* Posts by I ain't Spartacus

8557 posts • joined 18 Jun 2009

The Moon certainly ain't made of cheese but it may be made of more metal than previously thought, sensor shows

I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

Re: Density


The Moon is made of cheese. It’s got lumpy bits in it, which are cracker crumbs from careless Clangers. And it has a liquid core of finest port. All NASA need to provide is space chutney. Although my perfect cheeseboard also has mulled wine soaked apple slices. So hopefully there’s room in the spacecraft for them too.

Beijing's tightening grip on Hong Kong could put region's future as an up-and-coming tech hub in jeopardy

I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

Re: @Sparty "the US response can hurt Hong Kong "

Mike the FlyingRat,

Sorry, my criticism of the Trump regime was general, not specific. So far on this he’s making the right public noises. Although I don’t know what’s going on diplomatically, behind the scenes. However Trump’s dangerously ignorant on foreign affairs, and has all the consistency and predictability of a hungry toddler. Plus he sacks all the advisors that know what they’re talking about, which also tells us that he’s unwilling to educate himself or improve his technique.

He’s been willing to do unorthodox things, against diplomatic practice, like talking to North Korea outside the previous multi-national framework. I don’t blame him for trying something new, it’s not like previous policies had been working all that well. But then I wish I believed he understood why the old policies existed, and what the risks of personal unstructured diplomacy are.

Winging it can go very wrong, very quickly. Such as half-leaking a plan to remove US troops from Germany. That the German government got to hear about in the press. Before he’s even worked out what to do with them. Are they going to a new Camp a Trump in Poland? He’s seeing the Polish president soon, and Poland have offered as they want NATO troops deployed further forward. But that decision has massive ramifications for the whole existence of NATO, and threatens to seriously damage relations with Russia, and Germany. Not to mention the EU. This is a major upheaval of the entire western security structure, and should be taken over several years, in consultation with the whole of NATO.

So excuse me for having massive doubts.

I can’t see China's government backing down at this point. But if the diplomats can dance fast enough, a face-saving compromise could be found where the law isn’t used and some sort of political process is begun in Hong Kong. Even if it’s secret at first. The economic loss of financial sanctions and a brain drain of Hong Kong citizens is a serious threat to China’s economy. But of course, they may not see it that way. But often threats are counterproductive. The better way may be to prepare a bunch of policies to take for each line that the Chinese government crosses, and hope that knowing the cost will make them think about moderating their actions. Or if not, cost them enough with coronavirus, that they’re willing to talk in a few months.

Any hope requires planning, alliance-building, consistency and measured language.

I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

Re: Welcome....

The precedent is the Ugandan, and Kenyan, case. Where we gave passports to the ethnic Indian families that were driven out. Though I think that was under 100,000 people who actually moved to the UK. But then if you issue the passports, not everyone will have to use them, as they’re an insurance policy. I know a few people who came here after being kicked out of Uganda, and only some of their families came fo live here. As a group they also tended to integrate quite well, as they spoke english, were well educated and a lot had family businesses.

I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

Re: Total Shocker

Well it hadn’t happened until now. Which was a decent run...

While the Chinese Communist Party remembered the dangers of dictators for life with absolute power, things were running along just about OK. Danger to themselves of course, not the ordinary people... it’s why they originally built the system of major leadership transitions every 5 years, for protect themselves from the major purges that many of them suffered under Mao. And that President Xi has started up again, although in a far smaller and more targeted manner. There’s a lot less of the ideological madness than in the Mao years. Now it’s much less random, and more an a tool of applied power.

I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

Re: "the US response can hurt Hong Kong "

That’s why the law was put in place in 92. To give China an economic incentive to keep its word that the one country two systems would remain true for at least the promised 50 years.

Obviously the law expected there to be a US administration in place capable of acting proportionately, and basic diplomacy...

University of California San Francisco pays ransomware gang $1.14m as BBC publishes 'dark web negotiations'

I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

Re: So, nothing important was encrypted

I don’t know the going rate for good ones. But surely a million dollars ought to buy a decent hitman, with side expertise in torture, as an alternative to paying the ransom...

Apple said to be removing charger, headphones from upcoming iPhone 12 series

I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

Re: Bah!

Don’t put your hand up too fast, or you’ll knock one AirPod out of your ear, and it’ll be lost down a drain somewhere. Also, why are you listening to music in class!

I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

Re: To be fair...

I use my bundled Apple headphones a little. I don’t like earbuds, so prefer the bulkier cans I buy, but they’re no use if I’m wearing a sun hat. They won’t go over the brim. I tend to wear cricket hats, because I burn so fast I make gingers look like Morgan Freeman...

Smiley face because the sun has recently had his hat on.

I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

Re: There is no price...

You’re right of course. It does make sense. It’s great for the environment, and I dislike waste. But only if the bastards use the fucking standards! I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve put a phone or tablet on charge, for a message to pop up saying that it doesn’t like the cable or plug, and will thus charge at half speed. This despite the fact that it’s a higher than USB spec set of kit that other gadgets are happy to use at full power.

I’ve currently only got one USB C device, so don’t know if this improves things. Here’s hoping.

White elephants in the mist: Google's upcoming Pixel 4A may ship without Soli motion recognition, per FCC filing

I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

Re: Why use the phrase "White elephants"

John Brown,

Your derogatory remarks about boards of a green hue have been noted by the mighty Tharg the Merciless! When our Venusian invasion comes, you will be first to be sent to the recycling banks for protein harvesting.

Cower! Puny Earthlings!

It's National Cream Tea Day and this time we end the age-old debate once and for all: How do you eat yours?

I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

Re: Sorry to be technical

I don’t get the cider thing. Cream tea needs tea. Preferably Darjeeling, but breakfast is fine, or Earl Grey. Champagne is OK though, so I suppose a dry cider would be good. Aspalls do some nice dry ones.

I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

Re: Hmmm

Ah... nostalgia. We used to have a huge garden on a massive hill with loads of fruit trees and 50ft of blackberry hedge. So Mum made jam (and pies) all the time. I really miss homemade blackberry jam! Blackberry and Apple jam is also bloody gorgeous.

Nowadays I put raspberry jam on my scones.

I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

Cheese scones are yummy, for a nice change. But obviously cream with fruit ones is best.

I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

Re: Too much arguing = not enough eating

But, that’s a dangerously high scone to cream ratio!

The reason for everything you do, when eating a cream tea, is to maximise the amount of cream you can consume without engendering excessive unfavourable comment from those around you. Thus the jam debate is easily dismissed. A smooth layer of jam on the scone helps the massive dollop of cream on top to stick. Whereas if you do it the other way round, you struggle to get a good even layer of jam and the construction has become too rickety for spreading.

US govt: Julian Assange tried to recruit hacker to steal hush-hush dirt and we should know – the hacker was an informant

I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

Re: Just put him on a plane already


I don't think your "he's not a journalist" argument works here. Firstly a D Notice is a UK thing, and secondly it's now a voluntary system (I'm not sure if it hasn't always been). So the MoD can issue one, but only if they're very sure they can get the press to agree. Such as they did with not telling anyone Prince Harry was in Afghanistan, which news was broken first in a German magazine (admittedly vague memory).

Also I'm not sure if asking hackers to get info also can't be included in a definition of journalism, if you really stretch it. I believe even legit journos will sometimes accept info where they know the law has been broken to get it, I've heard the Beeb discuss their editorial guidelines on stuff like this and how strict they are.

If he was paying them to do it, or helping, that would be difference. Of course the allegation is that he assisted Manning with tools and info to get the databases out of the US army, and that could go from conspiracy up to espionage - which makes him not a journalist.

I'd also argue the way he handled the leaked Clinton emails made him a campaigner at the least, rather than a journalist. If not a Russian agent or stooge. But I don't know enough about how US law creates shield laws for journalists to know how that would come out.

Segway to Heaven: Mega-hyped wonder-scooter that was going to remake city transport to cease production

I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

C5s were scary. Nothing that low to the ground should feel that unstable. The idea of taking it on actual roads with buses and lorries is terrifying. Just pootling round a car park was unpleasant enough.

I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

Re: In the UK

I see a few escooters in my small unfashionable market town in the western spiral armpit of London. But last year someone whizzed past me on a skateboard, then stopped, bent down to press a button and zoomed off with the incredibly loud sound of a petrol engine. At least that one won’t be sneaking up on anybody...

Maybe there is hope for 2020: AI that 'predicts criminality' from faces with '80% accuracy, no bias' gets in the sea

I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

It’s AI innit. Computer does all the details like. And computers never make mistakes.

iPadOS 14: Apple's attempt to pry fondleslab from toddlers' mitts and make it more businesslike

I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

Re: Samsung Galaxy Note

If Apple hadn’t created the "pencil" for the iPad 5 years ago, it would be fine. No handwriting support, no problem. But the fact they did and then totally ignored the obvious use case was pathetic. Particularly as good handwriting recognition Has been around for at least 20 years. So I think a bit of mild trolling/pisstaking is well justified.

If Apple had just ignored Samsung's line of Note tablets and phones that would have been fine too. I’d have bought the iPad Pro when I bought my Air last year, if I’d have known they’d do this - and not leave the design half finished though.

CERN puts two new atom-smashers on its shopping list. One to make Higgs Bosons, then a next-gen model six times more energetic than the LHC

I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

Re: name suggestion

How about The Bloody Enormous Hadron Collider?

I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

Any area funded by government is in competition with all the others though. That is unfortunately true.

However, the thing the OP missed is the all-important question, as we should have learned from Radio 4's More or Less. What do you mean you don’t listen to it...? The question: "Is this a big number?"

Just because it ends in billion, that doesn’t always mean anything. In this case, €21bn is a decent chunk of change. But over the next 30 years? It’s suddenly far less. Over a similar timescale, and ignoring inflation, the UK health budget would be in the region of €4-€4.5 trillion ish.

Even the EU budget, which is just over 1% of EU GDP, is €100bn a year, so 150 times as much, over the 30 years to 2050.

I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

Homelessness is a massively complex social / political / economic and medical nest of problems. Involving money, mental health, addiction, family breakdown and heaven knows what other issues. And €21bn split over the next 30 years probably isn't even enough to solve it in one single medium sized country. Let alone the whole world.

Given that the LHC is an internationally funded science research project - finding that kind of money shouldn't actually be all that difficult. Particularly as it's been receiving regular funding for ages now - presumably the arguments that persuaded governments to give it the cash last time still apply - and it's not as if it hasn't been doing good science so far.

Of course their real reason for asking for this funding may well be to develope the alchemion - that particle that needs to be added to any element in order to turn it into gold. At which point their funding needs are over. Or it's possible they already have, and this funding proposal is just a smokescreen...

I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

Re: Eventually

You don't need to get it up the stairs. Just dig a tunnel from wherever you are to the Swiss/French border - and connect a long flexible pipe to that.

Australian PM says nation under serious state-run 'cyber attack' – Microsoft, Citrix, Telerik UI bugs 'exploited'

I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

China will regret this!

Australia will respond with a DDoS arrack on China. For the unversed in the terminology that’s a Distributed Delivery of Spiders attack. An area where Australia is well ahead in the global arms (legs?) race...

And that’s before they resort to chemical warfare. It’s no surprise the attack has included their breweries, as what nation could survive the twin assault of Fosters and XXXX attacks?

Worse still, the S in DDoS can be switched to snakes or even salties.

How do you run a military court over Zoom? With 28 bullet points and a ceremonial laptop flunkey, of course!

I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

The army's not been the same since Wellington's time. When the ration was a third of a pint of rum per day! That put hairs on their chests... In unfortunate circumstances, where supplies were difficult, the substitution was made for a rather poor pint of local wine - barely enough to get by, I'm sure you'll agree.

But in their free time, I believe the army still try to maintain the traditions.

Only true boffins will be able to grasp Blighty's new legal definitions of the humble metre and kilogram

I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

Re: Awkward definition for mass

Couldn't they have used a reference mass of a Irn Bru instead?

I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

In your head or does it have to counted out loud to be valid?

For a number that big, I'm taking my socks off. Fingers alone ain't enough...

I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

The Anglo Saxons had a much better measure. Which was the hide of land. Brilliant because it was defined as the amount of land needed to feed one family of unspecified size for a year. And was therefore totally dependent on local climate and farming conditions and had no definiable size.

We should base a measurement system on that, just to confuse the hell out of people.

I ain't Spartacus Gold badge


I was educated in the 80s - and we did our science in metric. Which I'm perfectly comfortable with. I can't now remember if what little cookery we did was done in metric or imperial - but in that case the greatest influence on me was Mum. She cooked in imperial and that's still how I think when planning a meal - if following a recipe it'll be metric - but when buying meat or fruit and veg I still estinmate in imperial and convert if forced to buy that way. It's not like converting 3/41b into kg is hard.

If I'm doing DIY, then the influence on me was Dad. Again, of an older school who thought in imperial. So that's how I mostly estimate distances, and the foot and inch are more convenient for imprecise measurements that mm, cm or m anyway. If I'm working out how much paint I need, or measuring precisely, then I'll use metric.

For work it's metric all the way. I measure water in litres, because 1,000L is a convenient 1m³ of water that conveniently also gives you a nice 1000kg. Pressure should be in bar, because the numbers are smaller, and litres per second is easier than gallons per minute.

I saw a survey in the Eurozone a couple of years ago that said that more than half of people still translate how much stuff costs into their original currencies to work out how much it should be, despite the Euro having been with us for two decades! I know I did it when I lived in Belgium, but then I had the disadvantage that I was only just getting used to the Belgian franc when they unsportingly turned them all into Euros while I was in Blightly visiting my family over Christmas/New Year.

It's not so much stubborness, as people being slow to change the ways they think. Especially when you're doing that kind of sense-checking estimation in your head that tells you if a proper calculation is actually in the right ball-park. Neither is it a uniquely British thing. It's simply people being people.

I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

Re: Tine to redefine Pi(e)

Shepherd's pie gets in under the fish pie ruling, as above.

My brother's pub has actually got this stated on his menus. He describes those half-arsed frozen puff pastry abominations as "casseroles with a pastry hat" - whereas he sells proper pies that he or the chef have made. Pleasingly square ones. The venison ones are particularly good.

The other investigation we now need is into the herertic who downvoted the OP - and seemingly disagrees that pastry hats are an affront against all that is decent in the world.

I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

Re: British football pitches

The offside rule is easy. If your team have just scored a brilliant, well-deserved and much-needed goal - it will be incorrectly ruled offside. Or in more modern cases, given by the referee, in order to cruelly raise your hopes, then overruled in a farcical and long-drawn-out VAR process.

On the other hand, due the to the dubious parentage of the referee and capriciousness of the sporting gods, the opposing team cannot under any circumstances be ruled offside, particularly when they blatantly are.

Ex-eBay security execs among six charged with harassing, threatening bloggers who dared criticize web tat souk

I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

Re: That's awful

Prude! Cockroaches have a right to bash the bishop too!

Or, if they don’t have bishops, how about mashing the mantis? They prey, after all...

I’m already getting my coat.

Someone got so fed up with GE fridge DRM – yes, fridge DRM – they made a whole website on how to bypass it

I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

The Chinese military own loads of normal civilian companies. As well as some of their armaments factories. It helps pay the bills. Or the massive illicit bonuses for top officials to squirrel away. They had cash back when state owned companies were being sold off.

In Iran, the Revolutionary Guard Corps had so much cash from their own factories and investments that when the government privatised the national telecoms provider they outbid everyone and bought it for cash.

In dictatorships, it’s useful to have alternative supplies of cash, for bribes or bureaucratic infighting.

I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

Re: Advertent FUD

Filters are actually an added risk. Admittedly a small one. If they aren’t regularly cleaned or changed. In fact several of our NHS England customers now specify almost all their kit without filters. Or require automatic self-cleaning ones, if there’s no option.

Ex-Dell distributor in Lebanon ignored ban on suing US tech giant. Now four directors have been sentenced to prison in the UK

I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

If arbitration is rigged, and you can show it, you can go to court and overturn it. Again you should have got legal advice on the contract when you signed it. But binding arbitration means no appeal if you don’t like the result.

Decent commercial contracts mean that there are processes where you can either pick or veto the arbitrators that are appointed. It’s not as one-sided a relationship as when companies try to force consumers into their own process that they call arbitration. Though obviously I’ve not seen this contract.

I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

They aren’t children. They agreed the contract. If they didn’t like it, they shouldn’t have signed it. The contract gives them recourse to English law, which has a decent enough reputation.

Obviously I don’t know if they’ve been screwed over, but if you piss off judges, they can lock you up. They know the risk of what they’re doing.

I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

They could, perhaps, if they bribed the judge enough. But it would be hard to enforce outside Lebanon. Whereas that English judgement is more likely to be internationally enforceable because it complies with the contract as agreed and signed. Unless there’s a reason to invalidate the contract, which isn’t what they appear to have argued in our courts.

If they couldn’t live with English law and compulsory arbitration, they shouldn’t have signed.

I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

Re: 'zillas

Then which company is Godzuki?

I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

You can’t enforce unreasonable terms on consumers, who don’t have the legal resources to deal with complex contracts. UK consumer law is now excellent, and I’ve so far saved 2 friends a total of £9,000 by reading the legislation more thoroughly than the scumbag companies who they’d contracted with did. Didn't even lawyer up, or have to go to court, just wrote the right threatening letter quoting the right passages.

But this is a cross border business contract. There are no stabilisers. You’re assumed to be competent, and able to employ lawyers. By definition the contract has to be under a specific legal system. It can’t be both. If you don’t like it, don’t sign it. You can get unreasonable clauses struck down in court, but picking a jurisdiction is unlikely to be one of them. It’s probably the first line of the contract, so you’ve no excuse for missing it!

I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

Re: 'zillas

Pre-installed bloatware-Zillla then?

Or can anything be truly called bloatware that isn’t a set of 1.5GB HP printer drivers. Well I presume the actual driver is just a megabyte or two plus a massive suite of bug-ridden shitware...

I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

John Savard,

No. This is perfectly normal. International contracts always specify the jurisdiction and legal system that applies. A poster above says this one was from a Dell subsidiary here anyway.

Actually it’s a large, and growing, market for UK international legal services as well. Our courts are I’m sure as bad as many other nations, but don’t have the reputation for unfairly ruling against foreign litigants. So many companies choose our system to use. Plus the City has many lawyers experienced in complex contracts (and eating big dinners) - and we have a large arbitration industry as well. Lots of Russian companies do their legal business in London for example, as Russia’s courts are likely to side with whoever Putin wants to win.

Mortal wombat: 4 generations of women fight for their lives against murderous marsupial

I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

Re: Dubbo is afraid

No. You’d apply for your license to kill if you were planning to make a wombat pie.

And how could a department so-named refuse you?

I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

A New South Walian wombat

Is unmatched in unarmed combat.

Bare-handed one can't match it,

But with the aid of a hatchet,

One may finally dispatch it.

Just don’t call in the army,

That decision would seem barmy,

In light of their failure against the Emu,

In the war of 1932.

[with apologies to poets everywhere...]

Trump's Make Space Great Again video pulled after former 'naut says: Nope

I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

Re: 450 cities protesting racism

If the USA is fake, then what diseased mind invented Washington DC? Or the Philadelphia cheese steak?

Barmy ban on businesses, Brits based in Blighty bearing or buying .eu domains is back: Cut-off date is Jan 1, 2021

I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

Wasn’t it Churchill who said something like, "if you want to shake your faith in democracy, simply have a conversation with the average voter."

I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

I deal with a medium sized London plumbing contractor who have a .eu as their main address. I think because they couldn’t get their name on .uk or .com. It was unlikely to be by choice, given they don’t even trade outside the M25...

Not the Wright stuff: Bitcoin 'inventor' loses bid to sue YouTuber who called him a liar

I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

Re: Judges names

None as good as, the I think now retired, Judge Judge.

Now if only we could find and promote a lawyer called Mr Dredd...

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

I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

Re: Naming

He still delighted in the silliness though. For example in Excession there are lists of silly ship names. He wasn’t above a bit of pisstaking, as well as driving the plot.

I can’t think of any of Banks' books that aren’t full of humour. It’s just that in the darker and more serious ones, the humour is distinctly blacker to match...

Software bug in Bombardier airliner made planes turn the wrong way

I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

Re: Not so bad a function if you are on your way back into the UK...

Surely it’s nicer than Luton...

I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

Re: "turning left by turning right through 270degrees."

Also remember the guy on the throttles was a spare pilot travelling as a passenger. Who sacrificed a relatively safe seat in the cabin for kneeling on the floor with no seat, let alone a seatbelt. In the cockpit where the occupants are a highest risk in a crash.

He flew the plane on the throttles, while the original pilots wrestled the controls for what little they could get out of them.

Didn’t they land at something stupid like 300 knots, because they had no working flaps and slats?

There was also a cargo flight that copped a missile over Baghdad that had to do something similar and doing lots of right turns.


Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2020