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Comment Pet Hate: What makes this a "Robot"? (Score 1) 39 39

Dunno about you - but isn't a "robot" a "a machine that has an onboard computer and moves autonomously"? This doesn't look like it has any onboard compute or battery - so it's more like a remote-controlled vehicle or something,

This has annoyed me about a bunch of other so-called "robots" too - the RoboWars competition is mostly just a bunch of radio-controlled vehicles.

The whole idea of autonomous control, sensors and self-containment seems important in the definition of the term.

I'm sure this machine could eventually become a component of an actual robot - but it's not one yet.

    -- Steve

Comment Re:Well, sure, but... (Score 1) 295 295

You get just under 3kbytes on a QRCode - so there would still be sharp limits on what could be stored there - but certainly it could contain a tiny URL *and* a bunch of other data. Also, there is an issue with very small items in that a max-resolution QRcode would be too small to print cheaply. a QR code that only has to contain a URL could be smaller than the current bar code (because it's 2D).

Comment Re:Well, sure, but... (Score 1) 295 295

What it would take is for government to step in and require it. That's how come we have food labeling at all. They could specify the rules for what has to be recorded and how - just like they do now.

All I'm proposing is that the argument that there isn't enough room on the label for any more information is kinda silly. You only need a pointer to the information to be printed onto the label - not the information itself.

Comment Re:Well, sure, but... (Score 5, Insightful) 295 295

There is plenty of room on the label for a tinyurl.

If you were to accept that you needed a smartphone in order to read food labels (a big "IF") - then the entire label could be replaced by a QRCode which links to a page with *ALL* of the information. The actual label could then be simplified to a really simple "UNHEALTHY/HEALTH" number going from 1..10 as proposed previously to simplify things for the 95% of people who aren't going to read anything more detailed than that anyway.

For people like you - I'd imagine that using a phone to get vitally important data that would never fit on a label is less of an imposition. Furthermore, it would be easy to have software provided for you that would allow you to scan the product and get a personalized "OK TO EAT"/"DO NOT EAT!" indicator as set by your doctor.

Come to think of it - you wouldn't even need any extra printing at all...pretty much all labelled food already has a bar-code on it - it would be simple enough to prepend a standard URL onto that number to turn it into something that a special app could use to pull all of the necessary information. Legislation to make product vendors add this information would then be simple enough.

Comment Re:Cortana? (Score 1) 44 44

The nature of mobile devices is that the data connection is of varying quality and reliability, and in some places either slow, intermittent, or non-existent. Relying on apps in the cloud means that your device is fundamentally a brick whenever you go into an underpass or a basement or into mountains and forests. Of course, if you live your whole life in urban areas this may not matter, but for many people it does. Not that this is a criticism of Cortana, or of Microsoft. Google's and Apple's voice services are cloud-backed as well. But for 'the network is the computer' to work, the network has to be ubiquitous and immanent, and for mobile devices it isn't.

Comment Re:Good (Score 1) 1307 1307

The situation at the ATMs is not because Greece is spending too much, on a primary basis.

It is because the ECB removed ELA support - or rather kept the same cap. This is more about the liquidity of the banks in the face of a bank run, not capitalisation. The Greek banks were recapitalised a few years ago, so they're meant to be ok.

The bank run is because people think there is a real possibility of Greece returning to its own currency (which probably would overall be better for Greece, given the politics in the EU). It makes sense to get your money out of the bank in a hard currency like the €, rather than wait and risk your deposits being converted to drachma by a new law. The bank run is *not* because Greeks are afraid their banks are about to run out of money - they're well capitalised now AIUI (least, as well capitalised as most other EU banks).

Note, if for some weird there was a bank run on German banks tomorrow, they too would have to close, outside of special liquidity support being given.

This is a basic function of traditional banking: a bank lends out or otherwise invests the money deposited with it. So a bank generally doesn't have enough cash (itself) to pay /all/ depositors. Not German banks, not French banks, not US banks.

Which is why we have central banks, to support healthy banks (i.e. well capitalised) through any liquidity needs. Which the ECB has stopped doing for the Bank of Greece, and hence the general Greek banking sector.

Comment Re:Good (Score 1) 1307 1307

State finances and macro-economics work very differently to personal finance and micro-economics. To analogise from personal finance to state finances and macro-economics is meaningless. It's what politicians do. To try argue about macro-economics on the basis of an analogy is a fallacy.

  (Indeed, it is generally always a fallacy to try draw authoritative conclusions about a situation by analogies with another. Analogies can be useful to help explain concepts, or to help look for postulates to try evaluate to other contexts, however an analogy of itself has no logical force. If A is a bit like B , and if A implies C, then it does *NOT* mean that B implies A, precisely because an analogy implies A is *not* completely B. I've been trying to get people to call this "argumentum ad vehiculum", because of how often arguments can end up in car analogies - especially here on /. in its earlier days).

E.g. "Greece doesn't have a job" - that's a completely meaningless statement for a state. Greece has significant economic activity, and exports (tourism notably), further its government has been running a primary surplus the last while, before the latest crisis, i.e. its government spending ex debt payments has been *lower* than its revenue.

Further, many of the statements you make about Greece are untrue - or at least are no less true of states like Germany. E.g., total Greek spending on pensions simply is not significantly greater than German spending on pensions - it is simply that Greece pensions tend to have more in public pension, and less in private, compared to Germany. Given the primary surplus, that means Greek government recently has been living within its means, so your statement that Greece would go bankrupt even if debt was forgiven is untrue.

Taxes, yes, Greece seemingly has a huge problem with that. The current leftist Greek government are committed to fixing that - and probably more so than previous governments that were more in favour with Greek (and EU) elites. Further, as you note, Greece's tax collection issues can't explain the reckless lending of other EU banks in the past - which is what caused the problem.

Comment Re:Drop the hammer on them. (Score 1) 1307 1307

Their bail-out in 2010 wasn't in their interests though. They were *pressured into* taking a massive bail-out and paying off private debtors because many of those private debtors were in *Other* EU countries, and those countries were afraid their own banks would collapse and cause another financial crisis.

The 2010 bail-out was as much about saving French, German, Dutch, etc. banks as about saving Greece. The rest of the EU was bailing out many of its *own banks, and Greece took that debt on in *solidarity* with the EU *against* its own interests. Indeed, that bail-out was probably also financially stupid for the rest of the EU.

Now the creditors are no longer private institutions, but other EU states and institutions. Now what is being protected is the political reputation of the politicians who made the decisions to make those insanely stupid, unsustainable, and indirect 2010+ bailouts of our own banks. It politically suits the likes of Merkel to be able to blame the Greeks for all that money, and not have to acknowledge that otherwise they would have had to bail out their own banks directly. It would be politically a disaster for Merkel to admit now that the Greek bailout is unsustainable, and was a bad idea. Indeed, it could cause her downfall if Greece were given a sane arrangement now.

Basically, this about blame-shifting. It was about shifting blame and responsibility for the excesses of the €zone banking system - dominated by France, Germany - from the financiers on to the people, with the collusion of the political classes. In particular, onto poorer people in the peripheries. When that started to fall apart, it became about shifting blame from the political classes for their responsibility in the bogus deals they did that protected the financial elites.

Comment Re:Good (Score 4, Insightful) 1307 1307

Because the debt is not sustainable. It will leave the Greek economy with huge interest payments that will cripple its economy for decades to come.

It is in Greece's interests to at least significantly restructure the repayments (much longer terms, with 0 interest on much of it for significant periods). Ultimately, they can do this unilaterally - "default" - in which case they might as well give themselves the best possible terms.

The vast majority of debt is owed to EU member states and institutions, and France and Germany in particular. It suited France and Germany for Greece to take on massive public debt in a bailout in 2010, because a good chunk of that money went to repaying *French* and *German* banks which risked becoming insolvent and collapsing otherwise - as Greece didn't have the money. The 2010 bail-out was as much, if not more, about saving *French and German* banks as about bailing out Greece. Indeed that bail-out broke IMF rules, but the IMF made an exception because of the exceptional systemic risk to global finance and the fears of another Lehman Brothers like collapse.

The sane solution for Greece in 2010 would have been to privately negotiate debt restructuring with its creditors, and unilaterally restructure payments where ever agreement couldn't have been reached. However, Greece was instead heavily pressurised by the rest of the EU to *not* do the sane thing, but instead take on *more* debt, because some of its creditors might have gone bust had Greece done the sane thing. Greece did this under pressure, and took this on to *save European banks*. Its own banking system got about €48 bn, to recapitalise, and its government got perhaps €20 bn to €30bn for operational needs (though even some amount of that went on financing costs).

Greece has been made to pay, very heavily, for the mistakes of the French and Northern European banking sector. Further, those who were *least* responsible for this crisis in Greece have been made to suffer the most - the poor, the young. This is fundamentally unfair.

Greece acted in solidarity with EU partners in taking on this bailout of, largely, *OTHER* European banks. The bailout was simply too big to be sustainable for the Greek economy, which has collapsed amid one of the largest recessions ever seen in the modern world. Instead of acting reasonably and recognising the solidarity the Greeks showed in 2010, several EU nations have - cowardly - instead tried to paint this as all the fault of lazy Greeks, which is an objective falsehood.

The EU *needs* a deal with Greece, because, as with all the previous deals, they are protecting *their own* banks, above all else. The Greeks now are saying any such deal also has to stop punishing them.

Comment Re:Good (Score 1, Interesting) 1307 1307

If the Greeks fucked up, then so did their lenders. Indeed, making the Greeks pay is about protecting France and Germany - Greece's biggest creditors - from the monumental stupidity of their own banks. The Eurozone forced Greek to take a bail-out in 2010 and pay off much of their private debt to French and German banks, rather than let those French and German banks go bust.

Unsustainable lending requires reckless lenders... And the EUs reaction since 2008 has been to protect those most responsible for the reckless lending - the financiers (and a small elite in Greece) - by making those least responsible pay for it.

Further, there is the mantra that it is unacceptable to default on debt. Of course, that only applies to debts owed to financiers it seems. Social debts to pensioners, who will have paid in all their working lives, and to whom there is a social contract of a (small) pension: default on them! But don't default on the financiers, never punish a financier.

The reaction to the 2008 crisis has been fundamentally inequitable, across Europe. The European people were of course always going to pay one way or another for the stupidity of the financial classes, of course. However, the financial classes have not been punished at all. They have been largely protected from their mistakes, and instead the rest of the population has been made to pay even greater prices for that protection. Usually in regressive ways too, so that the poorest have paid disproportionately more for the monumental stupidity of the financial classes.

The finance industry, globally, is out of control. It has been extracting ever greater rents from the world economy, without providing a commensurate increase in economic productivity.

The gent who wakes up and finds himself a success hasn't been asleep.