Recent posts by beauval on Kongregate

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Topic: Serious Discussion / UK Elections 2015 - I'm perplexed

Changing to decimal currency wasn’t the same thing. All we did then was change what we called things – ten shillings became fifty pence, but it bought just as many fish and chip suppers as it had the week before (several in those days, iirc). We were confused for a couple of days and then it all fell into place.

I agree about the desirability of simplifying the system. I do sometimes think that the whole tax and welfare system was designed primarily to employ as many idiots as possible. But then the bureaucracy always has been the last refuge of the unemployable.

The unions would go ballistic at the thought of all those jobs disappearing, not least because it would ravage their own membership. UNISON has become accustomed to being a power in the land. We would see them waging war on the government in a way we haven’t seen since the miners’ strike in 1984. I don’t know whether you remember that, but it was pretty brutal on both sides. I wouldn’t like to see that again at any price.

 
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Topic: Serious Discussion / UK Elections 2015 - I'm perplexed

but can’t help but feel my vote is effectively meaningless absent some form of PR

In a way PR makes it even more meaningless – you never know what government you will get after all the horse trading is done. At least with FPTP you do know what you are voting for. Also coalition governments have a long history of instability.

The greens – well I’m not a hippy tree hugger but I must admit to liking several things they support.

I see them as a bunch of impractical lefties. Apart from the warm glow you will get from sticking to your principals, is there any point in voting for a party which hasn’t a hope of winning and is extremely unlikely to be part of a coalition?

Same goes for the Lib-dems. They have always done well under a charismatic leader. Paddy Ashdown was a serial shagger, Charles Kennedy a bit too fond of the bottle, but they both performed well on television and the party did well under them. Nick Clegg is a muppet, and I think almost everyone has realised that by know. I expect them to sink almost without trace at the coming election.

Why on earth do we have a current system where minimum wage (arguably the minimum you theoretically need to live on) gets reduced by deductions of income tax and national insurance only to be topped back up by tax credits???

Because it’s a bit like evolution, the system is constantly being tweaked, but cannot be rewritten from scratch. It’s far too big and complex for that. And spare a thought for all those poor desk jockeys whose services would no longer be required.

I can’t believe I’m actually considering support the UK Independence Party, as they’re also a bunch of racist, xenophobic nutters…

Well not really, but they do seem to attract more than their fair share of weirdos. If they do get enough votes to gain some influence, at least we will get the referendum on Europe which we’ve been promised.

As attractive as the Labour Party may be, I usually go Conservative. They may make a pig’s dinner of almost everything else, but at least I know the economy is in safe hands, and all government expenditure depends on that.

 
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Topic: Serious Discussion / Greek Elections Jan 2015

Definitely including that part. The whole Greek fiasco was caused by Brussels pretending that one of its member states wasn’t a basket case economy and allowing it to join the eurozone.

What Syriza has promised is totally unsustainable without substantial debts being written off, and I think that is what will happen. Greece can no longer service its debts. Brussels and Berlin are totally committed to the eurozone, and I can see the Germans picking up the bill yet again. Trouble in Germany perhaps, as well as Greece.

 
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Topic: Serious Discussion / PotUS' SotUA

Do you vote?

In over 40 years of voting I’ve missed one local election thru’ illness, one because of torrential rain, and the last general election because I was in the midst of moving house. My new registration hadn’t been confirmed in time, and I was pretty miffed about that.

Do you attend rallies?

We don’t have the circuses you have in America. We’re British after all, and much too dignified for all that nonsense.

Local political meetings (like city council)?

Once, when I had a vested interest in a particular decision. Otherwise local council meetings are deadly dull.

Are you involved in a citizen action of some type?

I have contacted my local M.P. a couple of times. She’s pretty good at helping her constituents, and as an ex Cabinet Minister she’s able to rattle a lot of cages.

It seems like the cynicism runs pretty deep here in SD. Does this produce disengagement?

Why should it? I’m as cynical as anyone about a lot of issues, but if I disengage it means I have abandoned all hope. Politicians are like foreigners – if you shout loudly enough they always understand in the end.

 
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Topic: Serious Discussion / A question for fellow Lovecraftians

An enjoyable and rather fun story about an area I’m fairly familiar with – it’s about 40 km South of London. Spattering the story with Americanese spellings won’t make some very British allusions any more comprehensible to an American audience. I shall look out for more, including Accelerando, about a subject very close to vika’s heart. Thanks for the link.

 
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Topic: Serious Discussion / US in the Middle East

There’s no reason why the oil companies shouldn’t invest their money wherever they please. What they shouldn’t be doing is dictating American foreign policy to suit their own ends. Shame on Capitol hill for taking their bribes.

Half of Asia is riven by tribal and sectarian rivalries; alliances are made and broken overnight. Few westerners have any real grasp of the political and religious mayhem out there. Any country’s foreign policy needs to be very carefully and cautiously thought out, and basing it on how to maximise next month’s profits is unlikely to lead to a happy ending. If the oil companies run into problems in the area, why should the rest of us care?

 
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Topic: Serious Discussion / AX: Cultural drift, circa 2115 AD

That’s all very well for the western world, but how do you relate your predictions to the third world? Most Africans can’t afford a second hand laptop, and likely don’t have electricity for it anyway; smart homes and the like are utterly beyond their means.

It looks to me as if most of the world’s population is in danger of becoming a sub-species of humanity, there to be used and abused by the big corps. You know how they think and work.

 
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Topic: Serious Discussion / Wealthy American say the poor have it "Too easy"

28000 dollars is frighteningly low in a country with poorly developed welfare support. Over here the average is £27000, just a tickle over 40,000 dollars at today’s exchange rate. On top of that there is a raft of welfare benefits, some of them available even to those in work. Add to that free education up to university entrance, free healthcare and other benefits like free travel for over 60s (my London freedom pass gives me free travel nationwide as long as I avoid rush hours), and I get the feeling that America is lagging behind.

 
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Topic: Serious Discussion / Wealthy American say the poor have it "Too easy"

You’re asking the wrong bloke. I’m a Brit.

 
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Topic: Serious Discussion / Wealthy American say the poor have it "Too easy"

They didn’t all climb out of the gutter. Many of them inherited their wealth, others would have started from comfortable middle class backgrounds. It’s very hard to create a successful business from absolutely nothing, and those who have done it are pretty thin on the ground.

 
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Topic: Serious Discussion / Wealthy American say the poor have it "Too easy"

Well what did you expect them to say? Most of those rich people have never had to sign on, they’ve never been skint with days to go before their next pay day, they’ve never had to live in a squat. Of course most of them are out of touch.

We see something similar in some of the crazy rules in the welfare system. The people making up those rules have never suffered the problems they are trying to deal with.

 
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Topic: Serious Discussion / Why Are So Many of the Kids My Age so Immature?

If the major construction programming has all been carried out, and no more dedicated structures have yet to emerge, then the brain is mature.

But not necessarily the mind. Do some brains never quite achieve the right amounts of all the right components, or is it something else that makes some people impenetrably dense and childish?

 
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Topic: Serious Discussion / AX: Cultural drift, circa 2115 AD

Considering what just happened in Paris, I don’t see islamisation of Europe happening any time soon.

 
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Topic: Serious Discussion / AX: Cultural drift, circa 2115 AD

One thing I see happening for sure is the rise of socialism in the USA, and with it perhaps a complete about face in their attitude to the rest of the world.

A while back I had a tough time here trying to convince the Americans that marrying your cousin is considered perfectly normal almost everywhere. If the queen can do it, everyone else should be able to as well! Is that the kind of incest you have in mind, or do you consider brother/sister, mother/son pairings to be on the table too?

 
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Topic: Serious Discussion / Berkeley, MO killing of Black teen who pulled gun on police officer

What is wrong in the St. Louis area?

But it’s not just St. Louis, is it? It seems that the whole of America has a very big blacks v. Police problem which it is failing miserably to address.

Don’t want trouble?
Then, stay the hell away from it.
What part of a riotous crowd is hard to see/understand?
Don’t be a part of it.

It’s not as simple as that. Speaking as someone who got caught up in a riot and had a whale of a time, it very quickly takes on a life of its own and sucks you in. It becomes all about “us and them”, logic and reason go out of the window. Bystanders can become participants all too easily.

 
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Topic: Serious Discussion / Should intelligent animals be given more rights?????????

We also share above 95% of the same DNA as a chimp.

I’m not sure whether that’s really relevant. We’re around 50% banana – does that make you feel guilty about eating one?

Why do you all think they are so much lesser then us? Because they have a smaller brain, because they dont show emotion, or because they cant defend themselves as well as we can?

Most animals can defend themselves far better than we can. We’re wimps: we traded brawn for brains when we came down from the trees. Our big brain takes so much energy, we can’t support big muscles as well.

Chimps (I think uniquely) are known to be self aware. They have been observed being deceitful, showing that they are aware their actions are being scrutinised by other members of the group, and that they can see their own actions from the point of view of other chimps. Other animals like dogs, pigs, heffalumps, dolphins have shown some but not all the conventional signs of having some degree of self awareness. I’m no expert, but I think the jury’s still out on whether they can really be considered as sentient animals.

But a lot of animals are there to be eaten – they’re a walking larder. I have no issues about eating something else’ flesh. Would I eat chimp meat? I’d eat you if I was hungry enough, but with so much else to choose from I see no point in eating an animal which is almost my equal (the chimp that is, not you).

 
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Topic: Serious Discussion / Darren Wilson a murderer.

If that’s the question, I can think of a few right off the bat. Libraries, clinics, grocery and department stores, schools, parks, public transit, police services. These all benefit low-income neighborhoods to a greater degree than they do in wealthier ones.

Apart from shops, where I come from all those things are paid for or heavily subsidised by taxes. Doesn’t that bring us right back to american hatred of supporting low income groups and immigrants, legal or otherwise.

In London there are over 2000 football teams run by the Football Association, ranging from the giants like Chelsea and Arsenal to teams for small boys and girls (some girls also like playing football). Would it not be possible to rope in equivalent American associations to help provide sporting opportunities for kids from the ghettos? 2000 teams represents an awful lot of kids not getting themselves into trouble through sheer boredom and frustration.

 
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Topic: Serious Discussion / Now from the government! Pay per mile!

Like I said, I don’t know the finer details of how it all works. I have a friend who runs an electric van, but he’s in Cyprus setting up a business deal. If this thread is still running in a couple of weeks, I will be able to get more details when he comes back.

Interesting story in giving up driving? Au contraire, really rather dull. I ruptured my Achilles’ tendon and had difficulty and discomfort with the clutch. By the time I found a nice little automatic I had lost around 40 lb and a few of inches off my waistline. London has excellent public transport and I am happy to walk too, so it made no sense to buy another car. If I end up in Cyprus I will probably have to buy one, but that’s a decision for next year.

As things stand right now, not everybody will have a charging point convenient to their homes, but new points are being installed on a regular basis. There is a concerted effort being madse to ensure that this project succeeds.

 
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Topic: Serious Discussion / Serious Nonsense

McGonagall would have been proud of you.

 
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Topic: Serious Discussion / Now from the government! Pay per mile!

Hmm, this was interesting. It seems the councils are not the only providers. You buy a card and the juice is free. I can’t see that idea taking off in America, it smells of socialism. Bear in mind that I gave up driving ten years ago, so knowing how these things work is not high on my list of priorities.

The street charging points provided by my local council are just parking bays with a charger next to them. You plug in, leave it overnight and drive away in the morning.

 
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Topic: Serious Discussion / Now from the government! Pay per mile!

I do agree w/ use of all manner of incentive to get ppl to buy electric/hybrid vehicles.
I suppose a similar “road tax” used at the pump for gasoline could be used for buying electricity from commercial electric “pump” stations. One problem with this method would be the amount of time for a “fill up”.

Why bother with commercial top-up points? There are street charging points all over London, with more being added as an on-going project. To use them you need a charge card (yeah, I can do puns as well) from the local council.

When roads are paid for out of general taxation, making sure that every road user is paying exactly his correct share is of less significance. And in any case, the emphasis in Europe at the moment is on cleaning up the environment rather than taking in the maximum amount of revenue.

 
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Topic: Serious Discussion / Now from the government! Pay per mile!

This will give you some info on how vehicle charges are calculated and which vehicles are exempt. Originally road tax was supposed to pay for maintenance, but in reality roads are paid for out of general taxation. So no links on raising money for roads because we just don’t do it that way.

The congestion charge was motivated mainly by a desire to reduce some of the monstrous traffic jams in central London, and to raise money of course. Coal was banned for domestic use in 1962, so we just don’t get the pea souper smogs that I remember when I was a boy. But clean air is becoming a big issue again, and there is serious talk of raising extra money from polluting vehicles.

Charging the public to use roads is not a new idea, just a revival of a very old one. We started doing it it the 17th century, shortly after the Civil War. London’s last toll road is just a few minutes walk from where I live; I’ve driven through that many times.

 
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Topic: Serious Discussion / Now from the government! Pay per mile!

We do both. Although fuel prices are at a 4 year low, they are still stupendously high compared with the USA. We have had variable road tax for years now, the bigger the engine the more you pay. I think electric cars are free – they are certainly exempt from the London congestion charge. It doesn’t matter to me. As an oldie I get a free travel card from the government. Aaah, the joys of socialism.

And considering that oil is a diminishing resource, perhaps more countries should consider taxing it as such.

 
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Topic: Serious Discussion / Eric Garner fiasco

I think you may have posted this one on the wrong thread, you slug murderer.

 
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Topic: Serious Discussion / Could the conspiracy theory of a second US Civil War be true?

I mentioned the euro and yen purely as a backup. The big threat to the supremacy of the dollar comes from the BRICs. Have you not noticed what they are up to, and why?

This is only an opinion piece, but sums up the situation rather well without being too technical. I happen to agree with much of what it says, and there are some undeniable facts in it. The BRICs are getting close to overtaking American production, and are flexing their financial muscles.

The rest of the world is looking aghast at the antics on Capitol Hill. With America and its reputation in danger of sliding into terminal decline, the BRICs are beginning to look like a viable alternative.