* Posts by Tom 13

6647 posts • joined 10 Jun 2009

EU parliament pushes for Dodd-Frank style conflict mineral laws

Tom 13
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Here's a free clue from a Merkin:

If any proposed legislation is ever modeled on something called Dodd-Frank in the US, shoot the people who proposed it. It's doomed to end up in a failure costing more than the sin it is alleged to fix.

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Tom 13
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@strum

You're the one spouting DNC Kool-Aid.

It was known at the time that the bill would force banks to make loans that couldn't be repaid. They didn't need to mandate it in Dodd-Frank. It was already in the banking law, but the geographic areas put a limit on how much damage it could do to the system as a whole. Since it was provable that the banking officers should have known the loans could not be repaid (the risk analysis software said so, they were made to meet race quotas*), the only logical thing to do was slice and dice it into MBSs. Which might have worked if the MBSs hadn't then been overvalued.

*specifically, if you use the software to evaluate the risk of the loan and didn't include race data, the loan came up bad. But since the end result was a high number of inner city blacks couldn't get loans it was labeled "racist" to not take the race of the loan recipient into account. And yes, the banking regulators had plenty of ways to inhibit non-compliant banks operations without ever setting foot in a courtroom.

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Phablet for the biz fleet with easy typing: Microsoft Lumia 640 XL

Tom 13
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Re: Well, untill Windows can have Flappy Birds

And here I thought the problem was that Windows didn't have a sufficient variety of farting apps.

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Get off the phone!! Seven out of ten US drivers put theirs and your lives at risk

Tom 13
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@Big-nosed Pengie

As a mollycoddled European, you are obviously unaware of one of the finer points of Americana: The country doesn't set road laws - each State does. So it's actually impossible to pass a national law banning the use of cell phones. Even the so called national 55 law didn't actually create a national law. Instead it cut off highway funding if States didn't adopt a max 55 law. And once the idiocy of the law was fully revealed, even that was modified.

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Tom 13
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Re: Texting while driving and talking on the phone while driving are...............

All absolutely true. But...

How dangerous is it to do that while stuck in a traffic jam and not moving?

How dangerous is it to do while stuck in a traffic slug slow down (5-10 mph, 4 cars wide, 4 to 8 cars ahead of you)?

How dangerous is it to do when you are the first car stopped at a 1 minute traffic light?

All of the above count as texting while driving. One of them actually has zero danger associated with it. While the others have some element of risk, it's not the same risk as moving at speed in moderate traffic which is probably the most dangerous situation (it's where you're most likely to encounter higher delta Vs between vehicles and have unexpected changes).

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Tom 13
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Re: A closed course != the road, with random hazards.

The closed course with cones is sufficient for testing reaction times. That's one of the fundamentals about these sorts of things which are routinely done all the time to prove to people how alcohol affects their driving.

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Tom 13
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Joke

Re: You drive with your eyes closed?

Hey, in some part of the country, it's the only way to drive. If you open them, you'll die of a heart attack.

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Tom 13
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I don't care what margins of accuracy the polling firms are claiming

One way or another these numbers are completely bolluxed.

There's no way that you can possibly have 70% of drivers on the road every minute of every day 4 beers drunk and have accident rates as low as we do. Which is not to say our accident rates are especially low, or that fiddling with your smart phone while driving is safe, only that they are too low to support the claimed results of the survey.

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Open source power-up on the way for arcade game emulator MAME

Tom 13
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Re: Doorway drug.

As soon as the vendors start selling the ROMs again I'll be happy to get all legal. Until such time, I can't see a jury actually convicting for having copied ROMs. Distributing them maybe, but not "owning" one.

Heck at that point I might even download and install MAME.

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So why the hell do we bail banks out?

Tom 13
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Re: so, what to do if you think a crash is around the corner?

Productive land is always a solid investment. Especially if its also got a decent water source. Also, invest in precious metals (gold, silver, lead) and non-hybrid seeds. Sheep and chickens would probably also be in order. Not so sure on cows unless you've got a big family. Maybe a couple of goats and a few pigs.

Well, that's a start at least.

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Tom 13
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Re: distinction between a bank and an investment bank

No, the banks in the US failed because they made to many bad home loans. That's why the focus on Freddie, Fannie, and what's their name who no longer exist out west and whose "assetts" are now polluting all the remaining banks.

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Tom 13
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Re: I don't think that would have been pretty.

I don't either. But it would have been prettier than what will happen when if finally all comes falling down. Because it will eventually all come falling down. Bailing them out last time with very little impact on anyone including 95% of the people who caused the mess pretty much guarantees they'll do it all over again. Indeed, we seem to be well on our way with a US stock market bubble that already exceeds the housing bubble.

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Re: Why not nationalise all the banks?

Natural monopolies live in peace with their unicorn neighbors right next door to the Yeti.

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Tom 13
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Re: most of the public utilities are in fact in private hands?

No they're not. They're mostly in that limbo between government run and private. This limbo tends to combine the worst elements of both with the benefits of neither. But sloppy thinking people who are out to help the poor tend to like this arrangement. It makes them feel good.

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Tom 13
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Re: Wrong question

1) It's not gambling, it's a risk. There's an important difference between the two, and why my earlier Barney Frank quote is so damning. Anybody who doesn't know the difference should never be allowed near the regulatory mechanisms for banking.

2) Because the cost associated with the deposit account probably equal the interest earned on the float, whereas the other is a loan and your failure to pay indicates an increased risk of default. If you are going to actually default, the bank needs to know sooner rather than later. The quicker they can either take you to court to recover their money or write off the loss if that is the case the sooner they can return to profitability.

3) Because the 1950s were a magic time in America. Pretty much everybody else had been bombed to hell and back and we were the only ones with any sort of industrial capacity. That has changed, as it should have.

4) Because the socialists have all decided it's too important to have a banking system that won't fail, so the banks aren't actually a capitalist construct, their a socialist one masquerading as a capitalist one. For the socialists this is a win-win. Their policies always fail so they always get to rail against the capitalists when it is actually their policies which are at fault. You can think of it as a boot stomping on your face - forever.

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Tom 13
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Re: Make directors bear losses

Meh. If the bank failed I think that's sufficient proof of such complete incompetency that the protection of the corporate veil should be pierced. Make them liable to the full extent of any assets they own whether or not connected to their stint at the bank. I'm assuming you're including corporate officers in "directors"; if not, them too.

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Tom 13
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Re: Fractional reserve

I wouldn't go 50%, but I would go 10%. It's the minimum you should be able to pay on any item for which you want to take a loan.

There is a caveat, which is that the reserve requirement is the ultra-big, ultra-crude lever the Fed (or its EU equivalent on your side of the pond) uses to manage the money flow.

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Tom 13
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Re: Your math's off.

His math's good. You didn't take into account statistics. No way in hell I'd collect on the $100K for a bank failure. Hell, I'm barely a blip on that market even now when I've actually built up a small amount of buffer. Maybe 10K tops. Statistics tell me I'm above median for my salary (US, not region), and again above median for my savings. Even my roommate/landlord who probably falls into top 5% by salary and again for savings might collect about half that $100K. His money is all in the house and retirement plans.

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Tom 13
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Re: In fact at today's interest rates bank deposits are losing value.

Regardless of the interest rate paid to savers, deposits never kept pace with interest rates. I do recall back in the Carter days my mother signing up for the outrageously high interest rate of 13%. Of course at the time inflation was running around 17%. When it matured we were barely able to roll it over into one at 8%, with inflation running around 10%.

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Tom 13
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Re: sure we know WHO was to blame for the changes

Not quite. Part of the problem here, and part of the reason why the pols were all so eager to bail out the banks is that almost all parties had their hands dirty. The retraction of the laws started under Daddy Bush. Granted, I don't think his changes alone would have broken the system, but they opened the door for Clinton to claim he was just extending what had already been done. I would certainly agree that Clinton's minions at Fannie and Freddie greased the skids for the downfall.

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Tom 13
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Re: Nothing, but the mob don't like to hear that

Maybe in Ole Blighty, but not on this side of the pond. The banks were making mortgages they knew couldn't be repaid. They knew this because their analysis software told them so. They did it, because if they didn't the bank regulator were going to hit them with totally bogus redlining charges and inhibit their ability to operate.

Knowing they had bad loans on the books and that they COULD lose their shirts if the shareholders found out, they went looking for a way to get rid of it. The solution they came up with was MBSs. Slice up the bad loans, mix them with good loans, and they're no longer bad loans, they're mostly good loans. Which would have been okay except they overvalued the mostly good loans. Also, as the first adopters were making money hand over fist, there were subsequent waves of businesses who took it up. The end result was MBSs that weren't even mostly good loans.

So criminality all the way around.

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Tom 13
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Re: In the US, despite all the evidence of fraud

In the US, it was the politicians who mandated the fraud. And a long time before it became manifest to the point that even W was begging Barney Frank to tighten the regs. Never forget Barney's reply: "I think I want to roll the dice on this a little longer."

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Tom 13
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Re: Dear Tim, please, stop it.

I'd upvote your post except I KNOW the NYTimes is as much culpable as the bankers they want to hang. While I'm not familiar with the scotsman, given your lead was the NYT, I expect they are too.

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Tom 13
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Re: What was there being done that was actually criminal?

Underwriting loans they KNEW couldn't be repaid.

Granted, they were doing so under threat of law from crooks in Congress. While Pen was focused on banking management, that doesn't mean politicians shouldn't have been amongst them.

Moreover, this does point out the biggest flaw in your liberal take on Adam Smith, which both Friedman and Hayek have pointed out: nobody (including groups regardless of certs and/or size) is smart enough to foresee all of the outcomes of any given decision, therefore governments shouldn't mandate charity, no matter how allegedly noble the intentions. Charity must by its very nature be ENTIRELY VOLUNTARY.

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Pandora ordered to pay up extra royalties in BMI row

Tom 13
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Re: Pick your own court!

That was probably a badly worded comment. To appeal, you have to move to a higher court, but you don't get your choice of courts, that depends on where you fall in the brackets. Sounds like the higher court handed down a decree last week and this decree is not in accordance with it. So Pandora will appeal and BMI will argue there is no basis for appeal.

In this instance I'd expect to appellate court to vacate the lower court decision, send the case back and instruct the judge to take into account its most recent ruling. If Pandora and BMI reach an agreement before the lower court re-issues its decree the whole thing is moot.

But yeah, especially with reference to music and movies, it's impossible for the average guy to believe that the courts are being fair.

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Tom 13
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Percentage of revenues part 2

While 2.5% doesn't sound like much on the surface, if you've got to pay that out to 50 different parties because not everybody is registered with BMI it can be downright onerous.

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Feds: Bloke 'HACKED PLANE controls' - from his PASSENGER seat

Tom 13
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Re: linking these systems like thislinking these systems like this

Depends on exactly what the system is carrying and how they are linked.

If the IFE is carrying internet traffic (which seems to be an up-selling point these days) and sending other data about the flight via the internet, you probably can't afford the weight for two independent receiving systems. Frequently a logical separation is deemed sufficient. Of course that needs to be properly implemented and is subject to attack.

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Tom 13
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@Christoph

Allegedly hacked it while in flight. That seems to be one of the points in contention.

Normally I give the benefit of the doubt to the gmen because they've got a tough job and these days cops are everybody's second favorite bogey man. But the bit about flying the airplane sideways makes me dubious about the warrant.

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Penn State University network sacked by China malware blitz

Tom 13
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Of course no reasearch data was taken.

When I was there, the College of Engineering had it's main offices in Hammond Building. In a brilliant move, the College had students design it's new HQ. They did a fine job except for one small detail. They forgot to to test bores for the foundation. Turned out the ground where they planned to build the 8 story structure wouldn't support it, and rejiggering the foundation so it would cost too much. So they sliced the building into pieces and laid them side by side. One interesting side effect was that you can't actually get to the middle rooms on the second floor from the first floor. You have to go to the third floor walk t the middle and go down to the second.

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Tom 13
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Re: Using them for things they are not mean to be used for

Except it is the government who has essentially required they be used for everything. Want to take out a loan? Yep, you need an SSN. What a student grant? Yep, you need an SSN.

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Tom 13
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Re: Call me cynical

Well, what the article doesn't say is whether or not SSN = School Badge ID, which is what was the case many years ago when I attended. You know, it was easier to just use something students already had that was unique rather than putting together some whole new system.

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Splitters! CSC to break itself into pieces following job cull

Tom 13
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Not sure how much the changes in law since 2008 affect things

but one of my former employers was acquired by a company that was primarily a government contractor. His business was profitable, but after the acquisition the accounting was impossible to make compliant with government rules so the acquiring company essentially did away with the acquired business.

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BUZZKILL. Honeybees are dying in DROVES - and here's a reason why

Tom 13
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@T. F. M. Reader

YOU might only have just picked up on El Reg covering this, but El Reg has been covering this for for at least three years.

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SHOCK! Robot cars do CRASH. Because other cars have human drivers

Tom 13
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Re: I would take a local taxi every time (and tranquilizers).

Not me. I'd watch it on Top Gear with a gin and tonic in hand.

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Tom 13
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Re: if it's a rock IN a packet of crisps

Somewhere there's a government regulation that specifies how frequently you can find a rock in a bag of crisps. I know. I once had to do the typesetting work on an official method that was used to determine the amount of rat feces in grain. Yes, the method was used to determine compliance with Dept of Agriculture regulations.

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Tom 13
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Re: some fleshy who doesn't want to hand the steering wheel over to the robot.

You've got that wrong. Paul's the fleshy who doesn't want to hand the steering wheel over to the robot.

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Tom 13
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Re: any down-voters care to say why the DON'T want that?

Because here at El Reg, we don't expect to find emotional anti-technology idiots like you.

If anything what we need is the reverse, those kinds of investigation whenever meat bags are involved in accidents. But that ain't happening any time soon. Until it does, the rules should be pretty much the same for automated as meat bag.

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Tom 13
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Re: The robot cars are likely to drive "perfectly",

Doesn't work quite that way, the meat bags make mistakes in programming things. Yes, the Google cars are probably quite a bit better at it, but local experience with automated systems shows it is no panacea. In my case that would be the DC Metro (light rail). In theory, with a protected travel lane, no real cross traffic to speak of, and rails instead of wheels it ought to be easier to automate these things than cars are. And for a long time Metro ran them in automated mode because the meat bags tend to brake harder than the automated systems do. Still the meat bags managed to screw it up by mucking up the sensors, resulting in a crash that killed 8 people and injured hundreds. Immediately after the incident they switched back to having the meat bags drive, and haven't reverted to the automated system since.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/June_2009_Washington_Metro_train_collision

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Tom 13
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Re: manage to do a tour through Paris and actually survive

Not Pairs, Cairo or maybe Singapore. Both places where traffic laws are even more of a suggestion rather than law than in Paris.

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$19 billion made from dumped e-waste every year, says UN

Tom 13
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Re: Cost of unmaking

That's because it's not being done correctly. Assuming the objective is to ensure the waste is properly recycled the solution is relatively straightforward.

1. Charge the company at three times the estimated cost of recycling at the time the device is manufactured. They may opt to carry this charge as a payment due for the expected life of the product. (For places like the US [I'd guess EU as well] and companies like Apple, HP, and Dell, you'd assess the charge regardless of the point of manufacture.)

2. Certify recycling facilities in country for processing the waste. Monitor the hell out of them to make sure they actually recycle the waste. (Tonnage of waste received = tonnage of out-processed components)

3. Companies that use and pay the certified recyclers are issued coupons for the waste recycled. Each coupon can be used to offset one instance of the same item on the carried charge balance sheet.

Yes, it is incredibly intrusive. I'm pretty sure I'd object to such a process. But it is the sort of process you'd need as anything else is doomed to failure.

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Mozilla flings teddy out of pram over France's 'Patriot Act'

Tom 13
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Re: in the data slurp of ALL users.

Except they aren't actually slurping data, they are slurping meta-data and that slight of hand with terminology betrays the emotional over rational objections from the anti-Patriot Act people.

Let's look again at El Reg's claims about the act:

Monitor and store user communications, metadata and Web activity about all users in France and abroad

Possibly objectively true, but precisely the sorts of things you'd want to go after for tracking international bad guys of all stripes. With adequate protections, it's actually a rational way to go about things.

Force internet service providers (and potentially other technology companies) to install “black boxes” in their networks to collect data and use algorithms to search for “suspicious patterns”

Objectively true, but actually irrelevant. Everybody, but especially ISPs install black boxes that collect data and use algorithms to search for “suspicious patterns”. We just call them anti-malware software and buy them from commercial companies.

Intercept user communications, including reading emails and tapping phones, without meaningful due process or oversight

Objectively false as there is no commonly agreed upon definition of "meaningful due process". The best objective that can be made against any of these bills is that there is not a publicly disclosed adequate process. After that it is simply assumed that the process is corrupt, which is not an objective analysis.

Compromise internet infrastructure in France and extra-territorially

Objectively false and pure speculation intended to elicit a purely emotional response.

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Lies, damn lies and election polls: Why GE2015 pundits fluffed the numbers so badly

Tom 13
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Re: I never voted twice, but presumably could have with pretty minimal chances

Yep. That is why leftists on both sides of the pond oppose anything that will remove duplicated voters in the system. As for myself, I've never checked but could be registered in as many as 5 locations. Like you, I've never cast more than the ballot I'm allotted where I actually reside.

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Tom 13
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@ Red Bren

Quite the opposite. As you get older you come to recognize and regret the greed and avarice you shamelessly showed in your youth, and seek to protect those who have actually worked and done things that are useful to society.

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Tom 13
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Re: a likely predisposition among the feckless, disorganised and unreliable

The thing is, we have many decades of polling research and that's something that has been studied and for which they have correction factors.

I'm not certain of the exact lay of the land on your side of the pond, but on our side of the pond there is a general consensus that on those occasions where the polls were greatly wrong about the election it has been because the polling companies generated the wrong target sample population. Essentially you want your sample to match the actual voting population. But the voting population varies from the general population. So based on the previous election outcomes the pollsters say something like "20% of the voting population is hard Rep, 22% leans Rep; 25% leans Demt, 20% is hard Dem and the rest are undecided." Then they try to match their sample to those numbers. If the sample for some reason shows say 25% hard Rep, they adjust their prediction by weighting that element less. This works so long as you have the right numbers for the next election. But if it turns out that the voting population has actually shifted to 25% hard Rep, you're predictions are screwed.

In other words, any time there is a real, fundamental change in the electorate, even a small one, the polls are actually useless.

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Tom 13
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Re: Shy Tories

All the literati agree with each other that only the sort of simpletons* who read The Daily Mail would ever vote Tory. That's the sort of societal pressure even campaign donations on my side to the pond can't buy.

*Frauds who are in it only for personal gain excepted of course.

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Tom 13
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Re: it will almost always result in coalition governments

It might be bad for those in the party, but an examination of actual coalition governments shows it almost always works out even worse for those who aren't: Italy, Greece, even your own country for the last few years.

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Tom 13
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Re: Optional

Nastiness is the issue. Problem is you're framing the question wrong:

"How nasty do I think my neighbors who profess to be Labour are?" is the correct formulation.

- Not nasty at all and willing to respect my opinons.

- Nasty enough to call me names every chance they get.

- The really nasty sort who will vandalize my property and beat the crap out of me when they can.

- The extremely nasty sort who will kill me in my sleep then blame it on my party.

Given about 40% of El Reg posters seem to fall in the name calling category, it does seem reasonable to expect most conservatives to not be open about it.

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Tom 13
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Re: Let's see more loose coalitions!

So you want to turn Britain into Italy or worse Greece? Sounds like a very, very bad plan to me, and as noted above, I'm not even a Brit.

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Tom 13
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Re: Err, not so fast ther Mr Miller.

You can dance around it all you want, but an outlier that more closely matches the actual results is not an outlier. It may have been an outlier from their targeted distribution amongst the voters, but that only corrects a systemic problem.

The claim that people haven't made up their minds/are changing their minds quickly is blowing smoke up your arse. They don't. It may be polite to accept that fiction in most social situations, but polling isn't one of them.

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Tom 13
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Re: The poll might have been accurate to the stated degree

Not a Brit so I can't confirm your observation about the poll differentials, but assuming what you said is true, that means they should have been aware of a systemic problem. The truth is, most people's opinions won't vary that wildly that quickly. While there are multiple possible reasons, the bottom line is that you should already know you have at least one systemic problem.

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