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Comments

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Site of 1976 "Atomic Man" Accident To Be Cleaned

orzetto Re:Safety margins (299 comments)

Of course you can be exposed for a short period of time to 500 times the legal concentration of most chemicals. The "legal limit" is usually designed so that regular, 8-hour daily exposure has no long-term health effects, just like the legal radiation limits. Granted, legal limits back then were less conservative.

Then of course it depends how you are exposed. ingestion is not the same as having skin contact. Methanol has a legal limit of 200 ppm, but I can put my hand in liquid methanol (by definition 1 million ppm, 5000 times the legal limit) for a short time and suffer no consequences.

about a month ago
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Oxford Internet Institute Creates Internet "Tube" Map

orzetto Re:US has imprisonment badge - BS (56 comments)

You can't go to jail in the US just for illegal use of the internet.

Yes you can, google up Justin River Carter. He made a hyperbolic, sarcastic comment on Facebook, and he's looking at up to 10 years in jail. Another case is Cameron D'Ambrosio's. The magic word is terrorism: if anyone is scared by what you say or says they are, you are fornicated.

You can for looking at kiddie porn, or threatening somebody, but those things were illegal before we had an internet.

Same you can say about any country with the imprisonment mark. It was illegal to mock Mohammed in Pakistan before the Internet, and now too. The imprisonment icon means, "you can go to jail after unwarranted, sweeping wiretapping of your Internet connection".

about 4 months ago
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Russians Take Ukraine's Last Land Base In Crimea

orzetto Re:I dont get it (551 comments)

[...]made open threats against the west, repeatedly defied the United Nations, refused nuclear weapon inspections, and ultimately defied UN resolution 1441.

You realise that if you change "West" with "Iran" and make "resolution 1441" into "a bunch of UN resolutions" you get a description fitting Israel, right? And if you change "West" with "India" it becomes Pakistan? With "South Korea" it becomes North Korea? With "Taiwan" the PRC (well not the UN part since they have veto right)? The world is full of militaristic nations threatening neighbours and defying UN resolutions. Cannot see any invasions there, possibly because these countries are either allies, or pose a credible military challenge, or are not sitting on a bunch of oil.

This is why Iraq was invaded by a coalition made of mostly the United States, United Kingdom, Spain, Australia, Poland, Portugal, and Denmark with 33 other countries providing some form of troop support.

You are either disingenuous or a complete fool. Iraq was invaded because it was an easy prey, rich in oil resources and with a nonexistent defense capacity. Generals could be bribed off the field. It was an overwhelmingly US operation, with some support from a subservient UK, and only nominal support from a bunch of countries thrown in only for the effect of inflating the number you quoted. Some of these countries did not even have an army (Iceland, Palau, Micronesia, Solomon Islands), others were countries looking to appease the US (most Eastern European countries) or failed states whose leaders could be bought (Ethiopia, Eritrea, Uganda, Georgia, Azerbaijan, Uzbekistan).

The casus belli was that Saddam Hussein was manufacturing WMDs for Al-Quaeda; at least according to Colin Powell. That was a big, fat lie by the US. It was even less credible of a Polish invasion of Germany in 1939 (at least Poland had an army: Saddam Hussein had neither WMDs nor Al-Qaeda), and the execution of the invasion was a textbook war of aggression, the punishment for which in Nuremberg was death by hanging.

about 4 months ago
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Daylight Saving Time ...

orzetto Re:Are we not advanced enough to use UTC Time? (310 comments)

If employers|government really cared why don't they just say 'our office hours are 8am-4pm from October to March and 9-5 the rest of the year' or whatever?

Because the government or companies cannot simply dictate when people or companies should work, that is usually written down in employment contracts. It is much more convenient to centrally move one reference clock one hour ahead or back than renegotiating millions of contracts every six months.

Are people such sheep that as long as the number on the clock is the same as yesterday they'll blindly get up whenever you want but if you ask them to get up at a different time they'll revolt?

Most certainly yes. Changing the common time guarantees that we can go on living our lives as normal, and follow the same schedule. There are no synchronisation issues since everybody switches at the same time.

More than sheep, we people are sloths, we don't like doing useless stuff. If the office hours change, we will keep our private schedule identical and still meet with friends at 20. The point of DST is to make sure people use more daylight and save power, so it needs to influence the habits of people in their leisure time as well.

about 5 months ago
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Ancient Chinese Mummies Discovered In Cheesy Afterlife

orzetto Re:And Modern Chinese have no Native Cheese (64 comments)

Indeed that is correct, Chinese do not like cheese. However the mummies are from the Xiahoe tomb complex in the Xinjiang, whose name in Chinese means "New Frontier". People there are more central Asian than Han Chinese, and China gained control of the area only in the 17th century. Still today, Chinese characters are used side-by-side with Arabic in street signs and such (see Urumqi train station for example).

Point being, culture there is different, and was not even in contact with Han Chinese at the time of the mummies.

about 5 months ago
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Rolls Royce Developing Drone Cargo Ships

orzetto Re:Laws would have to be changed (216 comments)

Considering the price tag of a ship, a few cameras pointing at the sea in every direction is pretty simple and cheap; that's a proper watch. Also, for the requirement of rendering assistance, you can have a remotely controlled hatch and an emergency stock of fresh water and canned food.

about 5 months ago
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Rolls Royce Developing Drone Cargo Ships

orzetto Re:until someone hacks it (216 comments)

That's why the cargo and the ship are insured. The shipping company would not give a damn since they are not losing anything. In addition, it will be much more acceptable for western governments to make paying a ransom a felony when no lives are involved.

Shortly, pirates will learn they cannot extract quick money from hijacking a ship.

about 5 months ago
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US Secretary of State Calls Climate Change 'Weapon of Mass Destruction'

orzetto Re:Bah, fake posturing. (401 comments)

Nuclear is, and always has been, an economic failure. No one ever built and operated a nuclear plant without one form or another for government subsidies (such as Price-Anderson in the US). The gargantuan investment costs have always offset the cheap running costs. That's why no one ever built nuclear on its own money—but it's a great way to suck money out of the government for gigantic projects.

New nuclear power plants are insanely expensive, look at Finland's Olkiluoto that now is expected to cost 8.5 billion euros from an initial estimate of 3 billions (and it's not finished yet).

That, and we in Europe have decided we don't like nuclear. Even if the fable that nuclear is cheap were true, I'd rather spend double my energy bills to avoid nuclear, thanks; my energy bill is not so high anyway.

Finally: nuclear power can only provide base load anyway. You can't ramp it up and down to follow demand.

about 5 months ago
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Edward Snowden Nominated For Nobel Peace Prize

orzetto Re:Another way of looking at it: (343 comments)

Probably the most similar to Snowden was the German man who alerted the rest of the world to the German re-armament.

Carl von Ossietzky had a name that deserves to be remembered. The committee members resigned because they held positions in the government and would cause a diplomatic incident: the two were actually a socialist and a liberal (see the Norwegian Wikipedia for the details). The criticisms you report came from the conservative press, such as Aftenposten, Morgenbladet, and poet, Nobel laureate and Nazi sympathiser Knut Hamsun (who was condemned by other intellectuals such as Nordahl Grieg).

about 5 months ago
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Thousands of Germans Threatened With €250 Fines For Streaming Porn

orzetto Re:Oh Dear. (192 comments)

unbefugtem öffentlichen Zugänglichmachen über eine sogenannte Tauschbörse

That translates to "having made publicly available without authorisation over a so-called exchange forum". The key is "Zugänglichmachen", i.e. they must upload something in order to be prosecutable.

When I lived in Germany, I remember colleagues telling me of acquaintances who received similar letters (for generic filesharing, typically movies), who then caved in and paid. This is however not so common and no one told me they actually received these letters (and most people did download TV series and movies, by their own admission). I still believe these letters are sent randomly, hoping to intimidate people who are likely to have downloaded something.

about 8 months ago
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Toyota Announces Plans For Fuel Cell Car By 2015

orzetto Re:I don't get it (115 comments)

But you sought to disguise that fact in your comment. You also need very clean water, which is not free.

Aside from the fact that I did not disguise anything, water is absolutely not a significant cost. You just need a simple deionising unit. Compared to the rest of the plant, it's peanuts.

about 8 months ago
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Toyota Announces Plans For Fuel Cell Car By 2015

orzetto Re:they've had this place since what 2010? (115 comments)

Electrolysis is terribly inefficent, if it was worth doing, that is how we'd get our hydrogen.

Huh, no, electrolysis is actually very efficient, 70-90%. The problem is that you need to provide the electricity yourself instead of using a energy-rich feedstock (natural gas).

We already have natural gas cars and they are good, but not nearly 10 times better than gas cars. You sure aren't going to get further improvement beyond that by using hydrogen.

Incorrect, you are going to get a significant improvement with hydrogen. Hydrogen can be converted with current fuel cell technology with 50% efficiency into electricity (and from there mechanical power), natural gas or gasoline cannot come anywhere near that, mostly because they need to go through combustion.

about 8 months ago
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Toyota Announces Plans For Fuel Cell Car By 2015

orzetto Re:I don't get it (115 comments)

I am a researcher working in hydrogen & fuel cells, so I'll just spill the beans:

And the hydrogen probably takes up more space than a gallon of gas (a guess --- does someone know?).

It does, but not so much. Storing H2 at 700 bar requires a hefty pressure tank. They are fairly safe but that doesn't make them lighter. That's why hydrogen is suited for larger vehicles (family wagon, SUVs, long-range trips, trucks etc.). Short range is better served by batteries.

What are we destroying to make the hydrogen?

If you have cheap electricity, then it's water. You electrolyse it at the station and do not need to ship hydrogen around or build a gas network. You can also reform natural gas, which is cheaper, but then you need to clean the hydrogen really well: requirements on purity are 99.99% hydrogen, and other components are very severely limited (e.g. sulphur down to 4 parts per billion). It is debatable whether the purity standard is really necessary, though, it may be unnecessarily strict.

Main reason not to use electricity directly, as in batteries: batteries are heavier, and if you want to double energy storage in a battery car you need to double the batteries (which is not going to double the range—the batteries are heavy too). If you want to double the energy storage in a hydrogen car, you only need to double the hydrogen storage, the fuel cell (the expensive part) is still the same. And hydrogen storage is not nearly as heavy as its battery equivalent, also factoring in that fuel-cell conversion is about 50% efficient.

Why is investing in a new infrastructure -- hydrogen distribution --- a good thing?

As I said above, a good alternative is not to have the infrastructure, but to produce and compress hydrogen locally at the station. The idea is that even with all the losses (hydrogen production, compression, fuel cell) the system is still more efficient that oil (drilling, extraction, transport, refining to gasoline, transport, combustion engine). More importantly, hydrogen can be produced starting from anything: natural gas, oil, solar, you name it. Gasoline comes only from oil (or coal if you want to go Fischer-Tropsch, but that's not really efficient and has large emissions).

Does this process change the net amount of water in the ecosystem in a way that would have impact in 50 years?

No, the quantities are minimal compared to the oceans. Any day you will have far more water passing through your shower than out of your exhaust. 100 km of travel in a fuel-cell Mercedes B-class (yes I drove it :-) produce about 9 kg (i.e. 9 liters) of water. Besides, that hydrogen was produced from water from the biosphere anyway, so no balance is disrupted.

about 8 months ago
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Fuel Cell-Powered Data Centers Could Cut Costs and Carbon

orzetto Re: Installing FCs in servers/racks won't work (108 comments)

No, no, no, you don't understand what we are talking about here. First, this is hydrogen, a gas with a molecule so small it can diffuse through steel. I have never seen a rubber hose used for hydrogen and I think I know why it would leak like the sieve it would be. In the appropriate conditions hydrogen can leak through steel so fast it can sustain a continuous fire (which by heating only promotes more permeation). Natural gas is a very tame fuel compared to hydrogen. Second, a flammable gas, like hydrogen or NG, in an environment with lot of electronics (none of it ATEX-certified I presume) generates a mother load of safety issues I can't even begin to grasp the magnitude of. No data centre currently has to deal with gas explosions, and if nothing else the insurance costs will go through the roof. This would be only an enormous risk for no gain whatsoever.

about 9 months ago
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Fuel Cell-Powered Data Centers Could Cut Costs and Carbon

orzetto Re:Installing FCs in servers/racks won't work (108 comments)

Efficiency of conversion for gas (any gas) compression and expansion is pretty poor, and requires turbomachinery for high yields (which are not so high). In addition to that you would need strong piping for the compressed air (the FC gases run at atmospheric pressure), and you open the gates to a whole new class of problems with high-pressure equipment.

Really, electricity is the most efficient and convenient way to move power around. Efficiency is essentially 100% with proper cabling and safety is well understood. I have no idea what advantages one might harvest from using fuel cells in that context.

Mind you: I am a researcher in fuel cells. I lead a multi-million project in fuel cells, dammit. There are lots of good applications for fuel cells, this is not one of them. This is as stupid as fuelling a vibrator with gasoline.

about 9 months ago
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Fuel Cell-Powered Data Centers Could Cut Costs and Carbon

orzetto Re:Wake me up... (108 comments)

I'm sure you've read several dozen articles by now about how various data centers were built in various parts of the country due to low electricity costs, only to find that once they had built it, the utilities and local municipalities decided to jack the rates up.

And how are they not going to do the same for natural gas, or any other form of energy? The one you describe is a regulatory problem, not a technical one.

about 9 months ago
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Fuel Cell-Powered Data Centers Could Cut Costs and Carbon

orzetto Installing FCs in servers/racks won't work (108 comments)

The article does not mention it clearly, but those fuel cells are likely natural-gas powered. They are either very high-temperature cells (800 degrees C) or low-temperature cells (70-120 degrees C) with a reformer somewhere that converts natural gas to hydrogen. In the former case you would need to handle fuel at insanely high temperatures close to a bunch of electronics (you can guess what happens at the first leak), in the second you have to handle a hydrogen distribution network, and hydrogen is a nasty gas to work with (see for example hydrogen embrittlement); nothing that cannot be handled, but providing it to single servers or even racks? Hydrogen-proof piping is expensive, and even worse are the valves.

In any case, gas piping is never going to be as practical as power cords. You cannot bend it, coil it, join it easily, and you will need also piping to collect exhaust gases: since this hydrogen comes from natural gas, it travels with CO2, and you don't want it to accumulate in the data centre. You may also need another line to provide oxygen if the data centre ventilation is insufficient.

The argument that one would do away with power supplies is foolish: simply provide a network of DC power instead for all required voltages. FCs produce DC power, but their output voltage is unsteady and needs to be converted to the right voltage; and there are several voltages that a server requires anyway.

So, if FCs have to be, they need to be placed outside the data centre, and function as their power stations. At this point, one wonders, why should we ever consider to install FCs in power stations? Simply build a FC power station and export to the grid.

The main driver for FCs in power generation in the US is the low price of natural gas due to high shale gas production.

about 9 months ago
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The Ridiculous Tech Fees You're Still Paying

orzetto How to hit back at a hotel charging for WiFi (318 comments)

I am soon going to New Orleans for a conference, and the hotel charges $14.95 per day for WiFi. Knowing that hot water is not metered, that's what I plan to do:

  1. Assumption: hot water is produced by natural gas, temperature 50 kelvin above environment. Tap capacity 10 L/min. Natural gas cost: ca. $12 per 1000 cubic feet, equivalent to one million BTU.
  2. Cost of energy is $12 per GJ, or 43 cents per MWh.
  3. Power for heating of fully open tap: 10/60 x 4150 x 50 = 35 kW
  4. Cost of fully open tap: 0.00042 $/second, or $1.51 an hour

Therefore, I will let hot water flow free for about 10 hours (every night, closing it at breakfast) and offset the profit they make on WiFi.

about 10 months ago
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Arctic Ice Extent Tops 2012's, But Is 6th Lowest In History

orzetto Re:history? (310 comments)

It was only later that the climate cooled, and they were forced to change their lifestyle, and finally leave Greenland.

My favourite author, Jared Diamond, had an entire chapter on the Greenland Norse in his book Collapse. They are remarkable because many factors impacted them at the same time, and their demise was due to climate, international politics, and their own stupidity.

Climate did get colder, but the Norse also lost their most important export, walrus tusks, because the Muslims started trading elephant tusks again with the Christians after several centuries of embargo: no one wanted walrus tusks anymore. Also, the Norse had apparently a phobia for fish, which for some reason they were unwilling to eat (or were unable to catch). They were also horrible diplomats and could not have friendly relations with the Inuit (who arrived in Greenland after the Norse), who eventually displaced them. Also, they were a very religious and conservative society, using relatively enormous resources to build a cathedral that could rival that of Nidaros in Norway.

When it was that warm in Greenland, it was certainly warm in Canada and Alaska.

That's a way too bold statement. Latitude is not the only predictor of temperature. I live at the same latitude as Anchorage, AK, but out temperature average is 5-10 degrees Celsius higher because we are exposed to the Gulf stream. Climate change does not have the same uniform effects in every spot.

about 10 months ago
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How Car Dealership Lobbyists Successfully Banned Tesla Motors From Texas

orzetto Re:This is a "Free Market" (688 comments)

For an individual to benefit from that corporate income, at some point it has to become their income.

Uh, no. Have you ever heard of fringe benefits? The firm (that you incidentally own) gives you a car, a house, a myriad of services whose exact quantification is to a degree arbitrary. For example, a luxury car or a private jet may be appropriate for representation in a large oil company; but who is going to check exactly the private and work-related usage quota? The IRS is not the NSA and does not have the resources to monitor everyone.

As soon as you remove corporate tax, there will be a rush among small enterprises to buy their owner's house, car etc. If anything, corporate taxation should be levied on income, not net result as it is done today, since it is all too easy to set up a fake company in the Cayman island, sell them a bead for $1, buy it back for $1,000,001, and presto! you have $1,000,000 less net income and thereby taxable dollars.

about a year ago

Submissions

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Italy studies one-strike, no-appeal censorship law

orzetto orzetto writes  |  more than 2 years ago

orzetto (545509) writes "After months of plummeting polls due to the legal problems and private conduct of prime minister Silvio Berlusconi, who controls in one way or another Italian TV, the Italian government is now considering a draconian censorship law to prohibit publication in newspapers and blogs of wiretap transcripts, in which Berlusconi has been caught talking to criminals and bragging about his sexual feats with prostitutes.

Included in the package, a norm that could be devastating to blogs and independent news sources (Italian original): it includes the obligation for any Web site operator to "correct" any offending content within 48 hours after a complaint has been filed, with a fine of 12,000 euros in case of disobedience. Quite interestingly, there is no requirement on the complaint to be well founded or even truthful, and there is neither any possibility to appeal the complaint.

The law is still being drafted, and has already attracted criticism from the opposition."

Link to Original Source
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Italian prosecutors phish corruption ringleader

orzetto orzetto writes  |  more than 3 years ago

orzetto (545509) writes "Italian newspaper La Repubblica reports (English translation) that Italian Prosecutor Henry J Woodcock's team managed to bust a far-reaching corruption ring led by manager Luigi Bisignani.

Bisignani, knowing his phone was wiretapped, changed his cellphone's SIM often and used Skype to avoid being caught. However, Woodcock's team managed to phish him with a fake Facebook notification and installed a trojan developed by the Italian police, named "Querela". Querela took control of the microphone of Bisignani's PC and allowed wiretapping Skype calls and using the computer itself as a bug.

Bisignani's activities included trying to remove a journalist disliked by the government from his post in public broadcaster RAI by manipulating its top management, and maintaining a power structure with links to several government members, including a minister and Silvio Berlusconi's powerful and media-shy secretary Gianni Letta. Bisignani is now held in custody in Naples."
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95% of Italians Reject Nuclear in Referendum

orzetto orzetto writes  |  more than 3 years ago

orzetto (545509) writes "Four countrywide referenda were held in Italy last weekend, one of which on the Italian government's plan to reintroduce nuclear power. Voters rejected the idea with a percentage of 95%. Due to intricacies of the Italian referendum law, the referendum would have been invalid (and equalling a victory for the nay side) if less than 50% of voters showed up, so most Nay supporters simply did not vote.

As the turnout was 54%, Italy will stay clear of nuclear power at least for the next five years. Among the supportes of the rejection, Carlo Rubbia, Nobel prize for Physics 1984.

The Italian government had tried to invalidate this referendum by repealing its own nuclear plan, stating it would be reintroduced after the referenda, but the strategy was invalidated by the courts.

The other referenda stroke down privatisation of water resources and a law that gave prime minister Berlusconi the right not to be put on trial (currently, for various corruption charges and statutory rape)."

Link to Original Source
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YouTube considered a TV station in Italy

orzetto orzetto writes  |  more than 2 years ago

orzetto (545509) writes "Italian newspaper La Repubblica reports that YouTube and similar websites based on user-generated content will be considered TV stations (Google translation) in Italian law, and will be subject to the same obligations. Among these, a small tax (500 €), the obligation to publish corrections within 48 hours upon request of people who consider themselves slandered by published content, and the obligation not to broadcast content inappropriate for children in certain time slots. The main change, though, is that YouTube and similar sites will be legally responsible of all published content as long as they have any form (even if automated) of editorial control.

The main reason is likely that, being a TV, YouTube has now to assume editorial responsibility for all published content, which facilitates the ongoing € 500M lawsuit of Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi against YouTube because of content copyrighted by Berlusconi's TV networks that some users uploaded on YouTube. Berlusconi's Spanish TV, TeleCinco, was previously defeated in court exactly on the grounds that YouTube is not a content provider."
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Google-Italy Execs Sentenced for Published Video

orzetto orzetto writes  |  more than 4 years ago

orzetto (545509) writes "Italian newspaper La Repubblica reports that the trial against four Google officials concluded with the sentencing of three of them for "violation of privacy" (original article in Italian) to six months of jail, following the publication on Google Video of a clip in which a boy affected by Down syndrome was assaulted in a school by several classmates, in 2006. The clip was recorded by the assailants themselves in a school in Turin; they were suspended from school for the rest of the year in 2006.

The four Google execs were also accused of defamation, but acquitted. Their lawyers announced they will go to an appeal. Note that Italy has 3 degrees of trial, appeals are always granted, and this is only a 1st-degree trial; all sentences below 2 years are not enforced unless there is also another, unrelated sentence in which the defendant was found guilty."
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350,000-People Facebook Group Rallies in Rome

orzetto orzetto writes  |  more than 4 years ago

orzetto (545509) writes "Tomorrow, December 5, the largest flashmob ever is going to gather in Rome. Over 350,000 people have subscribed to the No Berlusconi day Facebook group, and about as many are expected to come to Rome to request prime minister Silvio Berlusconi's resignation and trial over a witness corruption scandal. Further protests are planned by expatriate Italians in other 45 cities worldwide.

Berlusconi, whose company recently lost a $1.1-billion lawsuit to a competitor for bribing a judge in its favour, and who has this week been accused to be the Mafia's front man in politics by a key Mafia turncoat, had managed to steer clear of the witness-corruption issue by issuing a law making him immune from criminal prosecution—that is, until Italy's Constitutional Court stroke it down as unconstitutional in early October; meanwhile, the corrupted party, English lawyer David Mills, has already been found guilty and lost his first appeal (of two). Berlusconi has been scheduling international meetings with any foreign leader willing to meet him (most recently with Belarusian dictator Lukashenko) in order to provide "legitimate reasons" not to appear in court.

The protest has been organised from below, on the Internet, with minor opposition political parties providing only logistical support. The main opposition party, the Democratic party, has in fact not supported the protest and plans its own toned-down event next week, after having, last week, hinted it would accept Berlusconi's strategy of avoiding judgement. Among the supporters of the protest known to the Slashdot crowd, is none less than Richard Stallman."

Link to Original Source
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Copyright status of thermodynamic properties

orzetto orzetto writes  |  about 5 years ago

orzetto (545509) writes "I work at a research institute, and programming models of physical models is what I do most of the time. One significant problem when modelling physical processes is finding thermodynamic data. There are some commercial solutions, but can be quite expensive, and to the best of my knowledge there are no open-source efforts in that direction. In my previous job, my company used NIST's Supertrapp, which is not really that expensive, but is written in Fortran (and an old-fashioned dialect at that). As a result, it is a bit difficult to integrate in other projects (praised be f2c), and the programming interface is simply horrible; worse, there are some Fortran-induced limitations (maximum 20 species in a mixture, for instance).

I was wondering whether it would be legal to buy a copy of such a database (they usually sell with source code, no one can read Fortran anyway), take the data (possibly reformatting it as XML), implement a new programming interface from scratch and publish the package as free software. Thermodynamic data, assuming it is correct, is not an intellectual creation but a mere measurement, which was most likely not done by the programmers but taken from the open literature, published by scientists funded by our tax money.

What are your experiences and opinions on the matter? For the record, I am based in Germany, so the EU database directive applies (German implementation)."
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Galilei was to be burned at the stake

orzetto orzetto writes  |  more than 5 years ago

orzetto (545509) writes "Italy's leading newspaper La Repubblica published today (Google translation) the original documents of the prosecution against Galileo Galilei, which are part of a large collection of documents related to Galilei's trial due to be released next month by the Vatican's Secret Archive.
According to these, it was Galilei's prosecutor himself, Cardinal Robert Bellarmine, who stated that Galilei was no heretic, even though his theories were. Galilei subsequently escaped the burning at the stake, and got away with a relatively mild sentence. Giordano Bruno, for similarly revolutionary astronomical theories—in his case, the existence of multiple planets—was sent to be burned at the stake by the same Cardinal Bellarmine: Bruno, however, did not recant."
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Effect of Cosmic Rays on Global Warming

orzetto orzetto writes  |  more than 5 years ago

orzetto (545509) writes "As reported by agencies, Danish geophysicists Mads Faurschou Knudsen and Peter Riisager have published a study in which they claim that variations in the Earth's magnetic field are responsible for (a part of) climate change. Most sources in English repeat the same announcement, but the longer original Danish article (Google translation) reports some additional details. According to the (still controversial) theory, originally formulated by Svensmark in 1997, cosmic rays have a significant impact on climate. A weaker magnetic field would lead to more cosmic rays, leading to more clouds and thereby both more rain and, in parallel, more albedo, reducing global temperature.
Knudsen and Riisager recorded climatic data for the last 5000 years by studying two stalagmites, one in a cave in China and one in Oman, and claimed a correlation between rain and magnetic-field intensity.
Meteorology professor Egil Kaas, a known opponent of Svensmark, told videnskab.dk that the data correlates only for the Chinese cave, not for the Omani. Also, he claims that more clouds and more albedo actually lead to less rain (it has to do with particular monsoon dynamics), since evaporation from the oceans is reduced."
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Google Suggest censors a world-top-10 blog

orzetto orzetto writes  |  more than 5 years ago

orzetto (545509) writes "Beppe Grillo, operator of one of the top 10 blogs worldwide, reports that the Italian version of Google is hiding his name from the tooltips that appear automatically as one is writing a search term ("Google Suggest"). Much less known Beppes appear in the list (such as TV host Bigazzi, journalist Severgnini and a dozen of others), but Grillo's tooltip is absent even when writing his name in full.

Whereas the article claims that also others, such as Sabina Guzzanti and Marco Travaglio, were hidden in the same way, this does not seem to be the case to me (I am browsing from Italy right now). Grillo's name has been censored only from the Italian version of Google, google.it, not google.com where he is present and is actually ranking close to the top. This leads to some oddities: despite the fact that "Grillo" (which is a common Genoese surname) means "cricket", there is no Google-Suggest hit for it, whereas e.g. "formica" (ant) and other insects have plenty. Even Pinocchio's talking cricket ("grillo parlante") seems to have been censored as collateral damage. Note, however, that entering "Beppe Grillo" by yourself will report his blog among the search results.

Beppe Grillo, who is politically very active, has been at odds with the Italian political establishment for years now, and his blog was likely the main target of a draconian law proposal previously discussed here; the proposal was later retracted."
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Italian Premier Wants to "Regulate the Interne

orzetto orzetto writes  |  more than 5 years ago

orzetto (545509) writes "Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi, host-to-be of the next G8 summit, has announced he will use his presidency of the G8 (starting January) to "regulate the Internet", without specifying further what he meant by that, report The Register and Italy's main newspaper la Repubblica (in Italian).

Berlusconi, who previously stated that he does not understand much of teh Intertubes (only in Italian; sorry, his English is like this), is a media tycoon who was not particularly successful at business until he entered politics, at which point he swiftly became Italy's wealthiest man (though he later dropped a few places); he has namely a long history of favouring his own business (sorry, antispam filter blocks Google translation) when passing laws: last week, he doubled the VAT (from 10% to 20%) on Sky TV, the only national channel he does not control (either through ownership, or appointment of directors as for the public TV channels, which makes Sky "left-leaning" in Italy).

Possibly because of this tendency, blogger and journalist Vittorio Zambardino suggested (Google translation) that what Berlusconi is aiming at is not a Great Firewall against terrorism or paedophiles, but rather a IP crackdown on Web 2.0; his own company, Mediaset, has already sued Youtube for half a billion euros.

It will be interesting to see what Obama will have to say about that (he will be inaugurated about the same time Berlusconi will get the G8 presidency), since he seems to be much more tech-savvy, and since last time he saw Berlusconi he did not seem to be very enthusiastic."
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Italian traffic to TPB goes to anti-piracy group

orzetto orzetto writes  |  more than 5 years ago

orzetto (545509) writes "Slashdot has already covered the DNS blocking of the Pirate Bay in Italy, and the creation of the alternative domain labaia.org. After a traffic spike from Italy to the Pirate Bay reported by TorrentFreak, an update (Google translation) comes from La Repubblica, Italy's main newspaper: the page to which Italians are redirected (read on before clicking) when trying to access piratebay.org, which is supposed to be an information page by the Guardia di Finanza (the Italian IRS), not only is not hosted on Italian soil, it is on an IP owned by the Pro-Music group, which can then log the IPs trying to contact the Pirate Bay.
This has prompted an appeal (again Google translation) by the ALCEI association to Italy's privacy authority, which had stated in previous incidents that such data-gathering activities by IP vigilantes are illegal (note that the Guardia di Finanza itself, a law enforcer, is supporting a practice already deemed illegal). Enzo Mazza, president of FIMI (the Italian RIAA), replied that "this defence of thieves seems to us out of this world" and that "shutting down sites is normal all over the world. Just a few days ago an identical decision was made in France, by a judge, against a racist site"."
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Bavarian Cops to Break into Homes, Install Trojans

orzetto orzetto writes  |  about 6 years ago

orzetto (545509) writes "The Tageszeitung reports (and Google translates) that the German state of Bavaria has introduced a bill for online search and seizure, according to which the police can not only wiretap your connection, but can also secretly enter your house to install trojans on your computer. According to the red-green (tip to Americans: "red" is left-wing in Europe) opposition, the law is unconstitutional, specifically against article 13 of the Constitution of Germany, which states pretty clearly that the domicile is inviolable.

The Bavarian Justice minister, Joachim Herrmann, stated that this way "we show again who is the market leader in the field of homeland security in Germany", and he stated that the possibility of any honest citizen being subject to searches is absurd; instead, he continued, the state is serving its "constitutional duty of protection of its citizens"."
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The Real Max Planck

orzetto orzetto writes  |  more than 6 years ago

orzetto (545509) writes "Spiegel Online reports that a final proof has been obtained about the fact that the physicist we know as Max Planck was actually named Marx (Google translation), which was meant as a short form for the original Latin Marcus (there is in fact a neighbourhood in Vienna called Sankt Marx). The proof came from multiple entries in a church record in Kiel, where he was baptised: the document is signed by the local pastor and is therefore still fully legally valid. And yes, his second name was Karl."
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Nokia to acquire Trolltech

orzetto orzetto writes  |  more than 6 years ago

orzetto (545509) writes "Trolltech, the Norwegian company, makers of the Qt libraries upon which KDE is based, report on their Website that Finnish mobile-phone giant Nokia is going to acquire them. Today, at 13:00 CET (4:00am for you guys on the Pacific coast time zone), Trolltech will hold a press conference in Oslo. Trolltech have already published an open letter (pdf) to the open-source community, pledging they will continue to release Qt as GPL software; Nokia, furthermore, is going to become the sixth patron of KDE."
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orzetto orzetto writes  |  more than 7 years ago

orzetto (545509) writes "Italian newspaper l'Unità reports that the European parliament's Commitee for Legal Affairs approved an amendment presented by EMP Nicola Zingaretti (PSE, IT), that makes piracy a felony—but only if a monetary profit is made (for the foreign-language impaired, see this article on Hollywood Reporter, which however does not mention that non-profit p2p will not be criminalised). As in the EU parliament's press release:

Members of the Legal Affairs' committee [...] decided that criminal sanctions should only apply to those infringements deliberately carried out to obtain a commercial advantage. Piracy committed by private users for personal, non-profit purposes are therefore also excluded.
Italian consumers' association Altroconsumo was involved in drafting the text. The complete proposal was passed with 23 votes in favour, 3 against and 3 abstained, and is intended to be applied to copyright, trademark, design and other IP fields, but not patent right which is explicitly excluded. The proposal has still to pass the vote of the parliament before becoming law in all EU countries, some of which (like Italy) do have criminal laws in place for non-profit file sharing.

Caution: Most EU countries use civil law, not common law. Translation of legal terms may be misleading."
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orzetto orzetto writes  |  more than 7 years ago

orzetto (545509) writes "A documentary by Italian journalist Enrico Deaglio, "Kill Democracy!" (Google translation), will be published tomorrow, reports Italian newspaper La Repubblica (Google translation). The last Italian elections were won by the opposition by a narrow 25,000-vote margin, much narrower than the broad victory predicted by gallups and exit polls. Deaglio's theory rests on the sudden reduction by over two-thirds in blank votes (from 1,5 millions to less than half), a corresponding increase in votes for then-PM Silvio Berlusconi's own party, Forza Italia , various ballot count discrepancies and anomalies, and a "Deep Throat", arguably from the ministry. According to Deaglio, the vote counts were changed electronically when being transferred from Prefectures to the Ministry of Internal Affairs (ballots themselves are still of paper all over Italy). The election was however lost by the government because, according to Deaglio and his crew, minister of Internal Affairs Beppe Pisanu called the operation off at the last moment, either to defend democracy (the operation would not have involved him directly), or because the opposition parties caught wind of the story, and Pisanu got cold feet (Pisanu is considered a moderate in Berlusconi's coalition). Since the election, ex-PM Berlusconi has never conceded defeat and complained of irregularities (even if then-minister Pisanu belongs to his own party and is one of his closest associates), while also calling for an Italian Große Koalition on the German model."

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