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* Posts by Ledswinger

2142 posts • joined 1 Jun 2012

UK gov's smart meter dream unplugged: A 'colossal waste of cash'

Ledswinger
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Re: Has this been tried on real people? @AC 13:46

"And the government policy is and was largely written by the lobbyists acting on behalf of the asset owners and operators,no?"

You really think we said to government "Go on then, sign that Large Combustion Plant Directive into law and make 12GW of our generating capacity obsolete, and at the same time twiddle with the market structures so that we've got no certainty to invest in new plant, that's what we want. And while you;re at it, could we have a hugely complex set of social obligations thrust upon us, with draconian fines when we struggle to complete them because the rules are difficult to meet, and your guidelines, make sure you don't finalise them until halfway through the timescale we've got to deliver. Ooh, almost forgot, could we be mandated to roll out a vastly expensive, risky and complex new metering programme, also with draconian fines for non compliance, even though the main cause of delay is your stupid, rules and regulations, and lack of common sense".

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Ledswinger
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Re: New supplier = New meter?

"Suppliers already effectively to pay to rent meters "

I know. And if you're going to mandate smart meters, that would have been the model to follow, because you know who you're paying to rent the meter and its the same as the DNO who you have to pay DUOS charges to. The way DECC have bungled smartmeters, the suppliers still need to pay DUOS to the distribution network, but they also have to track and pay any one of thirty or so retail suppliers who may own the smart meters, plus during the transition they'll have a lot of old meters still owned by the distribution company. What could possibly go wrong?

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Ledswinger
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Re: SOP @ Tom Welsh

"A typical government project. It simultaneously: 1. Ignores the real problems (how are we going to generate enough power in the future?...."

Well, you have to think like a DECC bureaucrat. And as with all Whitehall pension-harvesters, they're fighting the last war. In this case, the last war was that peaking plant was very expensive, and therefore if you could, reducing peak demand saved you bucketloads of cash that would otherwise have been squandered on expensive but rarely used thermal plant.

Unfortunately, with the advent of gas plant, power stations are now surprisingly cheap, say half a billion quid for a stonking great 2 GW CCGT. Rather than spending billions in a risky scheme to shave marginal points off the peak demand, they should just tell industry to build and operate what is required. Keep an eye open for new technologies that might help (eg storage), but certainly not spend £14bn on useless smart meters that will be obsolete before the roll out is complete. And it was a bad idea to spend £30bn on crappy wind power that just gets in the way of efficient running of gas plant, but that's another £30bn of value destroyed by incompetent government policies.

When can we march on Whitehall with our pitchforks, and stick some MP's and civil servants' heads on pikes?

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Ledswinger
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Re: @Ragarath Smart meter discussion good, then sudden turn into...

"Your post was very good up until midway through the last paragraph"

That could apply to several of us...but let me leap in and take a bow anyway!

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Ledswinger
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Re: Seems unlikely they would be used for cut-off...

" think it very unlikely that the costs of including a 60A remote controlled switch in EVERY meter would be part of the design."

Au contraire, a load switch (of undefined rating) is part of the specification to cut off supply from the grid.

https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/smart-metering-equipment-technical-specifications-second-version

There's other unwelcome bits like "load limiting" capabilities, capability for half hourly tariffs, remote disconnection, remote management of anciliary loads (though you'd have to install kit of matching capability before that does anything).

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Ledswinger
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"There's got to be VAT on the cost of buying and installing these things, "

Only 5% on the bit recovered through the electricity bill (all the rest is B2B and deductable). That's only worth about £65m a year. More useful is the raised income tax and NI from slightly raised employment during the installation programme, which at a guess would be about £150m a year, plus a tiny bit from the incremental profits of the meter makers.

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Ledswinger
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Re: Has this been tried on real people? @Tony W

"Lots of informed and trustworthy people (inside and outside the industry) did point out prior to UK energy piratisation that "the markets" were unlikely to be ideally placed to manage energy policy"

You twit! The asset owners and operators don't "manage energy policy", they execute commercial strategies that are defined by the policy that government sets. It wouldn't matter if the CEGB and all the electricity boards still existed, because government still wouldn't have made the necessary or right decisions, and energy policy is largely dictated by Brussels now anyway. But you'd have CEGB brand windmills, you'd have the continued slow expensive fuckup that was the state nuclear programme (remember Sizewell B?), so no new nuclear either.

Here's a thought for you. On latest data, the much more commercial Yank set up has lower emissions per kWh than Europe does, because the less regulated market has allowed shale gas development, that's reduced the price, and commercial operators have responded by replacing coal generation with modern efficient gas plants. In Europe we have the lunacy of German energy policy, plus emissions trading systems that don't work, plus forced plant closure dates that have encouraged the burning of coal (not that I care, but at odds with what bunglement say they want to achieve).

Face it, energy policy is a mess, because government is composed of arseholes, all worshipping at the altar of climate change. They aren't reducing emissions as the Yanks are, or reducing costs (again, as the Yanks are), but they are putting costs and complexity up, with plans to make it exponentially worse. Foolishly, Obama and others are pushing for America to follow Europe's lead on renewables, so things aren't all plain sailing, but once again, the problems are caused not by private ownership of assets, but by bureaucrats making stupid rules to improve the world.

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Ledswinger
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Re: Has this been tried on real people? @Tony W

"I hear they are just talking about possibly getting someone to look at designing new nuclear power plants."

Well, we could have done it ourselves, but the same arseholes who signed up for all this eco bollocks sold Westinghouse to Toshiba. So now we've got to ask Johnny Foreigner to come and build us some new nukes. In the grand scheme nukes are still too expensive to be justified, but at least they're better than "renewables".

So, DECC are talking about giving a big bribe ("strike price") to Electricte de France and Areva to build a new nuke plant at Hinckley Point. Of the same EPR design that's already six years late and 3 times the original cost at Olkiluoto in Finland, and a similar design at Flamanville in France that's likewise 3x over budget and at least four years late.

Unfortunately, this approach of building advanced one off plants (in each country) is a guarantee of excessive cost, delays and price rises. The only reason France got their original nuclear fleet out at an acceptable cost was building loads to a proven US reactor design.

So not only does the UK stand no chance of having any new nuclear plant by the government's promised 2020 start date, but it'll cost an arm and a leg, and be years late. DECC and cunts like Ed Davey know the facts. They know they and the last government have engaged in a wilfully misguided energy policy, that we risk blackouts, that costs are going through the roof, that it isn't going to reduce emissions, and that nuclear is the wrong solution, too costly and too late. But they won't admit it, because they are all congenital liars. It is unsurprising that a recent energy minister ended up being convicted of perjury and perverting the course of justice.

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Ledswinger
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@Charles 9

"(my fridge is going on 20 and only the icemaker's broken)."

I offer you a very sincere recommendation: Buy a good plug in energy monitor (that'll cope with power factor correction) and use it work out how much that fridge is using over a week or so. Maybe wait for weather to cool down a touch before doing this (otherwise you'll be reading very high use numbers that are not representative), and compare to the expected annual usage of a new fridge.

Older fridges and freezers are utter bastards for wasting energy, probably worse than any other appliance because they're always on. They were designed for an era of cheaper electricity, and there have been big improvements in the compressor efficiency and insulation over the past fifteen years. Moreover, as fridges age the hinges droop and the door seals harden, leading to continual heat loss. Maybe at low rates - still seems like the door seals - but its those continuous losses that have a big influence on the energy use. In some cases you can save the cost of the new fridge in reduced electricity costs over less than two years.

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Ledswinger
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Re: Has this been tried on real people? @Tony W

"As far as I can see, people who are worried about saving energy already do it. "

Indeed, and as per Roger Greenwood's post above, there's evidence that the early adopters of smart meters do reduce electric power consumption by a few percent, but that's not been compared to the results for those using a simple £30 electricity monitor, or for the fact that smart meter trial participants have for the vast majority self selecting, and therefore engaged with the idea of saving energy. Take out the beard and sandals types and the savings in reality won't occur in this way.

However, there's more sinister plans afoot to force people to "save energy". In the DECC smart meter business case, there's almost a billion quid of benefits "through the take up of time of use tariffs". Which is to say that all this current government claptrap about simplifying electricity bills is merely noise and propaganda, as their intention is to encourage or force energy companies to charge multiple different tariffs on the same day. Sounds easy when you put it like that, no different to economy 7. Except that to work you'd need at least three tariff rates per day, ideally more, and they should vary seasonally. How will you ever know what you're paying?

Government don't understand the mechanism of supply and demand. The Oxbridge educated fools think that if price increases, demand goes down, because (hopefully) the undeserving middle classes all use a bit less. In reality, its like petrol: There's no good substitutes, and rises in price reduce demand only a little, and usually by the poorest having to do without because they simply can't afford it.

Come on poor people, turn the lights off and put on a jumper, you're killing the planet!

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Ledswinger
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Re: I'm gonna need a bigger house

"Wouldn't suprise me to learn they've signed binding contracts (with eye-gouging penalty clauses) for the supply of 53 million meters"

Your cynicism is well founded, but inaccurate. DECC have veerrryyyy slooowly developed a specification for all smart meters. But the actual contracts are signed energy supplier by energy supplier. For a large company with several million customers the loss of economy of scale (cf national purchasing) is more than offset by the commercial skills of the buyers. For smaller energy companies its more of a problem, but that's not my problem.

However, its not all sweetness and light. DECC's specification is so convoluted and market specific that these meters aren't the same as most European countries are using, so there's a cost to developing a new toy with a UK only specification. And we all know how good government and civil servants are at that sort of thing. Expect something bad to be discovered after they've all been installed.

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Ledswinger
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Re: @Ragarath part 2

"Yes it is helping you make money and you even said in your post it is. You do not have to read metres and the cost of the metres will not be borne by the energy companies, it will be borne by the bill payers."

The cost savings are presumed by DECC to be passed through to customers. And the evidence is that they always have been - at the supply business level, your energy suppliers barely cover their cost of capital (and in many years haven't). If you look across the whole energy supply chain, then things only improve marginally - take SSE, who are present across almost all of the electricity value chain of generation, trading, distribution & supply: Return on assets, 2.06 miserable percent. I can do better than that with a high street savings account (with some shopping around).

Ultimately the cost of ANYTHING has to be paid for by customers (or taxpayers) and that's why it matters that there isn't a genuine business case. If it made the energy companies more profitable, but was neutral for customers that wouldn't matter because the higher margins would attracts more investment into the industry, the profits would bolster your pension, makes your insurance cheaper (up front premiums are invested), help life savings rates.

Profit isn't a bad thing. What's a bad thing is that there's too little of it in this country.

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Ledswinger
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Holmes

Re: I'm gonna need a bigger house@Magister

"Going to be a very large pile of unsused meters methinks."

No, the balance of those numbers is because gas meters are going to have to be replaced with smart meters as well. Which is unfortunate, because the fairly advanced trials of gas smart meters have established there's no reduction in demand even from the self-selected early adopters.

So we're replacing 23 odd million gas meters at a cost of about £6bn to save £138m a year in manual meter reading and call centre and billing costs for incorrect bills. That''s a 44 year cash payback. Unfortunately, bad as that is, when you include the cost of capital at 5%, then the £138m savings per year become a net cost of £163m a year.

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Ledswinger
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Re: New supplier = New meter?

" What if i decide to replace my Energy Supplier? Will they have to replace my meter"

Supposedly not. All mass roll out smart meters are supposed to be compliant with DECC's standard. Your new supplier can choose to replace the meter, or to rent the existing one. As they are supposed to be like for like the assumption is they'll rent it, but as you can see it makes the industry finances even more complicated. It is a bad idea overall, but if you were going to do it then the distribution network operator should have been the people to do it.

But no sensible ideas were allowed during the development of this awful idea.

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Ledswinger
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Re: Hack away

"I read there is a booming black market in the US for hacking these "secure" smart meters. Its apparently quite easy to rig them and significantly lower your bills.."

I'm not surprised. But the berks at DECC have balanced the smart metering business case by assuming that smart meters result in quarter of a billion quid savings from reduced electricity theft, and an additional half billion quid of avoided supplier losses (apparently smart meter users will always pay their bills, unlike today).

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Ledswinger
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FAIL

@Ragarath

"Instead it is all wasted on helping the energy companies make more money and will make little difference to most peoples usage."

No it isn't helping us make more money. My employers are not making any money at all on the back of this. It is mandated by your good friends in the EU, and the clowns of Westminster and Whitehall have (as with all other matters) not had the spine nor sense to say "get stuffed" to Brussels. The power companies will be fined draconian amounts if we don't do as we're told.

The real cost savings are marginal, about £6 per meter per year, with an annual cash cost of about £25 per meter given that it is a £265 piece of kit, guessing it'll last an average of ten years before refurb or replacement. Even those cost savings have an offset (nationally) because if we don't have full employment, then there's welfare costs from anything that puts people out of work, and they assume that the capital is free. If you assign a value to the capital of say 5%, then your amortisation and interest take the meter cost to £40 a year, to save that £6 a year operating cost. Spending £40 to save £6 is only sensible if you're a bureaucrat spending other people's money. And better still, the £14bn cost of this government mandated scheme don't appear on the government's books - a tax that is hidden, wahey!

All the other "savings" are wishful thinking by DECC, in a "business case" that includes all manner of spurious and unlikely savings - for example, smart meters will make electricity theft less likely, reduced network losses (yeah!), over half a billion quid of savings from "reduced network investment through introduction of time of use tarrifs", reduced consumption because you have the option of a meter display on the wall, a billion quid of savings from "global CO2 reduction" and so it goes on. The business case probably comes from the same Booker fiction prize winning authors of the HS2 business case. It's worth searching for the highly critical NAO report on DECC's smart metering programme, and looking at the made up numbers (page 27 of the full report).

This is a colossal waste of money, deamt up by the eco loons of the EU. The money spent could useful be spent resolving the looming capacity gap, or even replacing all the coal stations that will run post 2015. And in fact, we could throw out this Chicken Little "climate change" claptrap, and stick with what we've got, rather than spend tens of billions that as a national we don't have, in a manner that will cause the remainder of British manufacturing to relocate elsewhere.

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Google teases hush-hush Android event on July 24

Ledswinger
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Re: Assembled in USA

" Is this a business decision? Or an attempt to avoid all the flak ...."

Both.

The economics of Far East assembly have been heavily eroded by labour inflation in China and the falling (relative) cost of labour int he US. You may recall the labour assembly content of (IIRC) an iPhone was only around $3 anyway. So the premium for on shore assembly isn't that high, perhaps $2-3 net of transport costs. Because most of the semiconductors and screens will still be sourced from Asian specialists they've been careful to use the term "assembled" rather than "made". Time to market and supply chain length don't favour Asian assembly - you still need the bits from Taiwan, mind you, but if you assemble in China then you're shipping the bits a further thousand miles the wrong way and then back again, with all the further costs and risks of longer supply chains and repeated modal changes.

Then there's the ethical and social issues. Offshoring is now a very dirty word, given the largely jobless recovery in the US, and the increased polarisation between the 1%'ers and an army of blue collar "have nots". What better way to promote a US brand like Motorola, and to contrast with Apple?

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CONFIRMED: Driverless cars to hit actual British roads by end of year

Ledswinger
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Happy

Re: As a motorcyclist @Nige Brown

In the Department Against Transport's preferred future, there won't be any motorcycles, so although your antagonists may be automated away, so will your petrol powered stallion.

Will you still wear leather and have a ZZ Top beard when you're in the Mk 7 Toyota Prius, sans steering wheel, and offered only in DfT Universal Beige?

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Worldwide smartwatch shipments predicted to top 5 million next year

Ledswinger
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Re: Notifications are it, I reckon

"But if you can just make a little circle that I put between my watch and my wrist that just vibrates when my phone tells it to, that would be awesome."

Yes! In fact, with that fantastic new vibration technology maybe one day they could make the phone vibrate whilst silent, and have an indicator light to show there's a call text or email, then .....oh.

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Water, sunshine or pig s***: How will YOU power your data centre?

Ledswinger
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Re: Has anyone tried...

"Has anyone tried doing waste heat recovery on all the hot air that comes out of a data centre? "

Search on "low grade heat recovery". Many have tried, few have found much success, simply because the energy in low temperature waste heat is not that great.

If you can think of a use for large volumes of lukewarm water, or warm air then you should let the electricity industry know, because they have a similar problem of huge volumes of low grade waste heat at power stations.

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Boffins want toilets to become POWER PLANTS

Ledswinger
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"Instead of wasting so much water, we could still include a turbine in the last part of the plumbing just before the tap. That way, wherever and whenever you draw water, some energy would be recovered"

Of negligible value, though. In the scenario I posited above, the tap was on full bore, and the entire water pressure dissipated. In actual use you often use partial flows, short flows, and want some pressure at the tap all of which erode the potential generation. Your average UK domestic water user gets through about 200 cuic metres a year, so even you always turned the tap on full blast the potential energy is going to be 8 kWh per year, worth around £1 per household.

So how much are you offering your turbine and generator for?

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Ledswinger
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"I wonder if anyone ever actually did that, or calculated the energy you could achieve based on a good water pressure?"

Very little energy - you can calculate the potential energy by the head loss multiplied by the mass, and then just factor in whatever conversion efficiency you see fit. Typical pressure on a household water supply in the UK is about 4 bar (near enough 40 metres of head) , assume you leave the tap running nearly full tilt and you'd be pushing out around 1,000 litres an hour (depends on pipe bores and other head loss), so around a third of a litre per second.

Factoring in the various parameters (gravity, head loss, density, flow rate) you're looking at around 100 watts before conversion losses, which I'd guess at around 20% minimum.

In theory that would generate 700 kWh per year. Sadly the water company monitor network losses, and the near 9,000 tonnes of water you'd get through each year running 24/7 would result in investigations to find the leak. On a meter you'd be paying about £3/cubic metre including waste water charges, so to generate 700 kWh with a purchase cost of about £90 would then incur water charges of about £18,000.

Although in reality they'd just prosecute anybody this daft for wasting water.

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Ledswinger
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Re: Giant piles of steaming.....

"There are a few farms that heat their houses from big bio-digesters."

Any decent sized modern sewage treatment works puts the settled sewage sludge through anerobic digestors, and uses the methane for power generation (and the heat to keep the digestors warm). From memory (it was a bit before my time) the huge sewage treatment works that serves Birmingham had English Electric spark ignition generators installed back in about 1967, and some of the London sewage works were using sewage gas around 1910.

Given the relatively modest power generated from relatively efficient industrial scale plant, I'm not sure that extracting a bit of power from urine will really change the world.

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IBM, Accenture play blame game over $1bn project blowout

Ledswinger
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Re: "unsuccessful bidder Accenture"

"But, over a billion dollar for a payroll system? Words fail me"

Gets better when you consider that Queensland Health have around 78,000 emplooyees. So the IT system is supposed to cost AUD 16,000 per employee.

Personally I'd only expect a big bucket of fail if I hired a huge global mega corp to implement a payroll system, aided by a fat cat management consultancy. Did the berks at Queensland Health think when they let this contract: that a couple of multi billion dollar, high margin global corporations were really looking to provide a low cost, good value payroll solution for a regional public sector health provider in the middle of nowhere?

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Ad man: Mozilla 'radicals' and 'extremists' want to wreck internet economy

Ledswinger
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Devil

"Personally, I keep a shredding bin right next to the inbox and it probably digests a good 95% of all snail mail. "

Never shred addressed junk mail! The marketing b@stards assume if it isn't returned that it has been successfully delivered, meanwhile you're paying for the shredder and the electricity to dispose of it. If you return it with "not known at this address" written on it, then (a) they have to pay the return postage, and (b) they knock you off most mailing lists because they don't have a name or any segmentation information for the next advertised campaign. And because the less scrupulous will sell on lists of presumed-to-be-valid addresses, you want your name knocked off the list as soon as possible. If you're already on a lot of junk mail address lists, then investing a few quid in having a stamp made up that says "Return to sender, not known at this address" could simplify the fight back, as well as being deeply satisfying to apply.

I've yet to come across a junk mail sender who uses or updates the real customer address file (junk mail almost always comes from third party mailing fulfilment businesses, or in house captive junk mailers, who use an externally compiled mailing list), so telling the marketing droids that you don't live there has no consequences for any service that you actually want.

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We'll stop Johnny Foreigner gobbling our biznovation - UK gov

Ledswinger
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Re: Ah, so they finally noticed...@Trevor Pott

"You sir, are naive."

Sadly not, although you sir, appear to be a fool. Its a long while since I worked as a techy myself, and now I work in business management for a very large company. I have the joy of reading, trying to understand government's long winded claptrap, and then trying to cope with the inevitable unintended consequences and costs for business. I know far more about this than I wish to, and I've studied enough commercial history to know that government planning of economies always ends in tears.

A few facts might help you: The 2006 Companies Act is over 700 pages long, full of requirements, restrictions, prohibitions, mandations, ALL IN ADDITION to many millions of pages of other statute. Tax law is now so complicated that Tollies guide to UK tax law is over 11,000 pages if you have all volumes. Or if you want the basic starter volume, that's only around 1,900 pages. Now, funnily enough I haven't seen any recent successes of UK tax law of late, have you? Nor many examples of better corporate behaviour. And if you were running a small business, would you be able to find time to read all of the Companies Act, and to understand it?

"The UK needs a few 800lb gorillas" Ahh, National champions, eh? I thought nobody was stupid enough to believe that bilge these days, but evidently I'm wrong. Government have tried that before, and as a direct result, we no longer have De Havilland, Hawker, Bristol, Blackburn, Westland, Handley Page, Avro etc Instead we've got a single fat cat defence lobbying operation, in the form of subsidy and cost-overrun addicted BAES. And they don't now appear to be able to make any aircraft on their own; Even their best commercial offer is the Hawk, designed with slide rules by Hawker Siddeley forty years ago. The British motor industry is a similar case in point, where a range of innovative manufacturers were swept up by a series of idiot socialist politicians, convinced they could do a better job, and by the attractive logic of national champions and 800lb gorillas. As all can now see, they couldn't, and there is no UK owned volume car maker. I could work my way through the whole gamut of failed state consolidation and central planning examples, but that would be a book as long as Tollies tax guide.

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Ledswinger
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Re: Ah, so they finally noticed...

" In more than one case this has been thanks to our wonderful Government who have failed to support these businesses over the decades."

Given the failure of enterprise zones, and all the other incentives, grants and boondoggles, I'll be very surprised if government can come up with anything to change the situation. Start ups with one or a handful of good ideas are rarely capable of commercialising those few ideas as a sustainable product within a growing business, and that's true outside the UK as within. If I come up with some new display technology in my garden shed, then it will be one of the global hardware makers who will be capable of making that into a global success, as they have the brand, the design , integration, manufacturing and supply chain. If the government think that Ledswinger Display Technologies Ltd are going to rival Samsung any time soon, then they are living in the usual cloud cuckoo land.

Quite honestly, the best thing government can do is to get out of the way. Reduce planning restrictions, reduce business rates, eliminate employer's national insurance, simplify the Companies Act to less than fifty pages. Abandon all the nonsensical charges like the "Climate Change Levy", legislate to stop property owners forcing unfair lease terms on businesses like upward only rent reviews and excessively long break points "because that's how it has always worked". The only thing I can think of that government might usefully do would be to offer funding to enable startups to get top class leagl, IP and commercial advice, to make sure that they get the best deal from buyers (whether UK or foreign), and to try and ensure that a share of the IP rights remain in the hands of the innovator.

The only place that I can see for government investment, is buying startup assets out of administration. So for example, when Modec Electric Vehicles went bust, the government wrung their hands and did nothing, and a US corporation bought the assets for a song. If the government had wanted to they could have bought the assets them selves, and had a (potentially) viable business, cleaned of its liabilities and any excess debt, with a view to hold and build, or maximise national benefit from a trade sale, rather than let the administrators sell it for a song because (at the moment of sale) few buyers can see the potential. You'd still end up investing in a few losers, and still end up selling some assets to overseas firms, but lets have something like state sponsored Chapter 11, instead of government just walking away and then complaining that they don't like the outcome.

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Pure boffinry: We peek inside Nokia's miracle cameraphone

Ledswinger
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"The concerns of real engineering innovators..."

...could be the extent to which a bunch of iffy application programmers using crap like Java, network admins, and parts bin hardware assemblers are claiming to be engineers, and then in turn looking down on people they consider inferior, in some form of self-aggrandising food chain.

I've successfully programmed computer for the nations defence, but that doesn't make me an engineer. Just because others have purloined and debased the term "engineer", let's remember that amongst Reg readers we do have a small proportion of genuine, qualified and professionally recognised engineers, and they're not mere code monkeys like the rest of us.

Respect to real engineers! Death to imposters!

Yeah. That last bit really needs a Soviet style motivational poster to work properly, but the Reg can't even make the bloody icons work when you make a new post. And another thing, what happened to the icon overhaul? C'mon, Reg, I read your soddin' adverts, and that's as good as paying your salary! New icons NOW.

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Radiohead's Thom Yorke pulls his own music off Spotify

Ledswinger
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Says who?

"and has failed miserably in the one thing it had to do to justify its existence: convert free to paid customers"

Maybe. The true freetards were never going to pay in the first place, but I doubt they're using Spotify anyway, preferring instead to download torrents. I think the whining musos rather overlooks the extent to which Spotify is a try before you buy platform. I've bought more music in the few years I've had a (free) Spotify account than in the preceding decade, simply because I can explore stuff that I wouldn't hear or be able to find on radio, and because I don't get my fingers burned buying something on the strength of hearing a single track, only to find out the rest of the album's rubbish.

That won't be apparent to muso's through their Spotify revenues, but I daresay they'll happily bank the payments I make for CDs. For the "starving artist" category of musician, I'd suggest Spotify is exactly where you need to be, not because they'll make money there, but because people might hear it, like it, and talk about it, and subsequently buy it. Many seem happy enough to stick their music on Youtube for the same reason, for which they get nothing, what's so villainous about Spotify?

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Icahn offers to sweeten his Dell deal with warrants

Ledswinger
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Re: I hope Icahn wins and LOSES

"and would upvote you if the result of Icahn winning would not be lots of people losing jobs"

And how will it be different if Michael takes the company private? The whole plan for either side is to liquidate the retail PC making and selling business along with any other low margin stuff, to sack as many people in the rest of the business as possible, selling and leasing back any assets that the business still owns, whilst still issuing as many invoices for as much as possible. Having then pushed costs hard down to a non-sustainable level, whilst keeping revenues up in the shorter term, you try and flog the business (now laden with as much debt as you can load on it) to whatever mug can't see what's coming. If there's not enough corporate mugs with bulging wallets, then you can always try re-listing on equity markets.

It's not pretty, and its not nice to be on the recieving end, but all that's driving either side is the desire to enrich themselves, with the opportunity being created by choices unmade by the lacklustre directors of the company. Both Icahn and Dell the man are rich beyond the imagining of most of us, but still all they can think about is making more. Memo to both: You can't take it with you.

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China slips behind US in technology innovation stakes

Ledswinger
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Re: Don't Underestimate

"I wouldn't be surprised if the next few years saw some impressive innovation coming from China"

The problem China has is that seventy odd years of one party rule have actively discouraged original thought, risk taking and innovation (much as it did in Russia). A bit of copying doesn't resolve that cultural block, and it will take several generations to re-grow the intellectual curiosity that was previously an unwlecome threat to the state, and where people were trained not to say what they thought.

Even now, it isn't clear to me that the Chinese communist party would really want to encourage radical, questioning thought processes by its population, because those sorts of mind don't cease to ask "why?" when they leave work. If you keep the people under the party's thumb, then you don't get much innovation, but the alternative is more demands for democracy and a voice. When you look at the rocky road that Russian democracy has been down, and continues to endure, you have to ask what the future holds for China, and what effect that would have on the rest of the world, given that most transitions to democracy are not smooth.

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Microsoft biz heads slash makes Ballmer look like dead STEVE JOBS

Ledswinger
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Devil

Re: makes Ballmer look like dead STEVE JOBS

"So will that let them sell piles of phones and tablets and have a big pile of cash too?"

Err, no. But changing the reporting lines means there's nothing for the investors and analysts to compare performance with from previous years. That buys a failing CEO two years of uncertainty about corporate performance, in which he can gold plate his pension and retire. If he wants to stay, it buys time for a turnround (yeah, sure), and pillaging the captive customers with big prices rises can be presented as "growth" to an ill informed world.

That might seem a little cynical, but its roughly what my employers did to disguise a string of value destroying acquisitions.

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BT earmarks super-speedy 300Mbit/s broadband for 50 exchanges

Ledswinger
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Re: I must be mad!@BOBSta

"It shouldn't cost BT any more to put in a fast FTTC connection in the countryside than it does in a city."

Err, sorry mate, but it does. The costs of working in made up ground (concrete, tarmac) are around three times those of working in unmade (fields, verges) ground, all in. And because the network length per property is many times greater in the countryside, the savings of unmade ground aren't sufficient to offset this. Obviously you can try and use telegraph poles rather than burying the cables, as they cost half to a third as much as buried cables albeit with higher maintenance costs, but even at a third the cost it's still about five to ten times more expensive for rural overhead versus urban cables in made ground.

Notwithstanding the mudslinging earlier in this column, we'd all like universal broadband to be cheap, and accessible to all. Unfortunately the maths is quite simple, and works against rural broadband. The only way of lowering the cost is to (in aggregate) increase the rural population served per km of network, and in indicative terms you'd need most villages about four times the size they currrently are (say 500 properties instead of 130), and the additional development would need to be quite high density.

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Ledswinger
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Re: So not the point@ dajames

"Having your own broadband network in a village that's not connected to the rest of the internet sorta doesn't."

Who suggested that it wouldn't be connected? There's a variety of communities that have successfully taken matters into their own hands and built their own broadband, and sorted out the backhaul.

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Ledswinger
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"Whilst some of those services are not available to all, there are alternatives (I'm on septic, and oil heating; costs are roughly equivalent). There is NO alternative to decent broadband at a cost equivalent price."

Good lord, you really ARE stupid! Of course if you start demanding a specific high speed broadband offer, priced below cost, then there's no alternative to subsidised broadband. But you're not being offered it because collectively people won't pay what it costs, the rest of us don't want to subsidise you, and you DO have an alternative, and that's dial up or ADSL.

Broadband isn't some human right for rural rednecks, it needs to be paid for, and all I'm suggesting is that those that want it have four choices: Pay for the service they want at whatever vast cost that entails; Build their own network (as with septic tanks and private water supplies); Move to where the service is available at a cost you are willing to pay; Or simply stop whning that you can't download grumble flicks in HD.

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Ledswinger
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Re: @ledswinger

"Thing is due to just about every interaction between government and public moving to an online service (Livestock control paperwork, DVLA vehicle paperwork, HMRC paperwork) basic (i.e. a solid 4mbit and above) ...."

Are you still in short trousers? This type of stuff was eminently feasible on a 32k dial up modem back in 1993 - that was how every home accessed the web, and many businesses besides. The agriculture sites concerned are low graphics (eg CTS Online) and will exchange data with spreadsheets, and there's nothing onerous about the DVLA services. We're not talking about gigbytes of data being exchanged. A solid 4 Mb line is certainly nice to have, but to post on a tech site that it is some technical or human rights minimum just shows you up.

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Ledswinger
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Re: @James Hughes 1

"Farmer's need decent broadband."

Funnily enough, agriculture has evolved quite successfully over the past five to ten thousand years with f*** all access to the internet. If your defintion of agriculture is "applying online for EU subsidies via DEFRA's crummy web site" then you may have a point, but that makes stuff all difference to the art and science of planting seeds, letting them grow, and harvesting them.

"Rural companies need decent rural broadband to stay competitive "

Another nonsense claim. So how did they stay competitive before? Most rural companies are rural because that's where their customers are, and the few that aren't are there as a lifestyle choice. I've lived half my life in the countryside, and I've not seen many rural data busineses in urgent need of 100 Mb connections.

"People who cannot afford to move in to cities/towns need rural broadband so they have some chance of competing/living on the same level as those in towns/cities"

<fx: Sound of sad violin playing> Last time I looked, rural rents tended to be higher than urban rents. This idea of some army of rural poor, unable to move to the bright lights, and wanting only an internet connection to give them the chance of a well paid rural job is complete rubbish.

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Ledswinger
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Meh

Re: Have and have nots@ M Mouse

"Do you really want 100% of the population to live in urban districts"

No, and where did I or any other poster moot that?

Where people choose to live is a choice for them. But I chose my house based on its assorted facilities and relatively suburban aspect. As a result I choose (for example) to endure the costs and inconvenience of a relatively long drive to work as a trade off, and I don't have a good rail connection. But unlike the rural broadband moaners, I accept that those are outcomes of my choice, and that it isn't the job of the rest of the population to speed up my drive to work, or to subsidise a new rail connection, unless there's a compelling economic case (which there isn't).

I suspect there's many people who would be quite pleased to live in the country without high speed broadband, but lets go with your apparent desire for universal, subsidised high speed broandband, and see what transpires, eh? Fast forward not very far to a digital future, where we have universal high speed broadband, teleworking, and most of the population engaged as information workers, and where physical commuting is both expensive, unpopular and even frowned upon. What will happen when it doesn't matter where you live? I'll tell you: instead of the few rural peasants flocking to the satantic mills, what's actually going to happen is that the well-to-do of the mills will empty back into the countryside, which will become (far more than it already is) a series of expensive middle class ghettoes, leaving the urban areas for young hipsters and the poor. That may sound a bit extreme, but it is only an extrapolation of existing trends. Don't bother chasing broadband to the towns, because broadband could bring the town to you.

Is that what you're advocating?

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Ledswinger
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Happy

Re: Have and have nots@Ledswinger

"Since you have insulted half the population with your post..."

I am pleased to have been of service. I'd even have given you an upvote if you'd had the cojones to post under your normal posting name.

But what is there to be insulted about? A few tongue in cheek terms like "smock-wearer" that I'd expect an interweb user to be able to tolerate, and the observation that the rural have nots probably wouldn't pay the actual costs of the facilties they want.

Is there anything else you'd like to contribute to the debate?

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Ledswinger
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Why should utilities be provided to every home - they certainly aren't now. Gas isn't available to about 7m people in Britain. There's about 3m people off the public sewerage network using septic tanks, and about 2m people on private water supplies.

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Ledswinger
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Happy

Re: Regulate

"There's one very simple regulatory requirement that shoud be put on landline broadband and mobile operators: for every high customer density post code they provide infrastructure, 'x' rural postcodes must be provisioned in the same timeframe."

I already pay my way for my VM broadband on fully commercial terms. I'll happily support your proposal so long as you're also proposing that the rural dwellers will pay the marginal cost of the service they want, on similar commercial terms.

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Ledswinger
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Megaphone

Re: Have and have nots

"Were their remit just to provide the best connection to the whole of the UK, this type of thing could be easily solved."

I doubt that. Based on water industry experience, a rural population requires something like 10x or 20x the network length per property connected as an urban population. Any common sense approach to national roll out would hit the biggest benefit areas first, and the smock-wearers wouldn't be getting rural broadband any time soon, unless they live next to a BT board member. That's also why some urban areas still don't have decent broadband.

The straw-suckers complain that BT won't do things because they don't make a big enough profit, but given the indicative ratios on network length, even if BT were prepared to do it at cost and with no margin, I'll wager that most of the have-nots wouldn't pay the true cost, and would be whining that they should be subsidised.

If they don't like the lack of urban facilities, then the sensible thing is to move. Should anyone with a nice five bed detatched in the country (big garden, with a view, please) wish to swap for my more modest suburban property (with an oh-so fat 60 Mb pipe) then I'll be pleased to receive their offers.

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Google loses Latitude in Maps app shake-up

Ledswinger
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Re: You are the Product.... Just accept it

"@Dave 126: Try Copilot or Navfree."

I've used Navfree, and it's a reasonable free off line alternative. Maps seem no less accurate, although less detailed than Google, directions were clear and accurate, but there's none of the clever stuff that paid apps offer like traffic, speed alerts, camera warnings or lane guidance. For a free, off line satnav app it fills in for Google Maps when you can't manage a data connection, works OK based on UK experience, and doesn't take up too much space. Its main failing are those lack of extras, and that it doesn't do post code searching offline, needing to use Google to look up the postcode, so if using it in true offline mode then you need to enter the full address, which can be a pain.

I think I'm getting to the point where I'll bite the bullet and pay for Copilot, and delete both Google Maps and Navfree.

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T-Mobile to let US customers swap phones twice a year

Ledswinger
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"This will put more refurbished phones into deployment, but will they send them to their Metro PCS division? "

I'd guess that they'll sell the more attractive ones into developed markets as "refurbished" (meaning "we wiped it on our trousers and maybe put it in a new box"), and any excess will be shipped to developing markets where few people could afford the latest and best.

But seems to me there's a crucial problem here, that there don't seem to me to be even two compelling phone launches every year, unless you're willing to tart between IOS, Android, WP, BB10 and between Apple, Samsung, HTC, Nokia, LG, Sony, and Blackberry, pursuing whatever is new. I know a few ADHD types do this already, but I can't see the appeal for anybody with a life, and I would guess this is more of a headline grabbing opportunity than a remarkable new proposition?

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Universal Credit? Universal DISCREDIT, more like, say insiders

Ledswinger
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Re: The governments policy@ Tom Welsh

"The thing is, they both are; and recent attempts to blend them together (as in the railway "service") have been magnificently successful in combining the worst points of both public and private, without any of their redeeming virtues."

As somebody old enough to remember the shocking performance of British Rail, and who travelled widely and regularly on the network, I'm staggered anybody is daft enough to claim that the current situation is the worst of all worlds. Those poor ****ers who got rattled slowly and unbelievably uncomfortably up and down the WCML by BR wouldn't swap their fast, comfortable Pendolino's to go back to BR's manky offer. The current standards of punctuality are far better than BR's, the staff usually polite and helpful (exceptions I know, but nothing compared to the surly vermin that dominated in BR days), and traffic volumes and efficiency far better than anything BR managed. BR managed a few hits (like the HST), but only because Brunel had laid the tracks straight almost a hundred years earlier, and on routes like NE-SW they built the HSTs but then failed to straighten the line.

The BR apologists and pro-nationalisation lobby can't stop hankering for a mythical 1950's Nirvana of Will Hay and the pre-Beeching era, ignoring the fact that government was always a poor steward of rail assets largely built by the private sector, and that people used the railways under state ownership less and less of their own free choice. If you want state owned railways, then go to India.

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Ledswinger
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Re: The governments policy@ Tom 7

"The governments policy is to run all public services badly, blame that on socialism, and then sell it to their capitalist funders."

So go on then, explain to us how true socialist countries provide good quality services at an affordable cost. I suggest you start off with the USSR, then help us understand the workers paradise of Cuba, the economic success story of Venezuela, Mozambique and so forth?

Personally I'm sick of paying through the nose for government's sh*tty "public services", most of which I don't want, and those I do costing too much and under-delivering. Not as part of any grand scheme, but simply because the public sector enjoys a monopoly of provison, yet is unaccountable and incompetent. Look at the generally poor standard of state education in this country. There's no plan to privatise it, but the answer that the public sector has for the sh*t standards it delivers is to have a regulator (at extra cost) to ensure "fair access" to higher education (plus OFSTED supposedly driving up standards). Now explain to me why there's money for useless regulators, but no will to sort out the poor quality of state education? Was that some capitalist plot by the last Labour government?

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Ledswinger
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Re: Skills and fail

"Look, the 'incompetent and lazy' civil servant is a stereotype"

It certainly wasn't a stereotype when I worked for the civil service. Lazy, useless, unskilled jobsworths were about 80% of the workforce, and if you didn't fit (or wouldn't alter to fit) that culture then you took the high road.

And if this is merely a stereotype, why do we have bungled failure after bungled failure - energy policy is a costly disaster, defence procurement is and always has been a costly mess, fire control centres were a billion pound mess, awarding a rail operation contract is beyond the skills of the twerps at the Department against Transport, the Department of Health wasted billions on failed IT, £3bn a year wasted on benefit fraud, DEFRA ***ed up their IT systems so that farmers were denied billions in EU entitlements, immigration IT failures, the MI5 database upgrade...

How many more examples do you need?

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Ledswinger
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Just maybe...

...the useless ****ers of government could deploy the apparently unlimited and technologically skilled resource used to spy on people's private communication to fix this instead?

No, thought no.

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Look, can we just forget about Snowden for sec... US-China cyber talks held

Ledswinger
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Re: Just Scum

"Man or pig, Pig or man. I'm having trouble spotting the difference."

Well, there's a clear difference on few indicators:

Chinese public spending is about 20% of GDP, US government spending is about 40% of GDP, and China has enjoyed sustained economic growth and rising levels of employment.

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Ledswinger
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"The Chinese don't have anything of worth to steal, except ALL the money that is :-S"

But you don't steal that with surveillance or hacking, you just get the US Federal Reserve to create sufficient new money so as to devalue the holdings of your creditors. If you're a small time criminal this is called "forgery" and is illegal, if you're a government it is called "quantitative easing" and entirely acceptable as a means of paying debts.

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