Re: Next week
Looking on the bright side, presumably George Bush has got some single shoes that he could send this bloke? And on that point, is the bloke sure he hasn't thrown his own shoe at an American president and simply forgotten?
3665 posts • joined 1 Jun 2012
Looking on the bright side, presumably George Bush has got some single shoes that he could send this bloke? And on that point, is the bloke sure he hasn't thrown his own shoe at an American president and simply forgotten?
"Such is 'progress' beyond the utility vehicle, aca Land Rover, of the past."
What 'yer getting yer knickers in a twist for? 98% of these will be 2WD, so family hatchbacks with fractionally higher ground clearance than a similarly sized Golf. Nothing wrong with that in my book.
"So.. Brazilian electrician hurrying to work was shot dead for no reason."
With nine dum-dum bullets. Followed by a shameful inquest where the jury weren't allowed the verdict of "unlawful killing".
I suppose Matt-the-Tw** will be along any moment as official spokeswoman for the authorities, to explain how it was all totally justified, and to spout some weak technicality that "hollow point" rounds aren't dum-dum bullets, but the reality is that an innocent man was intentionally deprived of his life by a bunch of cowboys who have probably already retired at 50 on a fat, index linked pension.
"BUT i thought one of the goals of this smart meter roll out was to reduce peak demand so BEEEEELIONS don't need to be spent on new generating capacity as old coal fires stations go off line."
That's a subsidiary goal for smart meters - the overall belief of DECC is that they will magically reduce your total energy demand, reduce carbon and Save The Planet. Because, as with Paedo-druggy-terrorists, the job of government is to save us from something or anything. Whilst DECC don't like it, we'll always have system peaks, so there's some significant need for plant with low load factors. The hair-raising unit costs of real peaking plant that runs twice a year looks astronomical on paper, averaged over all energy consumption across the year it is piffling. This peaking cost will increase because of the idiot-conceived energy policy, but it still won't be umanageable (although the ever growing open and sudden subsidies for wind, solar, biomass may become unmanageable).
and that will be achieved by peak rate pricing so rates will no longer be fixed year round tariff.
That's a possible outcome. But unfortunately the War Against Peak Demand is (like the war on drugs) yesterday's war, and yesterday's lost war to boot. Looking forward, the eejuts of government plan to "decarbonise" transport and heating. At total energy volumes this means they are looking to at least double UK electricity demand (even assuming big efficiencies in heating and electric vehicles). After the closure of 12GW of coal plant under LCPD, and with something like 5-7 GW of older nuclear plant closing by 2023, there's an enormous squeeze coming in the mid to late 2020's that won't be fixed even if they build 3GW of over-priced French tat at Hinkley Point.
What this will mean is that transport and heating loads have to be scheduled to fit into off peak periods, because otherwise the peak demand on a winter evening would melt the system (even the old pre-renewables system). But you then have the problem that there will be huge random swings in electricity generation from all their stupid solar PV and wind, but that then starts to set random whole sale pricing - if the wind blows, wholesale prices fall. If it doesn't they go up. Extended PV build out will be able to meet most of mid-summers day demand - but that means you need low load factor flexible (ier thermally inefficient) plant to cover the 14 hours a day when the solar power output is low or non existent.
The whole of UK energy policy is a complete fucking mess, dreamt up by tree hugging cretins. The real answer to security of supply, emissions, and cost was always a national build out of nuclear, using thermal technology to bridge the fifteen year gap until you've developed the ability to build at a low enough cost. Hinkley Point is not part of this solution as it is a one off using the unproven and vastly expensive Areva EPR. And during the timescale of the current policy, the incompetent and traitorous duo of Brown and Blair sold Westinghouse to Toshiba, eliminating any possibility that we could deliver a new UK nuclear fleet through technology we had some control over, and since then we've thrown around £40bn at a rag-bag collection of low output, subsidy dependent "renewables".
Even now, a screeching U-turn could somewhat expensively expensively seize victory from the jaws of defeat (at the expense of tearing up some of the stupid treaties and EU agreements). But that's just not going to happen. The shallow, stupid timidity of politicians cannot be over-stated, so we will press on with this collection of vastly expensive policies that are doomed to fail.
It's enough to make you weep. Unless you're either a Graun-reading believer in all the cant about renewable energy, or somebody making millions selling "renewable" technologies to the feckless twerps of DECC.
"I imagine they are only really seriously considering power-line communications for the data transmission in the long run because of problems like this "
I seem to recall that they (DECC) hope to use the householder's own broadband via a home hub in these situations, but I can't be bothered to wade through the DECC propaganda and SMETS2 specifications to confirm that.
Whilst you could refuse to allow the connection, you are already at liberty to refuse a smart meter (or more correctly, you are at liberty to refuse a smart meter running in smart mode). It is somebody else's meter, and they can insist on installing a smart meter if they are willing to have it operating in dumb meter mode.
"The energy companies want to use this to supply more 'products' and 'offerings' to everyone. "
You've been getting your facts from the Daily Mirror again, haven't you?
Due to intervention by Vacuous Dave himself, energy companys' licences were amended so that by law the most they could offer at any one time was four tariffs for single rate and four for each other time banded tariff. No-flat rate tariffs were banned. Choice has intentionally been reduced because life was supposedly too complex (whereas the zillions of mobile phone tariffs didn't attract Call Me Dave's attention.
Smart meters won't sell any additional products and services (those are offered usually via the website to try and make up for the dismal margins that the commodity energy sales produce). The smart meters will be capable of complex time of use tariffs, but no supplier (to my knowledge) offers the sort of complex, risky, dynamic pricing that could be offered, and the most adventurous you're likely to be offered is a three rate meter (overnight, standard, peak). Maybe you want that, but our research says that people know they are buying a commodity, they will buy the cheapest they find on a comparison web site, and (as other posters have suggested) most don't want anything to do with their energy supplier: "I pay you, you get the bills rights, keep it simple and keep costs as low as you can, and that'll do me".
"The retail suppliers do all that stuff when they set their prices, but if they had compete with each other, we'd get better pricing out of them"
It is a commodity proposition. We get energy from the same wholesale market, meaning the technology mix of generation at point of sale is homogenised. Nobody will pay more for (eg) better customer service. Given that government have subsidised wind and solar, and mandated a certain proportion of energy to come from those, there's common subsidy costs. Networks businesses all have the same basic regulated business model.
There is competition, and that's driven the suppliers *controllable* costs down, and reduced profit margins, and it has kept those down. But it can't do anything about fixed system costs, about global energy costs, or about the subsidies and market distortions that exist. Different hedging or buying strategies mean that different companies are cheapest at different times. That is competition in real action - unlike most other markets where "brand" and IP are used to justify price differentials that would otherwise be eliminated by competition.
And it's strange, the average household communications spend is actually higher than the average household energy bills (£1,400/yr for communications, source OFCOM, £1,300/yr for energy, source DECC). Within that higher spend on comms, you have BT coining the money in on Openreach despite broadband complaints across the land, you have Apple making 60% gross margin on its puffed up handsets, and some nicely profitable MNOs despite their whingeing.
So if you want more competition in energy, it is possible but you won't see lower prices, as they are at the minimum economic level that the market can deliver within the rigged market that DECC have created.
"Remember Germany opted out of this EU requirement by stating it was uneconomical."
They did. But they are reconsidering that:
"The only Smart Meter that I would consider worth while would be one which compares the unit prices on offer from each supplier at different times during the day and auto switched supplier for me."
Well, ask OFGEM to mandate what they call "dynamic pricing". A smart meter can do this, even the skanky SMETS2 specification ones that DECC have mandated
Because of the way the wholesale markets work you will only have a rough idea what you'll be charged in advance, but a smart meter could avoid suppliers altogether - you pay whatever half hourly price the market is charging at wholesale. Obviously you'd need to contract your minimum capacity at system peaks (otherwise you'd be hit with vast "out of balance" charges at the price charged by rarely running system peaking plant) so there's a fixed charge for that generating capacity. Then you've got to pay your levies - all those subsidies for solar, biomass and wind have to come from your bills, along with climate change levy payments, carbon price floor payments, and transmission and balancing system costs. Of course if you're supplier free, you need to contract to hire your meter from a regulated provider, so don't forget that.
Then you need to pay for the LV distribution. This involves a capacity charge that you'd agree, that is set by by your maximum possible load (set by an MCB or a limit switch in the meter). Then there's the maximum load charge (separate from your capacity charge). If your household load is reactive there's extra charges for that. Then the distribution unit rate charges have three rates during the day that vary, and vary by DNO. And then there's fun like Load Adjustment Factors that operate across five daily and seasonally varied periods to reflect the system losses. If you're going down the "pay only what it costs" route, you'd also have to opt in to TRIAD payments, where there's an extra charge for your demand at the three peak periods within the year (which cannot be accurately predicted in advance). And a whole lot more besides.
Obviously you'll be paying a lot more in winter than in summer, and during the day whenever people want to use a lot of energy. And because of the way that the markets work, you'd need to post collateral if you want credit, so in practice this vastly complex structure would be pre-payment only. Given that most residential suppliers are making about 4% net margin, I'd suggest that's a small price for a flat rate, year round credit tariff.
"So why the fuck is the UK taxpayer paying for upgrades to the energy supply network of privately owned companies?"
Go and ask government and the EU. It's their rules, not anything the industry asked for. The cash savings from reducing manual meter reading is about £5 a year, that won't pay a quarter of the interest costs on a single smart meter, and specifying, buying, installing and maintaining the things is a headache we'd rather not have.
The only real benefit of smart meters is that we think that they'll greatly reduce the number of estimated bills (a big cause of inaccurate billing and out of kilter direct debits), and we think they should offer better control of bad debt, along with easier payments for people on pre-payment meters. That might be worth another £5 a year, so still only covering half the interest costs.
" is effectively the government giving a subsidy. It just goes direct from the customer to the supplier,"
Not to the suppliers - we just collect it. Although suppliers are obligated to install smart meters, the problem is that expected returns are too low for a non-infrastructure provider - our costs of capital are too high. That's why the financial services sector will clean up, because (very, very simplistically) debt is a liability for a commercial company, but it is an asset for financial services companies, because commercial businesses are expected to make money on trading, whereas FS companies make theirs from lending. So the balance sheet always balances, but a financial company will always look at the return on its small equity contribution, and uses a shed load of cheap debt to pay for the assets involved.
"The whole justification for this is complete nonsense."
Yes. The same sort of made up business case and impact assessment that has been used for things like HS2 and carbon taxes, is used to justify London airport expansion etc etc.
"When will the government and supply companies realise the average consumer simply wants to pay the minimum possible for each unit of power (whether electricity or gas) and preferably never speak to their supply company, let alone have a 'conversation' with them."
This is very well understood by the energy companies. This is why the customer service is poor, because although people will anecdotally say they will pay for better customer service, it is a pure commodity market, and nobody will actually put their hand in their pocket and pay the extra few quid per year that would get better customer service. Smaller companies with brand new systems clean databases, and lean management usually offer better performance whilst they are small, but as they grow their systems, processes and culture acquire a thick coating of cruft (so OVO and First Utility now have a higher number of pro-rata complaints to the Energy Ombudsman than say British Gas or EDF).
" the latest project is to subsidise shady energy companies so that they can put a shady smart meter into every household."
FFS, here we go again. Energy companies don't get any subsidy for this. We are legally obliged to do this by laws past under Blair/Brown, confirmed by the last government, and the costs go on your energy bill. Most energy suppliers don't want to own the smart meters themselves, so this will become a nice profit opportunity for a financial services company that can load up on cheap QE debt (Australian bank Macquarie are the most likely beneficiary).
The Reg have also got the wrong end of the stick, the install rate for meters at the moment is merely the "Phase 1" part. DECC's foolhardy intention is for real volume to be delivered from this year through to 2020, in a vast pell-mell rush that will see all manner of problems arise. When the suppliers have inevitably failed to dish out the government's dictated number of meters, then they will be subject to multi-million pound fines by OFGEM, which of course come out of customer's pockets.
You'll see this in due course, because suppliers were supposed to have all B2B customers on semi-smart ("AMR") meters by April of this year, three of them are deemed to have failed, and OFGEM's ponderous bureaucracy is now deliberating how much to extract in fines.
One stop shop? In a shop you usually have to pay. Here the Feds have given the data away.
Having said that, I wouldn't put it past the bureaucrats to have allowed this to happen because it can now be used to"justify" a vast increase in offensive operations against China et al, and it gifts them the ultimate budget defence of "of our budget gets cut we won't be able to secure your personal data".
Never forget that the purpose of a bureaucracy is quite singular, and that is to grow and sustain itself even at the expense of the host organism.
"The HIPPER cruisers were excellent designs (which didn't so much break the relevant naval treaties as crush them...) but weren't 'pocket battleships'. "
Correction accepted, but the Deutschland class cruisers didn't sink any Allied capital ships either.
"the whole home fleet chasing one pocket battleship (and losing a capital ship in the process"
As I recall, the Hipper-class cruisers (AKA "pocket battleships") never sank a capital ship, although I suspect you're referring to the Bismarck and Hood, a battle in which both navies lost their flagships. As with the Battle of Jutland, the outcome of the Bismarck encounter was a clear strategic win for the Royal Navy, even though tactically the best you could say was that it was a draw.
Ignoring the U-boats, the performance of the Kriegsmarine was dismal in WW2, despite well trained sailors and far better equipment than the Royal Navy had.
"Most Bank of England notes aren't legal tender in Scotland"
What about coins?
Particularly my planned Culloden pound coin? Gets at both the Andymurrays and the Frogs in one go.
"Don't know any famous Belgians outside of Poirot? Are you mad?"
No, I am not mad, but I seem to be single-handedly waving the banner of secretly self-deprecating British pretend-xenophobia, fighting off the barbarians who could evidently sit through Fawlty Towers: The Germans without cracking a smile (and who'd probably conclude that the humour was at the expense of the Teutons).
"In fact Belgian punches above its weight for well known people given its size."
Doesn't every country in the world (of any size) claim that, with the sole exception of Wales? I suppose the Belgians can take comfort that at least they weren't born Welsh.
In fact, maybe there's a way forward for Belgian odd-denomination coins: Countries we Belgies are glad we're not.
"the point is to annoy the French"
Maybe it wasn't. Maybe it was the only thing they could come up with to put on a coin. Let's face it, the list of famous Belgians probably has a single entry, and that's Poirot, so after you've put him on one coin, you're a bit stuck. And even then, that's only one side of the coin sorted.
It almost makes me want to use the Euro so we could employ their coin here.
Well this year we're rubbing the German's noses in it again with new £2 coins celebrating the first world war and a 50p coin for the Battle of Britain. Sadly it looks like the Royal Mint have missed the opportunity to bait the French with a 600 year anniversary Agincourt pound coin.
What innovative, ground breaking must have technology does Twitter offers?
Oh ye of little faithe! Twitter is the innovative, ground-breaking system whereby the cretinous or simply vacuous can communicate planet-wide, without exposing their inability to compose a cogent message of more than thirty words, or risking breaking their own brains with major challenges like punctuation or grammar.
And likewise, those "millenials" and hipsters with an attention span that makes your average fly look like Stephen Hawking, where else could they go to suck on the teat of the "speek-your-braines" side of the internet without causing their own heads to explode?
Twitter is a technological marvel, for which we should be eternally grateful, sucking up huge volumes of drivel, like the internet's own cleaning sponge.
"This would appear to work only for a single pothole,...."
Alright, send an anonymous letter, signed "the Phantom Pot Hole Filler".
"Unfortunately I don't see how I can choose to spend my money on pot-hole repair."
I offer you a 90% guaranteed solution that involves a small amount of your money and a permanent repair:
When nobody's around, stick a bag of post-mix concrete in the hole. No skill or talent is required on your part other than common sense of not being seen, and not getting run over. Then, when the post-mix has set, phone the council reporting that persons unknown have done a DIY pothole repair that you don't think is safe, and they'll be out like a shot to fix it, not because of the safety issue (as the original pothole was probably a bigger concern) but because somebody has infringed their monopoly of fixing potholes (or not).
"...but what gets dropped?"
Cookery, physical education, religious education, "textiles", PSHE, "citizenship". Or if that offends too many people, let kids choose two of those at most. In my local schools this would free up about two and a half hours a week.
Music and all Languages should also be optional - there's real benefit teaching the interested and capable, but zero benefit trying to teach the uninterested and untalented (which I was for both of those).
"Well, the F-35 program gives a lot of jobs to engineers and the like. "
I'd suggest the jobs the US needs are commercial jobs paying a decent breadwinner salary, and that means they need to be core manufacturing and skilled service sector that contribute to the productive commercial economy, not a handful of well paid people working out more expensive ways of killing other people, as part of large corporations entirely dependent upon the Defense department's gravy train.
Funny thing is I can remember why the USSR collapsed. In a nut shell, because it spent all its money on an overly large military, and used all its R&D skills to design new weapons, until it got to the point that the productive economy simply couldn't pay the tab anymore. Having bankrupted the Soviet threat, all the Star Wars defence spending should have been canned. But instead of a peace dividend, all the American people got was more defence spending and more wars.
A long line of empires have been built and perished in this way, and the US empire is currently on the well worn step marked "hubris and overstretch". The one thing that you can say about the US empire is that it was built and lost far more quickly than any before it.
"You don't NEED to nowadays, but the ability should be there to dive into the guts of a system when it fucks up, and really understand what is happening."
But we don't need every school leaver to do this. Coding is a useful skill, we should encourage it. But (as is the case for every other subject taught at school) the majority of the population will not be very good at it, will not be interested in it, will not have a job involving it, and even amongst the code writers we probably only need a small number of experts to delve under the bonnet. Look at the complete waste of time that is domestic science (aka cookery): As far as I can see it teaches no useful practical culinary skills, develops no love of cooking, no finer values of taste and discernment, no enthusiasm for healthy eating. You could say the same for PE. And that's the risk, that coding gets forced down the throats of an unwilling and unreceptive audience, and does more damage than good.
I think all the points about logic, reasoning, and critical thinking are absolutely correct, but perhaps the need is for a more wholesale change in the nature of education rather than bolting on another topic. IT and the internet have made facts easily verified and free. There's no longer much value in rote-learning and the ability to regurgitate . But that's what schools are still doing too much of. Horrible Histories shows how to engage kids with a subject, by making it entertaining. Or computer game tutorials that teach kids the background, rules and controls of a complex game in a matter of minutes. But more than just these techniques of edcuation, it needs to become more discursive - do the e-learning or watch the documentary, and then discuss it in workshop environments. Assessing ability also needs to change, because you can't make it contingent on marking people for recalling facts. Maths and science need to focus far more on the logic, reasoning and method, and to move away from the dull chalkboard and textbook teaching methods.
And, and, and......it's never going to happen.
" If added to the already over-burdened public school system in the US, it's just another wedge issue."
That's not an argument against teaching coding, it's an argument that the US needs to spend less federally, and more locally. And it all comes down to "defence" spending.
In summary America chose to spend $2 trillion on offensive operations in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya and Syria, and then to incur pension and veteran benefits costs of the same again. It is still trying to get the F35 into service, as part of a programme that will have a lifetime cost in excess of $1.5 trillion. America spends an estimated $50 billion every year to have the NSA spy on all Americans. It is currently pouring more weapons and "advisors" into Syria, and less openly into Ukraine. It is spending $50bn on three Ford-class aircraft carriers that can't be used anywhere that opponents have sea skimming missiles
All of those choices are America's to make, but if the US public education system is failing, then maybe it is a poor choice for a country that has 4.5% of the world's population to spend 39% of the world's total military spending. And that 39% does not include intelligence agencies, "democracy-spreading" slush funds and the like.
Not that many other countries make wise choices about public spending. In the UK we can't even defend our territorial waters due to defence cuts, but we spend vast amounts of an out-of-balance budget on free healthcare, an out of control welfare programme, and then government give away more than £1 in every £50 of tax receipts as unproductive and routinely abused foreign aid.
"Rurally, cabling is less likely to be subject to vandalism."
I'd have thought that the key challenge was accidental damage from vehicles parking on the verge, road accidents that chew the verge up, grass cutting, ditch clearance and drainage work, hedgerow cutting, and other causes like road repair plant and construction materials dumped on the verge.
I'd guess that makes for a very high revenue cost for repairs, even if the cabling is modest lengths with plug and socket terminations.
"I expect BT will be saving as much money as possible to store up a war chest to defend against a Deutsche Telekom takeover"
But not too much. All the board will want is a war chest sufficient to mount a credible feint, such that DT increase the buy off payments to persuade the directors to recommend the offer. The verminous directors who sold Cadbury's to a maker of burger cheese have shown how this is done.
In all respects, the congestion charge has been an unmitigated success in freeing the roads up from the tedious hoi-polloi, who ought to consider themselves privileged to be crammed onto dirty, sweaty, over-crowded public transport.
Curious that Red Ken came up with such an elitist idea. Has he been invited to the Bilderbear conference where the 0.1%'ers discuss how to sh** on the rest of the world's population?
...that the high male participation in IT is somehow a structural problem deserving of government attention and much hand wringing by liberals and feminists alike, but the high and rising female participation in medicine, nursing, veterinary work, law, public relations, marketing is no problem at all.
The logical solution Guardian readers would probably approve of is 50:50 legal quotas, but that needs to be backed up by allocation of roles, because it doesn't follow that all those women choosing law or medicine.
So, not wishing to generalise the feminist agenda at all: Hairy, unwashed, sexist, white males of IT, better sign yourself up to a basic social skills course, because in future you might find that you've got to give up the comfortable binary world of IT and become a doctor, teacher or a vet.
"THAT was a pretty stupid idea."
Stop blaming. Some poor f*cker is enduring sleepless nights because they unintentionally did something wrong, the most important thing now is to find out what went wrong, learn from it, and prevent recurrence.
Maybe you've never made a mistake, in which case lucky you, because I've made plenty.
"It sits at a point about half way between the herc and the C17 Globemaster, and is meant to fulfil a different role to both."
Which is unfortunate given that it is vastly more expensive than both. Another shit-headed, misbegotten euro-project.
" Samsung needs to break its product line into two parts."
I don't think they do. The top of the market is fought on brand and service, like 'em or not Apple have both of those stitched up, and Samsung struggle on both. Meanwhile Samsung are being squeezed from the bottom by feature growth on cheaper phones. So the cheaper Nexus and Moto devices, new Chinese OEMs, and other Android phones, indeed, even Nokia's cheap WIndows phones. Screen growth and pixel count have maxed out as differentiators, there's no killer apps, not much OS difference, slow and inadequate progress on battery life, so why would anyone fork out £500 for a Galaxy S6? If £500 is nothing to you, then fine. Or fine for those who can't do maths on contract offers. But as a business proposition there's insufficient reasons to pay £500 for an S6, when a Moto G is less than £150, and a 5 inch screened LG G3 S is only £200.
A big part of the problem is that Samsung think that they should be able to flog the S6 for £500-600, when it cost only £200 to make. 63% gross margin might be what Samsung want, but based on the product, the warranty and service support, and the competition the market won't buy it in the volume Samsung want to sell. This trend is a continuing one, so Samsung need to rethink their market position and their proposition, unless they want to join LG, Sony and others in the "Not Making Money From Phones" club.
...the perp will shortly post footage of his derring-do on Facebook, and can be nabbed with minimum effort.
"*Using figures from the Daily Mail for drug costs, before you ask."
What, reader's offers?
The pity is that being (once upon a time) a techy web site, you'd have thought they'd have made more of the Caterham kit options other than just mentioning that the "options" includes £3k for factory assembly. There's something the leeches at BMW haven't thought to charge extra for yet.
My heart's with self assembly, my head says "don't be an idiot!". Luckily for the head, my wallet doesn't presently have £16k for a hobby two seater.
"not supposed to eat....anything that looked remotely palatable apart from Delia Smith (did I say that out loud?)"
You did indeed, and very brave of you too.
Her recipes are good and dependable, but Mrs Smith doesn't do it for me. Lorraine Pascale on the other hand.....
" I for one have never seen any animals in the que at my local chippy."
Speak for yourself, mate. At my local chip shop the entire evolutionary chain is represented, although higher life forms are fairly scant.
"esp with the ever increasing rates of Type 2 Diabetes."
But that increase in T2 diabetes is largely driven by obesity, with the content of the diet a smaller contributor than the net calorie value of the diet. Having said that, I suspect that the additional sugars those disgusting mega-calorie drinks sold by fast food outlets are probably a significant contributor to the problem (like a large McDonalds shake at 488 kcal). The fast food outlets could move to a diet-by-default approach, but seem to lack any initiative. A bit like their customers, in that respect.
"On the other hand the schools' summer camp at Aberdovey used large pre-war canvas bell tents."
For the fat and spotty oiks of today I think you'll have to explain which war.
"This rag-tag army of 30,000 medieval butcher bastards is doing a pretty good job of avoiding complete destruction by billions of dollars worth of western might."
Well there's two reasons for that. The first is that many in the Sunni community regard IS as acceptable, and preferrable to either US occupation, or occupation by Shiite forces loyal to the crooked official Iraqi government. The second is that not only did the CIA train and arm many people now fighting for IS or allied factions, but having poured weapons into both Iraq, Syria and Libya, these weapons are now inevitably being captured and used by IS (if not actively sold to IS by bent officials).
Do the Yank government really think that occasional bombing and pouring in more weapons will help?
"If it's using radar it can even detect the stealth cyclists who have done everything they can to make their bike invisible"
Maybe. But I wonder how well the radar works with the carbon fibre bikes ridden by true cycling fundamentalists?
"But he did in point of fact break exactly the kind of law that you don't get pardoned for breaking."
That's true. But the law you refer to is the unwritten one "Don't embarrass the bureaucrats". That's why he's in trouble, nothing to do with national security.
"When the Iraqi Army runs away from ISIS they leave all those nice weapons and weapon-systems behind in their haste"
Don't forget all the weapons (and indeed training in Jordan) that the CIA provided to "moderate rebels" supposedly fighting the Syrian government. All those trained fighters and their weapons are now part of IS or Al Nusra, and the US government is now in the the bizarre and self-inflicted position of arming and training both sides of a conflict that it is involved in, and by opposing both Assad and IS, they seem to be fighting on both sides.
And the unfortunate thing is that having inflamed the conflict, the Yanks simply won't leave alone. They keep on pouring in more weapons, in the apparent hope of defending the arbitrary borders of Iraq, ignoring that this is essentially a tribal and sectarian split that is caused by those arbitrary borders combined with the locals being unable to operate any civilised and democratic government.
Well, if you're not happy with the free upgrade, I'm sure Microsoft will give you back the money you paid for the upgrade.
"Unfortunately the world is moving to a model where "it only works while you have a net connection"......Office365....."
Aahhh, yes. The ghastly abomination that is Office 365. Always f***ing deciding to uninstall itself without a buy your leave, regardless of the actual licence status.
All involved in Office 365's concept, development and specifications should be given free one way tickets to Syria.
"Besides - colour coding isn't particularly DDA compliant?"
So what? Doesn't seem to be a problem for traffic signals, mains electricity, utility pipes, aviation, shipping, sports strips, video games, and well, almost everything.
"I don't see the target audience."
A persistent problem with Amazon products and services, that they don't seem to understand the market, and they're usually late too it as well. Certainly as a general mechandise retailer they're good (although the ongoing slow death of free delivery increasingly makes other vendors more competitive). But when they tried selling tablets they wanted you to pay for a not-full-fat Android device that fired advertising at you, and they came to the market late. With Amazon Prime they want to bundle up a whole load of stuff into what is a fairly expensive bundle that doesn't have broad appeal unless you'd pay the full price anyway for one of the components (and again, for many of the parts others offered this before Amazon did).
And with this latest one we see much the same - a so-so offer for the mass market that doesn't really appeal to any obvious segment, and they're so late to the gaming party you have to wonder if they think gaming is just about hosting the original Wolfenstein. I wonder if they've heard of Steam?