* Posts by DocJames

497 publicly visible posts • joined 28 Oct 2011


Danish Navy expert finds no trace of exhaust gas in private submarine


Qualifying for detention on mental health grounds

So in medical school when doing my psychiatry attachment I asked the forensic psychiatrist (psychiatrist who deals with criminals/courts etc) if people ever really tried to get off jail on grounds of insanity.

He laughed, and said that only stupid people with no prior criminal experience/jail time tried this, as they were the only ones who didn't realise that it would be much worse in a secure hospital. You wouldn't get time off for good behaviour. If you magically became sane questions would be asked and you'd be back to court. And they were of course easy to spot, by dint of being stupid.

UK.gov: Psst. Belgium. Buy these Typhoon fighter jets from us, will you?


Re: Spend the money on drones

Unfortunately, it is likely that the move to drones will increase war.

The logic goes: 1) drones/autonomous fighting vehicles etc will not risk our soldiers lives.

2) Soldiers will therefore die less often

3) Their grieving relatives will not appear on news programmes to embarrass the government

4) There will be less political pressure to avoid war...

Obvious icon is obvious.

Private submarine builder charged with murder of journalist


Re: That's the best headline you could manage ?

I think it was pretty obvious (as his story kept changing, her family were distressed ++ and the police were *very* interested) within a day or so after she was reported missing that she was dead - ie by the time that he was found. Agree that suspicions and allegations are difficult to write clearly, particularly in this post-Gawker/Peter Thiel era, which might be why journalists (at least in all the stories I read) were circumspect.

US senators vow to filibuster FBI, er, NSA's domestic, errr, foreign mass spying program

IT Angle

Re: Good

Mostly I liked your post, but have to pull you up on this:

by British standards, the reps are center-right but very near center, the dems are center-left but very near center.

I think you mean by British standards the Democrats are hard right, and the Republicans are a little to the right of that. I appreciate the difficulties of using a single axis to describe politics etc, but as long as we're doing that I think we should be clear that compared to other democracies the US is pretty right wing.

Russia threatens to set up its 'own internet' with China, India and pals – let's take a closer look


Re: For Britain

If you're worried about Brexit and the EU, I think you mean reeking.

Reeling is entirely different, as it's related to with Scottish independence.

Icon: cos there's no bagpipe icon

World's largest private submarine in mystery sink accident



Given the story of having lost his passenger, possibly permanently, and be going in a different direction to that intended, only to sink the moment he was found (having gone down from the conning tower briefly...) suggests that sadly the body is on the sub, will shortly be recovered, and more oddities of his behaviour will come out.

It's a bad story, despite having a submarine in it.

Megacorp GSK inks AI drug development deal with Brit firm


Re: Remeber all those reports about AI taking white collar jobs.....

Drug costs are not related to the cost of development; they are related to what the company think the market will bear.

See: Gilead's hepatitis C drugs, which are awesome (ie cure the disease in 12 weeks most of the time). The price they've been set at reflects the costs of a liver transplant. This is ~10^3 times the cost of manufacture... luckily we (thanks to the US Senate) have their internal documents discussing what price to set, and R+D costs don't feature there at all.

Icon: I always think it looks like someone rifling through someone else's coat pockets

Lordy! Trump admits there are no tapes of his chats with Comey


And the recording device.

Who knows if they found the ones the Russians planted.

Canadian sniper makes kill shot at distance of 3.5 KILOMETRES


Re: A new low for The Reg!

Yes, it's killing and hence repungent. (Or at least should be.)

However, it's in a war zone and snipers tend to be among the best (ie least) in terms of collateral damage. The terrorist/enemy combatant is a legitimate target.

Glorifying the killing is wrong. Respect to the sniper is not. You need to be careful not to mix the two up (that applies to all posters...)

DOI: not a gun person, but glad that some are, but also sad that they are needed. It's complicated and we shouldn't pretend it's not.

The nuclear launch button won't be pressed by a finger but by a bot


Re: Public sector?

Best poster I can remember seeing in an office:

"Consulting - if you're not part of the solution, there's money to be made prolonging the problem..."

Try www.despair.com

We put them up all around the junior doctors room in one job...

Boffins find evidence of strange uranium-producing bacteria lurking underground


Re: Explosives Residues

Even in humans p450 enzymes will readily metabolize materials they've never been exposed to before.

CYP3A4 is induced by the PXR receptor, which is a promiscuous receptor - it has a mainly hydrophilic ligand binding pocket studded with a few hydrophobic points (iirc), allowing all sorts of molecules to bind. It's a nonspecific biosensor, designed to activate whenever there's something around, likely biologically produced, that might be harmful. Hence the reason pharma need to design drugs using PXR as a negative target - ie avoid it, due to all kinds of drug-drug interactions that cause hassle clinically.

The white one, thanks.

Don't rely on fitness trackers to track number of calories burned


Re: If you'd like a (rough) algorithmn ...

Despite the misspelling of algorithm, I wish to give chemist many upvotes.

Remembering how many calories are achieved through exercise, and how many are contained in 'snacks', makes it very clear how to lose weight.


Re: to think the cheap plastic on your arm is as good as a lab

In the end two people with the same BMI can still gain weight at different rates for the same calorie intake.

Bzzzt. False. Unless expending different amounts of energy.

At least, in labs when calorie intake and output is rigorously controlled. Not so much in studies when calorie intake is self reported and exercise is unmeasured - which sadly seems to be the 'scientific' standard.

But I agree with the rest of your comment. My white coat, thanks.

'Do not tell Elon': Ex-SpaceX man claims firm cut corners on NASA part tests


"one would be looking for a more guaranteed information source than the company's servers"

I agree, but usually these problems appear over time. The first episode is minor and easily glossed over; the second - well, not minor but a one off, the third no worse than the first, the fourth... well, you're in quite a long way now aren't you? Have you written them all down? And you have a lawyer looking after you from that first, minor, who knows if this will ever be repeated, point?

If you start recording the first, you're a suspicious bastard well out of sight of the bell curve, and probably pesky enough that the company are looking to dismiss you anyway... (I say this in all admiration of those who are like this; I'm not as too gullible).

NASA duo plan Tuesday ISS spacewalk to replace the mux that sux




Icon for afterwards. Best not before.

NASA nixes Trump's moonshot plan


Re: "WTF? I hope that's satire."

Sadly I beg to differ, having occasionally ventured into the badlands of the internet.

In this case I think it's satire.

Lochs, rifle stocks and two EPIC sea gates: Thomas Telford's Highland waterway



Went through the Canal with my grandparents by boat, "helping" them. (Well, the second time I was 14 so probably did help; when I was 8 not so much.)

GP placement at medical school was in Fort Augustus. Great fun doing rural medicine...

PC survived lightning strike thanks to a good kicking


Re: "But at the time it seemed so bad"

Clean-living, God-fearing daughter swore blind she knew nothing so Mum naturally assumed it must have been us, the supplier

So how did this problem resolve? The boyfriend provided a demonstration? You took the blame?

SpaceX wows world with a ho-hum launch of a reused rocket, landing it on a tiny boring barge


Re: "I don't think that Drax in the book has a Liverpudlian accent..."

Had a quick skim read... his accent is not commented upon at any point in the book. He did grow up in England though.


Re: "I don't think that Drax in the book has a Liverpudlian accent..."

I'd forgotten about the "goes up there every so often to try and dig up his roots" - thanks! His voice I think remains "harsh" (or similar adjective) as a result of the explosion.

I do think Fleming's influence on literature is underappreciated...

Paris Hilton

Re: In the film, Drax's shuttles dock with a space station

I don't think that Drax in the book has a Liverpudlian accent...

And plenty of Nazis headed to S Africa. Coincidence?*

Gala Brand (see icon) is a great Bond girl name, and the only one in the books who has a genuine twist to her character/actions.

* yes of course it's f##king coincidence you fool.

Spotted: Bizarre SpaceX rocket-snatching machine that looks like it belongs on Robot Wars


Re: Iain M Bank books

Agree Use of Weapons best first "M" book.

The wasp factory, song of stone, whit, the crow road or the business are all good first choices for the none SF books. His last (the quarry) I thought was weak and insufficiently edited/revised; not surprising given his imminent death. The steep approach to Garbadale I think is poor compared to the others. I enjoyed canal dreams (actually that would be fine as a first one too albeit now dated) and espadair street (very Scottish; very 90s music-y).

I've not read dead air, complicity or stonemouth. And I'm sure there's a few I've missed.

(I read quite a lot)

Murder in space: NASA orders astronauts to KILL cripples – then fire bodies back to Earth


Re: Dinner table conversation

It should be noted that it is cheaper (at least in the UK) to keep a PhD student for a year than a monkey for research.

There is not a "no joke" icon, so I followed my usual practice.

NASA swerves serious cash cuts – but Earth climate probes, asteroid snatcher face axe


Re: It's not a cut, its streamlining

And yet he's convinced at least one other person... or bot.


Re: It's not a cut, its streamlining

Bob certainly convinced me; I'd have seen the light earlier if only I'd come across his ALL CAPS argument before...

60 slow-mo A-bomb test videos explode onto YouTube


Eric Schlosser book

Command and control - worth reading for just how amateur the US system was... and probably still is. (He doesn't comment on others, but the probable Soviet record of safety makes me blanch even more, particularly around their biological and chemical weapons.)

"On the beach" is another good read.

US Congress to NSA: How many Americans do you illegally spy on?


Re: hmm

llalalala I can't hear you....

is how it "works".

Sadly the intense partisanship in the US is sufficient for everyone on the "other" side to ignore reality, and everyone on "your" side to be merely expected to take up an opposing position. Bit of a disaster; I'd suggest values over ideology is the answer.

Icon is my value

Palmtop nostalgia is tinny music to my elephantine ears


Re: A man after my own heart

If I broke out the soldering iron now, I could

When I write this kind of comment, I inevitably break out the tools. Have you fixed everything in your neighbourhood now?

NSA snoops told: Get your checkbooks and pens ready for a cyber-weapon shopping spree


Re: Well It'd be wise for the well tanned man...

the anti-Semetic thing is based on the people around Trump (well, the alt-right group, not the conservative group. This economic nationalist grouping is (perceived to be) led by Bannon, not Pence (who's the anti-LGBT/poor people dude)).

And the fact they failed to mention the Jews in their Holocaust day statement. Whoops - except they then announced it was deliberate.

So accusations about being anti-Semetic are not completely off the ball. I agree it's bizarre to have the same people say that Israel has a free hand, but then I don't think there is a coherent ideology to run Trump's government. (Ideology is a loaded word, but essentially it isn't a bad thing. It's just a handy heuristic on how to approach a political situation. We only ever accuse our opponents of having ideology though...)

Beer, cos the world needs it.

Dead cockroaches make excellent magnets – now what are we supposed to do with this info?


speak for yourself Mark. I want all my fridge notes to be still there after the nuclear war

FAKE BREWS: America rocked by 'craft beer' scandal allegations


This story only got written...

...for the headline. Good work subs!

Most craft brewers, if doing well enough to make a profit, end up being bought out. The question is really what happens after that - do the major breweries allow ongoing "craft brewing" stuff under that label, or do they adopt the same mass market approach that they use for their other lines? This seems to be a brand set up by the major brewer specifically to sell as a craft beer, so I'd guess it will continue in much the same line as at current.

I think the real reason he's suing is because we all have beliefs about reality that are not rational, and his have just been challenged. Rather than deal with the cognitive dissonance (I like craft beer/I like this beer/it's not a craft beer shocker!) he's taking out his anger on the company.

Obvious icon is obvious

Zuckerberg thinks he's cyber-Jesus – and publishes a 6,000-word world-saving manifesto



I'm not a particular fan of facebook [insert further virtue signalling to el reg commentariat here], but don't think Z needs that much condemnation for this.

He's thinking about making the world a better place. Sure this is illogical, has the tech utopianism, hand-wavy vagueness and disconnect from most people's lives that you would expect but that doesn't make it bad/evil, and it is not wrong of him to say it.

It's an example of "if all you have is Facebook, every problem looks like a lack of friends". Or more generally, expertise and success in one area is not automatically transferable to others.

Roses are red, you're over the moon, 'cos you work in infosec, and you're retiring soon



I thought that you'd be able to hang tight for a year or so before escaping the evil clutches of the EU and their pesky regulations.

(apologies for bringing up this controversial topic)

Totally not-crazy billionaire Elon Musk: All of us – yes, even you – must become cyborgs


Which goes to a broader question. Has a right to privacy, period, been there in the first place, can it be made so and maintained in the future?

So privacy is a modern(ish) invention - in the middle ages the king crapped and fucked* in public, just like everyone else.

.* mostly. Obviously there were some liaisons that were supposed to be kept quiet, though that doesn't mean that they were were. As Douglas Adams put it "they emerged from the woods, endearingly claiming to still be virgins, just somewhat flushed and sticky virgins."

Teach undergrads ethics to ensure future AI is safe – compsci boffins


"No more than you are able to when a flesh-and-blood doctor does the same. "

Ahem. My patients often pick apart my reasoning, and I'm happy to (try to) explain it. Getting buy in to the plan is important, as it's not me that has to swallow the pills etc.

The white one, thanks


"Case studies are rarely memorable"

I think they're talking about those found in undergrad courses; not SF sadly.

I agree with the point that they are stripped of all context, which is what makes ethics interesting.

Twin brothers. One went into space. The other didn't. NASA reveals how their bodies differ


Re: Seriously?

Yeah I don't think they can match for exercise.

But not matching for food is a bit embarrassing. OK it would be asking a fair bit from a research subject (human subject - has to be voluntary, no rewards that could be inducements), but some people *pay* for Solyent: not everyone has the same interests.

Icon for what I would miss.

CIA boss: Make America (a) great (big database of surveillance on citizens, foreigners) again!


Re: Lying Sack of Trump

Putin is the puppet master.


Could a robot vacuum cleaner monitor your data centre?


Awesome phrase


I will borrow this in anticipation of photos of and by relatives at Christmas

Sysadmin 'fixed' PC by hiding it on a bookshelf for a few weeks


Re: deja vu

Relatedly, in hospital sick patients are occasionally fixed by lift. The transfer from the ward down to intensive care makes them better...

UK.gov has outsourced tech policy to Ofcom because it is clueless – SNP techie


Re: And we wonder why no-one in government has a clue...

At least he admits he doesn't have deep technical knowledge. Most MPs wouldn't have a clue what deep means other than a swimming pool or Linda Lovelace (NSFW, in case you're wondering), preferably together.

Russian hackers got Trump elected? Yeah, let's take a close look at that, says Obama



Seems that the Russians were trying to obsfucate and influence the election. Did they manage? Dunno; should probably investigate.

Did they influence it sufficiently to change the result? Dunno again (possible given the very small margin in the 3 swing states) but too late now.

Are electronic voting systems A Bad Idea? Hell yes. Obligatory: http://xkcd.com/463/

Are the major scandals all those who were denied their right to vote, and those who don't bother to show up? Yup, IMHO

Ecuador admits it cut Assange's internet to stop WikiLeaks' US election 'interference'


Re: Slow motion catastrophe

Given the current state of the world, I'll take the one who is capable of scheming.

Hint: that's not the one who managed to lose ~$1bn (billion! FFS) during the biggest real estate boom in history*

* I'm obviously exaggerating here, but it's pretty clear that New York in the mid 90s was doing so well nobody was losing, unless you were named Donald Trump. A short fingered loser. Who would want to be associated with that?

Icon demonstrating what to avoid in voting.

Top interview: Dr Patrick McCarthy – boss of the world's future largest optical telescope


Re: "will be the world's largest optical viewing device mankind has ever built"

I could but then I'd have to kill you. Or wipe your memory.

Obvious icon is obvious

Ladies in tech, have you considered not letting us know you're female?


Re: Judging the applicants

You can judge them on process, outcomes or volume, if asking about quality of work.

A proxy for volume is experience - I've done the job for 5 years. For outcomes the example of the orchestra is obvious; some IT jobs could esaily be managed too. Process - again that's easily standardised at lower levels (eg "describe how you'd fix this problem") but more challenging when asking for jobs higher in responsibility/variability.

And none of this gets around the "do they fit in here" problem. Which is more marked in less diverse workplaces, as you don't fit in if you're very different and nobody else is...

Icon: I leave as an exercise for the reader how to shortlist pirate recruits.

Zuckerberg to spend $3bn+ to rid world of all disease by 2100 (Starting with Facebook, right?)


Re: Why not cure entropy while we're at it?

The (unstated) assumption is that if we extend life, it will be either by just stretching out each period of life so you have more frailty, or by allowing the maintenance of life below levels of function currently achievable.

The 2nd is definitely wrong (or at least very implausible), as we haven't really changed this at all except in ICU, and few people actually spend their final days there, let alone months/years which is what we're talking about (at least, I am and I presume others are). The 1st is possible.

I think what is more likely is that we will extend the healthy lifespan - from age 70 to age 80, or to age 90. It is commonplace for me (and most doctors in developed countries) to look after 90 year olds who are still fit, active and enjoying life. (Because they need me to look after them it tends to all go pear shaped afterwards, but we'll leave that out of it :-) In fact, I am now routinely saddened when I see people in their 70s with multimorbidity as I feel they are "too young" to have such significant illness.

But I might be wrong. There's data to support both hypotheses: the extension of healthy life, with similar decline at the end, and extension of life with the same proportion of decline.

Either way, it's worth thinking about your lifestyle and considering the impact on your decline (ie stop smoking, eat less, exercise more). And when you consider your likely lifespan it's worthwhile making sure that you do things that aren't going to be achievable later (see you kids grow up rather than work).


Re: Yet another rich asshole's vanity project

You've conflated drugs and vaccines. Very different things, with only a similar (broad) aim of "making people healthier".

Whilst it is trivially true that our economic system ensures that companies wish to maximise profit, making vaccines isn't really a good way to make profits. Treating risk factors for disease (eg hypertension, dyslipidaemia etc) is good for profits (lots of people to treat) and treating common yet oddly emotive diseases ("cancer") is good as you can charge lots to each patient. This isn't the fault of the drug companies. Or the vaccine companies, or doctors.

I'll get my (white) coat, as I've spent too long on this already... and doubt I will convince anyone, as views tend to be fixed and immutable, despite evidence.

Petulant Facebook claims it can't tell the difference between child abuse and war photography


Re: The issue is News

Whether I choose the Daily Mail, the Guardian or Modern Nazi Homes & Gardens

Bzzzt. Repetition. Daily Mail and Modern Nazi Homes & Gardens.


As I understand it, possession of that image of a naked child is illegal under UK law

Luckily this image was posted by a Norwegian, on the site of a US-based company, so UK law will not apply to them. Unfortunately anyone in the UK viewing this will, of course, be guilty under strict liability (AFAIK). Just another example of how irrational the child pornography laws are in the UK - and presumably this also applies to the publishers of history textbooks.

Australia boards the slow boat to Brexit


Just to remind the Little Englanders*...

You're behind Indonesia in the queue for trade deals. With Australia!

Presumably Brexit needs to wait for the NZ negotiators to arrive. That's going to be a fun deal - 2 teams of Kiwis working out a deal between the UK and NZ.

* yes yes I know that most people who voted out are not insane xenophobes, but some of the leaders of the out campaign were.