* Posts by Suboptimal Planet

33 publicly visible posts • joined 3 Jun 2010

Google stabs Wikipedia in the front

Suboptimal Planet

Exploitation? Really?

"Unless you protect and license your work, you will be exploited by a powerful corporation"

Google doesn't owe you anything. Nobody has been coerced. Focus your anger on the real villains.

Google gobbles Wi-Fi thermostat maker Nest for $3.2 BEEELLION IN CASH

Suboptimal Planet

Re: I should create a company

Yes, 3.2 billion for a thermostat company sounds ridiculous, but 6.4 million over your whole life isn't bad either. Even spread over 90 years, that's over 71k / year. No need to cry in the corner.

Flexible flywheel offers cheap energy storage

Suboptimal Planet

Re: Odd for a kickstarter

"unlikely to be developed through the standard western greed model"

Fear not. I'm sure the noble Cubans and North Koreans will get around to it Real Soon Now.

Euro cops cuff 112 in paedophile network raids

Suboptimal Planet

Drug use versus child abuse

We should go after the paedos, by all means, but leave the druggies and dealers alone!

Unlike child abuse, the production, sale, and consumption of drugs involves purely voluntary transactions. These are victimless crimes.

Every hour the police waste in the War on Drugs is an hour they could have spent chasing real criminals.

Market rationalist pigs get the best choice of totty

Suboptimal Planet


"So almost all humans have had to satisfact: get what's good enough rather than pursue perfection "

I thought the term was 'satisfice'.


Four illegal ways to sort out the Euro finance crisis

Suboptimal Planet

Let the market decide interest rates!

"Interest rates were about right in the boom and are about right now for the eurozone as a whole."

Interest rates should not be set for the country as a whole by a committee of central planners. The free market is perfectly capable of determining rates, according to the time preferences of borrowers and savers. Private lenders will naturally account for the varying ability of borrowers to repay.

Central banking is the problem.

Culture sec consults Ofcom, OFT on BSkyB merger

Suboptimal Planet


The BBC are a far more dominant force, and a far greater threat to democracy than Mr Murdoch. Don't pretend for one minute that they are impartial. They lost that long ago.

At least we have the option of boycotting Murdoch's empire. We are forced to pay for the BBC.

News of the World TO CLOSE

Suboptimal Planet

Let's keep things in perspective

As a tool for corruption and injustice, News International has nothing like the power of the EU, or even our own government.

Non-Murdoch media are enjoying this as much as you might expect, but let's keep a sense of perspective. Yes, the phone hacking was despicable, but was it worse than leaving elderly patients to starve in their own filth, as has happened in NHS hospitals.

How many people suggested that the NHS should be destroyed in response?

Has UK gov lost the census to Lulzsec?

Suboptimal Planet

Find all the mutants^Wsame-sex civil partners

If there are still any people out there who hate gays, they will be delighted by the tickbox for "Same-sex civil partner".

Likewise, I'm sure some people will be pleased to have a database matching "country of birth", "ethnic group", "language", and (if they're lucky) "religion" with names, addresses, and phone numbers.

IPCC report: Renewables can never meet energy demand

Suboptimal Planet

Energy technology in 3050

"So while in the medium term (couple of thousand years) it may make sense to look at nuclear in the real long term renewables are the only way."

I'd be disappointed if they hadn't solved the nuclear fusion problem in a thousand years' time, which would probably buy us another another hundred thousand years to figure out the "real long term" solution.

There is no way that we should be subsidising the development of renewables today.

Why US antitrust regulators should probe Google search

Suboptimal Planet

No need for anti-trust

The government has no right to break companies up just because other companies have a hard time competing.

If Google has broken other laws, prosecute them for that.

Non-government monopolies all tend to die a natural death. Firefox did not rise because the government cracked down on Microsoft; it succeeded because it was a better browser than IE.

Anti-trust laws put far too much power in corruptible hands, and are never applied consistently. The big winners are the lawyers.

Euro court slaps down insurers over gender risks

Suboptimal Planet

There's nothing wrong with discrimination

So what if insurance companies discriminate?

So what if they discriminate inappropriately?

An insurance company that discriminates on the best possible criteria might do a better job of setting premiums to match risk, but there are costs to a personalised analysis, as well as benefits. Discriminating based on age or sex is crude, but it's also cheap.

Insurance companies should be free to discriminate on race or religion too, or any other criteria they like. They don't need to be told to focus on categories that matter; it's already in their interests to do so. And if you don't like their categorisation, you are free to take your business elsewhere (or set up your own insurance company).

The trouble, of course, is that we're all forced to buy car insurance, and heavy regulation favours established players.

This is a classic case of government intervention leading to further government intervention.

Protection of Freedoms Bill is released

Suboptimal Planet

How free will we be?

Once this bill passes, will we be as free as we were in 1997?

Scaled-down EU patent system moves a step closer to approval

Suboptimal Planet


Patents are bad at the best of times.

These proposals will shift costs from those who want to file patents to those who need to understand them (to avoid infringement). Great for lawyers and large corporations, bad for everyone else.

It would be bad enough if they'd standardised on English. Now people across the 12 countries will have to cope with French and German as well.

School caretaker harassed after Islamists hack EDL

Suboptimal Planet

Evil employers?

Presumably you think that you should be free to quit your job at any time, for any reason (subject, perhaps, to some reasonable notice period.

Why shouldn't your employer be free to sack you at any time, for any reason (subject to a similar notice period)?

An employment contract, like any contract, should be voluntary on both sides. The government shouldn't intervene to force you to continue working for a particular company, but nor should it restrict your employer's freedom to terminate the contract. As soon as *either* party thinks the relationship isn't mutually beneficial, they should be free to break it off.

Employment laws seem to be predicated on the strange belief that everyone has a *right* to a job.

The welfare state renders employment laws redundant.

Suboptimal Planet

How to combat poverty?

"Otherwise we wouldn't let our government actively fuck them over"

If by that you're referring to the welfare trap, whereby millions of people are better off on benefits and having children than working, then I agree. Our government should be acting much more swiftly to withdraw handouts, and make work pay.

Suboptimal Planet

Far right?

"The hacker posted his haul - lists of hundreds of members and financial supporters of the far-right group"

I thought we'd done this one to death in the previous article.

I was prepared to accept that Chris Williams was just being careless, but his continued use of the term "far right" to refer to fascist groups suggests malice rather than incompetence.

You can hate fascist thugs, and you can hate Thatcherites, but don't suggest that their political philosophies are similar.

"far right" is a grossly misleading term. I expect it from the BBC and The Guardian, but not from El Reg.

English Defence League membership list stolen

Suboptimal Planet

Left and Right: The Prospects for Liberty

<i>"Right and Left are pretty poor descriptors now days."</i>

I agree wholeheartedly.

The history is complicated, and Rothbard's 1965 essay "Left and Right: The Prospects for Liberty" makes interesting reading.


We'd be better off avoiding these terms altogether, but we must loudly protest against suggestions (either careless or cynical) that right-wing Conservatives and libertarians are in any way supportive of fascism. On the contrary, we believe that the state should never have that kind of power.

Daniel Hannan highlighted a particularly bad case of it on Sunday:

"On Radio 5 live yesterday, David Baddiel described the Freedom Association, a libertarian campaign which, in the 1970s and 1980s, led the battle against the trade union closed shop, as being “a very, very right-wing, kind of sub-BNP, slightly posher version of the BNP organisation”."


Suboptimal Planet

The BNP's socialist manifesto

Here are some snippets from the BNP's 2010 manifesto:

- The BNP will ensure that the National Health Service is used to serve British people and not used as an International Health Service.

- The BNP will reverse the budget cuts on education and prioritise this sector as vital to the rebuilding of our nation.

- The BNP will offer free university education to deserving students who have completed their period of Community Service.

- The BNP will make rail travel affordable once again by reversing the disastrous privatisation process which has grossly inflated ticket prices.

- The BNP would take some of these savings and invest them in rebuilding British industry and skills through an active protectionist policy as many other European nations already do.

- The BNP will therefore introduce legislation to ensure that a foreign acquisition of any significantly-sized British company is judged to be in the public and national interest before it can proceed.

- The BNP will oppose the privatisation of natural monopolies such as Royal Mail.

- The BNP will reinvigorate the IT sector in Britain with massive investments in technology universities.

- The BNP will institute a policy of protectionism for the local IT industry and jobs.

- The BNP will nationalise the telecoms infrastructure to enable the creation of a not-for-profit 100Mbps broadband service across the country.

To be honest, their manifesto is a bit of a handbag of unrealistic populist policies (including 200mph maglev trains). Not all of it is socialist, and some of it is sensible, but it's clear that they believe in a big, redistributive, interfering state. They favour protectionism, nationalisation, and welfare (for those who meet their definition of British), rather than free trade, privatisation, self reliance, and genuine charity.

To characterise the BNP as "far right", as if they are a little bit further along Lady Thatcher's road, is grossly misleading. They have a lot more in common with Old Labour.

Suboptimal Planet

Right wing?

Not sure about the EDL, but there's nothing "right wing" about the BNP.

They are National *Socialists*, who like the idea of a big state that meddles in economic matters, supposedly in support of British Workers.

US census takers fight angry Americans for their data

Suboptimal Planet


Yes indeed, Comrade. Chinese hegemony would be far preferable to American ...

It's possible to be anti-state without being pro-corporate. It's possible to be socially liberal and fiscally conservative. It's possible to have compassion for your fellow human beings without believing in compulsory redistribution of wealth.

You're on the road to serfdom, matey. Find a better path.

Suboptimal Planet

Cooperate, Comrade!

I'm amazed.

I'd expect Reg readers to be independent-minded, but most of those commenting here seem very distressed at the thought of the slightest nonconformance.

Here's a simple, non-invasive way to establish the distribution of representatives: count how many votes there are in state elections.

Suboptimal Planet

Slanted indeed

Well said. This was a disappointing piece from El Reg. The champagne socialists are out in force, condemning even the mildest resistance to the will of the collective.

Suboptimal Planet

Relatively minor?

A more balanced comment than most here.

In general, I think the less a government knows about 'its' citizens, the better. And the more centralised the information, the more dangerous it is.

I'm glad I read the article, but the naive trust of the state shown by its author and by the majority of commenters here is disturbing. Likewise for their eagerness to crack down on those who don't conform.

Suboptimal Planet

Personal info safe with the IRS?

HMRC has proved that it can't be trusted with personal data.

All the more reason to abolish income tax.

Suboptimal Planet

Services in Spanish and Chinese?

Is it really appropriate for taxpayer-funded services to be provided in Spanish & Chinese?

EU pledges huge spend for small biz R&D

Suboptimal Planet

How to kickstart businesses? Get out of the way!

"The Commission hopes the money will kickstart innovative businesses as well as create jobs."

Ah yes, "innovative" as determined by a bureaucrat. We wouldn't want to leave this money in the hands of taxpayers, so that businesses innovate in order to meet the needs of customers. Far better to confiscate this wealth, and dish it out to projects favoured by the Eurocrats.

The best thing the governments can do to kickstart businesses is to get out of the way.

'Industry giant' fragged UK games developer tax break

Suboptimal Planet

Government should get out of the way

The LibCons were right to scrap this tax break.

If UK games companies aren't able to stand on their own, why should the rest of us subsidise them?

Taxes should be applied equally to all industries, but should be as low as possible. Corporation tax probably shouldn't exist at all. Stop sucking the life out of British companies, and let the market decide what we're best at.

Bureaucrats have no right to influence whether we build cars or software, or whether we write computer games or business software. This sort of interference benefits the politically connected few at the expense of the many.

iPad apps may need to be disabled-accessible

Suboptimal Planet

positive and negative freedoms; my last word


I agree that we've taken this as far as we can, and I'm glad we can finish on a relatively civil note. I can only recommend that you read up on the difference between positive and negative freedoms. I believe that only the latter are legitimate, whereas you seem to think there's a place in British society for the former (aka entitlements).


One who cannot see,

Most people regard our current Health and Safety culture as a Bad Thing. Even those who are sympathetic to nanny statism recognise that things have gone too far.

As for car manufacturers, I believe they would be quite happy to include seatbelts and airbags in response to customer demand, for competitive advantage, or out of a sense of moral duty, in the absence of government regulations. Volvo and others have a record of introducing safety innovations well ahead of government regulation.

Your enthusiasm for restriction of "language used on web sites" is especially frightening. People *ought* to be polite, and businesses will naturally refuse the custom of louts who disrespect their fellow customers, but there are no grounds for government involvement in this sphere -- nobody has a right not to be offended.

Fundamentally, I believe that the government's obligation to "provide a safer and fairer society" extends only so far as defending citizens against aggression, and providing this defence equally for all, without fear or favour.

That means no privileges for aristocrats, and no bailouts for banks, but I'm afraid it also means no forced labour, however small, for the sake of accessibility.

I'll sign off with a pint; enjoy them while you still can :-)

Suboptimal Planet

Fair play


We agree that people ought to make their websites accessible.

We agree that well designed websites that adhere to W3C standards and avoid frivolous Flash naturally tend to be more accessible.

We agree that professional pride can be sufficient motivation for accessibility, independent of commercial and moral considerations.

We agree that Britain has a long and noble tradition of 'fair play' and charitable spirit.

Where we disagree is that you think people should be compelled by force of law to make their websites and applications accessible, whereas I think they should do it of their own free will.

Such an appetite for coercion is the antithesis of British fair play. It is an attitude more closely associated with 'ze Germans' of yore.

I respectfully suggest that all of the bile and intolerance is coming from your direction.

No work should be forced, no matter how noble the project.

Suboptimal Planet

@ Chilli

Spoken like a true socialist.

The UK wasn't always like this. You shouldn't expect believers in freedom, individual responsibility, and voluntary exchange to flee the country just because you and your 'progressive' friends have managed to push through some shockingly illiberal legislation in recent decades.

Suboptimal Planet

Everyone should have the right to refuse business

"Why do some who have provided these comments think it unreasonable for a blind person to be able to access the same things as them!"

I can't speak for the others, but here's my take ...

It's not that I think apps should be inaccessible. There is a very good moral case for saying that developers *ought* to invest a bit of extra effort to make their applications and websites accessible to the broadest range of people. Sometimes this makes good business sense as well.

My point is that it is wrong for the government to *mandate* accessibility. It doesn't matter whether we're talking about websites, iPad apps, subtitles, wheelchair ramps, or seeing eye dogs, and it doesn't matter whether the company in question is large or small. Everyone should have the right to refuse business, at any time, for any reason. Muslim restaurant owners should be allowed to refuse business from customers with dogs. Christian B&B owners should be allowed to refuse business from homosexuals. Gay clubs should be allowed to refuse entry to straight people. Prostitutes should be allowed to refuse ugly, smelly people (or anyone else they'd prefer not to do business with).

Nobody has a right to someone else's services. To argue otherwise is to argue for slavery. Hacking out accessible apps at a keyboard isn't as grim as picking cotton, but the principle is the same: labour should always be chosen, never forced.

Equality cannot be legislated, and compulsion undermines compassion. In a society based on voluntary exchange, I think you'd see more tolerance and more genuine sympathy, with people taking responsibility for their own actions.

Suboptimal Planet

Nobody has a right to be served

Government involvement here is unjustifiable. Developers should be free to choose whether to make their websites accessible, according to their own moral and commercial considerations. For them to be *forced* to cater to to particular groups is tantamount to slavery.

The Equality Act / DDA would be high on my list of candidates for the Great Repeal Bill.