* Posts by George

32 publicly visible posts • joined 26 Apr 2007

Boffins: global warming kills lemmings, not suicide

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I thought the myth came about because of a Disney film where they tossed lemmings off the side of a cliff (giving the illusion they were jumping) to create drama. Can't remember the title though... something like "The Great North". Anyone know what I'm talking about here?

Skiving Aussie fingered on Facebook

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Seems like he still has a case

If his contract allows 1 day medial leave can be requested without any evidence, it seems like he's in the clear unless there's a clause that invalidates the medical leave in cases like this.

US Navy spares Silicon Valley's 'Alexandria Lighthouse'


Fill it with new blimps

Isn't it about time that we started using blimps for <a href="http://www.theregister.co.uk/2008/07/11/skyhook_jhl_40_boeing/">heavy lift operations</a> again? Since they have their own buoyancy, fuel consumption is greatly reduced. And current fuel prices are killing the American Airline industry.

Re: a previous comment:

<i>Every blimp that set sail from this place crashed and burned

By Gordon Pryra</i>

That's just ignorant. Not only was the Macon a Helium filled zeppelin (and it didn't burn) but there were many other lighter than air ships that operated out of Moffat Field. Just look at <a href="http://www.moffettfieldmuseum.org/history.html">ZP-32 during WW2</a>, which operated about 20 different blimps on anti-submarine patrol of the West Coast.

And so we begin the tech sector's journey into the Heart of Darkness

Dead Vulture

Could be worse

You could have invested in banking stocks a year ago. Or put some of your retirement dollars into ethanol stocks 2 years ago. Some of us did.

Is it just me, or does it seem like the grasshoppers are playing it smart spending their money now, while I'm being played for a chump? It looks like the millenials may be onto something (they're spurning the market to a sharp degree).

Electrosticky droid boffin in spider-gecko tech bitchslap

Jobs Horns

Sarah Connor better start looking up

As soon as those bots start crawling walls, they're going to be searching for her in the ductwork and lurking on the ceiling while they plan to overthrow us all.

Deutsche Post issues Rudolf Hess stamp

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It's been done better

There were some American artists that pre-upped the Neo-Nazis: check out their work here: http://www.badpressbooks.com/mhdl.html

'Crazy rasberry ants' target Texan tech

Dead Vulture

How to eliminate Crazy Rasberry Ants

I'm based in Texas and was just asked yesterday to prepare a guide on getting rid of Crazy ants. If I missed anything, feel free to drop me a line in the comments and I'll add your suggestions:


Nokia 3110 Evolve eco-friendly mobile phone


What about Frog's concept phone?

Fast Company did a piece on a much greener phone several months ago. It was a concept developed by Frog. No solar cells, but it has a hand crank that can be used for charging. That seems more practical to me.

I'm surprised no one has taken this concept and run with it yet (although the "food sniffer" component seems a bit kooky and could certainly end up on the curb).


Monroe BJ film goes for $1.5m


re; FOIA

As I am a US national, you can bet that I'll be making the request... Everyone once in a while, I find a reason to be proud of the home team!

World Bank chief: Ethanol cars run on human misery

Jobs Horns

It's all about the meat.

Food shortages have little (if anything) to do with grains being turned into fuel. Look at rising consumption of animal protein in India and China. 2 Billion people are switching from maybe eating meat monthly to doing it weekly (or daily). We could switch to 100% ethanol and still have less impact than that consumption landslide.

Cattle and other ruminants consume about 5 times the resources to raise per ton as basic foodstuffs. It's simple math - as the third world adopts a more affluent diet, there will be food shortages. Dwarf wheat and other innovations (GM crops anyone?) have kept the lid on that pressure cooker for years, but we're reaching the limits of current tech. At least, until we work out the Soylent Green angle...

Dot Mobile goes titsup

Dead Vulture

Dot Mobile = UK's Amp Mobile

So, were they basically another Amp Mobile? All focused on signing people up, without taking the time to do credit/background checks?

Pork and politics energise the biofuel delusion


re: John Band

>>>No, the point is that the current US agricultural system requires two calories of petrochemical energy for every calorie of corn energy produced even before you refine the corn into bioethanol. It would be better to just put the two grammes of oil that are used in producing the corn directly into your car.


That's the fundamental misunderstanding that I was talking about - the "petrochemical" energy that's being used to produce ethanol isn't directly convertible to gasoline. For the most part, we're talking about natural gas or coal used to heat the sugar during fermentation. The gasoline consumption of ethanol production is primarily limited to fertilizer costs (which aren't mandatory - read the Wisconsin U study that came out last week showing that organic agriculture is 90-110% as productive as farming with chemical fertilizer) and transportation costs of the finished product.

What's the net energy cost of drilling for oil? Or how about transporting it via tanker ships from halfway around the world?


Controversy in the numbers

Show me the numbers and the research. The net energy value of ethanol production is a hotly contested issue, and this article presents an overly simplistic view as an absolute fact.

Sure, producing ethanol CAN use more energy than the ethanol is worth. You could build an ethanol plant on top of Mt. McKinley and use Concorde jets to transport triple refined sugar to feed the ethanol production. That doesn't mean that ALL ethanol production is going to cost that much energy input to fuel it. There are a variety of companies out there making biofuels from a wide variety of sources and using several different technological approaches. Over time, some of their methods are going to prove more economical than others.

The nay-sayers need to stop fudging about natural gas or coal consumed during the production process - yes, those are non-renewable resources with energy values, but it's time to stop hiding behind the veil of "net energy". If 10 gallons of every barrel of oil is consumed when producing oil the conventional way and only 5 gallons is consumed producing ethanol (plus natural gas and/or coal) then THAT number really matters.

By hiding behind "net energy use", doubters are clouding the issue to score cheap sound bites. Substituting other energy sources for oil is a good thing. It reduces financing of despotic regimes, reduces the risk of oil tanker spills, and causes an overall reduction in fuel consumed during transportation to the consumer - even without pipelines, The fact that it helps a countries balance of trade and enriches the farm lobby hasn't been overlooked - but why should it be?

Fighting climate change isn't going to happen on the fuel production side. It's going to require clever engineering and power management on the consumption side. And the author is right about one fundamental thing - there will be some unintended consequences (ie; accelerated deforestation in unprotected areas) from the switch to bio-fuels. The solution is to protect those areas, not throw the baby out with the bath water.

Oh, and don't forget the fact that ethanol has been very successful at replacing MTBE. Ethanol works wonderfully as a fuel additive that reduces particulates in the air without the toxic effects of some other alternatives.

Oregon man stripped by Craigslist looters


Didn't this happen in the US...

...about a year ago?


Cyber attacks target pro-Tibetan groups

Jobs Horns

Reminds me of the DOS attack on Ukraine

Just another projection of state power into Cyberspace.

The real question is this - aas anyone reverse engineered the keystroke logging programs to transmit false information? Knowing that big brother is watching is the first step in misleading the goons. It wouldn't be hard to do - just send a few false leads about a fake Tibetan Independence demonstration on the outskirts of Lhasa, and when the PLA garrison mobilizes to break things up, hold a big prison break from Drapchi Prison.

Of course, whoever's keystrokes were monitored would probably get blamed. But, if they were at the "demonstration" without anything too inflammatory, how much more trouble would they really be in?

Jobs Horns

Reminds me of the DOS attack on Ukraine

Just another projection of state power into Cyberspace.

The real question is this - has anyone reverse engineered the keystroke logging programs to transmit false information? Knowing that big brother is watching is the first step in misleading the goons. It wouldn't be hard to do - just send a few false leads about a fake Tibetan Independence demonstration on the outskirts of Lhasa, and when the PLA garrison mobilizes to break things up, hold a big prison break from Drapchi Prison.

Of course, whoever's keystrokes were monitored would probably get blamed. But, if they were at the "demonstration" without anything too inflammatory, how much more trouble would they really be in?

Security researchers show how to hook phishers


re: Marc's tactic

If you do that, you might want to edit the link they send you before entering data. There's usually a code string in there that identifies your e-mail address, and you'll only invite further spam.

But, if they get a false password from an e-mail they can't identify (or falsely identify) then you've really tossed them under the train. And, I believe many of the sensitve sites practice IP logging and will be more likely to catch on before an intrusion is made.

Toyota ponders plug-in hybrids


Point sources for emissions

Plug-in hybrids will improve the air quality in my area tremendously.The difference between having a million small power generators (car engines) and a dozen large generators (power plants) is that there's an efficiency of scale for pollution control technologies.

Plus, even if we're talking about switching one fossil fuel for another (oil for coal) the United States HAS coal. Heck, the eastern seaboard is the Middle East of coal!

Oh, and I pay a premium to get my power from wind generators. Even 14 cents a kWh beats the heck off of a gasoline bill of 35-40 cents a kWh.

Danes tout flamethrower-packing robot 'farmworker'


Doctor Who

Oh, great. Who sent the Dutch translations of the 1965 episode "The Chase"? Someone apparently wanted a flamethrower wielding 'Mechanoid' enough to build one for himself!

Portable bots get cattleprod zapguns, hover capability



Quote: "Flight International reports that the US Army's flying-wastebasket style hover-bot - officially known as the Micro Unmanned Aerial Vehicle - is now in action."

So, it's anagram is MUAV? That suggests a rather horrifying color scheme.

Jury spanks Lexmark in toner refill case


Printers sold at a loss

Recently, I had to talk some friends out of buying a replacement printer rather than buying a replacement ink cartridge. After rebates, the new printer was cheaper than the ink cartridge (and it came with ink).

Methinks the print companies are selling their printers at a loss. After I did some legwork, I found out that the "starter" ink cartridge that was included only had a third of the ink of a regular cartridge.

BAE shares tank as US feds break cover


amanfrommars... spoiler warning?

Thanks. Just thanks. As an American eagerly awaiting the next season, I hope that the BAE investigation somehow finds dirt on you. And gives you cancer.

Seriously though, isn't this a case of one government (the US) taking out the trash for an ally (the UK)? Since the BAE is so firmly connected in the British halls of power, it seems to me like the FBI is acting as a third-party moderator here. Can you please return the favor by setting the Serious Fraud Office onto Halliburton for us?

Consumers happy to pay 'green premium'


What a crock of ... was aptly named

I'm an environmentalist living in Texas, and I voluntarily pay an extra cent or two per kilowatt on my power bill to use green power. Despite the stereotypes, I'm not the only one either. Your generalization is doing a disservice to most of the environmentalists I know. Obviously, your "Greenie Weenie" is more weenie and less greenie.

Getting back to the article, this survey only addresses upfront costs. Instead of asking "Would you pay 10% more for kit made with green technology?" companies should ask "Would you pay 10% more for equipment that cost 20% less to power?" I wish I had the choice between Vampire Electronics (crud power chargers, inverters, and power management) and equipment that wasn't crap. Give consumers enough information to make a purchase based on the real cost, and most companies can come out ahead by going green.

Washington backing for Brit arms biz coming unstuck


Wait, there's a Serious Fraud Office?

That begs the question, is there also an office of Humorous Fraud? How about one for Amusingly-Ineffective Fraud?

Killer Wi-Fi panics London's chattering classes



Wow. What a nice, open minded forum this comments section is today. Are any of you former cigarette company boardmembers?. Before mouthing off about the idiocy of overly naive parents, perhaps some studies are in order? Where's the real science, and not the studies sponsored by industry?

Several posts above demonstrate an associatve fallacy. Just because TV, Cell Phone, and Radio signals are similar to Wi-Fi, that doesn't mean Wi-Fi is harmless. That line of 'reason' ignores the possibility that all of the electronic fog we live in could be harmful. Isn't it common sense to create technology that doesn't harm us? Asbestos ceiling tiles, Radium glow-in-the-dark paint, and leaded gasoline were once cutting edge tech (before someone took the naysayers seriously).

Royal Society unearths top secret nuclear research


re: Moderators...

My understanding is that moderators absorb stray neutrons, thereby reducing the intensity of a reaction and reducing the speed at which fissible material is consumed.

EU defence agency wants open skies for flying robots


re: Sorry, but what civilian activity can possibly justify UAVs ? #2

Long term, UAVs might be useful for more than just parcel delivery. Imagine automated freight carriers carrying bulk raw materials to automated factories. Or, robotic care-flight helicopters that can be quickly dispatched from hospitals to accident scenes.

I don't think that pilot unions need to worry yet, but could you imagine what airfare would be like if pilots weren't needed?

Antigua calls for pirates to return to Caribbean


re: Horse Racing

Antigua is looking to offer more gambling than merely horse racing. The horse racing issue came up because it's an area where the courts found the US had failed to establish a "moral defense" for prohibiting online gambling...

from http://www.aoga.ag/wto.html:

"Fourth, the Appellate Body found that the US could not invoke a "moral defense" to its violation of the GATS. Under Article XIV of the GATS, a country can violate the terms of the free trade treaty if the violation is necessary to protect "public morals" or maintain the "public order." In order to establish its so-called morals defense, the US was required to meet a two-part test: (1) prove that the three federal statutes were necessary to protect public morals or maintain public order and (2) satisfy a legal balancing test, referred to as the "chapeau." With respect to the first element of this morals defense, the Appellate Body determined, over Antigua's objections, that the three federal statutes were necessary to protect public morals or maintain public order. With respect to the second element of this defense, the Appellate Body ruled that the US did not establish the chapeau. The Dispute Panel had found several reasons why the US could not meet the chapeau. The Appellate Body disagreed with some of the Dispute Panel's reasoning, but nevertheless ruled that the US could not establish the chapeau because the US either sanctioned or permitted "remote gambling" in the US, primarily in the form of off-track account deposit wagering on horse races. The Appellate Body noted that there were several companies in the US that provided telephone and Internet betting services on horse races. These companies were sanctioned to provide these services by the Interstate Horseracing Act ("IHA"). The Appellate Body concluded that the US could not justify why it permitted US-based companies to offer remote gambling in the form of telephone and Internet account deposit wagering while the US prohibited Antiguan companies from offering the same type of gambling services. By making this finding, the Appellate Body held that the US could not prevail on its morals defense - technically known as its Article XIV defense."

This is really a strawman argument. Antigua isn't trying to earn the right to bet on US horse races - it's trying to win the right to host poker tournaments, sports betting, and the like. If the US were to outlaw remote betting on horse racing, Antigua will likely point to a less egregious example (ie; state lotteries posting winning numbers online) as a reason why Antiguan businesses should be able to circumvent US prohibitions.


The real issue here

The real issue here is that the US wants to offer casino gambling, but not allow internet gambling. The US is being punished for "protecting" local industries under the WTO rules, because bricks-and-mortar casinos are being treated as indistinguishable from online gambling sites.

Try applying this line of thinking to other issues... since the state of California has legalized growing marijuana for medical patients by deputized agents of local towns, Antigua could theoretically argue before the WTO that Antiguan marijuana should be allowed for sale throughout the US. Shouldn't a signatory of the WTO be able to say that certain products (ie; guns, prescription medication, prostitutes) are prohibited from internet sale to their citizens?

The only way to eliminate Antiguas case under the current WTO rules would be for the US were to eliminate all forms of gambling. This is an issue of legal autonomy for WTO members - should they get to allow certain sin industries to operate in strictly regulated ways, or should they be compelled to cater to the lowest globalized denominator?

Teen embeds car in Edinburgh basement


Female driver

It couldn't have been a 16 year old boy - he must be covering for the woman who was obviously driving!

From 1981: the World's first UMPC


One on EBay right now

With a voice synthesizer, no less...

go look up item #160113565924

Mobile phone threat to honeybees


If it is caused by cell phones...

I'm curious about the timing and trigger event. Has there been a new cell phone technology rolled out recently? The epidemiology of CCS seems to have started in the UK, then moved over to France and Germany at the same time it started on the US East coast, and then moved on to the Southwest.

Has there been a push to expand cell phone towers out into rural areas? Has anyone tried mapping cell phone signal concentration at different frequencies against reported hive losses?

On top of this, varroa mites just appeared within the Hawaiian honey bee population. This was one of the last isolated populations where the mites hadn't shown up, and likely marks the end of organic certified honey. Talk about a doubly whammy.