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Comment: Re:Credit cards? (Score 1) 77

by mcgrew (#47948599) Attached to: Home Depot Says Breach Affected 56 Million Cards

I'm fine with the chip; that protects me, the bank, and the retailer. I am NOT fine with the PIN. My signature can't be stolen; if someone steals my card, the signature on the sales slip proves it's not me. But if someone steals your PIN they have your every penny.

It happened to me with a debit card. I welcome the chip, but of they add a PIN I'll cancel all my cards and go back to cash and checks, even though they're nowhere as convenient.

Comment: Re:Must be an american thing ??? (Score 1) 59

by mcgrew (#47948525) Attached to: More unsurprisingly conservative ads on slashdot

I hadn't had any of the accounts I'd used, either, and wasn't sure which one it was. Still got the account back, give 'em a try.

I had cataract surgery on that eye two years before the retina came loose. I did know a couple of guys who had vitrectomies followed by cataract surgery, but the needles don't go through the lens, they go in through the whites (photos at wikipedia). I suspect that a vitrectomy involves steroids; steroid eyedrops for an eye infection caused my cataract.

Comment: Re:The over-65's swung it for No (Score 2) 393

by IamTheRealMike (#47948465) Attached to: Scotland Votes No To Independence

Ouch. I've seen quite a few family breakup analogies, but this is the first time I saw Scotland be the child instead of the spouse.

If we're going analogise a country to a person, actually I'd say it's pretty natural to seek out unions even though they involve giving up some independence. That's why people get married. That's why the EU keeps growing. Even the most perfect couples don't always agree all the time, but they find ways to figure it out because it's better together than apart. Divorces are universally considered a tragedy in our culture exactly because we recognise that unions bring strength: when one partner stumbles, the other is there to help.

Salmond's behaviour with Scotland has been like going to a wife in a working marriage where decisions are taken together and telling her constantly, repeatedly, that she's too good for the man she's with. That her husband treats her unfairly. That she's oppressed by him. That everything wrong in her life is her husbands fault. She didn't get the promotion she wanted? Husband's fault. She doesn't get enough attention? Husband's fault. She can't afford the clothes she wants? Husband's fault. He's just so unfair. How could she not be better off without him? She's strong and pure and good and she needs to break up with this loser.

Oh, the husband objects? He doesn't want a divorce? That's just bullying. He's promising to give her more say? It's just lies. He's asking how she'll pay the rent without him? Scaremongering. Of course you can pay the rent. Sure you may not earn enough to pay all the bills each month and you've both been relying on the credit card, but selling off the family silver will take care of that.

I could go on but you get the idea. The ultimate legacy of Salmond's failed campaign is that a significant chunk of the Scottish population has bought into the idea that they're somehow superior or morally better than the emotionally deformed English, whereas such feelings were not previously widespread. This is a toxic legacy that could take generations to resolve. It will certainly not make anything easier in future.

Comment: Re:Free Willy! (Score 2, Interesting) 393

by IamTheRealMike (#47947199) Attached to: Scotland Votes No To Independence

Most importantly the Parliament Act allows the Commons to force a bill through Lords if it's been sent back twice already, regardless of what the Lords want. Therefore the most the HoL can do is slow things down.

Given this fact it's probably not surprising that nobody cares much about reforming it. It's another check/balance and all it can ultimately do is throw sand in the wheels, it has no real power.

Comment: Re:Everyone loses (Score 5, Interesting) 393

by jc42 (#47946373) Attached to: Scotland Votes No To Independence

Actually, there's quite a lot of history in various parts of the world when parts of a political entity split off. Sometimes this is done peacefully, sometimes it involves serious fighting and wars. An interesting recent case was in Switzerland, where in 1978 the Canton of Bern split, with the northern part forming the new Canton of Jura. You can read a lot about it online, including a couple of wikipedia articles. It's fairly well encoded in Swiss law, where similar votes happen every few years, typically involving a municipality with a large population that wants to secede from its canton and join another. The typical reason for such splits is as in Scotland, where the people in an area feel poorly served by the government, and think they can do better as part of a different county/state/whatever, or perhaps as an independent unit as Jura did.

Here in the US, we had a similar vote in 1863, which resulted in the new state of West Virginia being formed. This is often presented as part of the Civil War split off of the Confederacy. Historians tend to interpret it as more of a case of the western population feeling poorly treated by the remote state government in Richmond, which collect taxes in the mountains, but provided few government services in return. West Virginia did apply to the federal government for statehood, which was ratified after a few years. Unlike the Southern secession, this was done without (further) warfare. A funny aspect of the story is that now, several counties in the northeast of West Virginia have openly discussed seceding and joining either Virginia or Maryland, for pretty much the same reasons. Unlike Switzerland, though, the US doesn't have much in the way of official laws that deal with such political reorganization and redrawing of political boundaries.

The story in Scotland may work out as it often does in Switzerland, where many of the votes for secession fail. The reason is that the referendum functions as a "wake-up call" to the government. It's typical for a lot of public discussion to happen, and the government(s) make promises to fix the problems that triggered the referendum. Sometimes, as people have suggested here, the government reneges on its promises. This will be followed by another vote a few years later, which will often succeed. Or the government may fix many of the problems, which will satisfy the voters and repeated votes will fail.

The Scots would probably do well to continue discussing the issues publicly, and keep the London government aware that they can't continue to get away with everything without repercussions.

Comment: Re:The over-65's swung it for No (Score 5, Insightful) 393

by IamTheRealMike (#47946305) Attached to: Scotland Votes No To Independence

it's sad that the concept of independence and sovereignty boils down to mere money for some (or most) people.

Why? Scotland is not oppressed, it does not have severe racial/religious/ethnic divides with the rest of the UK. It was not conquered by England. Nobody has family members that have died because of the Union. In fact the Union has been ruled by Scottish PM's twice in recent history.

That makes splitting it out into a new country a largely technical matter of economics and future government policy. It's quite dry stuff. The Yes campaign chose to ignore this and attempted to whip up a notion of Scottish exceptionalism through the constant "fairer better society" rhetoric, but ultimately they lost because when people asked questions about the technical details of why Scotland would be better and whether it'd be worth the cost, they had no answers. Given that the primary impact of independence would be economic, this lack of planning proved fatal.

Comment: Re:The over-65's swung it for No (Score 1) 393

by IamTheRealMike (#47946241) Attached to: Scotland Votes No To Independence

How would that split have worked out in the end? The UK would swing wildly right... Quickly get involved in lots of wars, crack down on "terrorists" etc... Scotland would have swung wildly left, and quickly bankrupted themselves with social programs. Balance is a good thing, even if you're currently getting the short end of the stick.

Just because historically politics has been dominated by two bundled sets of largely unrelated policies doesn't mean it has to be that way.

In a post-independence UK, the rUK would have been temporarily dominated by the Tories until Labour, freed from the need to constantly try and drag their Scottish MPs away from hard-socialist economics, found a new voice for themselves that didn't easily pigeonhole into left vs right. For example they could have campaigned on a platform of fiscal responsibility combined with pacifist policies, pro EU integration and raising taxes specifically for the NHS. That would likely have been an appealing combination even to many existing Tory voters. It'd be difficult for them to take up such policies with credibility because in fact the UK was taken into the Iraq war by Tony Blair, a Scottish Labour PM. And Cameron's similar attempt to go to war in Syria was rejected by a coalition Parliament. But staking out pacifism as a policy seems like such an easy win it's surely only a matter of time until Labour gets a leader with vision again and they try something like this.

With respect to Scotland, I suspect they would have ended up following economic policies closely aligned with that of rUK despite all the rhetoric about building a "fairer society" (means taxing the rich more up there). For one, they already have the power to raise income taxes even without full independence and they haven't actually used it. Actually the SNP's only post-independence tax policy they formally adopted was lowering corporation tax to try and grab businesses from the rUK. There are no socialist parties in Scotland with any real heft, so after the post-independence street parties died down the Scots who all voted to build a "fairer society" would have discovered that the neoliberal consensus is called a consensus because it turns out a lot of people agree with it.

Comment: Re:25%?!? (Score 1) 393

by IamTheRealMike (#47946137) Attached to: Scotland Votes No To Independence

Anybody who wants secession is just bad at economics.

Maybe. But I read that Congress has a lower approval rating than cockroaches. I doubt economics is the only thing they're thinking about. Much like the Scottish case, this 25% is being driven by disdain with Washington politics. And remember, when Salmond got started support for independence was only about 20-25% in Scotland too (maybe a bit higher, I forgot, but it definitely wasn't 50%). So watch out!

Comment: Re:The over-65's swung it for No (Score 4, Insightful) 393

by IamTheRealMike (#47946003) Attached to: Scotland Votes No To Independence

This reminds me the well known Americanism, "reality has a liberal bias".

I followed the BBC's coverage quite carefully and did not see any bias. What I did see is a lot of ardent highly emotional yes supporters interpret the stream of stories about the campaign as being against yes and therefore the authors must be biased. So let's take a look at your link about this "academic study" that claims to scientifically assess the bias of the BBC:

The study found that, overall, there was a greater total number of ‘No statements’ compared to Yes; a tendency for expert advice against independence to be more common; a tendency for reports to begin and end with statements favouring the No campaign; and a very strong pattern of associating the Yes campaign arguments and evidence with the personal wishes of Scottish First Minister Alex Salmond. Taken together, the coverage was considered to be more favourable for the No campaign.

Well fuck me. The evidence of this bias is that "expert advice against independence was more common"? Seriously? Did this guy even think before writing this so-called academic study? Here's another explanation: maybe expert opinion was against independence because it didn't make much sense?

What about "associating the Yes campaign arguments and evidence with the personal wishes of Scottish First Minister Alex Salmond"? The entire independence campaign can be summed up as the personal wish of Alex Salmond. He devoted his entire career to Scottish independence. He led the party that called for it. It has been his project since day one. No surprise that disentangling the arguments and evidence from his personal wishes is so hard, especially because the yes campaign was so lacking in detail and substance.

Last reason to see the BBC as biased, "a greater total number of ‘No statements’ compared to Yes". Well, that doesn't surprise me in the slightest. The entire yes campaign can be summed up as repeating over and over that everything will be better post-yes because Salmond says so and anyone who disagrees is a scaremonger. That was the entire argument for independence. If you're a journalist there's only so many times you can publish this viewpoint as a story before it stops being news. The arguments against independence on the other hand were complex and multi-faceted. There was the currency union issue of course, but also the question of how the EU would react, whether there'd be border controls, how assets would be split up, whether the oil projections were really accurate and then the steady stream of people either with expertise or in highly placed positions coming out against yes. There was lots to write about, new stories every day.

Given that state of affairs, I don't see how the media could possibly have published more articles that were pro-yes than pro-no simply because the yes side had nothing to say.

Also, the over-65's have the shortest time stake in this. plus have had the trappings of gold plated pensions that the generation behind them cannot look forward to. It's a disgusting state of affairs and as a Scot I am embarrassed for my country.

I'm embarrassed for your country too, partly because of absurd arguments like the ones you just deployed - essentially saying that old people can't use the internet and therefore must be stupid and uninformed. Perhaps you should take the next logical step and argue for their disenfranchisement too.

Comment: Re:Shetland and Orkney (Score 1) 189

by jc42 (#47945257) Attached to: On Independence for Scotland:

Yes, this is correct, and my bad for perpetuating the myth. I read once that Shetland was closer to Oslo than Edinburgh, but that's also blatantly false. ...

More accurately, I've seen it stated as "closer to Bergen than Edinburgh". Or course, some people might not know where Bergen is. In any case, Shetland historically has always been rather remote from either "mainland", and they've pretty much been on their own all along. If they have problems in the middle of their winter, they can't much rely on help from anyone in the rest of the world.

Comment: Re:Probably a bad idea, but... (Score 1) 189

by jc42 (#47945063) Attached to: On Independence for Scotland:

Well, I've always sorta liked the Scottish historians' observation that, strictly speaking, it was Scotland that took over England, not the other way around. That was after the first Queen Liz died, back in 1703. The new king was the fellow who was already King James VI of Scotland, and became King James I of the United Kingdom of Scotland and England; uh, I mean of England and Scotland.

Of course, a more accurate description wouldn't interpret this as either country taking over the other. It was really more a case of the inbred population of royalty, who were really neither Scottish nor English, agreeing among themselves who should be the next monarch over both of those populations, and giving both jobs to the same fellow. He then spent much of the rest of his life trying to merge them into a single "nation" -- and not succeeding all that well. But this wasn't any real benefit to the majority of either the Scottish or English populations. Or the Welsh or Irish or Manx or Cornish or Shetlanders or ..., for that matter. Or those Colonials over across the Pond.

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