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* Posts by I ain't Spartacus

3294 posts • joined 18 Jun 2009

Every billionaire needs a PANZER TANK, right? STOP THERE, Paul Allen

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Re: Legal argument aside

Yeah, but Allen has warplanes. These guys only have tanks. Although if they've only got fighters, then I guess it's a stand-off. Who runs out of fuel first...

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Re: For heavens sake

Someone in London 15 years ago was driving round in a bright yellow Scimitar or Scorpion (I forget which). Obviously he was one of the few motorists in Central London with no parking problems.

There's also a London company who've bought an old Warrior IFV, and re-purposed it. They took out the gun-ports, and replaced them with darkened windows, painted it pink, and fitted a small bar and DJ station. It's now a hen night limo.

Apparently one advantage is that the floor is still bare metal, so you can just hose it down and all the vomit washes down the drain-holes.

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Re: tinfoiled

It's a bit heavy though. And can cause neck pain, if worn for long periods.

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Israeli spies rebel over mass-snooping on innocent Palestinians

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Re: I think the story here is

Eavesdropping is one thing. Spying completely different. Spying means recruiting agents on the ground to get you intelligence. That's got its even more morally dubious side.

Remember Hamas aren't averse to shooting spies, or people suspected of it. I'd imagine that ends up being like witch-hunting, where you just pick a likely candidate and burn shoot them. Because they were nearby when it happened, or no-one likes them.

However if you're forcing random Palestinian people to spy for you because they're gay, and then get them killed because they get caught, that's surely immoral. It's one thing if people are willing agents, because they're opposed to Hamas and give you information freely. Even then there may be an element of coercion involved. It's another to blackmail people into it. Particularly if you're blackmailing people who were completely innocent and previously uninvolved. I doubt spying can ever be nice, or morally unambiguous. But there have to be limits.

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Re: Israel has the resoureces

Hamas were elected ten years ago. I'm not sure that mandate still stands, and they've not exactly been in a hurry to allow another election. Or in fact allow any kind of opposition.

Would Gaza elect them again? They've not exactly made a sparkling success of governing. The place is in ruins, under blockade and the economy's collapsed. They seem to have fallen out with their mates in Iran and Syria, and obviously Egypt is back under military rule so they're on the outs wiht them as well.

Possibly it's time for a different policy?

Some bits of Israel certainly do want peace. They signed up for Oslo after all. Whether that could still command a majority is a question I don't have the answer to. Whether it's possible to get Israeli, Palestinian and Gazan governments in power simultaneously who want to give peace a try is another matter entirely.

Eventually it'll happen. Because no other solution is viable. The question is, how long will it take, and how many people will die first.

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Re: This will end up being ignored/forgotten

Israel may or may not have moved the boundaries around when they pulled out of Gaza. I've not looked into it enough to say. And obviously they maintain a no-man's land inside Gaza's territory, rather than theirs. However they actually did remove many settlers and settlements. If the only problem was borders or settlements a deal could have been struck. But that's not Hamas' only objective, and therefore settlements almost certainly isn't the main problem in Gaza. The blockade is surely a much more important issue there.

There's a big difference between Hamas and the IRA. The IRA had an achievable objective. It's unlikely that Israel is going to consent to ceasing to exist. It was possible that the UK would dump NI on the Republic and wash its hands of the whole messy problem. However, when the IRA realised they had no hope, they made a deal. Hamas still aren't even clear that they're happy with any deal that leaves Israel standing.

There are many voices within Hamas who accept they're going to have to go for a two-state solution. But I'm not sure they're a majority. And even if they are, if a significant minority of the military wing don't accept the reality that they can't win, then peace will be impossible.

There will be no peace while Israel's only roadmap to peace is the complete assimilation of Palestine within the boundaries of the state of Israel.

That's certainly true. However that isn't Israel's only road to peace. Even Netenyahu has had to publicly accept that a 2 state solution is the only way they're going to get a deal. He may not like it. He may not be honestly trying to achieve it, certainly some of his coalition partners are actively working against it. And personally I think he's a total arse, who poisoned any remaining hope of re-starting the Oslo process ten years ago.

However it's a ridiculous simplification so say that Israel wants to annex all the territory and kick the Palestinians out. Israel is a pluralist society, and the opposition parties definitely want a two-state solution. However the peace process failed on their watch, hence they got the blame, and the ones who said it couldn't work got back in. They're now showing how there is no military solution. My personal suspicion is that Israeli opinion will shift as soon as it looks like there's any realistic chance of a working peace process. But that will need the Palestinian side to be more united than they currently are.

Oslo happened because everyone was sick of the previous bloodbath. Hopefully enough blood has been spilled since to prove to the extremists that they can never 'win'. Or if not, then prove to the general population that supporting the extremists will just get them more blood. And maybe it's worth a try at peace again. But these shifts take years, because it seems that people have to be sick enough of the slaughter for the nasty compromises required to get peace to look bearable.

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There was a decent sized movement a few years ago of troops refusing to serve in the occupied territories. I seem to remember it was older reservists and obviously on political grounds. I don't know how that's panned out, as I don't really follow Israeli news. I'd imagine they're going to have increasing problems in the future with people's willingness to fight. Particularly as quite a lot of the more bellicose parties pulling Likud to the settler point of view are of the orthodox religious right, and lots of them have exemption from military service. That's not exactly wonderful in PR terms either...

My feeling after the Oslo process collapsed was that no-one would make peace for years. They so nearly got there, and then didn't. And they only got to that stage because everyone was exhausted after the first Intifada. So now they won't get peace until the more militant 'we can win' types on both sides are proved wrong again, and until ordinary people are so sick of the bloodshed that they're willing to accept unpalatable compromises.

Conscription gets you lots of people, but also lots of problems. It's much easier to keep a professional military fighting, even in the face of strong public disapproval.

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Re: This will end up being ignored/forgotten

Not that I wish to defend Israel's recent bombing of Gaza, but you oversimplify vastly. There are no settlements in Gaza - they were removed in 2005. The conflict with Hamas is about other things.

Settlements are a problem in the West Bank. And will have to be removed to get a viable peace settlement. Israel is storing up trouble for itself by putting them there. But then there is a segment of Israeli society who either don't want a fair peace deal, or don't believe it's possible. That's equally true of the Palestinian side, or the Oslo process would have worked, and we wouldn't be in this situation.

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Israel has conscription. So the military is full of civilians. They also have a cadre of career military professionals. But they seem to use their reserves a lot. Even in cases like the recent conflict with Gaza, where they weren't using all that many troops - and so ought to have been able to just use the standing army. I suspect they also make up lots of the support services from reservists.

That probably makes sense as a pay-off too. You do your military service in a front-line formation, you've got a high chance of actual combat, plus you get to spend lots of time getting muddy (I guess sandy in their case), and living in tents. But then less chance of getting called-up again afterwards - particularly now Israel is less likely to get invaded.

Whereas if you get an intel job on conscription, you probably get an easier time, more spent in an office, and a better chance of weekend leave. But then a higher chance of getting called-up for conflicts with Hamas or Hizbollah for however long you're on the active reservist list.

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Massachusetts shoots down car dealers' Tesla-busting sueball

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Re: 500,000 Batter Packs

It's not for fish 'n chips! Although a SpaceX rocket would make an excellent deep fat fryer. Simply place all the batter packs fish and frozen chips in the sump where the cooling water normally goes, then after the rocket hits space the engineers get to celebrate their success with yummy food.

Might be a touch crispier than some might like...

However this is clearly Elon Musk's new venture. He's going to re-invent the Yorkshire Pudding!

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Apple gives fanbois The Sweetest Thing: A delete button for that U2 album

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Re: [Sigh]

Perhaps Microsoft should put out a press release, on behalf of Google, threatening promising to give all Android users a free Rick Astley album. Then Windows Phone sales would shoot through the roof...

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I didn't think it was all that bad. You could listen to it without your ears bleeding, and It had some tunes. Just rather dull ones...

I hadn't realised what Apple had done until I saw about the third headline, and actually read the story. I just assumed it was one of those things you could download for free, like they've often done at Christmas. Then when I checked, it was on my iPad already. I'm not sure the story's worth all the fuss. But I suppose Apple were rather rude. It also shows they've lost their untouchable coolness factor with the mainstream press, and now cop as much flack as any other huge multi-national. Although they still get more free publicity than most...

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Read The Gods of War for every tired cliche you never wanted to see in a sci fi book

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Did they also publish George Paul?

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Starship Troopers beat Aliens, Robots AND Chuck Norris to WIN in a FIGHT

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How about post-pub deathmatch?

Which post-pub nosh is the tastiest? Or if you prefer, which will kill you fastest?

Thinks: I could kill for a fish finger sandwich right about now…

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Scottish independence: Will it really TEAR the HEART from IT firms?

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Re: It will be business as usual.

James Micallef,

All members of the EU, since Maastricht (1995ish?), are required to join the Euro. You sign up to the treaties when you join, and being in the single currency is part of being in the EU. The only exceptions are the UK and Denmark, who negotiated opt-outs, which are written as a codycil to the treaty. European Commission linky here

Not all countries have to join the Euro instantly. That would be mad. But all countries commit to joining in future. What some have done is to delay the convergence criteria, so that they're still not ready yet. There is talk of not letting new entrants get away with this, since Sweden basically isn't planning to join at all. I think some people feel that they're taking the piss...

From memory all new accession countries have to join Schengen as well. Certain members have an opt-out. This is partly because they've got long borders with non-members and not the resources to police them (Bulgaria, Rumania). Turkey isn't an issue, because Turkey won't be allowed to join. That's been clear for at least 5 years, since the European Constitution fiasco revealed that voters in France and Germany (and others) hated the idea. Politically the Turks are going in a different direction now anyway, so it couldn't happen.

The EU is not particularly flexible or logical. Because some of the design is idealistic. It's about a dream of a single state and an end to war. And the believers got a lot of that stuff pushed through into the treaties before they retired. Mitterand, Kohl, Delors etc. Now it's much harder to change, so we're stuck with it. Even though there's probably only Belgium, Luxembourg (and oddly) Germany where a majority of people still hold those ideals.

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Re: Geneva Convention

James Micallef,

Cheers.

Luxembourg were very upset with the Cyprus 'bail-out'. As their financial services are 20x the size of the economy. Cyprus had several problems. The last government had argued too long, so the new one got bounced into a truly craptastic deal. Cyrpus was also a victim of the Greek bail-out. While everything was done to protect German and French banks in this deal, it appears Cyprus only got kind words and promises. And then bail-out fatigue had set in, and Cyprus was full of Russian money. So an easy target to make an example of, without risking the Euro. It was only an argument over something stupid like €8 billion, for which they basically deliberately decided to destroy the Cypriot economy to make a point. An absolutely fucking shameful disgrace of an outcome. At least Greece were mostly at fault for the mess their country was in before the bail-out...

I'd agree that Scotland's less at risk, as the rUK is more stable than Russia or Greece (two of Cyprus main trading partners). On the other hand, they'd have a separate currency, new government and institutions. That's a lot of uncertainty and instability. And being a petro-currency, when rUK no longer is, doesn't help either.

But I think the important point is the Scotland will probably have a stable economy, and do OK. It's just that they'll have to have a central bank of their own, to keep any major financial services sector. And that means their own currency. Not sharing/using sterling.

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Re: It will be business as usual.

Slx,

Italy has debt to GDP of 131% at the moment. It went up by 5-6%age points last year. Italy is in deflation this year, and back in recession.

Italy can't pay its national debt unless it leaves the Euro. Greece needs another (much smaller) bail-out, because the last one was basically designed to be politically acceptable, not to succeed. In a year or two's time those chickens will come home to roost. It nearly broke the Euro finding €230bn-odd to bail out Greece over 5 years. That's one year's bail-out for Italy.

France is also dropping into deflation, with debt-to-GDP at 95%. There's no money to bail out Italy. So it'll have to be massive QE. I'm not sure Germany will accept that, and it's hard to get to in small baby steps, like the other bail-outs have been (i.e. boiling the frog). So I'd say it's 50/50 whether the Euro survives in its current form, with either Italy or France voting to leave, or Germany doing likewise.

There also may be a banking crisis this autumn. The Eurozone is still heading into deflation, with nothing being done about it. There's a lot of distressed banks out there, and still nothing has been done to sort them out!! They're still all sitting on massive piles of assets marked up to old prices, not real ones. And the ECB stress test, to be published this month, had a worst case scenario of about 0.8% inflation. Inflation in Italy is -0.3%, and 0% in France! So this will be the 3rd botched stress test in a row. One of these two things may tear the Eurozone apart in a sudden crisis that can't bre reacted to fast enough.

There's a lot of delusional thinking going on in the Eurozone and the markets. It's too horrible if it fails, so it won't. If that psychological block once fractures, it's one emergency weekend meeting to launch QE and common bank bail-outs or goodbye Euro. And the German politicians have been lying to their electorate for too long about this to suddenly change that fast, in one big step.

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Re: Scotlands Last Chance

Did somebody discover massive gold reserves in the Cairngorms without telling us?

Nope. A rich vein of tinfoil though...

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Re: Thanks All

If you do vote yes, you wouldn't mind taking Boris Johnson as a sort of mascot would you? Only I think we need to get shot of him, before he starts getting delusions of grandeur.

I think Wee Eck should only be allowed to be head of state after he fights the Queen for it. My money's on Her Maj. She's got 80 years of repressed emotion, and anyone who's been married to Phillip for 60 years can deal with anything! Plus she's got a sword...

I agree it's mostly been a civilised discussion threat. Shame some of the voting's been a bit shonky though.

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Re: It will be business as usual.

James Micallef,

Only 2 EU states have Euro opt-outs. That's us and Denmark. And they were granted because otherwise we'd have vetoed the Maastricht treaty. It's now a condition of joining that you sign up to join the Euro. All the EU countries except those two, have promised to join. Although Sweden and the Czech republic may have their fingers crossed behind their backs.

All the EU states except us, Ireland and Rumania Bulgaria are in Schengen from memory. That may or may not be a condition of membership for Scotland. Depends on how awkward people are feeling. Some countries, like Spain and Belgium (with secessionist problems), may be very awkward indeed.

Also Scotland would lose its share of the UK rebate on EU funding. The UK will lose that eventually too, it's almost bound to happen. It's horribly unpopular, and there's no way Scotland will be allowed to get away with keeping it. And Spain would definitely veto Scottish entry if they don't continue to let the EU criminally mismanage their fisheries.

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Re: Banking Jobs

Lemon 67,

There'll be a compromise. It would be too stupid not to do it.

But there can be no currency union. It's not going to fly South of the border. We only just bailed out our own banks. If they're no longer our banks, then there's no way we'll be riskng doing it again. For the same reason the Scottish Nationalists have ruled out the Euro as an option (economic common sense and politics), sterling currency union is out. It's also incompatible with our EU membership and Scotland's.

The timing is wrong as well. The election is next year. That means the separation with Scotland will be a political issue with a capital P. I suspect there will be a bit of 'counter-nationalism' in the rUK - plus the usual hurt feelings / hurt pride you get in a divorce. I think people underestimate the 'the bastards have rejected us' vote.

The politicians will walk a difficult tightrope between sensible compromise with Scotland and outbidding each other on how tough they're going to be in negotiations.

I generalise terribly here. But if you're English it's not polite to be too nationalistic. So you carefully say "I'm British". And you're only rude about Scotland and Wales in a sporting context. Maybe we'll retain our stiff upper lip and phlegmatic attitude? Or maybe we'll weep angry tears of public rejection, shake our fists northwards and demand revenge? And cut the crotches out of all Scotland's suits, while posting all the naked photos on Facebook... I may be being facetious, but I do expect an unfavourable reaction in rUK, and especially England. And if Scotland reneges on its fair share of the debt, I expect that to be very vocal indeed, very unpleasant and demanding of punitive action.

A new Scottish currency and sensible compromise on the debt is the only solution I can see that works for both sides. Remember we lose Scottish exports, but we also export lots to Scotland. Which is the positive bit of that balance of payments equation that most people seem to ignore. We also import lots from Scotland, enough to have a much more material effect on the Scottish economy, I believe Scottish exports are about 40% to the rUK, and rUK to Scotland is only about 5% of exports. So the power in that relationship is lopsided.

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Re: Banking Jobs

h4rm0ny,

Sharing out the national debt by population or possibly by share of GDP. I think that only varies around the 9-10% mark. This seems to be the 'standard' way of doing things, in so much as there is any standard for these situations.

Salmond has talked about reneging on this debt. But the rUK would almost certainly veto EU membership and retaliate in the split of the UK's assets. Plus that would cause massive ill-feeling and result in a severe damage to confidence in the new Scottish government. They'll be trying to borrow to finance their current deficit, get investment for new oil developments and keep as large a chunk of the financial services business as possible. Be hard as a Scottish exporter to the rUK as well, and that is a large chunk of Scotland's economy.

However, I think a deal will be cut where Scotland don't pay their 'fair share' of the debt, in exchange for the rUK taking more of the joint assets. Say we keep all the foreign embassies for a couple of hundred million, We've got about 15 submarines, but is it really worth having only 1? Or even 1 and a half... That's another billion or two. This soon adds up.

We could also do an exchange rate deal. Say Scotland's currency falls against the pound by 10%, then we let them off 10% of the debt, but if it rises by 10%, then they have to pay 10% more. This would be a nice hedge against what oil price fluctuations would do to their economy, and share the risk more fairly.

I guess another option might be that they pay a reduced amount of the debt, in exchange for paying it all off in one year. They'd then have to arrange large government debts in a single year, but it would give the markets certainty about the exchange rate risk. And we could pay down some debt and cover our deficit for a year. This might be good, because Scotland is likely to keep a large financial services sector, and being in Scotland and regulated by Scotland they will virtually have to buy large chunks of Scotish government debt. If they're staying in that country it's the safest and most convertible asset to own. So there should be a demand for more government debt than the few billion the Scottish government will be borrowing.

Those are the options I can think of. There could be more. It's down to negotiation.

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Re: What’s in a name?

Slx,

I like your description of the UK/Ireland divorce. It reminds me when I was visiting Dublin Castle. Rather impressively the Governor-general seems to have stolen a 50' dining table on his way out the door. I bet the bugger nicked the cutlery too.

I was rather surprised that he didn't have it away with the throne, while he was at it.

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Re: Geneva Convention

We haven't actually ever had a truely floating currency. It was always either tied to Sterling or to a basket of EU currencies before being replaced with the Euro.

I honestly think a lot of the complications for Scotland are being completely over played.

Slx,

The world has changed since then. Most of the time that the currencies were linked was during a global exchange rate system (Bretton Woods). Although there was admittedly a huge global war in there too... But also foreign exchange markets weren't quite the red-blooded beasts that they are today.

Finally Ireland didn't have a large oil industry and a staggeringly huge financial services sector, which Scotland does. The oil introduces a lot of volatility into a currency. It's bounced the Pound around quite a lot since the late 70s, and that's an economy ten times the size of Scotlands for roughly the same amount of oil. Oil prices fluctuate so damned much. This year they've been as high as $140 a barrel (iirc), and there are predictions that they may drop as low as $80/b (at least temporarily). That kind of shift, over a couple of months could easily punt the Scottish currency 10-20% either way.

Remember that Scotland should be taking on some share of the UK debt. I suspect a deal where Scotland takes on less than the full 9-10% and gives up some of its claim on the shared assets in return. But this is difficult. It's unlikely they can raise this on the markets in one go, so they're going to be paying off government debt in a foreign currency. This is courting disaster if the currencies diverge sufficiently, and however well the Scottish manage their economy the one thing they cannot control is oil prices.

Sharing the pound is massively unpopular in the rest of the UK. See the Eurozone ongoing disaster for reasons. Also some hurt nationalist pride too I'm sure. Plus us Southern voters don't fancy underwriting Scotland's financial system (we're not very happy doing that for our own!) - and as the Euro has also shown, a single currency without a banking backstop is a huge fucking disaster area. That won't happen.

For the same reasons of both sentiment and practical economics, Scotland is unlikely to join the Euro in the immediate future.

Now we come to the other fly in the ointment. Financial services. The large debt in a foreign country is solvable. I'm sure the rUK can do a deal where if the Scottish currency plummets we forgive some of the debt. It'd be unpopular, but it's the only sane solution. Scottish financial services though, are 12x the size of their economy. In Cyprus it was only 7x, and the Eurozone decided to punish them for it. In the UK it's 5x. We nearly went bankrupt bailing that lot out. If the Euro collapses there's another financial storm coming. Scotland can only manage that properly with a central bank, and therefore a currency. And even then can't backstop a finance sector that large. Chances are that large chunks of it will move to London. That's a big hit to the Scottish economy, or a huge risk to the Scottish economy. Neither are nice choices. And that is going to be one of the biggest costs of nationhood.

If Scots believe in it that's great. Politically if they feel so different to the rest of the UK then they should leave. Even if it's just England. England dominates the Union by being over 80% of it. I'm not sure that's a soluable problem.

But there are costs. Huge ones. It won't be the paradise set out by the SNP. Scotland will almost certainly get a lot poorer, for at least a few years. Oil production is declining by 10% a year at the moment, and the financial services sector is currently huge in comparison the economy and will shrink quite rapidly. If it remains large it will distort Scottish politics (in a way it doesn't in a devolved assembly) and be a huge risk to the economy - but also give some nice benefits. But bits of it will probably always be asking for special favours or threatening to run off to London. Exports to rUK will be a large sector of the economy, and will probably fluctuate somewhat with exchange rates. And the relationship with the EU will probably be complicated and uncertain for 5-10 years. Plus I believe there'll be a massive Eurozone crisis in 2-3 years (Italian debt), which may lead to partial break-up.

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Re: You can't get thrown out of something you are not part of.

Jess,

Nope. Scotland is not part of the EU. Scotland is not a state. The EU treaties are between the UK and the various other member states.

Scottish people are citizens of the EU because all citizens of member states, are also EU citizens. If Scotland is no longer part of a member state, then it's no longer in the EU, and neither are its citizens.

Personally I'd say it makes sense for the rest of the EU to simply act as if Scotland can rejoin as soon as the divorce from the UK is finished. They'd probably lose the Euro, justice and Schengen opt-outs in the negotiation, but then become EU members on Independence Day. The rules don't allow this for various reasons, but then the rules didn't allow Euro bailouts until they were the only sensible thing to do. Then they did.

However, I'm not holding my breath waiting for common sense from the EU…

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Re: The REAL problem with Scottish independance

The UK situation will be unaffected. Unless for some bizarre reason the Scottish put an export duty on it.

Nooooooooooooooo!!!!!!!! The Scots can bring England to our knees at last! What will I do without my bottle glass of The Balvenie? Oh woe is me! I'd even go so far as to say, "Crivens!"

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Re: It will be business as usual.

It will be too costly for them to create their own currency, so their best bet is to attempt to join the Euro as soon as possible after independence.

I don't see why. Scotland has a decent sized economy with 5 million people. There are plenty of similar sized countries. It would cost money to set up a currency, but it's almost certainly the right thing to do. Because I don't think the rest of the UK will go for a currency union, and informally sharing the pound is a rubbish idea. As well as breaking EU accession rules.

I also don't think Scotland should join the Euro. So I think they should think Swedish. Sweden signed up to joining the Euro, after a referendum. Apparently most of their politicians are in favour, but 70% of the people are against, and it's gone down in at least one referendum. So Sweden by treaty has committed to join, but won't. That's a good position for Scotland to be in. I'd have thought it's quite hard to stop. Even if the accession treaty says they have to join in a set time, that can be fudged/ignored after the event. Depends on how tough the negotiations get.

Also in my opinion, the Euro will have partially collapsed within 3 years. So it won't matter. Italy is still in recession, and in deflation. Italy's debt to GDP is going up by over 5% per year, and it's already over 130%. Unless Italy can be got back to growth and at least a little positive inflation, they're going to need a huge bail-out in 2 or 3 years.

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Re: It will be business as usual.

I don't think Scotland will continue to use the pound. Without a formal currency union that was never an option, assuming Scotland also wishes to join (or remain in) the EU. They'll have to set up their own currency, as the Euro is also not an option. You can't join the EU without having your own central bank.

As for your comment on the EU, who knows? The logical thing to do is to keep Scotland as a member. A quick bit of negotiation on Schengen, the Euro and a few other queries later - and Scotland is a newly minted member. But I'm pretty sure that the logical thing is the last thing that actually will happen. So I'd imagine Scotland will have to leave and re-join - with some sort of associate member status to cover the mess in the short-term. With Scotland already complying with most things (being part of a member state), there should hopefully be a faster than normal acceession.

Your comment on it being an easy out for the rest of the UK is bizarre though, and irrelevant. If a nation decided to leave tomorrow, there's nothing the EU can do. But that's an unlikely scenario, so not worth worrying about.

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Ex-Autonomy execs: HP's latest wad blows apart fraud allegations

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I'm amazed that they went ahead with the purchase, over the objections of the CFO. That way madness lies! At least if it tuns out to be true.

Admittedly a proper director is then supposed to resign over the issue, giving the shareholders (his bosses) warning of what's coming their way. Clearly that wasn't going to happen. Losing all that lovely lolly...

It's not going to look too clever in court though, when those emails and minutes get read to the jury.

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Cops apologise for leaving EXPLOSIVES in suitcase at airport

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Re: Even worse if they'd taken the explosives out

The French once planted a bomb in the grounds of their London ambassador's official residence. Apparently they were having a hissy-fit at the time, as we wouldn't let them use their own armed security to protect the visit of President Mitterand. So the idea was to catch out UK police. And embarrass them.

We found it, and there was a huge debate within government as to what to do. Complaining was decided to be too embarrassing, as we'd still have to be nice to the French afterwards. So it was hushed-up instead.

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Re: Only an apology?

Modern plastic explosive is pretty damned stable. If they were playing around with detonators, that would be another matter entirely. But you can burn plastic explosive safely, and I believe some squaddies have even used it to boil their tea.

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Re: Department of devolving responsibility

Wasn't there a case in Japan a few years ago? Where they went even further. Instead of using identified test suitcases, they were inserting explosives into random peoples' cases. I presume this was between check-in and baggage security screening.

Apparently they didn't take note of which bags, so they could remove it afterwards. At least one bag evded the dogs, and some poor bloke got home with a very naughty suitcase. Imagine explaining that to US police on your return? "Oh no officers, I don't know how that got there. The only time the case left my sight was when I checked it in. Honest. Why don't you believe me? What's that elbow length rubber glove for?"

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Hacker publishes tech support phone scammer slammer

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Re: I'm getting stabbed...

It's very tempting though. We still get at least one call a week from these guys. I've got an old laptop handy, that I'm willing to risk. I could have it set up and ready to go. But in the end, it's probably too much hassle, when I can just tell them to bugger off. And you'll only get to hack some minion in a call centre.

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James Bond's metal-toothed nemesis Richard Kiel dies at 74

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Happy

Re: Funny or money

Ed Miliband?

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LOHAN enjoys some hot hardware-in-the-loop action

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Happy

Marvellous project

It's nice to see how complicated and convuluted things are getting. I can't imagine why though, it's not as if it's rocket science. Oh hang on...

On scrolling past your extensive list of sponsors 'n helpers logos, I'm afraid I tragically misread one. I therefore wish to apologise to 3T RPD Ltd for mis-reading their slogan as, "Building Success Lawyer by Lawyer".

This may upset them, unless they're patent trolls in their spare time, or they use ground up lawyers as part of their manufacturing process. In which case, please carry on.

Keep up the good work!

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Google swallows SMARTSPOON manufacturer Lift Labs

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Not only regulation. Small production runs as well.

Also in the UK, you're not selling to the customers, you're selling to the NHS or social services. Which means products don't improve as they should. As an example that's why Apple and Samsung destroyed the previous top mobile phone manufacturers, who'd forgotten who the customers were, and did everything to keep the networks happy.

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Devil

Re: Internet of toilets

Why does it tweet the water use, when it should be telling everyone the dump size? And possibly length...

Actually scrub that (if only I had some mind bleach), just why?

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This flashlight app requires: Your contacts list, identity, access to your camera...

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I like mobile email, sat-nav, train timetables. Most importantly I have 4,500 work contacts on my phone, and a separately managed personal contact list.

That's not possible on a dumbphone. So I have a smartphone. But no sneering, as I'd really like some sort of hybrid where I could have both.

In an ideal world, I'd have something like the Motorola RAZR 3, but with 4G access and the ability to be a WiFi hotspot. Or use Bluetooth. Then another device, probably a tablet in my case, which would do all the smart stuff and piggyback its connection off the phone. I could then choose the function to have with me at any time. Maybe the phone thingy could do a bit of email and sat-nav.

I'm unusual though, I carry a bag. Almost everywhere. It's often got 4 pairs of glasses in it, plus jewellers screwdriver (to fix them), other useful things and a tablet.

Hmm... I've just realised that makes me a mugger's delight. I rarely leave the house without over £2k worth of kit on my. £500 iPad, £500 reading glasses, £500 (work) iPhone, £200 ordinary glasses, £50 sunglasses (sometimes x2), £50 of tools (leatherman, screwdriver set, jewellers driver), £200 watch, £50 in the wallet, £200 iPod... Should I get a gun? Nah that'd be even more worth stealing. How about a bomb? Mugger turns up, reveal grenade, pull out pin, smile...

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It already is in the UK. Under the Data Protection Act, you're only allowed to collect data that's relevant to the service you're providing.

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Re: Poor model

What we need is the ability to install an app, run it, and grant or deny the permissions it requires individually, at the moment it requires them, with an option to remember the choice or not.

The fact that such a blindingly obvious and easily implemented improvement has not appeared yet tells me that the OS providers just don't want it.

That's pretty much what you get from Apple. I would complain slightly that when you download an app, you don't get a warning of everything it'll want in future, but you do get warned when it tries to access, contacts, photos or whatever.

And then a list of what apps have access to each area, and a simple slider to switch that permission off again.

The only thing they don't have is the ability to temporarily allow an app something for five minutes, and then expire it. Though you can do this manually. Also they don't have a way to deny an app network access, that's a given with everything.

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Re: Yes most apps want to many permissions

I've got the Arrivabus app on my iPhone, so I thought I'd check. It has access to location. iOS doesn't have an option for network - so I assume all apps have access to that. But it's stayed out of the photos, mic, contacts and camera.

I prefer the Apple security model. You can go to a specific list, and see which apps have access to your contacts say. None in my case, but Google are the only ones asking. And the first time they do anything, apps have to ask permission via an OS pop-up. Then, even if you've accepted (or say your nephew has before you could stop him), you just pop to that list and disallow.

I believe in Android you still check by going to the app's section of settings. Although my 'Droid knowledge is increasingly out-of-date.

I hope things improve. I really want a stylus on my next tablet, and Apple don't believe in them. So I think Android is going to be the one.

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Profitless Twitter: We're looking to raise $1.5... yes, billion

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Devil

What do you mean?

What do you mean we haven't managed to make money? We've sold shares. We're about to get lent $1 billion. We're making loadsamoney!

Oh sorry, you meant profits? Oh carry on then. I'm just off on the corporate jet to my other office in Tahiti. Let me know when you need some really vital PR Pwnage, and I'll be right back at ya...

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City hidden beneath England's Stonehenge had HUMAN ABATTOIR. And a pub

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Happy

Re: Have a pint on me!

What are you complaining about. Everybody likes long-pig.

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'Duck face' selfie in SPAAAACE: Rosetta's snap with bird comet

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Linux

Get the petition going now!

If the ESA don't put the lander where the beak should go, then I think we should pull out of the EU immediately. Space Ducks have rights too!

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TROUT and EELS in SINISTER PACT to RULE the oceans

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Happy

Re: ETA

Except the "Microsoft file copy dialog team" and "National Rail" cells, who keep pushing back the predicted time.

I was copying some files onto a friends' PC for him the other day. About 5GB. The dialogue popped up saying 20 mins. Fair enough, it's only USB. Then it suddenly changed to "time to copy: 3 days". Erk!

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It's a pain in the ASCII, so what can be done to make patching easier?

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Re: My personal favourites

For Windows 8, it's 105 patches, before you're allowed to install Windows 8.1 from the Marketplace. Then a few more after that. Unusually it allows you to do them all in one go, without multiple reboots in between. This will inevitably crash the PC during the patching or reboot though, so best to do it in smaller batches.

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Mushroom

Re: As in all else, Orwell is correct.

I like Adobe's approach to patching. Yes we have an auto-updater. What that does is to pop a window up that says can I update. You click yes. Then it downloads an updater. You then have to find that, and click on it. That then downloads the actual software. Then a thing pops up trying to get you to miss a tickbox so it can add some crapware from McAfee. Then it FINALLY installs. Then it launches your browser to prove to you it's installed. Then it installs and runs the McAfee security scan you forgot to untick earlier. Heaven knows what that does next.

I love unobtrusive updates...

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Quit drooling, fanbois - haven't you SEEN what the iPhone 6 costs?

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This is what makes the tablet market interesting

Notice how the tablet market has eased off, but the smartphone market not so much? OK there's more than one reason for that. Many people in the developing world have gone phone, smartphone, and never detoured via PC or laptop. They won't be going into tablet, and continuing the growth. At least not for a long while.

Another reason is upgrade lifetime. You used to be forced to upgrade your PC when it stopped running anything you needed. But my iPad 3 can do almost anything that the iPad Air can do. Although the Air is lighter, and I want one. But discipline is so far holding. The upgrade from an original iPad was worth it for the better screen. I still see mine every-so-often in use by the person I sold it to for £50. So it would still have been working perfectly fine, had I kept it. The same seems to be true in Android land. The first generation of tablets were lacking in screen and power. Since the Android 4 ones, the rate of improvement stalled. So why not stick to what you've got?

Phones do get damaged more often. But otherwise the upgrades don't seem to be going so fast any more. I'd suspect a Samsung Galaxy 2 is not that much worse than a G4. Or are we up to 5 now? However, seeing as the upgrade is "free" after 2 years, why not stay on the same contract and take it?

The funny thing is, Samsung's tablets are almost half the price of its mobiles. And yet the most expensive bit is the screen, and the tablet one is 3 times the size of the phone one. Everything else is roughly the same parts, except the bigger battery. The iPad Air starts at £150 less than the iPhone. Even the one with the massively overpriced mobile chip is cheaper.

When there was no competition it still made some sense. But you can have a really nice Lumia for £250, or a still quite nice one for £120. Or a Motorola G. I wonder if Google will bother with another Nexus phone now?

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Re: @h4m0ny, re Capitalism

On US networks (T-Mo excepted, as they don't do subsidies), non-smartphone customers are subsidising customers who buy iPhones.

I shouldn't have thought so. The data tariffs in the US are very high compared with Europe. And dumbphone customers don't pay for data. Plus the iPhone probably won't be avaiable on the minimum cost data tariff, that comes with a Moto G. It'll be on the top-dollar, bells-and-whistles and your blood and your firstborn tarriff.

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Apple's Watch is basically electric perfume

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Re: Apple Watch ... a solution looking for a problem

Couldn't the same be said for the iPad? Many of us thought so.

No. The iPad did fulfill a need. One people didn't quite know they had. A desktop PC is stuck in one place. A laptop is awkward to use. A tablet is just right, so long as you don't have to type too much. And of course everyone was now using the internet to read online news, or watch online catchup TV. Smart TVs were horrible to use as well. Still are...

I knew the iPad would sell, although I didn't expect it to go quite so mainstream. I had an HP laptop with swivelly screen. So a heavy tablet, and burdened by Vista. Which was a bit slow and lumbering, but perfectly usable with a stylus. Fingers could navigate you to use the basic stuff, but there weren't any 12" capacitative screens around, so it was resistive too.

Nonetheless I loved that tablet. I could sit in a comfy chair and read El Reg. I could write emails with the stylus in that same comfy chair. Faster than any onscreen keyboard or voice activated doohickey I've used up to now.

Other people were fascinated with it too. Whenever people saw me with it, they'd want a go, and be very impressed. But it wasn't nice looking, or all that easy to use, and it was pretty heavy. You had to be pretty strong to use it one handed, without propping it up on something. The iPad was cheaper, and but for having proper file storage and a stylus, better in every other way.

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