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* Posts by Squander Two

763 posts • joined 26 Mar 2012

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Google's Pankhurst doodle doo-doo shows the perils of using Google to find stuff out

Squander Two
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Re: Sources

> It was remarkable that it was either identical or out by 1 day. One of the explanations was that parents often make innocent mistakes when notifying various official or semi-official agencies of the birth of a new child.

From my own experience, I know that one reason for this is that a lot of babies are born in the small hours. If your baby is born at, say, 3am on the 18th after a 20-hour labour, you think of it as late on the 17th. Plus, of course, if your baby's born around midnight, there can be legitimate differences of opinion about what date it is, given that (a) there isn't really a precise moment of birth and (b) everyone's clocks don't always agree with each other.

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Re: Sources

> I can't see the parents getting it wrong.

I can see the bureaucrat writing it down wrong, I can see the bureaucrat writing it down correctly but it then being copied incorrectly by another bureaucrat (seriously, is this something we're classing as unlikely these days?), and I can see the parents lying in order to comply with a time-limit dictat.

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Sources

It's odd to see so many people here putting so much faith in paperwork. That's just the 19th-Century equivalent of "If the computer says it, it must be true." I'd hope IT people would be a bit more cynical about that, but apparently not.

Pankhurst, of course, did not misread her own birth certificate. She got her birthday from her parents, who one should assume might have had an inkling. Who you going to believe: the woman who actually gave birth or a piece of paper written on by a bureaucrat some days or weeks later?

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Google policy wonk patronises Brits over EU search biz probe

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Re: Google in a nutshell.

> [Citation needed]

Maybe you're such a geek that you're not familiar with the concept, but this thing here is called "a conversation". No-one's writing a reference book here. I have this thing called a "memory", which I use in my day-to-day life and in the course of "conversations". I don't take a photo of every single thing I read next to a copy of that day's newspaper, so cannot provide references for everything I say. And neither can you. But a lot of them are facts regardless.

Anyway, Google were most certainly doing this with share prices, sites such as FT quite rightly complained, and Google have now stopped doing it with share prices. I believe (I did say "unless my memory is playing tricks") that the same thing happened with weather forecasts.

Regardless, as someone else pointed out above, we have a Google VP here claiming that weather forecasts aren't even a product and don't belong to anyone. If you think that comment is an unthinking fuck-up rather than Google policy and part of their usual drip-drip-drip of attitude-manipulating propaganda, historical evidence is against you. If you want a citation for that, it's the Register article you're currently commenting on.

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Re: Over the top?

> What is Google? A website which expresses an opinion about what it found on the Internet.

... and builds driverless cars, and takes photos of every street in the world, and provides a free video service, and denies the free video service to musicians who won't do what the fuck they're told, and provides a blogging platform, and provides online office software, and provides a free email service, and scans every email that goes through the free email service to sell the data to advertisers, and grabs encrypted wifi data from people's houses, and lobbies governments to change copyright law, and scans millions of copyright books and puts the text on the Web ....

There's some good in there and some bad, but they're definitely not just a search engine. Are you living in 1998?

> Why do people use it? Because they choose to. Of. Their. Own. Free. Will.

See, that only worked as long as they were only a search engine. No-one chose to have their wifi data slurped; no-one chose to have their house photographed; authors and publishers did not choose to have their books scanned -- quite the opposite: they fought Google to try and stop it; and no-one voted for the Google ideologues in the Intellectual Property Office who are trying to change copyright law in Google's favour.

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Re: Google in a nutshell.

> In the case of the UK (where me be) the best forecasts tend to come from the Met office

Very funny.

> I have paid for those forecasts with my taxes, I expect to find them as simply and clearly as possible.

You are thinking of the Public Weather Service, which is one thing the Met Office does. But see here, for example:

http://www.metoffice.gov.uk/about-us/advertise

> Although I guess you could post some links where Google has published the entirety of someone's copyrighted work without permission

What, you mean like Google's project to scan every book in existence and put the text on the Web, which prompted legal action from various quarters? Would that count?

You may of course point out that they have permission, to which I will counter that they did what they always do: started the massive and obviously illegal project first, without permission, and eventually negotiated permission and terms after being dragged through the courts by their victims, fighting every step of the way. I think their argument at the time was "Knowledge wants to be free" -- which is classic Google: sounds like a grand philosophical position, but is in fact a business plan that involves taking other people's work without paying them.

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Re: Google in a nutshell.

> You seem to imply that Google in effect steals its weather data from around the web… However, a bit of searching reveals that Google gets its data from Weather Underground

Oh, they do now. But, unless my memory is playing tricks, their original scheme was to nick the data and they were pushed to change when various site's owners made exactly the point I'm making.

> The issue is, should Google show data on top of the page, or should it have the user click on one of the result links? The first is easier for the user, and the second is better for competition.

It is slightly more complicated, since, for some firms, the income that allows them to generate the content in the first place comes from page-clicks, so Google's giving the data directly to the user can only work short-term; long-term, it destroys the source of the information.

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Google in a nutshell.

"I think if it's just the weather, it's the weather, it's not particularly our product or anyone else's product. It's a fact."

That is an incredibly good summary of their attitude to other people's work. No, it's not the weather, it's a weather forecast, which is a preposterously expensive thing to do well, involving the launch of satellites, supercomputers, legions of PhDs, etc -- and yes, that most certainly is someone's product. But hey, claim it's just public property and then you can take the forecasts other people have spent a fortune on, stick them in your search results, and claim there's no problem when people don't then go and visit the sites of the actual forecasters and maybe cast their eyeballs over some of their ads and products.

Google's lask of distinction between "weather" and "weather forecast" is much the same as their attitude to "language" and "novels", or "sound" and "songs".

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REVEALED: Google's proposed indie music-killing contract terms

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Can't you read or something? What I've pointed out, repeatedly and correctly, is that Google lobbied hard for the DMCA to be worded the way it is, and that the DMCA makes life very easy for copyright infringers and much harder for copyright owners.

> Are you trying to say that an author having to send an email with details of the infringement is far to onerous a task for them to do?

The onerosity of the task is surely something to be judged by the author. However, what you have repeatedly claimed is that there has been no change, that the principle of copyright law is exactly the same as it's always been. The fact is, MMS didn't have to do this before, and now he does. And so do other authors. That is what we in the reality trade call a "change".

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> Google makes it easier for the author to publish their works and get it distributed. This ease of use also means the author might have to do more work in protecting his work.

What complete bollocks. Here's a description of the process by the great Michael Marshall Smith. I started reading his books before Google were invented, so I hardly think they've made it easier for him to get published.

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> It has always been the case (even pre-internet) that it is up to the rights holders to enforce their rights. Even in the case of books.

I suggest you talk to an author. They will be able to describe to you the massive pain in their arse that is now a regular feature of their life and barely existed pre-Google.

> Will the police arrest you or the owner of the market that you are using to sell the magazines?

Er, firstly, you do know OK Computer isn't a magazine, right?

That aside, it depends. If the market is a known den of illegal goods and the police come to suspect that the market owner knows about all the illegal activity and is not taking any measures to try to discourage it, or is even encouraging it, then yes, they will try to build a case against them and arrest them.

Oh, look! Google's business plan is built on monetizing illegal content, and they know that, and they pour resources into resisting attempts to get them to discourage it.

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> So you seriously believe that google should watch and listen to every video before its published?

No, I believe that how Google identify copyright infringement should be Google's problem. Companies develop tech with legal problems all the time. Solving the legal problems is their responsibility. It's a shame when some small business gets screwed by excessive red tape, but this is the opposite: a case of one of the world's biggest businesses foisting their red tape onto much smaller businesses.

> They obey the law. If they are notified of copyright infringement they take it down.

They obey the law that they successfully lobbied governments to write. Which is my point.

> Complete bollocks as an analogy as the BBC can broadcast, at most, 24 hours worth any given day whereas google can have hundreds of thousands of hours worth uploaded.

Since the BBC have a website and media player, I'm not convinced that's true. But that wasn't my point anyway. My point is that a broadcaster, when developing new technologies and business plans, will incorporate the question "How do we obey the law?" into their planning. Google instead ask "The law is inconvenient to our business plan. How do we get it changed?" There's been quite a lot of coverage on El Reg of their ideological infiltration of the Intellectual Property Office. Have you not read it?

> google can have hundreds of thousands of hours worth uploaded. Vetting 24 hours worth is trivial.

Again, if Google's business plan is inconvenient to them, that is Google's problem. But I don't think you're following your own logic here. If it's impossible for Google to police Youtube, it is also impossible for any other firm to do it. And, in fact, thanks to Google's lobbying, copyright owners aren't just expected to police Youtube but to police the entire Internet. Your argument is that Google shouldn't be required to do something because it's too difficult, but you're simultaneously arguing that everyone else should therefore be required to do something even more difficult. All that boils down to is "Google's business plan trumps everyone else's." Why should it?

> Broadcast content also comes under different rules and regulations to internet content and this alone would prevent the BBC from doing this.

What? You're saying the BBC wouldn't do certain things even if they could due to their understanding that the law trumps their business plan? Why, yes, you're right. Are you even listening to yourself?

> Google will also make their content identification system available to them

Which is it? Is it technologically impossible for Google to vet content or do they have a content identification system?

Hey, even if they don't, they could buy Shazam. Identifying songs automatically isn't even new tech any more.

> Why should they refuse it? There are numerous videos on google with "Rolling in the Deep" in the title that are parodies of Adele's version. Why should google block these artists from publishing their own work just because it is a parody of Adele's song? Why should Adele get priority over these artists?

The example I gave didn't just have "Rolling in the Deep" somewhere in the title; it was clearly titled to imply that it's the real original song. How about a pop-up message saying "The title you have provided is that of a copyright work owned by someone else. If your video is a parody, please start its title with the words "Parody of"."? Since "ROLLING IN THE DEEP BY ADELE" generates far more ad revenue than "PARODY OF ROLLING IN THE DEEP WITH ADDED SQUIRRELS" and no-one clicks on the latter hoping for the former, that would pretty much solve the problem.

> Google are not required by law to hunt down copyright infringement and block it, it is up to the copyright holders to protect their copyrights.

Look, this all started with the books. Before Google did it, it was unequivocally illegal for you to scan a copy of Consider Phlebas and put it online. Neither Iain Banks nor his publishers were obliged to police the entire Internet and track you down and ask you to stop. Google then decided to scan every book they could get their hands on just because they could. This wasn't a case of third-party users uploading books to a Google server; Google were doing it themselves. They could have opted to spend a bit of money on checking the copyright status of each book -- hey, it's easy: it's printed on page one. But that was inconvenient to them, not because it was prohibitively difficult, but because they didn't want to acknowledge that they knew full well that their plan was plainly illegal. This was the point at which they announced their lovely scheme of "Hey, don't worry: if you see that we're breaking the law, just tell us, and we'll stop. But only if you tell us. In writing. Don't be evil, now!" It is sad that they successfully persuaded government and law enforcement to go along with this farce, and it's sad that they've now persuaded people like you that that's the way it's always been. And now they've persuaded you that it has to be that way because policing Youtube is difficult.

Here's a thing. If I make a load of knock-off copies of OK Computer and sell them down the market, is it Radiohead's responsibility to find me and ask me to stop, or will the police arrest me if they see me?

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> A publisher like Harper Collins will have at least one person read a book before it is published. Google do not have that luxury

Luxury? What are you on about? It's not a luxury; it's a choice. All this boils down to is "Oo, it's very inconvenient for us to obey the law because Internet, so you need to let us off." One of the reasons Google is swimming in money is that they figured out that, where other companies were having to spend lots of money on all that tedious obeying-the-law crap, it was far cheaper to run a massive propaganda campaign to persuade people that obeying laws wasn't necessary for Google. They like to portray themselves as being in this unfortunate situation of it just being so damn difficult to follow the same laws and regulations as other companies because how can you possibly police gazillions of users, but, in fact, that should be their problem, not anyone else's. Imagine, for instance, that the BBC were to set up a system where you could upload your own videos and they'd be broadcast automatically on BBC3 (hey, anything would be an improvement). Would they just leave it unpoliced, wait for the shit to hit the fan, and then claim that the various broadcasting anti-obscenity laws didn't apply to them on this occasion because they can't possibly police users? No, obviously not: they would simply be expected by the law to police their users and would be punished if they didn't.

These contracts, though, put the lie to even Google's pretence: it's clear that they love monetizing their own refusal to police their users:

Under the terms of the published version of the contract, indies must promise not only to never sue Google - under a “Covenant Not To Sue” - but give immunity to punters who continue to upload the label's own material to YouTube's massively popular video service.

That's not "Oh dear, if only we could police our users"; that's "We will do whatever we can to stop even you policing our users for us."

Besides, as I said above, I have some sympathy for the genuinely difficult-to-enforce cases. Music videos aren't one of them. It would be a piece of piss to let every record label or artist have a unique login and refuse to allow any videos labelled "NEW ROLLING IN THE DEEP VIDEO WITH LYRICS" to be uploaded by anyone other than adelepavements1. But Google refuse to do so.

Finally, let's remember that Google did not build Youtube; they bought it, knowing full well that this very thing was a problem, as lots of people pointed out to them at the time. They have not ended up in this situation through misfortune; they have deliberately manoeuvred their way into it. Fuck 'em.

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> Completely different. Casino Royale is a well known work so Harper Collins wont publish it.

> Try instead digging out an obscure book that sold ten copies and ask Harper Collins to publish it.

Yes, there are cases where it is difficult for a publisher to detect copyright infringement, and I for one don't expect Google to somehow know whether the amusing cat video uploaded by Barry from Wolverhampton is really his to upload or was in fact nicked by Barry off his brother-in-law Dave's phone. However, you might have noticed that one of the indie artists involved in this spat is Adele. That's Adele, one of the biggest selling artists on the planet, who's done a Bond theme, whose face would be recognised by at least a billion people. So can you explain why you think her output is "completely different" from "well known work"?

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> It has always been the case that it is up to the rights holders to enforce their rights, not a third party.

It's impressive the job Google have done of persuading people of this -- and, indeed, of persuading people to regard them as a third party. As I pointed out in another thread, try asking Harper Collins to publish Casino Royale under your name and see how far you get. They won't just go ahead and publish it and wait till Ian Fleming's estate ask them to stop; they will assume that the onus is on them not to breach copyright. Because it is.

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Re: Author retains copyright

Would the relevant comparison be to a publisher or to a broadcaster, though?

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> Amazingly, this is exactly Big Music's old argument of "Imma being robbed blind by the Interwebs" from the 90s, just with different actors.

Not quite. The music establishment refused to acknowledge that their technological monopoly had ended, and so did not only fight illegal downloads but also fiercely resisted any suggestion that they themselves might create legal downloads, on the grounds that a legal download was too easy to copy and distribute illegally. So they unwittingly actively helped create the market for illegal downloads by refusing to provide a legal alternative -- until Apple came along.

In today's argument, the only thing the labels are doing that helps create the illegal market is charging anything at all for their products. They're not trying to restrict the types of media which their product may be released; they're just asking to be paid.

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Re: Must suck to be an musician in these days...

Speaking as someone who once signed a record deal, I am flabbergasted by how bad it's got. We thought record companies were bad -- indeed, they were bad -- but they are sweet cuddly bunnies compared to the Internet Bastards.

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> They do not have to sign.

And indeed they are not signing. What's your point?

> They could do their own music video site if they wanted.

Did you not read the article? Google (having successfully persuade far too many governments to reverse the principle of copyright law) refuse to take down illegal content unless forced, and forcing them costs more money than the independents have. So, even if they did create a convincing competitor to Youtube, their legal content would be competing with Google's illegal content. Which would make monetising it fucking difficult, to say the least.

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Amazon sues former employee who took Google cloud job

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Re: Hold On

> I dealt with that during the year I spent in London. Commercial interests long ago argued, successfully ...

The EU ruled on this very recently -- in the last two years, I think (though time flies by so fast these days I lose track). So any long ago argument has probably been superceded.

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Re: Can't see the gray area here

The EU ruled a while ago that non-competes are a restriction on the free movement of labour, and thus unenforceable in the EU. Free movement of labour trumps most things here.

Since Google are a multinational, they could have avoided this by just relocating the guy to the EU for the duration of the non-compete clause.

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YouTube in shock indie music nuke: We all feel a little less worthy today

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Re: @skelband

> That's always been the case.

No, it most certainly has not. And, in most cases, it still isn't.

Try approaching Harper Collins with a copy of Casino Royale and asking them to publish it under your name and see how far you get. They won't decide to print a couple of thousand because they can probably sell them before Ian Fleming's estate notice and tell them to stop; they will assume, rightly, that the onus is on them not to breach copyright.

Google have managed via extensive lobbying to persuade governments that the onus is on everyone else to ensure Google don't breach people's rights. You might approve of this change for whatever reason, but to claim that it's not a change is simply wrong.

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Microsoft gets the hang of funky devices: Xbox magic for enterprise

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Re: "Opinion"

ANYONE WHO DISAGREES WITH ME IS BEING BRIBED! IT'S THE ONLY EXPLANATION!

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Re: Quite.

> Clearly not using Windows 8 then.

I love Windows 8. But then I'm not frightened of change.

Yeah, yeah, bring on the downvotes. Oh, and someone tell me I work for Microsoft.

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Re: Quite. @ThomH

> Click the Apple in the top left of the screen. Click System Preferences... . Click Users & Groups. Click the padlock in the lower left where it says 'Click the lock to make changes'. Enter your administrator user name and password. Click the plus symbol at the bottom of the list of users to add a user.

Log in with new user's account to test it. Open Safari. Try to open Netflix: get some unhelpful message (that reminded me very much of the sort of fucking useless message Windows used to give) about the site not existing. Try to open Google: same message. Log out and back in with admin account. Fiddle with settings. Log out and back in with new user's account. Still nothing. Do this for a quarter of an hour or so, playing with various user account and network settings until I manage to get the damn thing working. Two days later, it stops working again. Give up on new account and just let child use her mother's account rather than letting her have her own one. Swear at Apple a lot.

Seriously, this is a default new account, and it doesn't come with the same basic Internet access as the existing accounts on the same machine? Yes, I'm sure that you haven't had this problem. Lucky you. But what pissed me off wasn't so much that the problem occurred in the first place -- these things happen with computers, I know -- but that Apple's error messages -- when there even were any -- were utterly, utterly useless, and provided not the remotest scintilla of information that might even point you in the vague direction of what's wrong. Like Windows used to be, but worse.

But, you know, thanks for assuming, even though I said I was an Apple user and that I was familiar with OSX, that the problem was that I didn't know how to do a basic easy thing in OSX.

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Quite.

I went through a similar process: I didn't make some grand decision to embrace Microsoft; I got a Lumia 800 because Quidco were giving away £160 to anyone who got one, and first it and then, one by one, other devices turned out just to be really good. I used to be a Mac user because OSX was streets ahead of Windows, which I hated. I'm hardly a Microsoft schill. But I had occasion to set up a new user account for my daughter on one of my old Macbooks the other day, and trying to get a fucking Mac to do something simple that's a piece of piss on Windows feels exactly as frustrating as the exact opposite did ten years ago.

I have a 1020 with the camera grip. It is incredible.

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Google Nest slurps your life into the Matrix? The TRUTH

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> Furthermore, the bussiness model of ad-subsidized free services, in exchange for data mining, is it becoming a barrier to entry markets and innovation, for players that dont want to enforce on their users this bussiness model?

It does seem to be, even -- weirdly -- when it's not cheap. Nest kit is quite expensive, is it not? I have a mechanical device that fits between the lightbulb and the light fitting. Flicking the light on then off then on triggers random mode. It cost less than a tenner. But I bet Nest will somehow outcompete them. Probably because GOOGLE MAGIC!

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London Tech Week: All for the luvvies and the joke's on you, taxpayers

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Re: Tech businesses

This whole conversation is making me wonder, at what point does something that was tech but is now so ordinary that no-one thinks of it as tech anymore become non-tech? I mean, for instance, do plumbers work in tech? What about blacksmiths?

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Re: Tech businesses

> Actually Google isn't really a Tech company.

So if someone gets a job coding for Google, that's not really a tech job?

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Capitalisation

> another division of The Boots Company did that. BTC is the retailer

Fair enough. I failed to read "Boots the chemist" as "Boots The Chemist". This level of literal-mindedness is surely why I've ended up in IT.

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Tech businesses

the definition of “tech” has been expanded enormously. Retailers are now tech businesses. The Bank of England is a tech business. So is Boots the chemist.

I agree with the broad point, but these are terrible examples. Boots, yes, are a chain of shops, but they also do R&D. They invented ibuprofen, which involved actual boffinry. If that's not tech, what is? The lie here is that someone is counting every job in Boots as a tech job, not that they're counting Boots as a tech firm.

As for the Bank of England, of course they're a tech firm. All banks are: money is a technological innovation, and always has been, at every stage of its development. Most banks of course have a huge retail division full of non-tech people, but the BoE don't. To argue that they're not a tech firm because actually they do banking is much the same as arguing that Google aren't a tech firm because actually they do advertising.

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'I'm for free speech!' brave Boris bellows, bewildered by 'right to be forgotten' bluster

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Re: Streisand effect

The Streisand Effect is named after Streisand inadvertently publicising an aspect of her life that was true at the time she was publicising it. The Spanish bloke has successfully publicised the fact that he was bankrupt a long time ago and is no longer. That might still be regarded as an own-goal (I have no idea; we'd need to ask him), but it's certainly not the same thing.

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Today's get-rich-quick scheme: Build your own bank

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Me too.

Tim, if you actually do this, I'll happily run your customer service.

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British boffin tells Obama's science advisor: You're wrong on climate change

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Re: Logic Fail

> Shit, what do you use to read a thermometer then, care to share ?

Thermometers provide data that can be copied and gathered and analysed anywhere. Since sisk was being quite specifically dismissive of that whole process and contrasting the evidence of their eyes against data gathered and analysed elsewhere, I reasonably concluded that said evidence had nothing to do with thermometers and was probably more along the lines of looking out the window and seeing a load of snow.

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Really? The scientific position taken by climatologists used to be that "extreme" (and there's an anthropomorphic term for you) weather events were caused by the temperature difference between the equator and the poles, and that Global Warming would therefore decrease their frequency. The "science" appears to have abandoned this theory because it's not headliney enough.

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Re: Logic Fail

> The original post contained both data and an indication of the confidence level of the data, your post didn't.

The original post contained the assertion that the accuracy of a scientific hypothesis can be judged by the geographical distance of the scientist from the phenomenon they're measuring, and that even mere anecdote beats science when the anecdote comes from someone who lives in the area and the science is from thousands of miles away. News to me that, on a forum inhabited by tech people, I need to indulge such claims with a detailed evidence-backed rebuttal -- and, even if I do, I frankly don't have time to type out a detailed account of the history of natural philosophy. But hey, back to your entrails.

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Re: Logic Fail

> We can measure temperature with sennsors, but temperature is only a secondary result of heating.

True enough. But I was replying to sisk, who was clearly talking about temperature, so what's your point?

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Re: Bah!

Damn straight. When short-term weather events support the ideas of long-term CAGW, climate equals weather; otherwise, climate does not equal weather.

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Re: Policy Guidelines

> Losing an empire because you cut down all your trees, and still supporting those kinds of ideas, is not the stuff of rational planning.

Yes, we do still support those kinds of ideas. They're quite absurdly popular here. Sometimes it seems to me that hardly a day goes by without yet another Sun editorial calling for us to lose an empire by cutting down more trees.

And yet our fuckwit lords & masters just refuse to acknowledge popular sentiment on this issue, sitting in their ivory towers, presiding over an undemocratic system in which our forestry keeps expanding. Bastards.

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What on Earth are they playing at?

Why are these scientists disagreeing? Haven't they heard there's a consensus?

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Re: Back up Lewis...

Not going to trawl all Lewis's articles to check this, but I don't recall that he's claimed Arctic ice is not retreating. I believe he's just made the point that Antarctic ice is expanding by a similar amount, and the decrease gets all the press while the increase is ignored.

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Re: Logic Fail

> It may be anecdotal

It is anecdotal, yes.

> but I'll take the evidence of my own eyes

Your eyes measure temperature? Are you a cyborg?

Thanks for naming your post what it was, by the way, Helpful.

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'Hashtag' added to the OED – but # isn't a hash, pound, nor number sign

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Re: “OED is descriptive”

> But "Blitz" when used in English is not a synonym for "lightning"

"Blitz" when used in German in that context is not a synonym for "lightning" either. The German reference to lightning was metaphorical, and we can use metaphors in English too.

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Re: “OED is descriptive”

> Well, by that reasoning, the word "sacrebleu" is English because it has been spoken by Englishmen. For that matter, one might argue that every word in existence is English for the same reason.

For the same reason? The same reason? "Reason" is a perfidious French word. What the hell are you playing at, trying to slip it into a decent law-abiding English sentence?

Anyway, yes, one might so argue, but the OED don't. "Connoisseur", "cor anglais", "pork", "beef", "mutton", "guardian", "warden", "tete-a-tete", "pied-a-terre", "cafe", "boudoir", "cordon", and, oo, "reason" are used commonly enough in English to be regarded by the OED as English; meanwhile, "brouillard", "trome", "ordinateur", and "pousse-cul" are not. So, you know, the words used by English-speakers are regarded as English and the words not used by English-speakers are regarded as non-English. You call this arbitrary. Hmm.

> I don't see the ordinary man on the street proclaiming these words to be English

I don't see the ordinary man in the street understanding a bloody word of Chaucer. I also don't see the ordinary man in the street publishing a major study of the English language. However, the OED are perfectly happy to accept contributions from the ordinary man in the street. So what's your point?

> I see a single publisher arbitrarily declaring them as such.

It's not arbitrary; they have quite strict rules for inclusion. The rules are published, so you could look them up.

> It's not that I'm being a cockwomble (see what I did there?)

Yes, brilliantly enough, you completely undermined your own argument:

> the problem is that many of these new words are not being created out of the necessity to describe something new

So cockwombles are something new? We didn't already have the words "eejit", "pillock", "plonker", "twonk", "fuckwit", "spoon", "tosspot", "wally", "wanker", "arse", "fanny", "twit", or "lummox"?

> they're being created unnecessarily by illiterate people (mostly Americans, it seems), who are blissfully ignorant of the perfectly adequate words that already exist to describe things that are fundamentally not really new at all.

Ah, the people who think a language is some sort of logical communication calculus. Oh no! A new word for an old thing! Help! Help!

Language is not a logical system, and was not designed to be, or at all. It's a quite brilliant system for communicating facts, opinions, emotions, feelings, ambiences, and pretty much anything. We make up words for all sorts of reasons, including because we just like the sound of them and are having fun. For instance, English speakers like rhymes, hence "higgledy-piggledy", "hotch-potch", and "rumpy-pumpy". We often coin new words where old ones already exist in order to describe the same thing in a different way, efficiently conveying nuances of the speaker's opinions and emotions: "kaput" versus "fucked" versus "broken", for instance. Interestingly enough, the linguists who actually study these things have discovered that we almost always coin words and phrases precisely because they are useful: when some indignant purist gets all indignant about a new "unnecessary" word, what you really mean, whether you realise it or not, is not that there is no need for the word but simply that you can't see its need. In which case, the fault is yours, not the speaker's.

Look, the English create new words constantly, yet English people like you regard that as perfectly OK whilst having conniptions if some fucking Yank has the temerity to do the same. Secondly, words cross from Britain to America all the time, yet English people like you have conniptions if anything travels in the other direction. Thirdly, English people like you, who like to claim that you're concerned with "proper" English, in fact, as anyone living outside the South-East is all too aware, also have conniptions over half the English as it is spoken in these sceptered isles, denouncing anything slightly unfamiliar-sounding as an "Americanism" when it's usually just dialect from a bit of Britain north of Watford or west of Reading. Parochial detestation of the unknown is not a principled stance.

> It's like a sort of idioglossia pandemic borne of ignorance

Quite.

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Re: Oxford’s destruction of English continues unabashed @Scroticus Canis

> I used to think that the Oxford in OED was the English university town

Er, it is. So what are you on about?

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Snowden's Big Brother isn't as Orwellian as you'd think

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Re: PanOpticon

> People with experience of running large organisations can get a little set in their ways

Absolutely, yes, but people with no experience of running large organisations have no fucking idea how to run large organisations, including governments and nation-states. Competence is the lesser of two evils.

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Re: PanOpticon

> On paper the most prepared to run nations are those who attended highly prestigious universities studying political science and economics

You think? Really? That's like saying "On paper, the best fighter pilots are people who've read lots of books about aerial battles." I suppose it depends who wrote on the paper.

I'd say the most prepared to run nations are people who've run organisations, the larger the better. Both in theory and in practice.

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Re: PanOpticon

> There's a lot more to it than that

Agreed. I was oversimplifying to keep the sentence snappy and make the point. The idea that they're due a civilian trial is the popular nonsense I was really arguing against.

> Actually there is. Put a round into the head of a civilian who has taken up arms against you ...

Agreed again. And that's where the big problem lies and why Gitmo has an odd legal status: these rules of war were designed to be used by nations who put their armed forces into uniform, because doing so allows the enemy to tell the difference between soldiers and civilians. Indeed, enforcing that distinction is a large part of why being on a battlefield out of uniform is considered such a heinous crime. If an enemy decides to use your rules against you by forgoing uniform completely, you can either roll over and lose or start trying to improvise new rules based on honouring the spirit of the old rules but without hamstringing yourself.

> That's no reason to condemn him.

Absolutely not, which is why I made the point that my main criticism of his campaign promises is not that he broke them but that making them in the first place indicated that he didn't have the knowledge or experience to be standing, and he should have realised that.

> Reagan: He got in with a bunch of warmongering 'We'll kick commie ass' speeches and then got a clip round the ear from Thatcher, realised nuclear war wasn't cool after all and helped end the Cold war.

I don't agree with that. Reagan realised that, in order to win the Cold War, the Russians had to believe you meant it. A major reason the Cold War ended was (as we now know from documents released after the USSR's collapse) that the Russians genuinely believed Reagan was ready and willing to launch a strike against them. Something that they certainly didn't believe about Carter. The warmongering rhetoric and the peace accords weren't opposites: they were the same strategy.

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Re: PanOpticon

> Guantanamo Bay still stands as a testimony to how the US government will evade its own laws in order to detain people without due process

What due process? The only process due to enemy combatants is that they give their name, rank, and serial number, at least one of which Al Qaeda don't use. They are not entitled to a civilian court case to establish whether they really are enemy combatants, and never have been. Guantanamo doesn't evade US laws, which apply to US citizens. It's basically a POW camp, with some convoluted legal shenanigans to avoid calling it that for political reasons related to Al Qaeda not being a nation-state. But there has never been any law against capturing fighters on a battlefield and locking them up without trial, in the US or any other country; it is in fact the civilised humane alternative to simply killing everyone, and the fact that it is an option means that enemies are not afraid to surrender, which reduces the casualty rate of battles.

Worth bearing in mind that Al Qaeda fighters don't wear uniform or insignia, and the internationally and historically accepted punishment for being a combatant on a battlefield out of uniform is summary execution. There's no legal grey area there: it's just absolutely undisputedly legally acceptable under the established rules of war. So would you prefer that the US do that? Then there'd be no detainees with worrisome disputed legal status. Wouldn't that be wonderful?

> The campaign finance laws in US ensure that the political process there is bought and paid for, rather than subject to democratic change.

I suggest you look up the relative budgets of Eric Cantor's and David Brat's campaigns.

> Before he was elected, Obama said he would close it. But it's still there.

Well, Obama said a lot of things. Fact is, he had no executive experience. Senators who stand for President usually have been on some defence committees and so on, so they have some idea of the top-secret stuff -- but not Obama. He made all sorts of promises, got into office, got handed the usual pile of stuff that's for the President's eyes only, and -- I strongly suspect -- thought "Holy fuck, these guys are some seriously dangerous bastards. I had no idea. I can't let them out." His mistake was in believing his voters when they told him that Guantanamo was full of innocent goatherds who'd been in the wrong place at the wrong time -- or, more accurately, his mistake was in standing for office with too little experience to know what the voters were wrong about. It would have been nice if he could have explained to the electorate after he changed his mind, but he's a typical politician: can't bear to be seen to do a U-turn. As if changing your mind in the face of new evidence is a sign of stupidity.

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Re: No, no, no.

If you explain what your actual problem is, I'll respond.

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