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Comment Re:Look at who they appoint to the SCOTUS. (Score 5, Funny) 1576

The only thing that differentiate America from the rest of the world is the Constitution and the Bill of Rights.

The only two things that differentiate America from the rest of the world are the Constitution, the Bill of Rights and an almost fanatical devotion to the gun.

AMONGST THE THINGS that differentiate America from the rest of the world are the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, an almost fanatical devotion to the gun, and continued insistence on paying lipservice to the notion of personal freedoms while simultaneously supporting politicians who erode them.... oh sod it, I'll come in again!

Comment Re:What if they are right? (Score 1) 529

Can we just check to see if the virtual machine drivers are already installed in this universe? I find that having a good understanding of computers and technology really helps when trying to understanding the universe. There's a lot of comparisons to be made and metaphors to facilitate understanding. For instance, say the universe was was a car...

So, first assume a perfectly spherical car...

Comment Re:The word "Worst" is relative (Score 5, Interesting) 535

In the first dot-com boom, I worked on a large groups application, kind of like what Google Groups is now. We had ~3m users, uploading thousands of images per day. For the first 6 months or so, it was the developers who had to do the moderation. We saw a lot of stuff that we could (and, frankly, had to) laugh about - anatomically impressive feats of stretching, comically ludicrous insertions, etc - but then there was the other stuff, the ones that you just couldn't laugh off. Stuff being done to others who clearly weren't old enough to consent. Some of the things I saw cannot be unseen or forgotten, however much I've wanted to in the ten years or so since.

After a while it does get you down. The very ordinariness of the backdrops was what got to me. People's ironing boards in the background. Their work uniforms hanging on the back of the door. You realise that this kind of shit is not done by crazed inbreds in the mountains or by foaming-at-the-mouth psychos, but by everyday people like the ones you sit next to on the bus or who smile at you as you buy a coffee from them every day. And that really got to me. I started looking at people and society very differently, and feeling constantly angry or sad.

In the end we hired a team of dedicated moderators, who had an enforced 1-to-1 counselling session every week. We also started working with law enforcement and people in suits whose cards just listed their job as 'the home office', and every now and again we'd get an email from the higher-ups telling us that our evidence had been crucial in securing a conviction in some case that had been in the news recently. And that helped.

There are far worse things on the internet than Goatse or tub girl, and a depressingly large number of people who produce them, consume them, and share them with others. Anyone who does that job for a sustained period has not only my sympathies, but my thanks

Comment Re:Compensatory depletion (Score 5, Interesting) 158

I find Comic Sans very hard to read. Times New Roman too. Can't understand how these fonts can be allowed to exist!

I actually asked an OFSTED inspector why Comic Sans is always used in schools and nurseries - she said that it's one of the only commonly-available fonts that draws the lowercase letter "a" in the same way they teach children to draw it (no stalk on top)


Submission + - The camera that can see through frosted glass, and around corners (

MrSeb writes: "Scientists in Israel have created a camera that can see around corners, or through solid objects such as frosted glass, and skin. The most exciting facet of this innovation is that the camera uses natural light to perform the imaging — such as a lamp, or the Sun — and not lasers or X-rays. Ori Katz, Eran Small, and Yaron Silberberg of the Weizmann Institute have shown that they can accurately resolve an object that’s hiding behind nearly opaque obstacles, or around a corner (or in another room, as long as the door’s open). In both cases, the light is scattered by the obstacle (the frosted glass, the corner wall), creating what appears to be white noise — but their camera, using spatial light modulation, can take these speckles of noise and enhance them "1000-fold" (the scientists' words) to recreate the image with surprising accuracy. Back in March, MIT announced a similar innovation — but it uses a laboratory-sized setup involving a femtosecond laser and complex hardware to discern time-of-flight. The Israeli camera looks like it uses off-the-shelf parts — and the fact that it works with natural light rather than a laser is rather cool. Its primary use will be in medical imaging (it's hard to get a sharp image of inside the brain, or other organs), but wannabe superheroes might find the technology interesting as well."

Submission + - Great Britain to grant free access to publicly funded research within 2 years (

alfachino writes: The British government is preparing to reveal their plans to allow all publicly funded scientific research to be accessed by anyone, anywhere. Although this is the right step in the right direction, there is some criticism as to how this transition should take place, who should pay for it, who benefits the most from it, and whether this will be a catalyst for other EU nations and the US to get their act together and head in the same direction. It seems like the Elsevier boycott may have had more effects after all.

Comment Re:Found at 125 GeV (Score 4, Informative) 396

Why does light bounce off objects like mirrors then?

Because of electromagnetic interactions with the atoms on the surface of the mirror

Why are they attracted at mass at all?

Because, as Einstein's famous General Theory of Relativity explained, gravity is not just a force between two masses like you were taught at school, it's actually a curvature of the geometry of space-time. The maths gets really complex really quickly, hence the web is full of analogies like the rubber-sheet model that can lead laymen to appealing but incorrect conclusions. But when you do do the maths, it works astonishingly well - and it's the simplest explanation we have that fits all the observed data.

If completely massless, wouldn't they be able to escape a black hole?

See the previous answer - no, they wouldn't, because it would need an infinite amount of energy to do so. When you do the math (one example chosen at random is here, there are many others) it turns out that the curvature of space-time becomes so strong near a black hole that inside the event horizon, space and time kind of switch roles - to move further away from the centre would mean moving backwards in time.

Sounds a bit kooky in words, true, but makes perfect sense in mathematical terms - and again, GR's predictions have been experimentally verified time and time again.

Comment Re:House of Commons (Score 1) 216

Not exactly. There are rules on what can and can't be said in the House of Commons, and although they're enforced by parliamentary procedure, not by statute, they are enforced.

The famous example being that you are not allowed to accuse anyone of lying. The verbal tricks and convolutions that Commons veterans employ to get round this restriction are a connoisseur's spectator sport in their own right. For instance, Dennis Skinner :

Dennis Skinner: Mr Speaker, half the members opposite are liars!

Speaker: You will have to apologise, Mr Skinner.

Dennis Skinner: I apologise, Mr Speaker. Half the members opposite aren't liars!

Comment Re:Real programmers..... (Score 4, Interesting) 212

The BBC micro was the 'standard' educational model, not least because of the BBC brand and the association with the Beeb's educational TV programs. The home market was dominated by Spectrums and C64s.

After spending the summer playing with my friends' ZX81, I got a Spectrum for christmas at the age of 8, and every week I would pester my dad to buy me "Your Spectrum" and "Your Sinclair" magazines, with their pages upon pages of type-em-in program listings. I'd then piss off my sister by monopolising the TV for 3hrs while I typed in the latest greatest amazing game .... and spend 5 minutes playing the inevitable top-down scrolling dodge-em-up before thinking "surely I could do better than that!". So I set out to try.

30 years later, I'm making a good living as a senior programmer, and I put it all down to those early days of truly accessible computing. The Spectrum was the ideal balance between entertainment machine and experimentation platform, amazing a geeky 8yr old with its possibilities while its limitations positively encouraged anyone with the right mindset to try and work around them. Hacking infinite lives with PEEK and POKE... designing game graphics pixel by pixel and then converting them to integer data... figuring out how to give the illusion of full-colour graphics when you only had one foreground and one background colour per 8x8 character square... i learned so much about computing from those days. Thanks Sinclair, you were awesome.

Comment Re:Sham Shame Show Shill (Score 1) 311

For small scale performances, you need to deal with owners/managers who feel that by giving you the privilege to play, they are doing you a favour, sometimes CHARGING YOU to play at THEIR venue.

Seconded. I spent about fifteen years gigging pretty constantly, on average maybe once a week over that whole time. I lost count of the number of times venues would charge us to play, and give us tickets to sell in order to make it back. They'd even take a cut of the ticket sale price. As long as there were more acts than venues, they could get away with it.

Comment Human Contact (Score 1) 480

Make time to leave the house at least once every day. Seriously, enforce a lunch break, leave the house and TALK TO PEOPLE - go to the coffee shop, go get a newspaper, whatever, but you need genuine face-to-face human contact every day, otherwise you can go a bit.... weird.

I worked from home for 3 months before my current startup had an office, and my wife would ring me every day at about 2pm. The conversation would go something like this:

"Now, have you left the house yet today?"

"No, I just want to get this bit finished first..."

"Have you spoken to anyone yet today?"

"No, but I will once I..."

"LEAVE....THE....HOUSE.... OK?"


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