* Posts by Jacob Lipman

114 publicly visible posts • joined 28 Oct 2007


Core facts: Windows 8 truthiness dissected, Mango sliced

Jacob Lipman

I wasn't going to be quite so... vehement, about it. But it is rather hard to listen to. It's entertaining and enlightening, listening to two intelligent people discussing Microsoft and its place in the market. Please make it easier!

Jacob Lipman


Always a fascinating listen.

One friendly bit of criticism - Gavin, you speak rather softly. Mary-Jo, you... do not. I sometimes find myself straining to hear Gavin, then cringing away from the speaker when Mary-Jo speaks. As a result there's a lot of time spent changing the volume. A little bit of extra editing work could make this a non-issue.

Thanks for the nerd-knowledge entertainment!

'Boss from hell' knuckle-rapped for 'firing contests'

Jacob Lipman


People who do things the rest of us see as evil rarely see it in the same light - I have no doubt that this man rationalizes his own behavior. Mr. Hitler did not think he was an evil man. He rationalized what is widely seen as the most horrific crime ever committed against humanity. Compared to a brutal genocide perpetrated over the course of many years, "being a dick to some employees" should be rather easy to rationalize.

P.S., since no comparison was made to another commenter, does this qualify as an invocation of Godwin's Law?

Jacob Lipman

Iowa is unusually liberal for a midwestern state, and their courts often take the worker's side in disputes like these. The "hostile work environment" doctrine is a tough one to really define. Basically, if a worker feels that the work environment is hostile, it is - this is mitigated somewhat by judges throwing out absurd cases. This one is borderline, definitely arguable either way. The boss was enough of an asshat that I personally would feel harassed by his conduct, and think most workers would. If you feel on a daily basis that your job is at risk because you fear an "attack" from your boss, including, as demonstrated by the email, the potential public humiliation of the boss gloating about having fired you, it is entirely reasonable to feel that you are in a hostile work environment.

The WTF icon because it is baffling to see an evidently successful business person who believes that this sort of sociopathic behavior is rational.

Anonymous Twitter alternative developed for rioters

Jacob Lipman

Putting holes in paper targets and hunting are the most popular uses in my country. In Turkey, folks largely keep them around to throw lead skyward in celebration. In North Korea and the UK, they're kept around to shoot civilians in the back of the head.

Gutsy golf-club granny collars crim in Flying Squad bust

Jacob Lipman
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Thank you... So very close.

Jacob Lipman
Paris Hilton

Help out your Stateside readers.

GBH =?

Great bodily harm?

Gastric bypass hamsters?

Beer bottle shagging beetles with HUGE MEMBERS win prize

Jacob Lipman

"Meanwhile, the Ig Nobel Peace Prize went to the sensible mayor of Vilnius in Lithuania, for demonstrating that the problem of illegally parked luxury cars can be solve by running them over with an armoured tank."

It was an APC, and it was a publicity stunt. A bit baffled how this won the prize. Usually their picks are very good.

Mighty trash-bag balloon cluster soars above Nevada

Jacob Lipman
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Oh yeah, flying weird looking shit in Nevada without radio comms can get you in trouble. Surprised he didn't get a surprise helicopter escort, following a surprise fighter escort that kept getting past him before they could see what the hell he was. Awesome idea, hope he doesn't have the feds crawling up his ass for encroaching on restricted airspace! This is the kind of creativity seen through to completion that we need to see more of!

Dead FalconStor CEO 'was set to plead guilty'

Jacob Lipman

Distract Attorney

"Investigations were started by New York's County Distract Attorney"

Who shortly thereafter saw a butterfly, and in chasing it forgot what he was doing.

Trust me, I'm a computer: Watson takes on health care challenge

Jacob Lipman
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Good things

This is definitely a very, very good thing. This will almost undoubtedly save lives. For now, we have to have an extraordinarily expensive device to perform this function - combine this idea with those portable medical scanners a few companies are working on, and assuming Moore's Law continues to chug along for a while yet, we will have tricorders by 2030.

IBM, you uptight, formal bastard - thank you.

Ancient auto: still running, up for sale

Jacob Lipman

Water vs. petrol?

It's not burning or otherwise using the water as a direct energy source. It's burning something else (presumably some type of oil, doubtful it's a wood burner looking at it) to heat the water, which becomes steam that drives a piston or pistons, and the steam is vented - hence the water usage.

That's a hell of a piece of history. I would love to see it operating. Who wants to bet that Jay Leno bids on it?

Big Apple fake Apple stores agree to rat out suppliers

Jacob Lipman

"Here, the most draconian powers belong to "bail enforcement agent" (bounty hunters, to you and me). (That's actually truer than you might think. I believe that certain types of animal control officers also have quite broad powers too but I am not really sure.)"

These people frequently get in deep shit by either ignoring the laws that govern their behavior, or violating them out of ignorance. The laws regulating bail enforcement agents vary from state to state. Entering an American home without permission can be a dangerous proposition.

Jacob Lipman

"Cupertino representatives entered and seized products at the two stores in Queens, NY, on the same day Apple's lawyers launched the legal action."

This is by far the most disturbing part of the story, and requires further detail. Did they have a court order, were they escorted by law enforcement? Or, did they enter a business and steal private property? Did they take by force, or did they "request" the merchandise be turned over?

Antimatter close to home

Jacob Lipman
Paris Hilton


So, I'm baffled, and definitely missing a lot of information when it comes to particle physics. So, matter and antimatter collide, and annihilate. What form does this annihilation take - in what form is the resultant energy? And what natural processes exist that turn energy to matter? Is it possible that the energy resulting from the collision of matter and antimatter is ever so slightly more inclined to become "normal" matter rather than antimatter? Could this explain the baffling dearth of observable antimatter in our universe?

Paris because I do not have the knowledge to address this subject, but am pretentious enough to do so anyway.

Atlantis crew pay awkward tribute to 'iconic' shuttle

Jacob Lipman

Small correction

*Brick shithouse

Carry on.

.XXX to launch nothing-but-smut unsafe search

Jacob Lipman

Seem a relatively straightforward solution offers itself...

Why don't these publishers simply behave exactly like cybersquatters? Register the domain that is rightfully yours, and publish a shitload of advertisments on it - leave your content off the .xxx domain, simply use it as a cash cow. It'll look exactly like a cybersquatter owns the domain, and you can continue to publish your content where you always have, keeping control away from potential future infringement by ICM.

Sure, ICM gets your registration dollars - but if enough publishers follow this pattern, they do not get the mass migration of content that will drive publishers to create new sites in the .xxx domain.

BOFH: Drunken Time Lord

Jacob Lipman
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In stitches

General relativity + sadism = win

Star Wars fans want Sony sued over game shutdown

Jacob Lipman


Face it, guys, Star Wars Galaxies is a spent force, it's time to let it go. As a little wise green thing once said: "Always in motion is the future." ®

You seem to be contradicting yourself, sir. You state that it is time to go, indicating that the future is set and there is nothing that can be done to change it, then follow up with a diametrically opposed quote.

Japan seeks unheard-of new uses for cell location data

Jacob Lipman


"But it is interesting to note that every time there is a march, protest or gathering the mobile network operators know exactly how many people attended – even if the police and organisers can never seem to agree."

This is not accurate. Each carrier knows how many of its telephones were connected within the area where the march, protest or gathering took place. This does not account for people who do not bring their telephones, or turn their telephones off. This does not neccesarily account for people who live or work within the area who did not attend the event. This also does not account for people who carry more than one mobile telephone - this is increasingly common as people carry a personal phone and a work phone. This information is good for a basic estimate, but does not directly correlate to the number of people attending a gathering.

US admiral reveals safety plan for Zombie Apocalypse

Jacob Lipman

RE: Towel schmowel

Bolts are damaged rather quickly, and even expensive arrows are rarely useful against a target with bones and flesh more than a handful of times. I've seen carbon-fiber arrows that cost about 15 USD cracked from striking a deer, and aluminum or wooden arrows deformed by the impact.

Small-bore rifles are much more practical. On the generous side, you might feasibly be able to carry as many as fifty arrows or bolts. Again on the generous side, count each arrow as good for fifty shots, counting on being able to retrieve arrows - we arrive at a figure of 2500 shots total, including what will presumably be a fairly high proportion of missed or nonfatal shots. There is a fair likelihood that something in your weapon will fail in 2500 shots - the more effective the bow, in general, the more complex and the more points of failure (i.e., compound bows with complex pulley systems). Carrying spare parts is always a good plan whatever sort of weapon you care to tote.

I'd prefer a small weapon chambered for .22 Long Rifle (5.6mm rimfire). In the US, a small box of inexpensively-manufactured ammunition, 550 rounds packed loose, can be purchased at any Wal-Mart for under 20 USD. I can easily carry five such boxes in addition to my other supplies. It's a small cartridge, with a tendency to send its projectile bouncing about in the skull of the target. Basically ideal for zombies. Fie on your antiquated castles and crossbows.

NASA's asteroid hunter creeps up on Vesta

Jacob Lipman

Re: Moving Ceres

If we wanted to seek a real use for it, our best bet might be to bring it into Mars' orbit. From there we can break it into a few hundred thousand smaller pieces which we de-orbit piecemeal - crashing the whole dwarf planet at once would probably break Mars.

Having a bunch of water present on Mars could be helpful, especially if we could convince Mars to just suddenly have a decent magnetosphere and hold an atmosphere. Plus, the added mass of Ceres would marginally increase the surface gravity of Mars.

Some major problems arise for human habitation, even supposing a magnetosphere and atmosphere can be conjured into existence. The planet is largely covered in fine-grained dust - not good for human lungs. We'll need a lot of carbon and associated organic compounds to get that planet sufficiently covered with plant matter to hold the (not sure of the proper word here - regolith applies to moon dirt, does it also apply to Martian soil?) in place and prevent it from choking us.

If we really just want to have fun, we could send our moon to Mars - Mars being largely covered in iron(III) oxide, and the moon largely in aluminum, we could have ourselves quite the thermite bomb. The flame, because if Mars became self-luminous it would have to join Pluto as a declassified planet.

Do-Not-Track laws gain US momentum

Jacob Lipman


I'm really split on this one. There's a lot of hyperbole in the discussion - folks stating that Google is stalking them, invading their privacy, etc. I'm a bit uncomfortable with the whole idea of having my internet wanderings tracked, but let me play devil's advocate for a bit:

When you access Google's services, you do so voluntarily - this could be compared to entering their place of business (arguable, sure). When you do so, they record your IP address, fairly compared to a brick-and-mortar store collecting your license plate data, either of which can be readily used to find your physical address - again with a fair analogy of using someone else's internet connection versus borrowing someone's vehicle. A brick-and-mortar store like, say, Wal-Mart, would be seen as a bit creepy for recording your license plate information. However, many retailers do technically do this - although it is not necessarily stored in a fashion so as to readily determine that you had visited the store at certain times, the video evidence of your vehicle being in the lot at a given time or times, does exist and can be used to produce such a record if needed.

Google also tracks where you go from their search engine - this could almost be likened to a store's cameras recording which direction you went, except that you are followed all the way to your next destination. That is a bit disturbing. So far, it's not much beyond simple observation - while I'm not entirely comfortable with it, I do not see a clear-cut violation of my right to privacy. I am purposefully sending data to Google with the knowledge that they will use the information I am sending them to make money.

Some of the behavior tracking through other Google services and sites might be creepy and invasive - I don't have a very good grasp of precisely what personal data they are obtaining and how. If someone can detail this for me, it might help me understand precisely why there is such strident objection to Google's practices.

Jacob Lipman

Oops, missed one.

Still being nice - I missed one!

"Google is the only browser manufacture to have individually come out against California's proposed law, signing it's corporate name..."

"Google is the only browser manufacturer to have individually come out against California's proposed law, signing its corporate name..."

Extra "arrrr" on the end of manufacture. Because piracy and grammar can be friends.

Nutter preflames El Reg 'cockheads'

Jacob Lipman
Black Helicopters

Is the first helicopter

... Well, you know.

Hacker pwns police cruiser and lives to tell tale

Jacob Lipman

Not enough data - investigation required

There's not enough data to call this one. It could be a shitty, insecure piece of hardware. It could just as easily be incompetent IT workers failing to reconfigure a piece of hardware, or failing to configure it correctly. If the city purchased the product, presumably they had the same documentation the tester was able to find readily on the internet, so they were either aware of the default password and settings, or failed to fully read the documentation to learn of these things. My bet's on shared blame, fuck-ups abound.

Vote now for the best sci-fi film never made

Jacob Lipman
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Some day I'll buy my own brass cannon

The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress. One of my very favorite books, ever. It set the stage for the modern ROTM fear of sentient electronics. The simplified English/Russian grammar in use throughout the book is difficult to adjust to at first, but the rhythm is addictive once you get into it.


I'm a bit disappointed to see how few votes it's garnered.

Multimillionaire's private space ship 'can land on Mars'

Jacob Lipman

Comparing a horseless carriage to a modern car...

The comparison is very silly and not at all realistic. Modern technology can do much more than achieve parity with century-old technology. The Detroit Electric cars you reference had a top speed of about 20MPH (32Km/H), and weighed a fraction of what a modern vehicle must. Modern safety standards require a much sturdier, and consequently heavier vehicle. Were a vehicle similar in design built, using modern motors and batteries, it would have a much greater top speed and range, and would be extremely unsafe by modern standards.

People living in the developed world have come to expect certain amenities in their vehicles, all of which add weight, including but not limited to:

-Heating and air conditioning (these systems add great weight to an electric vehicle, as well as power consumption)

-Sound systems, cruise control, electronic locks, internal lighting, electronic defroster, windshield wipers, headlights, tail lights, turn signals and such, other assorted electronics and the many pounds of copper wiring required to run them

-Comfortable, secure seating and seat belts (as opposed to thinly padded bench seating)

-Roll cages and crumple zones (generally made of dense metallic substances)

-A large trunk (/boot) or other storage space

-Instrument and control panels (speedometer, odometer, tachometer, etc., and controls for all the other devices, the housing for all of these devices)

-Coverings for every structural surface - carpeted floors, upholstered ceiling, doors, etc.

You might argue that many of these things are unnecessary, and that modern vehicles without things like cruise control and air conditioning are commonly marketed. This is true - however, it is unlikely that you will find many individuals with the ready cash to become early adopters of a new technology who are willing to spend that ready cash on a vehicle without these amenities. A vehicle that can be built will not be built if it cannot be feasibly marketed. If early adopters sufficiently fund the development of electric car technology, it is believable that one day inexpensive economy-class electric cars, a la Geo Metro, might become available. Until then, barring the emergence of revolutionary battery technology, electric cars with limited range and long charge times will be the name of the game.

Lasers set to replace spark plugs in car engines

Jacob Lipman


"The NOx comes mostly from incomplete combustion, which of course occurs more often with lean fuel. The idea is that the laser will be able to make the lean mix burn more completely. The end result is more boom and less NOx, basically."

That seems a bit counterintuitive. I'm not a combustion expert by any means, but it seems that a lean fuel mixture would mean more complete combustion, thus less crud. Shouldn't more oxidiser and less fuel mean thoroughly burned fuel and excess oxidiser?

Calling all readers: Want some new icons?

Jacob Lipman

Re:Re: A tit le is required

I like this idea. Can it be an animated GIF?

Jacob Lipman

A tit le is required

-A "WIN" icon to go along with the "FAIL" icon - perhaps a bit of meme use is in order, with the use of Patrick Stewart's image as the background?

-A middle finger icon to go with the thumbs-up and thumbs-down gestures. Suppose that might be mildly NSFW.

-A picture of our favorite Moderatrix in full black leather regalia, wagging her finger. For... Hrm. Forum reasons. Communication. Yes.

-A cross-eyed face, to indicate confusion.

-A picture of Steve Jobs with steam pouring from his ears. He gets mad a lot.

-The "none" icon should be replaced by the image of a clergywoman in full habit, because puns.

Nude Florida man in gunfight with police SWAT robot

Jacob Lipman


Why isn't this in ROTM? Clearly the bots are gaining confidence - the mechanical marauder was clearly intent on forcing that poor naked man to impregnate it, resulting in a hideous cyborg that would have spawned a whole new wave of violent human/robotic hybrids fanatically loyal to their robot overlords and intent on the subjugation of their fleshy cousins.

Hasselblad H4D-40 Stainless Steel 40Mp camera

Jacob Lipman

Out of context quote of the day

"...I split the rubber..."

DARPA: Send limbless troops back to war with robo-arms

Jacob Lipman

Fantastic technology put to a good use

If this technology is deployed, it will get to the point where the government will be pressured to provide it to injured soldiers as a matter of course, as their due for having been so grievously injured - and I think that is absolutely the right thing to do.

As it is now, injured soldiers who recover sufficiently are sent right back out to war zones. If an amputation can be repaired in a manner that restores function to a level equal to or greater than that enjoyed before the injury, I see no reason why the same should not be the case. Knowing how my buddies that have gone in to the armed forces tend to think, there will be a whole lot of "holy shit, that's cool!" from a returning soldier's brothers in arms, and not a lot of negative reaction.

Without tactile feedback, this technology will not be good enough. Sensitivity to temperature, and the ability to feel what the artificial limb is touching are both important, the latter moreso than the former, especially for the sake of handling weapons.

Extremely high reliability is absolutely vital - an accidental discharge caused by a malfunctioning limb is absolutely unacceptable, and creates a massive liability headache.

Those who have commented on seeing this technology come to fruition over the next decade are being overly optimistic. I can see prosthetic legs being sufficiently ruggedised for military use, but the complexity involved in a functional neurally-interfaced hand are an order of magnitude greater. I would be shocked and delighted to see prosthetic hands that meet DARPA's criteria within 20 years.

Go Daddy CEO under fire for 'elephant snuff film'

Jacob Lipman


Somebody above mentioned that the fellow may view Africa as one massive place devoid of geographical or ethnic distinctions - a big, starving continent. Very silly - doubtful, albeit possible, that he was thinking along those lines. Regardless of other countries on the continent, many of which are doing just fine, Zimbabwe is not. Remember hyperinflation resulting in multi-trillion-dollar notes being worth pennies within hours of printing, followed by the abandonment of a distinct Zimbabwean currency? That country has been mismanaged and abused to the brink of collapse. There are a lot of starving people in Zimbabwe - using the term "village" to describe an African community automatically conjurs up the image of a demeaning stereotype. Regardless, people in villages, and towns, and cities, are starving. Elephant is edible. Even if the people are not starving, a few thousand pounds of meat freely given to a small community frees up a great deal of resources and will allow the people, and the community, to improve their lot.

It's entirely believable that he killed an elephant because he takes pleasure in killing animals. Human encroachment may be to blame for the "elephant problem" - regardless, that problem now exists and must be dealt with. If a wealthy foreigner wants to pay a substantial sum for the right to perform a neccesary function, and provide the meat produced by the action to people who will use it, I see nothing wrong.

He may very well be an ass - glorifying the death of an animal and posing with its corpse certainly doesn't seem like the behavior of a gentleman. Doing the right thing for the wrong reasons still entails doing the right thing. I am curious what elephant tastes like...

XBox promo code exploit set Microsoft back $1.2m

Jacob Lipman
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Suck it up, MS

Microsoft will potentially be screwing a lot of people over if it does eliminate all of the points created in this manner. And there is a perfectly valid defense for any customer accused of creating the points fraudulently, which is almost undoubtedly true in some of these cases.

It is very unlikely that someone did not take advantage of this code creation ability to sell discount microsoft points for real money. If a customer was duped in this manner, and Microsoft then takes the points from them, the customer will essentially be held responsible for Microsoft's security error. Not good business. If it really is only a few thousand dollars worth of liability, Microsoft can afford to suck it up to avoid a potential PR shitstorm when it takes a hundred dollars worth of MS points from a dyslexic kid who didn't know he was doing anything wrong...

Russia knocks back Soyuz launch

Jacob Lipman

@Daniel Evans

As a generic term for ESA-trained spacefarers, "Euronaut" seems pretty straightforward. If you wanted to categorize folks further based on nationality, I have a few suggestions:

British - "Anglonaut"

French - "Franconaut"

German - "Deutschonaut" or "Teutonaut"

Brain's not awake enough to make jokes right now.

Data-mining technique outs authors of anonymous email

Jacob Lipman

Analysis fail.

80% is good enough for a court of law? Out of 200k emails, they misidentified 40,000... With a sample set of fewer than 200 people. I don't think that's enough for probable cause to have a warrant issued in the US, nor sufficient for presentation as evidence in a criminal case. Presumably with a larger pool of people, the accuracy goes down further - I can think of very few situations in which the software in its present state would be useful.

NASA aims for space tests of Mars-in-a-month plasma drive

Jacob Lipman

Nuclear reactors... in space!

Nuclear reactors in space are the best answer. I approve the poster's plan to launch from a country that doesn't give a shit if nuclear material is sprayed all over the place in the event that the rocket stack goes kaboom.

Natalie Portman slaps John Galliano

Jacob Lipman

RE: People surprised at Natalie "Portman" being Jewish

She was born in Israel, and her real name is Natalie Hershlag (נטלי הרשלג‎) - she changed her name to something less bageley, supposedly to protect her family's identity and privacy.

P.S., Natalie = giggity giggity

Utah to honour Browning M1911 semi-automatic

Jacob Lipman

A few responses

Back @ Paul 172

"'Self-defense is the most basic of human rights. I cannot enjoy my other human rights unless I am alive to do so'

The above is based on the predication that people are trying to kill you... That _is not_ the general feeling over here in the UK, even in the roughest places."

It is not predicated upon the belief that people are trying to kill me, but rather that it is within reason that I may encounter a situation in which my safety or the safety of another is in danger. It is not likely that I will ever encounter a situation like this; but it is possible, and it is prudent to be prepared for the situation. I am also CPR/AED certified and keep a small first aid and trauma kit in my vehicle at all times. So far I have never needed to use these tools and training, and again, I hope that I never shall. Nonetheless, events requiring either set of skills are common enough that it is prudent to be prepared for them.

@ Tom 38

"That's right, hold up Chicago as an example of why gun legislation doesn't work

Got nothing to do with the fact that if you live in Chicago, and want a gun, these oppressive laws require you to drive 40 miles out of town to buy a gun. Onerous."

Your information is flawed. Purchasing a firearm in the state of Illinois requires a Firearms Owner Identification Card - if you do not possess one you cannot legally purchase a firearm. If you obtain an FOID, legally purchase a firearm outside of Cook County, then bring that weapon into Cook County without going through the process for lawfully registering it (last I heard, almost impossible - nearly all applications are denied unless the applicant has connections), you are committing a crime, just the same as purchasing an illegal gun within Chicago. Purchasing an illegal weapon within the city itself is not difficult - no 40-mile drive required.

"In the US, gangs all have guns. Gang violence means shooting people. In the UK, guns are expensive, hard to get hold of, and if caught with one, you're in a world of shit. Consequently, gang violence in the UK usually involves just beatings and stabbings, all of which are much more socially acceptable and less likely to lead to fatalities."

In Chicago, illegal guns are cheap and all the gangs have them, so all of the gangs feel the need to continue to have them. If you are caught with one, you're in a world of shit - Chicago has very harsh laws on concealed carry and unlawful possession. There are a shitload of beatings and stabbings in Chicago - the shootings are just an unpleasant addition. Chicago is a corrupt shithole of a city and I will never live there. It is a very unsafe place to live. There is no single-issue cause. Gun control is only one facet of the climate in Chicago that has led to the status quo. Racism, classism, corruption, and a general disregard for human dignity has led to the Chicago we have today.

Jacob Lipman

Firearms and their place in American society

Seems rather silly, if harmless.

To those who would argue statistics:

They are irrelevant.

I am not a statistic, but rather an individual who feels morally justified defending himself and others from those who would do evil. I lawfully carry a firearm in order to defend life. Self-defense is the most basic of human rights. I cannot enjoy my other human rights unless I am alive to do so - I must therefore be allowed to preserve my life from external threats. The carrying of a firearm is an effective way to protect life in an extreme situation. I have never drawn a weapon on another human being, and hope that I never shall.

There are very few tools which will enable a small woman to equal or best a large, muscular man in a violent encounter. A pistol in the hands of a properly-trained woman can be the tool she needs to prevent violation and murder. Of the two outcomes, I find a dead rapist to be vastly superior to a raped innocent.

Those without training should not handle or carry weapons. An untrained person is more likely to have the weapon taken, or to misuse it and injure innocents than a person who has received proper training - that said, plenty of "highly trained" police officers are responsible for negligent discharges and other irresponsible handling of weapons ever year.

It is important to understand the political realities of gun control in this country before condemning the ownership, carry, and usage of arms.

-Weapons lawful in one state may be felonious to own in others - each state has been allowed a great deal of leeway to establish gun laws. The borders between states are not at all like international borders - smuggling items lawful in one state into another is commonplace. Chicago is a prime example - handguns are still more or less illegal in Cook County, which encompasses Chicago and its suburbs. In this situation, those who arm themselves do so illegally, but readily. The government will criminally prosecute an otherwise law-abiding citizen for the possession of a device that is readily obtained by the criminal element and used for harm. This has the effect of tipping the balance in favor of the criminal - he can go armed confident that the majority of the populace he will victimize is kept unarmed by the law of the land. That combination can be deadly for innocents, presented with a criminal element that is readily armed, and prevented on pain of a felony conviction, fines and prison time from being equally armed. Victim disarmament does not work.

-Some will answer that the solution must be to ban the weapons across the country, so that this ready access to weapons disappears. There are many flaws in such a plan - England was largely disarmed of centerfire, semi-automatic rifles and all handguns in a manner that simply will not work in the United States. First, gun ownership required a strictly-controlled license and the registration of each firearm. Then, once the vast majority of firearms were registered, the government had little difficulty confiscating the vast majority of those firearms it had deemed unsafe for possession by the little people. Here, when states introduce registration schemes for weapons, most of the weapons mysteriously fall off boats. California is a prime example - certain weapons were designated "assault weapons" based largely on cosmetic features and required registration in order to "grandfather" those weapons, as thenceforth they were to be unlawful to purchase, transfer, or possess without registration. This backfired. Many people did not want to go through the hassle of registering their weapons. Some simply did not comply, and kept their lawfully purchased weapons. Some, fearing prosecution for illegal possession, sold the weapons to whoever they could in face-to-face cash transactions. As a result there are now a great many such weapons traded illicitly by criminals.

-We will not be easily disarmed. We saw what happened in Britain and will not allow it to happen here. A lot of police, especially in rural areas, are gun-owners and feel strongly about gun rights - they will not cooperate with gun registration and confiscation schemes. Some states have gone so far as to pass laws declaring federal firearms laws invalid and unenforceable in their borders. Federal firearms laws are generally based on the federal government's power to regulate interstate trade, and our Constitution grants all powers not expressly granted to the federal government, to state governments. The federal government does not have the power to regulate intrastate commerce, therefore state governments do - therefore federal law may govern the trade of firearms between states, but not their production, distribution, possession or trade within a given state. If the federal government pushes it, some states with very strong pro-gun culture (Texas is at the top of the list) will very likely secede from the union. Arizona is another likely candidate for this.

There are too many guns in this country to successfully disarm it completely. Such an attempt would be more costly and less effective than the drug wars.

It is a sad thing that people kill each other. It would be very nice to live in a world where it was not remotely likely that I could be robbed at gunpoint or shot at for fun if I walked in the wrong neighborhood. Unfortunately I live in the real world, and along with the saints and innocents, it is populated by violent, amoral scum.

Gates, Woz, and the last 2,000 years of computing

Jacob Lipman

Czech Republic?

"LEO computers were exported to Australia, South Africa, and the Czech Republic - at the height of the Cold War."

Er, Czechoslovakia maybe? The Czech Republic sprung into existence on January 1, 1993 - well after the height of the cold war, and the distribution of LEO computers.

Acoustic gunshot locators get UK military field trials

Jacob Lipman

Subsonic ammunition, or...

That system could work very well for the majority of small-arms combat. Anyone using a sniper rifle or assault rifle that chambers any of the standard Eastern-bloc or NATO cartridges will be detectable, unless they manage to get ahold of a subsonic load (very unlikely for a rifle cartridge, especially if it's to cycle in a semi- or fully automatic weapon), or a sound suppressor.

Most AK-47, AKM, and AK-74 (Or the Romanian PSL squad sniper rifle shown in the reenactment from the History Channel sniper program someone mentioned above) rifles and their variants have threaded barrels, usually fitted with compensators or flash suppressors. They can just as readily be fitted with sound suppressors, if they can be obtained - Russia produces some very effective sound suppressors meant for use with their assault rifles; undoubtedly some of these have made their way to Iraq and Afghanistan. A sound suppressor should sufficiently dampen the sound of the explosion so that if the shot is fired from any reasonable distance, the system will not be able to detect it, as the sonic crack alone is not enough information to track the source of the shot.

Fortunately, most combat situations will involve unsuppressed weapons firing projectiles at supersonic speeds.

But if someone has a suppressed Thompson... Oh shit!

Once-in-a-lifetime gag tops Fringe quip list

Jacob Lipman

@oldfogey 00:20

<tongue location="cheek">

What ever do you mean, sir? I do believe that "nit" refers to the eggs or young of the louse, so a nitpicker would be a person engaged in removing such things, presumably from a human head. Whatever does the removal of parasitic insects have to do with pedantic criticism? I do not follow your logic and require a detailed explanation of the relationship between these concepts.


StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty

Jacob Lipman
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Sim Starcraft

Looks like another Spore. Years of excitement and lots of really nifty advertising, beautiful gameplay videos and exciting features, then the game comes out... Loaded down with shitty DRM, missing important features, and overall a disappointment. I won't buy this game until I can get it second-hand, with all expansions, for under fifty USD, and someone has cracked it for LAN play.

Boo, Blizzard. I was prepared to purchase this game. Absent a few foolish decisions, I would have done so.

Is it a phone? Is it a Taser? No, it's a cattle prod!

Jacob Lipman
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Disarm the peasants.

"Tasers are nasty things and we can think of no legitimate reason why a civilian should have one..."

Weapons? Only for the king and the king's men.

"Civilians" should have access to these weapons because they are useful for non-lethal self-defense (or defence, pick your English). The right to preserve your own life and safety is the most fundamental right of a sentient being.

Boeing's 'Phantom Eye' Ford Fusion powered stratocraft

Jacob Lipman

A degree of magnitude?

That must be 1/360th of an order of magnitude, then.

Big EU imports of Sahara sun-power coming soon?

Jacob Lipman

What else?

Cost of transmission... What is that usually, about 50% loss in transmission?

So long as you magically produce an inexpensive ambient-temperature superconductor, increase the efficiency of solar cells to 186%, cure cancer (just for good measure) and rewrite the laws of thermodynamics, 1% of the Sahara should be more than sufficient.

We hire our legislators to write laws, yes? Why have we allowed physicists to get away with it for so long?

I, for one, welcome our new desert-dwelling, superconducting, physics-defying, green-powered North-Africa-exploiting Eurocentric overlords.

Suspended-animation cold sleep achieved in lab

Jacob Lipman
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Cryogenics and reanimation

Fascinating idea, hope it comes to fruition in the next few decades... I think I remember an article the Reg published a while back about a reanimated dog; the dog was killed, blood removed and replaced with saline, then a day later given its blood back and revived, with "only" something like 30% brain damage. Maybe these processes, and several others that have not been invented yet, need to be combined for successful cryogenic storage of human beings?