* Posts by Dennis O'Neill

33 publicly visible posts • joined 10 Oct 2007

Bishop Hill: Gonzo science and the Hockey Stick

Dennis O'Neill

Well yes, but

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The interview says that the hockey stick is false and the data "isn't nearly as scary." Let's say that's true (I'm not a statistician and haven't read enough to confirm/refute either theory) - it still means the planet is warming up and we need to do something about it, surely? Even if we accept the claims that the climate change advocates are crying wolf way too loudly, there is still a very definite wolf-shaped predator on the horizon that we need to get ready to tackle.

So imho, if we carry on making ourselves more efficient, more sustainable and recycling more, all that stuff, we're not wasting anything because even if the most optimistic predictions are true, then our resources will outlast even those.

Surely, whatever you believe, doing nothing isn't an option (oil WILL run out, whenever you argue that it's going to happen) and it makes sense to sort stuff out now so that everything lasts that bit longer.

Directgov kids' site apes explosive gay porn brand

Dennis O'Neill

Won't somebody...

...think of the children?


DNA pioneer lambasts government database policy

Dennis O'Neill


...the only two countries in the world who want a national DNA data base retained indefinitely are a monarchical collection of principalities with an overbearing police force who think THEY actually run the country and not the government, and the UAE.

Well done, Gordo.

Think Aussie election rules are draconian? Look at the UK's

Dennis O'Neill

So how does that affect...

newspapers, then? Surely everything they publish during an election comes under that banner.

Council saves quarter mil' from mobile bill

Dennis O'Neill

It's different because

the auction lasted 59 minutes, whereas a tendering process can drag on for months and even afterwards can wind up with the council being challenged in the courts by one of the losers.

Anyway, I'm not that impressed - is the cheapest really always the best? And if it's the law for councils to always choose the cheapest (which it seems to be), is it any wonder that we wind up complaining about shoddy council gear and services?

Airport scanners go live today, kids included

Dennis O'Neill

Lord Adonis

The man whose name writes cheques his face can't cash.

And if you're against scanners then you must be in favour of terrorism.

It's all a ridiculous waste of time. And the fact that it's been proved to be a waste of time means they shove their fingers even further into their ears.

Thatcher was a twisted old misanthrope, but she was a crusty pinko libertarian nutcase compared to this mob.

Google: Keep user data safe by letting us hoard it forever

Dennis O'Neill

I see they're going...

...on the attack, now. They're so rattled by privacy campaigners that they're getting aggressive instead of defensive. The smug "We're right and you're wrong, stop worryong your little head about all this" approach has plainly failed miserably, so now they're trying the "You're an enemy of freedom!!" tack instead. How can it be "reprehensible" for a company to disagree with Google about what to do with its data?

Unfortunately, it's the Rupert Murdoch school of freedom. So long as you're free to spend all your money on their services and nowhere else, then the world's in a good place, but heaven forfend you should want to choose something they don't want you to.

UK border database on target and budget, says Home Office

Dennis O'Neill

"We're on course to track everyone..."

"...crossing UK borders by 2014."

And what exactly will all that guff tell them? Given that they had no idea how many illegal immigrants were working for the Home Office in 2008 - the actual Home Office, in the actual heart of London - do they really think they have the ability to sift through over 100 million journeys a year and spot the tiny handful (probably around 0.01%) of journeys that involve yer actual crims?

Aye, right you are, boys.

Police snapper silliness reaches new heights

Dennis O'Neill

It's not just terror, though

Photographers are prevented form taking pix because of the old "PEEDOOO!!" cry too, you know. For years, I happliy took photos of my lad playing football with his (relentlessly rubbish) team and the only ones who complained were the parents of kids whose pics I HADN'T managed to get ("What's wrong with my boy?" was the moan.)

Since he quit, however, I have seen at least two games at the local public park where a photographer was told, by a game's referee of all people, that he had to remove himself from the park or the ref would refuse to allow the game to continue. Even though it is perfectly clear that you can take photos of whoever you like in a public place,* and despite the fact that there are no rules/recommendations form the FA about taking pix of football matches taking place in a public park, either, at an amateur level.

*I'm well aware that you can't make commercial gain from photos that rely on an identifiable member of the public without getting a model release form signed. This was a teenager from, presumably, the local school carrying out one of his GCSE/A level projects, at a guess; the other was just some bloke out with his camera

UK jails schizophrenic for refusal to decrypt files

Dennis O'Neill


"The authorities had no option. He COULD have been hiding anything, and surely the law CANNOT take refusal as a presumption of innocence. Let's face it, I don't want Al Qaeda suspects doing so either. I don't suppose missing bail hearings, trying to enter countries illegally and having traces of explosive on your hands helped his case either."

Yes, he COULD have been hiding anything, but that's no reason to look. I COULD be hiding anything, too, but the law used to require that either reasonable suspicion or evidence be produced before guilt was assumed. If they accept that he is neither a threat to the public nor a terrorist, both of which they openly admit, then they have NO right to insist that he opens his files. They have admitted they have no reason to suspect him of anything but defiance. That is why they have put him away. He didn't enter any country illegally, and even though he missed bail hearings, he was NOT charged with missing the bail hearings. Had he been so, there'd be no argument. But he wasn't. He was charged with defying authority.

"C'mon, I dislike Jack Straw and the government as much as the next man. But if it's a choice of protecting the public (especially kids) or protecting those who think they can give two fingers to the law, i know who i'm siding with. If he is innocent, then he's BLOODY arrogant."

And why shouldn't we give two fingers to a law that gives the filth the right to suspect anyone of anything? Why on earth would he do anything other than give two fingers to such a corrupt and unjust law? And if being BLOODY arrogant was against the law, you'd have to jail every MP, every lawyer, every footballer, every banker, every sleb, the list is endless.

Oh, sorry, I forgot - "Won't somebody think of the children??"

As to those who think he's getting the 'appropriate' treatment by being sectioned, you have no idea what those places are really like. He's there because they can't put him anywhere else without evidence. He won't be helped there, he'll be held there indefinitely, stuck in the Catch 22 that as long as he defies them, he must be mad. But in order to get out, he has to do what he doesn't want to do and allow them to look at his files. So as long as he protests his innocence, they will say he must be sectioned and the only way out is for him to admit to a 'guilt' that he doesn't want to admit to, thus allowing them to re-arrest him in order to go through his files and find whatever the hell they want.

It's a fishing expedition, pure and simple. Something we were repeatedly assured that would not happen with this act.

Channel 4 raises Bing word-extinction alarm

Dennis O'Neill

Ah the old 'words v visuals' debate

As someone who's spent the past 30 years in the communications business, I get this all the time. "Language will become extinct as visual communication becomes more important." Sigh. 25 years ago, someone said to me if a picture paints 1,000 words, how come you can't draw this sentence?

More delays for UK.gov's net snooping programme

Dennis O'Neill

It's all a waste of time anyway

As lots of previous comments have made the privacy/intrusion arguments better than I could, I'll pass on that and move on to a much more practical problem that no one in power seems to have contemplated - how in the name of all that is holy will they sift through all this traffic for the tiny snippets of a clue that will lead to something concrete?

A CIA man once said in an interview that the problem with looking for any criminal activity is one of scale. 99.999% of the population is fundamentally honest and is trying to hide absolutely nothing. Therefore, in general, 99.999% of all communications are trying to hide nothing. So finding that 0.001% (if it's even that much) is like looking for a needle in the world's biggest haystack as it is.

So why on earth are the powers that be trying to pile a billion times more hay on top of an already colossal stack?? They're just making their jobs even harder than it is now.

STRONG REAL SEX? That's not porn, rules ASA

Dennis O'Neill

Compare and contrast

to the stories about Kelly Brook being ordered to have "bigger buns" to hide more of her cleavage on posters for London Underground. Those complaints - by the Transport Authority, no less, before the poster had even appeared!! - really were pathetic.

@Graham Dresch - " Just seven complaints out of a population of > 60 Million"

It's actually only 7 complaints form about 1 million readers overall. The Guardian and Independent don't sell a million combined (it's actually about 600,000 in all, I believe, with claims of reader numbers that just barely scrape into 7 figures), so imo those figures are more of an indictment of their anaemic sales.

Prof: Extremists tend to dominate debates

Dennis O'Neill

The US right wingers...

...do this every day. Every single white, right wing Christian fundamentalist preacher believes the whole of America is on his side. (And it is, with the exception of Ann Coulter, always a he.) That's why they were so outraged when Obama won the presidency - it proved they weren't in the majority and they've been screaming blue murder ever since.

What US Homeland Security collects about you

Dennis O'Neill

Glad I'm not travelling to the States

Mohamad Attas, the guy credited with being the leader of the 9/11 attacks, was arrested in the US three times in the year before the attacks for driving offences, yet even when it was flagged up to higher authorities by the arresting officers that he had outstayed his visa by many months, he still wasn't deported.

Is it just me or does anyone else hear the resounding thud of stable doors being closed?

US women protest for the right to bare

Dennis O'Neill

They really are odd over there

A few years ago, whilst in America on holiday, I was watching The Witness on the telly in my hotel room. There's a key scene where the Harrison Ford character accidentally sees the Kelly McGillis Amish character bathing semi naked. There is a long and knowing look between the two characters and Ms McGillis is topless throughout. It's not in the least bit titillating and is shown to demonstrate the impact the two previously chaste characters have had on each other. Fair enough, but the prurient US TV censors cut out the topless part of that scene, lopping off a huge amount of its significance.

Ah well, we all have our moments.

However, this scene was immediately followed by commercials for beers in which young women were frequently to be seen being showered with water, soaking their t-shirts, or their bikinis, or their skimpy tops, and so on.

The hypocrisy in attitudes was extraordinary.

Pressure group aghast at Hillingdon ID card scheme

Dennis O'Neill

@ ChrisC

"There's a lot of paranoid tabloid-esque frothy mouthed pseudo outrage being spouted here."

The thing about this is that we all know the arguments spouted by those in charge. "Well you didn't object when we did this...well you didn't object when we did the next bit.." It's called the salami technique - all you take is a little slice each time, so that people can't object, and before you know it they've taken so many slices you don't have any salami left.

That's not paranoid, frothy mouthed pseudo-outrage, it's bitter experience. Look at the way we used to be able to travel to America without notice. Then you had to check in several hours before your flight. Then you had to let them know where you were staying. Now you can't go without 48 hours notice. Bit by bit by bit...

As for your implication that any resident who doesn't want a card should expect to have pay twice - once in his council tax and then once again at the gate - to use a particular service that he's supposed to get access to anyway is just nonsense. Why should someone who has already paid have to pay again just because they don't have a piece of plastic on them? Is that really fair? And if anyone is coming across the council borders to use Hillingdon's dump, then they're paying for a service in their own council that they're not using, and are thus only robbing themselves. To say that "yes but the extra expense involved in disposing of their rubbish will have to be met by our council tax payers" may seem true, but the extra expense involved in providing the discounts for card holders will ALSO be met by Hillingdon council tax payers, so you're robbing yourself there, too. Ain't no such thing as a free lunch.

And you don't seriously think that the stuff they would take down the dump will be picked up by the local bin men, do you? Really? As they say where I come from, "Aye right you are, son."

Finally, the difference with all of the other cards you already have in your wallet is that they all go to separate places that are protected by law from being accessed by anyone other than the specific service provider. So if you're a member of a gym, fine. But the council has no right whatsoever to access that info, even if they own it. This card gives them the potential ability to start tying up all those previously loose ends.

I have absolutely no doubt that someone, somewhere, will want those loose ends tied up, sooner or later. Bit by bit by bit by bit...

It ain't paranoia, it's experience.

Dennis O'Neill

"They're not compulsory...

...you only need one if you want to use the services."

That's the same self-serving, duplicitous ball locks as "If you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to fear."

Orange declares mobile broadband price war

Dennis O'Neill


"Rival network operator O2 already sends its customers an SMS when they’re getting close to their download limits."

Not to me, they didn't. Ok, I didn't go very far over my limit, but warning SMS? Not a sausage.

Government ready to round up opinions on DNA database

Dennis O'Neill

@ Sir Adam-All (and anyone else who cares)

"Sheriff??? WTF???"

Yes, in Scotland the equivalent of a magistrate is a sheriff, the equivalent of the CPS is the Procurator Fiscal.

Back to the subject -

Has no one told these people that innocent people are exactly that - innocent? So they not only HAVEN'T done anything, there is no proof that they WILL. And how can you have a 'consultation' on whether or not the government should obey the law? The European COURT, not the parliament, told Jacqboot in no uncertain terms what had to be done, and now they're just going "La-la-la-la-la-la-la-la-la..."

Adobe tries to rub out LibDem airbrush claims

Dennis O'Neill

Eye of the beholder

Two things about this story.

First, that some eejit thinks that man's objectification of female beauty only began with Photoshop shows a very disturbing ignorance of history. People have been altering portraits in order to 'improve' them ever since man invented paint.

Which leads neatly on to point two. That The Reg, of all people, think the works of Titian, can be deemed 'NSFW.'

FFS is all that can be said about that.

CRB check failures rocket ahead of massive expansion

Dennis O'Neill

@Tom yng Nghymru

So the person had a cannabis conviction from 2 decades ago? Good god! How far back do these things go, then? By those standards, if you picked up a conviction for, say, having a nasty fight when you were 15, then 20 blameless years later you apply for a job in a school, you'd be thought of as someone who violently attacks minors, would you?

Please tell me I'm wrong. (And no, I'm not talking about me in the above example.)

Deutsche Bank sacks two for spying

Dennis O'Neill

@ Graham Marsden

Of course it wouldn't. The government does the job for the banks. Why on earth would they waste money on private eyes when they can just go to the masters?

'No more CCTV', cries top CCTV cop

Dennis O'Neill


...all those sheep can be really nasty when they're riled.

Man jailed for snooping on police database

Dennis O'Neill

Of course...

...something like that could NEVER happen with the ID database, the Contactpoint database, the Connecting for Health database, etc, etc, etc, could it?

Cartoon lion urges Lancs kids to dob in terrorist classmates

Dennis O'Neill

We don't...

...live in a police state.

Unfortunately, the police think we do

Police vet live music, DJs for 'terror risk'

Dennis O'Neill

The only terror is in the Mets' heads

It never ceases to amaze me how often politicians and the police complain bitterly about how they're portrayed by the "meejuh." They complain that young people fail to connect with politics, that youth are cynical about it all because of the way politics and the law are portrayed by the "meejuh."

Yet none of them realise that the reason young people are refusing to vote is because the politicians themselves are such cynical, duplicitous morons who tramp all over the freedom of young people to do what they want.

Would you vote for someone as breathtakingly mendacious as that Eyles person? Someone who blatantly lies about the evidence literally in front of his face? And he thinks WE'RE cynical??

UK.gov 'to drop' überdatabase from snoop Bill

Dennis O'Neill

Needles in haystacks

A serving MI5 officer was being interviewed a few years ago about the search for terrorists and government plans for tracking communications (the sort of plans that probably led to this current nonsense).

He said that "Looking for terrorists is like looking for a needle in a haystack. I simply cannot see the point of piling more and more hay on top of the stack."

DfT rounds up Road-Pricing 2.0 contractors

Dennis O'Neill

The sums don't add up

So how can it be more effective to pay for all those tags and readers, install them in roughly 32 million vehicles, install the readers across tens of thousands of miles of roads and then send out monthly bills, reminders and court summonses for non-payment, when all they have to do currently is send out a bunch of annual reminders and chase up those who don't pay?

Yes, something has to be done about traffic - but tax isn't the answer. First, it will encourage more people to try to cheat it, making it more expensive for the rest of us. Second, it will be hideously expensive to administer. Third, to avoid the usual howls that it's "just another way of raising taxes" they'll have to peg prices pretty close to existing tax costs, making it an utterly pointless exercise, financially as it won't raise any more money, it won't cover its costs and it won't deter people from using the roads as present.

What we need is a way of encouraging more public transport that's more efficient, more frequent and more comfortable so that fewer people want to use cars.

Simply increasing the cost of road use without providing any viable alternative will do absolutely nothing positive whatsoever.

Inquirer celebrates spammer murder-suicide

Dennis O'Neill

You weren't mean enough

To the Inquirer, that is.

What a vile little rag. To cheer at the idea that someone killed themselves and their family is simply revolting. You should have been much, much harsher on the twunts who wrote that piece.

Spam is a pain in the @rse, without a doubt. But to glory in the fact that a man shot dead himself, his wife and his three year old daughter, and left a teenaged girl with a life-threatening wound and, if she survives, a nightmare that any sane person wouldn't wish on their worst enemy, is just sick.

Botanist sues to stop CERN hurling Earth into parallel universe

Dennis O'Neill

Tut tut (pedant alert)

You have a little giggle at Mr Wagner's description of "Generva, Switzerland" and then drop a clanger of your own by saying "unescapable" instead of "inescapable."

And yes, that is the most dangerous thing in that article. Mr Wagner seems the type to suggest that we would all be wiped away by the enormous gravitational forces of all the planets being aligned with the sun at a single moment. Last time it happened, a couple of years back, Patrick Moore very snottily explained that the gravitational effects would be about the same as a bus passing your front door.

Which isn't far from what the boffins at CERN appear to have said.

Watchdog raps MoD over Qinetiq sell-off bonanza

Dennis O'Neill


Private Eye has been banging on about this for years, pretty much ever since it was first mooted. The Eye should be compulsory reading for the entire electorate.

Only Sky can save digital TV

Dennis O'Neill
Thumb Down

Licence fee v Sky subs

Yes, you get so many more channels for your Sky subscriptions than you do for your licence fee, BUT a licence fee is currently £135 for an entire year, which gives you access to around 40-odd Freeview channels. Sky gives you more channels, but at what cost? Even its most basic package of £15 a month is still £45 MORE than the licence fee, and all your money goes to that champion of free speech and unadulterated editing, The Dirty Digger. And if you want to see everything The Digger offers, it's almost £500 a year, which is more than 300% more expensive.

And as so many others have pointed out, the Digger gets us to subsidise his operations by refusing to pay any tax at all. His shares prospectus actually boasts about the company's ability to avoid tax! Do you really want to support a company like that?