* Posts by I ain't Spartacus

5189 posts • joined 18 Jun 2009

We know what you're thinking: Where the hell is all the antimatter?

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Re: The little man who wasn't there

Method:

1. For this experiment, we first manufactured a 1/2 lightyear cube of lead.

2. Then we sat and had a cup of tea, while waiting for some neutrinos to come along.

3. ...

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Re: Mexit, of course

It's nothting to do with physics at all.

All the anitmatter in the universe got used up making Antipopes.

Wikipedia (I know, I know, but I'm too lazy to do the research properly) lists 41 of them over the years.

Since we've not had an antipope since the 16th Century and we can't see any antimatter (except that we create ourselves), this proves that there's none left. QED.

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Goodbye, cruel world! NASA's Cassini preps for kamikaze Saturn dive

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Re: "Goodbye"?

"What's this thing rushing up towards me. So big, and flat and round it needs a sort of wide sounding name, like ow, row, grou, Ground. That's it! Ground! I wonder if it'll be friends with me?"

Or possibly it'll just be thinking, "Oh no, not again."

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'No deal better than bad deal' approach to Brexit 'unsubstantiated'

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Re: For Queen, Country and St George!

Almost there ... no deal means the EU countries get you banking sector, your manufacturing sector that uses parts from the EU ... like Airbus, Ford, Vauxhaul, Honda ...thanks, close the door as you leave.

So, no deal is indeed better than a bad deal, but certainly NOT for the UK.

Hans 1,

Now who's being delusional...

Is the Eurozone in a position to survive another recession? And how will all the City jobs move to Frankfurt when there are more people working in Finance in London than live in the whole of Frankfurt? Some London jobs will move to New York if things go particularly pear-shaped, which the EU has even less chance of controlling. And if madness does defeat common sense and our supposed NATO allies gleefully destroy our economy, how will our government justify staying in NATO?

A deal may not happen, because it's very complicated and there's a very short timescale. And there are all sorts of very childish people jeering from the sidelines about "punishment". But a messy break-up with no deal will not be good for either party. And both sides will suffer for it. The EU is not exactly in the strongest of positions at the moment, which is admittedly one reason why some would like to see the UK do horribly badly outside - but that only works at defeating dissent if the EU (i.e. the Eurozone) can survive the fallout of creating that crisis. Italy's economy is smaller than it was when it joined the Euro 20 years ago, it has debt to GDP of 140% and could only muster €20bn in a fund to sort out its banks. Most of that is going to disappear into just bailing out Monte dei Paschi and Unicredit is currently trying to raise another €13bn without help. Not to mention the clusterfuck that is Greece.

If you read the draft negotiation document from Tusk and compare it to what May is saying, you'll see that there are an awful lot of areas or agreement there. On at least one subject I noticed that May and Tusk have used identical wording - which I very much doubt is a coincidence. So there's plenty of scope for things to go wrong, but there's easily the basis of a mutually beneficial agreement - if the will exists.

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Re: walk into a negotiation ...

Well, you try to maintain goodwill before you walk into the negotiations or you can make a lot of angry noises. Just be aware that the politicians on the other side also have to win elections and that their local Boulevard papers will match all belligerent statements word for word.

This works both ways. There's far too many people on this side of the Channel having a go at May, who's broadly said as little as possible. It was the Commission that bunged the €60 billion ludicrous-grenade into the press, not May. Merkel and Hollande have both shot their mouths off about making sure they're "tough" (Hollande will be out of office before anything's even started) - and that's why May has tried to say the less said the better. Of course she's got her own unruly backbenchers (and some front-benchers) too - plus the very level-headed (and not at all hysterical) British press...

But the biggest issue so far has been that €60bn. Which may not even be a bill. After all, we're leaving in 2019 already - most of it is committments as part of the 2014-2020 budget - so we only have to sign an transitional membership period of 1 year, and all but a few billions of that exit bill disappear.

I'd say one reason May has made the point about walking away is that I don't think her government could surive paying €60 upfront in order to leave. And who would be the next government were that to happen? Which is why the loud talk from Brussels about no deal before the money is agreed is not what it says in the draft negotiation agreement published by Donald Tusk. Because I don't see May being able to agree that huge a payout with absolutely nothing to show for it in return. So if the EU play the tough-guy they'll be the ones that nuke the negotiations. Which would be bad for everybody.

Who knows what Spain want. It could just be that they will only give up on Gibraltar if we give them continuing access to our very valuable fishing grounds. After all they did a lot of vetoing EEC agreements after they'd first joined in order to get the fishing access they wanted. Or it could be they want to knacker Gibraltar's financial services - as if their own tax evaders won't suddenly find somewhere else to park the cash.

Or they may try to push for negotiations on joint sovereignty. Which would be bloody stupid. Gibraltar voted to remain, all they needed to do was wait a few years, and maybe that might started to look attractive. If they try the blackmail approach, they don't exactly make themselves look like an inviting partner. A bit like with Argentina and the Falklands. A few years of being nice and constructive, might actually win some local support. It's only 5-10 years since Spain were last blocking the border, and making people wait 2-4 hours to cross.

What would be nice is if everybody calmed down, got a sense of proportion and waited to see what happened - rather than making shit up.

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Disney plotting 15 more years of Star Wars

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Re: Oh No

Star Wars has managed 4 decent films. Are you sure Star Trek has even managed that?

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Boeing details 'Deep Space Gateway' for Mars mission staging

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Would it be cheaper to just pile up loads of money outside Boeing HQ, until you can just walk to the Moon?

Mars is a bit more difficult. But surely once you've got to the Moon, you just burn a few more dollars that you've carried up there to fuel your rocket?

Dollar-fired steam powered rockets to Mars. Why not?

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Re: More USS Gravy Train than USS Enterprise

If the goal is a permanent foothold in space - i.e., colonization - then robots have yet to equal humanity at making babies. ;)

Haven't El Reg recently been advertising a seminar on this very subject?

Humans in space can clean the dust off the solar panels, and change the broken wheels, thus making science experiments work that might otherwise not. Of course they can't hang around as long (but do work quicker) and are much heavier (needing boring stuff like oxygen and food).

Humans can also do things like fixing the Hubble telescope (that robots can't) - and the only commercially viable thing I can currently see working in space is maintenance of our huge fleet of satellites. I'd have thought we're getting to the point where that's technologically and financially feasible, just about. Assuming something lilke the Bigelow habitat can get human-rating.

In general if you're unsure exactly what task you'll be carrying out, then you're likely to need humans to improvise. But robots are always going to be cheaper and safer - and capable of longer endurance.

Another thing you need humans for (sadly) is to get on the news. Robots don't make front page news in the way people do. And as they said in 'The Right Stuff', "it's funding that makes these birds go up. No bucks, no Buck Rogers."

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Devil

Or there's no court jurisdiction in orbit - so nobody can impeach you.

Plus the low stress on your heart means you could live until you're 150 (so long as you don't come back to Earth). Oh and the zero gravity sex is going to be amazing.

Come to our space hotels for Zero-Bumpy Trumpy-Wumpy Rumpy-Pumpy!

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Lee D,

Distance isn't all that important - at least when you're talking about the inner solar system. It's just a matter of how much weight of fuel you're willing to boost out of earth's atmosphere - and how much time you're willing to coast during your journey.

Long term presence in space is either going to mean a massively more efficient way of getting to orbit - or mining in space (asteroids or lunar surface I guess). Launching modules/ships isn't so much the problem as constantly launching consumables - but if you're in space and mine water/methane (plus solar power which is free) - then you have breathable air, rocket fuel, drinking water, stuff to grow plants etc.

The big problem is radiation. This is why we haven't ventured out of the Earth's magnetic shield, except for the few Apollo trips to the moon. And they were only gone for a few days at a time. Had a solar flare happened in those brief time periods - they'd have probably got lethal doses - if not immediately fatal.

Short of some miracle invention that gets our arses to Mars in a couple of days - radiation shielding is far more important than drive technology at this point. If there really is easily accessible water at the Moon's south pole, that would also be dead useful, but sadly I'm not sure anyone's seriously looking at that resource at the moment.

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Assange™ keeps his couch as Ecuador's president wins election

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Re: Immunity

It would have been hard to transfer him to another emabassy. South American countries generally recognise the convention of diplomatic asylum. However this isn't part of the Vienna Conventions, which are the global 'rules' covering diplomats and embassies - so it's something that only applies if both governments agree. And our government don't, along with most others.

In South America it's common practise for the outgoing government during a coup to hole up in various embassies, then (often delicate) negotiations over the next few months get them out of the country and into exile. Obviously you might really want to kill the ex el Presidente when you've just taken over, as that should make your new regime more secure. But, on the other hand, some ambitious colonel might soon be pitching you out on your ear, so having a way to get out suddenly looks a lot more attractive.

Hence in South America, Assange would have sat in the Ecuadorian embassy for a few months, and a deal would probably have been quietly done to get him to Ecuador. In this country the government can't do that, as there's a court order to send him to Sweden.

On a side note, if he stays there much longer, he might get his own clause in the Brexit deal. If we don't stay in the European Arrest Warrant system, then I don't know if the outstanding warrant would still apply (as the law was valid when it was issued), or if Sweden would have to apply for extradition. So there's something for him to look forward to...

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UK.gov confirms it won't be buying V-22 Ospreys for new aircraft carriers

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Re: . . . from Rosyth, where she was assembled . . .

Those "Lego blocks" were built in other UK shipyards.

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We should build our own

They built a working biplane on Scrapheap challenge once in 4 days. So it can't be that difficult.

All you need is a shed, a handy junkyard, a mail order propellor supplier and lots of shouting.

On the other hand, I think this lacks ambition. I really don't see the point of just strapping two helicopter blades to a plane, when you could strap 100 round the outside of the carrier - and just fly the whole thing. that gets rid of the need for separate AWACS and refueling planes, and just leaves you the need for some fighters. Also, if the carrier was able to do about 120 knots, you wouldn't need catapults for takeoff.

The problem I see here is that the Navy are refusing to take this eminently sensible, and logical step, purely because of inter-service rivalry. They're worried that if their carrier no longer spends the majority of its time at sea, but airbourne, that the RAF will try and take over.

The simple solution is to make the carrier airtight, with backup rocket motors, then call it a space ship. We all know that space has navies, not airforces, so for a few pennies more they can kill two birds with one stone.

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Amid new push to make Pluto a planet again... Get over it, ice-world's assassin tells El Reg

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Re: just wait for the 9th planet

I thought the home planet of humanity was called earth or dirt or something...

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Re: Pi=3

It's too late for that now. If science hadn't labelled Pluto as a planet for 70 years, there'd be no problem. But they did, so now they're stuck with it. And people will keep being annoyed that they've changed it.

The solution is either to change it back, and admit that there isn't a particularly satisfactory "perfect" definition of a planet - or to put up with loads of people complaining until the generations who learnt it was a planet die.

It's a bit like being told that a banana is a berry. That's all very interesting, but nobody but a biologist needs to care. Similarly I believe a coconut isn't a nut.

Or, as the saying goes, knowledge is knowing that a tomato is a fruit - wisdom is not putting one in a fruit salad.

Although saying that, my Nan used to make delicious tomato jam.

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My Very Easy Mnemonic Just Says Use Nine Planets.

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Re: How many angels can dance on the head of a pin?

So as I understand it what you're proposing is a solution where all can save face. So yes, Pluto is a planet. Except we're changing the word planet to "scubble-wang-doo".

Thus the next question, does that mean Pluto remains as a planet, along with perhaps Ceres and the like - leaving us with 8 scubble-wang-doos in the solar system? Or is Pluto also now a scubble-wang-doo as wee?

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Brexit White Paper published: Broad strokes, light on detail

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Re: cost benefit analysis

Because it is not EU interest. UK should get the worse treatment to convince other countries leaving is a bad idea

Hmmmm. Well I guess you can try it. I'm sure it'll work as well as ignoring the growing waves of Euroscepticism, and the fact that almost all the referenda on the Constitution (then Lisbon Treaty) and Maastricht were lost. Except the ones that were re-run of course.

I'm sure nothing can go wrong with a democracy choosing to ignore the voters.

Hmmm Italy's 3 main opposition parties are now all in favour of a referendum on leaving the Euro, the Front National are leading the polls in the presidential election, the UK has just voted to leave. Euroscepticism is at an all time high, even in core countries like France and the Netherlands.

In punishing the UK there will be costs you understand. The EU have the ability to cause us a lot of economic pain, but can they do it without pushing Italy back into recession? Because the Euro cannot survive another recession.

As well as being immoral, it would be a catastrophically stupid policy. Rather like what was done to Greece in 2015.

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Re: Business must be delighted

strum,

I don't forget the Great Depression. France suffered more than Britain because they stayed on the gold standard until it caused a massive crisis that brought down the government - whereas we came off. In this case, the Euro is the gold standard. It's just you can't leave it without destroying your economy. And staying destroys your economy. It needs to be fixed with common debt / common umemployment insurance / cash transfers, working banking union, the ECB doing its fucking job as lender of last resort and enforcement of all the rules (including the excessive trade surplus rules, that Germany has broken for the last 7 years).

But Greece has suffered a deeper and longer depression than either Germany or the USA did. We're supposed to have learnt from history. Obviously the original reason was Greek corruption and msigovernment. But the Troika prediction for the 2012 bailout was a recession costing Greece 8% of GDP in year one and 3% in year two. And government spending cuts of 25%. So that's already vicious levels of contraction and the largest government cuts in peacetime history. Of any democracy.

Actually the economy shrank 13% and 8% the second year! So what did the Troika do, having fucked up so egregiously? They called for more cuts in the third year, and the fourth and the fifth and still are!

They're not going to get their money back. They're just torturing the Greek electorate until either their governmental system completely collapses or they voluntarily leave the Euro. At which point they'll have to default.

Oh and to mention the past again. In 1950 Greece wrote off Germany's debts. Not many years after the Germans had killed 5% of their population, bankrupted them, and in leaving their country gifted it a vicious civil war. This was done becuase it was seen as wrong to cripple Germany with decades of unpayable debt after the 1920s experience. How generous Germany have been in return...

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Re: Words fail me

strum,

I disagree. A referendum is fine on a limited constitutional question. I admit they're not perfect, but no form of democracy is. They've been used by dictators, but so has everything else. Including normal democratic elections.

In the normal political process, no major party had supported leaving the EU in 30 years. And yet regularly 30% of the population have wanted to leave in polls, since at least Maastricht. And as the referendum proved, it's now 52%. So normal democracy had also failed. The referendum was the way to square that circle. Democracy is sadly a messy business.

On your other post, QMV applies to a lot. Like voting to destroy the Greek banking system, in probably breach of the treaties, by the ECB. That was done on a majority - as Greece obviously wouldn't have voted for it.

Hhe hedge fund regs were done on QMV. The Tobin Tax was being done under "enhanced cooperation" though that was possibly going to get shot down by the European Court, as it mainly penalised us, who weren't joining. But I've little trust in the ECJ. After all, they brought a holiday entitlement into UK saw under health and safety regs, when we'd got a specific opt-out in written into the Maastricht Treaty only about 3 years before. Not that I object to the policy, but the court overruled the Treaties in order to advance the federalist political agenda - because it's basically a Toytown court that usually does.

I agree with you on Turkey and the army obviously. Turkey joining was our bloody policy in the first place, like enlargement into Eastern Europe - and was done for execllent diplomatic reasons. But France had promised a referendum on Turkish entry, which meant it would never happen. And we have a veto on the army idea. But there are plenty of important areas that are under QMV.

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Re: cost benefit analysis

Aitor 1,

One of the reasons I voted out was the Tobin Tax. Given that various of our European "partners" were already trying to impose one on us by the back door in order to basically tax the City's profits for their gain. Sometimes the EU works like that, a majority can be put together to do something that only damages one or two countries - whose voters then get fucked because nobody else has much skin in the game - and they only have the power to depose their own government who'd already voted against it.

Hence the anti hedge fund regulations that sent a bunch of money from the City to Singapore, Hong Kong and New York but cost the rest of the EU almost nothing. What did they gain from this? Nothing but a bit of now forgotten cheap publicity. It was done as a sop to the baying hordes after the banking crisis (that basically didn't involve the hedge funds), but punishing the banks publically was too difficult. And it was done because it only really hurt London.

Anyway the Tobin tax got dropped because the Commission's own research showed it would shrink the overall size of the economy by about 10 times as much as the revenue it raised. Plus if they imposed it on sales of government bonds, it might re-start the Eurozone debt crisis, and if they didn't it wouldn't raise much cash.

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Re: Words fail me

The Scottish referendum White Paper was a pathetic joke. At least May's is a basically admitted cynical ploy designed to get the bill through on the information she's already given out, and no more. For which she's given her reason.

The SNP paper said that everything would be fluffy and kittens, that the EU would let Scotland stay in without even having to leave, or fast-track them in if not, that the rest of the UK would share the currency with them - no strings attached and that oil prices would of course remain above $100 a barrel basically forever.

In other words It was wishful thinking bollocks.

To be fair, the issues are massively complex and depended just as much on goodwill in negotiations. For example a huge chunk of the Scottish economy is also financial services, much of it trading with England. Yet there was little discussion of "passporting" - where a hostile rUK government could easily have forced large chunks of the financial industry to repatriate to England. Unlike the EU that would also be a credible threat, a London does have the infrastructure to absorb it, in a way that Frankfurt and Paris simply don't.

So I agree that in a mythcial perfect world all referenda should be conducted with weighty independently generated tomes of wise impartial advice, covering all the angles. But in the real world, I doubt it's possible.

I don't think the Bank of England deliberately forecast economic doom in order to subvert democracy and force the recalcitrant plebs to vote as ordered.

I do believe they were part of a policy elite that are as subject to groupthink and faulty assumptions as anyone else. Hence they got it so badly wrong.

Equally much of the top business and policy bods thought it would be a disaster if we didn't join the Euro. When in fact William Hague was 100% right (maybe for the only time in his political career) when he said that joining the Euro was like entering a burning building with no exits.

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Re: Business must be delighted

That drop from 60% to 42% is not fully reflected, namely by value the UK's exports to the EU have remained very stable, we've just massively increased our non-EU exports!

This is because most of the Eurozone has been in Depression since 2010. Which is because they're in a pisspoorly constructed single currency system which amplifies asymetric economic shocks with no correction mechanism. This is also because German economic orthodoxy calls for suppressing internal demand and exporting as the cure, rather than shifting resources from the richer areas of the currency zone to the poorer (as all sensible single currencies do). This is why Southern Europe is operating at hidesous levels of continuing unemployment that will eventually bring down their governments (if that hasn't happened already), and why their youth unemployment is often well over 25%!

This has caused their economies to stop growing for nearly a decade, while the rest of the world grew, and so our exports to them have not grown along with the rest of the world.

This makes me quite angry. It is the worst economic policy fuckup in democratically run economies since the 1930s - and unlike the Great Depression was entirely self-inflicted!. Despite much advice to the contrary from economists.

One of the reasons our recovery from the great recession wasn't quicker, and the world recovery too, is that the Eurozone has sat and stagnated for 8 years, doing nothing substantial to fix its problems.

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Re: Never mind what we think of it

The White Paper was meant to be shallow and lacking detail. It's a bit like the Brexit Bill only being 2 clauses long. This is an exercise in doing what they must to get Article 50 agreed by Parliament, not in outlining the government's negotiating position.

Right or wrong, May has publicly said she's going to share as little detail as possible, and that's what she's doing. If there was stronger opposition she might be forced to reveal more. Or equally, she might deliberately lose in Parliament, in order to trigger a general election on the subject, in order to give her a stronger mandate.

The last polling I saw suggested that although if the referendum was held again it would give the same result (few people have changed their minds on leave/stay), Only 26% of voters actually want another referendum and nearly 70% of the electorate think we should leave the EU due to the referendum result. So unless something goes catastrophically wrong, I'd say May will have the ability to get most of what she wants through Parliament.

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Roland6,

You've forgotten the other half of the CAP. It obviously subsidises production. It also used to subsidise massive overproduction that we then dumped on world markets and destroyed African economies, but we've stopped that and moved some of the subsidy into the environment.

But the tariffs and quotas on imports also artificially raised the price of food coming into the EU. Thus it also raised the going rate for food. As obviously our producers not subject to the tariff don't have to sell at their cost of production plus profit, they can sell at just below what their imported competition can sell at.

Thus European food costs are much higher than elsewhere.

People often forget that the EU isn't just a free trade zone. It's a customs union with trade barriers put up against the rest of the world, but mitigated with lots of free trade agreements. It's a hybrid of the protetionist instincts of say France and the free trade instincts of the UK or an exporter like Germany. This tension has existed in EU trade policy for decades. it's why France and Germany support the single market in goods, helping their trade surplus with us, and but have resisted the free market in capital and services, which would assist our already large trade surplus with them in that area.

As for your point about tariffs on imports, that's a choice we can make.

As others have said though, we're going to need to carefully think how we subsidise our farmers. The big wheat businesses may not need anything more than subsidised insurance against bad harvests. I believe the cheese industry would suffer hugely if we can't get a free trade deal. I'd forgotten about sugarbeet - so that'll be more fun for the civil service. Other EU countries will also suffer though, so there's hope of common sense, and a deal, breaking out. The French farming lobby gets listened to seriously in France, or it blocks the motorways with its tractors.

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Re: TL:DR We want it all but we want to keep the same prices as now from the EU.

That's not what she said when Gordon Brown was in the same position.

Indeed. It was bollocks then, and it's bollocks now that Labour are saying it.

About half the 20th Century PMs have been appointed not elected. Many went on to win an election afterwards.

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No, we really didn't vote to leave the single market. The referendum was on the EU. There are many options:

We could easily transition into the EEA. That means none of the EU's political nonsense and continued membership of the single market and customs union. Also we get out of the CAP and possibly Common Fisheries Policy.

But the downsides are much less say in EU regulations (though we get our seat back on the international standards committees so can work on some stuff "upstream" of the EU. Also we continue with free movement and large payments into the EU budget. Plus, being in the customs union, means we can't make our own free trade deals.

Or we could go looser still, and go the EFTA Switzerland route. More limited Single Market access, negotiated on a sector-by-sector basis. But that web of agreements have taken decades to build up, and bits are controversial in Switzerland, so I don't think the EU would offer that option to us.

The other option is the Turkish one. Which is membership of the customs union in large sectors of the economy, but Turkey have also no say in regulations and have to accept the EU's trade agreements.

The Turkey deal is up for renegotiation next year, and the EU also have problems with countries like Ukraine that will not be allowed to join in the foreseable future, but it would be good to influence, and try to keep stable. The same is basically true of Turkey - they'll not be allowed to join but we want to keep some of the leverage we've had to nudge them towards democracy. So if there was anyone with vision within the EU leadership they'd be creating a sort of associate block of countries with broadly free trade and rules to facilitate easier movement which would make the whole region richer, more integrated and increase the EU countries' influence. And the UK could be slotted into that structure somehow. Looks like that won't happen though. That's not even the vision to try to fix the Euro crisis - let alone indulge in complex geo-politics.

Hence we'll get a much harder Brexit, and may even struggle to get a free trade deal. On balance I voted leave expecting the Norway/EEA option (well actually expecting to lose), but I don't think that's politically acceptable, hence I don't see that May has any choice.

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Re: Words fail me

Phil Lord,

Of course we didn't know what we were voting for. How could we? We don't know what the EU27 will agree to when we leave, hence we can't now what we'll get. That's why the referendum had to be on the broad principle.

A referendum on the deal we get on leaving would also be ideal. But the Article 50 system is set up not to work that way, so we're stuck with what we've got.

We couldn't actually know what we voted for staying in either. With qualified majority voting, anything can happen. And we have even less democratic control of that. If we don't like what May's government are doing, we can get rid of them. The EU doesn't give us that power.

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Re: cost benefit analysis

Doctor Syntax,

Over time (a huge caveat there) theoretically (an even bigger caveat) level of exports shouldn't impact number of jobs in an economy. It will impact what jobs people do, the level of productivity and how rich everyone is.

But the EU has free trade agreements with lots of countries - there's no reason not to have one with the UK, who have already got an economy integrated with theirs and have very similar regulations. You can of course argue that's a reason to stay in the EU - but politically that's unlikely to be possible, so you do the best you can.

But there are ways round it. So for example you could use the tariffs you levy to subsidise your exporters to make up for the loss caused by EU tariffs. There are rules about this, but there are ways round them.

For example Germany has lots of green taxes on energy. But they almost all fall on the domestic electricity consumer so that business can get its leccy nice and cheap and keep on exporting. The Germans also spend lots on technical engineering education (something we should have been doing for years), and have a banking system (Landesbanks) specifically set up to give cheap loans to their middle sized companies to encourage exports. Of course the Landesbanken are all bust, so the the system ain't perfect...

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Yes. And done huge damage to Africa. But the CAP was changed over ten years ago to dial down the over-production. So it's definitely not as bad as it was.

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Re: Business must be delighted

There are also disadvantages to being in the EU, amazingly enough.

Oddly most political arguments have two sides. You can better argue your case when you've attempted to get some vague understanding of the other side's position. Also, if you call them stupid, they're oddly unlikely to listen to anything else you have to say.

Tariffs are, as you say, bad for trade. And not generally a great idea. Though the EU has lots of them stopping us trading with the rest of the world - with which by the way we have a trade surplus.

But then the Euro is an even worse idea for business. The Greek economy is 30% smaller than it was in 2008, and has been in recession for 8 years! With over 20% unemployment and no end of the pain in sight. Italy's economy is smaller than it was when it entered the Euro, nearly 20 years ago.

Finland is still in recession, even though Sweden (non Euro) got out of it 5 years ago. And they got through the dot.com recession at about the same speed.

Obviously we're not in the Euro. But before the crisis nearly 60% of our exports were to the EU. Now it's down to 42%. That's also pretty bad for business.

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The price of food should go down. If we leave the Common Agricultual Policy everyone will be richer except farmers. We've always paid far more into the EU to subsidise their farmers than ours got back anyway, that was why Thatcher got the rebate in the first place. So we'll have to divert a chunk of that saving to ours, or risk catastrophic damage to the industry.

But the other part of the CAP is pretty big trade barriers, which has the effect of forcing up food prices, making everyone except farmers poorer. Since there are a lot more of them in France, and their votes are important, this has never changed much.

Oddly we import a whole load of New Zealand lamb, and export a bunch of our lamb to the EU. Perhaps if we eat more of ours we can offset the damage to trade?

This is one of the big areas of uncertainty, and could do lots of harm to our farming industry and also the Irish - so hopefully we can sort something out in the way of a transition agreement to make it less painful, even if we can't manage free trade.

On imports of EU goods though, we can set whatever tariffs we want. So even if they won't take our sausages, we could still allow theirs in tariff free if we chose.

Baguettes are baked here already. We've got the recipe and everything. They're not so much smuggled, as used for smuggling. You can get a small bottle of booze in one when taking illicint booze in your picnic to events where they search you.

Although last time I did the hidden booze in picnic trick, my 8 year old niece grabbed the bag out of my hand and got through security without a bag search. So my rum disguised as sandwiches and thermos of mulled wine got through fine.

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Re: cost benefit analysis

macjules,

If the EU impose tariffs on imports from the UK, they pay those costs, not us. If we impose tariffs on their goods coming into the UK, that's what we pay. Though obviously it goes to the government.

Like Trump talking about taxing Mexian imports to pay for his wall. That means the US consumers will pay for it in increased prices.

You are correct though. Tariffs are bad for trade, and international trade makes us all richer. We trade a lot with the EU and so both sides benefit from that large amount of trade. Therefore we should be able to do a deal. They've just done a deal with Canada, another with South Korea, are finalising one with Japan. Why not us? Our regulatory scheme already matches and it would hurt both sides not to. Are they going to penalise their own economies to have a hissy-fit with us?

Well they might. They did it to Greece. But we're bigger, more powerful and more important than Greece. The pain will hurt more, and be more immediate. They still might.

However tariffs aren't as important as people say. We're talking a cost of a couple of percent of GDP. That means we might be 2% poorer for a few years, until the hissy-fit wears off and we do a trade deal when the politicians whose pride was hurt are out of office. Most of our exports to the EU are services, and they mostly don't come under the single market, because our partners didn't want to help us to export to them, even though we'd opened our goods markets that they had an advantage in. Services don't generally attract tariffs.

Anyway, the £60bn is nothing to do with tariffs. That's the figure a few people have bandied about as our cost to the EU for programs we've agreed to pay for but haven't yet happened, plus pensions for EU staff, MEPs and such - and whatever other sundry costs they can come up with. I've seen no breakdown, so suspect it's a fantasy figure designed to cause trouble.

One school of thought is to use it as a negotiating stick to beat us with. Refuse to negotiate on anything else until we've agreed an amount, while the Article 50 clock ticks down - and we're pushed closer and closer to a disorderly exit. It's possible they'll try that, but it looks pretty childish to me.

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Re: Words fail me

At the very least all parties concerned should accept that the whole referendum was an appallingly ill-thought-out cockup

I'm sorry but you're wrong. The Referendum was a sign that democracy worked.

I'll admit the campaign was awful, full of bollocks, quite a few outright lies on both sides and not terribly well organised.

But the point is that a minority of people were always unhappy with the EU. And had to lump it when we joined. They lost the referendum, which was belatedly held. That number grew. The ERM and Maastricht treaties being one of the causes. Obviously a lot of the Conservative Party, but there was always a big chunk of Labour support who were also quite anti - they were just better at party discipline and mostly kept quiet.

Then we had the Constitution / Lisbon Treaty farago. We should have had a referendum then, given how unpopular that was, and that an almost identical treaty had gone down to defeat in a couple of referenda already. That, along with growing levels of immigration was a big no-no for a lot more people.

The Referendum Party, that had been a rounding error in the 90s, had spawned UKIP. Which got over 20% at 2 Euro elections, and was polling pretty healthily in general elections too.

So Cameron promised a referendum. You may claim that this was pure cynicism, and party management. I suspect that's unfair, at least partly. But it doesn't matter. Democracy worked. More-and-more people were becoming Eurosceptic, so 2 of our parties offered a Euro-referendum as a policy. Between them, they got over 50% of the vote. We had a referendum.

To prove that this referendum was in fact what people wanted, a majority voted for leave.

So to argue we shouldn't have held it is utterly ludicrous. As I said, it was democracy working. People wanted a referendum and got one. Cameron thought that he could get some concessions (which to be fair to him were a lot better than many claimed), then hold a campaign and say leaving's too risky - then put the issue to bed. Everyone's had a vote, the EU is now mandated for another generation.

If it weren't for the Eurozone crisis, I'd imagine we'd be staying in. But then there's still a good chance the Eurozone will destroy the EU anyway, along with causing another horrible global recession.

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Re: TL:DR We want it all but we want to keep the same prices as now from the EU.

The PM has a perfectly good mandate. She's head of the majority party, which campaigned at the last election on an EU referendum. The voters voted out, and so she's moving towards out.

There's an argument for having another referendum on whether we should leave totally or join EEA/EFTA.

There is a problem with doing that. Whatever changes we want to make we have to agree with the other side.

One of the big problems is that the governments of the EU are becoming really anti-referendum. In some senses, they have a point. It's a good blackmail tool: "give me a better deal or the people will vote it down". Thus we're not going to be allowed a referendum on whatever deal is agreed. It'll be take-it-or-leave it. Hence even Parliament won't get that much of a say.

In another sense they're totally and disastrously wrong. They know that people are becoming increasingly Eurosceptic and vote down treaty changes (hence now EU deals desperately try to avoid treaty changes). But they don't try to fix the cause, just the symptom. Have no referenda, and hope for the best. So when the Greek government in 2012 wanted a referendum on the bail-out the PM was forced to resign by a threat of immediately removing banking support. He'd have won that, and then the Greek voters would have been signed up to the bail-out program. Also, all governments find it too easy to blame the EU for stuff they voted for there, and they should try to defend the EU more. But then the EU also needs to be more responsive. And most of all, it must fix the Eurozone, and deal with the hideous levels of unemployment the Euro causes. It'll always be under dire threat until that is dealt with.

In my opinion this is the major problem with the EU. Sometimes it works and acts like a giant democracy, and that's how it sees itself. But sometimes it acts like a bunch of governments negotiating international treaties. And that's fundamentally incompatible with democracy, as it's all about secret deals and uncomfortable trade-offs. But the EU is both. And because making the deals is so hard, long and uncomfortable, it's bloody impossible to change them. So if one part of the EU is suffering badly, they can bring down their own government, but that government doesn't have the leverage to change overall EU policy. And so people become angry and feel disenfranchised.

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Re: Words fail me

Referenda are not binding, because nothing is in the constituion. No Parliament can bind another. Futures Parliaments can always change the rules.

However, that isn't a get-out-of-jail-free card for a result you don't like. And it's foolish to keep repeating it.

Yes, the referdum was adisory. And close. But politically it cannot be ignored. The results of ignoring it would be politically disastrous. Are we to tell the electorate that democracy no longer matters? What happens when the next referendum happens. Because there will be one, if this one is ignored. And there'll be political chaos in the meantime. I suppose UKIP would do well out of it though.

Anyway due to the joys of first past the post electoral systems, although only 52% of us voted leave, something like 68% of our Parliamentary constituencies had a leave majority. UKIP and the Conservatives got 50% of the vote between them at the last election - and the Conservatives are now consistently polling over 40%, with UKIP around about 12%.

This referendum cannot be ignored.

Could you persuade a majority to join the EEA or EFTA and keep full free movement? Polling suggests that 50% favour immigration controls and 50% favour more trade. So that's little help. Bugger! May could try for that, but I don't think she could hold the Conservative Party together on it.

I feel sorry for Labour. They've got the top 10 leave constituencies in the UK, and the top 10 remain ones in England too! Try squaring that circle! Their MPs and party members massively favour remain, as do their voters. But their seat distribution is nearly 70% leave.

Of course if they'd not spend the last 20 years calling anyone who talked about immigration controls a racist, and anyone who had serious doubts about the EU a swivel-eyed loon, we might not be in this position...

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We've got to trigger Article 50 soon. We made this decision by referendum in June - and the Europeans are getting pissed off at us waiting. If we wait later than March, it'll really piss them off. If we trigger it on the last Council meeting in March that'll also really piss them off, as it's the celebrations of the anniversary of the Treaty of Rome. That would be seen as piss taking.

The European Parliament don't want us in much longer, as they're holding elections in May in 2 years time, and don't want to have another batch of UK MEPs joining up, only in time to leave a few months later.

In summary, the EU have been patient while we got our shit a bit more sorted out. But I think things could get really quite nasty if we keep on stalling. As public opinion has barely moved on the Brexit question, it's pointless running a referendum again. And I'd argue that on a binary constitutional question like this, a referendum is superior to a general election, where you've got to decide on other issues too.

As for no plan, that's a very tired meme now. May said, in essence, exactly the same at the Tory conference as she's said in every speech and interview since. It was always clear that she'd be seeking to leave the Single Market and Customs Union - because that's the logic of the position she's taken and what the EU27 say they'll accept. Why waste 2 years (and any goodwill and political capital) figthing for immigration controls inside the Single Market, which they've told us we can't have.

If we stay in the Single Market, how long until another referendum on getting out of it, as the political classes were seen to be ignoring the referendum result. You may not agree with that, but May's interpretation (along with the polls) is that we have to have immigration controls to satisfy the electorate.

As for any idea of totally ignoring the referendum result, that would be foolish, immoral and electorally disastrous.

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Re: cost benefit analysis

Leaving the EU: £60 billion up front.

Pen-y-gors,

That's not a totally unreasonable figure. Well apart from the upfront bit, which is just silly. Entirely depending on how you measure it of course - and whether the people making the comments are just stirring the shit.

We put about £14-£15bn into the EU. We get some back, so our net contribution is about £10bn at the moment. It's going up, because our economy is growing faster due to not being in the clusterfuck that is the Eurozone. The figures are also pretty volatile. But if you ignore rebate and payments back to the UK that puts our contribution at near £20bn. We're in the EU for the next 2 years, so that means we could be said to be paying in £40bn. The current EU spending budget goes on to 2020 - they've allocated a lot of that already and there'll be a massive hole in it if we pull out - so you could argue for us bunging in an another year's contribution the year we leave.

Now if you were being an arsehole, you could call that a £60bn leaving fee. If you were being sensible, and trying to make a construction agreement, you could call that a £10bn contribution to tide the budget over for the year we leave, given we already agreed the budget when we were members. I'd actually offer to pay that final year of the budget at the beginning of the negotiations, to win some goodwill. We'll hopefully be in a transition period in that year, after A50 triggering plus 2 years, so it seems pretty reasonable to me.

Otherwise there'll be a horrible bunfight and emergency budget cuts or cash demands on the other governments. That will anger everyone, and makes us unpopular.

There's also pensions for EU staff. But there's not going to be much of that. We've only been in since the 70s, and the Commission is pretty small by the standards of some of our government departments.

Presumably we'll want so stay in some programs, if they'll let us. And so will keep paying for that.

it's also in our national interests that Eastern Europe does well. It's why we pushed to get them in the EU in the first place. So we should probably offer a billion or 2 a year in continuing contribution to the structural funds, in exchange for some of the goodies we want. We're also the largest contributor to the European Infrastructure Bank and one of the largest to the EBRD and so we should offer to continue that support.

We're also one of the largest users of Europol. But we contribute a third to a half of the intel that goes into their database. We should therefore offer to keep helping there. We also put our troops into Eastern Europe to help defend them. That ought to be worth some goodwill.

So there are things to talk about, and we have things to offer. We also have things we want. But boy is it complicated!

I also think there's a balance. Mostly we should play nice. But I don't see why we should have to accept attacks from major European leaders like Hollande, while meekly saying we're very sorry our stupid voters decided to leave, please don't punish us though we deserve it! We are not worthy! We need a good balance of humility, while still recognising our own strengths. And with goodwill, we can get a sensible deal.

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Happy

I don't know. I go into every poker game expecting to play 4 aces.

Hmmm, I wonder if that's why I lose so often...

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Happy

Re: Page 33, Chart 7.1

Tow bars? Is it about the single market in cars?

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How can it be otherwise? I don't think the EU27 know what they want yet, so how can we?

There's supposedly an embargo on pre-negotiations with the UK. How successful that is being, behind closed doors, I've no idea. I've not seen anything leak.

May has been pretty clear since her conference speech that immigration is one of the big issues. The Europeans have been totally clear that they won't allow Single Market membership without it. But some of them are saying that even having a free trade agreement such as Canada has just been given (without free movement) is unacceptable cherry picking - and others seem perfectly happy with that as the basis of the deal. With elections in France, Germany and the Netherlands in the next few months, and the Italian government not all that stable, we've no idea who we're negotiating with, what they want and how much they're willing to deliberately accept some pain in order to punish us. We probably won't fully know that for another year.

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Probably because a cost-benefit analysis is impossible. We don't have the tools or the ability to predict what's going to happen - particularly as we've no idea what negotiations are going to come up with. We don't even know who the French, Dutch and German governments we'll be dealing with will be run by. Well it's still a pretty safe bet that Merkel will win in Germany, but the coalition partner could be quite important too.

Tariffs in most areas aren't particularly important. It's paperwork, delays and possibly bureaucratic bloody-mindedness that's more of a worry.

Also, rightly or wrongly, the government are determined to try and keep as much of their powder dry for the negotiations as possible. With the big stick of the referendum result behind them, I suspect that will allow them to get through Parliament with minimum concessions.

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David Hockney creates new Sun masthead. Now for The Reg...

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Sorry, no can do.

I have all the artistic talent of a cluster of colourblind hedgehogs. In a bag.

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Devil

Re: OMFG!

Only the other day I saw two middle-aged white men stand up and offer their seats on the bus to a young black man carrying a small child, and an elderly black woman.

Well they shouldn't have. If the guy is fit enough to be carrying a child and an elderly woman at the same time, then he doesn't need a seat...

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Tablets become feebleslabs as sales spiral down

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Happy

Re: I still want one.

They do tend to break when you fold them to shove in a pocket though...

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Re: Stats show exactly what I observe in my family

Lenovo's Yoga pure tablets are an absolutely lovely design. But, seem to have horrible low-res screens. They did a hi-res one at iPad prices a couple of years ago, but last time I looked they'd discontinued it.

The weird bendy laptops and detachable hybrids also look rather nice. But I'm only really after a tablet.

My iPad3 is now getting rather sluggish, and the battery is only worth 3 hours. Which given the use it's had every day is fair enough. It's now time for something a bit thinner and lighter.

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HMS Queen Elizabeth is delayed, Ministry of Defence confesses

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Re: Who cares

Voland's right hand,

I'm sure China has lots of ships with missiles on. Some of them aren't very good though. And they've got to survive to get into missile range. Against a carrier battle group with lots of naval aircraft. And also a picket line of submarines, remember the US have lots over very good attack subs - which are great at sinking ships.

I don't know if saturation attacks can be defeated. Though lots of money has been poured into trying. What I do know is that lots of people talk about them working, pointing out all the downsides of the defence option, and none of the downsides of the attack option. Which are considerable.

Carrier warfare is combined arms with defence in depth. Park your carrier battle group off Shanghai and it's dead. Move it around the (very large) Pacific and it's much harder to concentrate forces. Remember that the US also has nearby airbases, and a very large and capable airforce for support.

The Russian surface fleet is probably no threat whatsoever, I get the impression most of Russia's money has gone on the army, special forces and airforce. They've got good submarines. But they haven't even got the cash to operate the carrier they just sent to Syria for more than 6 months a year. Which is why their pilots aren't so well trained and they lost 10% of their air group in a couple of weeks.

One unanswerable counter to a carrier group is nukes. They make excellent targets.

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Re: Who cares

Archtech,

Since 1970 they have been very much like battleships - huge lumbering targets with very little effective power in any *real* war.

Bollocks!

It is entirely possible that you are right, but impossible to know, as such a scenario has not occurred, and so never been tested.

Who's to say that saturation missile attacks work? There's as much reason to imagine the missiles might screw up, and mess with each others flight/targetting) as there is that the defences will.

After all, modern anti-aircraft destroyers are theoretically capable of shooting down 2 or 3 missiles a second, out to long distances, until they run out of ammo. In the case of the AEGIS system in the US, the different ships can even pool their missiles, so as not to all engage the same targets. So a carrier battle group with a couple of anti-air cruisers and some Arleigh Burke destroyers has well over 500 missiles to use - plus the short range SAMs on the frigates and everyone's gattling guns.

Now admittedly if a carrier gets into fighter range of any major power, you'd expect its air group to be overwhelmed by sheer numbers. But far out to sea, where only long range bombers can reach (un-escorted) a carrier is a much more formidable target. The further away you launch your missles from, the less targetting information they'll have, and the easier they'll be to avoid/jam/spoof. The closwer you launch, the more likely you won't get to. If you launch from far out, the air group may also get to shoot some missiles down, before they get into range of the SAMs.

Also, the Russians don't have the vast regiments of naval aviation they used to have. I very much doubt they can field 150 long range naval bombers anymore - so the attacks would be less saturating. Obvously China still does have the numbers. Taking carriers into the Taiwanese straits would almost certainly be suicide. But carrying out a distant naval blockade of China and attempting to escort resupply to Taiwan might be possible. Assuming there are any plans to defend Taiwan, but it's the most likely large scale conflict that comes to mind.

Also, you don't just have to deploy one carrier at a time. A fleet containing say 4 Nimitz class ships has an airgroup larger than the airforces of all but the top 10 global military powers. They could field 5 or 6 squadrons of F18s each, plus tanker, ASW and AWACS support.

Obviously the RN are much smaller - ours would only be a component of a larger allied force if fighting a first rate power.

Carriers were never really designed for fighting land-based air power. And mostly avoided it even in their heyday in WWII. Purely because of the numbers issue, although of course they got into fights against isolated island-based airgroups. Now that global air forces are much smaller, that's probably less of an issue now than it was back then.

Finally carriers also have many uses. Getting air power to places where it's needed. Quickly. You don't have to waste time negotiating for air basing rights, when you can just float into position. You can also use them for disaster recovery, the US Navy did an awful lot of work after the Boxing Day tsunami for example. And also protecting your sea lanes. From both air and submarine threats. If you're a country with a large trading economy that's rather vital. Plus supporting troop deployments in places from the Falklands to Afghanistan, via Sierre Leone.

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Re: The French

Submarine aircraft carriers have been done. Sticking a seaplane hangar on a submarine is a trick dating back to the 1930s. The Japanese even launched a few air raids on Sydney (I think it was) from one.

As someone has already mentioned flying aircraft carriers have been done. Did you not see the documentary about the Avengers Assembling?

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Coming to the big screen: Sci-fi epic Dune – no wait, wait, wait, this one might be good

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Re: I am obviously alone in this.

Also, the actor playing Paul. Erk. Or, to be fair, maybe it was his script. All those times when he has to mutter to himself doing his best Basil Exposition really didn't help. So it had real acting/script problems, which are a lot less forgivable than the dodgy special effects.

The eyebrows are brilliant though. Denis Healey INNNNNN SPAAAAAAAAACE!!!!!

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