slowing it down" than "swinging it away".

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Sailor Moon? More like sail to the Moon: Japan vows to set foot on lunar soil by 2030

Smooth Newt
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Does a dead astronaut count?

People seem to imagine that getting to Mars is like getting to the Moon, but with a bigger rocket. The problem is not physically getting there, it's avoiding dying from radiation exposure on the way. Three years exposure to high energy cosmic particles, plus the occasional intense blast of solar wind from solar storms is going to leave the astronaut with more than a nice tan, and there isn't much that can be effectively done about it.

http://www.smithsonianmag.com/science-nature/radiation-remains-problem-any-mission-mars-180959092/

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Ubuntu 'weaponised' to cure NHS of its addiction to Microsoft Windows

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Re: Yet another distro?

A dedicated NHS distro doesn't see a big deal to me. e.g. The CERN CentOS 7 distro used by the particle physics community worldwide is more or less done by one man + St Bernard dog. Canonical seem to produce and maintain a full functioned distro on about £85 million per year and I doubt anything remotely approaching that is needed. I suspect the cost would be less than the Microsoft licence fees.

As an indicator of the sort of sums that are ploughed into NHS IT, previous governments found £10bn to spend on the abandoned National Programme for IT system, which would have paid for a Canonical sized operation for more than a century.

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Northern Ireland bags £150m for broadband pipes in £1bn Tory bribe

Smooth Newt
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Re: @ Martin

Our Austerity measures don't amount to as much as you imagine. What they do do is induce economic confidence and hence reduce our cost of borrowing. By keeping interest payments down this saves vastly more money than the austerity measures themselves.

What they do is screw the economy and prevent growth. You can't cut your way to prosperity by being economically stagnant, as the results of this have sadly shown over the last decade. The idea that real-world consumers who are terrified of losing their jobs in the midst of a policy-induced recession will somehow become "economically confident" and so spend money and lift the economy out of recession is nonsense. See e.g. Mark Blyth, Professor of Political Economics at Brown University, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=go2bVGi0ReE

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Smooth Newt
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Re: @ Martin

Why should the rest of us pay for the asset-rich to get social care just so they can leave those assets to their sprogs?

Especially when the whole Austerity thing is just a mechanism whereby the rest of us get penalised to pay for bailing the banks' bad debts out, i.e. ensuring that the asset-rich, whose money the banks were lending, didn't lose anything.

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Smooth Newt
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How Ruth Davidson...

...must be regretting that the Scottish Conservative Party is just a wing of the UK's Conservative and Unionist Party. She isn't even getting a bent farthing for Scotland in return for her party's support, whilst Arlene Foster walks off with a billion quid for Northern Ireland with, presumably, more to follow each time the Government has another sticky vote outside of the deal to win.

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Blighty's first aircraft carrier in six years is set to take to the seas

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Admiral Beatty's Battle Cruiser Fleet

I think it was very short sighted of Sir John Fowler and Sir Benjamin Baker that they didn't build the Forth bridge taller than what they settled for. Could they not see how it would impact on the UK building big huge giant war ships?! Did they not care for the ship builders further up the Forth?!

You are absolutely correct. It caused serious concerns for the Battle Cruiser Fleet during the First World War, since it was based at Rosyth. Much effort was expended in guarding against the (in the end) imaginary risk of the Germans landing a small force to bring the bridge down and preventing this, the fast reconnaissance wing of the Grand Fleet, from being able to get to sea during a critical moment.

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Smooth Newt
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Russian planes

If a Russian plane flew into our airspace, I wonder if it would be shot down or just be told it's a really naughty boy and please go home?

You mean, would the Royal Air Force risk a war, and with a nuclear armed power at that, without asking the Prime Minister's permission first? Given her reputation for being weak and wobbly, what do you think her answer would be?

In the unlikely event of her seriously considering it, factors she would be forced to evaluate include how supportive our EU partners in NATO would be in defusing another major crisis unilaterally caused by the UK, and how reliable Donald Trump would be if push came to shove. It is entirely likely that the UK would end up being hung out to dry by its allies, and worse than that, many of the UK based Russian oligarchs who donate to the Conservative Party would take their custom elsewhere.

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IoT coverage for 95% of UK by 2019? We can't even do 4G, Sigfox

Smooth Newt
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Meh

Re: Mixing IoT with cellular networks

Privacy usually isn't an issue with such applications as they usually monitor things like pipe pressures or weather clock are still running

The people who run surveillance camera networks might disagree. And even your thermostat will tell people whether you are away on holiday or not.

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Lordy! Trump admits there are no tapes of his chats with Comey

Smooth Newt
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Mushroom

Neo-Mccarthyist nonsense

When the Soviet Union collapsed the world realised just how weak a regime it really was. Russia is significantly weaker still, by comparison, today.

I think you are confusing economically weak with militarily, politically or technologically weak. Whilst Russia has serious economic problems, it is still a powerful country controlled by a powerful leader. I don't see people writing off North Korea as threat just because it has a GDP smaller than Trinidad's.

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Queen's speech announces laws to protect personal data

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WTF?

"to modernise the courts system"

Can we all be quite clear on this. "Modernise" in the context of plumbing or electrical wiring means something. "Modernise" in the context of politics and legislation is an utterly meaningless weasel word popularized by New Labour spin doctors and used as a cover for "break" or "screw around with".

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Tesla death smash probe: Neither driver nor autopilot saw the truck

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Re: Bleh

Deceleration from 74 to 0 mph over that short a distance is also in the "quite possibly dead" category.

Particularly as kinetic energy is proportional to the square of the speed - 1/2 mv2 - i.e. about 13 times more energy is involved at 74 mph compared to 20 mph, and about 1.8 times as much as at 55 mph.

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Guess who's just locked up £1.5bn Australian prison mega-contract? Our very own Serco

Smooth Newt
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Meh

Serco had agreed to repay all past profit ...

So you do get the grass back just by shovelling the shit back into the cow.

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Is your research hot or not? US boffins create ‘Tinder for preprints’

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Re: OMG!

Swipe (whatever way is "No!" for this idea)

Seems harsh, since it is how governments actually make research funding choices. They automatically swipe "yes" for anything to do with self-driving cars, AI or mobile phones, and "no" for new antibiotics and vaccines. I doubt they think very much about it.

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Report estimates cost of disruption to GPS in UK would be £1bn per day

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Damned capitalists

And yet those damned capitalists in the USA let everyone use theirs for free.

Sooner or later I expect it will occur to that nice Mr Trump that the Mexicans should pay for their GPS as well as their wall. All he has to do it switch the civilian signal off as the satellites overfly countries which haven't coughed up. He will have stumbled onto a good business model - drug dealers often give the heroin away until their clients are addicted.

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From landslide to buried alive: Why 2017 election forecasts weren't wrong

Smooth Newt
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Re: "'This election was won by the younger generation.'" "Well not really, Labour still lost, i"

The young? F**k em, they don't vote.

Now they have. The question is can they keep doing so? It's a habit they'd better acquire again if they don't want to be sidelined and generally ignored.

No, they won't vote in such numbers next time. The Conservatives have learnt their lesson. The next election will be called for a university holiday period when the students are out of reach of both their polling stations and the students' unions exhorting them to vote. And postal votes are delivered to their term time addresses.

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Smooth Newt
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Re: (energy price cap FFS)

on that subject (energy price cap FFS) Who do these politicians think they are? energy is a real world , finite resource that there isnt enough of . Putting a fixed value on it is akin to trying to change the time the sun comes up , or the value of Pi , or , classically, stopping the tide coming in.

Energy is a near-infinite resource whose availability is controlled by cost. If there was a market for electricity at £5 a unit, you could be sure that every green space in the country would sprout a solar panel, every industrial estate a power station and even hamsters would be turning little generators. There aren't enough suppliers in the market for proper competition, so there is a considerable amount of price gouging and screwing the customer, which is why Government intervention is needed. Markets can be powerfully influenced by Government policy - look at train tickets, heroin, and mobile phones for obvious examples.

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Two leading ladies of Europe warn that internet regulation is coming

Smooth Newt
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The two most powerful women in Europe

That will be Angela Merkel and Soraya Sáenz de Santamaría.

Theresa May is on double secret probation from her party, and she can't pass any legislation without the permission of Arlene Foster and Ruth Davidson, the leaders of the Democratic Unionist Party and the Scottish Conservatives.

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