* Posts by Bilby

67 posts • joined 20 Nov 2008


Clucking hell! Farcical free-range egg standard pecked apart by app


Re: omitted

matchbx, I admire your commitment to imperial measures; but converting Hectares to sq ft, doing the division by 10,000, and then approximating the sq ft result back to sq m. is rather unnecessary; 1 hectare is *by definition* 10,000 sq m, so 10,000 chook/hectare is EXACTLY 1 chook/sq m.

Terror in the Chernobyl dead zone: Life - of a wild kind - burgeons


Re: Hmmm

"when did we consume all the natural resources? still plenty around here & no sign of them being depleted."


Perhaps a better question might be 'where did we put them'? Apart from a tiny amount of stuff used for space probes, and a bit of Helium, everything that was on the planet when we got here is still here - albeit mixed up and spread out rather differently.

Remember the old Greenpeace slogan 'Throw nothing away; there is no "Away"'? Well they were right - but it implies the opposite of what they think. With enough energy (and the sun will be around for a while) we can recycle anything, if the need arises.


Re: Nuclear Power Generating

"Stick it at the bottom of the bloody huge hole which was until recently the Ranger Uranium Mine (now completely emptied of uranium)."

While the idea of burying the waste in defunct uranium mines is a good one, I suspect that the fact that the Ranger mine is now completely emptied of Uranium will come as news to Energy Resources Australia (ERA), who operate that mine, and who are still digging out considerable quantities of ore (at least, they were when I was there last year); Perhaps they could save a lot of money by not doing all that digging, if there's no Uranium left.

If you could drop them a line to let them know they are wasting their time, I am sure they would be grateful.

PHONE me if you feel DIRTY: Yanks and 'Nadians wave bye-bye to magstripe


Re: Vive La Difference

What kind of moronic toll road system allows motorists to stop and pay at toll points?

A toll point that even makes vehicles slow down, much less come to a stop, in order to pay is counter-productive - surely the reason you wanted to use the toll road in the first place is that it is faster than the other roads?

Around here, your 'tag' is scanned by the toll point as you drive through at the 100 or 110 km/h speed limit, and your account is debited. The tag beeps once to let you know it worked, and a couple of extra beeps if your account balance is low, to remind you to top it up (if you haven't set up a direct debit to top up automatically). If you don't have a tag, the system snaps your numberplate and you are required to pay within a couple of weeks (by phone or internet - signs alongside the motorway advise the contact details), or you get a fine for toll evasion.

The Great Barrier Relief – Inside London's heavy metal and concrete defence act


Re: Balanced article

All the talk of 'peers' and 'damns' was more reminiscent of heated debate in the Lords than of civil engineering.

Nobody should have to see their own rear, but that's what Turnbull's NBN will do to Australia


I already have the option to choose which camera angle I watch the footy from; and I don't use it, because my ability as a live sports producer sucks. I leave it to the professionals; and if immersive VR is offered to me, I will give that a swerve too.

I am sure it is impressive in a five minute demonstration at a trade show, where the technology is the focus of attention. I am equally sure that it will be much less impressive for a couple of hours of watching football, where the focus of attention is the game.

Sure, it can give me the experience of actually being at the stadium - where I have to check out the big screen to find out why the ref blew his whistle over on the far side of the ground. Oh, and it can also reproduce the authentic in-staduim 'empty wallet' effect too, no doubt. At least at the ground I get a plastic beaker of lukewarm weak beer in exchange for my week's salary, and not just a white elephant of a headset that will be rendered obsolete next month by an 'improvement'.

What's broken in this week's Windows 10 build? Try the Start Menu, for one


HHaa HHaa. VVeerryy ffuunnnnyy.

RELICS of the Earth's long lost TWIN planet FOUND ON MOON


Re: I reckon...

Tell me why; I don't like Mondas.

(As the Boomtown Rats would no doubt say).

Power, internet access knackered in London after exploding kit burps fire into capital's streets


Re: Home ADSL OK in NW6

No problems here in Brisbane, Queensland, Australia either, so it does not appear to be affecting the entire planet.

How HAPPY am I on a scale of 1 to 10? Where do I click PISSED OFF?


Re: OK

Sure, I'll get the bus.

Can you tell me when the next bus from Brisbane to London leaves?

E-vote won't happen for next Oz election


Re: Electronic Voting is more Secure

Ballot stuffing in Australian elections would be very hard to achieve.

Any candidate can appoint scrutineers who have the right to inspect the ballot boxes, to ensure that they are empty before being sealed, and to inspect the seals before they are opened for counting, and who are able to observe the boxes throughout the voting process, and to watch the counting as it happens - all of this is done in one place, with ballots counted at the polling stations at the close of the polls.

It would be possible, but difficult, to introduce extra ballots by having someone put two or three papers in at once - this would entail a significant risk of being caught, for a one or two vote gain.

Having scrutinised ballots here on a number of occasions, I think it would be very difficult and extremely risky to attempt to introduce the dozens or hundreds of fraudulent ballots that would usually be needed to make a difference to the outcome.

By keeping the ballot boxes in clear sight of scrutineers from before they are sealed, until the end of the preliminary count, ballot stuffing is rendered impractical, if not impossible.

We interrupt this cat video to say you're out of data


Cat videos?

Sure, that's right. Cat videos. Nothing to see here except pussy.

UN: Fossil fuels should be terminaated 86 years from now


Re: It's time to grow a pair

Lack of a belief is a belief in the same way that not collecting stamps is a hobby.


Re: Homo sapien or Homo plumbeus?

"So how do you convince a species hardwired to survive and breed to stop doing either in the name of survival?"

You subvert the programming. We evolved such that we stop surviving after a hundred or so years, no matter what we try to do about it; so the surviving part isn't a problem as long as we don't develop immortality any time soon.

And we evolved in an environment where breeding and screwing were sufficiently well linked to be essentially synonymous activities from an evolutionary viewpoint. We have evolved to have a powerful a sex drive, and a much less powerful parenthood drive.

So all we need to do is come up with a technology that allows us to screw with gay abandon (or rather, with heterosexual abandon) without having lots of children as a result. That technology was developed in the 1960s, in the form of a pill - perhaps the most important invention in history, and so important it is simply called 'the' pill.

Wherever the pill is available, and women are moderately well educated, to the point of being able to make rational choices rather than be browbeaten by the agents of superstitions exported from the bronze age, fertility rates are below replacement levels. This situation is so widespread that, even with demographic lag, we can expect population to stabilise in the next few decades at around the 10billion mark - well within the carrying capacity of the planet.

PANTS on FIRE? Too late for you. But others will benefit from singed trouser phone alert


If your pants catch fire...

...perhaps you should reconsider a career in politics.

No, Big Data firm, the UK isn't teeming with UBER-FRISKY GIGOLOS


There is another way to make the numbers fit.

All the numbers would add up if we binned the un-referenced estimate of 1-3% of the male population being homosexual or bisexual. If the real number is an order of magnitude higher, suddenly the rest fits.

Given the likelihood in our society that men will massively underreport homosexual or bisexual tendencies, I would find it completely unsurprising if there were a vastly larger number of homosexuals and bisexuals than any survey, no matter how anonymous, would find. People lie. People screw other people and lie about it.

If, say, 30% of men are homosexual and/or bisexual, then the numbers add up.

Is there any reason why this possibility wasn't even considered?

It's the 21st century. Surely we have moved beyond the idea that homosexuality is rare and aberrant behaviour?

NASA said a 60ft space alien menacing Earth wouldn't harm us: Tell THAT to Nicaragua


Re: Not all collisions are high speed

The minimum speed for a meteor is about 11.2km/sec. Any rock that is scarcely moving relative to Earth will accelerate to at least that speed due solely to gravity - essentially that is the speed to which an object will accelerate if dropped from a stationary position (relative to Earth) at an infinite height.

It isn't possible for a meteor to fall to Earth any slower than that; a 'couple of thousand mph' is an order of magnitude slower than the lowest possible speed. Faster speeds are, of course, quite possible.

Asteroids as powerful as NUCLEAR BOMBS strike Earth TWICE YEARLY


Re: The odds are not too shabby

Two per century, eh? Well we have already had Chelyabinsk, so if NASA could just steer a meteorite onto a collision course with somewhere urban that we won't mind losing - I vote for Canberra - that will be our quota, and we can stop worrying until 2100...

Driver drama delays deep desert XP upgrade


Re: Compulsory voting in Australia

I don't know why you think that - it is, sadly, not true.

Google flu-finding service diagnosed with 'big data hubris'


Re: They need a man-cold de-dupe program

Almost 40% of sick days are on Monday or Friday. It is scandalous.

Middle England's allotments become metric battlefield


So the allotment owners are horrified...

...at being forced to accept an extra 0.1 sq m?

MH370 airliner MYSTERY: The El Reg Pub/Dinner-party Guide


Re: Here's more sensible analysis...

Well having reviewed as much as I can of the data, and trying to ignore as much as I can of the bullshit generated internally in the media, here is my currently favoured hypothesis (based in large part on what Chris Goodfellow was saying on his Google+ page) - most of which fits the few known facts, and none of which requires anything currently known to be impossible:-

There were two 'events', separating the flight into three phases.

Phase 1: Normal, routine take-off and climb out of KL. Having reached cruise altitude (about FL350), the aircraft settles into cruise mode, and as they depart the Malaysian ATC zone, the First Officer says 'goodnight' to the Malaysian controller.

Event 1: A severe event occurs which disables a large fraction of the aircraft's electronics. A fire, structural failure, meteorite impact, or similar - there are plenty of things that can go bad, killing the electronics but not causing the plane to crash immediately. Perhaps an oxygen tank ruptures and takes out a cable bus under the cockpit. Whatever it was, either the event itself, or the aircrew's response to it, results in the loss of transponder and VHF (a fire might lead the crew to pull a number of circuit breakers, for example).

Phase 2: The captain is an experienced local pilot. He decides that rather than turn back to KL, which is a busy airport on the other side of some high terrain (and bearing in mind that he cannot raise ATC to have a slot cleared for his aircraft to land), he will head for the slightly closer, larger, and far less busy airport at Pulau Langkawi. He knows that airport, and he knows the area; but with much of the avionics shot, and flying at night, he keeps the navigation a simple as possible, turning left and crossing the Malay peninsula somewhat North of the target airfield, at the point where the terrain is at its lowest, and knowing that even if he can't locate the airport electronically, he can simply follow the coast south once he reaches the Strait of Malacca, until he sees the runway lights. Unbeknownst to the pilots, they are tracked some of the way by military radar; however none of the radar operators are aware that a civillian aircraft is missing at this point, and so no particular notice is taken at the time.

Event 2: Having reached the straits, the pilot attempts his Southerly turn; but at that point, something else goes wrong. Perhaps weakened by the earlier incident, the cabin pressurization falls to the point where the crew succumb to hypoxia; perhaps the control systems for the aircraft go the same way as the R/F gear and simply stop working; but the aircraft, now no longer under the control of its crew, becomes stuck on a southerly heading.

Phase 3: With all on board deceased, incapacitated, or (less plausibly) simply unable to do anything to influence the heading of the aircraft, it flies on into the night, until it runs out of fuel. The Satcom transceiver, the only remaining functional comms gear on the aircraft (which will work as long as it has power, even if no signals can be sent from the cockpit to the transceiver) continues its hourly handshake 'ping' with the INMARSAT bird at 64E, the last 'ping' coming shortly before the crash, at a point on the Southern 'arc' currently under investigation by SAR.

Of course, there are lots of other possibilities; but at this stage, none fit the known facts as well as the above, with a minimum of speculative additional 'facts' not currently in evidence.

Windows 8.1 becomes world's fourth-most-popular desktop OS


Re: Something to crow about...

Nah, RPN is too much of a nuisance for FORTH to be worth crowing about. Frankly, I haven't used it at all myself since 1988.

Dutch oven overcooked in World Solar Challenge


The penalty wasn't for the competing vehicle doing something wrong

...according to the article, it was for one of their support cars breaking the speed limit.

Presumably the support crews have packing up to do after their car has set off, and then want to get to the next checkpoint and set up well before their sunshine-mobile arrives. This means going faster then their entry in the race - so breaking the 130kph limit might seem like a good plan, up until the point where you get caught and your team is penalized.

They don't recognise us as HUMAN: Disability groups want CAPTCHAs killed


It is a bad choice of question anyway; most people incorrectly believe the answer is 'Yellow'; but in fact the sun is white. Indeed, the sun defines white. This is easy to test; take a white piece of paper and shine a coloured light on it, and it appears to be the colour of the light you exposed it to. Now, take it out into the sunshine. What colour does it look?

NSW contemplates smart licenses


Re: Bigger issues first

Interestingly, in Australia, vehicles do already display an 'insurance disk' (All right, State and Territory registration stickers are oblong rather than round, so not a disk per se). CTP insurance is billed as part of the rego, and displaying a valid rego sticker in Aus DOES indicate that the vehicle is covered by compulsory third-party insurance.

CTP only covers third-party personal injury, and not property damage, but it applies to the vehicle not the driver - although it is invalidated if the driver is unlicenced.

Fukushima powerplant owner forced to cough teleconference vids


Re: "Anyone would think..."

All of which is completely true, but not a point of difference from other means of generating electricity.

The key differences between the nuclear power industry idiots and the coal power industry idiots are that the coal power industry idiots are allowed to hide in the shadows, with zero attention paid by the media to the deaths and serious injuries they cause; while the nuclear power industry idiots are subjected to massive and unremitting scrutiny every time one of their workforce breaks a fingernail, or a member of the public is exposed to a dose of radiation equivalent to having a CAT scan.

On the whole, I would rather ALL industries were held to the high standards applied to nuclear power - it wouldn't prevent all industrial deaths and injuries, but it would massively reduce their number and frequency.

The reason that "Modern designs use passive cooling and don't have this problem", is that the people in charge of commissioning those designs are fully aware of what happens to them if they don't take safety very seriously indeed, and take appropriate steps to protect (as far as possible) the idiots from the consequences of their idiocy.

If only the same were true of other electricity generation schemes.

Lithe British youngsters prioritise fun over privacy and security


Re: People who've been around the block a few times...

>I am not saying your wrong

Very glad to hear that, as what you should be saying is "you're wrong".

'Inexperienced' RBS tech operative's blunder led to banking meltdown


Re: Astonishing

>RBS is very ITIL focused

Ahh, you have hit the nail on the head. From Wikipedia:

"ITIL describes procedures, tasks and checklists that are not organization-specific, used by an organization for establishing a minimum level of competency."

Managers who think that achieving a "minimum level of competency" is sufficient should not be allowed to play with systems that require an above-average level of competency; and managers who think that their specific complex organization is best operated by using "procedures, tasks and checklists that are not organization-specific" should not be allowed to run a lemonade stand.

The fundamental problem is that there are people in positions of power who think that 'management' is a basic skill in and of itself, which can be applied successfully to running anything, from lemonade stands to multinational banking houses.

The "Lack of experience" problem started at the top, and the feeling in boardrooms around the world today is "We don't need detailed knowledge of our corporation's systems, so why should we pay through the nose for staff who do? Let's write down the instructions on a checklist and give them to someone in a poverty-stricken hell-hole like Hyderabad, Mumbai or Edinburgh, who will step through them for $17,000 pa and no benefits."

What could possibly go wrong?


Re: Investment in the backbone?

So the long-term solution to a problem caused by replacing experienced people with inexperienced people, is to replace the current, experienced executives - who are now as full of information on the perils of employing inexperienced staff as the dog that peed on the third rail - with new, shiny, fresh out of their MBAs executives who will repeat the same errors made by their forebears?

Surely a better solution is to fire no-one, but to re-hire (at great expense) as many of the experienced staff they originally sacked as they can find, while slashing the remuneration of the responsible parties, but keeping them in-house now that they have learned this rather expensive lesson?

Renewables good for 80 per cent of US demand by 2050


Re: Don't forget...

Windscale was not a nuclear power plant; it was a plutionium manufacturing facility, producing the raw material for bombs. It was also amongst the worlds first nuclear facilities of any kind; including it in a risk analysis for twenty-first century power generation plants is like including Stephenson's Rocket in a risk analysis of the French TGV system.

Oh, and it is still called Windscale. Sellafield is the umbrella term for the various adjacent (but separate) nuclear facilities, notably Windscale, (a Bomb-making plant closed in the 1950s after a fire); Calder Hall, (a power generation and plutonium making facility decommissioned in 2003 after 47 years of operation); and THORP, (a reprocessing plant turning spent fuel into new fuel).

You don't hear about Windscale much these days, because it hasn't been in use for over half a century - but it is still called Windscale.


"Nuclear power is a wonderful idea until you realize that to power a world population of 15 billion at U.S. levels of consumptive energy waste, over 200,000 nuclear reactors would need to be constructed world wide."

World population will likely never exceed about 12 billion, and the fraction of that population who will use power at the crazy rate currently seen in the USA will likely remain very small - indeed, it could well fall, as even Americans will realize that they are better off using power efficiently than they are paying for more electricity than they really need.

"300 in Iraq alone."

Iraq has nothing to do with anything here; but even if we imagine a wildly unlikely future in which Iraq uses the same per-capita energy as today's USofA, we find that we are imagining a world in which they have the technical expertise to do so without difficulty.

"Currently the world has around 450 of them, and 4 have blown up over the last 50 years. Roughly 1 percent."

Really? One blew up in the Ukraine, because it was a poor early design abused by its operators; one blew up in Japan because it was a poor early design hit by a huge tsunami, having been built in a poorly chosen location. I don't know what the other two you are referring to could be; Three Mile Island is the only other incident that springs to mind, but it would be completely wrong to describe that incident as 'blown up' - except perhaps in the phrase "An incident causing no fatalities that has been blown up out of all proportion by the media"; a phrase that would also apply to Fukushima.

"With 200,000 reactors we should expect to see around 40 of them blow up every year."

But only if we were really, really bad at maths, and decided to extrapolate in a straight line for no good reason.

"No thanx. I'll continue to reduce my consumption thank you."

No-one is suggesting you should do otherwise; it makes good sense to do more than one thing to approach this problem. Replacing the current technology with one that is a couple of orders of magnitude safer and cleaner than coal does, however, seem like a wise companion to reduction of consumption.

At the end of the day, the question of whether nuclear power is 'safe' or 'clean' in some absolute sense is irrelevant; what matters is that it is demonstrably far safer and cleaner than the current coal-burning technology. If fission power was invented today, without all the historical baggage from the cold war, those calling for carbon footprint reduction would be clamouring to have coal power plants replaced by nuclear plants as soon as possible. It would save lives, and reduce not only carbon pollution, but also sulphur, particulates and even radiological pollution too.


Take your pick, tree-huggers -

You can oppose carbon dioxide emissions, or you can oppose nuclear power plants.

If you do both, you are opposing the continued existence of human civilization.

Of course, some people are explicitly opposed to the continued existence of human civilization; but even amongst the hard-core greenies, these are a minority. I hope.

Why do people like NREL waste time, money and resources on studies that prove* we can have low carbon electricity without nuclear baseload power? Could it be that the anti-nuclear lobby painted themselves into a corner during the cold war, and demonized fission power to the point that they no longer even think before saying "No thanks!"?

*As long as we don't mind paying vastly more, and it not working sometimes, and as long as we develop some brand new technologies that have yet to leave the drawing-board

No one watches TV, Nielsen, and you know it


Less is more

It doesn't matter how many minutes per hour of TV are devoted to advertisements - the total spend on TV advertising will remain roughly constant. In Australia, we have loads of slots on sale - so they are cheap, and Max Annoying can afford to make a ten second movie of himself standing in front of his dodgy used car lot screaming at me about how great this week's deals are.

In the UK (at least, back in the good old days when I lived over there, and beer was less than a pound a pint), there were strict limits on the ads per hour; and only one channel allowed to have them at all. This did not significantly reduce the revenue to be had by selling TV ads; oh no. The revenue was simply concentrated in a smaller space, and as a result, it was essential to advertisers that they made better ads - even if they were more expensive - with the result that Rutger Hauer sold us Guiness without screaming at us (even though it could cost more than a pound a pint).

The proliferation of TV channels, coupled with the insanely large proportion of all that airtime that is devoted to advertising in Australia leads to vast numbers of cheap, crappy ads that no-one cares about. It is simple inflation - increase the supply, and the value plummets.

Of course, if any one channel or network tries to improve the value of their advertising slots by reducing the number available, the other networks will happily grab their share of the loot. The only solution would be for the government to impose a legal constraint, limiting advertising time per hour across all channels. I am prepared to bet that not only would such a constraint not reduce the networks' revenue, but that it would actually result in better penetration of those ads that were still broadcast. Even Mr Annoying would benefit - he could spend his advertising budget on radio, billboards and other media that might actually reach his potential customers, instead of wasting it on TV slots that everyone fast-forwards through, and which benefit no-one but the sales droids at the TV networks.

Of course I won't be holding my breath waiting for this to happen.

Mad Apple patent: Cloneware to convince trackers you don't like porn


In unrelated news...

...in response to a recent report compiled by the Bureau of Statistics, the Prime Minister today announced that there will be a special budgetary provision this year of $2.6 Trillion for basket-weaving societies and related hobbies. "This grant is an essential part of our government's commitment to ensuring that this previously under-funded pastime receives the support it deserves, and that Australian Working Families demand", she said, "In stark contrast to the paucity of basket-weaving support provided by the previous coalition government. While this should in no way be seen as a cynical grab for votes from the large, but hitherto unknown, Australian basket-weaving community, I will point out that Mr Abbott has made no basket-weaving policy announcements at all in the past five years, and voters should understand that his party would instead waste this money on football, pubs and casinos - pastimes which our research shows to be highly unpopular with the Australian public".

Climate scientists see 'tipping point' ahead


Hyperbole much?

"The paper reports that if fertility rates remain at the rate they were at from 2005 to 2010, population projections for 2100 top off at a staggering 27 billion."

Yeah. And if my new puppy continues to put on weight at his current rate, he will be the size of my house in five years time.

According to less panicky sources, "By 2100 there is an 80% chance that global population will number between 6.2 and 11.1 billion"; and a 95% confidence that the population will be below 13 billion.


The most likely peak population for planet Earth is around 9 billion people, sometime in the middle of this century, tailing off slowly to about eight and a half billion by 2100.

Any study that starts with such a blatant piece of inaccuracy, with no obvious motive other than to instill panic and fear, needs to be taken with a very large grain of salt. Either these guys haven't done their homework, or they are deliberately attempting to misinform their readers. Neither possibility fills me with confidence in the value of their conclusions.

Oz has to go nuclear, says Adelaide U scientist

Thumb Up

Coffee is served...

...Ahhh, the smell of freshly ground beans finally wafts across the nation. It has only been bleeding obvious that nuclear power is the best option in Australia for about half a century, so I doubt that it will take much more than another fifty years for our overlords in Canberra to wake up and catch a whiff of their impending lattes.

Of course, nuclear isn't perfectly safe; there are around 0.04 deaths per TWh for this type of electricity generation. That figure does compare favourably to the 161 deaths/TWh worldwide for Coal fired generation though. Still, given that coal is only 4,000 times as deadly as nuclear, I can understand why people always mention safety as a concern when considering replacing coal with nuke power. Oh, wait, no I can't.

Nuclear is significantly safer than solar and wind power - less risk of workers falling from heights - and even if we ignore the developing world's coal mining issues, there are still 15 deaths/TWh from coal power in the US of A (for example); so that is still 375 times the number of deaths from nukes, even when the nuke figure includes the piss-poor Russian death trap design used at Chernobyl.


Build nuclear power in Australia now. It has been overdue for decades. Bring in some French engineers to help out, if necessary. We have the fuel; we have the technology; we really, really need to stop burning brown coal to power our toasters - it is stupid, polluting, dangerous and seriously out-dated.

iTunes fanbois outraged by Apple's sex-life quiz probe


As security gets tougher to crack, the legitimate user gets more and more likely to destroy it himself, by writing the password/passphrase/answers to security questions/etc. on a post-it stuck on his monitor.

Increasing complexity is a diminishing returns game; the most secure system is therefore somewhere at the simple end of the spectrum. This is doubly true for 'unmonitored' security - the boss might come down on you for writing down your passwords at work, but no-one will know or care if you do the same with your iTunes passwords at home.

The old system was likely more secure than the new one. If you were the only person who knew your password, all was good - until you were required by poor memory and mandatory 'improved' security to have the information needed for your children/spouse/flatmate/etc. to change that password written down next to your computer.

Elon Musk's private Dragon ship to dock with ISS in Feb



I hope the ISS astronauts are big fans of cheese; if not, SpaceX really ought to consider sending some other foodstuffs as well in their supply runs.

At the very least, they should send up some crackers on the next Progress or ATV delivery, to tide them over until the Dragon capsule can be qualified as 'biscuit rated'.

'NATO RESTRICTED': The lowest possible classification


@ Henry 4 - Thursday 21st July 2011 22:14 GMT:

The Brits were successfully invaded by the Dutch in 1688.

You may not have heard about this, as it is classified above TOP SECRET; in fact it is part of a large body of information so sensitive that HM Government has given it a TAUGHT IN SCHOOLS classification. TOP SECRET is only for those with a 'need to know', but with TAUGHT IN SCHOOLS material, most people don't even have a 'want to know'.

Making a storage mountain out of a molecule


As Scotty would no doubt point out

you can't have a Diuranium drive. You need Dilithium.

Why not Diuranium? Well "The engines cannae take it", natch.

Fukushima fearmongers are stealing our Jetsons future


How dangerous is it?

If the very low levels of radiation exposure above background currently seen in Tokyo were as dangerous as some media outlets and pressure groups are suggesting, then Belarus, Ukraine, Finland, Sweden and the north and west of the British Isles would be a derelict wasteland piled with corpses. This is not the case (apart from Liverpool), so observational evidence in the 30 odd years since Chernobyl tells us that the effects of low level exposure to radio-caesium or radio-iodine are just not that big a deal.



Wow - They found Plutonium 238 in Japan!

This would be the stuff with the half-life of around 88 years, that is a by-product of Plutonium 239 production from Uranium 238, right? It must be coming from the leaking reactors, because no-one would have let a big lump of Plutonium, (presumably still mixed with fairly large quantities of various impurities) explode in an air-burst above a Japanese city at any time in the past 88 years, spreading bits of itself far and wide would they?

Oh, hang on, what is the name of that place that begins with a 'N'?


Oz gov kicks off censorship review


New ratings

The following program is rated 'I', for an immature audience. It may contain celebrity chefs, apparently ordinary people placed in unusual situations, or C grade talent degrading themselves for your titillation. This content is not recommended for viewing by persons over the age of 15, unless accompanied by a child.

The following program is rated 'EA', for excessive advertising. It may contain long commercial breaks, short program segments, or mindless advertorials masquerading as real content. This program is not recommended for viewers who have retained the capacity for rational thought.

Fukushima on Thursday: Prospects starting to look good


@ Disco-Legend-Zeke

"...may I suggest that plants which are built near natural bodies of water have reactor cores and cooling ponds located below the water level so that in an emergency, water can be dumped in by gravity."

If these ponds were below sea level, the tsunami would have scattered their contents over a wide area, which would render subsequent re-filling of the pools with water irrelevant.

Putting the pools on top of the solidly built containment structure does at least protect them from tsunamis.

Fukushima situation as of Wednesday


Sellafield, Windscale etc...

Please can we put an end to this pointless slur. Sellafield is the BNFL site housing the Thermal Oxide Reprocessing Plant; the Calder Hall Magnox Power Plant, and the Windscale Plutonium Plant.

It was always called Sellafield; no one changed the name.

Windscale was (and still is) a part of the Sellafield site. It gets mentioned very little in the news these days, as it has not been operational since the fire. It was a reactor for making Plutonium for the UK Nuclear Weapons program, it has never been in any way related to nuclear power generation.

Next door to Windscale on the same site is the Calder Hall power station, which was the worlds first commercial nuclear power station. It ran for several decades with no newsworthy incidents, and is now being decommissioned as it has reached the end of its life.

Still on the same site is THORP, which is the currently active part of the Sellafield family. Here, spent fuel from around the world is cooled, stripped, and reprocessed into new fuel. Again, little attention has been paid to this site by the front pages, as rather tediously, they keep not having serious accidents.

Sellafield is the place, Calder Hall and Windscale are the names of two farms that were purchased by BNFL to build their facilities on.

Windscale is the bit of the facility that had a big accident, that has given the greenies something to frighten their kids with for over 50 years; it was a very early reactor with a number of design flaws, built to make atom bombs at the height of the cold war. But as it is no longer doing anything, no-one refers to it much. Sellafield however is still an active BNFL facility, and it is 100% wrong to call Sellafield 'Windscale', or to say that anyone changed the name.


@AC 16 March 2011 19:55 GMT

"Uranium ore has to be mined too, and that predominantly occurs in astoundingly corrupt dictatorships that don't give a flying fuck about the safety of their workforce."

Like Australia.

Of course, coal is mostly mined in more enlightened places, like China.

I hear that Germany has responded to the situation in Japan by shutting down nuclear power plants pending 'safety inspections'. Given that the necessary increase in coal burning to make up the shortfall will lead to a net increase in the radiation exposure of German citizens, this seems like a remarkably stupid response.

Hopefully the safety review will go something like - "Are we near a subduction fault?" "No" "Check - Start her up again boys".


@ hugo tyson

"If there were no nuclear plant story the media would be very bored with the plain 'quake and tsunami cleanup efforts, don't you think?"

I presume the cleanup hasn't finished in Christchurch, but the news media here in Australia have apparently forgotten all about their earthquake. Perhaps NZ should have invested in a couple of nuclear power stations to keep the media spotlight on their recovery effort.

America spared Top Gear Mexican quips


@ s. pam, 11 Feb 14:28 GMT

"Time for a Nappie for the Americans"

I think you will find that is a Diaper...

Oz net filter jams up with smut, may be pulled out altogether


The plural of "Attorney General"

Is Attournies General. Note also that it contains the letter "U" in Australia, as we are still a British imperial possession, and not yet an official US territory.




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