* Posts by Phil Lord

85 posts • joined 22 Jul 2011


Dark matter's such a pushover: Baby stars can shove weird stuff around dwarf galaxies

Phil Lord

Re: I'm correcting my correction....

Yes. Of course. It could all be nonsense. Dark matter could go the way of the luminiforous either or phlogiston. And maybe fiddling with, for example, gravitational attraction equations would solve the problem. And, there are physicists doing that also. And both groups are working hard to develop their theories to the point where they are accurate and descriptive enough that they can be tested.

When the authors say "dark matter does this" and "dark matter behaves like that", they are, I am sure, aware that it might not exist. But, to speak that way all the time produces bad prose. Consider: "gravity attracts objects based on their mass and the square of their distance appart, or more or less although perhaps it's not exactly the square of the distance." It doesn't really work.

'Pure technical contributions aren’t enough'.... Intel commits to code of conduct for open-source projects

Phil Lord

Re: What's all the hoopla about ?

"Merit in this case is derived from creating code that meets the requirements of the software"

Determining what the requirements actually are by interacting with users of the code. Being an advocate for any systems that are produced. Training down stream users. Interacting with other stake holders to demonstrate the value of the system. Providing calm and rapid management of the system when it has and outage. Ensuring that any UI (or API) is clean, clear and highly usable. Operating within a regulatory framework. Ensuring that all members of a team can work well with each other. Providing a support environment for incoming contributors.

All of these are relevant to the success of a project. This is why "meritocracy" is a low value term. Everyone can have their own ideas about what merit is. You have told me what your notion of merit is; that's okay but it seems a bit narrow to me. So, we can move beyond this: you are arguing that ability to code is the most or only important contribution to a software project; I am arguing that it is not.

Phil Lord

Re: What's all the hoopla about ?

"They're called unit tests."

And how do we write these? And how do we judge the quality of our unit tests?

"we see someone who evidently doesn't understand how software development works."

That's fine. Feel free to dismiss my position if you want. If you really think that "my unit tests are working" is equivalent to "good code", then I will probably not convince you otherwise.

Phil Lord

Re: What's all the hoopla about ?

"meritocracy": a society governed by people selected according to merit.

Where "merit" is defined in what way?

"divine right of kings"

Where "merit" is defined as the person most wanted by God.

The circularity in the argument of "meritocracy" happens because we don't have a clear definition for merit. As a result, we can look at most environments and say "well, this environment is very unrepresentative selection of the population, but that's because it's a meritocracy".

Phil Lord

Re: What's all the hoopla about ?

"The problem is the sort of person who wants to volunteer for that sort of committee is always the same"

Well, then, it looks like the problem is at least in part the people who do not volunteer.

"so leaves no room for anyone different from themselves"

Could be a problem. And if that happens, we may end up with tech being dominated by a group of people who are extremely poorly representative of the population at large. Who knows where that would lead?

Phil Lord

Re: What's all the hoopla about ?

"No, the idea of meritocracy is very simple: it doesn't matter who you are, does your contribution do what it is meant to do with as little cruft and structural weakness as possible? If yes, it passes. If no, go back and do it again."

None of which is objectively measurable -- if it were, we could write a program to measure it. If we could do that, we could replace the programmer with a random code generator. So, all of these things require using judgement.

And, of course, you seem to have the slightly strange idea that only code function counts. What about someone who is capable of producing a clear and coherent API? With great documentation? Or someone with the vision to understand that you had the wrong idea about "what it is meant to do" all along and that really, you should do something else.

Developing a good piece of software is not just programming, any more than programming is typing.

Phil Lord

Re: What's all the hoopla about ?

Indeed, I always feel the face of Big Brother, glaring down at me, ever time someone fixes my punctuation on stackexchange.

Phil Lord

Re: What's all the hoopla about ?

"There is no such thing as 'poor code' in the post-meritocracy world."

The idea behind the "post-meritocracy" is that we should get passed the point where we can use spurious or ill-defined notions of "merit" to justify what ever kind of injustice or nastiness we want.

The way that "meritocracy" is used is pretty close to the "divine right of kings". Good code, bad code, of course, still exists. I write both, and sometimes unable to distinguish between the two. That makes me pretty normal I guess.

Phil Lord

Re: What's all the hoopla about ?

"As defined by whom?"

Normally a committee, consisting of a number of members of the community. It a similar process that would apply to censure of a developer who routinely submitted poor documentation for their work. Or, indeed, poor code. It's hard to make an objective judgement about either of these things either.

"The definition of undesirable is whoever in power does not want to be around."

Actually, the intention of a CoC is the opposite of this. It's to put forward an explicit definition of what an undesirable is. How successful they are at achieving this, I don't know. If you have any data beyond the anecdotal about this, it would be interesting to see.

Phil Lord

Re: Oh c'mon

"I ask simply this, how many times has it been used like blasphemy accusations in Pakistan, as a lethal weapon?"

Well, the contributor covenant has no clause requiring the use of the death penalty. Even if it did, in most of the jurisdictions in which it is used, this would be considered to be a unfair contract and therefore not enforceable.

So, in simple answer to your question, it's never been used as a lethal weapon.

Linux kernel's 'seat warmer' drops 4.19-rc5 with – wow – little drama

Phil Lord

Re: Who are these people

"It betrays an obsession with feelz and a demand for ideological purity which many people find revolting."

Yes, but then I find lack of politeness pretty irritating also.

"You don't need a CoC to deal with what is illegal."

Yeah, you do. Most organisations have relatively strong policies relating to bullying and harrassment, and a mechanism with dealing with it. And they have to because if they do not they will appear complicit. Look at is this way: child abuse is illegal, but does that really mean that schools do not need to have policies for safeguarding children? Of course, this is not to say that a CoC is needed to cover all potential illegality; there is little point in saying "murdering people will be grounds for removal" because that is just silly.

In the case of Linux, "legal" is made more complex by the multiple jurisdictions that people find themselves in, so being explicit about the project may help.

"It's mostly obsessed with sex, race and gender."

These are legally protected characteristics in many jurisdictions. By definition, any policy about harrassement is going to involve these characteristics.

"Can you express thoughts regarding illegal immigration without falling foul of this?"

That's a good question. The CoC gives you a basis for making a decision on these things, but how they are applied in practice is very important. I would hope that you could express thoughts about illegal immigration even though, I suspect, I wouldn't like those thoughts. Similarly, for instance, while I think discrimination on grounds of religion is a bad thing, I would like to be able to say that most religions make little sense.

If it works badly, indeed, you might be excluded from saying such things. If it works well, then, perhaps linux (and other free software projects, including some I contribute to) will become a politer place to be. I am hoping it goes well.

Phil Lord

Re: GPL v2 versus GPL v3

"That would require getting confirmation from all contributors, including those you can't find and from the executors of those who no longer exist."

It doesn't actually. It requires agreement from the owners of the code which is currently in the kernel. So contributors whose code has been written out over the years are not relevant. And the number of owners is smaller than the number of contributors, since everyone working for RedHat or equivalent counts as one.

Phil Lord

Re: Who are these people

'You can and will be judged solely on your code quality' .

This is just silly. There is world of things that sit around code quality that are also important.

For example, you might have good code, but you probably need to be able to write coherent English explaining what the code is for and what it does. So you need to be able to use an email list also. So, you have a social element. Having someone easy to understand is important, of course, but someone who is easy to interact with also is a boon to a project.

Then there are legal issues to be considered. Of course, these are rarely as serious as the issues that Hans Reiser has, but say you have a developer who routinely issues threats of violence or death to others, then this is illegal.

And so it goes. It seems nice and simple, of course, to say "it should be all about the code". But it's simple, it's simplistic. Life is more complex than that. Whether the new CoC is a good solution I don't know. But having something a bit more serious that "be excellent to each other" seems like a good idea.

Redis does a Python, crushes 'offensive' master, slave code terms

Phil Lord

How is this fundamental? All I can see is a change of a few words in the documentation.

And yet many of the posters on this thread seem really, really up-tight about it. Are you really so upset? Or are you just a vocal minority trying to have an impact through your faux-outrage?

Phil Lord

Changing Language

The idea is that changing language can help to change the debate. And, of course, it has a long history and does work: nowadays the use of the "n-word" on TV is uncommon and always considered offensive; the introduction of the term "gay". There are many examples.

For myself, I find it hard to get excited about "master/slave", simply because in the UK at least it's largely historical. Perhaps, that is a luxury others do not have. One of the things that I do find amusing, though, is all the people who like to spend their time commenting on what a waste of time this is, when we should be coding. And others complaining about the principle of trying to change language to change the debate, and then blaming it all on SJWs and snowflakes: terms invented in an attempt to change the debate.

LLVM contributor hits breakpoint, quits citing inclusivity intolerance

Phil Lord

Re: The promote discrimination while claiming to fight it

For example, a religious school can discriminate both their children and staff have a certain religion. For most organisations, this would be illegal as it would breech the equal opportunities legislation; but the churches lobbied and achieved a specific exception in the law, which means that they can do it.

Phil Lord

Re: Draconian code of conduct

For reference the code of conduct is:

be friendly and patient,

be welcoming,

be considerate,

be respectful,

be careful in the words that you choose and be kind to others, and

when we disagree, try to understand why.

Seems relatively hard to interpret "be friendly and patient" as Draconian.

Phil Lord

'Or can we only "positively" discriminate on the "right" stuff?'

Yes. Discrimination on grounds of gender is illegal (in the UK), except under very specific circumstances. One of those circumstances is an extreme standing gender split in a profession. If the bias is not extreme, or starts to disappear, you cannot do it any more.

Phil Lord

"When someone says that the way to combat discrimination is WITH discrimination, all I see is a hypocrite."

Positive discrimination is a difficult one. On one hand, it is consistent and simple to say we should not do it because it's discrimination. And that's nice, but simple is not correct. Consider the use of positive discrimination in Northern Ireland, to stop the anti-catholic bias. Consider, the legal alterations for voter registration in 1960s in the US, to overcome an effective anti-black block on voting.

If you think that these things were hypocritical, then that's fine, but they were both effective in ending a violent and coercive status quo.

Is that what we have here? Not sure, but when you have an occupation which is 90% men, you have to ask questions about whether there is an effective block on women.

Whois is dead as Europe hands DNS overlord ICANN its arse

Phil Lord

Re: All bow to the data protection Gods

Absolutely! Data protection is non-sensical! I mean, what evidence is there of large scale abuse of personal information to control and manipulate people against their wishes? Who are they trying to protect us from? Nanny state! (etc, etc, etc)

Slap visibility beacons on bikes so they can chat to auto autos, says trade body

Phil Lord

Re: Yeah... Right

"Sorry, but you need to think of your safety as your responsibility. If you overtake a truck on the inside, you're going to die."

It's wrong to assume that a cyclist that got hit by a left turner turner went up the inside. A lot of the time, the lorry moves up the outside, then forgets that the cyclist they can no longer see is there, then turns left.

This is especially common at traffic lights where the cyclist can do very little about it. It's the reason why jumping red lights on a left turn is usually safer for a cyclist than obeying the law.

Destroying the city to save the robocar

Phil Lord

Re: Never do this

"one needs Dutchies' upbringing in order to adopt the all-weather cycling mentality"

I use waterproofs; find that they work just as well.

Phil Lord

Re: Obviously the solution is....

Shockingly, it is possible to cycle in normal clothes, and not shower at the other end, because you don't get sweaty. The reason for this is that most urban journeys are 3miles or less, over which distance a cycle is entire comfortable.

Unfortunately, in many cities, there is no space for cycling, and the experience is miserable of the cars. Provide the space, the number of cyclists go up. The lycra clad, helmeted, cyclists, high-energy lasers for headlights is a product of car-centric city planning. We don't need their numbers to go up. It's everybody else.

Judge rm -rf Grsecurity's defamation sue-ball against Bruce Perens

Phil Lord

"So far as I know there is nothing happening whatsoever, and so Perens statement is for the moment incorrect. And therefore, currently, garbage."

"It’s my strong opinion that your company should avoid the Grsecurity product sold at grsecurity.net because it presents a contributory infringement and breach of contract risk."

Am afraid it is your statement which is garbage. As you can see from the quote, BP suggested that is presents an infringement risk. So, a) his statement is an given as an opinion and b) as a risk. So, not incorrect at all.

If I say, "travelling at 40mph in a 30mph area puts you at risk of a fine" this is true, regardless of whether or not you get stopped.

Forget Sesame Street, scientists pretty much watched Big Bird evolve on Galápagos island

Phil Lord

Cross-fertility is, unfortunately, too simplistic. A great dane and a chihuahua are not cross-fertile, yet are the same species. A horse and a donkey are cross-fertile but are a different species.

There are lots of games that you can play to finesse these definitions of course, but still as an overarching definition for species it doesn't work, because the majority of organisms on the planet are not cross-fertile with anything and reproduce asexually.

Biology is complicated.

Prosecute driverless car devs for software snafus, say Brit cyclists

Phil Lord

Re: Fair enough, but...

Because the cost of policing and administering the insurance would outweight the actually payouts of the insurance. Cyclists cost little infrastructure, and cause very little damage to others. In short, why do you not have insurance for walking around the streets. It's about as dangerous.

Phil Lord

Re: Fair enough, but...

We do. It's very old legislation, but it exists and it's comes with extremely significant sentences.

Just to be clear, though, cyclists can cause lethal injuries, but statistically, it's a very small problem. More pedestrains are killed every year by cars mounting the pavement and running into them than my cyclists at all (about 100 to >10).

In fact, it's likely that the dust from car brakes cause more deaths per annum through respiratory disease than cyclists.

In short, nutter cyclists are anti-social. Car drivers kill people in industrial numbers.

Linux kernel community tries to castrate GPL copyright troll

Phil Lord

Re: I'm confused

Well, we don't know. I would imagine though he is not asking for damages, he is asking for a contract to use his code which in turn means that they can use the rest of linux. If you are using his code (especially indirectly), and someone says you can't do this because I will sue you unless you pay me, then you end up paying.

It doesn't matter how much the code is. Remember, at one point in the Java wars, they were talking about 11 lines of code, and claiming billions.

Prejudiced humans = prejudiced algorithms, and it's not an easy fix

Phil Lord

It discriminates against women because they are generally shorter than man, hence it is effectively a mechanism to discriminate against a protected characteristic -- your gender.

It does not discriminate against short/tall people because that is not a protected characteristic. "Discrimination" in a legal sense does not just mean "distinguish" or "differentiate".

Smart meters: 'Dog's breakfast' that'll only save you 'a tenner' – report

Phil Lord

Re: Benefits

Yes, that covers it. Democracies can change their minds about things, and a later vote trumps an earlier one. Democracy is not about "the people have spoken" (i.e. they HAVE spoken, now they can shut up).

Obviously, the chances of us staying in the EU have been considerably lessened as a result of the referendum, but it isn't a done deal, and there is nothing wrong with trying to find a way to make it not happen. And, if it does happen, there is nothing wrong with trying to find a way to reverse it. Democracy is not a state but a process; its always going on.

At the feet of the Great Monad, or, How the functional programming craze plays out

Phil Lord

Re: Sort in a functional language

"You seem to be under the impression that functional languages have some magic fairy dust they sprinkle on their recursion."

Yes, they do. The magic fairy dust is called bloody necessity. You have to have fast recursion in a functional language or it all goes pair shaped. In an object orientated language, you often don't.

Case in point: the JVM does not implement generalized (nor any) tail recursion. A problem for both Scala and Clojure which are compiled to JVM byte code. Solution: both use a hack in their respective compilers to provide at least a specialised tail recursion that addresses the issue in most cases.

Java could do it, but doesn't. Clojure and Scala do do it, because they have to.

Phil Lord

You work out a way to "copy" a list efficiently, so that you can make a new one for every step without it going really slow. It's easy to do this with a singly linked list; you can share identical list tails between all other lists that have the same tail. It's relatively easy to program, although quite hard to visualize, which is a recurrent theme for functional programming.

The other way is to google the answer. Although we are, apparently going through a functional craze at the moment, people have been thinking about this stuff for years. All the simple and obvious questions were answered 20 years ago, so you usually find the answer if you really want it.

Britain shouldn't turn its back on EU drone regs, warns aerospace boffin

Phil Lord

Re: Here be snowflakes...

"EU may impose their banana's law the rest of the world carries on"

The rest of the world have their own laws on bananas. A very large amount of EU regulation just covers areas where there were laws. What is the benefit of having laws on Jam? Well, the benefit of this kind of law is, generally, that when you buy jam you know that it is safe to eat. Many parts of the rest of the world have jam laws. Leaving the EU will cause, I think, a significant increase in the regulation and bureaucracy.

"I am fairly certain nobody has these organisations until they are put together. "

As I said, of course it's possible. But, it is, and will be, expensive.

"That is largely due to having no deal being better for the UK than our current position."

Of course, during the referendum, no one on the leave side said this.

"The EU has caused war."

Well, a vaguely interesting conversation, but you're getting a bit silly, so I'll stop here.

Phil Lord

Re: Here be snowflakes...

"Banana laws"

The world did not tick along fine before without banana laws. Hard though it may be to believe, the EU countries had multiple different banana laws. And, yes, we did spend a lot of money thinking about jam, but then the question of whether a jaffa cake is a biscuit was entirely an issue for UK law.

"This again returns to the stupidity argument. For you to claim we would need them (US, EU whoever) is to claim we are not capable ourselves. "

No it is to claim that we do not have the organisations to do this. And, in many cases, we do not have the people because they work for the EU currently. So, it's not about stupidity, but cost. These bodies will have to be replicated, de novo.

"To save a currency they sacrificed countries"

Yes, this is largely true.

"the Brexit vote seemed to demonstrate their lack of plan"

Well, the EU has much less need of a plan to cope with Brexit than the UK does since, while it will have consequences for them, they will be less than for the UK.

"are you suggesting the EU will go to war with us"

An ex-tory party leader has already suggested that we will go to war with Spain. It's easy to be glib about war, and laugh it off, but it happens, and has happened recently in Europe. Do I think leaving the EU will result in war? No. More possible, though, yes.

"Or are you trying to claim again that the UK population isnt competent nor capable of coping in that big bad scary world you fear?"

No, I am saying that international cooperation is not option but a necessity. Withdrawing from an organisation that enables that cooperation is going to cause enormous disruption, and when we are finished we will have to replace it without something like we have now, except that we will the minor partner. So, it's going to be expensive, disruptive and leave us in a politically weaker position.

Will we survive. Yes.

Phil Lord

Re: Here be snowflakes...

"But instead of the EU rules why not use the US ones? Or anywhere else? We can use copy and paste without any effort or work. "

Because the rules do not tell you what you can do -- that would be too complicated and every time the world changed you would have to update the laws. Rather they define a regulatory process which includes a validation process. "You do, you do that, and then you ask someone to come and check it for you". Unfortunately the "someone" is a regulatory body that has a remit for EU countries. If a country leaves the EU, then it's now out of jurisdiction. So, you have to create that body. That takes time, money and expertise.

Think of it like the driving licence. We could cut-and-paste the laws that say you have to have one from the US, as you suggest, but it's going to be harder to get US driving test examiners to come to Watford when you need one.

Still, on a positive side, it's not just aviation where we have this problem. Also, medicines and medical practice, clinical trials, chemicals, engineering, education, telecoms. Even weights and measures, although that may not be a problem, as I hear that we are going to use our new found freedom from the jack boot of the EU to go imperial again.

Don't worry about it, going into a complex situation based on bold worlds, wishful thinking and no planning normally works out okay. Look at Iraq.

Brexit White Paper published: Broad strokes, light on detail

Phil Lord

Re: Words fail me

"Of course we didn't know what we were voting for. How could we? We don't know what the EU27 will agree to when we leave, hence we can't now what we'll get. That's why the referendum had to be on the broad principle."

This is untrue. Of course, we could not know the exact details, but we could have had a clearer idea of the position that we thought we should take. If that was not possible, then why bother with a white paper now, since it cannot possible say anything of substance. Likewise, we could have been in a position to hold those who argued to leave to account if what they promised was wrong.

Referendums and the campaigns associated with them do not have to be fatuous, and lacking in detail. The Scottish referendum, for example, was not.

"If we don't like what May's government are doing, we can get rid of them. The EU doesn't give us that power."

This argument does not make sense. I cannot get rid of May's government. I live in a part of the country which have pretty much never voted for a Conservative government, but they have been regularly inflicted upon us. Likewise, in the EU, our ability to change things was limited by what everyone else wanted, although, as events show, and the white paper says, we always retained sovereignty.

After, we leave the EU, we will of course, be in exactly the same boat. These trade deals that Theresa May is keen on -- this is where the UK agrees not to do something, in exchange for trade, and appoints an external body to arbitrate in case of dispute. Rather like the EU, but without any necessary semblance of transparency or democracy.

The referendum remains (pun!) a low point in our democratic process. Let's hope we can recover some self-respect during the rest of this process. So far, the debate seems to resolve around a small clique telling us that they have a unique ability to determine the will of the people, so I am not optimistic.

Phil Lord

Re: Words fail me

> I'm sorry but you're wrong. The Referendum was a sign that democracy worked.

> I'll admit the campaign was awful, full of bollocks, quite a few outright lies on both sides

> and not terribly well organised.

The referendum is not an example of democracy in action. Democracy requires informed consent. How is this possible, when details (I use the term lightly) about plans for leaving are being released months after the referendum by an unelected Prime Minister, at the head of a party whose manifesto pledge was to stay in the EU.

Neither side was informed, because those arguing for change were not in power to enact that change. So nothing that they said was meaningful, nor could they be held account for. As Gove said "350 million, nothing I can do about that".

David Cameron has an awful lot to answer for. And for those who voted leave; they will come to learn the foolishness of giving a bunch of politicians a blank cheque.

Plastic fiver: 28 years' work, saves acres of cotton... may have killed less than ONE cow*

Phil Lord

Re: Not much of a chemist then?


They made a mistake, including a trace ingredient which is unnecessary, and which was always going to cause problems for a significant percentage of the population. So, they have to remove it.

Bottom line, your idea that they have to redo all of the testing is rather implausible. If the amount of tallow is so low, it's not likely to be a critical component, or have a critical impact. Tallow is pretty much just fat; it's not a specialist compound.

Internet Archive preps Canadian safe haven to swerve Donald Trump

Phil Lord

Re: Over reaction?

"However I can't help thinking that this fear of Trump stuff is a bit silly."

Yep, it's terrible, hyping up fear as much as they can for political gain if you ask me.

They should show respect; just imagine if politicians started behaving like that?

Drubbed Grubhub bub scrubs anti-Donald-dubbed snub sub-hubbub

Phil Lord

Re: The Right to Vote

"You may protest, fine. but you may not attack - hit, punch, kick, break store windows, shoot police officers - because your candidate lost. It is wrong. Also the court of public opinion always goes against those that do this."

Yes, well as you point out, it's generally bad tactics. There are still exceptions even here; to fulfil Godwin's law, HItler was elected and it was a shame more people did not protest against that.

I hope Trump fulfils his promise to be a president for all the people. He has an uphill struggle against him.

Phil Lord

Re: The Right to Vote

"And if you attack those that did not vote for whomever you voted for, then you attack, insult and demean the right to vote."

I don't understand this logic. The idea that, after a vote, if I loose, I should just accept that I was wrong all along and the people who voted in the opposite way were right?

Trump won the election. So, he gets to be president. Those who voted against now have to make a decision. They may decide to do everything that they can do to stop him from doing many of the things that he said he would, to resist, to protest. If they do, this is not anti-democratic, it is the soul of democracy. If they do, they are not resisting the will of the people, they are the people. They are not insulting the right to vote, they are demonstrating that if democracy is to be meaningful, it does not end at the right to vote.

It's the same in this country, incidentally. More so, actually, given that the Prime Minister in power wasn't elected, and the party in power were elected on a mandate to do the opposite of what they are doing.

Self-driving cars doomed to be bullied by pedestrians

Phil Lord

Automated lifts will never catch on

Because people will stick their hands in the doors to stop if from closing!

Emacs and Vim both release first new updates in years

Phil Lord

Re: Just wondering

This would allow the use of a web browser, for example, as to view documentation. At the moment, Emacs has an embedded hypertext viewer for a format called Info which works but is old.

BBC vans are coming for you

Phil Lord

Re: Regressive tax

Radio is free since the costs associated with are so much lower than the costs associated with TV.

There used to be a radio licence, but the cost would be so low, and it would be relevant to so few people that it's just not worth it.

Excel hell messes up ~20 per cent of genetic science papers

Phil Lord

Why this happens

The reason this happens is that large datasets with 10,000s of columns are often imported into excel. Unfortunately, excel does the heuristic to identify the type of a per cell basis. If only 5% of gene names look like dates (say DEC10 which does, compared to CDC28 which does not), then only 5% of the cells will be adjusted. The chances that you do not see this happening are large.

The problem is well known to bioinformaticians, but less well known to biologists. Hence the problem.

It's easy to mock, of course, but just because some one is deeply knowledgeable about biology and the experimental techniques associated with it, does not mean that they are expert at data handling. It's like when computer programmers produce some egregious piece of rubbish instead of a usable program, because they do not understand the domain or its requirements: something which happens say 40% of the time.

Paper mountain, hidden Brexit: How'd you say immigration control would work?

Phil Lord

Re: Dr. Paul, Parliamentary negligence

Personally, I would have sighed in relief if we had voted remain, but, yes, it would still have been a stupid vote.

If you voted leave, then you had (and still have) no idea at all what you voted for. It didn't say on the ballot paper, and nothing that the official leave (or any other leave) campaign said is even as poorly binding as a election manifesto. If you voted remain, then you did know what you were voting for. But you had no idea at all what you were voting against, for precisely the same reason.

This asymmetry was very daft. Cameron assumed that few would vote for a leap in the dark, where the benefits were so utterly unclear. Unfortunately, he seemed to miss the fact that the problems and consequences were also utterly unclear.

Since neither side could argue intelligently, from knowledge, we had a empty headed, brow beating, chest bearing chunk of nonsense, instead of an election. Out of which people chose to vote for hope, over policy. I admire their optimism, and desire not to be bullied.

But they still made the wrong decision. And, now, here we are; a mess, still with no clear plan, or indeed a vision for what we hope to achieve. Hence "brexit means brexit". Yes, and "mince pies mean mince pies" also.

Italian MP threatens parents forcing veggie diets on kids with jail

Phil Lord

Re: @ Greg D

It is wrong to state that children fed on a vegan diet WILL suffer injury, as there are many counter-examples. It is possible to do, although it requires some care.

Of course, that is also true of a diet containing meat. It is possible to do well, but then (even in Italy) the rise of obesity is well documented and ongoing. There are some cases, of course, of children being undernourished. But the opposite is much more common and, also, life threatening.

The bill in question appears to be grandstanding, rather than a serious attempt to provide careful consideration to legal consequences for giving a poor diet to your children. Even if the aim were a sensible one, this would be very hard to legislate for without a lot of thought and consideration.

Email proves UK boffins axed from EU research in Brexit aftermath

Phil Lord

Re: Thank you Mr.Farage

We take more out of the EU science pot than we put in, so science does stand to loose from Brexit. The EU also provides a handy mechanism to fund science which crosses EU borders, because the funding comes from a single organisation. So, we will need some new mechanism to deal with that in post-EU UK. Science also makes extensive use of the freedom to travel and relocate within the EU.

All of it is possible, but unfortunately, there is no plan. We're looking at a 10% shortfall, for the length of time it takes to come up with an alternative. This is in an industry where too many staff are on 2-3 year contracts.

There is a reason that the vast majority (about 90% I think) of scientists wanted to remain. This is, of course, 90% of scientists with a vote. 15% of scientists working in the UK are not British, but EU. No one let them vote at the ballot box, but they can still vote with their feet.

Brit Science Minister to probe Brexit bias against UK-based scientists

Phil Lord

Re: It's the law, isn't it

It's like your wife is divorcing you, but you expecting to still have a nice romantic dinner out together till the decree comes in.

In mourning for Nano, chap crafts 1k-loc text editor

Phil Lord

Re: "did not want to assign *copyright* to the FSF for his contributions"

No, the FSF cannot sue for licence violation if they do not own the code. Then could support others, of course, in doing so. It's also easier to enforce the licence is you own all the code.

Set against this, getting a CCA for all code contributions is a significant barrier. Gains and losses.


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