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Room 101

Room 101: the torture chamber in the basement of the Ministry of Love where the Party subjects its dissidents to their worst fears (from 1984 by George Orwell).

More recently, Room 101 has become a highly successful game show run by the BBC.

The BBC is slightly more merciful than Orwell's interrogators. The format is simple: celebrities are invited to discuss their pet hates, and the audience then takes a vote on whether or not to consign the object of their dislike to Room 101, theoretically banishing it forever from this world.

Recently (at Satellite III in Glasgow) I played a round of Room 101. Here are the items I brought to consign to Room 101, and a brief justification: feel free to contribute your own!

1. Cauliflower (and brassicae in general — broccoli, brussels sprouts, aragula/rocket, cabbages, and so on)

I know some folks appear to like eating this family of vegetables (I'm married to one), but they induce reactions in me ranging from mild dislike (sauerkraut, kimchee) to vomiting. It's probably the only thing I have in common with George H. W. Bush: a total aversion to an entire family of plants based on a combination of texture and flavour.

2. [Neck-]ties

I have a fat neck; these bloody things require a collared shirt (which in turn adds about four layers of fabric) and some fiddly knots. End result: I sweat to death or feel as if I'm being strangled. And to what end? They look silly, they're expensive and hard to keep clean, and wearing one labels you instantly as a wage slave. Walk around and count how many people wear them other than because of a uniform or an occupational dress code. Then tell me they have any legitimate place on this planet.

3. Manned space colonization

You've probably read what I have to say on this subject, so here's someone else. (Note: do not confuse colonization with exploration, m'kay? Although I'm very skeptical that we've been doing any of the latter since Apollo.)

4. [Human driven] Cars

List of countries by traffic-related death rate. The total deaths from RTAs in 2007 was 1.23 million (and many times that number injured). That's getting into world war territory. 90% or more of traffic accidents are the conequence of human error.

In an ideal world someone would invent teleportation booths; failing that, we urgently need to get the chattering, texting, easily distracted primates out from behind the steering wheels. And that's before we consider the role of the car in making our livable cities impossible to survive in without them, or the role of gas-fuel-burning cars in ratcheting up the tensions in international politics.

5. Microsoft Windows

(Do I need to expand on this?)

6. Santa Claus. Who does not exist and is a lie told to children for the express reason of exploiting their youthful credulity and warping them towards a belief in invisible sky fairies. Not to mention cleaning their bedrooms.

Over to you!



Virgin Trains Pendolinos

Whose idea was it to design a train with an interior that resembles that of an plane in all the wrong ways? Horrible cramped seating, far too few windows with a significant proportion of seats having no outside view at all. I know of people who suffer from mild claustrophobia who find themselves unable to travel in the things without them bringing on panic attacks they don't suffer in any other train.

Voice mail

"Hello, this is [mumble] from [I can't pronounce the name of my own company]. Please ring me back on 01mumble43mumble71mumble3. That's 01mumble43mumble71mumble3 {CLICK}".

Need I say more?


I vote for Number 5.


Or, to take another perspective, Santa Claus is a social construct perfectly in a contained and limited context for parents to prepare their children to discover things Are Not True.

I see utility in this, however inadvertent.


MacOS (for the same reasons as number 5)


I guess to play by the rules of the game, I have to add my own item.

As I am affected by Number 2 (I am a government wage slave) and Number 5 (forced to use locked down government supplied Windows XP machines at work), I would like to add this:

Mandatory physical presence in an office to write documents.

Everyone pretends to be working for 8 hours, while we are constantly being interrupted by others who think we are interested to know what they watched on television last night.

I could get my entire day's work done at home in about one hour, two tops.


1. I didn't have much love for cauliflowers et al when I was younger but I adore them now, especially having learned to cook them more adeptly than my boil-it-all-to-death mother. As it happens I just made 6L of cauliflower soup this morning, and that is so far away in texture and flavour from the limp mess that I would have been given 20-30 years ago that it's hard to believe it's the same thing.

2. Most bizarrely, in contrary to all sense given its climate Australian business culture is entirely hooked on neck-ties. I think it gives management something understandable to fixate on when they don't actually comprehend what their employees are doing.




"Political Correctness"

Not the general taboo against racist and sexist epithets. But the wide-spread belief that "political correctness" is an identifiable phenomenon, as distinct from basic good manners and consideration for others.


Open-plan offices. The absolute antithesis of an environment in which to do a good job.


The Cosnervative and Liberal Democrat parties. Hmm, better add New labour in there just to make sure.


People who put the prefix nano- onto words as a way of justifying their ideology or selling a product.

Example: Of course it will be possible to live forever. In the near future we can make nanobots out of nanomachines in nanofactories and use it to nanoengineer ourselves via nanomedicine to fix any problem! Then we can turn the planet into nanoprocessors and use our nanoscanners to upload our brains and be gods!

In addition any use of the term "science" in any form by an advertising company.

Example: "I'm here at the Institute of Hair Science to investigate the science behind the claims made by scientists that this scientifically formulated science shampoo makes 78% of women appear ten years younger!


Cars, yes! I get everywhere on a bike even in the depths of central europe winter, and besides certainly being faster than a car (except when I have to stop for lights), often beat the U-Bahn also. Not practical for everyone, but it's a rare occurrence (picking up furniture, moving house), when transport in a city can't be taken care of by foot, bike, or public transport.

Nation states. Ok a bit ambitious, and might not fit in the room, but a world without arbitrary divisions of land and the implicit ownership of all of it and that which resides on it by someone or something …

Bottled water.


After my day so far... supermarkets.

having said that the "knit your own yogurt" types that go on about how wonderful the local farmers market is are pretty annoying. And I know for a fact the cheese that gets sold there was orginally destined for tescos until I got dropped on the floor or something simillar.


1) Broadcast television. I have no patience for sitting down on someone else's schedule and viewing 17 minutes/hour of advertising just to see a show I want to watch. I gave it up in the '70s but I've since discovered some very worthwhile programs. Via DVD and streaming.

2) Pointless telephone calls, which is most of them. Both parties have to stop what they're doing at that moment and try to sort something out full duplex that could be covered in 1/5 the time through half duplex TXT or email. Emergency? Call me. Anything else, write it.

3) Advertising. I ignored it for decades but now it looks like a pernicious force warping everyone's behavior for the worse. The UK seems to be making some inroads against the worst of it but as long as there are people gaining their self worth from the accumulation of status possessions it's a bad influence. Banksy for President.


1. Geolocking to prevent users from legally buying digital content from services not located on your arbitrary patch of soil.

2. Bishops, archbishops, cardinals, prelates and pontifs. Self-serving nut-cases for the most part.


Not-Our-Nigelism: the tendency for people to excuse people they can relate to from accusations of rape, sexual assault or hate crimes because "our Nigel wouldn't do such a thing."

IE the response to feminists complaints of a rape culture (where victims are told they shouldn't wear short skirts instead of where perpetrators are taught not to rape people just because they wear short skirts) have only led to a policy of locking-up people of colour in some perverse understanding that only non-White men rape, and that they only rape White woman (see: King Kong or Mars Needs Moms). So instead of locking up the Nigels we lock up the African American sex-worker (who gives a New Orleans cop a blow-job and is charged with sodomy and placed on the sex-offender registry) or the Indigenous man (of Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Canada, etc & so on).

One quote to illustrate the phenomena: "AIDS is spread by people who aren't like us. AIDS is spread by superstitious, backward villagers. And AIDS is spread by sex workers. And AIDS is spread by sugar daddies. So there's some of these usual suspects. And even when there's very strong evidence against those, they just don't believe it.

Let me give you an example. Where nobody ever says, the problem, the driver of the epidemic, is men with money. And yet the evidence shows, very clearly, that the highest prevalence is among the wealthiest and most educated men. I know. But when I suggest, well, why don't we go after the elite men? People just look at me like I'm totally nuts. I think it's just seen as an impossibility. It's seen as men's nature. So it's better to try to train women to negotiate condom use and to protect themselves than it is to pay any attention to the men."
-Susan Watkins, professor of sociology, UPenn.



From Charlie's list: Cars. Oh yes. Noisy to the point of rudeness, horribly dangerous, generally ugly.

and here's mine

1) Public obsession with sport. Okay, play womble, muck, or sneedball if you like, go and see some hired sportsmen if you must, but "Oh look, they done a goal!" is not news, and should not be reported as such.

2) Sexist sport culture. If sport must be reported, it should be reported for both genders. I don't give a damn about England's performance in the World Cup, but if I must, I'll not give a damn about the Women's World Cup too. If young women aspired to be famous wealthy players instead of being their wives and girlfriends, well it wouldn't be much of an advance, but it'd be a start.

3) People. Just, you know, people, all milling about and keeping their mates company in the queue for milk and driving their kids to school and going to the seaside for the day and just bloody people all over the place.

4) Food. "What shall we have for dinner?" is a question that comes up almost 400 times a year. It rarely starts an interesting conversation. Look, babe, there's some in the kitchen and more in the shops over there and eventually we'll eat some, let's not worry too much about what how or when.


+1 to that!


Seconded on sport. I like competitive sports but the hype and nonsense that attends them is just ridiculous. For every hour of play there's 100 hours of promotion, 'analysis' and argument about it. Just play the damn game and quit hollering at each other. The colossal industry that's built itself up around the money to be made from sports fans just ruins the games for me.
And attachment to teams promotes the worst aspects of tribalism. What could be more arbitrary than supporting one of two teams on opposite sides of the same town? Yet people riot over it. It's insane.


1) Broadcast television. I have no patience for sitting down on someone else's schedule and viewing 17 minutes/hour of advertising just to see a show I want to watch.

Oddly, I am pretty much the opposite; I prefer to watch TV on the TV company schedule, and rarely watch anything on DVD or recorded, even if I recorded it with the intention of watching it later. Maybe it is the vague sense of community of watching it with others. And I almost always watch movies in a cinema, not TV/DVD. (Luckily, though, UK TV has fewer and shorter ad breaks, even on the commercial channels).

On our host's tie thing: I just read Jonathan Lynn's autobiography-cum-comedy-writing guide Comedy Rules and he talks about meeting the movie director John Landis, who he never saw without a tie, as a bit of image googling seems to confirm to about 99% anyway; that must be purely voluntary, as movie directors can wear what they like. But personal observation, not so much.


A few more...

1.) Mail in rebates, discount cards and loyalty cards

2.) "Left on arrow only" and "no turn on red" signs -- active all hours of the day, and no way to turn them off when traffic is light (though I agree with Charlie that eliminating human driven cars is a great idea!!!)

3.) Pseodoscience and junk science, including climate change denialism (as opposed to skepticism, which may have some basis in fact, though not much...), creationism, LHC black hole hysteria, parapsychology (why don't the psychics go to Vegas???), the whole anti-vaccine movement, 90% of alternative medicine.

4.) Future hype (as opposed to sober speculation) -- the singularity, space colonization, nanotechnology, SMILE (Space Migration, Intelligence Increase, Life Extension), etc. (NOTE: these are all legitimate fields...I know people who are doing real work on nanotechnology, and I did some myself in the 90's)

5.) I know I am going to make a lot of enemies by saying this -- but -- most of economics besides the common sense stuff (reliance on models that led to a financial crash). 30% of economics may be salvageable, but most of it is...junk.


What's most wrong with Economics is how some terrible ideas have been exploited for political reasons. Everyone who said:
1) Austerity
2) ......
3) Profit!
Should be demoted to making copies and fetching coffee.

Much of Keynseism can be salvaged, but it's been out of favor because it hasn't matched up with popular political orthodoxies and goals. It's not so much that Economics is useless, it's that there are so many different aspects to it that any program can be 'supported by Economics' by digging up a tangentially related paper somewhere and running with it as though it was accepted consensus in the profession.


I nominate the entire modern secular Western ideology of vapid capitalism and techno-progress, which is little more than glorified nihilism. I would like to see this ideology consigned to the dustbin of history and replaced with something with teeth and a real vision and "divine order", because otherwise I'm afraid the increasingly aggressive threats against modernity (see, e.g. Islam) are going to bury us. Furthermore, any objective study of history will reveal that our civilization is a total aberration in not having any such sense of diving order, and is therefore unlikely to last must longer. We are, in a spiritual sense and in comparison to say the Pharoahnic "maat," the Roman empire or Medieval Christendom, already in a state of total collapse.


Definitely agree with no. 5 and I would add SPAM - of both varieties!


It's not so much that Economics is useless, it's that there are so many different aspects to it that any program can be 'supported by Economics' by digging up a tangentially related paper somewhere

You're too charitable.

The problem with economics is that the practice of economics is a cultural activity supported by patronage, and the patrons get to implicitly call the shots by de-funding news they don't want to hear. Consequently there's a strong evolutionary selection pressure on schools of economic thought, driven by the wishes of the folks with lots of money.

This doesn't make the science of economics wrong so much as it imposes a huge pressure on its practitioners to pander to the confirmation bias of the sponsors. And unlike a real science, it's extremely hard (if not impossible) to plan a properly controlled economic experiment to test a hypothesis.


Have to agree on number 2, Charlie. I too have a rather large neck and wearing a tie makes me feel like I'm being strangled. I tend to opt for polo shirts as workplace attire and only ever wear a tie for interviews.

Also, number 4. As a non-driver in a part of the country where the public transport isn't worth squat, I really dislike the extent to which public transport gets neglected. And 5 too.

My own choices:
Recruiters: I've had a lot of dealings with IT recruiters in the last few years, and I have not been impressed. Most of them have clearly just searched for certain keywords and contacted anyone who shows up. Quite a few have contacted me looking for something along the lines of a "PHP Ninja" - why do grown adults do that, it's infantile?

Some of the media: I don't think this needs much explaining. Pretty much the entire of News International's stable deserves a place in Room 101, as does the Daily Mail.

Lack of understanding of statistics and risk: Wasn't sure whether this or "People who don't understand statistics and risk" would be a better choice, but either way there's an awful lot of people around who pee their pants about any silly threat they hear about (vaccines, nuclear disasters on the far side of the world) but never think about the far worse dangers they encounter every day, like RTA's. If people actually understood the first thing about statistics, they might be better placed to properly evaluate the risks they're subject to.


neckties: Walk around and count how many people wear them other than because of a uniform or an occupational dress code.

You may want to lump it in with "uniform", but I think identification is another role - e.g. old school ties, military ties etc.


You are Sean the Mystic and I claim my $5.

Oh, and you're banned. (Until you go back on your meds.)


I'm with you on the "greens". English boiled cabbage from school daze to the permanent smell of cabbage in public hospitals was enough to make me gag. My wife can cook cabbage that is [almost] a joy to eat. It really is about the cooking, not the food.


The use of exponential/exponentially to mean "real big."


Pretty sure "wage slave" usually connotes low-income workers who can't effectively change their employment conditions because any break in income would spell disaster.


DRM and region coding.

On anything - Ebooks, DVD's, Blu Rays

It doesn't stop pirates and just makes more trouble for the people ligitimately trying to buy stuff.

More power to Apple taking it off iTunes music .. now just Kindle, Nook etc etc need to follow suit.


> It really is about the cooking, not the food.

Seconded (mostly). Cauliflower and brussels sprouts take very well to roasting. My English grandmother -- who lived in El Paso, TX, oddly enough -- was of the boil-it-to-death school. The experience of eating at her house taught me not to do that.


I will add unbridled corporate rapaciousness. Banks are particularly egregious today, but no doubt the really bad actors will change in the future, perhaps back to fossil fuel energy companies.

In the US, the increasingly intrusive theocracy that threatens to end the enlightenment.


Yup. Agreed. Bankers. And also bankers. And bankers too.


You're assuming Apple are responsible for removing DRM from music. I'm inclined to think the music studios are responsible ... because they woke up and realized that by mandating DRM, they'd handed Apple a monopoly on online music purchases.

The same logic applies to Amazon and the big six publishers; my money is on DRM on ebooks being dead within two years. (Amazon would be perfectly happy to keep it -- it has given them 85% market share by creating a walled garden -- but the publishers will eventually realize what it's doing to them and kill it.)


Oh, and IDE's. I'm a Vim user and I hate NetBeans.


That clicking sound when I pedal that started two days after I got the bike back from the mechanic.

Oh and earworms. My current one is the theme from Ice Station Zebra, which is not too bad, but I don't even want to think about other ones. No really, I don't want to think about them. Stop thinking about them! Dammit!


My list includes:

1.) Climate change deniers.

2.) Bankers.

3.) Anti-Gay/anti-sex types. Racists too.

4.) People who fund the above.

I suppose I could just write "Republicans," but I wanted to be a bit more specific. And I'm not real happy with President Obama, who came into the election with a mandate to fix many of the problems with America and has not done what he should be doing.


With regards to neckties, the reason they're so uncomfortable is that the shirt probably doesn't really fit you everywhere, so the tie is an throttle. If you have a tailor made shirt, you won't even notice the tie, except as a flash of colour in the mirror. The same goes with suits: if you get one made for you, it just fits perfectly, (Well, DUH!) and it will actually be very comfortable to wear.

It isn't always that expensive to get tailor made shirts and suits, depending on where you live, the presence of immigrant communities there, etc.

One of the reasons that management types insist on suits, shirts and ties is that they traditionally come from a class where this stuff is made for them and is comfortable and that's what they expect. Meanwhile, those who aspire to that class are buying poorly fitting off the peg sackcloth costumes in the style of their 'betters' in the style of a cargo-cult.


I nominate all records of the existence of the Santorum campaign for a trip down the memory hole.

Also, the combination of equivocating objectivity with support of your position & blind, lazy determinism, as exemplified @24.


In addition to agreeing with many of the above, I'd like to nominate companies who offer to give you stuff in exchange for information about other people. If you want to give a company personal information about yourself in exchange for free webmail, go ahead - I'll think you're a fool, but it's your decision. But if they want you to give them personal information about me in exchange for you getting free webmail, that's not on, and they should all be sent to hand-irrigate the Sahara.


Cars - a world where cities are not planned around them.... (Sorry, just read a NYT piece today about archtectural criticism that missed the point).

And let's just consign the entire (US) republican party to Room 101. And all their major donors and fellow travelers.... Would make life so much simpler.


The argument that the American civil war wasn't about slavery.

Yes, it was.

All the documents prove it.

Love, C.


Hm, a mild dislike for sauerkraut? Pity it will be full springtime when you come over here to Croatia, otherwise we might make you try sarma. Which is actually stuffed leaves of pickled cabbage with dried meat around. :) I like that and I dislike the cut pickled cabbage, ie sauerkraut.

Otherwise, I really agree about supermarkets. I hate that kind of styrofoam- and plastic-packaged food. It's so... plasticky.

And I don't think you really hate cars as much as you hate people driving them. Car as such is a pretty nifty invention. But it's most of the people who should be banned from driving.


1. Meetings and the people who think they are useful and accomplish something, especially if they are allowed to speak at length during them

2. Preachers

3. And, of course, neckties--an instrument of inhuman torture curiously neglected by the Inquisition


2 definitely, 4 because getting rid of the cars leaves more room for motorbikes, 6 extended to organized religion in all forms (not just Santa), and Big Brother and other "reality" TV.


I'm in total agreement with the necktie thing* but dissent with regards to brocolli. I love me some broccoli.

I'd add:

The Twilight books (if I have to listen to one more insufferable tween rhapsodize about those monstrously bad books I'm going to strangle someone, probably with the nearest necktie to hand).

Reality Television Programs (there good only for ferreting out the sociopaths in our society but that's as dubious a form of entertainment as was the Victorian fad of visiting asylums to jeer at the inmates).

Hollywood remakes/reboots/adaptations (just make a new movie for fuck's sake!)

All debates of literary genres (there are only two genres: fiction and nonfiction. Everything else was made up by some a third rate Don Draper at Penguin in the 50s).

*Yes, let's all imitate a fashion created by Croatian Mercenaries. Because nothing says civilized behavior like a remnant of the thirty years war.


Sweet Jesus yes, sports! I live in the US and for all the pious yodeling we hear every year about Christmas, you know what the real national holiday is here? Fucking Superbowl Sunday. More places close down for the observation of the Superbowl than do for Xmas, Easter and Thanksgiving combined. And for what? To watch millionaires give each other concussions while they eat their weight in chili and Doritos? Where are the religious scolds when it comes to this perverse holiday? Oh right, they're too busy tormenting the gay guys down the street who want to have a quiet tasteful wedding ceremony.


Celery, obviously.

I think that the way businesses are constructed these days -- the whole CEO/CTO/VP/Director crud -- is utterly fucked. The idea of an MBA in itself I find insulting. Businesses exist for many different reasons. The idea of "making money" doesn't cover the secondary impacts that businesses have on their community or on their employees, but Wall Street has set up a cycle which neglects the system for the numbers, and people naturally want to go for the status and the power even when the end goal is a soulless shell of a company.

Also, Wall Street, for the reasons above.


Can we consign the concept of "American Exceptionalism" to the bin?

It's only utility is for identifying people terrified of the idea that we, as a nation, are capable of mistakes and ought to have some minimal viable mindfulness.


Hazard warning lights.

More specifically, people who use them as an excuse to park wherever they like and hence cause a hazard when they don't have to.

Also, people who put them on even when they're not causing a hazard (usually white van men).


The New Hacker Dictionary has this to say about neckties:

"A constrictive device worn around the neck, reducing blood supply to the brain".

With the footnotes:

"See also: Management, Dilbert, Pointy-Haired Boss".



Per a previous amendment to the moderation policy, please do not call it the American civil war. You should call it by its true name: the slaveowners' treasonous rebellion.


Well, General / President Grant always referred to it as the War of Southern Rebellion.

I personally like the War of Southern Aggression.

Love, C.


How about we compromise on "The Southern Slave-owners' Treasonous and Aggressive Rebellion"?


David Weber. Sheets of paper with words 'written' by him have been bound together and sold to the public for profit.
This must stop.

The Health and Safety department.Deserve to meet an unforeseen accident.

James Murdoch and Sky TV.'Nuff said.

Finally, Toenails that thicken with age requiring shaped charges and boltcutters to trim them.


I think neckties serve the practical purpose of marking individuals who serve little or no practical purpose in an organization, and who should probably never be listened to under any circumstances (why no, I haven't worn one outside of a wedding, funeral, or bar mitzvah in the last 40 years).

Agreed: down with manually-operated cars. In the last 30 years I've been rear-ended 5 times (twice seriously) and T-boned twice, in all cases because of an error the other guy made. It's one of the reasons I drive Volvos: more chance of surviving the idiots. But I would prefer if the idiots were replaced with microprocessors, and I'm perfectly OK with being replaced myself.

My nominees for Oubliette 101:

Harvard MBAs and their minions, lackeys, and proteges. Also anyone else who believes that management or financial manipulation are specially-favored professions that don't require knowledge of any other area of human endeavor to be successful. I'd prefer to dump them into a hypermassive black hole, but the closest one is too far away for me to wait for their immolation.

Anyone who uses pseudo-science, junk science, or even real science, in an attempt to justify speculative hypotheses about the nature of consciousness, human nature, or the bearded guy in the sky, especially if those hypotheses are intended to bring some form of dualism in by the back door, whether they use those hypotheses to defraud others or not. That specifically includes Frank Tipler, Roger Penrose, Rupert Sheldrake, and L. Ron Hubbard. Also, anyone who argues for Pascal's Wager. Enough, already, you've lost.

Cultural chauvinists of any stripe or origin. Kipling got this one right: "There are nine and sixty ways of constructing tribal lays, and every single one of them is right!"

Passenger airline travel. If God had wanted sardine cans to fly she would have given them wings.


1] Brassicas
You've obviously NEVER EATEN A FRESH one Charlie!
As an allotment-holder, let me tell you that they CAN be (not will always be) delicious.
Even sprouts, if sliced thinly and stir-fried - do not allow near water .....
2] Neck-ties
Oh do come on!
We have met, more than once, anf you know I (almost always) wear a cravat .... deeply unfashionable, and very comfortable
3] Possibly -it isn't time to rail-road - yet, maybe ??
4] If pathetic little motorised pimples, driven by morons, or as mobile penis-extensions, and usually called: "BMW" ... yes.
But then, as we all know, I have a Land-Rover.
5] NO, unfortunately, you don't need to explain.
Equally unfotunately - anything for Steve Jobs' ego ... ( Do I need to explain this? I hope not )
6] S Misnomer - was that a typo?
SHOULD have been BigSkyFairy - of any generic sort ... (?)

Giles @ 9
The modern equivalent of the Victorian "office"

RossinDetroit @ 15
What is this "Broadcast Television" of which you speak?

MikeW @ 16.2
see [6] above!

PhilKnight @ 18
ADD SPORT to the list - yesterday

Charlie @ 29
You MAY have been had - yes, I know he/she does this, but I think you've been trolled!

Alex T @ 30
DON'T BOIL them - at all ....
- except Sanatorium supporters, of course - or have I got my categories mixed up?


Oh god yes, sports, how could I have forgotten the bloody Olympics - not looking forward to the horrible mess London traffic will be in this summer, and the lack of anything else in the blasted news.


a) People who think the word "tolerate" is a synonym for "like" or "approve of".

b) Anyone who allegedly speaks English but does not know what a synonym is.


I'm not convinced we've ever as a species engaged in manned space exploration, per se. Where we've sent people places in space, it's been as test pilots, mechanics, tourists, and maybe in a few cases as what in a bygone era would have been called "adventurers." I'm pretty convinced all the actual "exploration," i.e. finding things out about a place that we didn't know before, that we've done of space has been by terrestrial observation by humans and via unmanned spacecraft. While in some isolated cases human astronauts have served the purpose of exploration (i.e. Hubble maintenance by shuttle crews), it's been as repair technicians, not as active explorers.

Further, I'm pretty convinced that in the short to medium term we're not going to see anything any closer to "exploration" by human astronauts; I've heard few convincing arguments for any particular information that a human holding an instrument on another planet can gather that a robotic probe with the same instrument couldn't.


> Celery, obviously.

I will defend celery in the same way I defend USA Today: celery isn't a food and USA-T isn't a newspaper. But celery is a decent condiment in some situations and USA-T serves to pass the time while eating breakfast if nothing better is available.


OK. I''ll bite. What's with drivers in Croatia and the UAE? 100 times the rate of most countries in deaths per miles driven. Bad data or is it just a really bad place to be in a car.


A condiment? Celery seeds and powder derived thereof have some function, but in my corner of Amurrika the stalks are only used as a delivery vehicle and/or sop for dips, sauces, etc. This includes their appearance in heaping platters of wings.


Not practical for everyone, but it's a rare occurrence (picking up furniture, moving house), when transport in a city can't be taken care of by foot, bike, or public transport.

As someone who grew up in rural environments 1 generation removed from farmers, I see issues. Urban areas are different. Plus all the folks who go on site to build and/or fix things. Plus those of us who "Do It Ourselves".


Re: manned space exploration.

I'm afraid you have it backwards. The exploration should be done by remote controlled probes (like the brilliantly successful Mars rovers) and in the future by probes with AI. They are much cheaper than manned missions and only slightly less capable.

As for colonization, that by definition can only be accomplished by humans. And human should travel to their destination on one way trips - like all other colonists in history. The colonizers of Australia and immigrants to America never expected to return home, even for a visit. So it should be with space colonization. One way trips are far cheaper than round trips:

The colonists can avoid the physically dangerous and psychologically debilitating effects of long term space travel via hibernation in secure, radiation shielded bunkers, waking up upon arrival. Or the crew can consist of millions of frozen embryos stored in a foot locker awaiting gestation in an artificial womb upon arrival.

Nor do the colonists have to be completely human. Cyborg implants and genetic engineering can create a new species better attuned to space travel.

They can arrive at planets that have been terraformed or locations on planets or asteroids/comets that have been para-terraformed. The space between the stars now appears to be home to 10,000s of nomad planets, Kuiper belt objects, Oort cloud comets and planetoids, and brown dwarfs capable of producing enough heat to support life and liquid water:

"Let’s say, for example, that we only manage to get up to about 1 percent of lightspeed (3000 kilometers per second) before we run into technical challenges that are at least temporarily insurmountable. Speeds like that take well over 400 years to get a payload to Centauri A and B, but they make movement between planets and out into the Kuiper Belt and Oort Cloud a straightforward proposition. A civilization content to create way-stations and take its time could establish habitats all along the way, its distant descendants reaching the next solar system."


I'll go with #1, 3, and mostly 5.

But add sweet potatoes to #1. The thought of eating them starts to make me physically ill.

In addition...

Bad math teaching. If you increase something by 50% then of course to get it back to where it was you need to now decrease things by 50%. Arrrrrrrrrrrrg.

People who feel others who disagree with them are evil just for disagreeing.


Is the "slaveowners' treasonous rebellion" you're referring to the one in 1776 or the one in 1861?


Sprouts are also nice cooked in lots butter with plenty of salt and pepper and chestnuts.

Pre-roasted chestnuts, toss them together for a few minutes, so they're warm, buttery and a little crunchy. Lovely.

I'd second/third/tenth the call for politicians of all types and and all levels. Workplace, local, regional and national.

Those that look for differences and use it to belittle, injure, assault or insult others. Which would include me probably, it's hard to be opposed to all forms of discrimination without discriminating after all.


Oh YES !
to Marcus Rowland @ 61

How could I forget?

The "olympics" are royally HATED here in London.
But thanks to MINTRUE, not even a whisper of dissent is allowed...
The corruption, the Zil-lanes, the sneering despite in which Londoners are treated in their own capital, the fascism ... urrrgh

Oh, and when I say "fascism", I relly mean it.
The vile Coe (A title imples honour, and that slime-bag has none) has quite deliberately, and of his own volition publicly associated with (the now-dead, I'm glad to say) Juan Antonio Samaranch (google for the full story) and his little band of corrupt cronies, usually called the IOC.


Robert Sneddon @ 70

Both, of course!


Re: flying sardine cans: I think we should revive zeppelin travel. Sure, it'll be little slower, but it will be much more pleasant than being squeezed into a pressurized tube with 299 other humans for hours at a time.

The current state of air travel infuriates me to no end, especially the seat size. I'm by no means super fit, but neither am I lard ass, I just happen to have broad shoulders and invariably end up in the middle seat, spending the entire trip hunched over. It would be much more pleasant to sit in a flying cafe for eight hours, retiring at my pleasure either to the observation deck to take in the sights or to a cabin for a nap on an actual bed.


(1) Money.

(2) Royalty, and everything connected with it, especially the Golden Jubilee.

(3) Potholes, broken glass, and jutting drain covers on roads.

(4) Hulking black 4x4s.

(5) Cycle punctures.


I rather like neckties. If you wear one all day you tell the world you're capable of eating three meals without getting any on you.
I want a necktie with a pattern of dots which upon inspection reveal themselves to be tiny neckties. A fractal necktie.


Intellectual property that lasts longer than 15 years


Properly, it should be the Treasonous Slaveowner's Rebellion. Historically speaking, there were slaveowners who stayed loyal to the Union even though they understood this to mean a change in their economic circumstances. "The Slaveowner's Treasonous Rebellion" implies that all slaveowners committed treason, which is not true. (Though they were slaveowners and thus substandard human beings, we cannot properly define them as treasonous.)


I never left my meds Stross. Everything I've ever posted here has been said with total lucidity and sincerity. To express the ideas I express is not to require medication. Think of me as your ideological shadow, here to deconstruct your little echo chamber and open it up to a wider range of ideas. To banish disagreeable thoughts rather than confront them is not to defeat them, but merely to admit their power and your weakness.

Think of me as the voice of the eternal Adversary, here to remind you that your version of reality is simply one map with no valid claim to universality, to demonstrate with my words the rather tame nature of your thinking, and to give you a small taste of a truly free and illuminated mind. You and your ilk are the tamers and castrators of man; I and my kind are the liberators and emasculators. We worship power, you worship weakness; we worship conflict, you worship peace; we worship conquest, you worship submission. So we shall do battle as avatars and servants of higher powers, and by our struggles the universe moves and life evolves, forever and ever, worlds without end.


As some day it may happen that a victim must be found,
I've got a little list — I've got a little list
Of society offenders who might well be underground,
And who never would be missed — who never would be missed!
There the idiot who thinks that he can answer with a song —
And leaves his lines unfinished.


Train Spotters:- Look I am a train driver, have been for about 14 years and been in the railway for 21 years. I am not trying to knock their hobby, but if they want to take a photo of me driving the train then they should bloody well ask me first. Dont stick a huge telephoto lense that would make a paparazi proud into my driving cab thank you very much. I have peoples lives in my hands and I find it distracting having someone photograph me. Just dont do it.

Huuuuge Hard back books :- George RR Martin's A Dance With Dragons I am looking at YOU. The damned thing is just too heavy to carry about/read. I always carry a book in my kit bag at work (see above) and it already weighs a ton, adding the weight of that tome is like adding a few of the bricks from a storage heater. Frankly the size and weight of these books is about the only thing on earth that could possibly persuade me to buy a kindle.

Kindles :- HATE hate hate hate. I just dont like the damned things. I am not a luddite, quite the opposite, but I refuse to buy one. I love printed paper, the smell of a new book, the physicality of it in you hand. I like having lots of bookcases in my home, with various authors represented on the shelves. To reduce all of that to one little electronic device is heresy to me. Plus of course I collect first editions, and get them signed if I am lucky enough to meet the author. You cant sing a Kindle and there is no real first edition with them either. Not to mention that they are now rife with internet piracy which rips off authors of their royalties.... I'll stick with print thanks.


Actually, our civilisation is not alone in not having a sense of diving order, despite being the first to go so deep into the ocean. (see post #29)

Greg, have you thought of getting groups of Londoners to blockade the Olympics? Preferably in a way which causes maximum annoyance to the corporate side of things and minimum to the few hundred thousand sports enthusiasts.


Two words: Harrison Schmidt. Otherwise, you win.


Cycle punctures. OK you may be able to do something about them. Old time motorcycle riders did. It seems that the front tire goes over a sharp it stands it up so the back tire hits it point on. A rubber flap down almost almost to the ground will knock it down. Maybe its like doing something to keep bad luck away. But after I made one for my motorcycle I had no more flat tires.
Neckties show you don't really work in dirt. Upper class don't you know.
Keynseism worked no matter with the rich say. Right up to when OPEC did what Kissinger had been telling then to do. Raise oil prices.


Wait, I like all those things! Especially neckties (and now bow ties).


Well, we could even say the War of the Southern North American Slaveholder Political and Economic Elite to Coerce Their Peculiar Institution Upon the Entirety of North America, the Caribbean and South America.

We would not be making it up -- that was the extent of their wildest dreams.

Love, C .


Bingo -- at least for Virginia and South Carolina colonies.

Love, C.


And yes, this is a household that really likes all of the cruciform vegetables, which like any vegetable or anything else for that matter, must be properly prepared to be enjoyable.

But I never liked any of them as a child -- actually some of them never were grown where I lived either. But I'm sure I wouldn't have liked them either.

But we love them now -- at least prepared as they should be, which are in several manners. I keep saying I grew into them.

But -- I still loathe string beans since my childhood. I might make exception for haricot verts, but none of the others.

People have individual chemical reactions to all sorts of food things. I like cilantro, another foreign taste from my childhood eating. There are friends who can't stand it -- tastes like soap to them.

Love, C.


My understanding is that the war was also about the protectionist, agrarian economy of the South which was putting it at loggerheads with the North's free-market industrial capitalism: something for which slavery became shorthand even though a protectionist agrarian economy can exist without the franchise. And as far as I'm aware it's still a living question as to whether it was appropriate or constitutional to prevent secession with military force, making the option of secession a strong element to the conflict - one where the winners may not have been in the right, at least in a legal sense.

I don't know how useful it is to say that any war is "about" something. If we say the Civil War was about slavery then we're denying that it wasn't about a whole bunch of other things too, and more subtly we're implying that it was fought for the *abolition* of slavery. The war and slavery are inseparable, but a whole lot of historical nuance is lost when we declare it to be a one-topic conflict.


With you on the doorstoppers and kindle. Any book over 500 pages becomes unwieldy and really. Martin's books should be broken into smaller volumes. And I'd rather stab myself in the eye than read a book off a screen.


Room 101 candidates, OK then, try these:

The Lying Professions

Those jobs which are primarily concerned with lying to the world and which exist to give people money for doing so - the more you lie the more money you make. Includes: Politicians, Lawyers, Second Hand Car Salesmen, Accountants, Marketeers, PR, Journalists, Estate Agents, etc.

If you can't ban them and dump them down a Rm101 hole, then at least introduce a "Lying B'stard" tax of an extra 10% on all income received. The collective damage done by these types is incalculable, yet we're not supposed to recognise them for the lying parasites they are.


Nice idea, but we've never had it, and it doesn't work. Totally not fit for purpose in the modern world.

Majority of people aren't intellectually capable of understanding the world well enough to make national level decisions. Majority of people (a different set) are also not engaged enough to know the basic data well enough to be able make decisions. Put these together and you'll be lucky to find 20% of the populous that are fit to take part in the decision making process.

Now it's true to say that we don't actually HAVE a democracy. 'Representatives' are no such thing - they lie to get a vote, then ignore what the people they are supposed to be representing want in an orgy of power seeking. However, the lip service they have to give every 4-5 years to the greed of the public means we get the worst of both worlds; lack of real control, and lack of total freedom of action. Despite what Churchill said, it's not the least worst option at all.

So dump it as we know it, and redefine to be fit for purpose, and able to take the difficult choices that nobody will accept up front (eg shifting away from growth dependency).


Really, when it comes down to it, isn't this more trouble than its worth? Majority of marriages, which are supposed to be for life, end. Its used as an excuse for massive wealth redistribution in an entirely sexist manner, and in the end what is it FOR?

Get rid, and the attendant tax games, and you have the scope to find out if there is anything of value that can't be covered with a partnership contract.


I'd suggest reading The Declaration of Secession of South Carolina. Slavery is the *only* issue that gets mentioned, and the mere election of an anti-slavery president was so horrible to contemplate South Carolina seceded two and a half months before Lincoln was even sworn in. Allowing states to unilaterally leave because they didn't like the results of an election would have created a precedent that would guarantee the union would dissolve altogether. Once the Confederacy invaded Kentucky and started shelling federal forts war was the only option left.

Having said that it probably won't surprise anyone to hear that I'd love to see Cold Mountain, the Jefferson Davis Highway and anything memorializing Nathan Bedford Forrest to disappear off the face of the earth.


"I like having lots of bookcases in my home, with various authors represented on the shelves. To reduce all of that to one little electronic device is heresy to me."

False dichotomy: the point of a Kindle isn't to stop us buying books or to make us throw away our old ones. The idea is that it can all work together in a complimentary fashion: it allows us to keep a discreet collection of shelf books and a much larger cache of electronic books which you wouldn't otherwise have space for. Books where you don't know if you'll like the author, for example, or thousand-page histories you expect to refer to but never to read.


I agree that automating driving will save millions of lives later this century, but I'm a bit disconcerted by the new online computer science program that is offering a course in programming your own robot car. Do we really want to share our roads with a bunch of hackers?

Though, come to think of it, it's probably safer than relying on Microsoft Windows for Autos.


Having said that it probably won't surprise anyone to hear that I'd love to see Cold Mountain, the Jefferson Davis Highway and anything memorializing Nathan Bedford Forrest to disappear off the face of the earth.

Agreed. Particularly Nathan Bedford Forrest.


I have a Kindle signed by, amongst others, our host (although I admit to being pleasantly surprised when he didn't tell me where to shove it). Of course it broke soon after and now amounts to a slab of plastic covered in signatures, but sits proudly on my 'bookshelf'.


"Do we really want to share our roads with a bunch of hackers?"

In the US we already are in so many ways. The laws on what can be put on the road are so liberal as to be irrelevant. I was in a composites fabrication shop today for a hang-out. There were three Ford GT-40s (a 212 MPH supercar) being fitted for various replacement carbon fiber bits. You can replace large parts of a car with whatever and legally run it. And don't get me started on what passes for motorcycles.
So far (at least) you have to drive the thing yourself and can't hand over the chores to a glitchy robot. But there are already systems that manage the throttle to maintain safe following distance between cars. It's just a matter of time before these assists take over more and more of the operation of the vehicle and the driver is relegated to a CEO position over a workforce of task robots doing the details like parking, staying in lane, etc.


I think it's an interesting link you chose to shoot at me, partly because the first half of the document phrases itself in terms of self-determination. So although I take your point that it mostly discusses slavery, it does mention the state's rights issue quite clearly. And further to my point, South Carolina didn't secede merely on the election of a anti-slavery president: Lincoln's election was just one event in a mounting crisis, and this document belongs to a context where the Southern states were losing political leverage in a union whose policy wasn't friendly to crop-based economies. State declarations only ever tell us so much about the reality of the political situation and they don't determine our reading of history in isolation.

"Allowing states to unilaterally leave because they didn't like the results of an election would have created a precedent that would guarantee the union would dissolve altogether."

I understand that the US federal government was fighting for its integrity, and arguably for its existence, but did it have the right to do so? By my understanding the US was meant to be a free association of states and, as such, subject to dissolution at any moment.


Some might find it amusing that by the end of March 1865, the CSA was this close to raising slave regiments. Lee even proposed that recruits & their families be emancipated.

I was in a composites fabrication shop today for a hang-out.

What an exciting life you lead! :-)


Linux. Lots of people who know about computers insist that its technically better than Microsoft Windows for all kinds of reasons and, given what these people know, I'm sure they're right. But as a humble 'computer user' who just wants to edit photos, use the internet and write text documents without having to know anything about computers, nothing caused me more trouble than my ill-fated decision to switch to that operating system. All of a sudden, mere clicking on boxes and going through options until something worked was no longer enough to solve my problems. I'm now a happy and satisfied windows 7 user.


People who want to ban aspects of human nature.


Sorcerer Supreme /Black Pope @ 79
Is an obvious troll.

However, do we think we could all have fun feeding it indigestible lumps?

guthrie @ 82
Have you SEEN the control orders in place for "public security & safety" covering the "O" ???
Robespierre would have been proud of it.
A simple lie-down across one of the Zil-lanes (CND style) will get you 6 months jail for "terrorism"
How appropriate for the fascist crawler Coe and his crooked friends.
Remember that NuLieBour brought this shit in, and the tories are not doing anything to roll it back ...
Because ... "EVERYONE LOVES Big Brother The Olympics"

Ian Smith @ 91
Will take exception to "accountants" - my wife is a Tax accountant - and lying gets you struck off ....
Or at the very least heavily fined .....

Justin Boden @ 98
A self-manufactured "crisis"
The blowhards were determined ... very similar to the same people behind Hick Sanatorium today - be VERY afraid.
They will fail this time, but 2016 could be really scary ....


If we're going to ditch Windows then it's only reasonable to ditch Apple and every product they ever made too and let the beardy 'nix wizards keep us in the dark ages for another thousand years.


Bother. I've been succesfully trollbaited by Mr Stross. Again.


Bad writing, certainly, for Croatia. 548 is the number of total casualties in 2009, not per billion vehicle km. 316 people died within settlements, 47 on highways, and 185 on other kinds of roads (local, county, state roads other than highways). The number should be in the fourth column.

The numbers in general are quite misleading. The reason that the African countries have such high numbers in the second column is certainly because they don't have such great number of cars as the European countries, for instance.


Justin Boden: this is your yellow card.

Apologias for the Confederacy during the US civil war are about as welcome on this blog as apologias for the perpetrators of the Anschluss and subsequent events.

Also: we're not terribly interested in the century-and-a-half old internal politics of one particular nation-state (the USA).

Please stop derailing the Room 101 stories. (Or else.)


I'd like to Room 101 all adverts with 'science' in them - a law stating that all scientific claims in adverts must be backed by a peer-reviewed paper would kick that one in the backside.


I know, I'm in a vanishing dinosaur minority.

I quite like ties. I like the look of a well tied* tie on a well tailored shirt. I like a nice siut too.

On the tiny occasions I get invited to formal dinners, etc, I like properly tied bow ties, dress shirts and dinner jackets.

Go figure.

I don't wear a tie most days in the office, but I will if I'm meeting more senior people from vendors, or visiting their offices - and always if it's in the Far East! but I generally wear a shirt and suit. It's not mandatory, many wear jeans, I just think it's scruffy.

I also enjoy the separation of changing out of the work clothes into Jeans, and a tee, in the evening, it draws a line under the work day and signals time for my rock musician persona to emerge :)

* I also hate that many people have little clue as to how to tie a nice symmetrical, shaped knot, can't get their tie to sit right in the collar, and make the whole tie waring thing just look horribly uncomfortable. But as someone observed above, it all has to do with how stuff fits. I've known very large blokes with very large necks look a million dollars in their tailored clothes.

Sorry if that makes me a pariah.


I like broccoli. And I adore brussel sprouts.

Windows is currently useful. Windows of old, maybe.

Google is working on the auto-car, so that one is probably going to be forced on society by insurance companies.

Manned space flight is at least, in some respects, fun to dream about.

That leaves neckties. I can't see anything wrong with getting rid of the neckties.



This morning's "A Point of View" by David Cannadine was all about them: "Why wear a tie?"


I don't think I have bough a tie during my entire life.
They are only for weddings and interviews.


The first five minutes of this video has an interesting interview with director Paul Feig (Bridesmaids; lots of TV episodes) about why he wears a suit and tie, and the amusing interactions he's had with studio executives based on how he was dressed.

Re ties and neck sizes: it is possible to get (non-tailor-made) dress shirts with larger neck sizes[*]; if you feel like the tie is strangling you, then the neck size of your shirt could well be too small.

(But, of course, if you don't need to wear a tie, and don't like the look, then there's no point in worrying about it.)

[*] Very large neck sizes are harder to find, and may require actual custom-made shirts, which are expensive.


I'd like to send my boss and management to Room 101. They're being pretty clueless recently and I suspect I'll need to find a new job.


Charlie, Civil war and Nazi apologists are excellent candidates for Room 101. (C'mon guys, get in the bus with Rick Santorum and the broccoli farmers.)

I'll just put the rats on a diet.


How about "The War of Southern Comfort"


Something else for 101 - whatever some Japanese fed me as as a joke when I was over there a few years ago. A cross between rotting cabbage and petrol.


"Sustainability" is my candidate for Room 101.

A term that has become distorted beyond all recognition since its introduction in the Brundtland Declaration to mean anything you'd like with regards to resources, environmental conditions, global warming or the other determinants of human societies persisting on Earth. Are you a manufacturer who wants to give a new product some green cred? Use "sustainable" in your advertising, even if you use mahogany flown from Indonesia in it. Want to give some vapid policy paper on electric vehicles a sense of fake urgency and importance? Make sure you've written "sustainable" or "sustainability" two or three times on each page. All of your readers will instantly forget that the actual issue is whether or not we can tolerate so many cars to begin with, and not that they are powered from an electric outlet, used oil from Burger King, atomic batteries or giant wind-up springs. Among words, it's turned into boiled, unseasoned Brussell sprouts for me.


> "Sustainability" , of course.


Add "Green" to that, especially when it actually means "Luddite"


Get rid of any notion of large scale renewable energy resources.

I have done the engineering of the mundane aspects of wind farm and solar array design (things like access and service roads, drainage ditches, utility easements and hook ups, etc.) - the things people usually don't think about when hey think about solar or wind energy.

Wind farms and solar arrays are not put in place magically by a wave of the eco-fairy's wand. They are constructed by guys wearing hard hats operating lots of heavy equipment. They are no different than any other commercial development, except for their size.

To get the same amount of energy out of a wind farm as you do from a coal burning plant that covers a most a half dozen acres (including the employee parking lot), the wind farm will have to cover tens of square miles (or dozens of square kilometers for non-Americans).

That is a huge amount of destroyed habitat to create in inefficient, costly and unreliable source of energy. Even ignoring the damage done to ecosystems by torn up habitats over tens of square miles, the cost of the land alone (either purchase or rental) - which never seems to be included in the cost projections - makes large scale renewable energy a fantasy.

For background information, see "Sustainable energy - Without the Hot Air" by Prof. David MacKay. He actually takes the time to do the math and crunch the numbers for renewable (applying them to the UK but the methods are the applicable anywhere).

The numbers don't add up.


End the war on drugs, and adopt the wise and successful policies of Portugal concerning drug use.

If America does not end the war on drugs, Mexico will become a failed state run by drug warlords. A bigger version of Somalia right on our southern border.


The numbers do add up for most of the Third and developing world. PV production is doubling every 2 years. If that continues for 8 more years annual production will support a total infrastructure of 10TW - half the world's existing generating capacity. And *still* more TVs are being made than PV panels.
Also, PV is predicted to be cheaper than mains in half the world's nations within 4 years. You think there's no shortage of labor in India, China, Africa and S America?


Charlie said:

6. Santa Claus. Who does not exist and is a lie told to children for the express reason of exploiting their youthful credulity and warping them towards a belief in invisible sky fairies. Not to mention cleaning their bedrooms.

I rather like Pratchett on this:

Though I will admit that lies to children has got somewhat out of hand.


They are constructed by guys wearing hard hats operating lots of heavy equipment. They are no different than any other commercial development, except for their size.

And? Why should this be a knockout argument when it isn't for any other technology?


Probably because he's assuming the future of solar is all about giant arrays in deserts feeding national grid infrastructures and competing with coal fired power stations, rather than several on the roof of every house where the sun shines.


Get rid of any notion of large scale renewable energy resources.

Can't argue with you there. I also work for an engineering firm that prepares permits for these kinds of projects. I come back to Tom Murphy, the UCSD professor who's the "Do the Math" guy mentioned in the post, saying: "continuing growth of our physical scale (energy) is not viable on a number of fronts—not the least of which is that Earth’s surface would reach the boiling point of water in a mere 400 years, based purely on thermodynamic arguments, and independent of which energy technology is employed". The trope that renewable energy isn't feasible is based on the assumption of continuing growth in terms of economic output, population and consumption of energy. The dark heart of "sustainability" is the implication of population crash and all of the unpleasantness associated with it.


A billion houses each with a 1kW peak array.
That's quite a market, and one that will saturate in less than 20 years.


"The trope that renewable energy isn't feasible is based on the assumption of continuing growth in terms of economic output, population and consumption of energy."

Which is obviously flawed.
I doubt the per capita use of energy globally much exceed that of the contemporary USA. Already much of the economy of "desirable things" is shifting towards information tech, and away from large lumps of metal.


PVs on roof tops or any other location are also inefficient and uneconomical.

First, they don't' last forever. Like batteries they wear out. Last time I checked the warranty for commercially available PVs was about 10 years, with significant degradation in power production before that. That means Joe Homeowner will have to make a significant capital improvement to his property every 5 to 10 years - something he won' be able to afford.

Second, modern PVs are constructed with toxic chemical and heavy metals that will present a serious hazwaste disposal problem when they wear out. (Same is true of EV car batteries, which are physically incapable of matching the energy density of gasoline or diesel).

Third PVs create DC, not the AC needed to light your home and run your appliances. So it has to be run through an inverter, resulting in a 60% reduction in overall system efficiency. Under these physical constraints, PVs simply cannot compete with standard electrical sources.

Aside from boutique applications in small regions and limited uses PVs make no sense as a major power source. If you calculate that your home and its location make the use pf PVs economical by all means use them. Most of us won't be able to.


Charlie Said:

2. [Neck-]ties

I have a fat neck; these bloody things require a collared shirt (which in turn adds about four layers of fabric) and some fiddly knots. End result: I sweat to death or feel as if I'm being strangled. And to what end? They look silly, they're expensive and hard to keep clean, and wearing one labels you instantly as a wage slave. Walk around and count how many people wear them other than because of a uniform or an occupational dress code. Then tell me they have any legitimate place on this planet.

God help me[1] I think this is quite interesting. And I think we could learn a lot from the Iranians.

Immediately post revolution their spokesmen and politicians never wore ties and looked, well, unprofessional because they were still wearing western shirts and suits. But over the the last few years you see something akin to Ripley's board meeting in Aliens. I dunno what you'd call it, a Nehru shirt to suit the Nehru jacket maybe?

I'm unsure if this make getting a large white long-haired cat compulsory.

[1]/. A purely cultural affectation of expression you understand...


According to what I've read, grid-tie inverters, which have phase-synchronized pure-sine output and thus exactly what the grid needs to get, have efficiencies of 94-96%. So where's this 60% reduction in overall efficiency coming from?

I'm willing to believe that such inverters are too expensive for mass use as of now. But I don't see any significant engineering problems with getting the price down to something reasonable; I expect economies of scale alone will do most of the work.


"Third PVs create DC, not the AC needed to light your home and run your appliances. So it has to be run through an inverter, resulting in a 60% reduction in overall system efficiency."

I don't know where you got that efficiency number but it's old tech. Consumer DC/AC converters for recreational use are relatively inefficient because they're made cheap and small. Commercial PWM DC/AC installations achieve efficiencies of 92% - 96% and are scalable to home use.
Many things can run directly from DC and would require no conversion.
That's not to say that home PV is a miracle technology, just that some of the old drawbacks are easily handled by well developed currently deployed solutions.


Plus, almost all the growth in energy use and tech is going to come from outside the First World. The USA and Western Europe are no longer the driving force in the world.


It's very odd, but I have an easier time thinking of things I wished existed than thinking of things I hate.

Then I read the list above and saw many people had got them bing on the head. But here are a few new ones, sort of.

1) Bicycle lanes in the door zone
(and how drivers expect you to stay there)
Because being doored can kill you.
(Car-centric design has been covered. I want to say drivers, but not all drivers are assholes).

2) Lack of labor regulation
or whatever it is that makes sweatshops possible,
let alone the kind of conditions found in an Amazon's warehouse in the midwestern US

3) Monopoly and near-monopoly and the kind of market leverage that gives companies
e.g. Walmart, Amazon.
. . . or maybe I mean capitalism. I need to learn more about economics.

4) Campaign fundraising in the US
and how it distorts an already creaky process, albeit in a time-honored way of the golden rule -- them that has the gold, makes the rules.

5) Education reformers in the US and elsehwere who claim poverty is not the problem and force teachers to teach to a test, thus encouraging cuts to arts programs, aggression against teacher's unions, and lack of respect for teaching as a profession.

6) Socks that grab at your calves
so as to leave dents.

7) Demeaning and cumbersome social services application processes
which result in people who need food stamps (to give an American example) not getting them.

8) The way journalists are encouraged to make up their mind before reporting and just go get quotes from people because the news cycle is so short
thus resulting in airheaded stories that encourage gullible people to agree with dumb things, and are brandished in fatuous arguments.

9) Amtrak (a a crappy American rail service)
Only to replace it with a train system with rational schedules where a ticket isn't more expensive than a plane ticket and that goes between Montreal and Boston.

10) The way some people treat secretaries and cleaners like furniture. (admission: I am a secretary).
Because it sucks to feel like furniture.


oh yes and
11) coal power stations

12) nuclear power stations


Your numbers and sources are off, to say the least.

Inverters are not 40% efficient; warranties do not mean it stops working when the warranty runs out; PV loses about 1% efficiency a year (not 1 percentage point, 1%).

Just off the top of my head.


I doubt that per capita use of energy globally much exceed that of the contemporary US.

Good thing too, since we're the world's energy hogs (speaking as an American). It's correct that per capita use probably will not increase - it's decreasing in the US. At the same time, the global population is not decreasing. Will we wring enough improvements out of energy production and consumption to offset the increasing numbers? That's going to be a race worth watching. There's worthwhile debate to be had about how much it consumes, however information tech is not energy-free. Neither are agriculture, water treatment, or heating and lighting of buildings. It's probably not that flawed.

I'm done here. I'm not looking for a yellow card.


Room 101 should also contain the modern Western big wedding, or rather all of the unreasonable expectations that have recently gone along with it. These celebrations have in some cases become bloated beyond belief. So complex that they can't possibly work as planned, guaranteeing disappointment. And the costs have spiraled as well. Productions that cross the complexity and style of a competitive parade float with the logistics of a military invasion are common. Why should a happy event try the patience, resourcefulness and pocket book of everyone involved. It's just wrong.
Why, in my day...


I have a weird suspicion that ties exist to hide buttons on a shirt
somebody way back , really hated buttons


>To get the same amount of energy out of a wind farm as you do from a coal burning plant that covers a most a half dozen acres (including the employee parking lot), the wind farm will have to cover tens of square miles (or dozens of square kilometers for non-Americans).

>That is a huge amount of destroyed habitat to create in inefficient, costly and unreliable source of energy. Even ignoring the damage done to ecosystems by torn up habitats over tens of square miles, the cost of the land alone (either purchase or rental) - which never seems to be included in the cost projections - makes large scale renewable energy a fantasy.

I've driven from Bratislava to Vienna and back a number of times. The entire area is covered with gigantic windmills dotted around what looks like ordinary farmland. No torn up habitats, devestated ecosystems, nor are tere any additional acess roads, drainage ditches or whatever. In fact hey look exceptionally well suited to the environment.

So I'm guessing that you're doing it wrong.


Yes! Let's all freeze/overheat/dry/starve to death. It will be so !fun!.


(Wind farms) "That is a huge amount of destroyed habitat to create in inefficient, costly and unreliable source of energy. Even ignoring the damage done to ecosystems by torn up habitats"

You've obviously never been through coal mining country. Appalachia would probably rather have mountaintops with windmills on them than no mountaintops and polluted streams. Nothing compares to coal for environmental devastation.


Same here. I work in a university library, where there is basically no dress code (one circulation clerk wears sleeveless vests to show off his tatoos). But 9 months of the year I wear a suit and tie. I have something like 40 ties and 25 different dress shirts. I like standing out and looking different from everyone else.

I think casualness has reached the point in many work places were not wearing a suit and tie is the "uniform". I've been plenty of places where pretty much everyone has on some variety of chino pant and a polo shirt or button up checked shirt.


As a father of 4, I must object - "Santa Claus" most certainly exists. I should know, he costs me a great deal of money and time, yearly.

Hear me out.

"Santa Claus" is not a person. Santa is a distributed process. It is a job, like "the garbage man". This role is filled by one or more people at various times for various reasons. It's convenient to treat the job as a single entity for most conversations, because saying "the group of people who have occasion to fulfill the Santa-Claus role as per tradition for their locality at a particular place and time" is slightly cumbersome.

It always amuses me to see people deny Santa, despite proof (albiet indirect) under the tree yearly; in this respect, Santa (and the Easter Bunny and a few others) are distinctly more "real" than many other supernatural entities some may believe in...


Wait, Santa Claus doesn't exist? You mean Neil Gaiman made up all that stuff about old Nicholas wanting to die and the Arctic dwarves with their twittering tongue and incomprehensible rituals? Son of a bitch :(


My nominees for Room 101:

1) infotainment/reality TV presented as though it's how real people behave and/or should behave

2) that it's okay to bully but unacceptable to help (because then you're 'butting in' or 'ratting out')

3) marginalization of science education and that all scientists are physically/socially/managerially inept (especially by universities -- who pay their football coaches much, much more than their faculty)

4) tax-exempt status for 'religions/religious institutions' (If you're really a Not-for-profit then do some 'good works' for the community-at-large; and no, your chauffeur-driven limo and Saturday night bingo don't count.)

5) telemarketers (I'm okay with telephone surveys/polls)

6) that deductive reasoning - so-called `logic` - (often based on unverified assumptions/premises) trumps data (evidence) often associated with the belief that every buffoon is entitled not only to have his say, but to the same amount of air-time as everyone else all-together

7) the 1994-95 OJ Simpson jury selection process (``peers`` does not mean the lowest common denominator or bottom quintile)

8) the notion that creativity/artistry is age-related (That after Einstein hit 40 he was useless because he didn`t come-up with any other theories, and keeping generations of physicists busy doesn`t count. Same with Da Vinci, Newton, etc.)

9) `DNA`(handwavium) references in consumer health-and-beauty products


My spidey sense is picking up a sockpuppet of the banned Black Pope


People who decry cars rather than the stupid design of places that _require_ car ownership. When motor vehicles are a hobby not a necessity they aren't a problem. Well, okay, they can be a problem but that's one of the things you negotiate with your spouse before marriage.

People who do not understand that 'I work from home' does not mean that I am free to do what ever piddly little thing they can't do because they have to 'go to work'.

Little dogs that are permitted to think that they are children rather than dogs.

No self-service permitted gas stations. (Ahem, Oregon.)

Self-service shoe stores.


Funny, that.


It's quite straightforward to cut a placket for a shirt that hides the buttons neatly. Mostly seen on clergy, though.


Unapproved, pending Charlie's actions. In case anyone wondered what happened to it.


Re-published, for amusement value.

When he stops being amusing, he's gone.


" the 1994-95 OJ Simpson jury selection process (``peers`` does not mean the lowest common denominator or bottom quintile)"

I saw some of the OJ trial, specifically the bit where the detective (Furman IIRC) was asked whether he had fabricated evidence against OJ. He took the 5th ie "I do not wish to answer on the grounds that I may incriminate myself".
Since his evidence was crucial, and bearing in mind that one is obliged to find someone innocent if there is "reasonable doubt", I too would have voted "innocent" if I was on the jury. A policeman who refuses to say that he did not fabricate critical evidence IMHO constitutes "reasonable doubt"


I have a fat neck; these bloody things require a collared shirt (which in turn adds about four layers of fabric) and some fiddly knots. End result: I sweat to death or feel as if I'm being strangled.

Sir, these are your issues stemming from your own personal history.

I'm your age, but athletic, a triathlete and perfectly well capable of enduring freezing temperatures in a tailored suit and a silk shirt.

The necktie is not that important, but it looks good. And you should see my fellow gun owners, when I turn up at an outdoor range dressed like that, while it's snowing and chilly and start demolishing the pop-up targets with my .223 carbine.. (SU-16d for those interested)


Self-driving cars is a recurring trope. Despite DARPA and Google and their press releases, the state of the art is very much pre-alpha. Also, they're attacking the problem from the wrong end. If you put all the smarts in individual vehicles, you're still limited to reactive algorithms. A better system would be to network all the vehicles together, plus the street cams common in some areas, and put all the vehicles under an area controller run by some government authority. Such a system could "see" vehicles and pedestrians in blind spots, at least sometimes, and manage traffic before handing it off to the next controller or back to manual.

The biggest problem, though, is liability. You're propped behind the wheel of the Family Truckster, i-Pilot is engaged, and you're reading USA Today when there's a loud noise and you're battered by the air bags. Your car just ran into another vehicle, then a couple of pedestrians.

Who is at fault?

You? The car company? The company that subcontracted the software? All of the above? And you're *really* willing to put your life into the hands of some code jockey in Stuttgart or Detroit? When you might personally be subject to confinement or prison?

There's also the social problem. Once asshole drivers and gangbangers figure out an automatically-driven vehicle will have to yield to avoid a collision, there are endless opportunities for messing about with people, from simply cutting them off in traffic to herding them to a quiet location for carjacking.


I'd prefer an HK416


Yes, that's a more sensible way of doing it, but it has a "build it and they will come" investment model. Self-driving" cars have the advantage of requiring no more municipal investment than people-driven cars. They also don't preclude building that kind of functionality later, once there's a critical mass of cars to use it - the lessons of the growth of the Internet have been well learned. ",)


Wind farms and solar arrays are not put in place magically by a wave of the eco-fairy's wand. They are constructed by guys wearing hard hats operating lots of heavy equipment. They are no different than any other commercial development, except for their size.

This is a design issue, not a technology issue. Solar and wind farms are asymmetrically scalable in ways coal plants aren't. For a coal or oil plant to work it has to cover X acres and requires all the aforementioned support infrastructure. Solar and wind farms can be distributed across an area that preserves the environment in which it's built. It's just lazy design thinking that plops them down in a cluster array.*

And the benefit of solar and wind tech is that it scales down as well. A single windmill in your backyard or set of PV panels on your roof will still generate usable electricity with no environmental impact, unlike an oil-burning generator of the same size.

Advances in technology will only improve these benefits whereas there's no way to make coal burn cleanly.

* Though in the case of solar farms built in deserts, studies have shown that the shade underneath the panels actually creates micro-climates that benefit local flora and fauna.


Your 95% efficiency refers to PEAK efficiency which can change greatly with voltage.

And while grid-tie inverters may be scalable for home use, AFAIK there are none on the market.

My point is that PV applications should be viewed as whole systems, not just the latest breakthrough in individual cell technology.


By spreading out your arrays and wind farms over larger areas you just increased your land costs associated with the system construction - making it even less competitive with other energy sources.

Usable energy is not the same thing as competitive energy.


Also note that the inverters will be drawing power from batteries that were charged by the PVs when the sun was shining. These inefficiencies are typically in the 50% range or lower.

Again, you have to look at the whole system not just the PVs themselves.


Size equals more land required.

Which equals more costs.

Which makes it uncompetitive and uneconomical.


What does a shortage of labor have to do with the cost of PVs?


Desertec - a white elephant boondoggle designed by people who have never heard of voltage losses over long distance power lines.


How much will a 1kW peak array cost Joe Homeowner compared to traditional sources of electricity?


By spreading out your arrays and wind farms over larger areas you just increased your land costs associated with the system construction - making it even less competitive with other energy sources.

Only if it's single-purpose use land. As someone mentioned above, and as I've also seen here in the US, you build the windmills across farmland. Access roads are already taken care of and the cows don't mind windmills over their heads.

And even if it costs as much or more to build solar/wind farms, they have less overhead costs when it comes to maintenance and personnel and the added benefit of not throwing gigatons of carbon into the atmosphere.


I would like to remove to Room 101 under-edited books by famous authors.

The light editing touch applied to works by authors with delicate egos and some success produces streeeeetched out plodding ungainly books. Gah. The full baggy versions which show all research and asides can stay in MS form for researchers and avid fans to seek out.

All hail the editor's red pen.

(This is not a problem with OGH's works.)


Also throw away any economic, political, military technological or financial concept based on the assumption of increasing population.

Everybody's birth rate has fallen (including Hispanics and Muslims - France has a higher birth rate than Iran or Algeria).

Every population will get gray in the first half of this century and decline (or plummet) in the second half.

None of our old assumptions apply in such a situation.


Not all home PV systems have batteries. Most (around here) don't, in fact.

You really do not know as much as you think you do.


I was fortunate enough to get jobs that did not require me to wear a tie, and haven't worn one for about forty years. I refuse to willingly wear a noose around my neck. I mean all an enemy has to do is grab the damn thing and pull, and that's me done for.


A better system would be to network all the vehicles together, plus the street cams common in some areas, and put all the vehicles under an area controller run by some government authority.

I'll add two more things for room 101.

1. A belief that large scale complicated multiple (1000s, 10000s, etc...) separate devices with separate "goals", while hard to do, can be implemented by applying a bit more elbow grease. The computing landscape is littered with failures in this area. Or reduced successes after vast cost overruns. Directly to the point of autonomous cars look at how hard it is to scale up automated luggage transfer systems at large airports. Especially when compared to having live meat haul it around.

2. A belief that large projects and/or system will automatically work better if run by the government. Sometimes it will be. Sometimes not. But this is a complicated question with many more variables than knowns. It requires assigning value relations ships between things such as social effects, profit vs bureaucratic incentives, etc...

As to the specifics of self driving cars, I much prefer the failure modes of a system where each car can operate without "master control". I don't mind a centralized data source that cars can use to optimized operation but have no interest in a system where a router failure has 10000 only semi smart cars in the immediate area trying to go into safe mode during rush hour at 70 mph.


Somewhat off topic some bounce it if desired.

the 1994-95 OJ Simpson jury selection process (``peers`` does not mean the lowest common denominator or bottom quintile)

My wife spent over 15 years working in a reservations call center for a major US based airline. During that time there were, for all practical purposes, only two times where there was no one "on the phones". One of those times was when the OJ verdict was read. I can't remember the other but the OJ event was the longer of the two. And this call center takes calls from businesses and consumers.


Pan browned brussel sprouts for two:

Take half a pound of brussel sprouts. Rinse, perhaps peel outer layer, cut in half along the stem (so they hold together).

Slice up 2 cloves of garlic.

Heat some butter and olive oil in a frying pan.

Add garlic, let it brown slightly, remove it.

Put brussel sprouts in the oil cut face down. Cook until the cut face is browned.

Roll them over and cook until soft (depends on the size).

Put the garlic back in the pan with some pine, or other, nuts (can skip this, but it is better with it).

Salt & pepper.

I've served that to half a dozen people who dislike brussel sprouts. All but one liked them.


"6. Santa Claus. Who does not exist and is a lie told to children for the express reason of exploiting their youthful credulity and warping them towards a belief in invisible sky fairies. Not to mention cleaning their bedrooms."

Now, while I agree fully with you on this one Charlie (and all manner of other lies to children)...

The wife does not. The wife feels these things are important and special, and ought to be a part of every child's little world. Really, REALLY feels so. And the wife waxed wroth, yea and verily, when I answered the 7-year-old's question "daddy, are there really fairies?" in a completely honest fashion (because she asked it with the emphasis on "really", thus causing me to think that she had figured it out for herself and was looking for adult confirmation of the game. And I was a little distracted with something else, so I took her completely on face value. Oopsy). So much so that I was very nearly waxed.

In other words, easy for you without kids to say :P

So, on the one hand, we have an important principle and a need to rid the world of harmful lies and fantasies, and then on the other we have self-preservation. I would very much lke to hear from anyone who can find a way to bring the twain together :)


I've never really worked out why people get worked up about efficiencies when renewable is concerned. You aren't paying for the sunlight, the question isn't how much you waste, but what the cost per watt is.

Now we are already below the $3 per watt level which is considered to be where breakeven happens - and in fact the main costs are red tape/manpower based, rather than technology. They can be changed politically.

The finance based viewpoint however ignores the resilience wins of Solar PV, which are significant if the red tape would get out of the way.

I much prefer the failure modes of a system where each car can operate without "master control".

Any intelligently designed distributed system must be able to operate if the communication medium between nodes fails, or if any particular node fails (see the design requirements for the Jini distributed communication system for a very good explanation of this requirement and how to solve it). But just because that's the right way to do it doesn't mean that engineers will do it that way. Case in point: cars with many microprocessors that don't have a "limp-home" capability that allows them to operate well enough to get to the garage when the processors fail.

I don't think that the failure of so many software systems indicates much about what's practical; it just tells us that software development management is still in the cave era.


You have some Brassicaceae fans on here. I was chowing down on some delicious raw kale when I started reading this thread...


And I just misses the chance to drive my sports car to Mojave and order a space flight this weekend. Ah well. Always next weekend. Have to drive it 60 km to new work tomorrow across a large bay with no transit but ferries.

Dirk, isn't the 416 banned there, or are you officially affiliated again?


If they don't have batteries they serve as mere adjuncts to the existing power grid, not as a replacement.

You'll still need dirty coal burning plants.

But now you also added the unnecessary expense of a rooftop PV array and inverter.


Governments who appoint science advisors and then completely ignore them when their recommendations don't match with what the government wanted to do in the first place. If you're going to ignore them, save the taxpayer some cash, and don't patronise us by having them.


David Mackay's point in "Sustainable Energy Without the Hot Air" wasn't that renewables can't provide enough power, but that you have to reduce energy use and use a spectrum of different technologies to provide a robust energy mix. Either way, living near some wind turbines is far more preferable to living next to a coal plant that pumps out particulates and radioactive particles like there's no tomorrow.


Sorry, wasn't trying to be obnoxious. Consider the subject dropped indefinitely.


Whilst I agree with this, why not save us time by banning all politicians? Or can you find a government that after say 2 years has never ignored the advice of its scientific advisors in preference for a political stance?

And I'm just curious why you didn't expand it to include all forms of expert recommendation - judicial reviews and enquiries for example?



This is the Room 101 thread, folks.

The bickering over coal/nuclear/solar energy is off-topic and derailing.

So is the stuff about the pros and cons of automotive design.

Not cool.

What are your Room 101 subjects, again?


"A belief that large projects and/or system will automatically work better if run by the government."

Also, people who believe that private enterprise will automatically work better than government run systems. As David L observed, each has its uses.


New entries - people who read "solar power" and say "Photo-voltaic cells! Elebentee!!" You can extract solar power as stored hot water for base-loading a domestic Hot Water System (both for domestic washing and a hot water Central Heating System) as well. It even makes more sense in temperate areas (include coastal NorCal, and pretty much anywhere else you like where the typical peak daytime temperature is no higher than mid-80sF or mid 20sC).

"Sizzle plates for steaks" - I ordered a "rare steak" because that's how I like them. I did NOT order my steak "rare for the first two bites, getting better done until the last 4 bites are well done!"

(2) - As others, there's a lot in how you cook brassicae, you don't have to eat them, any moderately considerate friend/relative should consider an active dislike in menu planning, and any even moderately competent food service establishment should respond positively to a request of "could I have that with, say, lettuce rather than rocket please?"


Fair point, although I think in the end, i'd probably open the whole category up to "People in authority who wont admit that the course of action they are taking is ineffective or harmful, despite solid evidence that they are wrong"

Other Room 101 Candidates:

People whose job it is to make people dissatisfied and unhappy with their lives in order to profit i.e marketers and advertising agencies.

The Mini Countryman. It is no longer mini, it's not even ironic, its just a great big car, with a vague resemblance to a 60s classic.


I have to disagree with the brassica, a good cauliflower and broccoli cheese dish, roasted kale or stir fried spring greens with garlic and soy sauce are all pretty amazing. Also have to disagree with the ties thing but with the caveat that you should never ever have to wear a tie in temperature range lying above a balmy day. I'm in full agreement about the cars thing too, especially if you could have a system of self driving cars where I don't need to own one of the blooming things either.

My own submission to Room 101 would be:

The following style of help threads on any help forums.

Dated: 29/09/2008

I have a problem that matches exactly that you just spent 20 hours googling for a solution to, and this is the only result that comes up related to it, and I have to specify, it is an EXACT match. Can anyone solve my problem

Person I hate from the pit of my blackened soul

Dated: 30/09/2008
Don't worry I solved it!

End of thread.

Almost having a cardiac arrest just from the frustation creating the post.


The Mini Countryman. It is no longer mini, it's not even ironic, its just a great big car, with a vague resemblance to a 60s classic.

It's more like a Maxi really. I saw one recently parked next to a Vauxhall Omega, and the BAXI was taller and wider than the "big car".


Room 101:

* "click to focus" & "raise window when mouse is in it"

* not having raise & lower windows AT ALL WTF?

* web pages about some piece of software that tell you
that the documentation is here, the FAQ is there, it's
easy to use, it is cheap/cost-effective/will-make-money,
there's a vibrant user culture ...


* ads that move or change colour or hide content or make
any noise without I have given explicit permission.


Panels are already manufactured well below $1/W.
One of the figures I have seen for thin film suggest 70c/W


Something for room 101.
Governments who do not allow evidence to dictate policy. For example, they pay scientists to look at a problem, then ignore their finding because it goes against their ideology.


Santa Claus is fun! Especially when you have two (under the age of 10) children capable of employing logic with the finesse of a surgeon and the relentlessness of an artillery barrage. My eldest has pretty much worked out that Santa doesn't exist, but doesn't want to say so just in case the presents stop turning up; and my youngest just gives my wife and I a look that says "I know what you're up to, you're not fooling me, and I shall now pepper you with questions that had better have answers that MAKE SOME SENSE!" I like to think that we're training them to deal with the "sky fairy" scenario, rather than remove it from their experience altogether (the youngest has already turned the bright flame of logic on the whole God-question).

As for room 101, I would like to consign therein the trend (and yes, I realise that it is hardly a new trend) to polarize every debate, to deny every shade of grey, to champion the "you're either with us or against us" mentality, and all the other permutations of this behaviour that make us incapable of seeing anyone else's point of view and drive us to demonize whom ever disagrees with us in the smallest degree (example: climate change, you're either a warmist or a denier -- quick, burn the heretics!)


OK ... so I'm with you on the (neck) ties. Never liked wearing the damn things (My wife says I'm like a puppy in its first collar when I have to wear one!).

The whole Sport thing. Oh yes please. If I could set options for News I'd switch sports off in a heartbeat. Through 'Fashion' & minor celeb gossip in there too! Yawnsville Arizona!

For my own items, I would like to throw in:-
Rude & Discourteous Behaviour: I've stepped back from throwing the rude and discourteous people in, as that seems a bit harsh if I can just stop 'em doing it. This should include, but not be limited to, when people are driving and would therefore have people more inclined to let folks into the traffic stream, observe sensible lane discipline, etc.

No I know His Charlieness has a downer on cars in general, but I loves 'em, and would be happier still if people didn't act like complete jerks as soon as the car door shuts and the start up their (*ahem*) SUV!

Anything That Doesn't Work As Advertised: The despair and disappointment of buying some new gadget and discovering that the damned thing doesn't work when I turn it on! Apparently I'm supposed to be an expert in the settings and configuration of every-bloody-device and it is impossible to just get things to work first time!

... and on the back of that ...

Support Lines That Suck: Why (oh why oh why oh why) is calling a support line ALWAYS such a pain. They are seldom if ever honest about problems and make you jump through hoops for half an hour before 'checking for faults in your area' and discovering there has been a known fault for 3 months! AAARRRGGHHHHH! (Yes Virgin Media, I'm looking at you!)


Rude & Discourteous Behaviour: I've stepped back from throwing the rude and discourteous people in, as that seems a bit harsh if I can just stop 'em doing it. This should include, but not be limited to, when people are driving and would therefore have people more inclined to let folks into the traffic stream, observe sensible lane discipline, etc.

Surely "letting people into a moving traffic flow" is actually more rude than not doing so? After all, if the person in the side road needs "let in", you will force a significant number of people behind you to slow down or stop in order to convenience one person.


Re no.1
I also don't like the taste of cauliflower etc, but some of it does look cool


2) Ties

I regularly wear a tie out of choice, so I guess it's time to ship off to that space-colony :)

I've always worked at jeans-and-tshirt companies, so I don't have that suit-stigma.

I regularly dress up for clubbing, and suiting up for social events kinda stuck...
I've got quite a collection of ties now, and it'd be a shame to not wear them :P

I do notice people's tie-knots nowadays - a super-detective could probably tell a lot about someone from their knot-usage :)


"The greatest movie ever!"


Paws said "Surely "letting people into a moving traffic flow" is actually more rude than not doing so? After all, if the person in the side road needs "let in", you will force a significant number of people behind you to slow down or stop in order to convenience one person."

I tend to try and minimise disruption, for example, if it's a long slow moving queue I'll let someone in, and this really doesn't inconvenience anyone. If I'm at the end of a queue, or near the end, then it makes more sense for the person to wait for a natural gap in the traffic.

I also will also let someone waiting to turn right (I'm in the UK) cross my traffic stream if they're holding up the people going the other way.

I tend to move left on dual carriage ways and motorways as traffic allows. If someone comes up behind me I will endeavour to find a suitable place where I can move over the let them pass. I always try and keep an eye out for motorcyclists and similarly leave them space to pass.

I try and afford others the same courtesy I would wish them to afford me, and not just when I'm driving. I'll hold doors for people, I watch where I stop with my supermarket trolley so as not to block other people's access. I try not to get in people's way when walking about town.


Generally; you actually think about it so kudos for that, and I do the same. My pet hate is the number of people who take "let people out of side turnings" to mean "stop dead from 50mph with 10 others behind them to allow one vehicle out of the turning".


Members of the M1 centre lane owners club


My candidate for Room 101 is textual literalists of any sort. Here in the US we have the strange confluence of biblical and US constitutional literalists. There are a whole collection of values that get dragged along with the belief that some text or another admits of only one meaning. The most pernicious is the notion that the text is inerrant.

Most Americans who go to church believe at some level or another that the bible is inerrant. This attitude has filtered out into our culture and gives us the people who think the US constitution is inerrant. No, it is the product of compromise between a group of men with very different values and goals.

I think this belief in literalism and inerrancy is a poison to our culture.

One of the really useful aspects of the Clarion experience is to sit in a room with twenty other people and discover how differently you interpret and experience the same text.


I should have been more specific: I meant that the jury was selected on the basis of not having any science education beyond grade 9.

While I agree with your comment re: the cop's testimony however (I think) that there was substantial other evidence that would have yielded a different verdict if the jury had included a broader cross-section of the population.


I've got a few more nominees for storage in Room 101.

Software developers who can't be bothered learning about the history and prior art of their field, and are constantly coming up with "THE NEXT BIG THING" that's less useful than the last one. So every time a programming language or set of tools becomes mature, somebody comes along to say that it's obsolete and should be replaced by something new that reflects the state of the art of 2 generations before.

People whose concept of democracy is that the electorate should consist only of people who agree with them.

Marketing when used as a way to sell addiction, especially to children who have no experience or knowledge with which to counter it.

Quantitative measurement as the sole criterion for evaluating societal goals. Being able to measure things is useful, insisting that only things you can measure quantitatively are valuable is insane.


Of the three major belief systems, God, space aliens, and Santa Claus, I choose to believe in Santa.


"While I agree with your comment re: the cop's testimony however (I think) that there was substantial other evidence that would have yielded a different verdict if the jury had included a broader cross-section of the population."

Perhaps, but if the jury had included me it would not have panned out differently. When the lead police officer on the case refuses to deny he had fabricated evidence then that's the end as far as I'm concerned.

Is there "reasonable doubt" when that happens? IMHO vastly more than is necessary for an acquittal. I might think OJ did it, but the law says that it must be proved beyond reasonable doubt. Not on balance of probability.


This is what Santa is for, I think - learning to not believe in Santa is practice for learning to not believe in god. I'm amazed the churches don't discourage it more. Also terribly, terribly convenient for parents, of course.

For room 101 - the "Neoliberal Consensus". I don't remember signing up; I expect there must have been one of those "uncheck this box to opt out" things I overlooked somewhere (and there's another candidate).


sprouts have been on the list of 'things to eradicate once i get this here time machine sorted out'
room 101 works also.
An addition of my own: shiny letterbox screens on laptops.. i know what i look like and don't need to look up my nose when i use the better-ninety-percent's* new lappy.

* it's a fair ratio


we call it the Frankenmini :)


For a moment I thought you wrote "...the bile is inerrant." I think I prefer my illusions to your actual text, (which is, by the way, inerrant.)


#209 - Can we make that just "letterbox VDUs"? They have no known use in computing other than playing wide-screen DVDs!

#210 - I like the name! :-D When the rally car was launched they sat it next to a (real) Mini Cooper and my reaction to the BAXI Countrymen WRC was "who ate all the pies, and the bridies, and the burgers, and drank all the Bovril?" (Scottish sports joke)


lubin @ 155
Shape is often at least partially genetically determined.
I'm naturally "thin" - to the point where I have virtually no hip-bones to hang trousers on ...
At age 66, height 1.79 m, I only mass ~ 83kg, waist 0.86m (86 cm)
OK I "exercise" (no I don't DO "sport" nor do I go to any gym), but even when I didn't my weight was never above 86kg .....

Oh, and please keep your gun fanatsies to your self?

Jeff @ 174
Like I said a long way back up-thread...
DON'T let Brussels sprouts anywhere NEAR water, when cooking!
I slice and stri-fry them with Chinese sauces ...

andyet @ 180
You'll still need dirty coal burning plants.

You will need clean nuclear ones!

Stuart in Austin @ 203
This was one of the many reasons the CCCP was such a nightmare ...
They had a "holy" inerrant set of texts, which could be used to justify almoist any atrocity.
Yet another example of communism showing that it is a religion.
Actually, when you re-run that past, it makes current US politics even scarier ....

Maxi/Mini cars
As wide as my Land-Rover.
( I kid you not! )


Ummm? Why are cinema screens letterbox-shaped, or even more stretched out (21:9) than the 16:9 ratio commonly described as such?

Well, one reason is that that shape fits the human visual field quite well. The old-fashioned 4:3 ratio screen is a holdover from the days of CRTs which were difficult to make in any shape not close to 1:1 -- indeed early CRTs were circular, basically bottle-shaped to avoid mechanical strains because of the pressure differential between the enclosed vacuum and atmosphere outside. Making letterbox-shaped CRTs required much thicker glass to cope with the deformation and possible shattering of the envelope by that continuous strain hence they were not popular or cost-effective. As widescreen CRTs got larger the worse the weight penalty and manufacturing cost became.

Now that LCDs are ubiquitious they can be any shape the manufacturers decide on and people find letterbox ratios pleasing to the eye with them able to see more data on the screen in a way that is easy to use. Some folks with decades of exposure to 4:3 ratio screens believe that that ratio is an ergonomic law of nature instead of being the result of a limit imposed by manufacturing capability.


Other people with decades of exposure to 4:3 screens state that they allow us to see all the width of text display we need, and more depth. You know what, until we switch from portrait to landscape format for hard copy publishing, we'll be right.

I do way more text processing on computers (and reading things that are intended for ultimate pring publishing in portrait format) than I do watching video.

I have and like a 16:9 Tv set, which I do way more watching video on than displaying text. When I do display text on it, the text has been formatted for 16:9 landscape displays as a rule.


There is nothing stopping you reading text in 4:3 windows or even portrait 3:4 windows on a 16:9 format screen. If you feel really unnerved by the extra real estate you could buy a little set of curtains like cinemas have when they switch from one projection format to another and fit them to the sides of your screen(s); when reading text the curtains would block off the bits at the side you find objectionable or distracting and when you want to watch a widescreen video or whatever you could open the curtains again. In my case the sides of my 16:9 screen show me icons, gadgets, overlapped windows and such. I can glance over to check them when and if I need to. With a 4:3 display I'd have to switch the top window around to see what's beneath it.

OTOH pictures such as panoramas, videos etc. all look squashed on 4:3 ratio screens or they have large black bars at top and bottom which waste pixels and add nothing to the viewing experience. The 4:3 ratio screen is an artefact of the glassblowing industry as applied to display technology and should be consigned to the glass-recycling bin of history in my opinion.


You're really determined to ignore the fact that displays aren't getting physically wider, but getting shallower, aren't you? Please check the pixel counts rather than the nominal display ratios!


The first PC computer screen I ever bought that wasn't a TV was a 4:3 ratio colour CRT. It boasted a mind-boggling interlaced 1024 x 768 pixels on a 14" diagonal. Ah, sheer luxury!

The screen I'm looking at right now is a 27" S-IPS 16:9 ratio Dell U2711 with a resolution of 2560 x 1440 pixels or about five times the pixel count of my first 4:3 ratio triumph of the glassblower's art PC monitor. I don't know what pixel counts the best 4:3 ratio screens have; the new 4:3 10" screen rumoured to be in production for the next iPad is supposed to be 2048 x 1536 but it's not particularly useful for desktop work. I think the best 4:3 desktop LCD you'll find is 20" at 1600x1200 or about half the number of pixels on my 16:9 monitor, and shallower at that (1200 pixels versus 1440).


I do software development on a laptop connected to an external 23 inch 1920x1080 (that is, 1080p HD video resolution) LCD display. This lets me spread an Xcode (Apple's IDE) or AppCode (IntelliJ Objective-C IDE) window across the entire external display. I can open several source code text panes, a file navigation sidebar, a class hierarchy navigation sidebar, and a debugging window simultaneously while running the windows of the program being debugged on the laptop's internal display. That lets me debug and modify code a lot faster than if I had to switch back and forth between panes, which I would on a 4:3 aspect ratio display. No way I'd go back to using a 4:3 display.


A Candidate for room 101:

"Rugged Individualism" that peculiarly American myth that all you need to thrive as a successful modern 21st century human is a shotgun, a hatchet and 40 acres of wilderness and that anything else is a symptom of effete liberal intellectualism, and any assistance for anything at all is the evil of Big Government trying to take away your Freedom. Never mind that "Rugged Individualism" is a euphemism for the crackpot loner who lives in a cabin because he's hiding form mind rays/demons. That an entire political party in the US has decided that the Unibomber is the representative of their constituency should scare the bejesus out of everyone.

Please, make it go away.


Impact as a verb.


I always want to ask these guys, "Who manufactured the shotgun? Who loaded the shells? Who smelted the ore and forged the head of the hatchet?". But it's not really worth the 2 hour argument that follows, about how much of technological civilization can be recreated by one man (yep, it's almost always a man) in one lifetime.

Personally, I see these people as a great opportunity to get rich selling aluminum foil hats.


The first PC computer screen I ever bought that wasn't a TV was a 4:3 ratio colour CRT. It boasted a mind-boggling interlaced 1024 x 768 pixels on a 14" diagonal.


Back in the day of real computers size was measured in columns and rows. Anything over 80x24 was a real treat.

But most software never used past 80 as that's what all the punched cards used. Except for that odd ball System/3.


Room 101

Advice from people who do not have any kids and do not plan to do so.

Once you are "in the trenches" you discover that most advice from the "unchilded" is, well, foolish. Most parents discover that their ideas about child rearing before they had their first were, well, so much nonsense.

And in close pursuit is advice from people with one child or multiple but all with similar personalities who think they have figured out the ONE TRUE WAY of dealing with children.

My kids obviously, if you get to know us, got their personalities from me and my wife. But they got very different pieces from each of us. It would be hard to imagine they are siblings without a DNA test if all you did was observe their behaviors.


Another room 101 candidate:

"Punk" -- It's 2012, nothing is punk anymore, especially you. Things that never were punk: librarians, politicians, reporters, genres of fiction, most musicians after 1980 and steam. (No matter how many gears you add to top hats). It was a superficial fashion in the 70s and like most fashion statements from that decade, should be forgotten, quickly.


following up on David L @ 223 & others further up-line.
Ah yes!
"Bottled Fortran"
( The waste-skip of "chads" punched out of the cards you'd coded )
I remember it well, along with the IBM 360-series that used said input.
oh dear.


Which argument, stripped of all the irrelevant statistics, amounts to "16:9s are better because no-one is prepared to make a 4:3 with the same horizontal pixel count." Surely you can see why that argument's specious?

Bruce @219 - Apply the same argument and ask yourself how much more code you could display and work with if the same width screen was about 25% deeper.


It was a superficial fashion in the 70s

Disagree. But then, you're American, right? It was rather more significant on this side of the pond, especially musically.


My first "computer" was an ASR/33 teletype connected to one of the site's mainframes. I didn't get to use a 80x24 VDU until several years later while studying CompSci in the mid-70s.

How old did you say you were?


57. My first computer usage was on an IBM 1130 at a school in the fall of 72. Punched cards, huge line printer, 8 or 16 Kbytes of Core Ram. .5MB removable cartridge disk drive.

It had a selectric based console but it wasn't use all that much except for JCL and the odd quick data entry. And the nifty APL interpreter. But you had to change the type ball to use it. :)


Yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, and YES!

I have a close relative who has a number of years experience in Occupational Therapy, in particular working with children, and considers that this makes her an expert on kids. Though for some reason she is still hesitant about having my two bundles of joy round for sleepovers more than once a year.

I would also bin the assumption of many (childed and un-childed) that children are somehow just "little adults", and can be treated and expected to behave like adults. What utter nonsense.


And you're *really* willing to put your life into the hands of some code jockey in Stuttgart or Detroit?

Surely the code jockey will be sat in a sub-contractor sweatshop somewhere in Shenzhen or Mumbai.

Also if the whole system relies on wireless connectivity between all the vehicles, and TraficNet(TM) then just wait for the Eco-terrorist to park a van just off Piccadilly Circus at rush hour with a broad-spectrum jammer, wait for an opportune moment and press TRANSMIT


Trying children as adults...bin it!


Young children are not young adults, they are animals.
They need patience and lots of training


Just get a 16:9 monitor and rotate it to portrait. Someone somewhere probably makes one already.


My experience is, that until they learn not to be, children are borderline sociopaths (and not on the neuro-typical side of the border).


I may then finish up with a monitor that is too narrow to deal with toolbars (or ribbons).

Fact - The only people I've ever heard complain about "my monitor is too narrow" are all in this thread; they're outnumbered at least 10 times over by people who've complained that "my monitor is too shallow/has huge sidebars in $word_processor" and/or "my laptop screen is unnecessarily wide".


Rather difficult to do with laptops. (",)
This is one reason I use ultraportables; their screens have sensible aspect ratios.


This monitor (1920 x 1200 so actually 16:10) rotates through 90 degrees should I so wish. It's a Dell, several years old by now.

I'd been waiting for 1600 x 1200 LCDs to come through, because it didn't make sense to do an upgrade from my last CRT until the actual resolution was appreciably better than 1280 x 1024. Then this one came out, with an extra 320 pixels horizontally over my requirements. When I rotate it, it's still almost as wide as that CRT was, so only programmes written with the assumption of modern wide screens won't fit across.

What gets me is not wide-screen monitors, but programmes that have no ability to use that extra width. Microsoft's desire for fat ribbons at the top can only be explained by their designers not noticing the way monitors have been going for the last mumblety years.


Right, Punk was not a solid movement over here in the US, more just a label to describe anything that wasn't disco or gave the Laurence Welk fans a case of the dry heaves. The few American Punk bands of note were either just standard rock bands, but who were oddballs compared to the overblown stadium bands and prog rock of the time (like the Ramones, who were a revival of 50s-style garage bands) or quickly turned into folk/protest singers on speed (Bad Religion/Black Flag). If Punk was ever relevant in the US as a social force, it was as a vehicle for disaffected white middle class suburban ennui, and was as effective as shouting into your pillow in the middle of the night. These days it's a completely hollowed out fashion that doesn't even shock anymore.

Last week, I saw a kid, maybe 19, in full blown mohawk and leather jacket outfit in the grocery store. He was buying soup. I bet he even paid for it.

Apply the same argument and ask yourself how much more code you could display and work with if the same width screen was about 25% deeper.

I think you're making assumptions about how program text is formatted. I don't; I reformat as required for the window layout I'm using. And it sounds to me like you're assuming a single window or at least a single application open on a a display at one time. But getting past that limitation is exactly why I use a window-based user interface; I have at any one time as many as 6 or 8 applications open (a webbrowser, an IDE, a program under test, an email reader, and several shell terminal windows). While I have 8 virtual desktops available, each with a different layout of application windows, most of the time I want 2 or 3 applications visible and accessible at any one time.


My experience is, that until they learn not to be, children are borderline sociopaths

Naw. They are mostly just totally narcissistic. Which is why the terrible "2's" are called such. That's when responsible parents start teaching them the universe doesn't revolve around them. If the child is in the normal range of metal behaviors (very loosely defined) and the parents are reasonable parents then this period lasts a year or two. Parents who just give up on this process typically create real brats. And some become permanent brats. (Define in almost any way you want.)

The key point here is that if you're never taken a two year old to the point of a reasonable (no where near perfect) 3 to 5 year old, you have no idea what parenting is all about. Or how incredibly hard it is. And of course there are those folks who wound up with the 1% or less of kids who just morphed into reasonable kids without much effort. Those parents like to write books on how easy it is to raise kids.


One of the reasons that management types insist on suits, shirts and ties is that they traditionally come from a class where this stuff is made for them and is comfortable and that's what they expect. Meanwhile, those who aspire to that class are buying poorly fitting off the peg sackcloth costumes in the style of their 'betters' in the style of a cargo-cult.

That ties with crazed "tiger moms" who force their children to learn piano. In 19th and first half of 20th century, playing piano was a valuable skill -- it made you center of attention at a party, along with unsubtly reminding everyone that you can afford a piano. But in the days of recorded music, who actually WANTS to hear an amateur play at a party? But snobs who newly came into money mistook the means for the goal, and are forcing their children to play piano because that's what posh people "are supposed to do".


My "sociopath" comment was a little tongue in cheek, they just appear that way sometimes (speaking as a parent of two small kids in the under ten range that I absolutely adore).

The only common rule of parenting is really that everyone's experience is different. Even the terrible twos are highly variable: my eldest is quite accepting of rules and boundaries, my youngest awakes every day with fresh determination to test each and every one anew.


my youngest awakes every day with fresh determination to test each and every one anew.

My youngest was like that. Only she went about it quietly. Early on she figured out the way to stay out of trouble was to not attract attention. So she'd break the rules but usually do it when no one was around and tried to cover her tracks.

On the other hand, her other brother was (and still is to some degree) oblivious to the "police" standing nearby when he broke the rules.

They are now 19 and 22. Have fun now. The real adventures begin about 13. :)


My "sociopath" comment was a little tongue in cheek,

Sorry. Around here it's hard to tell at times.


Thanks Simon; I was never able to understand why anyone called The Ramones a Punk band rather than Rock before!


[watches great light dawning] ;-)

You're using the display differently to how I would, but I stand by the comment that screen depth that you don't have is a limitation on how many horizontal lines of text you can display at any time. No-one has yet said anything to convince me that a 1200 pixel vertical resolution does not display more lines of text than a 1050 pixel VR will.

And yes I do have multiple (up to 4 sometimes) applications displayed concurrently on my Unix system. Of course, it's capable of allowing me to place the focus on the rear window whilst still being able to see the front one; something which IME has always eluded Windoze.


My current annoyance to be sent to the room is the marketing persons who decided increasing the size of paperbacks to mini trade sized books was a good idea. I'm running out of space (again) and those extra inches stack up to less room on the book shelves.

something which IME has always eluded Windoze.

One of the many, many reasons I don't use Microsoft products much. I run Mac OS X, which is a Unix variant and whose window manager allows me to scroll and move windows that are not at the top of the stack without rearranging the stack order, and Linux (Ubuntu mostly) in VMs when I need to. Most of the time it's trivially easy to rebuild Unix apps from source and run them under X Windows, but occasionally I find programs that won't build on Mac OS without more handholding than I'm willing to put in, and then it's easier to build for Ubuntu and run in the VM. And I must say, I generally dislike all the window managers I've seen on Linux.

Of course 1200 pixels will give more lines of text than 1050; about 10 or 12 lines. I find that having the extra width is as useful for what I do. I would have liked to buy a 1920x1200 display, but I couldn't justify the additional cost when I'm on a fixed income, and the difference just doesn't cause me as much pain as it obviously causes you.


I still don't know why Windows doesn't ship with multiple desktops. Perhaps the designers aren't allowed to look at Linux? Or do they think Windows users would be confused by the option?

Me, I reacted the same way I did when I discovered tabbed browsing: "Yeah! Why didn't we have this from the beginning?"


If your collar is of proper width, the tie will not be a noose at all.

Given your skepticism for and analytic perspective towards all aspects of our culture, you should understand the purpose of a suit and tie. The suit is because the human body has a ridiculous shape, at least for fashion purposes. The tie is to put some color under our weirdly-shaped heads, also for fashion purposes. The further your body is from the "ideal" shape the more you benefit from a jacket and tie.

If you need shirts that fit, you can try Cottonwork or Indochino. They will make shirts to fit your measurements exactly. Measure your neck with tailor tape as loose as you want your collar, and they'll make that for you. Also you are skipping over a few layers of middlemen so there is only one layer of corporate bullshit between you and the Asians who make the shirts.


Maybe you're luckier than I am with code designs? I have one sub-program that runs to 2_000 lines (not that many statements; some of the lines are down to formatting its sub-program calls with 1 parameter per line). I still know what you're thinking, but more than half of those lines are loop controls or conditionals: I've tried to reduce it, but there isn't a sequence of statements that occurs twice!

So my ideal is to have enough vertical real estate to be able to display toolbars plus 1 full page of A4 (about the same as quarto or letter) and I can't justify a monitor that's about as big as my Tv!


I still don't know why Windows doesn't ship with multiple desktops.
You have to scratch harder from NT4 on, but under the hood Windoze is still fundamentally the single-tasking A Mess DOS. The effects of running "cmd.exe" in Windoze7 will be very familiar to anyone old enough to have used A Mess DOS 6!

Unix (and its Linux and OS-X cousins) were designed from the outset as pre-emptive multi-tasking systems operating on 2 levels, a kernel level which actually does the work and an environment level over it as a user interface. Hence why it's comparitively trivial with *nix to have an operator environment that drives a custom display for $job and few to no toys, and an admin/developer environment that allows full access to the command line, visual file manglers etc...


"I wouldn't start from here"

With a wider monitor, you could get more parameters per line, so wouldn't actually need so many vertically. But apart from that, no, that code sounds like something which should never have got like that in the first place. (I'd probably be passing around a struct containing all those items you're passing individually.)


A comment on the American punk scene that runs headlong into a significant out of context problem: Bad Brains. ",)


There are stylistic and coding standards reasons for not acting like a C monkey and writing an entire program on one line. ;-)

I know this subprogam is horribly over-long, but it's about 80% conditionals and its sub-program calls. Putting the calls on one line each still wouldn't necessarily get it under 1_000 lines because some of the conditions use about 250 characters for the "if $conditions then" statement.

As for your idea of using a struct:-
1) You're assuming C or possibly VB.
2) It's Ada, so I'd have something like:-
type RC_BIG_RECORD is record:
end record ;

And now have to make all my already optomised out repeated sub-programs handle stuff like:-


So I'd actually finish up with more code! Not all parameters are individual variables!


I was assuming not Ada, yes, since it never is Ada when I code, and I was talking about what I'd have done ;-|

Java, C++, Pascal, in fact all sorts of languages. Right this moment I'm coding a bit of Java/SQL to match a bit of C++/SQL elsewhere.

But if you've got coding standards requiring one parameter per line, and not going over 80 columns (if that's one of the things you have to worry about), and so on, my heart goes out to you.


When I code it is rarely anything but Ada, although it has also been (for work) BASIC, C, COBOL, Pascal or VB. I've also used a bunch of other languages as my design documents.

Some of our variable and type entity names (generated by Software Through Pictures automatic package specification generator) run over 40 characters, so addressing an entity in a struture can be 120 characters by irself! I'll have the copy pasta with that thank you very much.


I've had to deal with constraints like that in the past; now that I don't work for someone else and so can set my own standards I try very hard not to do that. When I worked at $LARGE_MONEYGRUBBING_GLOBAL_CORPORATION we called very long subprogram and class definition files "Winnebagos", because they are the largest things on the road.

Many years ago, I spent 3 years writing and maintaining an embedded subsystem the core of whose functionality was a single "do forever" loop more than 1,000 lines long consisting mostly of a set of switch statements.. Because it was the main loop of a graphics input system, it had to execute as fast as possible (and even then, on the cpu we had it ran about 25% slower than we wanted it to). There really wasn't any way to break it up that wouldn't slow it down still more (it was very spare C code, and function call overhead inside the loop would have been significant), and I was completely forbidden from removing any functionality; in fact at one point marketing discovered that I had fixed a bug that we had inherited from the previous product, and insisted I add code to emulate the bug, on the grounds that two of our customers' applications depended on it.


I've installed and used two versions of Linux, SUSE and Ubuntu. Both a complete pain in the arse, and which broke totally after a ridiculously short period of time.
Windows works out the box and continues. For all its faults Microsoft has never suggested I simply use the bundled compiler to recompile and install the new kernel.


I truly wish that was always the case. Perhaps in some fantasy land, but not in the real world. As it is, I'm looking at another reinstall on my home box, which is sufficiently subtly borken that I've never managed to get W7SP1 to install.

I've spent many hours trying all the various workarounds for that. Since it's got to the extreme instability point, I'm going to have a go at a clean install, on that new SSD I've been promising myself for ages.


Oh, I had almost forgotten the sheer joy of those "but we expect that bug/slow down/dirty data" conversations!

I think I may be suffering flashbacks now.


My sis has a Vista machine that she can break quite easily; all she has to do is apply SP1 on it. This fault was well enough known that when she called the support line the tech asked her if she'd just applied SP1, and when she said yes, told her to roll it back.

This causes other problems, like she can't upgrade from IE6 other than by installing Chrome or Firefox as well.


Same sort of thing with this one sub-program; the control logic is suficiently complicated that I had to write a truth table to identify all the possible input states (not check that I had identified them; I was certain that I would miss one or more possible states of the inputs without the table) before I started coding.


Well, Vista is a real dog.
I still work with XP on my main PC, and have had no major problems with it for years.
However, it does seem that every alternate OS released by MS is crap. Win7 is quite good, which suggests Win8 is going to be something to steer clear of for a long time.


Yes - Vista for 101


Daylight Savings. That shit has got to go (he said, unsure of what time it is).


Amen brother. If people really want to get up an hour earlier, they could, you know, just get up an hour earlier. They don't have to go round the house and reset every clock as if they weren't getting up earlier.

(I note that the US has different rules as to when it happens from Europe. Joy.)

For one person's take on some of the problems DST causes:


@Dirk - For maximum audience envy and sheer awesomeness, turn up to a range with a 50 round box-fed H&K MC-51B "Vollmer" - it's the size and general appearance of a MP5 9mm carbine, but fires a grown-up 7.62 Nato round (It can take belts).

Its ... um.. loud. Good luck getting hold of one though - the paperwork will weigh far more than the weapon, and the only people who own them "don't exist".

re:XP. I'm really fond of XP. But my favourite distro is Slackware. I'm also trying out a version of Solaris, just for a laugh.

re:ties - I really like the old chaps who wear a tie for digging the garden etc. My grandad always wore a tie, though he used orange baler twine for a belt, so he had strange ideas about formal wear.


That seems an especially pointless weapon! The recoil must make it almost unusable, certainly if it does full auto. I suppose one reason to go 7.62 is where there are laws forbidding full auto weapons and big box magazines. In which case, go for hitting power.
The only 7.62 I have used is the old Brit army SLR (FN-FAL). I rather liked that. I *thought* I would like bullpups until I actually held one. Almost all the weight on one hand.


It's got a folding bipod which might help a bit. I think it was designed for rare situations where you need a small weapon, you're shooting at armoured targets and you don't care about collateral damage - i.e. indoor counter-terrorism and covert ops. It had the "standard" H&K fire options - singleshot, 3 round, full auto. Only about 50 were made, all were sold to Captain Barnes' outfit (who no longer use them, apparently).

Full auto fired from the hip, you're a danger to everything except the target (after the first couple of rounds) unless you're rather strong. Given the people who would have been carrying them, if anyone could control one, it'd be them).

I hear the FAL was an astoundingly good weapon for mid and longer range -perhaps better than the G3.


Of course, the really cool looking weapon is the one not being made - the XM8. The ugliest being the P90.
Strange thing about the FAL is that it felt lighter than it actually was, presumably because its weight was balanced between both hands. The AK47 always (to me) felt like it wanted to drop forward out my hand after that. The one I really liked was the Czech Vz58 - it felt incredibly light, almost like a toy.


To room 101: perfume. Particularly air freshners, car freshners, and the stink that pervades used cars when valetted by a dealer. Literally, sick making.


One thing that even "Ultimate Farce" (sic) got right; then they were "training the locals" and told them that "using full automatic means you're a male self-abuser" (redacted for language).


I'm disppointed to see how many people still see alternative energy as just another bloody great plant producing power to be fed through the local monopoly company's wires. Shouldn't the true aim be localised power creation? If not individual houses then maybe neighbourhood collectives or co-ops?

I am also in firm agreement with anyone who mentioned daylight savings time. Another useless idea overdue for the scrapheap.

Also programmers (to use the term in it's loosest fashion) who think the increasing power of the hardware means they don't have to write efficient code.

Also amongst the ealier commentators the subject of those who lie for a living will always get my vote.

I remember form my days living in London two pisces of grafitti I used to walk by on my way to the Westbourne Grove tube station. One said "It doesn't matter who you vote for, you still end up with a government" the other said "If voting changed anything it would be illegal"

Two sentiments that still have my wholehearted agreement.


And add my spell checker to that list...


If not individual houses then maybe neighbourhood collectives or co-ops?

After years of dealing with community pool boards and parent booster groups for students I rather think that these co-ops would look more like attempts to herd feral cats in a bad mood.

This is a commitment you're making for decades. Most folks can't agree on things for more than a few days or months. Much less a 20 or 30 years.



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This page contains a single entry by Charlie Stross published on March 3, 2012 11:07 AM.

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