Saturday, November 26, 2011

WPP let down by their clients ...

var gEbBAd = new Object(); gEbBAd.AClickUrl = "[%tp_AdID%];[%tp_PlacementID%]&migRandom=[ebRandom]&migTrackFmtExt=ad;pl"; gEbBAd.playRS = new Object(); gEbBAd.playRS.strAUrl = "[%tp_AdID%];[%tp_PlacementID%]&migRandom=[ebRandom]&migTrackFmtExt=ad;pl";

And which major news magazine does this come from? And why doesn't their privacy policy mention WPP (it does mention a web-specific ad agency and Google Analytics!)

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

RIP Tony Sale

I've met the man, an infectious enthusiast and an exceptional engineer.

Thursday, August 04, 2011

Delightful Innocence!


Richard Handl said that he had the radioactive elements radium, americium and uranium in his apartment in southern Sweden when police showed up and arrested him on charges of unauthorised possession of nuclear material.

Handl, 31, said he had tried for months to set up a nuclear reactor at home and kept a blog about his experiments, describing how he created a small meltdown on his stove.

Only later did he realise it might not be legal and sent a question to Sweden’s Radiation Authority, which answered by sending the police.

"The world is not only stranger than you imagine, it is stranger than you can imagine." (Ed notes: Attributed variously to Eddington, Haldane, Clarke etc, in its more usual 'universe' version.)

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Easy BBC Questions

Can celebrities expect privacy?

Or, more specifically:

But how much privacy can, and should, celebrities - who make their living in the public eye - expect?

And the answer is simple - within the limits of the law.

So, clearly, phone hacking is illegal - a s1 offence under CMA90, at least - we'll agree that both the statute and the case law around RIPA s1 offences is less clear (particularly about what "in the course of its transmission" means). And CMA s1 offences can now attract 2 years inside - which would probably calm the fevered brows of the Murdoch-bashing mob.

We might disagree about how much HRA98 Article 8 should be usable to protect public figures (and we'll certainly disagree about who is a 'public figure') from the consequences of having acts committed in public places being publicised. We'll disagree more, or less, about acts committed in private - whether it is long lenses, kiss and tell (or, wonderfully in this week's Private Eye's cartoon - "shag and brag") or planting an "investigative" reporter in a position of actual or presumed confidential access.

We might campaign - on the same or different sides - for changes in such law.

But, it is simple - the law is the law - for the Prime Minister, Hugh Grant and Milly Dowler. Sympathy may vary but that's why we have judges, not libertarian bloggers, to preside over cases.

Wednesday, July 06, 2011

BBC questions to which we know the answer.

Can religious teachings prove evolution to be true?

Quite simple really. No.

That's it.

Religious teachings, not that I think that "Journal of Creation" or "Creation Research Society Quarterly" count as either, cannot "prove" or "disprove" anything.

Some of the methods used by idiots to produce their verbiage can be used, if the method itself is falsifiable, to show (even to prove) that the verbiage is inconsistent. But that one explanation is wrong doesn't mean that a contradictory explanation is correct. Lamarck might have been right - neither an evolutionary nor a creationist explanation. He wasn't, of course but that doesn't change to point of scientific principle.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Lefties, "Sarcasm" and Poe's Law

Sorry for the absence. Work is the curse of the blogging classes.

Anyway, I was commenting over at Tim's old gaff. Anyway, there is an un-reconstructed leftie polluting that place who calls himself "Arnald". Anyway, he made some wild protestation (completely misunderstanding reality) and, when called on it, declared that what he had written was "sarcasm".

Now, we are talking economics there - so you have to be a very bright leftie (which isn't anywhere near being a "liberal American") to actually get the point of it - economics is a set of approximations we use to describe and try to understand human behaviour - applied sociology as it were. It isn't a description of how we would like to run a perfect moral society. Which is where the "People's Princess" and Richard Murphy go horribly wrong. You can change the laws to (try to) mold people's behaviour, drink driving for example - but the (not particularly precriptive) laws we use to estimate the wider aspects of behaviour aren't amenable to fiat change.

So we come to a fairly simply Poe's law derivative. Is there any way that you can tell, in a leftie pronouncement on economics, whether they are being either sarcastic or serious but mistaken?

Added: And, to cap it all, the "Most Ignorant Man in Norfolk", declares that his stupidity is actually "tongue in cheek" and then repeatedly describes it as "irony". H/t to Christie.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

I'm actually appalled!

Firstly by a column from, unsurprisingly, the New Statesman (and it's not by the "People's Princess). However, our correspondent states:

The true covenant between the military and its government is that it will serve it loyally, without fear or favour. If necessary, it will march and fight and die for policies or causes that it does not necessarily understand or support. Theirs is not to reason why.

This is wrong1 - an appalling misunderstanding in fact - in two very different ways. He is talking about military discipline, enshrined in law since the Naval Articles of War were first published in 1653, which is not not "the military covenant". The military convenant is, in addition to pay, what the government or the nation gives us back in return for, amongst other things, s12 and s15 of the Armed Forces Act 2006. It is our "right" to be treated fairly and humanely by our own hierarchy (who don't actually have to obey the Geneva or Hague conventions when dealing with us.)

Secondly, and Nuremberg and modern "Law of Armed Conflict" (LOAC) training makes it clear - it is ever soldier's responsibility to question the legality of their orders. Just because an elected politician gives them, rather than a military superior, makes no change to the validity of that questioning.

Then, I came across this "interesting" comment on Jack of Kent's blog:

David McIntosh said...

I wonder what an American serviceman's contract says about reporting war crimes committed by fellow servicemen: "Accidental death by friendly fire," a la Pat Tillman? And for leaking war crimes by fellow servicemen that the military itself won't prosecute: "52 years in jail," a la Bradley Manning? Will you find out for us, Jack?

For a start, neither American nor British serviceman have employment contracts - surprisingly to us, few American workers do. Hence some of their confusing practices such as "faire at will" (which has a interestingly different military meaning). The test for leakers, or many other breaches of militray regulations is, as a matter of US federal law (the Uniform Code of Military Justice, in this case) whether:

such conduct being prejudicial to good order and discipline in the armed forces and being of a nature to bring discredit upon the armed forces.

Which is an interesting test - is leaking creditworthy or discreditable? That begs a per-case answer. Which is, as far as I am aware, what the justice system exists to provide. That, in the manning case at least, the information was classified therefore there is an additional and corollary charge with strict liability, doesn't make the credit test less fascinating.

It also outlines a dreadful delusion common amongst the "chattering classes" - that everything that goes wrong, and certainly every criminal act, in a war is a "war crime". They aren't.  Friendly fire deaths are dreadful - possibly even a tragedy. But neither Pat Tillman's death nor the pathetic cover-up are "war crimes" - according to any of the evidence I have seen. The death may well just have been a dreaful mistake in the fog of war - the cover-up may have actually been an offence "being of a nature to bring discredit upon the armed forces" - but it is still not a war crime.

Harrowing that the Apache video is - I certainly think the commentary recorded was objectionable - there is considerable dispute as to whether even the second shoot was wrong (as a matter of LOAC - clearly killing kids is morally a bad thing) never mind a "war crime". The van was not marked with any of the protected symbols for health workers. I'm afraid that "shit happens" in fire-fights and when your enemy does not wear any clearly identifying symbols and insists on fighting in populated areas, the risk to civilians is higher. Not nice but, unfortunately, unavoidable. And not every civilian death is a crime. And not every criminal civilian death is a "war crime".

1. Ed notes: There is room for a perfectly valid discussion as to whether the coalition's desire to enshrine the Military Covenant in statute law is either sensible in principle or, in practice, they are going about it the right way. Personally, I think the former is doubtful and, as far as the latter goes, this is so clearly a piece of political theatre that we don't need to even consider the correctness of the drafting or the underlying intent - we can dismiss it all, out of hand, as flim-flam and start looking for the chicanery this misdirection is intended to hide.

Sunday, May 08, 2011

Where I agree with Al Qeada

Come-on, I've agreed with Terry (Kelly, not Taliban) in the past!

In their lauding of bin-Laden, they say,

Men and heroes only should be confronted in the battlefields but at the end, that’s God’s fate.

While I agree with the statement and the sentiment, what a bunch of fucking hypocrites for saying it!

The Twin Towers, the US and Danish Embassies, the Bali bombs, London 7/7, the car bombing of civilian markets in Iraq and Afghanistan - none of those (and that's a very slim selection from the multitude of their atrocities) were on a battlefield. Unless you take this "Dar al Harb" business literally. In which case, Osama was on a battlefield.

PS - just thought of an appropriate addendum to their statement "but murdering lunatics are fair game regardless."

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Scottish Vote Compass

From here:

Seems reasonable. Nearly as right as the tories, more liberal than the liberals.

Edited to add - I disagreed with the Tories on every single law and order question. Quite often at the other extreme. And on the Afghan one. Otherwise, I was generally just much less certain of myself. Slightly surprised about how much my answers concurred with Limp-Dumb policy. But that bunch of spineless back-stabbing weasels are never going to implement anything, any way.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Err, "Duh!"

Japan is to decommission four stricken reactors at the quake-hit Fukushima nuclear plant, the operator says.

This wouldn't have anything to do with the seawater they were using for emergency coolant? Stainless steel actually being corroded by such? And these idiots are paid to research their stories.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Brown's Mobile Hacked?

Nice little earner for somebody if it was - please, having to re-hack the replacement every time the heffalump used it to 'express his displeasure'?

Sunday, January 09, 2011

Having problems with this, too

I've been posting a few comments, mostly about email discovery, on James Doleman's excellent Sheridan Trial blog. And I've been getting quite a lot of "414 Request: URI too large to process" responses. It's caused a few issues - nothing serious.

So, this morning, I put up a comment - get an error, and then try to log on to this gmail account.

We've detected evil things happening. Please jump through some fiery hoops to verify ...

Okay - what? Enter my country and my mobile number and I get an unlock code SMS'd to me. Which gets me in to the email (and the blogger account had been locked too.)

Who is this protecting? If I was an evil hacker, spammer or other assorted nefarious toe-rag who had gained illegitimate access to this account, I'm still there and all Google now have is an SMSable number (and I'd have used a free or hacked VOIP account in an irrelevant country to get the code.) Clearly, it doesn't protect the "real" Surreptitious Evil, either.

So, we have a bit of security protocol, triggered by something (quite possibly the stream of 414s) that doesn't appear, at first or second glance, to do anything constructive. I'll have a bit more of a think about it, I suppose.

Saturday, January 08, 2011

I'm having problems understanding this ...

Okay, so there's a "news story":

US 'wants Wikileaks Twitter data'

An Icelandic MP says US officials have subpoenaed personal details from Twitter relating to her activities with the whistle-blowing website Wikileaks.

Birgitta Jonsdottir says the US Department of Justice also asked Twitter for all of her tweets since November 2009.

Now, what "personal information" does Twitter hold about you? The only thing I can think of that isn't generally publicly displayed is the list of Twitterers you follow?

Anyway, she puts up lots more information on her blog!

Your Tweets are public anyway - so a list of them is hardly fundamentally damaging? It all seems like pointless posturing from the Yanks and a knee-jerk response from her. Oh, well ...


Okay, they are asking for, from 1 Nov 2009:


1. subscriber names, user names, screen names, (sic) or other identities;

2. mailing addresses, residential addresses, business addresses, e-mail addresses, and other contact information;

3. connection records, or records of session times and durations;

4. length of service (including start date) and types of service utilized;

5. telephone or instrument number or other subscriber number or identity, including any temporarily assigned network address; and

6. means and source of payment for such service (including any credit card or bank account number) and billing records;


1. records of user activity for any connections made to or from the Account, including the date, time, length, and method of connections, data transfer volume, user name, and source and destination Internet Protocol address(es);

2. non-content information associated with the contents of any communication or file stored by or for the account(s), such as the source and destination email addresses and IP addresses;

3. correspondence and notes of records related to the account(s)

Amazing - either this is just a standard "subpeona the ISP" template that has been rolled out, not recognising that Twitter are neither an ISP nor an email service, or, if they have thought about it, Tracy McCormick (or possibly her wingwoman, Vivian) really don't grok Twitter.

I still don't get this. The only thing that might be useful in there, given that Twitter is free, are the IP addresses which they might then cross reference with data from other services. And I'll bet Twitter doesn't keep those for very long.
HTTP Error 403: You are not authorised to access the file "\real_name_and_address.html" on this server.

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