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Comment: Re:Which Invasion? (Score 2) 161

You mean these satellite images? The ones that have the following quotes attached to them?

At a press conference on Thursday, August 28, Dutch Brig. Gen. Nico Tak, a senior NATO commander, revealed satellite images of what NATO says are Russian combat forces engaged in military operations in or near Ukrainian territory. NATO said this image shows Russian self-propelled artillery units set up in firing positions near Krasnodon, in eastern Ukraine.

This is an extremely misleading way to phrase things. Krasnodon is not just "in eastern Ukraine". It's right on the border. So being near it can also mean in Russia. The above comments from NATO mean nothing, assuming CNN is reporting them accurately. What about the others .... hmm let's see.

Image 2 is from inside Russia and they say so. Image 3 is also in Russia. Image 5 is captioned twice, once with "Russian self propelled artillery unit inside Ukraine" and again, but this time it's again "near Krasnodon", which is practically in Russia. If there's an obviously demarcated border in this area it's hard to see based on the Google satellite images. The last image doesn't even claim to be of anything in particular, the caption is merely summarising story in general.

Both Russian and Ukranian troops appear to regularly cross the border without realising it - there have been repeated reports of Ukrainian forces entering Russia and then being redirected back across the border, with no obvious blowback. Given these things, and the fact that western media is in full-blown propaganda mode and not even hiding it, I'm going to want way stronger evidence than this.

But honestly, even if Russia did invade, this would merely make it on par with the USA and UK, both countries that practically revel in invading other countries and wading into other countries civil wars. So a part of me couldn't get too excited even if it did happen. It's definitely NOT worth a serious, major conflict between Russia and the west.

Comment: Re:Which Invasion? (Score 3, Interesting) 161

Yes, but the tanks and artillery the "separatists" keep popping up with are coming from somewhere. At this late stage in the game, they certainly aren't Ukrainian remnants that the separatists have captured in those Ukrainian territories - those were used and destroyed many months ago.

Really? I was reading in the Guardian (which has proven itself to be woefully biased in the past few months) that the separatists were surrounding and capturing Ukranian army units just last week. What's more, in the past days we've been reading about waves of deserters from the Ukrainian army. Nobody is claiming the separatists are armed only with stuff they got months ago. They're claiming, and so is Kiev, that they've been able to obtain large quantities of arms from the fleeing, conscript-based Ukrainian army.

Meanwhile Poroshenko is trying to claim that there's an Russian army rolling around in his country ...... yet so far nobody has been able to actually find it. An entire army! Over 1000 soldiers and 100 tanks! Such a unit requires support vehicles, a tent town, supply lines .... so where is it? Maybe it's sort of like invasion by aid convoy.

Comment: Re:not surprised (Score 1) 81

by Black Parrot (#47806763) Attached to: Researchers Say Neanderthals Created Cave Art

The idea that neanderthals are too dumb for cave art is just as rediculous as the notion that some humans are practically animals compared to other humans (what most racists believe).

I imagine that, prior to the discovery of evidence that they painted cave art, the argument was that there was no evidence that they had, not that they were unable.

No, there's a long tradition of viewing the Neandertals as "incapable of symbolic behavior". In the latest edition of Scientific American there's still a guy peddling the argument with moved goal-posts.

Comment: Re:Arevas failure (Score 1) 111

by Black Parrot (#47805293) Attached to: Finland's Nuclear Plant Start Delayed Again

ISTM that Homo economicus is almost incapable of resisting the urge to cut corners in the design, construction, operation, and inspection of nuclear power plants. (And in non-nuclear projects as well, though few have the destructive potential of Cherynobyl.)

I wish the whole world was on nuclear powar, but our species simply isn't mature enough to "drink responsibly" when it comes to such things. And with the past few decades' huge increase in pressure to cut corners in order to maximize short-term profit, I suspect things will get worse before they get better.

As for the Chinese... have they hit on a better approach than capitalism, or are they practicing the Soviet-style corner-cutting that gave us Chernyobyl?

Comment: Re:Hate!? (Score 0, Troll) 81

by Black Parrot (#47805235) Attached to: Researchers Say Neanderthals Created Cave Art

ISTM that Republican anti-science-ism is mostly limited to two areas, evolution denial and global warming denial. The latter is easily explained by the party's tradition of ruling for the benefit of Koch types (and having their campaigns funded by same), and the former is easily explained as an easy way to get religious traditionalists to vote against their own best interests.

Comment: Re:Arevas failure (Score 1) 111

by Black Parrot (#47804875) Attached to: Finland's Nuclear Plant Start Delayed Again

You'd think expectations for "the plant's automation system" would be pinned down before the contracts were signed, let alone before construction started.

The Wikipedia article leaves the impression that the actual problem has been shoddy workmanship and poor project management.

FWIW, In my experience with small-time contractors in the petrochemical industry (back in the day), common practice was bid an untenable price and make the profit by finding or "finding" problems that had to be fixed at great expense, and with little ability for the buyer to bargain on the price. (And sometimes the findings are real; I have seen the blueprints showing a foundation with an 8' radius for a tower with a 10' radius, the problem not discovered until the crane tried to lower the tower onto the bolts in the foundation.)

Comment: Re:Why? Nobody uses NFC payments (Score 2) 185

by IamTheRealMike (#47799265) Attached to: Apple Said To Team With Visa, MasterCard On iPhone Wallet

NFC payment cards in Australia/Europe cryptographically sign a challenge from the terminal, using basically standard crypto. It's EMV all the way. In-person magstripe payments are carefully controlled and risk analysed to ensure they only occur if, for example, the card is broken - or outright banned.

NFC payments in the USA involve the phone sending regular magstripe data to the terminal, with only the CVC code being some kind of cryptographic derivative - a three digit number (less than 1000). The reason for this crazy setup is so merchants don't have to update their backend/PoS systems that still expect magstripe data. There is no plan to perform a complete upgrade thus old style transactions cannot be phased out. It's a dramatically less secure system.

Comment: Re: As much as I hate Apple (Score 4, Interesting) 185

by IamTheRealMike (#47799247) Attached to: Apple Said To Team With Visa, MasterCard On iPhone Wallet

More importantly, the underlying technology is totally different. VISA Europe is not at all the same as VISA USA. VISA in Europe is a coalition of banks, VISA USA is a private company. America has never rolled out EMV, making its banking industry a ridiculous joke compared to, well, everywhere else. You don't get reports of major European supermarket chains getting their PoS systems hacked and magstripes skimmed like you do in the US, because EMV is a much more secure system.

The NFC payment cards that are rolling out around the world (outside USA) now are basically a variant of EMV/Chip and PIN. The underlying crypto is the same. The card signs a challenge from the terminal. They're upgrading to elliptic curve crypto at the moment actually, not sure if all NFC cards do that or not but it would not surprise me. NFC as tried by Google in America is actually a very minor variant on just sending your magstripe data via radio. I believe the CVC code rotates (three digits of entropy lol) and the tech is based on a Secure Element hard-wired to the NFC radio. But the phone has minimal control over the actual payment transaction, thus doesn't add much value beyond being a big battery, and that's why the tech largely stalled. Also they screwed up the compatibility testing and the terminals were full of bugs that meant transactions just sort of randomly failed.

So don't be fooled. The "NFC payments" that we know outside of North America is totally different to what they call "NFC payments", which is an unfortunate piece of linguistic confusion.

Whenever a system becomes completely defined, some damn fool discovers something which either abolishes the system or expands it beyond recognition.