* Posts by I ain't Spartacus

5808 posts • joined 18 Jun 2009

She's arrived! HMS Queen Lizzie enters Portsmouth Naval Base

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Re: limited resources

Couldn't they feed the sailors extra, so they get really fat, and then it doesn't look odd when they stand further apart.

I accept that carrier flight decks are very long, so you may need to resort to extra large waisted clown trousers as well...

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5-10 of her aircraft are currently on acceptance trials with whatever they're calling the RAF/RN joint operations lot nowadays.

I believe we've got another 20-odd on order to turn up in the next year. To give 2 squadrons for operational testing next year. At some point we're then going to borrow 2 squadrons of the US Marine's ones - so that we can both test joint operations, and test what it's like to have a carrier full of 48 planes plus helicopters. So I guess they're aiming for operational by 2019-2020. At which point we'll have at least 2 squadrons operational, plus one or two more in training on their new toys.

We're then supposed to be up to 150 aircraft by 2028 or something - at what schedule I've no idea. They may have back-loaded the orders, so that the defence budget balances for the next few years, or they may just be taking them to fit the production schedule.

Normal deployment is expected to only be with only 24 aircraft - given that if they need more for operations, then more can be flown in.

I don't know if doctrine will change - and we'll end up with squadrons specialising in carrier and RAF ops after trying this joint thing out. But we did operate a joint Harrier force for the last while before it was scrapped - though I can't think of any other Navy that's done it this way. The advantage is you get a larger and more flexible force - they shoved extra planes above their capacity on the 2 carriers that went to the Falklands for example.

Plus carrier ops are really hard on planes, so they only last half as long as land-based ones. If you mix the ops each plane does, then you'll get a longer lifespan out of all of them.

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A glimpse of life under President Zuckerberg? Facebook CEO's boffins censor awkward Q&A

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Re: Help make FakeBook the next MySpace....

Musk isn't a monopolist. At least not yet. Though if his rocket tech keeps improving and the rest of the industry doesn't catch up, I suppose he might be.

Admittedly he's got the name, and the spaceships, to be a demonic warlord (whatever one of those is). Or at least a Bond villain.

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Taken a while but finally here's the first proper smart-home gizmo

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Re: Smart?

Ah, you've reminded me of my Mum's LED lightbulbs. I don't know why she felt the need to have a dimmer switch in her kitchen - though I can understand the one in the sitting room.

But if you want the dimmer switch, you have to buy the more expensive bulbs. The ones in the kitchen flicker, and are a horrible greenish colour - and make me feel queasy. She doesn't even seem to notice the nasty green-ness. The sitting room ones are a nice colour, but still flicker. Especially if the dimmer isn't at full.

To be fair, I think I'm more sensitive to flicker than most. Which I put down to nystagmus.

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My, they do have a bit of a handle on their readers.

Is that the pickaxe handle they regularly use on those of us foolish enough to complain...

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Re: Want/need?

I always know where my corkscrew is. Partly because there's one in my briefcase - and partly because there's one in the bar in the sitting room.

Erm, oh dear. Should I have admitted that in public?

To be fair, and in a vain attempt to argue I'm not a raging alcoholic, my briefcase also contains a set of jewellers screwdrivers (glasses repair), a leatherman, a small ratchet screwdriver with 12 different bits in the handle, a torch, plus whatever paperwork I might actually need for work.

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Strip club selfie bloke's accidental discharge gets him 6 years in clink

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Re: Right to bear arms

Don't you remember that documentary in the 80s? It was called The Dukes of Hazzard I think...

They weren't allowed to carry firearms, due to being on probation or something. Though they did have bows and arrows, and dynamite, in the boot of the car.

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Don't mock. I'm planning to start using that excuse. I reckon it'll go down great with the police - and it's much easier than taking my driving test.

Particularly as it would be illegal for me to do so, due to poor eyesight.

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Re: He confused a Selfie Stick & a gun?

I'm not worried if he had a gun now.

If he was caught in possession of a selfie stick, then the sentence should be life!

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How are you feeling today? Don't tell us, save for it this handy emotion-detection code

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A better way

IF user operating printer: EMOTION = Anger

IF printer working: EMOTION = Surprise

IF user @ pub: EMOTION = Joy

IF user interfacing with online comments: EMOTION = Sadness

IF user is cowering before AI death machine: EMOTION = Fear

THEN computer EMOTION = Joy

ELSE EMOTION = Love

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Commentard Quizwall experiment ends with more quizzing than commenting

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Re: Pedant Power!

I see your Tsk, and raise you a Tsk Tsk. Denmark isn't on the Scandinavian Peninsula either - but is in Scandinavia.

Also both you and El Reg are wrong. The area is actually called Scandiwegia... Which includes Finland, and any other country that makes depressing TV dramas, where nobody says much but everyone wears really chunky sweaters.

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NASA delivers CREAM-y load to ISS to improve cosmic ray detection

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That space icecream is horrible.

Surely they must have improved it by now?

I remember trying it first when I was at school (in the mid-80s). Because a mate had been to Florida on holiday. And I got given some last year - and it seemed to be exactly the same weird texture and taste.

Clearly what we need is a MrWhippySat. Come on Musk, get your finger out! Falcon Heavy can wait another year...

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Raising minimum wage will raise something else: An army of robots taking away folks' jobs

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Re: Cognitive dissonance

Given a choice I'd take "Mmmm warm and comfy" every time.

Mr Tickle could reach the biscuit tin from bed. But for some reason, even he chose to get up. My only conclusion is that Mr Tickle was a cruel (and successful) attempt to brainwash my 4 year old self.

I have bought a teasmade though. So as well as making me get up and go to work, it's also forced me into consumerist behaviour to benefit the wider economy. Damn those Mr Men!

Although I'm not putting a biscuit tin on my bedside table until someone invents the self-decrumbing duvet. When will plastic surgery be able to give me 20 foot long arms?

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Re: inflation

One of the things I believe that minimum wages may lead to is wage compression. Though I've not been reading about economics for a while, so this theory may no longer be popular. But the idea is you push wages up at the bottom, but the wages a bit above that don't go up to compensate. So you end up with more people on the minimum wage. Not that anyone's have gone down.

It's non-controversial that minimum wages cost jobs. There are some things that may be economic at £5 an hour, but not at £7 say. And also there are some robots that may not be economic when you can pay someone £5 an hour, but become cost effective at £7.

But wages are also a price. They're what companies have to pay to get stuff done. So what drives wages up is when they can't get the staff to do something for the current wage.

There are still labour shortages in the economy - so we don't need to be worried about robots putting us all out of work just yet.

I also don't have the faith in AI suddenly becoming magic that many people seem to do.

One of the problems is that modern economies do pretty much work as advertised, they are self-correcting but they don't do it fast enough. Plus we're not very good at moving between different skillsets. On the other hand, planned economies work even less well, and make even more people miserable and poor than market ones. So I guess we need government to do a better job at tidying up the messes. So better adult education services for a start.

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US prosecutors demand data to unmask every visitor to anti-Trump protest website

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Re: Ooops

What do they do to your hair at the reeducation centre?

Or do they just torture you until you say "the hair is wonderful"?

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Blighty’s beloved Big Ben bell ends, may break Brexit bargain

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Re: I seem to remember Professor Balthazar fixing Big Ben in a jiffy?

Parker managed to pick the lock of the Bank of England's vault with one of Lady Penelope's hatpins. So anything is possible...

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Re: It's 2017

Why not just pay someone to walk to the top of the tower every 15 minutes, and shout "bong!"

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It's not enough. I think a full refurb of the House of Commons is estimated to be something like £3bn. So you can stick a bit extra on that - and it's good enough for government work...

Obviously it's going to cost more to do if they keep the MPs there - rather than chucking them out for a couple of years.

One of the towers, I think the Elizabeth one, has dodgy foundations - and needs unerpinning before it falls over. The stonework all needs sorting out. Plus lots of ornate carving. The internal services are a mess - they've got a fibre network running through the remnants of an old steam boiler plant and it's various pipes and chimneys. The place is full of asbestos as well apparently. And it's a listed building and world heritage site - which I'm sure won't complicate matters at all...

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Congratulations. That pun was a right bellter...

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Re: A point in fact.

Is the marmite laser a device for destroying marmite - or a laser powered by the evil stuff? Enquiring minds wish to know...

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According to Private Eye (for the purposes of journalistic research only, I'm sure), Desmond's Television X has produced a blockbuster film. Hard BreXXXit, starring Jizza Cwoarbyn and the SNP leader Knickerless Virgin...

If you can't shoehorn a joke about the bongs in there, what about the dongs?

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An Excellent Wheeze!

So the government promises to pay the 2017 class of its bonds on the bong of Big Ben at midnight on Dec 31st. Oh dear, no bong? No bucks. Sorry. No stress though, we'll pay you in four years.

Of course it's a bit of a problem when SPECTER nick a couple of nukes and we have to bong Big Ben an extra time, in order to signal our acceptance of their terms. Could be embarrassing to have Birmingham blown up for lack of bongs...

But I'm sure Bond will sort out the blackmailing bastards, bypassing the bongs and banging the baddy's babe, before blowing up his base and beating a hasty retreat back to Blighty.

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Google and its terrible, horrible, no good, very bad week in full

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I've always thought being good with computers is about empathising with the computer and understanding it's point of view.

Funny, I've always thought that putting the fear of God, or at least hammers, into computers is the way to fix them...*

At which point, having less empathy ought to be an advantage.

*Oh and swearing. Lots of swearing!

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Place your bets: How long will 1TFLOPS HPE box last in space without proper rad hardening

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Re: Test about exposure to radiation in space

Yes, otherwise the ISS astronauts would be unlikely to live too long. But this is space research. So you do everything with baby steps.

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UK.gov cloud fave Amazon comes under fire for tax bill

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Well no, people's argument was that you can't tax unfairly or it'll put companies out of business. i.e. a turnover tax is a silly idea, and that got pointed out. Fair enough that you didn't remember, but you're still in this post sort of admitting your error, while also trying to keep making the same argument - so talking of cake and eating + can't.

Nobody has defended tax evasion. Which is illegal. Most people accept that there's too much avoidance. But the realists get pissed off when everyone defaults to emotional arguments.

There is never going to be a good, easy solution to this. Even if all the accountants at MegaCorp inc. were as honest as the day is long and 100% transparent and public spirited and actively trying to get all their taxes paid to the right government at the right time, it would probably be impossible to get it right. Big corporations do introduce artificial complexity, but there's also a lot of real complexity too. How do you allocate R&D done in the US (or India or the UK) against the profits earned in other countries, or the public image of the business, or the massive cost of tens/hundreds of datacentres or whatever? It genuinely isn't easy. And that's before the EU Single Market comes into it. Which has costs (like corp tax income) as well as benefits.

Whatever way we try to solve the unintended consequences of tax (or any other thing society does), we'll end up with other unintended consequences.

I feel dirty even suggesting this, but Donald Trump may actually provide some of the solution here. He's been talking about changing US corporation tax rules. If he gets it done, that may change the way US companies behave. And stop them being so desperate to stash cash in Ireland and then the Caymans. At the moment they pay 35% tax on their profits, and then their shareholders pay a further 30-40% tax on dividends. So many US companies don't pay dividends. In comparison ours pay about 20%, plus 20%-odd on the divvies.

Worse they're allowed to defer their tax on foreign profits, if they don't bring them back into the country. So they just don't. That's why Apple have over $100bn in cash held abroad and borrow money in the US to pay their dividends.

Give them a lower tax rate so their shareholders start demanding dividends, and stop them from deferring tax until profits are repatriated, and the incentive for these behaviours massively reduces. Then that cash might get used, and boost the economy too.

I admit this assumes Trump being able to persuade Congress to do much of anything, and it being competently handled. So perhaps best not holding your breath...

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Re: Profit

Replying to myself as it's too late to edit. I've just looked it up and they made $1.5bn last year. Possibly more than the previous ten years.

I remember reading that the shareholders were getting ugly, as Bezos put more-and-more into investment, and nothing into profits. So it looks like that change has happened. So for the first time they may now have a case to answer. Though it's entirely possible their UK payment is legit, if they do most of their operating somewhere else in the EU at their tax rates, or happened to build a few extra datacentres here or something.

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Ian Reissmann,

I presume the patronising reply was aimed at me?

I do understand. It's very simple. People have been moaning about Amazon not paying any tax for about ten years. But they've never made much in the way of profits. As they recycled them all as investment into growing the company.

So while it's possible they may have moved a bit of tax from one jurisdiction to another, in general a company that makes $100m globally one quarter and loses $50m the next and pays a few millions in taxes in the UK each year is probably doing very little wrong.

I'm fully aware that companies deliberately complicate their tax affairs sometimes. But Amazon didn't look to be particular offenders. Except for when they were abusing the Channel Islands VAT exemption a few years ago.

Interestingly I just looked up the figures. So it looks like I'll have to go back and edit my posts. In 2016 they started making actual proper profits. So I guess the shareholders have finally kicked up a fuss, as I suggested above. They look to have made $1.5bn last year - which might well be about the same as the total of the previous ten years - while they pushed vast sums of cash into huge server farms all over the world.

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Re: Profit

We're in the European Single Market. It's designed to allow one company in one country to not have to set-up companies everywhere. This is supposed to create economic efficiency and raise our total GDP. We had this whole Brexit debate about it and everything... So Amazon and many other companies pick where to plonk their offices based on a combination of where they physically want to be, can get staff, and pay less tax. It's how the system is supposed to work.

Anyway as has been said repeatedly, and for years, Amazon recycle almost all their profits into investment into the company. They recycle their profits, rather than holding a huge cash pile (like Apple) or paying dividends to their shareholders.

So globally they pay very little tax on the profits they don't make. This is not pushing the rules to the breaking point, this is a profit tax operating as designed.

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Re: @TonyJ

TonyJ,

It's not false logic. You don't tax companies on turnover. The UK supermarkets, at their pomp in the 90s, made 18% operating profit (before taxes and investment and the like). So a 22% turnover tax would have bankrupted them overnight.

They all make considerably less now, due to competition from the likes of Aldi/Lidl and the internet. And customers becoming less loyal.

Plus you need to have get-outs from some tax rules. Yes, our tax code is way too complex. But there are still some legit reasons. Because if you don't have rules, people will exploit that too. Any time you have similar items at different tax rates, you'll have abuses.

There will never be a perfect tax system. Because there are always people with an incentive to get round paying, and there are always people with good reason to be exempted. And sometimes theh first pretend to be the second, or manage to game the system to share in their benefit.

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Amazon don't pay and corporation tax because Amazon don't make any profits! How hard is this for people to understand? It really isn't complicated.

We don't charge tax on turnover, as that would bankrupt companies with high turnovers and low profits, like say most manufacturers. We tax profits. And Amazon invest their profits in growing the business.

Now the people who should be outraged are the shareholders. I think Bezos is running it too much as his private train set, doing new things that interest him, rather than paying dividends to the shareholders. But it's not like he hasn't been doing this for the whole like of the company, so they've no reason to be surprised.

Presumably they're hoping that it'll get to some point and stop re-cycling its profits into investment, and suddenly cash ahoy! But that may never happen.

As for Hodge, this really is basic stuff. So the only conclusion you can draw is she's gone for political point-scoring, rather than doing her job. Clearly there are companies like Google, in particular, who've bent the law past breaking point in my opinion - for example when their sales team were all UK-based, but they used to still booked all the sales in Ireland.

But even a lot of the other stuff she's shouted about was merely the operation of the EU as designed. the Single Market rules say you should only have to set up in one country, and pay all your taxes there, while operating in all the others.

So there are legit things to complain about, but you lose a lot of credibility by also making noise about all the other cases that are running things the way the system is designed to.

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Alien 'lava lamp' with dying magnetic field orbited Earth a billion years ago – science

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Yeah, but galvanised steel dustbin lids are.

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Revealed: The naughty tricks used by web ads to bypass blockers

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Re: Hey Instart

I can see this war having some beneficial effects. Maybe even this attempt to get round ad blockers.

I want publishers to make money. I'm happy for them to run ads. Sadly for them I just don't see them anymore. I just filter out those bits of the screen. But if they're getting paid anyway, I guess we're all happy.

But the publishers need to take responsibility for their content. Try surfing most sites on a tablet now, and it's miserable. The page load times are long, because of the all the Javacrapscript and ads popping up from slow third party servers. Which mean the page starts bouncing around like a 4 year old on Sunny Delight. Which on a PC is annoying, but on something with a touchscreen is incredibly fucking frustrating. As you wait for the action to stop, put down your finger to scroll and an advert magically appears right underneath your finger!

On a tablet that's really annoying but on a phone with slower load times, when you're on the road and in a hurry, it's really, really, really, REALLY fucking annoying! Stop it!!!!

I've complained to El Reg about misbehaving adverts, and their response has been, "sorry it's down to our ad network". That's not really good enough. My relationship is with you. It's you that are pissing me off. It's you that I'm going to blame if malware gets onto my PC because your ad network served something horrible. So in an ideal world I'd just connect to the publishers' server - and then they'd deal with all the ad crap. The result would be a more secure internet for users and publishers having to take responsibility for what turns up on our screens.

Obviously the Ad industry would have to change how it runs its networks. And have to plug their networks through the publishers' systems - which would have the side effect of making everything more transparent - as they'd have to run their tracking code in cooperation with companies like El Reg.

the advertisers might learn to piss their users off less too. And publishers could no longer just shrug their shoulders and say, "not us guv". Because now, it would be.

Again, I think everyone wins here in the end, except the real scumbags.

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You had ONE job: Italian firefighters suspected of starting blazes for cash

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Re: GNU TERRY PRATCHETT

Poor Crassus didn't like being just the moneybags. But if you're going to pick two people in history to try and compete on military ability with, might I suggest an easier target than Caesar and Pompey...

Anyway he did quite a good job at dealing with the Spartacus revolt, then Pompey turned up at the last minute and nicked most of the glory.

Later he had another go and took an army off to show Johnny-Parthian who was boss - and got them all killed. Oops.

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Re: GNU TERRY PRATCHETT

Crassus* in 1st Century BC Rome got rather rich (and unpopular) with a similar trick. He had a personal fire brigade. He'd turn up with a team of firefighting slaves and a lawyer at your fire. Would you like to sell me this property? Say for a third of its value? No? Well OK then, me and my firefighting slaves will be over there watching it burn, in case you change your mind...

*He of killing off Spartacus and Triumvarate with Caesar and Pompey fame. They did the generalling, and he did the vast wheelbarrows of cash for bribing.

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No, Apple. A 4G Watch is a really bad idea

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Re: Who cares about calls?

Have these people not seen Knight Rider? If only everyone were as cool as the Hoff!

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Re: Most used function

You don't need a smartwatch to time your 3 minute perfect tea. What you need is a smart teapot.

Of course that might struggle to time your swimming for you, but technology can't solve all problems.

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For fork's sake! Bitcoin Core braces for another cryptocurrency split

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Re: Where does the money come from?

David Webb,

To answer your serious question seriously, Bitcoin is in a weird state. Some people want it to be money. Which works best by having as stable a value as possible and being useful to buy things. i.e. a "medium of exchange" and a "store of value". Call these people users.

However some people see Bitcoin as an investment. They want wild swings in value. Well OK, they probably don't want it to go down (unless they want to buy more of it) - but they do want the value going up continually. They're your investors.

A worry for Bitcoin is that a large chunk of the miners might sabotage the use as money lot in order to keep dollar values high to maximise their investments (in both mining rigs and coin). And by doing so, kill the golden goose.

Sometimes your user/investor might be the same person. I've seen some Bitcoin defenders trying to make the "it's better than fiat money" argument, but then being unable to stop themselves from smugly saying, "and look how much the value went up last week!"

So the dollar value of a Bitcoin only matters when you convert one into "real money". And I believe turnover in these exchanges is quite low. So the price is set by the next person in line willing to buy.

So the answer to your question is that like any investment, it's only worth what someone is willling to pay you for it now. Which is why it once went from being worth over $1,200 to around $50, in about 2 days.

However, again, if it has the ability to survive long-term then today's worthless asset might go back to having the same value as yesterday if you're willing and able to wait long enough. Half the banks nearly went bust in 2008 because they were holding mortgage backed securities that nobody trusted. So they went from being worth something like 98% of their face value to nothing overnight. Nowadays, those mortgages are mostly still being paid off - and so most of those assets are still probably worth 95-98% of face value - though I don't know what price they sell for.

So, in the same way (and to undermine my own anti-Bitcoin argument), if the Bitcoin economy still continues - it doesn't mattter so much what they're worth in dollars. If people will accept your Bitcoins for stuff, and can spend those with other people, then the Bitcoin economy could conceivably continue forever. I don't know how big the Bitcoin economy is. Or whether people use them like a currency by pricing in Bitcoins, of if you're always charged the dollar value at the time of transaction. That, and whether there are enough non-criminal uses to keep it going, will determine if Bitcoin lasts.

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Your top five dreadful people the Google manifesto has pulled out of the woodwork

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Re: Arseholery breeds success

And as a quick quiz - name one orange person who fits the profile of the successful arsehole.

Mr Tickle.

He's cuddly and orange, with a blue hat and has a big smile. But that just covers that he's a serial sex-offender. On about page 3 of his book, he's reaching through the classroom window to tickle the teacher's bum.

Admittedly he was also my hero. Because on page 1 of the book he gets biscuits out of the tin in the kitchen, without having to get out of bed. When I was 4, that was the most amazing idea ever.

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Assange offers job to sacked Google diversity manifestbro

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Re: A job in the Ecuadorian embassy?

2nd broom cupboard along, behind the toilet on the left.

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Re: I had to re-read the footnote.

Is that where he pretends to be a cat licking cream off people?

Oh, that mental image has put me right off my dinner next 100 meals.

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Britons ambivalent about driverless car tech, survey finds

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Re: Yes, can I spec my self driving car

Thomas Steven 1,

NO! NO! NO! NO!

Not get into car. Alarm clock comes on with Thunderbirds music. Bed tilts up and pours you down a chute to the garage. Where you're loaded in through the roof of your car.

Possibly pouring you into your trousers as well. In which case you also need Wallace and Grommit music.

Some sort of auto-breakfast machine seems very important as well.

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With or without Raquel Welch in a skintight jumpsuit?

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Re: Option to drive manually

Francis Boyle,

It's not over-thinking. There's a lot to think about. If the car was brand new now, it would be a lot more tightly regulated - given how easy it is to kill/injure yourself and other people with one.

Just how reliable are we expecting self-driving cars to be? At the moment planes can fly themselves, and have been able to for years. But we still don't let them. For example, auto-landing systems can't lower the undercarriage or flaps. Even though I'm sure that could be done with some pretty simple software changes. And the pilots are supposed to take over for the last bit of landing anyway.

We're now having the debate about using the automation a bit less, so that the pilots have more hands-on experience for those times when the automatic systems get out of their depth and dump control onto the pilot.

Now admittedly driverless cars shouldn't ever be going faster than 70mph on the motorway, and ideally shouldn't be airbourne. So this makes the safety easier. But safety people tend to be cautious. So there'll be a big debate about whether driverless cars should just have a default braking behaviour - or whether they should dump control to the meatsack when they don't know what to do.

If they decide that non-professional meatbags will be too distracted and confused to take over - then they'll have to come up with a bunch pre-programmed stopping behaviours. If they can't think of safe ways to do that, then they'll either ban the cars, or allow the fiction that control can be handed over safely and hope for the best. On the assumption that the automatic systems will prevent more accidents than they cause.

As someone who can't see well enough to get a licence, this is of direct interest to me. If they go the hand control over route, you'll still need a driving licence to be allowed to operate one. My feeling is that it'll be at least 5-10 years from them being legalised for hands-off driving for normal plebs - before someone like me is legally allowed to use one.

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Foot-long £1 sausage roll arrives

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Re: achieve fusion

That's why the correct dose of toasties is 2. You cook number one and plate it up, cutting it in half. Then you cook toastie 2. At the point this hits the plate, and is cut in half, then and only then are you allowed to consumer toastie 1.

Unless you've foolishly put tomatoes in it, or made the awesome (but deadly) jam toastie. In which case, give it another hour.

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Re: Offal and fat

AKA: Lips and anus.M

Well I've heard that sausages are made out of lips and arseholes.

But personally, I think it's just bollocks...

[gets coat, wanders off looking guilty.]

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Re: Whilst we're on the subject of food stuff from Morrisons.

And they sell ox kidney - which is very important if you want to do decent steak and kidney pudding. They even do combined packs to save you a couple of seconds buying/unwrapping time.

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Happy

Re: Whilst we're on the subject of food stuff from Morrisons.

They also sell stripy cheese. It's basically layers of different coloured, but not noticably different flavoured, cheddars. But who doesn't want zebra cheese on their tiger bread?

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Happy

Re: I've just bought one

That's some top quality research done right there. I congratulate you.

Now can you tell me which iPad model is the tastiest?

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I ain't Spartacus
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Re: Obligatory...

Beer or tea I think. Depending upon time of day and temperature.

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