* Posts by Jellied Eel

1682 posts • joined 18 Aug 2008

Amateur astroboffins spot young brown dwarf playing with planet-forming hula hoop just 102 parsecs from Earth

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Planet sized Hula Hoop you say? Where can I sign up to colonise this? Assuming it's BBQ flavor..

All-electric plane makes first flight – while lugging 2 tons of batteries aloft

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Re: Compulsory El Reg commentary moan

And you can do something similar in modern ICE vehicles too - if you're travelling downhill, the vehicle can take advantage of the acceleration effects of gravity and reduce the amount of fuel being injected into the cylinders.

Bloody technofetishists! Fit an accelerometer/inclinometer to the vehicle so it can talk to the ECU and thence to the injectors.. And kind of de-couple an important linkage between driver, their right foot and a pedal.

Alternatively, driver just lifts their foot off the gas a little when they're going down hill. Or if they're not in an Audi/BMW*, when they're approaching slow moving/stationary traffic. I'm still not convinced that idiot-proofing driving is a good idea, when driving is the most dangerous thing idiots probably do. Regenerative braking/KERS-type systems are possible in ICE/hybrids though, but sadly mostly in really expensive ones where it's used to make them go faster.

*You know those drivers. They wait until they can see the whites of your eyes in your rear view mirror, then slam on their brakes/horn/headlight flashers. But it could be worse, it could be a Tesla on 'autopilot' behind you.

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Indeed. Batteries should be formed into the wings, for instance.

Sure, if aircraft manufacturers want to spend their own money on such things. But I'm guessing it wouldn't be cheap. So working with a wing's internal volume, plus routing cooling/heating for batteries into the wings so they can work reliably in all weather*. Then for high wing designs, what effect having all that mass in the wings would affect wing loading & general handling.

But despite ecofreaks wanting electric everything, it still won't be able to overcome the fundamental physics problems, like fossil fuels have waay more energy per unit mass/volume than batteries, motors and support kit.

*Now curious about that aspect, ie how performance/range varies based on weather conditions, especially cold winters & icing conditions.

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Re: Nice stunt...

Yup.. Little room for passengers, luggage, and a challenge common to traditional aviation. Like landing. Landing weight is usually lower than take-off weight because aircraft get lighter as they fly. Or have to dump fuel to get to a safe landing weight & land. That doesn't happen in e-aviation so landing gear would need to be reinforced to cope with landing 2 tons of empty batteries.. And those carry their own hazards-


This paper presents quantitative measurements of heat release and fluoride gas emissions during battery fires for seven different types of commercial lithium-ion batteries.

Interesting paper. I'd seen reports of the risk of HF during battery fires, and wondered where the the F came from.

As anti-brutality protests fill streets of American cities, netizens cram police app with K-Pop, airwaves with NWA

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Re: some things to consider, commenting from your nice safe keyboard

I was completely with you until your called jujitsu the "thug's version" of judo. There are certainly thugs in both, but my first sensi in jujitsu bounce the one that showed up in a hurry.

It was a quote from a judo sensei when I told them I did jujitsu. We were good mates, so a comment made in good sport. Especially as we both knew the history. And would both wind up the friend who did aikido (circle jerks). But I started training in jujitsu after time served kick boxing (mugendo) after a team member got into a street fight. He didn't start it, but the person that did fell, hit their head and died.. So a manslaughter charge. That was a bit of a shock, and luckily a police officer came to the dojo and explained how the law worked.. So I decided to train in jujitsu so I had more options to control and dissuade an opponent.

But TL;DR version is anyone who's done any decent martial arts or self-defence training should know that strikes to the neck or choke holds are very dangerous.. As the officer in this case should have known.

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Re: some things to consider, commenting from your nice safe keyboard

2) If you cannot breathe, you cannot struggle. If you carry on struggling for over ten minutes, you can breathe. If you can carry on struggling against three or more cops for ten minutes, you are breathing just fine.

And if you're dead, you cannot struggle. If you're unconscious, you cannot struggle. If you're being strangled, you eventually die. Sadly, Floyd demonstrated this.

There's perhaps some semantics around 'strangulation'-


1) the action or state of strangling or being strangled. "death due to strangulation"

2) medicine

a condition in which the blood supply to a part of the body, typically a hernia, is reduced or cut off as a result of compression of blood vessels.

So there are a few forms of strangulation in the nasty sense. A 'choke' hold, where the intent is to cut off airways. Person can't breathe, so go unconscious and may then die. Obviously rather risky, especially given the neck and airway is rather fragile, so death can easily occur if the airway is damaged & swelling occurs.

Then there's the 'medical' version. The brain (in most people) rather likes oxygenated blood delived by some large blood vessels in the neck. Compress those, and person loses consciousness, and continued pressure leads to death. That's generally faster than choking, and can also be rather lethal.

That's all part of any decent self-defence or restraint training.. generally in the form of 'Don't do this!'. Also one of the differences between judo & the 'thugs version', ju-jitsu which includes strikes and holds considered too risky for competition judo. The police officer should have known this, and removed pressure once Floyd stopped resisting or fell unconscious. He didn't, and death was pretty much inevitable. He fully deserves prosecution, as do his fellow officers for not preventing the death.

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Re: "Yes, Anon activists are back."

I must add I fully agree that the response should be non-violent, has to be non-violent, and the violent protesters should be condemned. I just don't believe they are organised or paid for groups.

I think some aspects were organised, but not at the conspiratorial level. So I watched some live feeds from Santa Monica which showed some looting. There were elements of organisation there, ie cars carrying groups of people who looted stores. Those weren't protestors, just criminals exploiting the unrest.. Which may also exacerbate the problem. So retailers have been struggling due to Covid, now they've lost stock and have damage to repair. So how many looted stores will re-open & the knock-on impact to communities. But there's always Amazon I guess.

Weirdest conspiracy theory I've seen is the suggestion that pallets of bricks had been left for rioters to find. Seems.. unlikely, especially given the trend for towns to use brick paving.

One thing that struck me strongly, ignoring the police murderers and their under-prosecution, is the lack of intervention. Someone filmed it, and people complained, but nobody intervened.

Yup. It was hard to watch the videos of the murder/manslaughter, and the behavior of the officer(s) was inexcusable. What did he think would happen kneeling on Floyd's neck for that long? The bystanders could see there was a problem, why didn't the other 3 officers & intervene? I guess the problem for the bystanders was general distrust of police. If they'd intervened, Floyd may still be alive but the bystanders charged with assaulting police officers, obstruction etc. But I think that's also a problem with heavy handed policing. Start with a minor offense, yell 'stop resisting', add charges of resisting arrest, assault etc.

I did see some interventions during the rioting though. One idiot was shooting fireworks at police, but then other crowd members lumped him a little for being an idiot. Other strange thing for me was protestors 'taking a knee'. I realise where that came from, but seemed a little insensitive given how Floyd died.

Watch SpaceX's Starship SN4 prototype accidentally self-destruct in a rocket test burn

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Re: And FAED to black

Yeh, the videos showed something leaking at the base for a while before the explosion. Curious if that was both CH4 and LOX, then evaporation allowing that to get to an explosive mix. Scott highlighted the horizontal shockwave & the hemispherical shockwave, one of which probably ruptured the vessel as well as launching the mass block. I guess it'd be possible to guestimate the force required to do that as a methane jet give or take knowing bulkhead strengths.

But not 'nominal'. Might mean snags with the defuelling process, or just something deciding to let go.. Which I guess is always a challenge working with cryogenic fluids & the kinds of heat cycling/stresses that are part of rocket science.

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Re: And FAED to black

Shortly after the masive leak, the upper tank starts emergency venting with a second outlet. SN4 doesn't deform or collapse, so I think Scott Manly is incorrect about the weight of the upper tank crushing the lower tank

I don't think that's what Scott was saying-


Slow-mo near the end seems to show venting from side, then much larger venting underneath, then ignition and the artificial mass block making it's break for orbit. Also curious if the second explosion was just that block coming back down to earth.

Also curious about what exploded, ie comments that it was mostly CH4 & atmospheric oxygen rather than LOX.. But it's also an interesting bit of reality vs Hollywood. So fuel happily vents until it gets to an explosive concentration & finds an ignition source.. Then the big bang & pink compression wave from the explosion followed by presumably the methane buring off in a typical Hollwood fireball. Also demonstrates why it's not always easy to make gas storage explode given the pressure of the escaping gas can blow out an ignition source, as it did with the flare stack.. And also how specialists sometimes deal with gas well leaks, ie using explosives to blow out the flame.

Spectacular videos, but somewhat to be expected during testing of a new design.

They've only gone and bloody done it! NASA, SpaceX send two fellas off to the International Space Station

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Re: "Clad in white spacesuits and visors"

I totally came here to read about the colour of the spacesuit. Sadly it is not mentioned whether it matched with their flightbags.

Off-camera there was a launch of the 'B-Dragon' containing the cleaning team. Was all-white on the night, and obviously would show up the dirt.. Which is a change from the old capsules that had a more steam-punk vibe to them. But then I guess there's less dirt in space, and being gleaming white, might make it easier to spot leaks/gunk that shouldn't be there. Suits didn't have sequins, unlike the stow-away crew Dragon..

For me, also showed why the suits looked a bit odd down here in the gravity well. Up there, looks like they were pressurised & inflated.

Twitter, Reddit and pals super unhappy US visa hopefuls have to declare their online handles to Uncle Sam

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And if you didn't declare them on your Visa app, how would they know you had any at all anyway. You just say that you don't use social media and they're not going to know any different.

Much the same as when the old visa waiver questions asked 'Are you a terrorist?'. But in an IT age, they could use data/traffic analysis to try and match visitors to profiles. Then if you lied, cancel visa & deport/fine/send to nearest black site.

From watching a few vids about how border guards work, I guess a lot of it is just to catch people entering on a tourist visa, but then discovering they've been telling their friends how excited they are about the new job. People are strange. One tourist was asked why they'd got 50 CV printouts with them. For some reason, the officer was a little sceptical about the purpose for the visit.

Trump issues toothless exec order to show donors, fans he's doing something about those Twitter twerps

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Re: @IGotOut Simple Response.

But back to a premise put by the author:

"So when Twitter adds a fact checking notification to Trump's tweets, as it did for the first time on Tuesday, it can do without taking on editorial liability if it believes the material is objectionable, whether it's protected speech or not."

Trump's EO will stand and its not as toothless as the law professor things.

I'm.. not sure. See also my favorite copyright attorney's take on the matter-


Who also thinks it's a bit toothless. But it's still an EO. And presumably to gain teeth, it would mean amending legislation, ie 230 to clarify 'objectionable', or just remove shielding.. Which would open up a whole other can of worms. But I also think Twitter's created this problem by editorialising, and it's in a somewhat unusual position given it's become an/the official channel for the thoughts of POTUS.

So just blocking this meme has been removed by a moderator POTUS would create PR problems. So in this case, it decided to replace the tweet with a 'fact check' statement, which would seem to be editorialising. So someone at Twitter's interpretation of the 'facts'.. Which in this case, Twitter got totally wrong, ie there have been plenty of problems with mail-in ballots in the US and pretty much everywhere it's used. Then there are apparent double standards, ie comments that could easily be considered objectionable coming from Twitter's own general counsel & head of integrity. So there's a rather apparent political bias at Twitter.

But we're also living in interesting times, so the US has an election in November and there's this virus thing. Traditional in-person voting seems doable, just might take a little longer to queue*. But there's also a lot of fear around the virus, so will that fear disenfranchise voters? And if so, is that fear higher or lower in one side's voting population, which could obviously skew the results. Especially as I've seen a few pollsters saying Republicans are possibly less concerned than Democrats.

*My local primary school has spray painted a bunch of lines on the path outside the school, with letters presumably as class** identifiers. They're not exactly 2m apart, and the letters are sprayed at the school entrance end rather than the end of the lines, which is an interesting use of queue theory.

**Not that kind of class..

Made-up murder claims, threats to kill Twitter, rants about NSA spying – anything but mention 100,000 US virus deaths, right, Mr President?

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Re: You supported a system...

If true, I'd like to know what the question was, who did the poll and how they selected the respondents. If that was done properly with statistically reliable methods, then that is a terrifying result.

Yup. Depending on question, answer isn't neccessarily that terrifying. So chose from-

a) Would you be vaccinated with a vaccine that's undergone rigorous clinical testing and trials? Yes/No

b) Would you be vaccinated with a vaccine that was developed in 30days, tested on 10 people with a 50% success rate and may cause kidney and/or liver failure? Yes/No.

Some drug dealers aren't exactly covering themselves in glory this crisis..

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Re: You supported a system...

I think there's a second problem. The roles of head of state and head of government are combined.

I think there's a third problem. The role of heads of states, and head of government.. Which is normal for politics. So everything is Trump's fault, from Charlottesville(D) to Minneapolis(D*), and on a fecal note, the problems with that in SF(D). Last bit possibly not helped by a spot of fraud on the part of their sanitation department. Or on the subject of US deaths, they're obviously Trump's fault. If he hadn't insisted that NY(D) send sick old people back to care homes.. No, wait, that was a local decision.

CDC reckons the mortality rate is running at <0.5%, but there must be ballot stuffing.. I mean postal ballots. Nothing ever goes wrong with those... No, wait-


Last week, a top attorney in the Department of State wrote a letter to three Florida federal prosecutors that asked them to review "irregularities" related to mail-in ballots. The department included information that showed that voters were given the wrong deadline to fix any problems with those ballots.

...But four supervisors turned over information that showed the official forms were changed by Democratic Party operatives.

OK, so that is Florida, and they've always been a bit special. Hey, Chad! How's it hanging? And then of course, there's Twitter. The gift that keeps on giving-


Trump added, “tell that to your hater @yoyoel” referring to Twitter’s Head of Site Integrity Yoel Roth, who falsely claimed that there were “actual Nazis in the White House.”

Roth apparently has a PhD in communications. It's not clear if he confused Nazis with Russians though. But Trump has gone and dun it with the Executive Order. Which is semi-Nuclear on the back of the US Copyright Office's report into how Google is messing up other bits of the DMCA.

I'm fairly certain it's not just the Orange One cursing Twitter at the moment. Obviously that includes lawyers who'll be salivating at the prospect of challenging the EO.

Laughing UK health secretary launches COVID-19 Test and Trace programme with glitchy website and no phone app

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Re: Oh No Surely Not...

It is a 14 day quarantine - so, i assume there must be a challenge process, or confirmation process.

Of course, dear Citizen! First wait for our team of safety experts to collect all sharp objects from your home. Then it'll be a matter of a few moments to screw all your windows & doors closed. This can be achieved from outside, so you'll face minimal disturbance. Finally, to prevent any potentially harmful contamination, your home will be wrapped in several layers of heavy duty heat shrink film*.

If after 14 days, you still feel symptom-free, call one of our operators to have your communications devices re-enabled, and wait for your personal copy of the 'Welcoming you back to Society!' DVD to be delivered.

*In the case of people living in semi, terraced or other forms of MDU, we will protect everyone by wrapping the entire structure, at no additional cost!

**To the occupier. Or at least not directly. We'll be paid by TPTB at only £7.99 per mm^2

Turns out Elon can't control the weather – what a scrub: Rain, clouds delay historic manned SpaceX-NASA launch

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Re: Fingers crossed for Saturday

i wouldn't call micrometeorite protection required for EVA, semantics or marketing.

Err.. nor would I, but I would call a suit designed to be worn in space a...?

But being bored, I figured I'd have a quick look for the number of times a space suit had been hit by a micrometeorite*. In which I learned 2 things. One, the possible answer, the other, ad slinging algorithms. Top search result was for a Marks & Spencer Velvet suit set. Not entirely convinced that would meet specs for EVA activity, or pretty much any activity.

*Favorite example of space hazards was when a shuttle got a small crater in it's windshield. On analysis, was apparently due to colliding with a fragment of frozen urine.

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Re: not a fan of Musk

Like the cars, love the rockets but the man can easily compete with POTUS for the vile tweet of the month award.

Yup. And now X Æ A-Xii. Poor kid. But welcome "Ex Ash A Twelve" or "Ex Aye Eye" or "Ten Ash/Aye Twelve". Celebs, bless them. Apparently the Æ is elvish for "AI", but presumably only for Icelandic elves. Otherwise calling your kid an AI seems a bit harsh for a hopefully free-thinking meatbot. Ash Musk, initials AM would seem appropriate for an individual entity though.

But I digress. The cars & rockets are facing competition, and eventually TSLA will face a reality check, which a launch failure won't help. The part of Musk I like is he has been pushing to lift humanity out of the gravity well. If Musk, Bezos and Branson pooled their resources, a Mars base would be even closer to reality.. give or take a monumental clash of egos.

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Re: Fingers crossed for Saturday

These aren't space suits, they're flight suits. They provide emergency protection in the case of decompression.

Semantics. Or marketing. I guess they're space flight suits to differentiate between EVA suits and regular flight suits (non-high altitude). Still neat, and AFAIK could be used for emergency EVA. Think one of the vids I saw when they launched (product, not physics) said they could be used for a short hop if the capsule has parking (docking) problems.

But such are the joys of rocket science and human factors. Being able to lose mass is helpful, and apparently these suits are more comfortable.. Which must be nice given the time the astronauts spend in them at 1G waiting for launch, higher G during launch, then micro-G on approach to ISS. I wonder if the computing inside the capsule lets them play Kerbal during that trip?

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Fingers crossed for Saturday

I'm not a fan of Musk, but I really hope this launch is successful. Not just because of the human cost if it isn't, but also the potential political/financial cost.

Also was pondering the new space suits. To me, even though I kind of understand they work, they look wrong. Downside to growing up in the olden days when space suits (even Hollywood versions) looked more substantial. I'm sure the crew appreciate the benefits of FEA and modern materials though.

Photostopped: Adobe Cloud evaporates in mass outage. Hope none of you are on a deadline, eh?

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For professionals there are not that many alternatives to Illustrator and Photoshop.

Might be time to start looking. Adobe sucks donkey balls, especially given they're supposedly trade. Like listening to them try and answer boring questions when they switched to the cloudy subscription model. What to do if/when you're on location? Pray?

Coronavirus masks are thwarting facial recognition systems. So, of course, people are building training sets from your lockdown-wear selfies

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Re: Google virtue signalling ... the prerogative of wealth, but it's an irrelevant posture

True. And there's a good proof of that in the [email protected] leaderboards, with a Petrobras team in the top 50

Yup. And in other news, looks like Sizewell C may be going ahead. 3.2GW of steady, low carbon electricity. Enough to power 6m homes. Naturally the neo-luddites don't like this idea, so here's the BBC-


But Mrs Downes said: "Sizewell C would be an expensive bridge to nowhere: it will suck vital funds away from the technologies and projects that are more capable of truly transforming our energy landscape."

Or just landscape. As in covering it in windmills, and leading to things like this-


In what has been declared a "national embarrassment" and a power management "disgrace" by campaigners, consumers will ultimately foot the bill of £6.9m to 66 Scottish plants and £1.9m to 14 offshore plants in England.

But for the 'renewables' lobby, this is good. Shame Google doesn't practice what it preaches and power it's operations purely from 'renewable' technology. Could be a problem today given UK winds are low and windmills are useless. But such is greenwash. Given the US energy mix, Google's still burning coal.

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Re: What's needed

Is an algorythm that could be released that replaces all human faces in images with... say the guy fawkes mask.

Obvious mask is obvious and available.. the AlGore mask!

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Re: Google virtue signalling ... the prerogative of wealth, but it's an irrelevant posture

..and eliminate the careless disposal of plastic waste

But Google exists thanks to waste producers throwing money at it so humble consumers can dispose of plastic waste. Perhaps some day, Google will announce that it won't take advertising from producers of high waste junk.

Meanwhile, I'm pretty sure the petrochemical giants have their own supercomputers used to figure out where to poke holes next.

Beardy Branson’s 747-assisted sat-launcher can’t get it up

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Re: At least they tried

They are on the steepest part of the learning curve. Getting the first of anything to work is where you find out all the stuff that couldn't be foreseen.

Curious if there's been any knowledge sharing. Back in the mid '90s, I watched an FLB (Funny Looking Boeing) take off from Marshalls Aerospace. Wondered if that was to launch a new OhHellfire and compete with Puff, but then read it was to test small satellite launches. ISTR it didn't survive budget cuts, so now Branson's carrying the torch.

Record-breaking Aussie boffins send 44.2 terabits a second screaming down 75km of fiber from single chip

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This new technology is not for long haul transmission. Its core, site to site & transmission And will enable faster edge.

I guess this is where pricing will come in. On shorter distances, infrastructure owners may already have 144f of 288f cables and the ability to run more in their ducts. So potentially cheaper to just light another fibre. And possibly less risky, ie 44Tbps of credits vs 25Tbps in an outage. I guess it could be handy for data centre replication/backups where DC's are 50-75km apart, or of course for academic networks where they're generating collosal amounts of data, ie the benefit if it being wider, not 'faster'.

NASA renames dark-energy telescope after its first Chief of Astronomy and Mother of Hubble: Nancy Grace Roman

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Re: What have the Romans ever done for us?

I only wanted 1kg.

But will trade for instructions to construct the perfect* summoning circle.

*By 'perfect', I mean it'll summon a pizza, perfectly cooked**. Everyone likes pineapple, anchovy & banana, right?

**Back to science(ish)-


We may have spotted a parallel universe going backwards in time

Which confirms 2 things, one that the New Scientist needs to get better at fact-checking. The other that if instructions for the summoning circle aren't followed correctly, then pizza may become a perfectly uncooked brane transplant.

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What have the Romans ever done for us?

In this case, quite a lot. I came across her when I got interested in astrophysics, and she was one of those people I'd love to have met. Quite a stellar career, especially I guess in a time where agencies were male dominated, especially on the bureaucratic side.. But she knew her stuff & got results.

It'll be interesting to see what comes out of these new projects. Dark matter is fascinating, and makes my head hurt. Physics says it should exist, and there's a lot of it, but where is it? Maybe we'll find out soon, but somehow I doubt I'll be able to buy a kilo from Amazon to use as a desk ornament.

UK's Ministry of Defence: We'll harvest and anonymise private COVID-19 apps' tracing data by handing it to 'behavioural science' arm

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Re: Quelle Surprise!

If you can't trust the military, who can you trust?

Uh, anybody else.

Well.. thanks to some.. interesting foreign policy, the military, security services & police have had decades of experience doing the Track & Trace* thing. So building up contact webs, traffic analysis etc etc to catch ne'er do-wells, preferably before things explode. And hopefully don't CC all their CI's telling them not to contact their helpdesk if they hear gunfire or doors being kicked in.


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Re: Quelle Surprise!

..and all sorts of other "lack of"s

That's just public sector contracting. Do the minimum for maximum profit. Results may end up pointless, but as long as the contractual terms have been delivered, pay up, dear tax payer.

On the plus* side, think of the benefits! TPTB will be able to run SimUK. Watch your subjects scurrying around in near real-time! Nudge them with some policies, and watch their behaviour change!

On the minus side, Apple and Google can do the same thing, and flog the data or results to their customers for footfall analysis, direct marketing etc etc.

*That was of course sarcasm. I'm unconvinced there are any pluses for Track & Trace, but much potential revenue from the data gathered by the most intrusive surveillance systems in our history. But it's for our own safety, so comply.. Because if you don't, you may find yourself barred by any establishment that checks for the app on entry. It really could end up like the good'ol Leper Laws.

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It will be fine once we've asked the Germans to fix it for us, as long as you don't try and hold the phone in your left hand

They're in the Army now, and left handers have always been a bit sinister..

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Re: Quelle Surprise!

...and we're expected to entrust our personal data to these numpties?

Bit late for that.. These numpties are trusted for a variety of things from prisons to nukes. Strangest part of this story to me was users being told not to contact the helpdesk for help. Other Serco customers & contractors may already be familiar with this process.

Beer rating app reveals homes and identities of spies and military bods, warns Bellingcat

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Re: Sorry, I don't believe it.

The closest pub according to Google maps is a mile away, the closest pub that sells beer worth drinking over two miles away.

That's why this app is so dangerous. For 70 years, it's cover had remained intact as a sensitive government research facility, complete with high security to keep the rabble out. Reality is the 'A' has always stood for 'Alcohol', at least since it's establishment 1/4/1950.. Which also shows the bit of HMG responsible for it had a sense of humor, along with a very large drinks budget.

NHS contact tracing app isn't really anonymous, is riddled with bugs, and is open to abuse. Good thing we're not in the middle of a pandemic, eh?

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Re: One would have throught...

If the thing tells you that you are (may be) infectious even if you have no symptoms, or no symptoms yet, then it's potentially useful, because it removes you from the population more quickly.

But an app can't do that, only a test can. And tests may not work reliably until there's a sufficient viral load to detect, by which point you may be infectious and probably should be isolating anyway. Which is also the problem with testing regimes, ie if you go out to get tested, you risk spreading. If you do a test at home, there's a lag to get the test kit, send it back and wait for results.. Which also adds to stress levels while person's waiting for their app to give them the all clear.

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Re: One would have throught...

The single bit I meant was 'am I infected?': that is actually a single bit.

That bit is possibly the easiest. Or least useful. If you are infected, you'll probably find out in 2-4 days. Problem is with suggestions like the Gates certification scheme. So you'd need to be tested, then hopefully symptoms will clear up.. So if you're no longer infectious, what's the point of alerting anyone that you're in proximity? It can't really tell you anything about any undiagnosed super-spreader who might be nearby.

And apps only have to be good enough to tell you useful things about the probabilities (which they may or may not do in practice, but they certainly could do in theory).

This again is where I think there's value in the NHS approach. So take the R number. If high and applied Hollywood-style, you get one of those scenes where serious scientist shows a screen where the map goes red. But reality is more complex, so being able to correlate contacts to contagion would help refine the R value and models. Probably the most sensible thing for contact alerting would be to direct the person to the nearest testing centre, or send them a home test kit.

Thanks for the link to Judith Curry's website: I knew about her but had forgotten

You're welcome. There's generally interesting stuff posted & discussed there, but like many of these sites, tuning for signal:noise can be fun.

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Re: One would have throught...

The more I assess the app, the more I see it's real value is in providing metrics to input to NHS admissions forecasts. Yes it should help to reduce the rate of infection, by alerting people to the need for them to self-isolate before they actually develop symptoms themselves.

Yup. On which point-


Similar work by the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine puts the number for London at 0.6 and the South West at 0.9. They also showed the R-values were 0.8 in Wales, and 1 in both Scotland and Northern Ireland.

However, claims there are now just 24 cases a day in the capital and that it could soon be free of the virus have been slammed.

There were in fact 49 people admitted to London hospitals with Covid-19 yesterday and likely hundreds of cases that did not need hospital treatment.

If true, R <1 is good news given it suggests it's less infectious than previously thought, ie R=2.5+. Also curious if some of the regional differences are just down to population densities. This is where I think the NHS model adds value, so being able to observe that kind of data, refine assumptions & models and plan. The second part is also interesting, so 49 people admitted. London has around 26,000 hospital beds. Not sure if the NHS releases admission lengths, so some portion may be discharged quickly.

I also think the centralised approach will help with questions like a need to self-isolate. I suspect many contacts will have a very low risk of transmission, so may be no need to isolate. But being able to monitor conversion rates from contacts to symptoms would seem rather useful data.

And I just don't trust Apple or Google on privacy matters, especially given Google's been sliming it's way into healthcare. Then again, the NHS doesn't exactly have a great track record on IT projects, but if we're going to do this, may as well get the best use out of the data.

(Also not like these apps are new. Probably 5-6yrs ago there was a BT-enabled.. speed dating app that would pair you up with a like-minded app user in range. I suspect there are plenty more out there today)

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Re: One would have throught...

You could argue of course that in fact there is a single bit of information here: am I actually infected? Well, for a start that's not really a single bit for various reasons (how many infections die out early, are you infectious, blah blah blah), but even disregarding that the problem is that without extremely aggressive testing regimes this is not something you can know, so you need to use a probabilistic proxy – a real number – for it, and keep that proxy as low as you can.

Therein lies the problem. It's not going to be a single bit, it's going to be some complex(ish) statistical probability calculations. So proximity might give you an x% chance of infection. Or create a lot of false match alerts and spread more panic rather than the disease. It also means really understanding that disease.

So currently it looks like there's a 2-4 day window where someone may be infectious, but not symptomatic. They're potential spreaders, but the app won't know because they're asymptomatic and haven't been tested. If they become symptomatic, then diagnosis needs to be confirmed, and their phone loaded with a carrier cert. Depending on severity, risk of spreading might be low, ie they're bedridden. Then once recovered, they may be certified spreaders, but not actually contagious.. Which is another uncertainty, ie how much immunity previous infection confers, and how long after recovery might someone still be contagious.

So the system may tell you you're in proximity to someone who has been tested positive, but is no longer a risk, and it won't be able to warn you about a person who's infectious, but untested.

Of course aggressive test-and-remove regimes are a way of uncovering the underlying single-bit, and they are therefore better than the app approach, but, again, this is not a single bit: testing regimes are better, apps are worse, but this is not the same as saying that apps have no value, especially when very aggressive testing regimes are not available.

Because of the complexity, I think it's where a centralised approach has more value. It allows observation of contacts, and would allow the probabilities to be varied as more data becomes available. So refining risk, or enrolling/revoking infectious status.. Or immunity status. So someone who's been infected and recovered would be low risk, assuming they've developed their herd immunity. And assuming that actually works, and mutated versions of the virus can't re-infect.

And more aggressive test regimes are becoming available, ie the recent survey that used home sample kits to estimate UK infections, or Sweden's Stockholm district mass-testing. There's some interesting discussion regarding those and possible implications for developing the herd here-


Dr Curry's an interesting lady as she reached out to climate sceptics with a view to developing better understanding of tricky subjects like risk, probability, communicating uncertainty etc and has attracted a readership of modellers, statisticians, scientists and the curious.

Jellied Eel Silver badge

Re: One would have throught...

One would have thought that Apple and Google would have some rather smart guys working for them to figure this out.

Say we sit on the same park bench, too close together.

Define 'too close'. Kissing distance, then you may swap spit and virus particles. In bluetooth range, and you'll probably be fine. Of course if 'smart' phones could tell windspeed and direction, you could try staying upwind of any infected person. Lag permitting. Or perhaps Siri will be repurposed as a cough/sneeze detector, and couple with accelerometers to see if you've initiated the <flee> function. Then again, fleeing may be the wrong thing to do.. much like jogging to stay healthy. Suck down those viral particles!

It's all just technofetishism.

By the time an app is debugg(er)ed, gone live, and sufficient 'smart' phone users are enrolled to provide some kind of herd alerting, TPTB may realise that it would have been cheaper & more effective to offer higher protection to the most at-risk, encourage herd immunity or issue everyone with masks.. See Japan's experience for more details. Far fewer deaths, but then Japan's probably also better conditioned to mask wearing in public anyway.

NASA launches guide to Lunar etiquette now that private operators will share the Moon with governments

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Re: Oceanic fishing

Unless they are not a US entity and launch from somewhere else. Russia, Ukraine, New Zealand, China, India, Japan, Cornwall, Scotland. Ore even a sea or air launch from anywhere in international waters/airspace.

Not a problem, unless it's a state supported launch. Otherwise the US has never had any real problems pursuing assets or imposing sanctions on non-US entities. Even off-shoring is no escape, although a staple of SF writers. Could be fun to have an international launch site, but the UN's already got treaties to not recognise artificial islands/structures.

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Re: Oceanic fishing

It's also got some sanity that way - when any given site is several light-minutes away from Earth, the only way any given Earth Power could issue commands and expect to be obeyed is by taking over the CCC of any given spacecraft, or disabling and destroying it through DEWs like lasers or such

Kinetic diplomacy can be fun, but the US would still have the option to pursue infringers in the US via the courts. So the usual raft of options to charge executives, levy fines, seize assets, deny launch clearances etc etc. Kind of assumes an agreement becomes at least US law while international treaties get wrangled. Plus there's the US Space Force and it's latest skunk-shuttle launched again the other day.

Seems like an interesting field of law though, but can probably borrow from historical precedent, ie carving up Antarctica, or ways to resolve disputes between high jumping claim jumpers.

If you're going to spend $3tn, what's another billion? Congress urged to inject taxpayer dollars into open anti-Huawei 5G radio tech

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Re: Only themselves to blame

You present the two statements in the wrong order. Because the US did not participate in GSM standard development,

But it did, or at least US companies did. Sort of. So GSM was an ETSI innovation, and the US kinda went along with it anyway. Then it morphed into ITU-land for 3G(PP)/LTE/4G & 5G. Then of course there was NTT who pioneered a lot of mobile stuff. US companies are still very much involved in the process(es) though. Huawei's main advantage has been a combination of R&D, and being able to churn out millions of bits of tin at price points attractive to network operators.. Which has been the challenge the US and RoW has been facing, ie China morphing from a simple low-cost manufacturing centre into an innovator and competitor.

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Re: Only themselves to blame

Ironic that is stated to be a problem as the USA leads the world in making it so. Whenever somebody thinks of an improvement in anything, somebody (not necessarily the originator) will grab a patent on it..

This isn't really the US's fault, it's just the way the game is played in standards setting. The 3 main players in 5G aren't US companies after all, and part of the push towards 5G has probably been to escape patents, eg Qualcomm. But it's something that favors the big operators, so patent pooling can act to shut out smaller players, who may have to negotiate expensive licences to keep their tin in the game. But the tin may still end up being made in China, so back to the same risks. Apple's apparently moving some production to India, but still with Foxconn doing the manufacturing.

So open sourcing design might be one step, but to fully de-risk, it also needs production to be shifted.. Which also feeds into the end cost due to labor rates. And I suspect it'd be difficult to create an open system given the amount of IP already involved in components and elements of typical RAN designs.

Fancy some post-weekend reading? How's this for a potboiler: The source code for UK, Australia's coronavirus contact-tracing apps

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Re: Sage & onion

I'm a bit worried about the trend towards criticism of epidemologists and public health modellers generally based on micro-analysis of small samples of particular implementations of models.

Well, if there are enough models, then there'd be scope for WHO to.. model ensembles on the WMO's work. Which is another interesting modelling challenge. On the one hand, we're told the 'science is settled', on the other, 100+ models producing widely different results. But having slowly standardising an approach, it makes reanalysis simpler. But both are predictive models, which can be 'fact checked' against reality.

People are playing defence lawyer when they should be looking at the basics (one person infects between 2.4 and 3.6 other people on average when there is no immunity in a (sub)population, there is a 6 to 14 day period when someone is infectious but not showing symptoms, simple differential equation)

But that isn't what the Ferguson model claimed. The claim was 500k dead, and that's looking unlikely. But then there was also a previous prediction of 200m dead globally from bird, swine & BSE, where the reality was <1,000*. Or one of the odd situations where mortality was exceeded by '57 & '68 flu outbreaks. Or some other bad years, where the BBC & rest of the MSM didn't run screaming headlines and running death counts.

So R0 is just one parameter that is/was uncertain.. Which model predictions translated into lockdowns to minimise impact if R0 is high... But if mortality rates are low, then lockdowns may have been the wrong approach, and 'herd immunity' more effective. In an actuarial sense, once the panic is over, it'll be possible to look the cost per life. The kind of grim calculations insurance types (and politicians) are expected to do.

This is applied (messy, political, entangled with desperate economic imperatives) science not systems level software engineering. The basis of science is that independent work by different teams using different methodologies tends (with eddy currents) to converge on something that we can regard as close to truth or reality in some sense. This is not an argument about engineering change orders or which library to use or what code style might be best.

It probably should be, given many scientists aren't software engineers. That's just a necessary evil.. I mean skill they'd need some familiarity if they want to analyse data.. Which they can frequently get wrong. Politics comes in when politicians decide to act on bad data, so where this is critical, perhaps more formal methodolgy should be used. I mean I was forced to learn Z at Uni, so some scientists should also be expected to suffer!

Again there's also a risk from consensus science. That's been pretty common in climate science, especially if anyone dares to try and publish something that challenges the consensus. A crucial variable there is CO2 sensitivity, and if you assume that's high, models predict high warming rates. But frequently fail reanalysis, ie comparison against historical data. If CO2 sensitivity is low, so will warming rates... But that's a rather controversial view because that 'science' has become highly politicised.

Same challenge exists with epidemeological models. Assume high R0 and mortality, it'll predict a lot of deaths. Reality may disagree, but that's where scientists need to try and educate politicians about confidence levels.. And ideally get the ONS to explain statistical confidence tricks that can get used to create false confidence. Especially given the money at stake for treatments and vaccines, like one of the previous trials where the sample size was very small, and the outcome had to be redefined to show any significance at all. Then there's stuff like 'relative risk'. Take 2,000 patients, give 1,000 a placebo, another 1,000 balm from Gilead. Placebo group has 2 deaths, balm group 1. Claim treatment offers a 50% improvement in outcomes rather than a 0.1% difference. But those kinds of stats sold an awful lot of statins..

* Swine flu in India may have killed many more, depending on how that's defined.

Also found another interesting article-


Jellied Eel Silver badge

Re: Sage & onion

So.... you trust that the authors credentials are legit?

As an old cowboy once said, trust but verify..

I'm making no comment on the code, but quoting daily mail and telegraph 'journalist" toby youngs conspiracy website does your argument no favours.

Ah, shooting the messenger. I had no idea it was Toby Young's website, and no real idea who they are. But theres a bunch of words in the article and it'd been mentioned on a bunch of other websites. So I figured I'd read it. Then follow some of the links, see twitter comments, read comments discussing the article.

You on the other hand aren't commenting on the code. One aspect of my argument doesn't really rely on the code anyway. Ferguson predicted 500k deaths, we've had around 10% of that. The model's code quality may explain why it's so far out.. But then that's been normal for Ferguson's epidemic predictions.

The site compares the lockdown to government dictatorship, is promoting uv-lights and chloroquine, and is funded by corporate interests. (who only care about their profits, not health)

Oh Noes! Not corporate interests! But in any crisis, they'll be flocking around cash piles. So UV's used to kill bugs. Not sure why you're afraid of that. Mass house arrest is something few dictatorships have managed in the past, yet we're mostly complying with it. Except perhaps those wooly Swedes, who're acting as a bit of a control group.

As for chloroquine.. Yes, that's a conspiracy. Possibly linked to your 'corporate interests' because drug dealers will make more money selling new patent medicines than old, out of patent drugs. But for science!


The trial, led by a team at Oxford University, will compare with the current best available care a number of low-risk treatments recommended by an expert panel advising the chief medical officer for England, including:

a seven-day course of hydroxychloroquine, usually used for acute malaria or arthritis

I guess Oxford Uni's been infiltrated by alt-right conspiracy theorists. Meanwhile, over on the left, the Democrat's favorite expert, Alyssa Milano called for Trump to be impeached for suggesting it might work.

But such is politics.

Jellied Eel Silver badge

Re: Sage & onion

It all looks pretty interesting. Also thinking it's where the contact app could feed into 5.2 & 3. Analysing footfall is already a thing, but could be interesting to build data based on app contacts. Or sim-contacts and probablitly of infection. Seed a bunch of mobiles with a disease model, see how long it takes to spread.

Also curious about medical data. Some might be simpler than others, ie test results. Beyond that has security & privacy implications, along with social. So should snatch squads grab potentially infected people and test or quarantine them? Saw a rather dystopian suggestion that California may be considering just that. Reanalysis will also be fun, ie ONS comments about limited data based on death certificates. Then diving deeper, accurately coding patient data to attribute outcomes, so teasing out deaths attributable directly to COVID that may/may not have had some co-morbidity with flu or other illness(es). It's similar to some.. questionable stats around smoking, where past smoking can end up with deaths being misleadingly 'smoking related'.

As most medical types know, deaths fall into only 2* categories, heart failure or brain death, after all.

*Ok, 3.. power failure..

Jellied Eel Silver badge

Re: Sage & onion

Not my field really, but John Carmack worked on the Imperial College model for a bit

We're Doomed! Doomed I tell you! :p

It is also worth pointing out that the broad ballpark results of the model were similar in general outline to those produced by a team at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.

That could be confirmation bias, or 'consensus' science.. Which is also true of some climate science. Models contain some assumptions, which can be compared to reality via regression testing/reanalysis.. And if they still diverge, then something is wrong with the assumptions. So R0 or CO2 sensitivity.

The point is that these programs are not systems engineering, they are research. We draw some comfort when different research teams using different methodologies, implemented using different tools give broadly similar results.

But the problem comes when research meets politics, or economics. So this model, and climate models have both resulted in massive economic consequences. So given the implications, perhaps there *should* be systems engineering, ie expert software engineers taking the requirements from academics and producing the production models. For many academics, software development isn't their core expertise, and that often shows in the results.. Which is also a challenge for businesses, ie the number of 'systems' designed (ok kludged) in excel or VB.

The - no doubt very talented and effective - software engineer who looked at the code seems to have some interesting ideas about how to manage public health which probably lie quite a few standard deviations from the views of the majority in the UK.

Yup. There's also some interesting comments in the discussion. I think there's some merit to tapping the insurance industry for best practices in developing actuarial/population models, especially with 'expert' groups like SAGE. One issue with Ferguson and this model is if it's 15yrs old, it may have started out being developed for other outbreaks, in which Ferguson's estimates have been consistently wrong by orders of magnitude.. But by the law of contagion, many outbreaks share similarities, so an open source & crowd sourced approach could result in a better modelling ecosystem. So it wouldn't be wasted effort.

#include disease.lib

and have nicely commented sections where academics can parameterise or insert the assumptions they want to test. And having a standardised modelling architecture would also make peer review easier. That's something the WMO took on board after seeing the dire state of some climate modelling efforts.

Jellied Eel Silver badge

Sage & onion

Hmmm, where did I hear this before?

Perhaps here?


The code. It isn’t the code Ferguson ran to produce his famous Report 9. What’s been released on GitHub is a heavily modified derivative of it, after having been upgraded for over a month by a team from Microsoft and others. This revised codebase is split into multiple files for legibility and written in C++, whereas the original program was “a single 15,000 line file that had been worked on for a decade”

Possibly the most expensive 15,000 lines of code in computing history. Doesn't include warranting 'as-is', and most certainly doesn't warrant consequential losses. It's stochastic behaviour possibly does allow Ferguson/Imperial to claim predictive skill as it produces different results every run.

But it does share traits with other models, namely the predictions are easily falsified, ie Ferguson's initial mortality claims that helped trigger lockdowns were massively exagerated.

But as typical with public projects, start with incorrect assumptions, then chase the pork. So if the disease isn't as bad as originally thought, then there's less justification to waste resources and add risks with contact tracing.. And the risks are many.

Bye, Russia: NASA wheels out astronauts, describes plan for first all-American manned launch into orbit since 2011

Jellied Eel Silver badge

Re: how long for SpaceX to catch up with Boeing's pork barrel govt pricing

Falcon 9 has decreased the cost of access to space as far as it can because the payload is expensive. SpaceX is demonstrating the benefits of mass produced payloads (Starlink). If that catches on there will be a market for an even more cost effective launcher (Starship).

Not sure mass-produced payloads is really a benefit given the typical satellites. So it benefits Starlink as that needs a lot of cheap satellites for coverage & to make the business case stack up. Other satellites are produced in much smaller quantities. Plus the paperwork, ie limited GEO slots, and whether any increase in LEO swarms will lead to increased regulation. But reducing launch costs might make it easier to launch science projects and share launches. Or just having more launches available brings costs down due to increased supply and competition. Thinking things like Earth observation projects, especially long duration things like climate studies. There, a lifespan of a few years doesn't give as much data, especially when they're long-term observations.

Pork-wise, that'll still be a thing given government funding for projects, military and civil. SpaceX has already captured a chunk of that for development and previous launches.. Which is sensible given the US doesn't want to rely on either Russian launches, or technology, ie Russian/Ukrainian engines. But given the number of competing launch systems in development, customers should be able to drive down their costs. It'll be interesting to see how many competing launch companies the market can support though.

ICANN finally halts $1.1bn sale of .org registry, says it's 'the right thing to do' after months of controversy

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Anyway, quoting Amy Sample Ward from the article:

Now, ICANN must move forward with a plan for a competitive selection process to assign .Org management to a home that has the interest of nonprofits and people at its center."

Yes, I was going to ask "What happens next?"

Well, it's ICANN. Not sure where the .org contract sits at the moment, ie how long it has to run with it's current operator.. But what I (cynically) expect will happen is ICANN will wait a while, then announce that competitive process. Which will probably have the interests of the people at it's center, ie current/former ICANN staff, and it'll be back to square one.. Possibly including a fresh bid from a renamed Ethos.

Jellied Eel Silver badge

Re: Practice, don't preach

They had to reject the first choice of updated slogan, "Sell your soul", as it was a little to specific for their needs.

That's for internal/employee use only. For it's customers, 'sell' would be troublesome as it expects those souls to be freely given, and would offer no compensation in this or any future lives.

Ride now, ride! Ride for ruin and the world's ending! Mount & Blade II: Bannerlord is here at last! Kind of

Jellied Eel Silver badge

Huge, major problem with early access!

.. It has no bread and sausages. An army marches on stomach after all! Ok, it still has butter(lord), but my soldiers really miss sausage sarnies*. Or perhaps they're improvising out of the grain, butter and hogs I give them.

But if one is a fan of the previous titles, this one is worth getting. My game has been remarkably bug-free & fun. Like capturing Chaikand, which seems to be where all the children end up. I have many, but thus far they seem to be refusing to grow up. Then again, they're only about a year old, so a possibly a little young to be trainee murderlords. I'm trying to educate them though, sometimes by <thwacking> enemy militia off castle walls. Remember, this pre-dates HSE/OHSA regulations so it's quite possible to fall off walls, ladders, siege towers.

There's also a steadily growing set of mods available via Nexus.. It doesn't have Steamworks support yet, but that seems to be on the to-do list. None of the patches have broken my game yet, and this pleases me.

*Or perhaps that's just me. Seeing the bread & sausage icons in the previous games used to give me cravings.


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