Re: I used to trust them.
> "collect all the data and filter it later" - which is a best practice.
Are you OK with the police doing that? Or the NSA?
920 posts • joined 26 Mar 2012
> "collect all the data and filter it later" - which is a best practice.
Are you OK with the police doing that? Or the NSA?
> Except ford dealers will take any make in part exchange and will then sell that other make car, so yes you can go to a ford dealer and by a non ford car, just not a new one.
Yes. Read what I wrote: the law says that manufacturers may not dictate which retailers may or may not sell their products, and cars, gemstones, and perfume are the exceptions to that law. A manufacturer obviously may not dictate which retailers sell someone else's products, exception or no.
I have a real-life example: British Gas. They sell gas and they also install and service gas central heating systems. What they used to do was use the profits from gas supply to prop up the central heating servicing side of the business, which made it impossible for other companies to compete with them on that front: they were using the money from the legal monopoly granted them as a nationalised industry to quash competition in the private sector in which they also operated (gas supply was nationalised, central heating servicing was obviously not). The government put an end to that practice in 1996 as the tail-end of privatisation, splitting them into two separate companies, British Gas Trading, who sold gas, and British Gas Services, who serviced central heating, and telling the latter that they had two years to start breaking even in their own right and stop taking funding from the former.
You may have noticed that there are now other firms such as Green Flag who offer central heating service contracts. Before '98, it was simply impossible to compete with British Gas, at least at a national level.
Actually, car dealerships do have a legally enforced monopoly in the UK. The general rule is that manufacturers are not allowed to dictate which retailers may or may not sell their product. But there are three exceptions to that rule, on the rather spurious grounds that they are luxury items: cars, gemstones, and perfume. British supermarkets have been pushing for years to get the exceptions to the law removed so that they may start selling cars. Personally, I support that, as car dealerships are fucking awful and do abuse their monopolies.
(If anyone has slightly more up-to-date information on this, I'd love to hear it and am happy to stand corrected. It's one of those obscure laws that is puzzlingly difficult to research. My info is years old.)
How do you feel about their driving a car past your house and grabbing your wifi data? Then lying about it? Then destroying evidence?
However, isn't the point of providing a useful free service to leverage it into exposure for your other profitable services?
I'd agree, but Google keep claiming that they don't do that. They claim that their search results are the most useful to users, the most reflective of what they're really looking for, etc, and that no preference is ever given on financial grounds as that would destroy the value of their product. Lying about a product you sell is fraud. Lying about a product you give away, I have no idea. But it would at the very least attract the attention of a regulator.
Er, no, it really isn't. I hate to break this to you, but the authority of the IRS extends as far as the borders of the USA. It's called a "jurisdiction".
Just to be clear, do you think the Swiss tax authorities can descend on a bank in Connecticut with a warrant? Because I can assure you there are banks in Connecticut dealing in Swiss francs.
Friend of mine lives and works in Switzerland. She's British. I assume she has a Swiss bank account, just as my American friend who lives in the UK has a British bank account. None of this strikes me as suspicious.
Then there are the people who travel around the world a lot, such as oil rig workers, NGOs that help build infrastructure in the developing world, etc. They need one central point to keep their money whence it can be readily accessed internationally.
Then there are entities who trade on international currency markets, who might well have a Swiss bank account for the obvious purpose of keeping their Swiss francs in, just as they maintain American accounts for keeping dollars in, Japanese accounts for keeping Yen in, etc.
There are lots of people in the world whose lives aren't like yours. They're not all criminals.
> If the IRS comes in with a warrant
To a Swiss bank? Under what authority?
The law comes down pretty hard on tax evaders, actually, and they do end up in prison if they don't pay HMRC's bill. If you're referring to HSBC staff, though, there is that pesky legal technicality that you're ideally not supposed to do prison time unless you've broken the law.
> Banks who wish to operate globally can't very well claim that they don't know what their Swiss subsidiary is up to
Can they claim that their Swiss subsidiary has to obey Swiss law?
> US treats banks as multinational entities and if their Swiss branches were found to have been hiding US-taxable assets from Uncle Sam, they slapped a few mega-fines (10 or 11-digit) on the bank.
The withholding tax under the FATCA legislation, yes -- which is frankly a disgusting extraterritorial power-grab by the White House -- and it should be a national disgrace in the UK that our government cooperated with it. It seems a tad less noble when you consider that the US has international income tax and so those "US-taxable assets" include things like Boris Johnson's house sale. Or that poor disabled guy in Canada whose parents ran a charity drive to raise money for his care and Uncle Sam declared that the money raised was his, despite the kid not being, in any reasonable sense, American.
Not sure why you bring it up, mind, as HSBC's excellent response to FATCA was to withdraw all their business from the US rather than agree to fuck their customers. Good for them. So the FATCA "withholding tax" cannot be apllied to them.
> And what the clients of HSBC Switzerland were doing was evasion, not avoidance (ie illegal in their own home countries).
The clients of HSBC Switzerland? What, all of them? Well, no: in the UK's case, there were 3600 leaked files, of which only 1000 were even investigated, as the remainder, according to HMRC, had no case to answer. So that's at least 2600 innocent people whose private financial records were illegally leaked by an insider at the bank.
Very easy to be blase about those innocent people when there's no chance of your being one of them. But here's a question for all those who think the guy's a hero. Would you be happy for an institution which held some of your records -- your bank, say, or your local GP -- to leak your records if it led to HMRC being able to claim some back-taxes? Even if they were only catching approximately one miscreant for every four records leaked? That's OK, is it? You wouldn't complain about the data breach? Because it seems like only yesterday people round here were having conniptions at the idea that their private data might be used in a controlled and audited manner in order to help study disease.
> The only ones claiming that are the Swiss authorities, who seem to be working for HSBC in this matter.
Since HSBC did not break any Swiss laws, the Swiss authorities are supposed to work for them in this matter. That's their job. In much the same way as, if your house is burgled, the British authorities are supposed to help you and to go after the burglar.
I realise a lot of people round here don't like Swiss law. But it is still the law in Switzerland. Demanding that Swiss authorities prosecute Swiss people and Swiss companies for things that are not illegal in Switzerland but that some Londoners dislike is ridiculous. And the only reason to suppose that we can foist our laws on the Swiss but they can't foist their laws on us is sheer imperialist colonialism.
Cortana on WP 8.1 seems to be fairly clever but does nothing whatsoever if location services are turned off. Fuck knows why it needs your GPS coordinates to find a music file on your phone or set an alarm. Anyway, it does make it extremely easy to switch off: just turn off GPS. Since I keep my GPS off all the time anyway unless I'm using a map and actually want to know which bit of the planet I'm standing on (surely the only reason one would ever need it), I've only played with Cortana for a few minutes.
> Why dont they have paid work? Where are the jobs? Take less tax money and there will be more money for jobs.
And a pony!
> the gap created by the sale of Public sector housing (without the proceeds being used to build new efficient properties for rental).
I used to believe that too, until I met someone who managed housing associations for a living, who would roll her eyes at it. The point she would make, repeatedly -- and she was talking from the point of view of someone whose job was to provide affordable housing for people who needed it -- was that, every time you sell a council house to a council tenant, you not only have one less council house but you also have one less person who needs a council house. It's hard to argue with the arithmetic.
> I thought ... housing benefit was capped below 'market rates'.
This is the sort of thing politicians like to say, because they really believe it, because they're fucking idiots.
Housing benefit is a part of the market. Its existence is already taken into account by market prices. The only way to find out what this hypothetical "market rate" is that one can then cap housing benefit below is to scrap housing benefit. As long as housing benefit exists, the housing-benefit-independent "market rate" is hypothetical and literally unknowable.
When politicians say that they have capped benefit A below market price A, what they really mean (whether they realise it or not) is that they have set benefit A at a politically acceptable arbitrary level which sounds nice.
[sigh] OK, here we go.
> I just know Tim believes efficient markets require complete information.
was a paraphrase of
> If I put on my Efficient Marketeer Hat (I won't but I'm pretty sure Mr. Worstall wears it all the time): this market is informationally incomplete ... In the EMH - all three variants thereof, markets depend on complete information, because the EMH postulates informational completeness.
> you're not talking about real efficient markets that real economists believe in. Everyone who works in finance or economics believes efficient markets require complete information.
was a paraphrase of
> Your article, by you, on this site, about EMH, is interesting, but has nothing to do with what Economists and Finance Types refer to when they say "EMH", for the reasons I have already explained. Please visit the relevant Economics literature about EMH.
Yeah, I imagined it all.
You do get how these written arguments work, yeah? That the writing's still there, and we can all read it? Claiming "I never said that!" may work down the pub, but not here.
> I agree with this 100%. You should let Worstal know, because he's the Efficient Marketeer here, not I.
Then you're just talking in circles.
ST: I just know Tim believes efficient markets require complete information.
Tim: No I don't.
ST: Well, you say that, but you're not talking about real efficient markets that real economists believe in. Everyone who works in finance or economics believes efficient markets require complete information.
Me: No they don't.
ST: I agree. But why are you arguing with me? It was Tim who claimed efficient markets require complete information.
> And how exactly does this work in real life? Is Facebook going to quote me a price for my personal data?
Er, yes: they offer you a service. That's the price. At Christmas, do you open all your presents and say "What, no cash? Does everyone hate me?"
But why pick on just Facebook from that list? Tesco and Boots give you vouchers -- in Tesco's case, they're nearly as good as cash. The Co-op give you actual cash. Avios give you holidays. Tesco vouchers can be used to buy ferry and Chunnel crossings, which amounts to about a hundred quid off the price of my family's annual holiday. So the answer to your question is a literal yes: when we fill up with petrol, we do so at Tesco garages, because they, in return for knowing how much petrol we use, offer us most of the cost of a crossing to France, and other petrol stations don't. They make a bid and we accept it. Which you insist is impossible.
> Good for you, atta boy! Have a cookie.
Look, it was you who claimed that there is no market for personal data and no available mechanism for selling it. The only purpose of your rather laboured sarcasm here is to distract attention from my having just demonstrated that to be unequivocally wrong.
> I don't need your schooling.
In finance, probably not. In reading comprehension, you sure need someone's.
> Your article, by you, on this site, about EMH, is interesting, but has nothing to do with what Economists and Finance Types refer to when they say "EMH", for the reasons I have already explained.
I work in investment banking, so have been surrounded by finance types for years. And, whilst I have seen many a commenter on these Interwebs insist that finance types all firmly believe that markets are always informationally complete, I have never once met an actual finance type who would respond to that claim with anything other than scoffing derision.
It's very simple: if it were true, arbitrage would not exist. And it does.
> Please visit the relevant Economics literature about EMH. Eugene Fama's "Efficient Capital Markets" article from 1970
I think maybe you need to work on your reading comprehension a bit. That paper starts with:
In general terms, the ideal is ...
Then it says:
The definitional statement that in an efficient market prices "fully reflect" available information ...
> There is no other market where I could list my personal data for sale, and expect a bid
Facebook, Google, Tesco Clubcard, Nectar Points, Avios, Boots Advantage Card, Co-op dividend card, Work.shop.play, Windows user feedback program....
Years ago, I used to have a deal with a market research firm where they gave me a barcode scanner, I scanned all my grocery shopping, and they paid me a tenner a month.
Did somebody say they do represent the whole population?
> I want to be able to search on the email I receive.
If that were all Google used the content for, we wouldn't be having this conversation.
People are always saying "Your privacy and rights are inconvenient to Google's business plan" without it ever occurring to them that in that case Google might need to change their business plan. No-one would dream of extending the same logic to, say, HSBC.
> Credit card and insurance companies (as but two examples) routinely change their T&C, and send me a dull leaflet by donkey post.
I was thinking of those letters when I wrote my comment. Banks very rarely change customers' Ts & Cs more than twice a year.
> If I want I can read the leaflet (few do)
See, this is the thing. If people have to read the occasional letter and choose not to, it's reasonable to tell them it's their own stupid fault. If they're facing a constant stream of contract changes (Facebook appear to have slowed down of late, but it was every couple of weeks at one point), then we either accept that they're not going to read it all or we watch the economy grind to a halt as people do nothing but plough their way through user agreements.
We could also add that Facebook prefer to change their Ts & Cs without telling their users. Could we at least agree that that's not on? If a bank does that, the penalties are huge.
I broadly agree with Tim about what a trade is and what a market failure is, but it strikes me that there are a couple of problem areas with the Net's data-aggregators, where perhaps some regulation might be a good idea.
Firstly, Gmail (and similar). I can choose whether or not to use Google's email service, but I can't choose whether my friends do. It would surely be a perfectly reasonable move for regulators to insist on some sort of opt-out, where I could provide my email address to Google and they would then be obliged not to collate the content of emails sent by me to their users.
Secondly, constant changes to the Ts & Cs. I am perfectly OK with saying to Facebook's users, "Read the Ts & Cs when you sign up. If you don't read them, that's your look-out." But what Facebook are doing is taking users who have agreed to one lot of privacy rules and then applying a different set of rules to them, assuming that's fine as long as they send them an email telling them about the change. It is simply not reasonable to expect people to spend their days poring over changes in rules -- we want people to have some time for other activities. So how about an imposed legal maximum on the number of changes Facebook (or whoever) may make -- twice a year, say? It is also not reasonable to move privacy rules from more private to less private without the express permission of users -- if I ticked a box and clicked a button to tell Facebook they're not allowed to use my photos for purpose A, they should not be allowed to assume they can use them for purpose B without again getting me to tick a box and click a button. Allowing the likes of Facebook to change the terms of a deal after it has been made is surely a market failure.
I usually use Bing. Always a great photo.
> Except I CAN stop the data harvesting (or at least reduce it) simply by installing Ghostery or other apps that block the trackers.
Do you refuse to email anyone with a Gmail account?
> Over time they can build a profile of you, who you are, what you like and where you live, go on holiday etc etc etc.
I use Facebook a lot (it's what you make it, and my friends are funny and intelligent). Supposedly, they are the world's leading personal-data-mining firm. And they're shit at it. They did admittedly serve me an advert for the rather excellent music made by Meiko, of whom I am now a fan. But they have also served me ads for a motorcycle hearse (WTF?) and an actual real amphibious assault vehicle (WTWTFF?). Facial-recognition and photo-scanning tech notwithstanding, they serve my entirely bald friend ads for hairdressers. They recently asked me to verify whether I went to school in New Jersey, Glasgow, or New South Wales (not one of which is in the right country). And you know those ads for hot nubile young women who inexplicably want to "meet" you that all men get bombarded with? Well, my daughter was watching the DVD of Annie and I happened to make an observation about it, and all those ads immediately changed to oiled young men in stripy leggings and leather caps who apparently wanted to "meet" me. Facebook's world-leading data-mining is at that level: they have an algorithm somewhere that says "mentioned a musical => must be gay, and probably gagging for it".
I also use Google News, that still serves me a Sports section, despite my having scrolled quickly past it for many years.
Yes, these people have built up a profile of me. They think I'm a promiscuous gay married American-Scottish Hell's Angel who collects military vehicles, listens to electro-pop, and is looking for a mail-order Russian bride. And that's without me trying to fool them.
Asher’s books are similar to the world of Iain M Banks’ Culture universe, but the Polity is arguably a much darker and more vicious environment – and all the better for it.
Much as I love the Culture, Banks's best book is Against A Dark Background, which takes place in a much darker and more vicious environment.
You didn't think to read the article before commenting?
> the US turning up rather late to the party being unsure whether Hitler was a good guy in the latter case.
Absolute tripe. The Americans got started on WW2 long before we did, by sending us Wallis Simpson.
Why should we need to place our own personal bets when our governments have been placing massive multi-billion bets on this with our money for years? I'm forced to bet the CAGW alarmists are right every time I buy petrol or electricity or gas.
A quick trawl of our own archives reveals that Ohio is the stand-out state for sex with inanimate objects, with Tennessee holding its own in second place.
Sponsored: Ten Commandments of Bring Your Own Device
Hats off, guys. Hats off.
The conventional use of the chicken/egg analogy is to refer to an unresolvable conundrum, whereas Tim is using it here to refer to something where we could one day find out which one actually does come first. So, good analogy, then.
If you want a good estimate of how much of your house's value is the land and how much is the building, look at your buildings insurance. It covers the cost of rebuilding if the place is destroyed. You will notice that it is usually far lower than your house's price (although it can be far higher for a flat in a block or tenement). You will also notice that you don't have to change the amount insured when house prices in your area increase.
You know, I knew it was 20% now, but had somehow blocked that information from my mind when I was writing my earlier comment. The truth must have been too traumatic to confront.
> as if the gov was doing us a favour by not slapping us as hard as previously.
See also when the Chancellor "gives" us something in the budget by not raising the duty on it. Oo, thanks, Chancellor! Now, where will I spend it?
> I've not looked at VAT before, but a quick google shows us ... that VAT falls largely upon the customer. Not entirely sure why
There is some debate to be had about who ends up really paying for corporation tax and employer's national insurance and so on, but not with VAT: it is only paid by the end purchaser, not just effectively but literally, because everyone further up the supply chain either claims it back or doesn't pay it in the first place.
Fantastic! Can you move into my attic, then, please? It's £2,000,000 a week.
VAT is currently 17.5%. Most people avoid it occasionally; most people do not bother avoiding it most of the time; no-one avoids it all the time.
Could someone explain why a rate of 0.35% will have such stronger incentives than 17.5% that it would induce everyone to put up with massive inconvenience in order to avoid it absolutely all the time?
We found that total body motion was a reliable indicator of guilt, and works about 75 per cent of the time.
I have a car that works about 75% of the time, and I'm always telling everyone how reliable it is.
> Oil analogy? When oil goes up, pump prices go up, and usually fail to come down again with any sort of promptness.
Well, this was in the news just recently, so we can check the figures.
Crude oil price dropped by ~25%. Oil is priced in dollars. Sterling dropped against the Dollar by ~7% over the same period. In the UK, the price of crude accounts for ~1/3 of the price of petrol (the rest being transport, refining, retail, duty, VAT). And UK petrol prices dropped by ~6%.
As for the promptness, there is of course a delay between dragging the black muddy crap out from under some seabed and putting the lovely clear stuff into your car thousands of miles away. How on Earth is that ever going to happen promptly?
Good point, but there's a big difference: take away the links, and Google has no content. Facebook wouldn't shut down their Spanish operation; they'd just stop posting excerpts from links posted in Spain -- and still have plenty of other content left.
> from encouraging the creation of works, encouraging investments in creative enterprises, safeguarding cultural expressions, protecting artistic integrity or even to just give creators "their due".
To be fair, the first, second, and fifth of those are achieved by encouraging trade. But good point anyway.
But, even if we assume that copyright exists to encourage trade, this bit is still silly:
The argument against levies is a fundamental one: copyright exists to encourage trade. If, instead of trading and market building ...
Trading what and building what market? The implication here appears to be that content producers, by asking for money for their content, are not trading and are not participating in a market. Surely that's the opposite of the truth. They are creating a market in which Google may participate in trade for their content. It is Google who are refusing to trade and are doing their damnedest to stop the market being built.
The point that it may be a bad idea to charge for content in this case is well taken, but is a side issue. Companies should be allowed to make mistakes that backfire.
Could you please add a delay to the appearance of the giant menu when we mouseover the top bar? I doubt I'm the only person who moves the mouse up there to navigate between tabs and move the window around, and every time I do half the page is immediately covered in crap.
As for the rest, there are all sorts of annoyances, but I generally assume I'll adjust to these things.
Bit of a rip-off, if you ask me, when you consider that they could have cut costs even further by stealing all the physical components as well.
Talk of bancruptcy dramatically underestimates the extent of house price increases over the last couple of decades. If house prices were to drop by about 10%, that would be regarded as a crash; 20% would be a major crippling disastrous crash. And yet, even after a 20% drop, most houses would still cost a lot more than they did 10 years ago and a hell of a lot more than they did 20 years ago. Hell, just 5 years after I bought my house, its price could have dropped by 50% and still been higher than when I bought it. That's insane. (That has since been redressed somewhat by 2008's shenanigans. But even with that -- one of the most catastrophic financial crashes in history, apparently, directly linked to mortgages and house prices -- its still more expensive than when I bought it.)
Anyone think allowing shops to be converted to houses is likely to cause a drop of anything like that size? Especially given that so many commenters here have explained that it's already being allowed in their areas, and yet we don't seem to have seen a giant devastating house-price earthquake on the news.
> If a bleeding grocer can deliver in a one hour slot booked up to three weeks in advance, why can't Amazon, DHL, DPD and others, given that logistics is their one and only job?
The reason for this was the Royal Mail's monopoly. Up till a few years ago, it was actually illegal to charge less than £1 for a delivery unless you were the Royal Mail, no matter how low you could get your costs. As a result, every other courier service was forced to ignore the domestic market (who are out during the day) and stick to businesses (who are always in during the day and generally shut at weekends). Now the monopoly has been removed, we're beginning to see changes. But, to be fair, switching from Monday-to-Friday 9-to-5 to Monday-to-Friday 6-to-10 plus weekends is a huge change. It was never going to happen quickly.
Just imagine how much further we could be by now if a government had rescinded that stupid monopoly law a few years earlier.
> The principal problem with building new stuff is that it reduces the price of nearby existing stock
My argument with this point is simply with the idea that it's a problem. Housing in the UK is too expensive. Hordes of people can no longer afford anywhere to live. More and more people are living with their parents well into their twenties, sometimes their thirties. And a decrease in house prices is a problem? How? A thing that is far too expensive will get cheaper: yay!
No-one ever makes this argument about computers for some reason. Or medicine.
> Tesco because they screw over the dairy farmers and pay a price per litre of less than cost
The reason Tesco do this is that the dairy farmers sell the milk to them at that price. I agree it's not great for dairy farmers, but it's essentially no different from what's happening to musicians: oversupply. If you're selling something at below cost and you keep doing it, it's not your business; it's your hobby. It seems that a lot of dairy farmers, just like musicians, keep doing their work because it's their hobby. That is of course their right. But, if it is a business rather than a hobby, some of them need to consider going into other lines of work. And, if enough of them do so, the price of milk will go up.