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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.

Comment Re:I guess there's one sensible solution to this (Score 1) 819

I don't think I could work for an employer who didn't know the difference between "affect" and "effect" - if he can make elementary errors of that kind, what other kinds of carelessness might he tolerate in the workplace? Only a minor slip, you say? Well, it's exactly the same lexically as being unable to correctly choose between $100 and $500. Would you want a guy like that responsible for your pay packet?

Comment Enormous tax and administrative burdens (Score 1, Insightful) 347

If only we had some kind of calculating device that could reference a table of tax rates updated on a regular basis...

It is, in any case, a considerably easier problem than calculating shipping costs and noone seems to have a problem with that.

And if you look at the amount of money multinational businesses spend to avoid corporate taxes, the cost of handling sales tax is trivial.

You can't have public services without taxation. The internet doesn't change that. In the end, people need schools more than they need the internet and the internet is just going to have to grow up and start contributing rather than constantly expecting pocket money from mummy & daddy citizen.

Comment Re:Speaking as an American (Score 3, Insightful) 84

This is the kind of BS you have to worry about when you have government doing things it shouldn't be doing, like running a national TV network

You're right about "government doing things it shouldn't be doing". The BBC is established under a Royal Charter which is supposed to make it a public institution independent of the government of the day. However, governments of the day have never really been able to keep their hands off - from widespread security vetting of BBC staff, heavy-handed threats relating to programs on defence and security issues through to the latest plundering of the TV licence revenue to fund welfare and broadband iniatives at the cost of programming (including one TV channel lost).

The government is supposed to leave running the BBC's national TV networks (and radio networks) to the BBC, but the BBC has always been supine in the face of government pressure (partly because the government can, in the end, turn off the money and partly because its oversight board is stuffed with government appointees many of whom are looking forward to their next sinecure) with the inevitable consequence that each demand is more onerous than the last.

Comment Re:So stupid (Score 1) 438

It made sense when you had PAL vs NTSC

You do realise that the PAL vs NTSC wasn't simply a technological accident? PAL was patented and the patent used to shield European TV manufacturers from, principally Japanese, competition. So it was just as much consumer-hostile as regional content protection is now. It certainly didn't technically prevent the widespread interchange of programming between PAL and NTSC regions - though this was done on film for the most part until digital standards conversion became feasible.

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