1376 posts • joined 2 Jul 2007
Re: unsurprised, but ...really?
"I did not vote for these politicians, I have no say in what they do".
A nice crisp definition of "Western democracy". As long as it's called democracy, though, you do retain responsibility for it - all of it. Nice setup, eh?
Re: Is it just me.....
"Yeah lets just say it won't be on anywhere you're planning to send in the troops to will it".
Ever since Vietnam - and even before that - the US government has done everything it possibly can to avoid, or minimize, American casualties. Spreading smallpox would cause terrible harm to the target nation, so there would be no need to send any troops.
Of course, the smallpox would eventually find its way back home. But politicians aren't smart enough to understand that; and besides, it wouldn't happen for weeks, so it would be way over their time horizon.
Re: What The Fuck is happening in this country
" On one hand they want to get rid of the current regime, and every little helps..."
Why do they want to get rid of the current "regime"? (Have you noticed that, whenever our masters want to overthrow another country's government, it mysteriously becomes a "regime"?)
OK, Assad and his government may have committed a lot of violent acts, and they may throw their weight around. BUT present-day Syria is (or was, before the violent revolutionaries started tearing it apart) the most secular, non-fundamentalist, tolerant country in the Middle East. As was Iraq, before it was literally destroyed in order to save it from Saddam. And Libya under Qaddafi wasn't that bad.
All these things are relative. Look, if you will, at Saudi Arabia - the most barbarous, extremist fundamentalist regime in the world. But their royal family, which runs the country in a literally medieval way, are our good buddies so no one can say a word against them. Virtually all the Gulf States are similar: absolute monarchies in which you can disappear permanently just for whispering any comment about the government, or for a wide range of offences against their religious law. Those are countries in which slavery is both widespread and officially approved of - indeed, they couldn't get by without it. Yet we line up on their side against countries that are relatively secular, liberal, and to a certain extent democratic. It's almost as if someone was trying to make (and keep) the Middle East as primitive, violent, and ghastly as possible.
Re: Sunset clause
"The entire demographic of politics has shifted in ways unthinkable 30 years ago. The UK is no longer the easily partitioned LibLabCon landscape of days of yore".
For one thing - as I have been saying for years now - there is no longer any party that is conservative. The "Conservative" party could well be prosecuted under whatever has replaced the Trades Descriptions Act, except that of course, being politicians, they are immune to the law.
As a lifelong conservative (small "s"), I find it frustrating that there is literally no one I can vote for. In the meantime, UKIP will have to do. As far as I can see, they are broadly in favour of less government (and hence less government interference).
Re: What's the emergency?
"Are we suddenly under significantly increased threat of attack?"
We will be after Cameron joins the Yanks and Israelis in their next Middle Eastern massacre.
Those aren't "arms"! *These* are ARMS...
"Well the American model includes the right to bear arms..."
Well, yes... That would probably be why recent US governments have rejected the Founding Fathers' reluctance to allow standing armies - especially quartered in the USA itself - and their extreme hostility to any foreign wars.
That's why the DHS purchased 1.6 billion rounds of ammunition (over five for every American man, woman, and child - no simple double tap for them!) plus war-surplus armoured cars. That, of course, is over and above the National Guard with its jet fighters, helicopter gunships, tanks, machine guns, mortars, artillery... and the armed forces (Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Special Forces) which spend as much on weapons every year as the rest of the world put together.
I don't think the armed citizens would be wise to try anything. As long as they just stick to shooting each other occasionally, everything will be just fine.
Re: No problem for me then !
'Can someone actually provide a detailed definition of "dangerous indiviual".'
Certainly! Any influential or powerful member of the US or British government, able to send our armed forces to kill thousands of people in distant countries whenever they feel the need to boost their popularity and distract attention from their domestic failures (sorry, "to protect us from the terrorists, paedophiles, organised criminals, etc. etc.)
Ironically, those are probably the ONLY people whose communications data will NOT be snooped on.
Be very afraid.
Kudos all round
Just to say... I have spent half an hour reading this comment thread, and I don't think you could find a better combination of sensible, informed opinion and riotous, tasteless humour anywhere on the planet. When I think I could have wasted that time reading, say, The Times or The Guardian...
Great work, guys!
Re: Why not drones
'full of drones (470 of them?)'
Just like Parliament...
Re: I name this ship White Elephant.....
"...carries a 4.5-inch gun...'
Is that the one that failed to sink a plastic lifeboat in a recent exercise?
Re: I name this ship White Elephant.....
'Is it too late to add underwater capability to the F35's spec?'
Given the long list of defects and malfunctions that have already "surfaced", plus potential problems in landing on... we'll probably find out soon enough.
Re: I name this ship White Elephant.....
'Oh wait, no, nearly all of our wars in the last 20 years have been about air power.
'So, why would we invest in anti-sub and surface combat destroyers?'
Because the next war we fight will probably be in the future, not the past?
Also because modern submarine technology is very advanced, and still improving. Look up "Shinano" to see what can happen to an immense aircraft carrier that meets a submarine without adequate escort.
Re: Chocolate Teapot
This reminds me strongly of the lamentable story of tank procurement during WW2. Britain began the war with the excellent Matilda II infantry tank, which - in 1940 - was immune to German tank cannon and normal anti-tank guns. The only thing that could stop a Matilda II was the 88 mm dual role AA gun, which weighed tons and was extremely vulnerable. It is no exaggeration to say that the Matilda II was the Tiger of 1940.
Naturally, tank development went into overdrive as soon as the fighting began, and soon the Germans were finding that their Panzer III and IV tanks were outclassed by the hitherto secret Russian T34 and KV1. Accordingly, the Germans created the Tiger and Panther series, which dominated battlefields for the rest of the war. (The Tiger was essentially a mobile 88 mm with armour thick enough to defeat almost any anti-tank weapon).
Meanwhile, Britain messed around, designing and building dozens of different new tanks - none of which was adequate. Either they were too slow, or too vulnerable, or undergunned, or prone to break down - quite often all four.
Then, in 1945, just in time for the victory parades, British industry and the War Office produced the Comet - more or less as good as the best German and Russian tanks - shortly followed by the even better Centurion. Pity they couldn't have done so in less than five years, as an awful lot of lives would have been saved.
It looks as if these wonderful new carriers will be a similar tale of delay, incompetence and inadequacy. Thank God we don't actually need them for anything... except to boost sales, maintain jobs, and above all make certain politicians look good. (All of which they are doing quite satisfactorily).
Re: Tom Welsh ...and it's much the same here.
If anyone is seriously interested in learning the facts about the Ukraine situation, you couldn't do better for a brief summary than this:
The author was a senior official in Reagan's (Republican) administration.
Re: Tom Welsh ...and it's much the same here.
'"I have lived under three dictatorships, and the difference between them and our "democracies" is a matter of degree...." Yeah, that's like saying the difference between being alive and healthy and being dead is a matter of degree - it's a very big matter of degree.'
You clearly don't understand the meaning of "a matter of degree". The difference between being alive and being dead is exactly the opposite: it is a dichotomy. Either one or the other.
As for obeying the law, the point is that you (as a mere citizen) don't have any control over what laws are passed - any more than you would have in a dictatorship. You will no doubt point to your one vote in general elections; but that no more gives you real political influence than a single lottery ticket makes you a millionaire. In Nazi Germany and the USSR, people were oppressed and killed in accordance with the laws. The Nazis were elected to power through democratic elections - indeed, Hitler's democratic mandate was far greater than Blair's or Cameron's. What we have in the UK is an effective dictatorship in which the dictator is changed (perhaps) every few years, more or less at random, but always chosen from the golden circle of the elect.
With regard to Russia, you complain that I specified "since the fall of the USSR". Well, of course I did: Russia as a separate nation did not exist before that. Stalin, for example, the worst Soviet dictator, was Georgian. So it would be most unreasonable to tar Russia with Soviet crimes. As for "oppressing their own", you are trying to change the subject. I was talking about illegal wars of aggression, not domestic repression.
'So, you want to compare the UN-mandated actions in Iraq with the unilateral Russian actions in Chechnya? How about the Russian invasion of Georgia, or their current meddling in the Ukraine?'
Sorry, that's utter rubbish. "On March 20, 2003, a United States-organized coalition invaded Iraq, under the pretext that Iraq had failed to abandon its weapons of mass destruction program in violation of U.N. Resolution 687. This claim was based on documents provided by the CIA and British government and were later found to be unreliable". (Wikipedia) An accurate synopsis, except that for "unreliable" one should read "a pack of barefaced, deliberate lies". The Russian action in Georgia, blatantly provoked by Washington, backfired spectacularly. "On August 7, 2008, Georgian forces began shelling the South Ossetian capital, Tskhinvali; this was followed, on August 8, 2008, by an advance of Georgian Army infantry, tanks, and police commandos into South Ossetia; the action was supported by artillery and air support, leading to the capture of a number of key South Ossetian towns and retreat of Russian peacekeepers and South Ossetian forces. However, after a Russian peacekeepers' base was shelled and personnel killed, units of the Russian 58th Army, supported by irregular forces, entered South Ossetia..." (Wikipedia). Note that the Georgians started the fighting and killed Russian peacekeepers. What would the USA have done under similar circumstances? I shudder to think. In the event, the Russians drove in rapidly, routed the Georgians, and quickly brought the "war" to a successful conclusion. As for the Ukraine, the only nation meddling there is the USA, which is known to have spent $5 billion to overthrow the elected government and replace it with a bunch of fascist murderers. The fascists have been resisted by Russians living in Ukraine, with neither material help nor encouragement from Russia - which, indeed, has moved its forces far back from the border to prevent any US-organized provocations.
To deal briefly with your other points, you place far too much emphasis on the creation of "democratic" government in Afghanistan. The Americans have caused just as much death and destruction there as the Soviets did, and have accomplished nothing else. The "democratic" government they imposed (candidates and voters chosen by the Americans, naturally) will not outlast their departure.
Contrary to your assertion, I understand the British constitution quite well. However, I describe it as it actually works, not as it is theoretically described in books and political speeches. Personally, I would prefer political parties to be illegal, forcing MPs to think through each issue on its merits. But that will never happen. As things stand, MPs could perfectly well be replaced by coloured tokens, with each party leader being given a number equal to the number of seats won at the general election. MPs virtually never vote against the whip, especially on matters of importance. (Otherwise we would never have gone to war in Iraq, as most of the people and most MPs knew perfectly well that the excuses were trumped-up lies).
Re: ...and it's much the same here.
I have lived under three dictatorships, and the difference between them and our "democracies" is a matter of degree. In every country, you must obey the law if you want to live free and unmolested. All governments line their own pockets and those of their pals. All governments bend the law to avoid being exposed in their misdeeds. And all governments, when push comes to shove, act as if they were above the law.
The USA and the UK have invaded far more nations, killed far more people, and destroyed far more property than Russia since the fall of the USSR. Moreover, they have displayed an infinitely greater contempt for international law - and even their own laws. Who held the Nuremberg Trials and announced the Nuremberg Principles? The USA and Britain, the same nations that utterly ignored them when attacking Serbia, Pakistan and Libya and invading Iraq and Afghanistan.
As for democracy, ask yourself how much actual political power you have. Every few years you are allowed to vote for an MP; however you vote, the new PM then passes whatever laws he or she wishes. If you don't like it, you can complain to your MP - let me know how that turns out for you. Meanwhile, you are obliged to pay taxes and comply with literally tens of thousands of laws, none of which you had any part in drafting. In practice, it's not all that different from living in a dictatorship.
This is news?
"Terror propaganda, spreading non-Russian values, can earn you [a] trip to [the] labour camps..."
Replace "Russian" with "British", and "labour camps" with "Belmarsh" or "Guantanamo" (thanks to the clever one-way extradition agreement)... and it's much the same here.
All this cant about "freedom of speech", "rule of law", and so on goes out the window as soon as anyone feels threatened. Then it's time to get together and KILL THE STRANGERS! KILL THE HERETICS!! KILL!!! KILL!!!! KILL!!!!!
"...possibly breaking international law in doing so..."
As if any part of the US federal government could give a rat's ass for international law. (Except when it suits their own purposes, of course).
Why would God's Own Country knuckle under to laws made by a bunch o' furriners?
Re: Other book, e-book and print-on-demand retailers are available
It's not just "Internet Theory" that's broken: it's modern economics. It's based on a series of absurd and obviously artificial oversimplifications of reality, including a complete failure to allow for human psychology. Economists assume (to make their own lives simpler) that all people act like "rational economic agents", meaning that they will go to any lengths to get more for less. That is ridiculous, as it assumes money and value for money are the only things we care about. When I look at my Amazon basket (currently over 200 items that I just like to keep an eye on), I get shown a list of dozens of recent price changes. A certain book has been reduced from £34.18 to £34.17, and I'm supposed to care? The practical convenience of buying everything from Amazon outweighs the possibility of occasionally saving a small amount of money. Moreover, I have high confidence that Amazon (and its merchants) will deliver what is promised on time.
Re: With NYT-editorial levels of truthiness, we boldly go....
And that's obviously unfair. If it's legally permissible for Amazon to virtually monopolize the bookselling business (regardless of how they did that), it should of course be legal for the publishers to present a united front against Amazon.
Re: I wonder if, given that their world-wide data is stored in the USA, ...
I agree - except that it is a characterization, not a caricature. It's entirely accurate, in no way exaggerated.
Re: Aren't you guys forgetting something ?
Among the implications: the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, and all subsequent laws and treaties were signed into law with fingers metaphorically crossed behind the back. They like you to believe that you are governed by laws, not men. But whenever the going gets tough (Revolutionary War, 1812, Civil War, World Wars, Cold War, GWAT...) the laws take a back seat and men take over. Men on white horses, for your own good.
Began using email in 1980...
... thanks to working for DEC. IMHO nothing has since been invented that even comes close to being as good as VAXNotes/DECNotes.
But there you have it. As George Orwell sagely observed, "[e]ach generation imagines itself to be more intelligent than the one that went before it, and wiser than the one that comes after it". (Of course, there is no need to take any view about the next generation until it is old enough to start asserting its own views - at which point they must obviously be refuted).
One of our ancient ape instincts forces young people (especially young men) to assert themselves against their parents (especially the leader/silverback). This is an emotional need, based on the importance of becoming independent adults and, in due course, being ready to assume leadership.
In human society, you can see it play out in many ways: but the common factor is the unconscious rejection of everything said or done by "those old people", and the underlying belief that they were really pretty dumb (and anyway they didn't have iPhones).
IMHO one of the funniest manifestations was Tony Blair's attempt to sound modern and dynamic by running down the Victorians and contrasting their civilisation with all the "technology" we have today. Being a fool, and therefore too lazy to learn the facts, he was sublimely unaware that the Victorians made ALL the scientific breakthroughs that led to the computer, the iPhone, and the rest of our technology. Life may be pretty grim on the whole, but Providence has sent us clowns like that to bring a grin to our faces from time to time.
Re: and commentards spout forth on any and all subjects...
"Mr. Fry made a completely stupid assertion".
To be strictly accurate (perhaps pedantic, perhaps not) it was an ignorant assertion. He made the rather silly mistake of pontificating about something he apparently does not understand. It's edifying to reflect that this sort of behaviour is perfectly normal in the worlds of business, politics, literature, and culture in general. Only in hard scientific and technical subjects is it self-defeating, because in these subjects everyone clearly understands what is true, what is not true, and the difference between them.
In economics, to choose a contrasting example, it is perfectly in order for a world-famous expert to say that inflation depends entirely on the money supply; also, for another expert to say that it does not. No one knows which of them (if either) is correct, and there seems to be no way of finding out.
Remember too that Stephen Fry got into Cambridge University on the strength of a single year's study - an utterly amazing feat - and then got a First in English despite spending most of his time on the stage and other activities. He frankly admits in his autobiography that he mastered the art of writing essays that would be given top marks, whereas others worked much harder and learned more but got worse degrees.
All of this tells us some unpalatable truths about our society and its values. On the whole, I feel we should be grateful to Mr Fry for inadvertently reminding us how foolish and ignorant a person can be, while still being generally regarded as a genius of sorts (with a technical bent).
Re: Same old...
"But remember to "amass a pile of money" you need to keep your customer satisfied and secure enough".
Unfortunately history reveals that "ignorant and misled" is good enough.
"Microsoft does not want to waste development time on older operating systems ... and they want people to move to higher operating systems".
And I shall - the move to Linux is already underway, with three of my home systems already running OpenSuSE and the fourth dual-booting while I make sure everything I need is running smoothly. Then - so long M$, it's been good to know ya! (Although actually not).
Re: Same old...
"So your expectation is that in any difference of opinion, Microsoft are wrong".
What a funny vague, woolly thing to say! "Wrong" in what sense?
I do believe that, in any circumstances, Microsoft is guided overwhelmingly by the prime directive to maximize its own profits in the medium to long term. Any other consideration is utterly dwarfed, which is why Microsoft has amassed such immense piles of money over the years. If you expect Microsoft to worry in the slightest about customer satisfaction, customer security, honesty, fair dealing, or anything else *for its own sake*, you will be severely disappointed.
Re: They better stop selling
Whatever the legal mummery, I can obtain a copy of Windows 7 and, in return, Microsoft ends up with my money. In my book, that's selling.
Re: Wow, talk about humour erosion..
"As far as I can tell, we've actually become LESS tolerant".
There isn't the slightest doubt about that. Toleration of a few politically correct things is flaunted, while there is no toleration whatsoever of anything or anyone even slightly departing from PC standards.
Re: Before the knee-jerk "PC gone mad" comments start in earnest...
So, according to you, it's wrong to make jokes about people who aren't present. And presumably it's even worse to make jokes about people who are present.
Unless, of course, they have a sense of humour. Apparently there are a frightening number of people nowadays who don't.
Re: IT has a problem with fair treatment of women
"I'm sure that some male IT workers have problems with women..."
That's a fairly important statement to make. Are you also sure that some female IT workers have problems with men? If so, what does that imply? If not, why not?
Any given week, here in the UK, you can open one or more of the "quality" national newspapers and find a long screed by a female columnist packed with similar complaints about her actual husband or partner. They get paid big bucks for that, and no doubt tens of thousands of women all over the country read the screed and nod approvingly. ("Yes, all men ARE that bad"). I can't imagine many men read those columns, and if women didn't read them why would the paper give them such prominence?
"Social media" have a lot to answer for. The best idea is just to ignore them, if you can, and get on with real life.
As did I, Malcolm. On the whole, UKIP is against big government and militarism. It all wastes money and makes life worse for the ordinary citizen.
"I would rather be well hung than well hanged".
Unless you're a deer or a partridge, of course.
"Spies spy, it's their job".
I'm actually pretty sick of seeing that remark. The implication is that spying is just part of nature's rich pageant, just another line of work that some people do.
But the wording is carefully calculated to blur the fact that spying is often unethical or illegal. Indeed, it's almost always illegal according to the people being spied on.
How come other nations' spies are filthy cowardly traitors who deserve to be executed or kept in prison for the rest of their lives - while our nation's spies are self-sacrificing heroes doing an essential job to keep us all safe?
Precise language and vague language
A classic case! If you had stuck to "strictly equals" and "contains", you wouldn't have had that misunderstanding with yourself.
"Matches" is a nice example of natural language that looks fairly technical and therefore invites us to treat it as being precisely defined. But it ain't.
Thanks for sharing - I'll remember this one.
"One arse here that downvotes everything".
Gosh, now there are two...
"That's not a word. You almost got a downvote for that".
Contrariwise, it's a perfectly cromulent word.
Unless you coded it in binary yourself on a machine you designed from scratch and built yourself - and has never been out of your sight - I don't think you should trust it.
Re: a ways
Welcome to the world of global English, Julian. It's an accepted expression in large tracts of the USA - mainly, I think, the South.
American English is sweeping the world. How often, for example, do you hear customers in a cafe asking, "Can I get a <insert complex drink of your choice>?"? Whereas I was taught to ask, "May I have a <whatever>?"
"The French knew all about capitalism long before there even was a USA."
If you didn't like to be reminded of that, remember too that without French help the American Revolution would have been defeated and its ringleaders hanged. Americans are really most ungrateful, although one may excuse them on grounds of historical ignorance.
'According to a popular anecdote, Scottish poet Thomas Campbell (1777-1844) once asked to give a toast at a dinner with fellow authors. The toast, which was met with anger and disbelief, was for Napoleon Bonaparte. A tribute to Britain’s enemy at wartime was nothing short of an outrage. As the table’s objections increased in volume, Campbell interrupted to defend himself.
'“Gentleman”, he said, “you must not mistake me. I admit that the French Emperor is a tyrant. I admit that he is a monster. I admit that he is the sworn foe of our nation, and, if you will, of the whole human race. But, gentlemen, we must be just to our great enemy. We must not forget that he once shot a publisher.”
'The speech was met with thunderous laughter'.
Re: I smiled
In my case it was more of a grim teeth-displaying smile.
But thanks for reminding me of that time when Dubya told the world that the trouble with the French was that they didn't have a word for "entrepreneur".
The French knew all about capitalism long before there even was a USA.
Re: Ah, the smell of propaganda in the morning
Although in fact the repression was a lot worse - and far more violent - in the USA. Note that trade unions hardly exist there today.
Thank you, I believe most of us here do know what "pompous" means. It's precisely because we know what it means that we think the author used it inappropriately.
Re: Meaningful resistance
It's not really so "stunning" that supposedly different political systems both involve suppression of dissent and systematic lying about that suppression. It's the nature of the beast, and I think you'll find that the important independent variable is the size of the state and the consequent power of its rulers. The bigger, the more corrupt, ruthless and mendacious.
I also disagree with your apparent suggestion that different systems are converging. From my point of view, they are all very similar. The only different part is whether (and how) they try to conceal their true nature.
Controversial perhaps, but not pompous
"There's lots of pompous language in the report..."
I didn't see any particularly pompous language in the extract you quoted. In fact, as a professional editor, I would be happy to approve it if one of my authors submitted it. Be careful not to attribute faults such as pomposity to statements with which you merely disagree.
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