Permission to DNA test French Elvis?

Not without our trusty bacteriophages

Letters Let's get off to a flying start and dive straight into the murky deep end of the gene pool and consider the question of home DNA tests. New laws mean running DNA tests without the consent of the person whose DNA you are trying to match could land you a spell in chokey:

Thats interesting, does it apply to the police as well. As you are aware, in order to fill his boots with cash Blunkett brought in legislation to collect DNA from anyone stopped for an offence, and the testing to be carried out by his business partners..........but if you are unwilling, like myself to give the DNA voluntarily by reason of objection, will the coppers be banged to rights? I do hope so.


"The Department of Health already offers a Code of Practice on Genetic Paternity Testing which calls not only for consent but also for those giving consent to be fully informed of the consequences of the test – given the irrevocable circumstances that knowledge of the test results may bring."

I would say that the irrevocable circumstances started when the child was conceived.


It's a pity that Act didn't come in to force a teeny bit earlier: then David Blunkett could have been jailed for snipping the hair of his "little one" for a DNA test without the mother's permission..


Aren't these measures against cowboy DNA testers a bit rich, when the state does exactly the same thing? When police use their vast DNA database (much of it obtained without concent, and a substantial part from people never charged or convicted of a crime), to check a sample recovered from a crime scene and don't find a direct match, they often question anyone with a close genetic match as they are likely to be a relative. This often leads to unexpected revelations of parenthood, and there is no law to protect people from the police.


Equating a ban on home genetic paternity testing with selling one's kidney on eBay trivialises the injustice being done to men.

Men have a right to know whether a child is theirs. This 'informed consent' nonsense simply protects adulterous women. Women, as it is, can just point their fingers at men and name them as fathers, and men have to pay through the nose going through CSA or court procedures where a woman still cannot be forced to go through the test. It is a travesty where women can legally harass men. Home DNA testing kits can cut through this nonsense and bring justice to men.

I predict this will simply bring about a black market in home DNA testing kits. I hope so, for the sake of men.


Céline Read (Mrs)

A ham and cheese sandwich is about to become a ham and cheese and bacteriophage sandwich, stateside. Not that it'll say that on the packaging, of course:

I think it's nice of elReg to include a story about bacteriophages

Bacteriophages could (or could not) be important down the road when treating bacterial infections. Although there are still lots of avenues to explore on the search for mechanisms to deal with unwanted with bacteria, like Holliday-junctions and others, having several sets of antibacterial mechanisms of completely different nature always helps :-) And the idea of using phage is not new by any means (look for phage and Tsiblisi, Georgia or D'Herelle) but what surprises me is that FDA actually gave their permission

Gracias to you and elreg staff for always keeping me entertained and informed :-) b


Bacteriophages have a long history as alternatives to antibiotics for controling pathogenic bacteria where they can be used (ie topicaly, on a surface, because injection is not too succesful!). Russia and Cuba have done a lot of work with them - which may explain the 'not invented here' problem. They also have the benefit of being cheap and very specific - which was probably another reason why the disinfectant suppliers to the food industry were not too keen on them.

Listeria is a major problem for the food industry and has led to some seriously suspect practices - like dipping sides of smoked salmon in solutions of quat disinfectants to get Listeria counts down.

I suspect the FDA decision is made against this background, coupled with the knowledge that even the Russians have never managed to actualy get into any trouble with phages. Done with even a limited level of competence (this is the food industry we are talking about) phages are probably the best solution for Listeria - the only surprise is that it has taken so long.

You remember the saying; 'those who like sausages and respect the law should not observe either in the process of manufacture!'

Keep up the good work.

Chris McD

A 19-year-old pleaded guilty today to a charge of breaking the computer misuse act for sending a mail bomb to his ex-employer. You were not overly impressed with the judge's interpretation of the law:

From the brief details, I tend to agree with the judge's first thoughts ... Sending emails (even lots of them) to an email server cannot be "causing an unauthorised modification to a computer" ...

No modification has been made ... assuming no viruses etc were present in the email. I wonder if anymore details are available (and where are they if they are?) ... This appears to say many many people can be nicked for "pushing the wrong button"?!

(I can quote numerous examples of "mailing list" operations that have crashed mail servers ... Once, a "partner firm" of ours sent the same 10MB powerpoint to 7500 people ... At least 150 times each, until they managed to stop the process at their end. Not only our server buckled under the strain).

So ... Is "causing an unauthorised modification to a computer" just a blanket offense that has a million and one possible "attack vectors", or did the lad just run out of defense funds? (If it's the former, I could have some fun with this!)


Pluto, which lost its status as a planet today, is the subject of much mourning amoung El Reg's readership. Except for those who don't really care that much about planets, of course:

I've been thinking about the reg article on Pluto for quite some time. I really had my heart set on a title like "Terrorists in Prague destroy planet" or maybe "Scientists destroy planet, Mickey Distraught". I'm really disappointed in your title.


Way back in 1965 when I was likkle I knew it wasn't really a planet. All the rea; plantes were in concentric orbits in the same plane. Pluto wasn't. Ergo not a 'real' planet

Ian The likkle Schoolboy (well inside I am)

Much laughter followed the news that the Home Office got in trouble with the advertising standards folks for unwittingly directing radio listeners to porn sites:

Ha ha! Serves 'em right for registering a site as a kinda pseudo text-speak for yoof appeal. I'm surprised on one's picked up that it could be read as "think uk now" (sadly minus comma/exclamation points where appropriate), which, with the micro-mgt of daily life this gov't likes to engage in, might have been the original intention. As they're a bit hobbled promoting it now, perhaps an alert opposition party webmaster could pick it up for a song before the next election...


Orange French Elvis, or possibly a French Cliff Richard:

"The rest of the world will have to wait until Monday to find out what France's answer to Cliff Richard is offering."

Hang on a second there, I thought France's answer to Cliff Richard was, "No thank you, we have more than enough people who look like that already."


"While virtually unknown outside France, Johnny is massive in his home country with 33 number one hits."

This could perhaps be because he's c**p :)


Lone genius does very hard maths, turns down medal.

Ha Bet the establishment were cheesed off! I don't now if cheese can be said to be the same as a doughnut or a cup of tea. So far I've been able to tell the difference. But all of this talk leads to Roop's Conjecture: "People who talk twoddle find it difficult to prove what they say - in any dimension". I will of course forgo any reward unless El Reg want to honour me with a Vulture branded goodie?


Shamelessness like this shall not go unrewarded. Oh, wait. Yes it shall.

Even diesel engines can break land speed records. But despite this, we felt the need to poke fun at them. You didn't like it:

At the end of this article, there's the question "Diesel sports cars anyone?" What, like the Audi that won (and came 3rd) at Le Mans this year? :-)


And now we move on to the responses to Tuesday's letters bag. We've got thoughts on terror watch lists, gay slurs and brain size:

> The online payments service told him his name is "similar to or a match to" a name on the US government's anti-terror assets freezing list.”

That's nothing new. And not terrifying much. My (as witness) experience of similar conduct was on my first trip to Germany (from Belarus).

It happened that my close friend has the same first and last name as wanted criminal from Russia. What's more - the same birth day. I have traveled with him twice. First time he was almost thrown face down to ground and handcuffed by Polish police. Second time he was lucky and his birth year (as well as second name) were verified first.

Russian proverb comes in hand: first shoot, ask questions later.


From Kendricks letter on the issues of the Rock: "Frankly, I'm very surprised, given the Reg's usual liberal attitudes, that this line slipped through editorial control. I mean, it's not even *funny*."

It continues to amaze and amuse me that the devoutly loyal RegReadership love your articles and believe you to be open-minded and liberal (occasionally humerous - granted), as they delight in your lambastings of companies, people, shibboleths, rebranders and Captain Cyborg, right up until you start jumping up and down on their fragile toes.

Lets get honest here: bin "Biting the hand that feeds IT": people have clearly forgotten that's up there, and don't read it any more. Might I suggest a nice big "Narrow-Minded News" in a bigger, bolder font? That is after all, why we're here. We *like* the sarcasm, the biting of the pigopolists arse and I'll have to assume some people even like the developer articles. But when I read something that rubs me up the wrong way, I just rest content in the knowledge you're obviously wrong.

To be fair, the mailbag would be far duller minus the dullards.... so long live continued bewilderment and buffoonery!


A Small Complaint about "a Small Complaint":

I believe that El Reg is respected for its grasp of the technology issues, and is not swayed by political or socially-correct considerations.

Thus we do not give a toss whether the information you report comes from or concerns men or women, straight or homosexual, republican or protestant, all we care about is its accuracy. However, as a British publication, we should also recognise your right to make fun of the situation whenever an opportunity presents itself. Excessive authority, pig-headedness and exceptionally right-on commentary are legitimate sources of your added humour quotient in spicing up the technology reporting we all rely on. As a Brit this is not only your right but your duty.

In the particular case objected to by Kendrick, my understanding is as follows: The Reg carried the analytical piece, whose content implied that security services had neglected real research, had been unduly influenced by media entertainment, and as a result the inconvenience to air passengers was based not on what was known about the latest terorist threat but what might be feared as a result of watching movies.

Such an analysis is an aspect of what makes El Reg respected. It was also, true to form, spiced up by your commentary, which did indeed poke fun at the Hollywood action movie genre and its influence on current security agencies thinking. The third of the three action movie actors you mentioned included a reference to his "homoerotic appeal", and it was my understanding that this was a legitimate point in putting the action movie genre into the context of current counter-terrorism concerns.

Kendrick, whoever he may be, however, chose to understand this as a homophobic slur on the counter-terrorism researchers, all of their Hollywood contacts, your report and the entire Register website. As a result, rather than considering this as a technology issue and encouraging the participation of his contacts in the technology field, Kendrick chose to consider this as a homophobic issue and, in order to spite you, refused to pass it on to all his friends.

If implying that any IT professional is gay is a real, implied or buried slur and is therefore sufficient reason for any such IT professional to be unwilling to pass on whatever technology or security related information to any other IT professional is justified, how long will it be before the BOFH takes the opportunity to incorporate such concerns into a technology-related scenario?

I cannot wait until next Friday.

Cheers Andrew

Third page, Thom says: "the average human uses between 9 and 13%" with respect to brain capacity.

That may true at any one given moment, but the human brain is of course 100% utilised as clearly there'd be no evolutionary reason for it to be there. The whole 10% of brain use is an irritating myth that has been allowed to persist by going unanswered, so if you will, a quick update to dispell it.


Sure thing, Peter. Here is a link to the fine pages of Snopes, as sent in by reader Gavin who was also annoyed by the reference.

And that brings us to the end of your thoughts for this week. So enjoy the (long) weekend, and we'll be back next week. ®

Sponsored: Minds Mastering Machines - Call for papers now open

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2018