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* Posts by I ain't Spartacus

7052 posts • joined 18 Jun 2009

UKIP flogs latex love gloves: Because Brexit means Brexit

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Re: Don't need a condom.....

Is Farage's face on the actual condom, or just on the packet? I mean, just the packet is bad enough, but - oh dear I feel ill.

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Never mind Brexit. UK must fling more £billions at nuke subs, say MPs

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Happy

I assumed he was referring to the new "Green Nuke" - which is powered by hydrogen and the only pollutant it emits is water. You launch it at an enemy city, and it explodes with a squeaky pop and a pretty flame.

Soon to be replaced by the hydrogen sulphide bomb, which doesn't kill the people but makes the buildings uninhabitable. The reverse of the neutron bomb.

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Re: TL;DR

Because then the new submarines will have to fight Godzilla.

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You're alone in a room with the Windows 10 out-of-the-box apps. What do you do?

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Re: Isn't it obvious?

Surely we want Active Desktop, permanently linked to Yahoo!!!'s homepage with sound impossible to disable and all videos set to autorun.

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Re: 'Proud owner of notepad and calc. What should we do'

Blockchain and Slurping did the conveyancing when I moved house last.

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Deliveroo to bike food to hungry fanbois queuing to buy iPhones

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Re: I was on the tube...

How do you know his arse was spotty? Did he have those loose jeans that make you look like you've crapped yourself? Or did he have the Moony app on his iPhone as well?

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Tech to solve post-Brexit customs woes doesn't exist yet, peers say

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Re: Yesterdays news

Charlie Clark,

I'm not sure on the legislative timing. Quite a lot of this is being agreed at Council of Ministers level, with ratification by the European Parliament. So not all of it needs to be legislated for at national level. In fact probably not that much of it.

A trade agreement after we leave is in the Commission's competence and pure trade deals can be done without ratification by the member states' Parliaments. The Canada deal was unusual, in being a hybrid deal, and so did. But that part of Brexit isn't being negotiated now, we're only working on the exit agreement - plus some sort of political protocol on what the future trade relationship will be (in outline terms only). That will almost certainly have to do the rounds at national level, as the Canada deal did.

As for Northern Ireland, an open border is indeed a requirement of the GFA. However I'm pretty sure it's also a breach of the GFA to create a new border between Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK - which is what the EU is currently insisting upon. That is unacceptable.

May had already proposed a couple of schemes to get round this, which the EU rejected (while refusing to propose a workable alternative) - and I think the Chequers plan was her idea of a compromise that kept the whole UK in the same situation as NI. If the EU reject that, then nothing short of remaining is acceptable - and I'm not sure that can get through Parliament any easier than hard Brexit would. Which leave us defaulting to Brexit with no agreement and a hard border in Ireland anyway. We won't impose one, but I bet the EU would then ignore the GFA and insist that Ireland did.

I'm beginning to feel that the Commission have not been negotiating in good faith.

For example Barnier has been showing a presentation to EU governments on May's Chequers proposal that objects to it because it might be too good for the UK. Not that it's bad for the EU or fails to comply with their red lines, but that it might not be punishing enough.

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Re: But Shirley

Nah. EDS are much better!

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Re: "there's a transition period after March"

Extending the 2 year period just means more time negotiating to nowhere. If the EU try to claim that Northern Ireland must be in the Customs Union, and the rest of the UK outside then no deal like that can fly. That nixes all agreements but a nasty hard Brexit or us staying in the EU or maybe EEA (though even that might not make them happy - Norway have a special customs relationship with Sweden but would it be acceptable for NI?).

More time doesn't fix this. May could give in on Freedom of Movement, but most policians are of the opinion that people voted against this in the referendum. That could be sold, but I think would require re-writing our benefits system from scratch. EU economic projections from a couple of years ago (agreed by the World Bank) had UK poplulation hitting 85 million by 2040. That was due to coincide with our economy surpassing Japan and Germany's with the only question whether India overtake us to 4th largest in the world. But adding a third to the population of the second most densely populated country in Europe in 20 years seems a bit extreme. And likely to cause political ructions...

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Re: How does this work?

Well there are already schemes in place around the world to do this. I'd assume you don't want to inspect every lorry/container - so I guess you'd have some sort of "trusted importer" system. Where passed inspections mean you get fewer in future - with some random checks to disincentivise cheating.

It's not like loads of non-compliant Chinese stuff doesn't already get into the EU with CE marks they've put on anyway. Given we have a working legal system, we ought to be able to come up with something better.

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Re: Yesterdays news

Well the EU have "junked" the Chequers plan on-and-off for the last 2 months according to the Guardian. I don't think we can take 2 lines from a press conference by Tusk as total evidence of that. Or he'd have come out and said that.

Clearly they're not happy with what May has offered. But the current alternatives are:

1. We stay in the EU. Maybe, assuming that actually is possible after triggering Article 50 - and that in itself is a legal minefield. The Treaty is not specific - so I suspect it would require a unanimous agreement of all member states.

2. We join the EEA. In my opinion this is fine, but it's a bit late to do as we've not been negotiating with the EEA. It also means continuing to allow free movement of labour. Which is not so popular. But could be sold if the alternative is no deal. However, the Labour leadership are currently pro-Brexit (probably - Corbyn has been for their entire political career), and I think most politiicans believe that freedom of movement won't fly.

However if we introduced ID cards and made benefits contributory - so you couldn't claim working tax credits until you'd paid NI for 5 years - then we'd have the tools to make free movement much less disruptive. But that does mean a decade of completely re-writing our benefits system, and a couple of major government IT projects - and both policies would be pretty unpopular.

3. No deal Brexit. Whatever that means. Tusk himself has offered a free trade deal as an option. But the EU currently say they will not allow Northern Ireland to leave the customs union. And have rejected all suggestions of ways round this other than May's Chequers proposal (which they may be about to reject or not who knows?). I would hope that no British government would allow a foreign power to dictate on an internal border between two parts of our country. And the only correct answer to that question is: Fuck off. But there is fudge that can be done on that, because we already have internal agricultural safety inspections and the like - and there's a sea crossing. But any IT tools we don't build for the whole country half-staying in the Customs Union will have to be built for the Northern Irish border anyway.

4. Delay everything and re-negotiate from scratch. I don't see that working - and EU negotiations only ever get agreed at 4am the day after the final summit was due to finish. So I don't think that's a flyer. The problems here are political - and must be solved politically.

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Re: The answer is...

Actually this is a perfect opportunity for BAe! Drone-inspection of moving lorries on their way to the border. With pay-by-bonk any applicable tarrifs can be paid. And if someone's in breach of safety standards, why then deploy the missiles.

I'm sure this can all be quickly build from off-the-shelf technologies. We could call it ED209 or the Tradeinator.

What could possibly go wrong?

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Re: Technology that doesn't exist

But surely that depends on what agreement you make? As we don't know what the final trade agreement might be, we can't know if it will be possible to implement it. Also there's a transition period after March, which can be used to get everything in place, once we do know what will be agreed - if anything is agreed. So there's a bit longer than 9 months to do everything. Just not much more...

Anyway there can always be a transition period and then a post-transition period transition to the new technology period, and then a post final transition deadline transition to accommodate the timetable slippage of the post-transition transition period...

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Flying to Mars will be so rad, dude: Year-long trip may dump 60% lifetime dose of radiation on you

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I've got the answer. Colonise the Moon. Then fly the Moon to Mars - using our already radiation proof habitats as shielding.

Then tow Mars back to lunar orbit. Sorted!

Some say this is what happened to Moonbase Alpha.

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Happy

Good plan! But how do you get the guy there who's going to attach the rocket that flies it to the Moon?

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The problem with going at a higher point in the solar cycle, is that you risk being hit by a solar flare. If that happens, everyone's dead, and we don't have the shielding to stop it. We risked it for going to the Moon, because it was only a few days out of Earth's magnetic field. 6-8 months is a much higher risk, although admittedly you've still got to be unluck for the flare to go in your direction.

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Nosher,

It's not 60% of the radiation that would kill astronauts. It's 60% of the number that we've picked as a lifetime dose.

Which by the way we know is dangerous, but it's a figure that we hope will only cause minor problems like cataracts and joint problems - and hopefully not cancers. With a total astronaut population so small, I'd imagine it's impossible to get any data with decent confidence of avoiding statistical problems.

So no, you're actually wrong. This is proper risk assessment, as anyone not totally reckless with other peoples' lives should do.

The nuclear industry doses are ludicrously low, and there's a good argument to say that if we'd increased the tolerances for nuclear safety just a little bit, we could have made it a lot cheaper and thus saved thousands of lives compared with those we lost mining and burning coal.

But in this case, we can't have astronauts if we try to enforce those kinds of doses, we don't have the technology to get that kind of shielding into orbit - well apart from Project Orion, which has its own radiation issues... So we've gone with a best-guess of what will be relatively safe long-term, but still exposes the astronauts to higher risks than we'd like - but they're willing to live with that.

There's a lot of namby-pamby silliness with health-and-safety. But on the other hand there's a lot of cavalier bollocks that means we kill people we don't need to, because we're not willing to take the time to think about minimising risks. Some of them really easy to minimise too. The construction industry being a good example - where numbers of deaths have plummeted. Take the London Olympics, which were the first to set themselves the goal of building all the venues without any workers dying.

Also if you don't measure the risk, you don't know if you can do something. Until we'd done this calculation we didn't even know if it was possible for the crew to survive even a one-way trip to Mars. To do it without checking that would be stupidly reckless.

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30-up: You know what? Those really weren't the days

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Re: 1988

Then: De-fluffing your mouseballs and getting all the crud out of the rollers.

Now: Not doing that. Admittedly now you need to change the batteries every few months.

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Holy macaroni! After months of number-crunching, behold the strongest material in the universe: Nuclear pasta

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Re: Sorry, what?

So it's a bit like an overcooked ready-meal lasagne. Massively dense and unpleasant with a very thick, hard crust. And full of horse degenerate matter...

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Apple hands €14.3bn in back taxes to reluctant Ireland

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Re: Why would you pay that much negative interest?

DougS,

I bet you can't. How many lorries to transport €14.3 billion of cash? That's 28.6 million €500 notes - and lets say a bundle of 100 of those is 1 inch thick - that's a stack 24 thousand feet tall!

Also there probably aren't enough €500 notes in circulation. So you'd have to print them, even at €0.50 per note that's €15m just on printing. Then you've got security guards, van drivers, fuel, wear and tear on vault doors, swamp insurance...

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Re: Foreign taxes paid are a credit against US taxes

DougS,

I don't know if Apple can count the Irish payment as tax against US corp tax - but highly suspect it. This is because the week Apple were forced to pay it, they announced they were repatriating something like $40bn of off-shore profits to the US. Which basically would cost them zero corporation tax, accounting for that huge payment to Ireland. Which I assume was a pretty cynical piece of political lobbying.

I could be wrong, an it's an utter coincidence. But the fact that when they were forced by complaining shareholders to start paying dividends, they did it by selling bonds while holding $140 billion in cash, gives me pretty good grounds for that suspicion.

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Re: "An effective tax rate on dividends of 70%-is"

VAT isn't levied on food, housing, children's clothing, and on energy only at only 5%. I don't know US sales tax rules, but then rates are lower.

Also, if you're going to make that argument, people paid their dividends also have to pay VAT/sales tax.

Companies are exempt from corporation tax on what they re-invest. And that's right and proper.

My complaint is about inefficiency. Apple have over well $100 billion in cash! They've nothing useful to use this for, and are only holding it to avoid tax. They're not an investment company, and don't invest it all that well. If it was paid to the shareholders, they'd either spend it or invest it - both of which would grow the economy. This inefficient use of capital reduces global economic growth.

And yes, taking money out of the company reduces the share price. But that's fine, because that money has gone to the shareholders, so they've lost nothing.

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Pirate

Shiver me timbers! I'd clean forgot it be the 19th! And here's me without me hat.

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€14.3bn is around the UK's annual contribution to the EU. The £350m a week figure included our rebate, which we obviously don't actually pay (bringing it up to €18bn ish). Our net contribution is something around the €8bn mark.

Isn't that also about half a Chunnel?

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Coat

By the time the appeal is finished in a year or two, €3k per Irish citizen will almost be enough to buy each of them a new iPhone...

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Re: Rules are not equal

Santa from Exeter,

The US corporation tax scheme doesn't quite work like that. At least where the US have a dual-tax agreement - in which case you can set local taxes paid off against your US ones - and only pay the difference. Which is broadly what you can do for income tax - it's just terrible when you're in a country without one.

So US corp taxes may be deferred on foreign profits held off-shore. Until those profits are repatriated. Which is why Apple were borrowing money in order to pay dividends and leaving so much cash invested abroad.

Then as soon as the Irish payment was forced, they agreed to repatriate a load off cash to the USA and pay tax on it. Knowing this would be offset against the EU bill - and thus make it a political issue in the ongoing campaign to get US corp taxes reduced.

One of the reasons all this money was sloshing round in Europe was that stupid deferrment rule. If you had to pay the tax anyway, there would be no incentive to do this. But because you can, you stick the money in bonds and hope for a lucky day when you can persuade a US government to give you a one-off tax holiday. Then bring it all back, rinse and repeat.

The correct answer is to stop deferrment, but for the US to lower corporation tax and/or dividend tax - both being high at around 35%. An effective tax rate on dividends of 70%-ish encourages companies to hold inefficient huge piles of cash, rather than spend it or give it back to shareholders to spend. Deferrment made a bad situation worse. Oh and without dividends, companies are incentivised to reward shareholders by boosting stock values, leading to all sorts of horrible short-termism - where regular dividend payments (hopefully) encourage more long-term thinking.

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Peter Galbavy,

Well the Irish government decided on a policy of a friendly business environment and low corporation tax rate in order to attract multi-national HQs to boost their economy. And it's broadly done well for their economy. So of course they're going to object to having this affected by the European Commission. They've got to keep looking like a friendly place to base your HQ - otherwise there's always Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Malta etc.

On the other hand, it looks like they did give Apple a special deal, that other multi-nationals didn't get - so you could argue there's no threat to that economic model from this. But I think they've decided it pays to make sure companies know they're maintaining that policy.

I'm sure they can think of lots of nice things to do with €14bn.

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Re: This:

It might impact Ireland's GDP, and therefore contribution. Remember when we retrospectively added some drug dealing and prostitution to our GDP and then had to pay a chunk extra over the Commission for the past revisions.

But the EU budget isn't that granular. Nobody gets any money back, because Ireland have handed over more - as the EU budget is set at about 1% of GDP. I think it might be something like 1.03% or something, but can't remember or be bothered to check.

A bit like that episode of Yes Prime Minister where Sir Humphrey says that the Treasury doesn't like handing back money, just because they haven't got anything to spend it on. They tend to ask for as much as they think they can get away with, and work out what to do with it later.

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Man cuffed for testing fruit with bum cheek pre-purchase

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Happy

Which? His arse, or the fruit?

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Put your tin-foil hats on! Wi-Fi can be used to guesstimate number of people hidden in a room

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Re: Great....

There's nothing stopping you having a few store dummies or inflatable people about the place as decoys...

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Re: Woof!

Well I often walk Spot, my pet elephant, to the shops.

You'd think he'd worry passers by. But they take much less notice of him than my pet lion.

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First Boeing 777 (aged 24) makes its last flight – to a museum

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Happy

Re: Feeling old yet?

Anybody old enough to have spotted a Rutland Reindeer?

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Re: Fatal hull loss is more accurate

There was a lawyer at Sioux City (Iowa) who was so worried about fire that he decided to jump clear of the plane as soon as it hit the runway - admittedly needing time to get the exit open first.

He was killed instantly on hitting the tarmac of course, whereas a lot of passengers survived that. It didn't help that the pilots were landing at ludicrous speed, on account of having no hydraulics, steering, flaps, spoilers or other such luxuries. An amazing piece of flying.

Especially from the pilot kneeling on the floor, operating the throttles (and therefore doing most of the steering) - who had no safety belt (let alone seat), and can't have held out much hope of surviving himself even if he did bring the plane in successfully.

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Happy

There was the "slightly premature landing" at LHR caused by ice buildup

The pilots walked away, so that's a perfect landing.

Admittedly they weren't able to use the plane again - but you can't have everything...

If single-use vehicles can work for the space industry, I don't see why the airlines can't adopt it too...

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Devil

Re: Gap in CV?

Shhhh. Don't mention Boeing's brief experiment in international cocaine logistics...

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It's amazing how close the 777 got to a perfect safety record. They hadn't had a fatal crash until just a few years ago, and the first one of those was shot down and the other an unknown cause. Despite the fact that so many people (including me) doubted them over their long ETOPS rating despite only having 2 engines.

It's amazing how safe modern aviation is.

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Re: designed entirely BY computer

It's like one of Watson's monologues from Sherlock Holmes. "I remember it was back in the year of '82."

It's just that I didn't imagine it would be me saying stuff like that. Still I've got a few more years on me, in which I can bore these young people, who ought to get a bloody good haircut and start talking properly! And stop listening to these modern music hall ballads...

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Revealed: The billionaire baron who’ll ride Elon’s thrusting erection to the Moon and back

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Re: I watched the broadcast

phuzz,

That's a poor argument. Anything sounds better shouted by Brian Blessed.

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Re: Typical Muskery

Don't be an idiot. Calling someone a paedophile is definitely bad for their reputation. Especially if you've got a few million people who follow you on Twatface and access to as much global press attention as you want.

Acting like a wanker should have consequences.

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Re: Job for a professional astronaut [Prediction]

SpaceX have shown the design for their crew flightsuit, so you're OK if the capsule depressurises during ascent/descent. You just close the lid, and everything's hunky-dory.

It was only the original few Soyuz that didn't have room for suits, because (from memory) they changed the design to carry 3 cosmonauts, instead of the original 2.

One hopes that this billionaire is getting a bit more for his money though. Like a pilot, to handle all the difficult stuff. The artists can handle the easy stuff, like shouting, "Oh God! Oh God! We're most definitely going to die!"

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Re: Typical Muskery

Ian Johnston,

To be fair to him, I don't think this is distraction. I doubt the Tesla customers and shareholders care about SpaceX. I think it's more that he enjoys doing a bunch of different things.

Equally I don't think this is a distraction from him being an arsehole on Twitter - and possibly in general. Is he even self-aware enough to admit to himself that he did something wrong? Given he keeps doubling-down on his childish smearing of the bloke?

On which note, I must say I admire his restraint to only ask for £75,000 in damages. I'd have asked for more. Just on the prinicipal that Musk might not even notice the loss - but then the public admission that he was wrong and an arsehole may be more painful than even a few million.

Also, as someone else has said, the BFR has been at least partly designed. Haven't they already been testing the engines for a year?

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More importantly will it have chatty doors? And what will the tea be like?

"Well boys and girls, this is your first day on a new planet. So I want you to dress up nice and warm, and no playing with any naughty bug-eyed monsters."

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Devil

Re: This counts as _not_ going to the Moon

I don't know? The crew of artists and sculptors should have the craft skills required to customise some CO2 scrubbers with a bit of cardboard some tape and a sock. Plus some lovely pretty paintings of explosions - and some less terse dialogue for the future movie.

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Re: I watched the broadcast

I'd like to use that as a new expression of surprise/shock.

Elon Musk's nipples!

Although then we get into the possibilities of saying, "By Elon Musk's nipples I will strike you down if you say that again!"

So perhaps I shouldn't.

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UK.gov finally adds Galileo and Copernicus to the Brexit divorce bill

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Re: To anyone pro-Brexit

Ben Tasker,

It's a different thing. People expect politicians to make a mess of things. And after all, the majority voted to leave - though admittedly the voters are quite prone to say "who us?" and blame the politicians for stuff they agreed with at the time anyway.

But directly reversing a referendum result is another thing entirely. I think if the public mood changes it might be possible, but even now I think the polls show there's still a majority that think that would be illegitimate and undemocratic. Even from voters who voted remain.

Note that the yes/no balance has barely changed on Scottish independence, yet polling consistently shows that a large majority don't want another referendum.

As May found last year, it's been an axiom in politics for decades that the voters don't actually like elections. They want the policiticians to get on with it - and however high you are in the polls, if you call an early election, you'll regret it.

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Re: To anyone pro-Brexit

EvilDrSmith,

Remember that people who care deeply about the EU are in a minority. Probably less than 5% of the electorate are actual federalists and maybe another 10-15% hard-core remainers.

And for 40 years numbers saying they want to leave the EU have hovered around the 30%-35% mark. With the odd move about of course. That leaves the other half of the electorate who are not huge fans of the EU, but can take it or leave it. They decided the referendum, and if enough of them change their minds might still be able to force a re-run.

So far most polling I've seen has shown not a huge amount of movement, and a majority who believe the referendum should be implemented whichever way they happened to vote. But those numbers are shifting a bit, and if happens in a major way, there's still time to do something about it.

Like-it-or not, if you have a strong opinion on EU membership, you're probably in a minority amongst the general electorate.

That's why it took 40 years to build up enough steam to get another referendum after all.

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Re: To anyone pro-Brexit

EvilDrSmith,

To be fair, I think a reaonable argument can be made to re-run the referendum. If enough people think circumstances have changed, then that's politically acceptable. Despite a lot of cherry-picking of poll data, I'm not sure we're at that stage yet. I just don't think Parliament can do it.

Tactically it's awful, as it hands the EU negotiators the option to offer nothing, in the hopes that the decision will be overturned. But due to the way the Commission have run the negotiations so far, there is currently no acceptable option on the table. Even a lot of remain politicians don't think they can justify agreeing free movement without another referendum anyway, and I'd hope no serious politician would be willing to put up customs barriers between NI and the rest of the UK. So we're currently headed for hard Brexit, even though I don't think anyone but the head-bangers on either side actually want that. The Commission have over-played their hand in the hopes of forcing May to accept something like EEA status and full freedom of movement - and I don't think there's a majority in Parliament to agree that either.

There's still plenty of time to apply massive amounts of fudge though...

So I still see it as democratic to allow another referendum. Not ideal, but acceptable. But the cost to trust in politics would be massive. I also think that would lead to a permanent divide in our politics on EU membership - which would lead to us leaving in the long-run anyway. Once the rest of the EU decided that they didn't want to offer concessions for a re-run - I think remaining in the EU became almost impossible.

That's why leaving the EU is not like a divorce, or leaving a club. It's like a huge constitutional mess - but then so's staying in it.

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Russia: The hole in the ISS Soyuz lifeboat – was it the crew wot dunnit?

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Re: Stonehenge...

Well it would have held a tad more weight if people who live in Russia hadn't claimed to be deterred from a ten minute walk by half an inch of snow and some slush!

I'm prepared to believe that foreigners might be terrified by trying to organise a barbeque in some of the weather we get in August, or by Scottish midges. Maybe even the appalling horror of leaves on the line. But not our arctic blasts of snow...

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Re: Zero G

Ground Control to Major Tom

Get your toolkit out and put your face mask on.

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Re: Give Russia's reputation for poor workmanship

What kind of manufacturing process for a spaceship requires holes to be drilled in it with hand tools? Surely everything's pre-drilled these days? I know they're basically hand-built, due to low volumes made. But as the design hasn't changed that much, you'd have thought there'd be tooling for banging out the individual parts.

Or is it like flat-pack furniture from the 80s. Where you got badly drawn instructions tellling you what sizes of drill bits and screwdrivers you needed, and you had to bodge it yourself.

At least Ikea put a stop to that - despite using the cheapest, greyest toilet-roll-iest paper and keeping the drawings impossible to read.

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