* Posts by Tim

9 publicly visible posts • joined 26 Mar 2008

What on earth do you think you are doing, Darling?

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This is just right wing ranting

Working in IT I know all about redundancy - having faced it on both sides of the pond. This is a volatile industry and people get laid off and companies collapse (I've experienced both).

What you get is pretty pitiful. Winging about the 'cost to business' is fine, but the reality is that what you get is a very small offset compared with the reality of losing your income, and trivial benefits (if you're single). Last time it happened, after I paid my mortgage I had £10/month to pay my bills and feed myself. It's tough and it's usually not your fault. In the land of the free, thats the cost. I had a one day notice contract. My employer did give me some redundancy (but only because they needed me to do an orderly shutdown of the operations they were closing). I'm sure business friendly policies like that are what the country needs more of.

The argument about basic rate tax is fine to a degree, although it's laughable to suggest the IFS is unbiased-

e.g. http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2008/aug/19/tax.taxandspending?gusrc=rss&feed=politics

50% tax is not that high (it's less than I paid in California).

The problem with raising the personal limit is the kneejerk rightwing reaction to the counterpoint which would need to happen (i.e. raise income tax for those that pay). Otherwise you are giving more to those that don't need it (e.g. on £100K) while reducing your overall income. It's sensible and simpler - it might even be approved of by some on the intelligent right, but don't expect the Sun to announce anything less than Lenin's mausoleum is to be moved to Parliament square.

The truth is we can't have European levels of welfare on US taxes. Darling/Brown and Osborne/Cameron are both as bad as each other in trying to kid us on that front. The deficit is mostly down to not facing that reality, although at the moment cutting much government spending will mostly move people from low paid clerical work onto the dole where many will end up costing almost as much while not giving us any benefit in return.


EU says Microsoft violated law with IE on Windows

Gates Horns

Perfectly Possible.

Firstly, the ruling is about stopping Microsoft including IE with windows. If Dell want to put in on afterwards for their customers that's fine. But Dell chooses. NOT MICROSOFT.

Secondly the point of monopoly legislation is to deal with people who control most or all of a market. Apple and Linux don't have enough market share to dominate the market so they can do what they like. It's the same way that BT have lots of regulations about what they can sell and for how much that people like Talk Talk don't.

Anti-monopoly legislation is good for all of us and it still matters because otherwise the Microsofts of the world will keep paying lawyers until everyone says 'it doesn't matter any more'.

UK govt cuts web shoppers a break


probably no catch

@Gary F

It probably is costing them more in admin to handle the low value items than they collect (civil servants don't come that cheap). If that's the case then they don't need to raise taxes as it's actually a cost cutting measure.

Cap, trade, subsidise - Obama's energy plan goes off piste

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Not the way to go

Cap and trade is never going to solve the problem of CO2 emissions. The problem is that the situation is international. The US will never agree to cap at a level that will actually contain the problem. And if it did, where possible US producers will simply shift as much 'dirty' industry abroad to places where the cap has not been reached/does not exist. To some extent this is already happening - the huge growth in pollution from China comes as much from making things for the west as it does for internal consumption.

As it is pretty clear the problem occurs from the burning of fossil fuels, the answer lies in taxing the burning of fossil fuels to the point at which consumption drops to the point of sustainability. If other countries don't play ball you put import tariffs in place for products from those countries. With the tax raised you reduce other taxes and/or provide incentives for clean energy supply (e.g. Feed-in tariffs), home insulation etc.

Will it affect the poor disproportionately. Probably. In the UK they spend far less on transport (as many don't own cars anyway) and often live in social housing where insulation standards are higher. Where there's a problem use the revenue to offer free insulation and a fair allowance for heating costs. If dirty energy costs are low for the poor then they are low for the rich and consumption does not drop. There's no magic way of avoiding this fact.

Of course this plan is electoral suicide so it'll never happen. Until it's far too late.....

Netezza buys analytics mystery house


Standard AI

Having done a masters in Machine learning a couple of years ago, there's nothing radically new here. Genetic programming dates back to the 1970's and Fuzzy mathematics goes back to the sixties.

So it's a company of people who've studied and apply AI techniques. The only reason this stuff is 'out there' is that the techniques can need fairly massive computation (I used around 30 processors for 3 weeks solid to generate the results for my thesis), and hence have not been practical until relatively recently.

Scientists create Chewbotca robot muncher

Black Helicopters

Just add power.....

Add this to Bristol Robotics Labs flesh powered bot (they refer to it eating flies, but that's PR) and our overlords are well on their way.......

Fresh blood - the new fight for open source

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Economists rule....

The problem with open source development for many end users is a classic economics dilemma. If I give away my work and nobody else does, I lose because their costs go down but mine don't. If nobody gives anything away the playing field is level. If more than one person gives stuff away then they win over closed source.

GPL-taints are irrelevant for most big companies in-house teams where most developers work as they don't sell software. It's likely that most outsourced work is not sold (only the time is sold, not the product). What it needs is a few CIO's to open the door in a few areas (probably where competitive edges are low) to actually see if an advantage can be maintained.

Document glitch sparks GTA IV ban scare



It's good to know that less than a week after the Byron report came out the same old arguments on classification are being trotted out.

a) Didn't do me any harm

Cigarette smoking saved my life. Given there was less than a 0.1% chance of the event occurring recommending smoking just in case is not a good idea.

b) 14 year olds will get it anyway.

How many 18 films did you get into/watch when you were 14 (I'm assuming pre-download days)? It always happens. The point in the real worlds that 12 year olds might get stopped (and 14 year old boys might brag more than the reality anyway).

If instead of rehashing the same old prejudice you even bothered to look at current recommendations, you'd know that

research shows that _some_ games can lead to more violent behavior (and the same is true of films, stuff on the net etc). Not all and not everyone but there's a risk (ignoring scaring kids ***less which may not be great anyway.

The point is to educate parents to realise that this stuff contains what it does. That's one of the key findings of the Byron report.

I don't have kids, but I still like the idea of kids having a childhood and understanding stuff when they are ready to.

Pork and politics energise the biofuel delusion

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Hidden agendas

Science is about facts. Politics is about pragmatism.

The facts about composting are that if I compost my garden and food waste (which I do) it doesn't end up in the back of a nasty diesel truck and then get dragged around the country before going in a hole in the ground. The worms do produce methane (as they always have) but at the rate they always would have. Eventually I end up with nice compost to stick on the garden and feed the plants (themselves soaking up CO2). If I'm really virtuous (I'm not) I could even grow food with zero food miles.

Politicians like this as they have to tax us to pay for the trucks that move the rubbish around and find sites for landfill (always popular). Is this really such bad science?

The 'green lobby' have been saying for ages that growing bio-fuels is a bad thing (with the exception of algae based growth which essentially feed on CO2 and sunlight and won't need swathes of farmland to operate on). Don't blame them for the fact that industry lobby groups will hijack the agenda when they can see a profit.

The more action we take as early as possible reduces the potential risk and cost of dealing with climate change in the future. Composting is not a big thing, but it's not a bad thing either.

Politicians will make some bad decisions but Tim Worstall's position seems to be (based on other comments) leave it to the market who will decide to do nothing. Or come up with pseudo-green schemes like bio-fuels. Which is where he started.