* Posts by Squander Two

1075 posts • joined 26 Mar 2012

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Brexit at the next junction: Verity's guide to key post-vote skills

Squander Two
Devil

Can I just point out that "Napoleon won" is the current French value of Waterloo?

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Squander Two
Devil

Re: I want Gregxit

I think we could revolutionize our credit-based economy by going back to the system where a bad debt must be collected by a "bum" (or "push-arse") who has to touch you with a wooden stave. As long as he doesn't touch you with his stick, you are allowed to run away. And they may not chase you if you stay in the Savoy for some reason.

We could combine payday loans with reality TV and LEAD THE WORLD.

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Squander Two
Devil

Re: Killer fact!

> About as stubborn as the Russians

I hereby propose that as the Northern Irish Tourist Board's new slogan.

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Squander Two
Devil

Killer fact!

The Battle of the Boyne took place on the 1st of July, yet its anniversary is celebrated every year on the 12th of July, because of the move from Julian to Gregorian dates. THAT's how stubborn the Northern Irish are.

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Asian hornets are HERE... those honey bee murdering BASTARDS

Squander Two

@ Steven Roper

Australia is a tad more isolated than Great Britain. You can stand in England and see France, no telescope required. We have strict quarantine for animals that can't swim the channel to keep rabies out, but there's sod-all we can do about flying animals.

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Squander Two

Re: Be Warned

> Why very dangerous? As mentioned Frelon Asiatique is not more dangerous than a standard bee.

Since a swarm of standard bees is very dangerous, what's your point?

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Lethal 4-hour-erection-causing spiders spill out of bunch of ASDA bananas

Squander Two

Brazil nuts

Brazil nuts' shells are also so high in aflatoxin that the EU tried banning them. For a few years there, you could only get them without their shells. That ban seems to have been repealed, though, judging by supermarket shelves.

Killer fact! Saddam Hussein's regime was the only ever to weaponise aflatoxin.

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Squander Two
Devil

Spiders are not insects.

But in a war they'd probably side with the insects.

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Apple seeks patent for paper bag - you read that right, a paper bag

Squander Two

Wouldn't this basically invalidate any such patent claims in the EU?

No.

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Squander Two

Re: Eco is just marketing

You beat me to it.

If Apple gave a damn about the environment, this wouldn't be a patent; they'd stick the design on the Web and send a copy to every retailer on the planet. Or they'd offer to manufacture them for everyone else at cost. "We're helping the planet by coming up with an innovative new way of doing less damage to the environment and we'll sue anyone else who tries to do the same" just doesn't sound all that convincing.

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Autonomous vehicles inquiry set up in the UK

Squander Two
Devil

Privacy? Really?

However, an industry survey carried out by Pinsent Masons, the law firm behind Out-Law.com, found that nearly 80% of respondents believe the UK government needs to change current laws either urgently or very urgently to facilitate driverless cars testing and use.

An earlier report published by Pinsent Masons in April identified outdated road traffic laws, complexities in patent licensing and restrictive data privacy rules as among the obstacles to the testing and adoption of driverless and connected vehicles.

Restrictive data privacy rules? Hmm, I wonder which of the firms you contacted might have said the Government needs to scrap data protection? We're looking for a company who are developing driverless cars and want all our private data. It's certainly a puzzler.

But I'm guessing it wasn't Volvo.

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You call it 'hacking.' I call it 'investigation'

Squander Two

Re: Battery Stapler Horse Fail

The point of the xkcd cartoon isn't so much that those four words are easily remembered as that any four random words are far easier to remember than the crap we're told to use for security reason yet also more difficult to crack -- because adding extra length to your password (generally) adds way more security than increasing the range of possible characters. You can add much more security by doing things like skipping or repeating the Nth letter of each word, or using joke spellings, so that none of them are in a dictionary. The initial letters of a memorable sentence make for an excellent password too: dead easy to remember but looks like a genuinely random string. The main problem with either of those systems is that most sysadmins refuse to give up on the whole "number, capital letters, punctuation mark" thing, so you have to use them regardless of how useful they are.

Instead of a password, I use a simple password-generation rule. Something along the lines of

[last three letters of company name] & [initials of memorable sentence] & [number of letters in URL minus 4] & [misspelt disctionary word]

gives excellent results: piece of piss to remember, the same rule for every site you use, yet a different actual password for every site.

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Squander Two

> I suppose actually saying 'Don't click anything in this message' would be pointless because that text might just be removed in a phishing email.

No, it gets users into the habit of seeing that message and so expecting that from their bank, which increases the likelihood of alarm bells ringing when it's not there. Although, personally, I don't think banks have done anything like enough to instill this lesson. There should've been primetime TV ads for the last decade just saying "Hi. This is a message from every single bank in the UK. We will never ever ever send any of our customers an email with a link in it. If you get an email with a link in it, it's not from us, and you should never click it."

I've had the "But you called me!" argument with First Direct a couple of times -- except it wasn't an argument, as they just said "Sure, no problem. Call us on the usual number and ask to be put through to my department." Since they (unlike some) answer the phone dead quickly, not a problem.

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It's OK for the FBI's fake hacks to hack suspects' PCs, says DoJ watchdog

Squander Two

Re: Aww, the press shedding crocodile tears...

> So the FBI couldn't or wouldn't plant incriminating document files on the suspect's home computer in case there weren't any real ones?

Course they could, and at least some of them would. The police are human, with all that implies. Don't get me started on Barry George.

But, in this particular case, I'm not sure what you're on about. The police didn't need to plant any incriminating files on the suspect's computer because they weren't looking for incrimating files; they were just grabbing his geographical location. The evidence against him was his idiot online boasts about what he'd done. Not much fitting up required there.

And this case isn't in the news because anyone reckons the suspect is innocent. It's in the news because the Associated Press are upset that an undercover police officer claimed to be from the Associated Press. Which they claim is an unconscionable scandal for some reason.

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Squander Two

Re: Aww, the press shedding crocodile tears...

> But what if there is a real local company called "Joe's Plumbing" that does precisely that kind of work, and the agent had deliberately faked their logo, their stencilled van, their business cards, all without mentioning it to the real company? Don't you think that company would have cause for complaint?

No.

Are we saying now that undercover police officers aren't allowed to pretend to be from real organisations? That is, frankly, weird. Why on Earth not? They're undercover. The whole point is that they lie and that the lies are realistic. Can a police officer deliver a pizza from Domino's in order to get a suspect to open the front door? Yes. I can't think of any way to care less whether Domino's are in on it.

And there is no damage to AP's reputation. Their only problem here is that criminals will be a little less likely to trust them. I reckon I'll manage to sleep tonight.

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Google's become an obsessive stalker and you can't get a restraining order

Squander Two
Devil

Re: The thing is...

Some people have realized that you can deliberately browse for weird obscure items during the same session as more common things just to give Amazon users a nicely surreal experience. If it's the sort of thing hardly anyone ever looks at, a few clicks can be enough to game the stats. Which is why you occasionally find yourself saying "People who bought this bicycle storage shed were also interested in a super-realistic warthog costume and a ten-pack of vibrators? What the what?"

Some people have strange hobbies.

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Squander Two
Devil

Efficacy.

I know I've told this story before, but I'm boring that way.

Like every other male on Facebook, I kept getting adverts for "Hot young promiscuous women in YOUR AREA inexplicably want to meet you!" Kept rejecting the adverts as offensive (which, since Facebook knows I'm married, they are), to no effect. Then one day my wife got our daughter the DVD of Annie, and I happened to make some comment on FB about a silly detail I noticed in the film. Immediately, all those ads vanished, to be replaced with "Lithe young men in stripy leggings and leather caps in YOUR AREA want to meet you!" Facebook are supposedly one of the world leaders at personal data-mining, and they have an algorithm that goes something like IF [mentions a musical] THEN [gay].

They have also served me adverts for a motorcycle hearse -- for all those Hells Angels' funerals I'm always organising -- and (and I swear I am not making this up) an amphibious assault vehicle. I'd love to claim I'm exciting enough for these adverts to have been pointed at me for a good reason, but I do IT for banks and like cooking and gardening.

To be fair, I did also discover the music of Meiko via a Facebook ad, and she's now one of my favourite singers. But I'm guessing that's just because her fanbase is mainly gay bikers mounting amphibious invasions.

I do object to the invasion of privacy in principle, but I'm not worrying too much about its actual effects just yet.

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Squander Two
Devil

Don't be evil.

It's the sort of classic misunderstanding of human nature typical of a bunch of IT geeks. They thought having "Don't be evil" as a motto would stop people being evil. In fact, of course, it just made the group complacently believe in their own non-evility, and so they cut themselves and each other way too big a break when conducting the moral critical evaluation that makes up most of our daily existence. Google's entire staff have been rendered completely qualmless.

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Ex-GCHQ chief: Bulk access to internet comms not same as mass surveillance

Squander Two

Re: What database?

> The only way a filter can work is if there is a central government database.

Nonsense.

"Hello, Transco? Government here. Could you give us the names and other sundry details of anyone who paid gas bills at both these addresses over the last ten years, please?"

"Hi, Government. We'd love to, but sadly that information is on our own database. Obviously we could only provide it to you if you already held it on your own database. Sorry. Love, Transco."

> there is no way that EE can know that person A carrying phone X is, or is not, person A carrying phone Y on the Vodaphone network.

So?

> Very few crims ... are stupid enough to carry the same phone to different jobs.

According to Candice DeLong, the unofficial motto of the FBI is "Ain't you glad they're dumb?" Most criminals are thick.

http://awesci.com/the-astonishingly-funny-story-of-mr-mcarthur-wheeler/

Besides, it is obviously always true that we could make laws worse in order to make the police's job easier. That doesn't mean that, if you can think of a way in which a law isn't making the police's job as easy as it could, the law can't really exist.

> What they continually gloss over though is the fact that anyone can buy a cheap phone without any identity check and pop in a prepaid sim card, then throw it away once the job is one.

Who's glossing over that? I'm pretty sure both the Government and the police are well aware of that, and I've certainly never seen any of them try to imply otherwise. The phones-at-crime-scenes things was just an illustrative example of how the filters work, not some sort of claim of supercop prowess.

> Which gets us back to the real reason for this bill: to be able to retroactively go though the masses of data

They've drawn up a bill which prevents the police getting mass data slurps and attempts to limit the amount of irrelevant data they get in order to give the police more data?

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Squander Two

> The use of a term that absolutely everybody else uses to mean one thing

I think you're living in an IT bubble. Half the public have no idea what "blog" means and would probably simply call a blog a "website". Of those who do know what blog means, very few know that it's an abbreviation of "weblog".

I mean, seriously, "absolutely everybody else uses" the term "weblog"? When did you last hear it? I had a blog post go viral and make the news (and am still going on and on about it), and I don't think any of the coverage ever used the term "weblog".

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Squander Two
Flame

What database?

Last week, the Home Office confirmed to The Register that the system would be used by public authorities to make a "complex request for communications data". Which, put another way, is a database query.

The Register appear to think that the small matter of who owns and maintains a database is apparently not even worth mentioning. But surely it's relevant.

The National ID Card and Database thing that the Coalition stopped was to be a government database owned and maintained by the state, with all subjects' details kept in it compulsorily, available to state employees to peruse. There were also plans to add facial-recognition software and plug it into the CCTV network, so that the state could keep tabs on every one of us every minute of every day.

The new filter things proposed in Theresa May's new plans mean that the state makes a request to (say) a telco for some phone records and the telco then applies the filters before providing the data to the state, so that the state don't end up holding extra data that they don't need. The example given by the Home Office in response to The Reg's last article was very clear:

· The assertion that the request filter in the draft Investigatory Powers Bill is a “secret database of citizens’ personal lives and habits” is plain wrong. The Request Filter is a safeguard that means when public authorities make a complex request for communications data (i.e. police seeking to find out which mobile phone was at three crime scenes at the relevant times) they only get back data that is absolutely necessary.

· Currently, public authorities might approach CSPs for location data to identify the mobile phones used in those three locations at the relevant times, in order to determine whether a particular phone (and a particular individual) is linked to the three offences. This means the public authority may acquire a significant amount of data relating to people who are not of interest.

· The request filter will mean that when a police force makes such a request, they will only see the data they need to. Any irrelevant data will be deleted and not made available to the public authority.

Well, I think it's clear, but apparently The Register can't understand it.

Current system: Police ask telco for the details of every user of every mobile phone in range of three crime scenes at given times. The police receive a ton of data and start filtering it themselves. The police therefore incidentally receive details of your whereabouts and phone activity even though you're not even remotely a suspect, just because you happened to be near one crime scene at one time.

New system: Police ask telco for the details of the users of any mobile phones in range of three crime scenes at given times. The telco filter the data accordingly and send the police the filtered data, containing only details of phone users who were at all three crime scenes at the given times. The police never receive your details just because you were near one crime scene at one time.

There is no unified state database of everything here. This is quite explicitly a move to allow the authorities to access data they need while limiting their access to data they don't.

There is a principled position to be taken against all these separate corporate databases, of course, and no doubt there's a lot of overap between people who object to a unified state database and people who object to separate corporate databases, but they're still two different things. And there are surely plenty of people like me, who object strongly to the unified state database but are content to accept corporate databases. I for one don't hanker for the days when you'd ring British Gas and they'd go away to look up your details in a filing cabinet. Telcos have to organise our billing somehow.

But The Register's position appears to be simply that a database query is involved so OMG SECRET GOVERNMENT DATABASE! Even when the database in question isn't the government's. This is puerile stuff.

But – if you obey Whitehall – no one is allowed to use the word "database". Indeed, it's not mentioned once in May's proposed law.

Obviously, because May's law doesn't concern databases; it concerns requests by the government to corporations to give them data. While it is of course convenient for those corporations to keep their data in databases rather than filing cabinets for their own purposes, that is no concern of Whitehall's. When the police request some data, they don't care whether it was being kept in a database or an Excel file or a dog-eared cardboard folder; they just want the data. And surely any law that specifically mentioned databases and therefore allowed companies to dodge it by printing some data out and deleting a few rows from the DB would be a badly and downright stupidly drafted law.

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Squander Two

It's always possible that he works in an environment and was speaking in a context in which the term "weblog" has a different meaning. It's also possible that he said "Web log" and it's been mistranscribed as "weblog".

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Freebooting: How Facebook's 8 billion views could be a mirage

Squander Two
WTF?

Seriously?

Prolific Youtube users are COMPLAINING about copyright infringement?

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ASA slaps Ebuyer AGAIN - this time for ignoring regulator

Squander Two

Re: Never had a problem with Ebuyer and am happy to recommend them

I've had mixed experience with Ebuyer. I got a cheap big TV from them with a three year guarantee and its headphone port stopped working after a couple of years. They arranged courier pick-up. They no longer stocked the same TV, so credited me a full refund. Meanwhile, the price of TVs had of course come down, so I used the credit to get a better TV and they sent me £50 as well. And of course the three year guarantee on the new TV started afresh. Excellent service there.

That experience led me to get a small TV with built-in DVD-player from them. The player skips a beat every few minutes, which I find very annoying, especially if music is playing. Ebuyer took it back and looked at it and then sent it back to me again, claiming that it wasn't a fault. Apparently, they regard it as working as designed -- which is shite when you consider you can get a DVD-player from Asda for £17 which works better. So I was quite unimpressed by that. On the other hand, they didn't charge me shipping for taking back a device which they claim is not faulty and then sending it to me again.

Everything else I've had from them has been fine.

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Squander Two

You know, giving you a full refund is really not all that bad.

I had the opposite: got a TV from them that developed a fault and they gave me a full refund. The price of TVs had gone down in the interim, so I was able to get a similar but better replacement plus an extra £50.

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Squander Two

"Mainland UK"

The whole "mainland UK" thing pisses me off. Not only because I live in Northern Ireland so am often affected by it, but because it's just plain bad English. If you exclude NI, then it's not the bloody UK, is it? It's like saying "We deliver to all of North America (excluding Mexico and Canada)."

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Microsoft Windows Mobile 10: Uphill battle with 'work in progress'

Squander Two

Re: Onedrive downgrade

> I don't know what phone carrier you're using - but if you can push 30GB of photos to the cloud over your phone in any normal timeframe, I want to know who you're signed up with. I get 6GB/mo and that's a special deal. If I had to renew my account, I'd be lucky to get 3GB at the same price... so it would take me at least five months of solid heavy photography to fill 15.

What has the amount of storage on Onedrive got to do with the cost of your phone contract? Seriously, I don't see any link at all. You seem to be working from the assumption that the only reason to put a photo on Onedrive is that you're out and about and that no-one would ever do so at home. That assumption is completely bizarre. Windows Phone even has a setting for users to decide whether photos get uploaded via mobile or wifi, which rather indicates that a lot of users are using wifi.

> At 10 photos a day - it would take 5.5 months to fill that up.

Five-and-a-half months! Gosh. What makes you think this is a long time? I've been using Onedrive a couple of years now, and intend to use it a few more, unless the silly price hike turns out to be the first of many.

> So no - for the vast majority of people, no - you won't fill it up soon enough unless you really want to keep every photo you take online and in OneDrive.

What, the vast majority of people would never keep files for five-and-a-half months?

OK, so the idea of keeping all your photos online is obviously so crazy to you that you can't even get your head around the idea of other people doing it. But surely you've noticed the plethora of services offering that exact thing to people? Have you considered that they might be offering the service because a lot of people are in fact using it?

I keep all my photos online. Used to use Mozy's backup, then switched to just bunging everything on Onedrive because it's a hell of a lot more convenient. Available on all my devices, trivially easy to share, and all backed up. I doubt I'm that unusual.

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Squander Two

Re: Just give up already, Microsoft

> Sadly WP10 seems to be screwing things up and I'm wondering if my support for WP will come to an end, and I should give up and get an iPhone.

I'm worried about WP10. Haven't tried it yet, but reports are mixed, and it certainly sounds like they're ditching some of what makes WP8 good. But it stretches credulity to think that even Microsoft on their worst day could screw it up so badly that it would be worth getting an iPhone instead.

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Drones are dropping drugs into prisons and the US govt just doesn't know what to do

Squander Two

Re: Dungeon ?

Hey, if it's good enough for federal pension bureaucrats, why not prison guards?

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WIN a 6TB Western Digital Black hard drive with El Reg

Squander Two

Work in IT, they said. See the world, they said.

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Squander Two

You know, there are times I wish I'd never told HR I was getting RSI.

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Squander Two

Shut down all the trash compactors on the detention level!

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So just what is the third Great Invention of all time?

Squander Two
Devil

Gods and dogs.

Plus the insistence that things really do have some rational causes, ones that don't change at a whim. It's rather necessary to get God out of the system, or at least out of the detailed operation of it, before that idea can properly take hold and thus the connection with humanism.

I think Pratchett and Stewart and Cohen argued very persuasively that in fact it's necessary to get gods, plural, out of the system. Once you have just one god, the idea begins to take hold that each phenomenon has a consistent cause and that therefore the same conditions will always give the same results. It's multiple gods bickering with each other that are the problem.

Anyway, you're takling bollocks again, Tim. Everyone knows mankind's greatest invention is the puppy. Can't believe that's even up for debate.

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‘Insufficient evidence’ makes Brit cops drop revenge porn probes

Squander Two

Re: I don't get it

Well said, sir. Sick to death of these self-absorbed eejits blaming the victims every time this subject comes up.

Here are some examples for the morons to think about.

Disabled people who can't perform sex the same way everyone else can and have to come up with workarounds, which may sometimes involve pictures.

Soldiers on active duty, away from their spouses for months or years at a time, whose spouses may provide them with pictures to help them through the long-term absence. Same for oil rig workers, Antarctic researchers, wildlife photographers, etc.

People having therapy to overcome intimacy problems.

It's not clear to me that any of the above are stupid bastards who deserve public humiliation.

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Squander Two

Re: This is a stupid law and a waste of police time and money

> If you allow someone to take photographs of you in embaressing positions/naked/ whatever then who is to blame?

Damn straight. And so what if someone has posted the positive results of your HIV test online? Whose stupid idea was it to have the test in the first place, eh?

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OH GROSS! The real problem with GDP

Squander Two

Re: Goodhart !

That ties in with Sir John Cowperthwaite's advice on how to grow a successful economy: abolish the office of national statistics.

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Squander Two

> But then the man then has more money to spend

You're not married, are you?

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Top boffin Freeman Dyson on climate change, interstellar travel, fusion, and more

Squander Two

Re: The role of models in Science

> unless you can establish some degree of universality (and even, to some degree, if you can) you never really know what the limits of validity of a model are without testing it against the real world

The thing I should have added about pre-Keplerian astronomical models is that humans had been staring at the night sky and keeping meticulous and pretty damn accurate records of what they saw since the Babylonians, so those models were based on a hell of a lot of data -- so could easily be tested against the real world. Climatologists just don't have that advantage.

I think my point is that, to develop a simplified model, you either need real-world comparison or you need to develop complicated models that include everything and then figure out which variables can be removed. Which is a bugger.

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Squander Two

Re: The role of models in Science

> Weather, climate. Examples of 'chaotic' systems.

Weather is a chaotic system. Last I checked, climatologists were still trying to figure out whether climate is chaotic.

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Squander Two

Re: The role of models in Science

> models turn out to be most useful when they distill or abstract a particular aspect of a problem

Such as the temperature?

> in answer to specific questions

Such as "What will the temperature be?"?

Less facetiously, yes, good point. Another excellent example of successful oversimplified modelling is the various pre-Keplerian models of planetary movements. Despite their insistence on making all astronomical bodies follow paths constructed of perfect circles (often quite contrived combinations of circles), some of those models were good enough to make accurate centuries-long predictions.

Of course, we now know that the heavens are not eternally unchanging and that planetary orbits will change over very long timescales. So, whilst those models were brilliant at predicting movements within this small fraction of astronomical time human civilization exists in, they're useless at modelling the eventual departure from this apparent equilibrium and what might happen next, or at explaining what happened before.

Ferromagnetic phase transition, on the other hand, is a more universal thing: it was the same a billion years ago, it'll be the same in a billion years, and it's the same whether you're standing on planet Earth or flying through some other galaxy.

It strikes me that these are essentially different circumstances to model: something universal, or near enough universal, and something that only pertains in specific local conditions. In the latter case, we need to know the limits of what can be accurately described by a simple model so that we may then make confident predictions up to those limits and equally confidently assert "No idea" beyond them.

So the question is: have climatologists figured out those limits yet?

Meteorologists have.

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Rights groups: Darn you Facebook with your 'government names'

Squander Two
Facepalm

Re: Easy one.

Two things. Firstly, what is so wrong with a company's customers exerting pressure on that company to change their policies? This is one of many ways for a company to assess what services there is demand for. When customers do this, they're basically giving the company free market research results. It's valuable data, that well run companies welcome.

There are pub landlords out there who tell all their customers "If you don't like it, fuck off," and there are others who get in that new beer everyone's asking for and install a pool table because a couple of dozen of their customers keep asking for one. Guess which kind of pub does better.

Secondly, Facebook's users aren't their customers; they're the raw material out of which they build their product. Facebook want as much near-enough-free raw material as possible. Their business plan is entirely based on enticing users with a service that everyone on the planet will want. So "If you don't like it, fuck off" is about the most moronic policy they could possibly adopt.

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Squander Two

Re: I think we need to

> Companies would love the extra productivity from their staff.

Can't believe you would be so crass as to bring that up on the El Reg Forums.

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Squander Two

Re: Real name?

Yes, this whole idea of a "real" name is an American thing that works in some other jurisdictions and not others. As usual, a Silicon Valley company has difficulty comprehending that the whole world isn't California.

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Surface Book: Microsoft to turn unsuccessful tab into unsuccessful laptop

Squander Two

Re: But why do I have to choose?

Good plan. And it would also help sales, surely, as people with the cheaper keyboard opted to upgrade it.

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What is money? A rabid free marketeer puts his foot in lots of notes

Squander Two

Re: @rob

> whom should we be rewarding and supporting more -- teachers or bankers?

Humanity keeps getting richer and education standards plummet. Is that a trick question?

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Squander Two

Re: The British economy is not an island

> Fortunately we can rely on the historical mutual love and respect between France and the UK

Well, I suppose we could try that. Or we could be cynical and use the fact that London is now something like the third-largest French city as a bargaining chip.

Nice diaspora you've got there. Shame if something were to happen to it. Like if it suddenly all went home.

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Squander Two
Facepalm

Re: The British economy is not an island

One of the things I find odd about the EU's enthusiasts is their conviction that the EU is the only possible set of international treaties available to European countries. If the UK were to leave the EU, both sides would immediately set about negotiating a bunch of treaties. OBVIOUSLY. I mean, what bizarre universe do you need to live in not to realise that?

Even Schengen wasn't an EU agreement at the start. A bunch of member states just negotiated their own treaty on their own accord, without the EU's help, and the EU later adopted it. This was not a strange event. It's what countries do.

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Squander Two

Re: ...the right to call upon the resources...

> And if you really, really, pressed an economist he'd probably tell you that unlimited free energy would mean the end of economics. Because there would be no scarcity and economics is about the allocation of scarce resources.

I can't agree with that. I don't believe that, given unlimited free energy, everyone will be content to just go on using all the already existing technology as much as they want forever. People will want new things that work in new ways. Which means that ingenuity will still be required, and ingenuity is a scarce resource. Also, one of the reasons that people will want new tech is that they will want to be able to do the same things more quickly. And that is because time is a scarce resource.

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Squander Two

Re: Smoke and Mirrors

GDP may contain all sorts of crappy assumptions, but it at least contains the same crappy assumptions wherever we measure it. So, whilst it may not be a great absolute measure of an economy, it is quite a good way of comparing economies to each other. Ish.

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Squander Two

Re: Moral dimension

Dan55,

> the debt-generating money merry-go-round which transfers bank debt to state debt and requires more bonds to be paid out at some future time than would otherwise have been.

...

> After a state takes on bank debt, the state needs to make cutbacks or raise taxes or both.

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> Isn't a sovereign debt crisis what happens when a state cannot pay out what it has to pay out when the bonds it has sold mature? If a state doesn't gratuitously take on debt, it won't have that problem.

Perhaps I've missed something in your reasoning here, but you appear to be treating borrowing and lending as the same. You've used the phrase "take on debt" to describe both issuing bonds (debt) and nationalising mortgages and other bank loans (credit). You then describe the consequences of too much debt and assume that they are also the consequences of too much credit -- easy to do when you're using the same words to describe each. But no. If a government "takes on debt" by nationalising a bank, it has purchased an asset, which it can sell and which will probably provide an income before the government sells it -- because it is not in fact taking on debt; it is taking on credit. If a government "takes on debt" by issuing bonds, it is simply borrowing money that it will eventually have to pay back. So you're right when you say "If a state doesn't gratuitously take on debt, it won't have that problem." But you're wrong when you imply that the phrase "take on debt" in that sentence can refer to buying a bank. They're opposites.

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