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Comment Re:Cue Jeff Goldblum (Score 4, Informative) 157

For anyone wanting to know more, the scientific name for this is parthenogenesis. It's well documented across many species and as usual Wikipedia has an article on it here:

Simply put it is indeed a survival mechanism that's more common than we probably realise.

Comment Re:Not sure what to think.... (Score 1) 794

Cheers, that's really interesting. Does pardoning the act still apply post conviction also? So if for example Snowden did face trial for leaking classified material for the leaks in general, and from some treason charge for leaking the stuff that he didn't need to leak, then must the whole act still be pardoned, or could he then be pardoned for just the leaking portion of the act, but not the treason portion of the act, and would his jail time then be adjusted for the single charge of treason with any years added for the leaking of classified material removed from his time only? I guess really, I'm asking, do partial pardons exist?

It sounds like there may well be some sensible rationale behind Obama's decision to have wanted to see a trial for Snowden before committing to any pardon.

Comment Re:Not sure what to think.... (Score 2) 794

I'm intrigued as to how pardons work legally and in terms of documentation. It seems pretty clear that presidents can pardon pre-try as many people here have evidenced, but what does that pardon look like? If there's been no charges and no trial, then how do they define what the pardon is for? If they pardon for presumed charges then isn't there a risk that when someone like Snowden comes back home they just get run through the system on different charges than were pardoned for? So for example if he pardoned Snowden for crimes of espionage and leaking state secrets then isn't there a risk he could be charged still, for say, treason?

If the pardon is more arbitrary and more general then isn't there a risk that the person could've committed other more serious, as yet unknown crimes which they're then absolved of via the generic pardon? What if for example Snowden was pardoned for his crimes but it turns out he has since been assisting the FSB beyond mere whistleblowing? If it's descriptive as to what actions the pardon is supposed to cover then I imagine that still leaves massive scope for legal wrangling as courts would surely need to determine what the wording actually covers?

I ask because I have no idea how this works, but it would certainly seem likely that not pardoning before charges, and relevance of charges in court, though not against the rules, would at least seem eminently sensible for everyone involved - it would make it clear exactly what the extent and limitations of the pardon are for, without leaving scope for later dispute on the extent of the pardon. I can see why, if this is the case, that Obama might want legal certainty on what he's actually pardoning before doing so even if other presidents may be a bit more laissez-faire about it.

Comment Re:Only a fraction of US munitions... (Score 2) 199

"Our Nobel Peace Prize President dropped 26,000 bombs (real bombs, not little hand grenades) last year on various brown people (even though we are not at war)."

Why make it about skin colour? Your president was the same colour but he very clearly didn't bomb himself, so that was obviously not a factor in determining targets so why bring it up?

"BTW, has anyone considered that it might be preferable to address their grievances rather than just bomb them?"

Whilst I'd always agree for rational actors such as the IRA, FARC, and maybe even the Taliban, these actors aren't rational. You could make the same argument for the Nazis in WWII but given that their greivance was that they wanted to extinguish entire groups of humans to the tune of millions then it's not exactly a greivance that any reasonable human being can help address is it?

When the greivance in question is our very existence and way of life, then it's not merely that they're a bit upset about something and we can help make that better, it's that they want to extinguish our very existence, and the only response to that is to extinguish theirs first.

But if you believe otherwise, then do feel free to go and talk to them. I'll keep an eye on YouTube for a video of how you got on.

Comment Re:If irreversible, why not let it continue natura (Score 2) 466

The problem is that the fossil fuel industry is the most heavily subsidised industry going. A nuclear plant for example is always going to be made to be responsible for complete costs of waste disposal, and yet fossil fuel plants, and cars are allowed to just spew their waste into the environment at no cost.

If you were to make the fossil fuel industry pay it's actual costs - i.e. impact on people's health for example, rather than expect people to subsidise them by paying for their own health issues caused by fossil fuel users then the cost of petrol cars, of power via fossil fuels and so forth would be untenable and the market would change overnight but with massive economic and social disruption as people fail to afford to adjust to paying what they actually should, rather than to continue using their fossil fuel based power source or car at the expense of others.

So given the difficulty in trying to just completely alter the entire economic model of most countries overnight by making it illegal for fossil fuel users and power plants to continue to be subsidised by, say, doubling the price of petrol and electricity from non-renewable sources it's easier to just give at least some kind of counter-subsidy to renewables.

The problem is that the "natural" rate of change you're referring to isn't the natural rate of change, it's a rate of change crippled by the fact that fossil fuel power plants and so forth receive massive indirect subsidies through the fact they're not faced to pay for the actual costs they incur on society.

If you want to learn more search for "fossil fuel externalities". You'll find no end of articles and papers trying to estimate the hidden costs of fossil fuels, and whilst estimates vary it's to the degree of hundreds of billions every year in the US alone. The problem is that the system has been manipulated so long by the fossil fuel industries due to the power of big oil et. al. that they're not even close to playing on a level playing field even with renewable subsidies - they're at a massive subsidised advantage over renewables even when renewables have the subsidies they do.

Comment Re:Pot meet Kettle (Score 1) 69

I think you're right, but I think it's a similar situation across the globe - realistically spy agencies in Russia, China and so forth shouldn't be doing those things to innocent citizens either so I don't think it's entirely a Western problem.

I think it's a general issue here that governments need to get together and accept that they all need to reign in their agencies before shit really does hit the fan with some mutual agreement to start actually following the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (that governs against this sort of thing), and to start governing cyber operations against each other in the same way military operations are governed against each other - i.e. it's not just some routine thing you do on a whim, and that there are consequences for it.

I mean, let's be clear, the sort of shit you are describing already has in some countries has profoundly damaging real world consequences - the whole arab spring started in Tunisia precisely because overreaching security services eventually pushed one man just that bit too far for example.

So you're absolutely right to point out that uncontrolled security services can cause more harm than good if they are not reigned in appropriately, and if left to go to far, they in themselves can become a catalyst for national collapse as in the arab spring.

Comment Re:Pot meet Kettle (Score 1) 69

I'm actually rather concerned that contrary to the implication in the summary that this is no longer simply citizen hacking but in fact escalation of state sponsored hacking. It seems we're beginning to find out more and more that nation states are engaged in hacking from the hacks we know about for sure such as the North Korean hack of Sony, through to the ones that we can make a reasonable assumption on such as the Russian hacks of the DNC (even Trump finally said on Wednesday he thinks it was the Russians), through to those we simply don't know about.

Even if we step back a few years we had the Syrian cyber army being quite active in it's hacking attempts. Given that Syria worked closely with North Korea on their attempted nuclear program (Syria's nuclear program destroyed by Israel in 2007 was shown to be a clone of North Korea's) then would it really be far fetched to assume that given that North Korea also has strong offensive hacking capabilities that it wasn't engaging with them on that too? Similarly the UEA ClimateGate hack was eventually believed based on analysis to be an act by Russia as it was carried out just days before a major climate conference in 2009 that sought to reduce emissions by cutting fossil fuel use - far and away the foundation of Russia's entire economy so they had clear interest also in sabotaging such an agreement and it worked, the conference was largely a failure as a result.

Of course it's not one sided, we know about Stuxnet being a likely US-Israeli attack, and we know that the five eyes countries have been engaging in these sorts of things for years thanks to the revelations by Snowden. I'm not saying it's just some countries or others doing it, on the contrary, I think everyone is doing it. Frankly I suspect at least some of the purported hacks by anonymous were merely just nation states using the broad anonymous idea as cover for their actions.

Could this Cellebrite hack for example be revenge by Iran for Stuxnet? At this point I do not think that's far-fetched for one minute, though hopefully time will tell.

My concern is that this is getting out of control. How long before this escalates and what we once laughed at as being paranoia, the idea of "cyber war" becomes a reality and someone decides to break a damn, or overload a powerplant? Ukraine already saw last year an outage on their powergrid because of hackers. Thankfully I believe no one died, but how long before someone does and it stops just being a cyber war?

We're learning more and more about this and so far solutions
have been purely political and diplomatic. A couple of years back we were seeing constant hacks on the US from China, and this died down - I saw an article recently explaining what happened, and it turns out that there was more than meets the eye to the US charges against 5 Chinese mentioned here:

The images that the US used for these arrest warrants were apparently personal images the US themselves had stolen from these Chinese general's laptops after their own hacks against them. The effect was to send a public message to the Chinese that "we can do it too" and it seems to have been succesful as China/US relations on this front seem to have significantly improved and this seems to have been the driver for the China/US cyber agreement agreed late last year. It appears the Chinese cyber command got spooked when they saw their own non-publicly available data used to provide pictures in arrest warrants against them and forced a whole Chinese reconsideration of the issue.

It's clear therefore that increased state hacking isn't merely the paranoia that people once thought it was and that it's generally becoming more prolific, or at least, we're becoming far more aware of it as time goes on and more information is released. So the point I was going to make in reply to your post was this - I'm not sure staying safe is a consideration in most these hacks anymore, because I think more and more the people doing them are doing them at the behest of their governments and are protected by borders and standing armies already. My concern is that when it comes to that, what can go horribly wrong if this doesn't change, and if diplomacy fails to work as it did in China and America's case.

I simply don't think it's a safe assumption anymore that a hack is the result of a disgruntled kid in his bedroom acting alone. It seems it's as much a game for the big boys in suits and uniforms now if anything.

Comment Re:Well that's a hell of a security hole. (Score 2) 254

Interestingly in the UK we don't have that second step, but when I tried ordering anything through Alexa I couldn't get her to order anything other than my order history too, so the whole Prime-eligible items thing seemed to not work when I tried a few weeks ago and you were restricted to re-ordering past items only.

Regardless I've put a pin in place so you can't accidentally trigger a purchase from an advert or anything without also saying the pin, but given that I don't even use that feature I might as well use the other option that lets you turn off voice ordering completely. Amazon should probably make that the default unless someone asks to order then tell them how to enable it though really.

Comment Re:Truth of the story. (Score 1) 432

Okay if you want to keep being wrong just to convince yourself that you're right about every word you speak even if you have no idea what you're talking about then fine, have it your way. An odd stance to take when given evidence and the opportunity to find plenty more evidence (Google), but hey.

The fact is, Ford is behind the curve, maybe you have one, and that upsets you, but trying to deny reality just because of something as petty as that is, well, pretty much the definition of ignorance.

Comment Re:Truth of the story. (Score 1) 432

You're taking very specific examples and suggesting there must be nothing of relevance at all, which is a blatant fallacy. You're simply trying to convince yourself you're right, when in fact you're completely wrong.

Pretty much the entire field of aerodynamic modelling of cars, pretty much the entirety of material science related to cars starts with things like Formula 1 and NASCAR and gets us where we are now - with ever more fuel efficient cars, due to using lighter materials, and due to being more aerodynamic and so on and so forth. I don't know why you also think the design of a birdcage frame is irrelevant to highway situations, understanding of crumple zones and so on and so forth is in itself an example of something that was driven by the need to protect drivers when racing cars.

As cars go faster and faster, and need to be more and more fuel efficient, learning about everything from heat dissipation, to wait minimisation, to energy conservation is always being led by racing because they're at that forefront of trying to win the race. Typically the transformation follows a clear pattern - technological advancements turn up in something like a Formula 1, or NASCAR vehicle first, then they end up in high end sports cars quite quickly, from there they move into common consumer vehicles.

For example, the fact most modern cars don't really rust much, if at all is precisely because they use more plastics, more composite materials and so on and so forth that simply aren't effected by rust because they're also lighter. These materials and use of them in motor vehicles stems from the need to get race cars faster by carrying less weight, this is a prime example of the sort of technology transfer that started out in racing, and moved to high end sports cars, and is now in just about every car you'll find in a car lot that was made in the last 10 years.

Even if a consumer car doesn't need to go as fast as many race cars, it can still typically gain efficiency instead of speed from those technologies, because more fuel equals more weight, which means you need a more powerful engine which will typically be heavier also meaning you get stuck in a loop of competing problems, unless you improve fuel efficiency. This is no different to the problem with consumer cars, only people don't want to max out at 200mph, they do at least want to go further on less fuel.

But you don't have to take my word that you're wrong, there's more than enough written on the topic from independent sources if you're willing to do a simple search. Here are some examples:

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