* Posts by Brian Mankin

34 publicly visible posts • joined 10 May 2007

I NEVER DONE BITCOIN, says bloke fingered by new Newsweek

Brian Mankin

Re: OK I admit it

I always knew it was you!

Schwarzenegger says 'I'll be back' for Terminator 5 reboot

Brian Mankin

Cyborgs aint what they used to be.

Old Style : Living tissue over metal endoskeleton

New Style : Hexagenarian on a zimmer frame

Mind control hat makes quadcopter do what brain says

Brian Mankin

Ad hominem much?

Shareholders rage over Imation's incredible 88% plunge

Brian Mankin


I used to think that monopolies were really dangerous things because they allow the monopolist to fix the price for goods and services in their particular market. But even if someone does achieve a monopoly in a given market, competition still exists in the form of everything else that their potential customers could be doing instead of using the monopolists goods and services. And that is what has killed Imation. They had market dominance in one market but all their customers found solutions to their problems in another, better served one.

Eurozone crisis: We're all dooomed! Here's why

Brian Mankin

!!! F A I L !!! How NOT to judge an idea !!! F A I L !!!

How should we judge an idea or an intellectual argument?

A ) On the basis of the content?

B ) On the basis of who the author is?

US doctors demand right to advise on gun ownership

Brian Mankin

The children, Lewis. Think of the children!

The American Journal of Preventive Medicine warned us in the article that "... guns ... are a major danger ... to American children." Anyone who disagrees with them clearly isn't thinking of the children.

Lewis Page is a bad man!

'Indestructible' Moto Defy telly ad banned

Brian Mankin
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I've got one of these (MB525) - but its broken

Not a joke. I really do have one. The front speaker is broken. This means that I can't hear the other person in phone conversations but they can hear me. The back speaker still works and I can play music. I did try setting the phone to speaker phone but the mic doesn't filter input so I get an annoyingly stupid whistle when I try this.

My verdict : Tough as nails? Only if they're made of tin!

Smart meters: Nothing can possibly go wrong, says gov

Brian Mankin

Why are _we_ paying for this?

Why on earth should this be paid for by government? The government has no money of it's own and can only raise money by extracting it from the public.

This smart meter rollout is a scheme that benefits the utilitycompanies : it allows them to bill us more precisely and grants them a greater degree control over our consumption. It is, however, an expensive thing to rollout and comes with all the risks attached to complex IT systems.

I can understand why the utility companies would want to externalise the costs and risks of this scheme. I can understand why jobbing government ministers might want to cosy up to the utility companies. What I can't understand is how or why this is beneficial to the people who are being made to pay for it and who will later be made to pay for the costs when it all goes tits up.

Assange asks for new lawyer

Brian Mankin


>> What an incredible collection of non-sequitors and assumptions presented as "fact" ...

Why, thank you.

>> "since [Government institutions] are neither alive nor sentient, transparency cannot cause the institution any distress." ...... um .....

... um ... what?

>> "Governmen agencies are fictional entities" .... well, no, they're not fictional, are they?

Yes, they are fictional. All corporations are legal fictions. They exist because we agree they exist. If we decided en-mass to stop believing and honouring these fictions, they would be as defunct as the British Empire, the Soviet Union, Yugoslavia, et al.

>> "Other human beings are alive and sentient. They have no natural obligations to us other than to respect our existence just as much as we respect theirs" .... who says they have that "natural obligation"? You?

Actually yes. In the absence of any other restraint; me and my stick say "Don't interfere in my life". Just like you and your stick tell me not to interfere in yours. You can't get any more natural that a smack on the head.

Fortunately for us we have passed a little way beyond that now. We live in a country (a legal fiction that claims jurisdiction over a defined region) that is largely governed by the rule of law (a set of rules that applies to all members equally). We have a police force and courts to implement these rules but ultimately these things exist because we support them. Between us we have traded our stick for legal rights and obligations but in terms of utility they exist for the same purpose : to protect us from each other.

Brian Mankin

Transparency vs Privacy

There is a whole world of difference between demanding transparency from governmental bodies and respecting the privacy of other human beings.

Governmen agencies are fictional entities constituted and funded by us to act on our behalf. We have a clear interest in knowing what they are doing, to whom, where are why. And since they are neither alive nor sentient, transparency cannot cause the institution any distress.

Other human beings are alive and sentient. They have no natural obligations to us other than to respect our existence just as much as we respect theirs. We neither fund their existence nor do they act on our behalf unless we make some special arrangement that they should do so. We should respect their privacy just as we expect them to respect our own.

Assange's position on this seems reasonable to me.

Antarctic boffins obtain prehistoric deep ice core sample

Brian Mankin

Oh, I don't know. How about ...

Just an off the cuff example ...

1 x Barrel of Oil .............£70

+ Tax at 150 % ...........£105

= £175


1 x Barrel of Biofuel ..£200

- Subsidy.......................£50

= £150

Superficially it may appear that the consumer makes a saving. Sadly the saving is not real. The real costs are hidden from view.

Global Warming, whether true or false, presents the opportunity for fraud on a massive scale. By offering subsidies to favoured partners while imposing taxes and regulations on their rivals, a government or similar authority can enrich themselves and their friends. Where this happens, the general public pay the cost in higher taxes, higher prices, lower quality goods and less freedom.

I'm not saying that we shouldn't take care of the environment, look for energy savings and develop new energy sources. I just think we need credible policies based on credible proof from credible experts. I'm not convinced that we are getting that.

Cartoon Law goes live

Brian Mankin

Little Cherubs?

Given recent stories about certain members of the clergy, is it time for us to re-appraise all those religious artworks that contain images of cherubs? Did exposure to these lewd figures play a factor in the corruption of these fine, upstanding pillars of the community? It must all be the fault of those decadent so-called artists.

Drought effect on rainforests is negligible

Brian Mankin
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The IPCC asserts that it is a scientfic organisation.

Ed's opinion aside, the IPCC asserts that it is a scientific organisation (http://www.ipcc.ch/organization/organization.htm). It exists 'to provide the world with a clear scientific view' based on 'the most recent scientific, technical and socio-economic information'. Their role is to provide 'rigorous and balanced scientific information to decision makers'. On this basis, they should be held to scientific standards, not political ones.

Ed asserts that there is an incompatibility in the level of truth required between politics and science. While this may be true in practice I do not believe it is true in principle. Both politicians and scientists should be held to the highest standards of honesty and accuracy.

Accepting that an incompatibility in the level of truth required exists; There is also an incompatibility in the level of truth required between honest representations and fraudulent ones. I do not know whether the recent problems are result of incompetence or dishonesty and I would not like to say but given the IPCC's reprentation of itself as a scientific organisation and not a political one, suspicions of dishonesty do not appear to be unjustified. Incompetence on such a grand scale hardly seems possible unless at the very least the contributors and reviewers serving the IPCC have been dishonest about the scientific rigour of their work.

Speaking personally, the recent revelations of poor scientific process has done more to make me sceptical of climate change than anything the sceptics ever said or did before. Regardless of whether the problems are due to dishonesty or incompetence, I no longer have faith in the IPCC and I am unwilling to trust them any further.

Climategate hits Westminster: MPs spring a surprise

Brian Mankin

I agree with Drunken.

I agree with Drunken. It's unrealistic to expect climate change scientists to assess the data, methodology and conclusions during peer review. There are much more important things to focus on. For example, is the paper well presented with an attractive font, good use of graphics and the inclusion of juicy quotes for press headlines. These are the things that drive the allocation of government grants, the creation of national and international panels and allocation of places on those panels.

Data and methodology is for nerds. It's dull. It's dreary. And no-one of consequence is interested in it. Classical science may have been about advancing the sphere of human comprehension but that vision of science is just hopelessly out of date. Modern climate science is a business. The main purpose of a paper is to sell a position. After all, what is the point of spending government money on science when the science produced doesn't have a political application?


UK.gov uses booze to lure London kids into ID scheme

Brian Mankin

16 to 24 year olds?

Is that really correct? The government is encouraging minors (people under the age of 18) to take up ID cards with promises of alcohol and porn? Please provide a link to your sources.



Doing the maths on Copenhagen

Brian Mankin

Population predictions and balancing the resources budget

It's true, the population of the world has grown from 2.52 billion in 1950 to 6.7 billion today (1). This growth has not been distributed evenly. Much of the growth has happened in Asia where the population has grown by 2.3 billion in this time. The population density here has jumped from 31.4/km^2 to 81.5/km^2. In China (2), the life expectancy at birth has risen from 35 years in 1949 to 73.18 years in 2008 and the infant mortality rate has dropped from 300 per thousand in the 1950s to 23 per thousand in 2006. The Chinese government is addressing this with a one child per family policy (3).

So far as the use of fossil fuels is concerned, the reserves of these fuels are limited and as time passes it will become harder to access and exploit these resources and eventually they will run out anyway. As this happens we will either develop new sources of energy or we won't.

If we don't develop these new energy sources all of our attempts to sustain our current level of technology will be thwarted. We will not have the capability to mine new ore or recycle existing scrap metal. We will not have the capability to move foodstuffs cheaply and quickly around the world. We will not have the capability to purify water and to distribute it nationally let alone globally. In this case I believe that disaster will be inevitable. Whatever we do, we'd be doomed. There would be too many of us in the western world to be able to support ourselves in a low-tech pastoral life style.

If we do develop new energy sources, as other natural resources become harder to obtain, there will be a growing market pressure to develop better recycling techniques. This will apply to all sorts of resources from plastic to scrap metal to paper and even to water. Just as we have national and international electricity grids and oil and gas pipelines in Europe today, I believe we will begin to develop global electricity grids and water pipelines in the future. The demand for water will on one hand drive us to be more sparing in our use of this recource and on the other will drive the development of better desalination and water recycling techniques.

At the end of the day, I think we are too far down the road of transforming our planet to turn back now. We have been cutting down forests to develop arable land, damming rivers, draining swamps and making all sorts of changes since before the Romans. There are 6.7 billion of us on this planet which is probably about 5 billion more than we can support pastorally (I have no source to cite for this. I am guessing that the population of the 1900s is our likely pastoral limit).

I think we have crossed the Rubicon already. We are unlikely to be able to persuade the other peoples of the world to forgo the benefits of our technologies. So far as I am aware, these benefits are unachievable without the associated costs. Our partner nations are going to industrialise and their populations are going to grow inspite of all our attempts to restrain them. Any efforts we make to do this will be resented rather than respected. The only way IMHO is the way forward.


(1) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/World_population#Population_figures

(2) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/People%27s_Republic_of_China

(3) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/One-child_policy

Brian Mankin

real cause != over-population

It's commonly stated as a fact that the world is over-populated. The world population is in excess of 6.7 billion (1) and I'll happily agree that's a staggering number of people. But it means nothing without context.

North Yorkshire (2) has an area of 8,654 km^2. If all the people of the world were to stand next to each other in 1m squares, we could assemble in an area the size of North Yorkshire and still have room to spare.

The total surface area of the world's continental land mass is 510,065,600 km^2. If we were to distribute the gobal population evenly across this area there would be ~13.3 people per km^2. Admittedly this includes Antarctica, the Sahara, the Himalayas and some other pretty inhospitable areas that aren't really fit for human habitation but the mean population densities in the EU and the USA are 114/km^2 and 32/km^2 respectively (4 & 5) and I'm not sure either of these are over-populated.

IMHO the world is not overpopulated. The world is under-developed. If our experiments into new energy sources (fusion, geothermal, wind and wave) are successful and if we can get over our dark-ages fear of technology, I believe we can easily support a global population of 58 billion. This may sound extreme but this is simply the population density of the EU applied globally.

References :

(1) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/World_population

(2) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/North_Yorkshire

(3) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Continents

(4) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eu

(5) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Usa

High Court: Software dev agreement did not transfer copyright

Brian Mankin

Judicial Fail!

ICE ltd (http://www.infecon.com/) is not a medical practice. They sell products and services aimed at helping their customers to stop the spread of infectious diseases. IMHO It is not rational to believe that they paid for this product to be created for their own internal use as they have no apparent internal need for it. ICE's clear need is for a product to sell to others.

It also seems unreasonable to believe that Virrage (http://www.virrage.com/) did not know how ICE Ltd (their customer) intended to use the product. Especially as the contract that they were picking up included terms that stated that the IP rights would be vested in ICE.

Personally, based on the article, I believe that ICE should have been awarded ownership of the software. In the absence of that and given that Virrage are now selling an infection-control application, ICE appears to have subsidised the creation of a competitor. As this cannot be what they intended, it seems clear to me that a binding contract cannot have been formed. Whatever contract existed does not appear to been a meeting of minds and it seems that there is a lack of equal consideration. In this case, the contract should have been declared void, all rights in the software should be vested in Virrage and ICE should be refunded the development costs.

IMHO (and IANAL), the law is an ass in this case.

Home Office makes nice cartoon ID card ad

Brian Mankin

@ I'm in the queue for one... (AC 15:24)

"... and you'll all be kicking yourself when you have to pay full price for yours."

We won't have to kick ourselves. I'm sure the state will provide people to do that for us.

Microsoft protests $290m Word judgment

Brian Mankin

Proof reading

Its amazing how a comment that looked ok before pressing 'submit' is suddenly full of errors once 'submit' has been pressed and the comment is on the internet for all to see.

What I mean to write was :

- - - - -

"Microsoft deliberately set out to damage [i4i] while publicly proclaiming the two were allies"? Impossible, I say. This is entirely out of character for the fine, upstanding paragons of virture who lead this great company.

Bears shit in the woods? Impossible I say. This is entirely out of character for these fine and distinguished paragons of the animal kingdom.

Brian Mankin

Say it's not so!

"Microsoft deliberately set out to [i4i] while publicly proclaiming the two were allies"? Impossible, I say. This is entirely out of character for the fine upstanding paragons of virture who lead this great company.

Bears shit in the woods? Impossible I say. This is entirely out of character for these fine and distinguished paragons of the animal kingdom.

Game laws to make underage selling illegal

Brian Mankin

The Incredible Growing Government

In the 60s there was a film 'The incredible shrinking man' about a man who was exposed to a strange form of radiation that made him grow constantly smaller and smaller. I think the same sort of thing has happened to our goverment except that it keeps growing larger and larger. Surely it should be for parents to decide what is and isn't appropriate for their children. Not some self-selecting body of experts.

Tories don black cap for ID cards

Brian Mankin

Breach of Fiduciary Duty

My personal opionion is that if any MP were to sign a contract that includes onerous cancellation clauses in the full knowledge that their successor is going to cancel the project, they would be commiting a breach of trust / fiduciary duty. This could potentially expose the minister to personal liability. It would probably be costly to litigate and there would be no certainty of legal success but I would want my MP to push this line nonetheless. We should make it clear that so far as is possible, the costs for cancelling this hated project will be nailed to the Labour party and the ministers involved.

Egyptian cuts off todger to spite his face dad

Brian Mankin

Actually, they could have re-attached it ...

But they realised that it would be better for the species if they didn't. This fellow should get a special mention when the Darwin's come around again.

Mormons demand ICANN plugs net smut hole

Brian Mankin

Ban Hospitals!

Imagine that you don't know what a hospital is. Someone with an axe to grind explains to you :

"Everyday, hundreds of people pass through the doors of this building here. Few of the people who go in there in there want to be there and most feel that they have no choice. Inside they are ordered around by strangely dressed men and women who sometimes wear masks and gloves. They are made to undress and then they are poked and prodded and probed at by these masked and gloved men and women. On occasion they are made to drink vile tasting concoctions and sometimes they must urinate or defecate and preserve their excretions. Sometimes they are drugged and then cut upon by gangs of masked and gloved men and women. Even children are not spared from these horrors."

If hospitals were explained to us in these terms and we knew no better we would demand that they be banned at once. Most people don't know how the internet works. It's not surprising then that someone with an axe to grind exploits their ignorance of the mechanics of the internet and their desire to do the right thing. It would be surprising if they actually managed to get anywhere with it.

Yarro : Shame on you! Have my shoe!

Stop'n'search gets touchy-feely

Brian Mankin

Re : @Matt Bryant : A little maths and a question.

You're right, my maths was faulty. Strike my comment.

I still have reservations regarding arbitrary stop and search but I'll refrain from commenting until I can manage a better response.

Brian Mankin

@Matt Bryant : A little maths and a question.

@Matt Bryant.

Suppose that in every one million people there is one terrorist.

Suppose also that a police stop and search campaign stops one person out of every thousand travelling through the searched area.

In this case, the chance of a terrorist being stopped and searched is 1 in 1 000 000 000.

Please tell me, how does the police stop and search power make me safer. From my understanding this appears to be is a waste of valuable resources.

Brit porn filter censors 13 years of net history

Brian Mankin

Not Found!

What annoys me most about this is not that they block content but the fact that they hide that they have blocked content by claiming that it is not found. They should responed with '450' and admit that they are censoring your search. Hiding their actions behind 'page not found' is a tacit admission that their actions are wrong.

'Bloody' is an offensive word, declares ASA

Brian Mankin

Gods Blood!

'Bloody' is an oblique reference to the crucifiction of Christ. When men of old wanted to swear, they would avoid direct God and reference something related instead. 'Bloody' refers to the wine that our lord and saviour shared with his disciples at the last supper and would have been very offensive. In 1408.

The publishers of The Sun should thank their lucky stars they didn't publish anything truly offensive. 'Gadzooks', for instance is a reference to the nails that were used to crucify our blessed master ('Gods Hooks').

Academics warn of EU 'three strikes' back door plan

Brian Mankin
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@Connor Turton

I'm glad Connor Turton thinks this is perfectly reasonable. I hope he will continue to think this is reasonable when three internet trolls have written to his ISP to inform them of his (alleged) illegal distribution of their copyrighted works and he has been disconnected from the internet.

This law will cause mayhem as political parties, campaign groups and strange religious cults scramble to off-line their critics and rivals on the grounds that the criticism of their particular brand of madness is an infringement of their valuable IP.

Camelot pulls scratchcard amid numerical anarchy

Brian Mankin

@ Nìall Tracey

Niall; you are communicating without speaking with an unknown number of people who can neither see nor hear you merely by tapping and moving objects that were neither formed by geological processes nor grown on any plant or animal. Though it is dark ouside there is ample illumination for you to see what you are doing. Though it is winter your environment is warm and not at all wet or windy. Yet you complain that negative numbers are unnatural. There is enough irony here to club a man to death!

Brian Mankin

GCSE Grade G

For those puzzled by the GCSE grade G - just think of it as a fail with distinction.

UK ID card costs climb £600m in six months

Brian Mankin

Feeling Safe

"Writing in The Guardian newspaper today, home secretary John Reid said identity cards ... make people 'feel safe'."

Ah yes. Much like the high walls and iron doors make the guests at Belmarsh Prison feel safe. I'll be able to sleep all comfy cosy knowing that John Reid is watching me ... er... watching _out_ for me.