1783 posts • joined Friday 1st June 2012 10:28 GMT
Re: re. traditional seafood nomenclature
"They could have called it 'cod'."
How about "Docker's oyster card"?
On a slightly more serious note, why didn't the daft bu99ers just use the same Oyster card system as London. All the R&D's done, it works on buses, trams and tubes, and it works very well.
" I suppose this is going to make Haswell look like computing by making marks on a stick with a knife."
Not anytime soon...
But it does raise the question about what software we'll be using if the technological progression keeps on seeing processing power doubled every eighteen months. Time for a new ground up OS, anyone? Or will we keep buying scrub ups of Windows, Linux, and various *nix derivatives with technological roots in the 1990's?
"Just to repeat, yes, I know that their "2 to 8" is a frequency, not a money amount. So my comparison is entirely incorrect: but still interesting."
You could deflate the $ billion threshold, OR you could inflate the damage. Either amount to the same thing in information terms, but you certainly wouldn't do both.
I did make the point that there's more to damage because of economic growth and associated demographic and technical aspects. The UK parallel is flood damage. Are floods more frequent than they ever were? Maybe, maybe not, but in terms of (say) million pound events, we'd have far more today because we've built on flood plains (demographics & policy), we've got more property (growth), construction standards and therefore rebuild costs are higher than original cost (policy), technology has provided us with expensive stuff to damage (tablets, smartphones), and so on - regardless of the price indexing we use.
Ultimately, the article is a bit like ""movie X has been the highest/fastest grossing movie of all time". In reality it tells us nothing useful. And I'm not sure its interesting because the stuff being reported is neither methodically sound, or interesting. Unless people just want the hyperbolic curve on that graph to justify the vast wasted investment in "combating climate change".
Re: In other electric car news...
"electric cars appear to be the future"
In some utopian vision, yes. More realistically they will at best be a small part of the future, because if they were a large part of future mobility then you very, very quickly run into electricity generation capacity limits, and into grid capacity constraints. In the UK, for example, transport energy demand is about 45% greater than total domestic energy demand from all sources including gas. But UK transport energy use is six times the amount of domestic energy supplied by electricity. You'd also dramatically exacerbate peak demand problems, although perhaps changing the time of day when they occur.
Even if you only converted half of your transport to EVs, then you're still quadrupling domestic sector electricity use, and neither the national grid, local distribution, or generation sectors would be able to cope with that. Just to cope with wind and solar, the EU needs to spend €10^12 on the electricity network. How much would that be with quadrupled domestic demand?
Re: Apples and pears
"If it costs $50 for 300 miles in a Tesla, and $100 for 499 in an Audi then the Tesla is looking good."
Today, yes. Tomorrow yes. But if EV's start to pick up, then the government will need to replace lost tax revenues, and electricity prices will need to double or treble for the carbon free generation that the EV fans want.
"Are these numbers inflation adjusted? Do they take into account the rising populations (and thus costs)?"
Nominally they are. The database mentions though that they used consumer prices as an inflator, and like you I smell method error (but hey! this is "proof of climate change", so anything goes).
For starters, consumer price indices would be wholly inappropriate for infrastructure damage, where construction prices should be used. For agricultural commodities you should use agricultural prices, and so forth. The only place for a consumer prices inflator to be correct would be valuing the stock of your kitchen cupboards. Even then, price inflators are market prices, which don't necessarily reflect constant exchange rates between real goods and fiat money. If (say) as a result of GM, crop yields rise, then one acre devastated by a tornado causes more financial damage. Rising population density and increased personal wealth (bigger houses, more posessions, cars etc) have exactly the same effect.
Measuring damage in cash, and using the wrong inflator as well is complete nonsense, and increases the frequency of billion dollar events over time. The global warmists will see that lovely hyperbolic curve as "proof", although like all regression and similar techniques it is merely a mathematical artefact.
So what do we want this to be? The use of the wrong inflator certainly doesn't help, but chances are that weather related losses are rising as societies wealth and the population rise, and the climatic aspects are essentially minimal. If you look at all event frequency based on reported events rather than value, then it does initially appear that hurricanes and tornadoes are increasing in frequency. But some of that is related to better monitoring, with very significant rises in probability of detection (tornadoes) or prediction (when tropical storms become hurricanes). If you then look at the frequency of either F5 tornadoes or major hurricanes, the current frequencies are not out of kilter with the entire 20th C, and in fact the 1930s appeared notably worse.
Re: No bureaucracy
The tragedy is that despite this industrial scale monitoring, they've still not been able to make much inroads in the more obvious areas like drugs and organised crime. Which leads me to the conclusion that either they don't care because the programme IS aimed at monitoring the peasants rather than protecting them. OR the programme is largely ineffectual.
Based on my engagement with government I suspect the latter. We're paying for this programme, but actually it's ineffectual, bureaucratic, and generally incompetent. Think of it as a "public service" and maybe that makes it OK.
Re: Financials 101 ..
"investors getting screwed by Apple."
In my book bondholders are creditors, not investors, but either way, how are they being screwed? They currently stand every chance of being paid the ridiculous coupon that they signed up for.
All that's happened is that those that rushed to the front of the queue have found that the queue behind them was shorter than they envisaged, should they want to sell on.
Re: I remember seeing an documentary a while back
"in 1940 RAF fighter command was one of the most efficient, (self)disciplined organisations to have ever existed. The Luftwaffe on the other hand was a bunch of egomaniacal cowboys."
A bit of a simplification. But excuse none the less to break out the DVD of the 1969 film "Battle of Britain", crank up the surround sound, and sit back and enjoy one of the best war movies ever made.
Re: This always makes me wonder...
"World class hackers can possibly be trained, but they have to be smart and capable of creative, lateral thinking and have a good imagination and visualisation skills to put the training into practice"
I can't see the Norks finding much local creativty and original thought, when they require the local population to be motivated by slogans like "Let's expand goat rearing and create more grassland in accordance with the party!"
Re: Nobody trusts Google
"Microsoft has no choice but to buy Nokia if it wants WP to survive."
That would buy them some time, by stopping Nokia from producing Android (or other OS) phones. But it doesn't alter the market dynamics that nobody wants WP. So for WP to survive longer term, Microsoft have to actually make it desirable for customers, and commercially attractive for handset makers.
It needs to be offered on (perhaps) the Galaxy S5, or whatever is flavour of the month next year. It needs to have the support of "influentials" (which probably includes Reg readers). And it needs to lose the $25 or more licence fee. But Microsoft aren't hip, and they aren't popular, nor do they currently have a business model that can create revenues from usage or additional services. And there's no compelling capabilities of WP - even on the hardware side the Nokia 41Mp camera isn't compelling in a world where (as with audio) adequate is more than good enough for most buyers.
WP is doomed until Microsoft forget about the technology (and the tiles) and have a root and branch review of the customer proposition and the commercials: Why should anybody choose WP, and how can Microsoft make a profit?
Re: If they can't match Amazon....
"Why not act as delivery points for Amazon and share a cut?"
Amazon already offer that with a lot of convenience stores, with their locker delivery. Staples tried to do that with Amazon, but for some reason it didn't work. I think the "collect from" option wouldn't produce the margins to support the stores, which needs a primary income stream, just as Tesco Direct mainly piggybacks on the grocery stores.
The real killer for brick and mortar retailers is tax. The costs of publicly accessible premises are one of the few costs that businesses can't offset against tax, and they get caned for business rates based largely on their size, rather than margins. Acting as a delivery point and showroom would incur the same tax bills as being a full service shop, but your margins would be shredded - retail gross margin on white goods is around 30%, lower on computing kit CDs and books, but Amazon manage on 26%. Factor in the other overheads of a store that aren't variable (rent, staff, energy), and you'll see that the delivery point can only work if its costs are minimal - you can't have the showroom unless you pay a lot more.
The delivery margins are such that there simply isn't the fat to support a bricks and mortar presence, because that costs, and people don't want to pay, as Comet, Jessops and HMV have already found. There's a few stores that have the location to make them viable, but too many stores simply don't cover their costs of operation. Jessops, have now gone bust twice, and some goons have still reopened a few of the stores - how long before the go bust again?
Nobody trusts Google
There will be rather a lot of choice in phone operating systems in due course: WP, Android, IOS, Firefox, Tizen, plus a few extra wannabes like Sailfish and Ubuntu.
But the fight is on in the open source or "free" OS space. WP isn't going to be free anytime soon, and IOS isn't going to be available to others. The interest of hardware makers in new (and inevitably less polished) systems suggests that nobody trusts Google (or perhaps, they trust Google even less than they ever did). Personally I'll be surprised if these new OS's can really compete, but they could change the dynamic, so that Google pay the makers to install Android. Historically mobile advertising pulled in about $14 per phone/year for Google (if we believe Oracle), so on a two year contract the potentially shareable revenue is perhaps only $10, but if that annual value increases as mobile internet gains traction then the numbers look rather better.
I can't see the cost or performance of Android being Apple's downfall (that's in their own hands), but it would mean curtains for WP, as there would be a $30-$50 gap between Android and WP purely on licence fees, made worse by the fact that WP8 product development is recovered on lower volumes.
"E" who shall not be named will be pleased!
Re: Speaking as someone who doesn't know much about business,
"4) anything else your accountants can get away with so they can ofset it against tax."
Not quite. Virtually all legitimate costs of doing business are tax allowable anyway, because the intention is to tax profits. However, there is a tendency to sweep all manner of things up into restructuring costs, because directors believe that "exceptional items" can be ignored, and "exceptionals" get excluded from the board's bonus calculations. That practice is well known, and is referred to as big bath provisioning, and assumes that shareholders are either stupid or powerless (which is broadly speaking true).
Re: Accusation should not equal guilt @ Ian Yates
Certainly will be cost led, but the government isn't privatising anything - all legal aid was private sector provision, and in terms of choice that still exists - both before and after the changes you get the choice of who (on the legal aid roster) you want, although the number of firms offering legal aid will intentionally be a smaller number.
Re: @ Jess
"You aren't familiar with the N8 then"
No, because like vast numbers of others I'd jumped ship by then. The N8 was released in Q3 of 2010 so was comparable to the original Galaxy. On many counts the N8 was better, but the Galaxy had a better quality, bigger, higher resolution screen, even though the phones were about the same size. Compared to the Galaxy S2 launched in Q2 2011, the N8 was laughable.
The N8 repeated the 5800 story - functionally it did what it said on the tin; good in so many ways, but not good enough where it counted.
No, that's the time to file the accounts with Companies House. Many companies choose to file at the last minute (nine months after the financial year end, in simple terms) purely because they don't really want to make information publicly available, but delay is the only option open to them.
A small number intentionally file their accounts late and pay the penalties which are quite small (£1,500 for over six months late). Technically late filing is a criminal offence, but it is most unsual for a prosecution to be brought against either company or directors for late filing.
Re: Accusation should not equal guilt@ Tapeador
"unlike the American public defender system - we spend a fortune on the very best lawyers to defend the worst criminals"
You'll soon need to put that in the past tense, as the legal aid reforms mean that legal aid lawyers will be composed of large firms bidding to get contracts for the lowest possible cost, and often getting fixed fees that encourage them to bid on the basis of thinly spread and poorly paid lawyers, but then to only assign a legal clerk. As a result you can expect that the standard of justice in magistrates & crown courts to worsen, and conviction rates to rise (although they are already around 83%).
Some might view spending money on legal aid to defend the 83% was a waste of time, and the majority of the rest probably got off purely on a technicality, but what price the number who are wrongly accused, and will no longer have adequate representation?
Re: That would be a long wait.
"Had Google bought Moto earlier, half of the handset makers would have bailed on Android because Google's phone would always have an advantage."
I doubt it. Where else would they have gone? Phone software only seems to be successful if it is built by a software-focused company. When a hardware-focused company tries to do software the results are invariably grim, whether we're talking smart phones of smart TVs.
Add in that Android is free, WP is expensive, and there were no other free phone OSes ar the time. The existence of the Nexus 4 doesn't seem to be putting third party manufacturers off, nor is there a big queue for Firefox or Ubuntu phones?
Re: Freefall started after Elop
"Tomi Ahonen has a detailed analysis of their sales and financials that shows the freefall didn't start until after the 'burning platform' memo."
But the damage was done before that. Apple (ptooh!) were defining what a modern smart phone was, and how an app store and ecosystem worked. Nokia brought us dogs like the 5800, and Ovi, with inconsistent user experience and patchy performance. Bright spots like excellent audio, "comes with music" (which could have been a Spotify) and mapping were never properly exploited. They were late to the party on capacitive touchscreens, they persisted with thick candybar formats when thin was the new black, and they never seemed to understand the importance of screen size (so very high dpi for the time on the 5800 screen, but screen diemnsions that were laughable). They persisted with feature phones (ie restricted smartphones) when the margins were to be made offering more expensive phones with higher capabilities. And despite an early lead in credible cameras they were too slow in upping the resolution to supplant compact cameras.
Re: Market share
"why buy now when you can wait a year and get it for a bargain basement price"
Because (as Huawei have indicated) there's other people who may be interested. So if Nokia's results are poor, and the share price falls, then you have a Dutch auction, and waiting for the price to fall low enough enables somebody else to make a deal.
Lots of potential buyers other than Microsoft: Paternt trolls, Private equity, any of the larger Chinese makers who haven't made headway in Western markets (probably about five or six companies in this category in addition to Huawei). Even industrial conglomerates who might want a piece of mobile action.
Never mind that, a BT boss as head of trade and investment"?
I could understand if he were being appointed as government minister responsible for poorly-regulated, sluggish, price gouging, taxpayer cash-grabbing quasi-monopolies.
Re: Well I'll go the bottom of our stairs!
"I thought DVLA was in Swansea?"
Whoops. Although the point remains that sending the expendables (from the point of view of senior civil servants and politicians) out into the provinces isn't enough.
Re: more of my data going to India....
Indeed. Perhaps the EU are dragging their heels having realised that €30bn spent offshore is (on a 70:30 manpower/hardware split) about half a million European jobs flushed down the drain.
Then again, the EU are quite happy to throw millions of jobs on the climate change bonfire, so perhaps its just the usual EU sluggish incompetence?
Well I'll go the bottom of our stairs!
If the problem is one of labour mobility, then surely the answer is to make mobility easier.
I can't see the private capital flooding into to supplant all (largely subsidised) local authority and RSL housing, nor the mortgaged sector. But there are plenty of things government could do, but choose not to, to enhance mobility. Like more and cheaper trains (noting that people won't pay for these at market rates, so we're talking about even more subsidies than the £6bn rail currently gets). Better roads, lower taxes on road fuel. The abolition of stamp duty on house purchases, the abolition of crappy government paperwork like "energy performance certificates".
There's also the problem that government have failed to dent London's economic hegemony in the UK. Having the centre of commerce, finance, politics and law in one place guarantees a skewed economy, regional imbalances and labour immobility. They need to do a lot more than send the BBC hoi polloi to Machester, and the paper pushers of DVLA to Cardiff if they want to resolve this.
Personally I can't see the needs of the 99% being put ahead of the 1%, and the 1% rather like the status quo.
Re: Google apps optional
" I would actually like an UK/EU based OS, maybe even an UK based phone manufacturer!"
Well, we had an EU based OS. But the Finns managed to fuck it up to the point that they had to import Elop. The crimes (or not) of Elop are irrelevant here, and the point is that Nokia had the software, and made a complete mess. Even without Elop it's unlikely they would have recovered the situation.
As for UK (or even EU) manufacture, the EU has long since regulated itself out of the IT production and assembly markets. If you wanted UK design, there was Sendo, bought and wasted by the idiots of Motorola, albeit predating the smartphone era, Ericsson made great little phones, Siemens had some interesting stuff etc.
We had the choice of buying European, the problem is that when the money went on the table people didn't choose Nokia, Siemens, Sendo, or Ericsson.
Re: Waste of time and effort@James Micallef
Spot on that man. Although I would suggest that energy prices aren't necessarily bound to remain consistently high. Chinese demand is the marginal price setter in the world economy, and in turn is predicated on investment in hard stuff - buildings, roads, railways, airports, cities. They (like anybody else) can't do this indefinitely, and arguably have already over-built and await the bust. It is quite feasible, indeed probable for Chinese demand to decline. Everybody parrots on about the 9% GDP growth rate, but that's based on the multiplier of all of the decreasingly productive fixed asset creation.
Initially, if demand declines, then the exporters of energy and commodities will hold their nerve because their national budgets are based on vast trade surpluses caused by high energy prices. But as the demand withers, they'll need to start fighting with each other for volume, and prices fall. It won't stay low, and I doubt that low energy prices will kickstart the moribund western economies, in particular because national energy policies are busy encouraging investment in renewables that aren't viable even at $140/bbl. Europe having squandered its cash on solar panels and wind farms, the low price of alternatives does not create an option in a non-free market.
Re: Doubtful. NOT@Florida 1920
A couple of thoughts for you. The two African "countries" not colonised were Ethiopia and Liberia. Both have suffered as much as the colonised countries from civil war, crime, poverty and failure to build civil infrastructure. Second, when the colonised countries were given independence, they were left with functioning governments, legal systems, property rights and so forth. Not perfect, I'll grant you, but most African states seem to have thrown away even those building blocks. South Africa is an interesting case. Having been the last white administration by some decades, it currently remains the best functioning state in Africa, and one of the most democratic. Worryingly it seems to be drifting towards a one party state, with rising levels of corruption, and rising economic problems.
To suggest that all the ills of Africa are due to white exploitation is crap, spouted by those who wish to deny the failings of Africa and wallow in victimhood. Africa has vast potential, but that is squandered by the people who run the show now, not the people who left sixty years ago.
If you're right, and I'm wrong, then Africa being in tatters is because sixty years isn't long enough for the locals to create their own legal systems, governments, and build infrastructure, despite Western aid running at $40 billion each and every year, African exports of $500bn a year, and foreign investment of around $10bn a year (plus Chinese aid and investment of around $8bn a year). So perhaps you should tell me how long Africans will need, and how much money it will cost?
Well the picture shows the device sporting an Android home screen, if that's any help.
Re: Not bad
"My favourite hardware feature is the built in phone home to China chip"
No big deal for retail users. On balance I think I'd trust the Chinese more than I'd trust the Yanks (or the Queen's own at GCHQ). I'm sure my mobile operator hands over all my data anyway, so what's the harm in a few Chinese trying to work out if I'm working for the Dalai Lama?
On a more prosaic level, a bit of competition to Samsung would be most welcome, given the eye watering prices they want for the S4.
Re: @AC 10:51
"Now, your approach amounts to lazy policing once again. If someone is released, their data MUST be destroyed, otherwise you start with profiling people based on earlier mistakes. Want to screw someone's life? Just accuse him of being a terrorist, ....."
Your grammar and spelling give you away as a Merkin. In which case I don't think you're in any position to cast aspersions on the record keeping of public services on this side of the Atlantic. But even if I let that pass, you've enthusiastically grabbed the firebrand of liberty, are railing against new police powers.....and sadly that's not relevant here. The debate in this sub-thread is simply that our UK police force record their activity on a computer system, and they don't delete it. No change in that. No new powers. No new infringements on liberty (other than a very low number of known instances of misuse of the system).
If you're at risk of being falsely labelled a terrorist by anybody, then I think you need to complain about and to your own NSA, rather than worrying about how the UK police manage essentially UK specific data.
"I bet this one voted for Tony Blair too."
I think you should read some of my other posts before making presumptious comments like that. But more tellingly, you seem to be in favour of keeping records of what you would have liked to have happened (or not), rather than that which happened. Perhaps you could name this new database design, where "facts" are pleasantly malleable, and cannot be relied upon at any later date?
Re: @Trevor Pott
"Apathy is as damning as actively seeking to destroy the liberty of others. I will treat it as such."
In addition to your pompous tone, you confuse state snooping and private data retention with operational record keeping. The two are fundamentally different, in a manner that you're evidently not clever enough to understand.
PNC records aren't just used to police the population, they're used to hold the police to account. They are an essential reference point for IPCC investigations or legal actions against the police, and the absence or records can be as damning as the existence and content. Look at the Hillsborough scandal - admittedly it largely predates the PNC and widespread digital record keeping, but the whole point was that original police record keeping was tampered with to disguise operational incompetence. And you want to have an open access database where the police can change the records?
Re: @Trevor Pott
FFS, read what I wrote. The downvotes suggest that as a bunch of IT professionals there's a surprisingly high number of people who think that a record keeping system only ought to keep a revised version of history. Even regarding the comments by another poster about US visa waiver, so ****ing what? If you're wrongly arrested, deleting a database field on the PNC doesn't alter the fact that you-were-arrested.
Where did I suggest "guilty until proven innocent", or even imply it? You're typing cr@p. Maybe you think tis a grand idea that the PNC should be locally amended to some new view of the truth, whenver the desk sergeant decides that a particular record "won't be needed in future". As noted before, that has some interesting outcomes for both pre-emptive arrests, and for witness intimidation. I've every sympathy with those wrongly arrested. But that doesn't alter the fact that they have been arrested, and that any records must include that.
Re: Waste of time and effort
" As soon as the global economy starts picking up (and it will - it always has)"
Why? China's growth is slowing, and there's huge problems of bad debt yet to be 'fessed up and written down. There's a limit to how much concrete you can pour, or coal you can burn, and the ghost cities and property speculation all point one way. The EU remains bogged down in restrictuve practices, and in many countries by high debt levels and compound spirals of decline. The UK and US are both struggling with barely manageable debt levels (both public and private). Japan is exploring the furthest reaches of debt manageability (at normalised levels of interest the Japanese public debt would consume. Russia and the oil producing countries are dependant upon high energy prices simply to balance domestic budgets.
In previous crises they have either been regionalised, so that growth in another region has taken up the slack from a European or US stagnation, or we've had a good war to reset the system. Option 1 doesn't appear to be available, I don't like option 2.
Re: Waste of time and effort
"pay a witholding tax on turnover "
In principle, an excellent idea, with existing VAT infrastructure to collect at minimal cost (although there'd need to be code changes because you'd presumably have a separate rate for this sales tax, and not allow recoverability on B2B transactions. The challenge is to make it simple and effective. Profit margins vary, so a sensible turnover tax rate for Apple is not the same as the sensible tax rate on a grocery business - that makes for different rates, complexity, and opportunities for gaming. There's also the problem that some businesses (financial institutions, property companies, leasing companies) make money from their balance sheet, not their turnover, so that a turnover tax is problematic.
The existing laws and structures would work well if properly enforced, through transfer pricing rules, fair valuation of franchise or property rights, and tax avoidance regulations. The law and mechanisms to do so already exist, but tax officials have been ineffectual in using them, and politicians have been idle and incompetent in clamping down quickly and hard on egrerious abuse that transcends the ability of tax officials to deal with.
"So in your view, upon being mistakenly arrested - because police made a mistake - you have to go through the hassle to being removed from that database?"
Yes. I know that seems wrong, but surely you want the PNC to record the activities of the police as well as criminals? So they should have to record any arrest on the system, regardless of outcome. Now consider data integrity - editing rights should be severely limited, to prevent data being improperly edited by the incompetent or the malicious. So the officer or clerk who enter details of my wrongful arrest should not be able to delete that, merely add to the data (no idea how PNC works in reality). That means we'd need a data controller for the PNC, with an appeal and deletion process. If the local nick are busy arresting you without due cause, can you trust them with record editing rights? And if incorrect arrest records were routinely deleted at the local nick without any process, where's the downside for police officers from making pre-emptive arrests because it suits them?
Even then, if you were stopped repeatedly by the police, and believed eventually that this was intentional harassment or discrimination, if you've actually had the details expunged, where's your evidence when you start to see this as something more systematic? How would you hold police forces to account if they had a high rate of wrongful arrests, or released too many people without charge who might have been chargeable? What about events like domestic violence, where it is common for the victim to call the police, for the offender to be arrested, but the victim then refuses to press charges. That can build, the situation can worsen, and knowing that there is a history is very useful in trying to react to future instances; It also helps when there's a case conference, for example, that looks at the interests of children at risk of domestic violence. In fact, more widely, it becomes a problem that if you can frighten witnesses enough to avoid giving evidence, not only do you avoid a crmininal record, but you force the police to delete all records. Not very sensible is it?
There is no good outcome here, I'm afraid, but the idea of simply deleting records where no charges are brought seems to have its own downsides.
Re: Well imagine that
"That is why this story is important."
Indeed, but if you're concerned, who you gonna call? Ghostbusters?
The establishment of government, including the civil administration, the main political parties, the security services, and the complicit private companies are all denying that they do it, denying that it is a problem, and trying to weasle-word their way out. Events like the Boston bombings or the murder of Lee Rigby are being mercilessly spun as the case for more and more surveillance, despite the fact that they do not make any such case.
There is no influential camp demanding change. If the Republicans run Congress, or the Labour party control Westminster, would those parties change a single thing? Nope, more likely they'd put more resource into spying on their own people, and I suspect increasingly into trying to control public debate on all manner of matters that might otherwise embarass the polticians and civil servants.
Few people in the UK actually died to achieve universal suffrage. Which is quite a good thing because these days my vote is totally worthless, given the effective lack of choice between the corpulent, dishonest incumbent parties, working for themselves or their close mates. Things don't see much different in most other Western "democracies" these days.
Re: Extra lift.
"Ok, question for the panel: how do mine elevators work? Not in stages AFAIK. "
(NB, inexpert reply)
The problem for tall building lifts is weight, space, and building distortion. Now think about the enoromous winding engines above a mine, and you'll see the answer. Mine engineers don't worry about the weight, because they don't have to fit the winding gear in the top of a twelve foot by twelve foot shaft, and they don't worry about the power consumption because they already have a big fat grid connection (or on site generation) rather than having to run the wires up a kilometere of building.
Re: A note on elevator safety
"If you've ever broken a leg, you'd probably realise that "completely unharmed" is somewhat underestimating your injuries."
I suspect two broken legs was nothing compared to the lifelong mental trauma from being locked in a box that plummets 63 floors.
Be careful what you wish for
Whilst our shiney faced bufoon of a prime minister sets off on another of his noble crusades, this time against corporate tax avoidance, he should perhaps think about the consequences. In the short term, it's curtains for Ireland, as the reasons for doing business there evaporate, with direct effects like a drying up in corporate tax receipts and with side effects like a further decline in corporate rents and additional bad debts for the banks. Perhaps the fate of the Irish economy isn't his concern, but it doesn't stop there.
In the medium terms, if it no longer matters where you do business, then London, which is a tax haven of sorts compared to much of Europe, and the more mismanaged economies of the world, could have problems. The deciding factor will be how easy it is to do business, and this and previous governments have ladled more and more legislation and regulation on companies. Does the house believe that the sorts of changes he wants will make the 10,000+ pages of UK tax law shorter or longer, more complex or simpler? No doubts on the answer to that.
So Cameron, always overlooking the law of unintended consequences is probably going to harm the British economy, in some doomed-to-failure battle against exploitation of complex tax codes that he and his public school chums have been responsible for writing in the first place. Meanwhile, the other world leaders look on, make politely supportive noises, whilst privately thinking "what a lightweight".
"So if the enforcers of the law can't be trusted, why do we feel the security services can be?"
Err, who does trust the security services?
"Honest question: how does this database's so-called "due process" square with the EU "right to be forgotten"?"
It doesn't because the "right to be forgotten" doesn't apply (like so many rules) to the state, and was drafted specifically in relation to consumer interactions with business. AFAIK it hasn't yet been enacted in law, but even so I'll wager it will be like the cookie law - a brief nuisance to everybody, before the world goes back to doing what it was doing in the first place.
Whilst I'm deeply unhappy with the extent and growth in state snooping, the PNC is a bit of an exception in my eyes. If you genuinely are innocent, and are arrested, then you've got an issue. But many people are arrested with due cause, but for a multitude of reasons aren't prosecuted. In my view that's no reason to "forget". And the passage of time is no reason for dropping people off - a searchable record of allegatons against Jimmy Saville might have made a big difference to the failure to prosecute him.
I think the main change that is needed is simply a procedure for appealing a PNC entry where a wrongful arrest was made, or an arrest that retrospectively can be seen as without due cause. So get arrested after a pub fight, and you're on the PNC and stay there, even if released without charge. Get arrested because of mistaken identity, appeal the PNC entry, have it deleted.
Re: Excellent News
"then we'll be able to leave the EU soon enough, and be conveniently placed to join NAFTA.
Only from below the Earth's crust. The Atlantic sea floor has been produced by a diverging margin, and is therefore newer and usually less dense than older rock, such as the European continent. That usually means that the newer plate overrides the older plate at a subduction zone. So Europe will be sucked down into the Earth's mantle.
Europeans: Funny langugages, a comedy currency, and now it turns out they even built the whole thing on the wrong bit of rock. Looking on the brights side, volcanoes and new mountain ridges might pop up, making Blackpool a bit more lively than it has been a for an eon or so.
Re: "return car manufacturing to Britain"@ Alan Brown
Usually by the main manufacturing plant in the home market (I worked for Ford Truck before the days of JLR, so can't really speak for their practices). So you would take (say) doors complete at body in white stage (bare metal), undercoat it, stick it in a crate with all the other bits to make a complete door. Or you could assemble the door completely, but that means you need to know the colour of the final vehicle, or do an overspray of a semi complete vehicle (mature markets wouldn't accept that, developing markets are more tolerant). Depending on the destination you can have welding done there, or have all done by the original plant, and just "bolt together" at the final plant. That's why some of the KD vehicles look a bit different,depending non how "true to form" the design was. The Ford Cargo trucks I was familiar with had some KD versions that looked like they'd been made by origami, because the bolt together design meant you couldn't use the original nicely curved panels. In the case of Land Rover I'd guess that similar KD versions looked just like the MoD lightweight Landies, but you could make them as complex or as simple as you needed.
These days, the manufacturing plant is actually a final assembly plant, because so much true manufacturing (as in cutting, pressing, moulding, bending, forming, machining) is done at different sites. So engines often from other dedicated plant, brake discs from specialist third parties, wheels come in fitted on tyres, instrument cluster fully assembled from (say VDO), body pressings from specialist press companies, wiring loom from specialists, door panels from Lear (if theyr'e still in business). Even so, the welding of the bodyshell still tends to be the preserve of the "original" plant, and KD remains a product with differences, non-standard parts, and lower quality standards.
Re: "return car manufacturing to Britain"@arober11
"Land Rovers have been assembled, generally from kits and under licence"
"KD" or knock-down kits have been used by many car makers over the years. There's usually a fundamental gap between full on local assembly and KD. KD typically has around 90% of the work done in the original market, and the only bit being done in local markets is the equivalent of the final assembly and inspection.
KD assembly doesn't count as "manufacturing" any more than making a Caterham in my garage would. Usually it is only done to get round trade restrictions and vehicle import duties, because the costs are often greater than the small labour cost savings and transport costs (kits cheaper to move than complete vehicles).
Re: Who is in charge of the supply of bread to the population of London?
"Eat in thick slices with salted butter, sharp cheddar and marmalade (although not all at the same time)."
Alternatively, leave out the butter, cheese and maramalade, cut the crusts off, and use as a gloriously soft substitute for unavailable bog roll.
Re: "a cache of 2,500 rolls of the stuff"
Some fine market-ready suggestions.
Perhaps R-swype gives it a degree of hip-yoof appeal. If the company is Hog's, then Hog's iWipe would certainly appeal to the iDevice wielding chav masses. So that's two segments of the market covered. Half a percent each do you?
Re: Distracting tasks?
""Driving without due care and attention" can only be used to book someone AFTER the police catch a driver doing something stupid like weaving into the other lane or scraping the kerb"
Any offence can only be prosecuted, cautioned or FPN'd after the police catch them. The mobile ban has had no perceptible effect on driver behaviour that I've seen, and is merely part of the tsunami of poorly written, poorly thought out legislation added to the statute book. WIthout a lot more traffic cops and/or cameras, such laws have no effect.
Clearly the balance of (punishment * likelihood of being caught) doesn't dissuade a very high proportion of drivers from mobile use, nor does the message of self-hazard or socially responsible driving. And that's despite most recent (UK) vehicles having hand free capability, and the ability to retrofit such technology at low cost. Better driver training would be a possibility, but with the UK's "pass once, drive for a lifetime - almost" policy, there's no mechanism for this.
Re: "a cache of 2,500 rolls of the stuff"
"What the hell do teenagers do with toilet roll? "
Buy medicated Izal for their bathroom, and watch usage stop. Of course, you'll need a proper mortice lock on your bathroom door (or the cabinet with the soft stuff).
As for the poor Venezuelans, its notable that the Soviet Union had similar problems in its final years, and I think Cuba did - a failed bog roll supply chain is clearly the hallmark of a failed economy. In which case, rather than poking fun at the Venezuelans, we'd better start filling our lofts for the few years hence when the British economy collapses under the weight of its unpayable debts.
Maybe I can make my fortune with an appropriately shaped, washable, ultra soft silicone squeegee. The modern equivalent of the Roman sponge on a stick.
For 1% of my profits, would anybody care to suggest a name for my device?
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