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Comment Re:This is horrible (Score 1) 90

You're an Uber exec. You have access to billions of dollars (literally) of other people's money and they've demonstrated, by tolerating the whacky antics of the company to date, that they really don't care how you spend it and don't ever expect to see it back.

Why would you NOT spend it on flying cars?

Comment Re:The language isn't the issue (Score 1) 300

Indeed it's not just the language - it's exceptionally verbose and you're hardly likely to misunderstand the meaning of "MULTIPLY NumA BY NumB GIVING NumC."

Partly, it's about understanding the way data is encoded (which is likely to be packed decimal or ASCII/EBCDIC numeric characters) but when people say "COBOL" they're often referring to code that's intricately linked (possibly through embedded macros) to legacy transaction-processing systems (like CICS) or legacy CODASYL (network-model - as opposed to relational) database systems. It's the knowledge of the environment in which these programs operate that's truly scarce.

Comment Re:Sounds good to me (Score 5, Interesting) 334

It's not the app that eliminates these "annoying things", it's imposing a set of universal business conditions. Uber is trying to establish onerous universal business conditions on the basis that it makes deals with individual contractors, These aren't "deals" since there's an asymmetry of power and no actual negotiation and they aren't "individual contractors" in any rational labour jurisdiction. Uber's financial model may be hollow, but it's business administration model is also unsustainable if it has to be a worldwide employer.

There are models (such as franchising to established taxi operators) that would deliver the consumer advantages (with the possible exception of the subsidised price). And if Uber were really "just an app", the comparatively low cost of operating the IT infrastructure could be lost in the increased efficiency established firms could get from adopting it. However, Uber is actually a fantasy that a de facto monopoly of personal transport can be established just in time for the drivers to be eliminated in favour of autonomous vehicles. Fortunately, the money will run out way before this could ever happen, but there's nothing so mad as a man on a mission...

Comment Re:"Police found Purinton 80 miles away at Applebe (Score 1) 1149

The Founding Fathers...

That's an argument analogous to "The Bible says...". And that's why the so-called "debate" about gun control is impervious to facts: gun ownership has a quasi-religious status in American culture. No amount of rational argument is going to shake the faith of a fundamentalist gun toter. And as this seems to be a religion practised only in the USA, that also accounts for why it not only sounds "odd to Europeans" but to many others who are not initiated into the brotherhood.

And it's why it's futile (and sometimes dangerous) for the rest of us to challenge.

Comment To be fair... (Score 1, Insightful) 277

... of all the "constitutionally protected" activities which may be subject to surevillance, many people outside the USA would consider that there might just be an argument for paying some passing attention to the collection of lethal weapons by people so obsessed by them that they go to shows to drool over them and defend their right to own them on the basis that they might need them to overthrow the government at some point.

Comment Re:Tough luck if you don't do social media (Score 2) 220

But you do have a Slashdot account. Is Slashdot social media? Fancy having an argument about whether it is and whether you should have declared it when you arrive at the border? I almost got deported on one visit to the US (and at that time I had a business visa) because I said I was planning to stay a "fortnight", a word the border agent apparently didn't understand and therefore assumed meant "as long as is necessary to overthrow the government". Giving them more scope to excercise their xenophobia seems unlikely to end well.

Nothing will persuade me now to visit the US. I certainly have no intention of paying a fee to Uncle Sam to be fingerprinted and photographed so I can be hunted down as soon as my dangerous foreign ways turn inevitably to criminality.

If I were a US citizen, I would, I hope, be more concerned about the effect of increasingly authoritarian government on myself and my children and reflect that an attempt to stifle the free expression of views by visitors might just be a prelude to a similar policy at home.

Comment Re:16+ Languages from FORTRAN to IA-64 (Score 1) 331

I think my list overlaps - but it covers a similar timespan:

BASIC, FORTRAN, PL/1, APL, COBOL, BCPL, C, ALGOL, Pascal, Various assembly languages (6502, S/370, PDP-11, VAX), C++, Java, Perl, PHP, C#...

And at that point, I do care: C# and Java are too confusingly alike-but-different to make a convenient fast switch. It's not just IT - I have the same problem with Dutch and German.

But maybe that's just because I'm getting old and/or my brain is now full.

Comment Re:Proof the EU is Working (Score 4, Insightful) 496

London is far wealthier than the rest of the UK as all the skilled people move here from all over the country

This is, in essence, why the rest of the UK voted to leave the EU and take London down with it. The EU counterweight to the free movement of people and capital is regional development which is supposed to have a redistributive effect and even out the gains and losses. I'm afraid the hollowing-out of talent from many regions and countries of the EU is proof precisesly that the EU is not working as intended.

Comment Re:From what I can tell (Score 1) 535

It's a patronizing institution run by business, for business.

It rather depends where you stand. The French take the view that Britain has turned the EU into some sort of liberal economic threat to France's paternal statist view of the world. However, the British (and in particular the British right wing who have driven Brexit) regard it as an obstacle to free-wheeling market forces whose environmental and employment regulations need to be ripped up in the interests of greater profit.

And not all EU institutions have the same goals. The European Parliament is probably the only thing standing between the EU citizen and a disastrous business-friendly trade pact with the US that all of the EU's national governments - and the Commission - have had some interest in pursuing over the last few years.

From a British prospective, the next Prime Minister is going to ensure the British government is run by business, for business, to a greater extent than at any time since the Victorian era: that was the whole purpose of the Brexit project.

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