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Comment Smashing idea (Score 3, Insightful) 124 124

Calling these things 'unsinkable aircraft carriers' shows just what a daft idea this is, militarily.

In a no-holds-barred fight, they have a HUGE bullseye painted on them, and will be easy to take out. The general idea of naval power is to project power, and being able to hide this capability in plain sight in a huge ocean is what makes a movable aircraft carrier a better idea. You wouldn't use one of these to fight an actual war.

Fixed fortifications are monuments to human stupidity. I could see this being like the Maginot Line or the Atlantic Wall.t

The only reason why they would do this, is so that they can call it sovereign territory, and to game international border rules to their own benefit.

Comment Re:Sad Day (Score 2) 152 152

When I was in college and was completely skint, I picked up a Sparc IPC with a horrid 8-bit CG3 framebuffer for a song, and that got me through two years of college.

Debian hamm sucked quite a bit less than SunOS, apart from the terrible quality of the CG3 driver in Xfree, which would lock the entire machine up solid after about 30 minutes of use... sure-as-shit haven't missed that...

Comment Outdated (Score 1) 312 312

These days, 'racism' is about culture, not "race" in the sense of skin pigmentation or skull shape. We know anyway, that "race", technically speaking, is meaningless in humans.

It could be said that appearance (okay, 'race') is a really crappy proxy for culture, and people choose to discriminate and abuse others on the basis of culture.

By way of example, hardworking, moral, aspirational Hindus and Sikhs are well-liked where I live. Yet, their genetically identical south-Asian radical Muslim kin are despised and shunned, and are dirt-poor as a result. Discriminating against somebody on the basis of a dubious socially-conditioned trait like adherence to conservative Islam (say) would be impossible to do through genetic data alone.

As it were, the worst-behaved and most aggressive people I come across at street-level would be people who wear sleeveless puff jackets, have beards, shave the sides of their heads, drive BMWs, don't bathe, and show no respect to whites or women. Dress and behaviour -- not genetics.

Comment The search for yield (Score 4, Interesting) 940 940

Blame the Fed for ZIRP, causing the investor class to pile into property.

As soon as central banks around the world start raising interest rates again and they start returning to normal, people hunting returns will head back to conventional investments, and that'll take the heat out of the property market.

I, for one, am keeping my powder dry. Typically, when people start talking about bubbles in a given market or asset class, you know its days are numbered. Also, when property markets crash, they tend to go from being overvalued to being undervalued fairly rapidly, since the dumb money panics and sells up to try to beat the stampede out the door.

Another interesting phenomenon: last time when all this happened back in 2008 with fraudsters writing sub-prime loans, the market merely had to stop expanding to start crashing. We may find that as soon as Something Bad happens, and enough people start going into arrears, and the cowboys running many of these investment operations can't meet their obligations -- then *boom* -- game over.

AIUI, some of the bigger, smarter players have seen the writing on the wall for quite a while...

Comment How mobile billing worked (back in the day) (Score 1) 35 35

Mobile telcos have been doing this for years (at least a decade). But let me tell you right now, it's NOWHERE near as bad as it's being made out. Simply because the requirements to get on deck were so onerous, only a few people would bother with it at all.

For webmasters who would like to figure out how to serve/bill stuff to users on mobile websites, you've got to have some way of passing some kind of UID for the user connecting. For magazine/media sites trying to actually run a business, being able to serve stuff to users with the ability and inclination to pay for content was pretty important.

Back in the day before the iPhone (and I believe this was more common in the US than elsewhere), users on web-capable phones issued by carriers would start their browsers, and land on the carrier's home page or "home deck" (think WAP). I remember getting "on deck" (linked off the website at a carrier), was a massive pain in the arse, because you'd have to make sure the website work on their top 10 devices (a nuisance, because Netfront (and the phones it ran on) was a bigger piece of shit than Netscape 4 and IE6 combined), and then after all was said and done, you'd have to give the cellco a huge cut of any revenue you generated.

(Note that I'm limiting the discussion to websites linked off the cellco's front page; not 'off deck' stuff, like those old magazine ads flogging rubbish ringtones off premium rate phone numbers. That's a different story and the billing works a bit differently.)

Naturally, once you managed to get 'on deck', you'd get access to the cellco's billing infrastructure, which'd let you sell subscriptions and flog pay-per-event stuff like wallpapers and ringtones (which, back in the day, a rubbish poly ringtone costing £2.99, was HUGELY lucrative if you sold a few, and made SMSs seem like good value). But only after you managed to make it on deck (otherwise there's no traffic, and thus, no revenue). And then you still had to deal with a completely, utterly different billing interface for each carrier (some using transparent proxies, some using redirects, some using web services, etc). And of course, the dubious pleasure of dealing with the cockheads at the telcos themselves.

Naturally, to keep this going, the cellco would only flip the big switch to pass through your phone number to that particular website in very specific circumstances (like, a tiny number of very well known websites owned by very well-known companies (like Disney)). It's a whitelist -- and a small one. Hardly the scale of threat being implied by the lede.

Comment Re:This will be a historic mission. (Score 1) 190 190

That in itself is a sign of weakness and laziness.

They only seem to do technical disciplines in great numbers (and aren't particularly good at it; the shops here in London are FULL of "Asians" with worthless IT degrees). They will not study the humanities or anything which challenges their strident, deeply held prejudices. Their inability to throw off their ignorance is what's holding them back. Ironically, worthless technical degrees from crap universities doesn't help with this. "Thinking" entails much more than paying others to build bridges or cut code.

Comment Re:trickle down economics (Score 2, Insightful) 227 227

But clearly, funding local schools from property taxes is a terrible idea. When rich people flee an area and leaves poor and disadvantaged (usually non-whites) behind, they get screwed twice: falling economic activity, and then falling funding for decent schools.

Bad schools breed disadvantage. You make it worse by turning schools into "gated communities" (e.g. charter, private schools), and consign everyone else to dropout factories.

A good way to buy social peace, would be to find a better way to fund state schools.

Comment Re: Trickle Down? (Score 3, Insightful) 227 227

Quite possibly the easiest way to do that would be to adopt China's approach of selectively implementing trade barriers in the name of domestic self-interest. Everything made of cloth or plastic should get a 200% tariff on it; and those barriers should only be relaxed when we've 'drained the swamp' at home.

This, and cutting all passive welfare to the able-bodied.

At the end of the day, not everyone is smart enough to go to college. Thick people need jobs, money and dignity too.

Unfortunately, this is anathema to our naive neoliberal overlords, whose world-view never went beyond Econ 101.

"Ignorance is the soil in which belief in miracles grows." -- Robert G. Ingersoll