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Comment: Re:Nevermind the bollocks, here's David Cameron (Score 1) 256 256

But spread over many constituencies it would have no effect. See comments about the first past the post/ safe seats above.

There are several considerations at play here which may not be obvious to overseas commentators:

Cameron is trying to appeal to the "Daily Mail" readership who make up a large chunk of his support. The DM is a newspaper in the loosest sense of the world which has one aim - to make its readership scared/angry. It does this by targeting foreigners, the EU, the BBC, Muslims, the gay community, the Labour party, any number of materials that cause cancer (though some can miraculously cure it as well - e.g. coffee - the DM relies on its readers having a short attention span/memory) and anyone who doesn't fawn over royalty**. One of its current campaigns is against porn.

He's also reacting against the atrocity in Tunisia. "Something needs to be done!" "I'll do something -- sorted!!"

The UK government in general, irrespective of party, has a terrible reputation with regard to implementing IT systems. Their incompetence is one of our safeguards.

Finally this is the summer - the "silly season" when there's little news.

** How do you confuse a Daily Mail reader? Tell them that gypsies kill paedophiles.

Comment: Re:Shades of Methuselah's Children (Score 4, Informative) 57 57

especially since donors are way more likely to have loathsome diseases transmitted via blood

This is not so much of a concern in the UK (it is the NHS in the article)

Two points:

1) All blood used in the UK is extensively screened before use

2) In the UK people are not paid for blood - it's a donation. Thus the case of desperate people selling blood for ready cash doesn't arise. There is also a long questionnaire to be filled in every time you donate (whether it's your 1st or 40th time) which is used to screen out people who have visited countries at risk, engaged in risky sexual behaviour, had injections recently, are on medication .....

Comment: Re:Homeopathic Pollution (Score 1) 668 668

"full of diluted fish-poo"

I've always waited for someone to use this argument in a TV or radio interview -- never happened**

So... if the hyper diluted water contains a 'memory' of substance X - doesn't it also contain 'memories' of everything else that has been in it? What about the treated sewage dumped in the river several [tens of] miles upstream of the extraction point?

** I can understand why it's not on the BBC Radio 4 flagship news programme "Today" -- not the sort of thing people want to hear whilst eating breakfast !!

Comment: Re:Not sure where I heard it, but it's stuck with (Score 1) 108 108

Sad to hear that they mean little to you -- they mean a lot to me and I wouldn't use them without meaning or sincerity.

I guess it comes down to expectations: either go through life assuming that people are (in the main) reasonable, friendly and nice) and then try to maintain this by behaving well -- or assume everyone's out to manipulate you and deprive you of your 'rightful entitlement' and 'get your retaliation in first'.

I know the approach I prefer - and the type of people I like working with; I also respect others may have a different viewpoint.

And as to the other comment (several replies above) based on my spelling of tyres implying that I live in a socialist paradise -- you really have no idea of the realities of life in the UK and the nature of our government if you truly believe that

Comment: Not sure where I heard it, but it's stuck with me (Score 4, Insightful) 108 108

"Words like 'please' and 'thank-you' are like the air in your bicycle tyres -- they cost nothing but make your journey through life much smoother"

I recall being singled out by the leader on a training course many years ago where we had to role play asking someone to do extra work when there was no direct management chain of command -- i.e. persuasion rather than authority. In a room of about 30 people I was the only one who said 'please' during the request and 'thank-you' at the end. I don't think the others were necessarily rude or lacking civility - but that, at the time, 'macho demanding' was all the rage when it came to management.

Honestly - how hard is it to be polite?

Comment: Re:Stupid NAT. (Score 1) 84 84

"I can name precisely one ISP in the UK that I know offers IPv6 connectivity"

Would you mind letting us know who that might be?

I'm considering moving ISP and want one where I can have a static IP address; looking to the future it seems to me that it's worth having IPv6 support now rather than a second upheaval in a few years time

Comment: Re:15 years ago (Score 1) 117 117

Where's the fun in that?

I completely agree with the idea (and can even claim earlier art in an essay I wrote when still at school [MANY years ago] on reducing traffic accidents).

I swear that my local council is an underground* anarchist cell**.

If I wanted to cause traffic jams and major disruption I would be hard pushed to do better than the current scheduling of concurrent major roadworks on the three main roads through/out of the town - and, tight fisted and risk averse as I am, I'd be willing to bet that within twelve months of a new surface being laid they'd be dug up again.

On a related theme, a few years back there were supposed to be incentives for the utility companies to coordinate work (eg if the road were dug up for gas repairs, then making changes to water or other pipes nearby at the same time would be encouraged) but I guess the benefits of going it alone were greater for the utilities than reduced costs of road closure/restriction permits.

*pun unintentional - but appropriate :-)

** or full of old grumps who are just getting their revenge for all the times they've been forced to queue in the past

Comment: What did you expect? (Score 1) 187 187

For non UK readers.... there's an election coming up.

This time there's a chance it will go beyond a two horse race (whether or not that's a good thing given the parties involved is down to personal opinion).

The major parties want to look for something to differentiate themselves and will jump on any bandwagon going to appease the more rabid elements of the press. Manufacturing a major scare and then swooping in like a superhero to fix it is just custom & practice.

I fully expect this to evaporate like most politicians' promises do within 48 hours of the results being posted. It will go from a mandate to a target then a goal then an aspiration just as fast as any other promise.

Bigger issues (like rewarding friends and slagging off the opposition) will rule the day.

I can make this prediction whichever party/parties come into power

Don't worry about how this would work in practice, technical [in]feasibilities, government/parent roles & responsibilities... they'll become irrelevant sideshows soon enough.

Cynical? me ?

Comment: Re:Moats are still a good idea (Score 4, Insightful) 175 175


I can think of a few modern large buildings in the UK with linked duck ponds with ducks, water lillies, fountains etc. in landscaped grounds. They look attractive and it's only when you stop and really look you realise their main functionis a moden day moat.

Indeed apart from protection, the visual amenity is worthwhile (relatively low cost to provide a place to feast your eyes at lunchtime) and they also offer the potential for a heat sink for cooling.

Just make sure you keep a view on expenses though (see parliamentary expenses scandal a few years back - Douglas Hogg claiming moat cleaning on his family's ancestral home or Peter Viggers claiming for a duck house)

Comment: Re:Government should be a coordinator, not the ham (Score 1) 67 67

Oh great!

This would open the door to even more unsolicited calls from "Microsoft Windows" telling you that you have a problem and offering to supply a fix. Just a minor change to the script 'virus' now becomes 'botnet' and away they go again

This scam is gradually dying off (in the UK at least -- I almost mis the opportunity to prolong the conversation and annoy the scammers) but I can well foresee it wakening up gain if ISPs were charged with telling their customers that they have a problem.

It's a nice idea in principle but there are so many potential issues with it (botnet activity on a NAT'd IP condemning multiple users, IP address changing and need to keep up with who is blocked and how/whether to carry the block on next connection ....).

Comment: Re:RTFA (Score 1) 282 282

You don't understand our voting system.

Basically we haven't had a ruling government that's had a majority vote for years (not in my lifetime at least). MPs [are supposed to] represent constituencies which are drawn up to be roughly equal in population. What happens is that each party, when in power, 'corrects for population shifts' and re-draws boundaries to concentrate supporters into a few areas and spread the opposition over multiple areas.

This is why 'minority' parties can get a sizeable chunk of the vote but few (if any) seats in parliament - their support is diluted across wide areas.

The net effect is that the outcome is largely governed by a few marginal constiuencies (wher the balance is closer) who have a disproportionate effect on the outcome. A majority of just 1 vote in these places will (under first past the post system) make a huge difference; where I live, they gould put up a gorilla for election and it would win if it had the right coloured rosette!!

This benefits the two main parties who thus have no interest in electoral reform or proportional representation.

Couple this with the fact that you have to vote for a person 9effectively a party) rather than an issue, and that all the parties are converging so there's little to differentiate them, it's no wonder voter apathy has kicked in and turnouts are low.

So, no, please don't blame all of us for the actions of a few.

Comment: Re:How common is burglary in Britain? (Score 1) 282 282

Crime rates are falling here too.

I'm not making any accusations or implications here but consider:

  1. There's an election coming up. Both main and most of the other partie know that being 'tough on crime' sells well to the public
  2. The two sources are both right wing biased publications.
    I hesitate to call the Daily Mail a newspaper - that would be dignifying it. It has the aim of at least one story to make people scared and/or angry every day. It wouldn't hesitate in calling anyone who disagreed with this a 'lefty do-gooder' (which is amusing given the political stance of many Americans here who are objecting to the scheme :-) )
  3. There's been a reduction in police budgets - this may be a warning shot to all parties when it comes to manifestos etc

Even if this went ahead, it would be up to the individual to fit, maintain, monitor and use the camera, so (exhibitionists apart) I doubt people would be undressing or having sex in front of a camera they have installed themselves.

What would be interesting is just how this would work in practice with the multiplicity of standards, formats... for data recording.
And that's not considering legal aspects (what are the rules on data used for evidence? on data protection? consent for recording? tamper proofing? ....)

Given the inertia of the Great British Public, I don't see this happening soon But don't let that stop a new trope forming about how we're the most observed group on the planet :-) after all if the "analysis" of looking at one street, counting the cameras and then extrapolating everywhere has caught on and become a meme, why not this?

Humanity has the stars in its future, and that future is too important to be lost under the burden of juvenile folly and ignorant superstition. - Isaac Asimov