GBR48 comments

Posted in: China orders overseas mail disinfection over Omicron fears See in context

Over the last two years I've lost track of the number of times I've been opening a package from a country that was - at that moment, being described as a Covid hotspot on the TV news. I get mail regularly from the US, Canada, continental Europe, India, Australasia, Japan, South Korea, Indonesia and Thailand. I'm fine, and my postie does not wear a hazmat suit. Mail is not an issue.

Covid Zero is neither viable nor sustainable, and will erode the competency of the CCP in full view of their citizens.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Posted in: British PM Johnson denies lying about lockdown party See in context

The whole Cummings/Johnson sub-plot is fairly Shakespearian.

The media, sensing a major scalp, have been keeping the pot boiling and platforming Cummings. There is an increasing feeling of inevitability about all this. If it wasn't Johnson, who has wriggled out of so much, it would already be curtains.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Posted in: When meeting someone new, try skirting the small talk and digging a little deeper See in context

Asking intrusive personal questions of people you hardly know is an interesting gambit. Being single isn't so bad, after all.

But asking people what made them cry is a bad idea. They may be having a great day until you remind them of the worst moments of their life.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Posted in: 4 found dead in car in apparent group suicide in Saitama Prefecture See in context

If you are the next passer by, break a window/open the doors and try to get the people out.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Posted in: Do you think that binge-watching your favorite TV shows or movies can become problematic or addictive? See in context

Anything can become addictive for folk who are prone to addiction. Some are, some aren't.

I watch one episode of kdrama a night, sometimes two with a break in between. The supply of series that I enjoy is limited, so I'm rationing it.

I enjoy it more if I let an episode sink in for a bit or sleep on it. Watching an entire series in one evening wouldn't allow that.

Plus I'm simply too busy to binge. I work on-and-off through the day, evening and into the early hours. An hour off watching an episode relaxes me.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Posted in: U.S. airlines warn of 'calamity' if 5G deployed near airports See in context

Addition: If Biden doesn't fix this, it's difficult to see him retaining any credibility.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

Posted in: U.S. airlines warn of 'calamity' if 5G deployed near airports See in context

It's possible that this is being used to restrict domestic US air travel. In Europe, governments are directly restricting domestic air travel and using Covid to limit international travel. The US has no internal flight borders, so it would need a 'Plan B' to reduce flying. This may be it. Or they were too lazy/cheap to deploy adequate filtering.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Posted in: Cold case team shines new light on betrayal of Anne Frank See in context

This seems ethically questionable conduct and not the sort of thing academics should be involved with. Laying the blame at someone's door like that, a very long distance from the events.

-to save his own family from deportation and murder in Nazi concentration camps.

Be honest, dear reader. You would do that too, wouldn't you?

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Posted in: Johnson awaits key 'partygate' report See in context

The report gives Johnson time to hand out freebies. It will probably identify any party organisers. They will be sacked. The rest will get a ticking off.

The Tory party is using the time to try to work out whether now is the time to dump all the negatives of Covid and Brexit in Johnson's lap and replace him.

Don't take too much from newspaper reports (or voter sentiment, which is fickle). The Tories will do whatever they think is best for the party, regardless of ethics or rules.

It is 50/50 whether they dump him and try to bed down a replacement, or let him potter on.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Posted in: On MLK Day, Biden says Americans must commit to King's work See in context

-or, really, for any American of colour.

Well at least Asian Americans squeezed in as an afterthought. The race debate itself is too often polarised between black and white, excluding others.

I don't think the Democrat voting reforms would be enough, even if they could get them through.

A divided America now has four centres of power (Senate, Congress, Presidency and Supreme Court) and two histories (left and right).

The key is the Supreme Court, which will be Republican for a generation, and effectively has a veto over almost every aspect of American life. Maybe that is Trump's legacy. Or perhaps it is the fault of the Democrats for arrogantly sticking with a candidate who just did not tick enough boxes. The result is a glass ceiling on what Democrats can do when in power.

In power, the Democrats needed to move rapidly to re-establish the centre in American politics, and emphasise its value to the American nation and its people. They have failed to do this, and it will cost them.

The next Democrat candidate is unlikely to be another elderly white male. It is difficult to imagine them not taking the plunge and moving to a fully progressive position. Without first claiming the centre ground, this will create votes for the Republicans at an unprecedented rate in an increasingly bitter and divided country. The next election will be the Republicans' to lose.

Too many Democrats have spent too long living in a bubble surrounded by likeminded people, assuming that the Republicans were just wrong and that enough voters would ultimately see the light and support them. That got Trump elected, and they have not learned from it.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Posted in: China's economy grows 8.1% in 2021; slows in second half See in context

With Xi using Covid Zero to support restrictions on assorted industries, border blocks, tourism blocks and new restrictions on imports, China seems to be moving towards a shiny, modern version of North Korean Juche.

This has not worked well in NK. Is China big enough for it to work there? Can China produce everything China ever needs? Not sure. Whether it could work or not is a different question to whether the transition from a globalised hub to an insular, isolated nation with a new Great Wall around it, trapping its citizens inside, is doable.

There will be widescale asset damage to ordinary Chinese people on a scale not seen since the Cultural Revolution. The Chinese press will ignore it, as the Western press have largely ignored the damage from tourism, cultural and event blocks during the pandemic. The Chinese will do what Western media outlets have done, running stories of people happily embracing their new simpler, low-profit lives of cheery serfdom, having kissed their careers goodbye. But there will be an awful lot of victims.

A lot of Western governments will be watching with interest, as they increasingly adopt Chinese-style policies, overtly or covertly, going forward.

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

Posted in: A safer gun? 'Smart' pistols headed to U.S. market See in context

@Ian

The Lawgiver was designed to explode if anyone other than the owner tried to use it. That's not on the features list. Yet.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

Posted in: One view on dealing with the coronavirus is that we have to learn to live with it. What does "live with it" mean to you? See in context

Treating it as we do flu. Get a jab when appropriate. Carry on as normal. Work normally, shop normally, go on holiday normally. No homeprisonment, no border blocks, no quarantine. Two year moral panic (as we had with BSE and HIV) ends.

People have always died of flu, of Hepatitis and of other virus. Some will die of this one.

China may wish to go the full North Korea. That's their choice. Can't see it working out well.

4 ( +7 / -3 )

Posted in: S Korea, Taiwan expected to top Japan in GDP per capita in 2027, 2028 See in context

The state-enforced adoption of digitalisation in South Korea involved the mandatory use of Microsoft's Active X. Google/Wikipedia that to see how well it went.

Whenever governments involve themselves with tech, it ends badly.

This article seems primarily designed to cast government digitalisation policies in a good light. If the pandemic has taught us anything, it is that crystal-ball gazing like this is entirely pointless. How many lockdowns, trade wars, quakes and sanctions will there be before 2027?

-2 ( +6 / -8 )

Posted in: A safer gun? 'Smart' pistols headed to U.S. market See in context

This a high risk product. Apart from dumping yourself into the middle of America's crazy gun politics, it is inevitable that things will go wrong. Tech never works 100%, especially ID tech. When this doesn't work (or works too slowly), people won't be locked out of a car or unable to open their locker - there will be dead bodies. Then there will be court cases, fines and criminal liabilities.

Introduce tech into something and the bar is automatically set really high. There are loads of RTA deaths on America's roads every day, but if just one happened involving a Tesla EV it would make the international news and there would be a massive fuss. Someone does something bad and due process kicks in. Someone does something bad on the net and governments call for companies to be shut down, censored or restricted. There is no level playing field when you introduce tech into the mix.

-3 ( +2 / -5 )

Posted in: A digital divide haunts U.S. schools adapting to virus hurdles See in context

the school’s responsibility.

Schools don't choose to send kids home. It is usually a government mandate or a lack of teachers. Most schools have never had a budget to kit kids up with personal tech. Most teachers/academics are aware of how much of an educational disaster virtual learning has been and want a return to the classroom.

The best educational authorities can do is supply a printed workbook for the kids and a teacher's book for the parents. AV material (also e-books and question papers) can also be supplied on memory cards, which would not require a net connection.

You don't need the latest kit either. Any old laptop with a media player, Acrobat Reader and LibreOffice would do. Teachers can also chat to kids on a telephone landline.

It is possible to supply an entire syllabus on memory card. This is a good way of delivering educational aid to countries that need it. It's not ideal, but it works. One syllabus will usually do for all kids in any nation. Some courses are nation-specific, so would need adaptation (and translation).

I guess the educational publishers would oppose this, but there is nothing stopping NGOs producing material such as this for developing countries, or for first world nations under lockdown.

Technology doesn't discriminate per se, but you have to consider how to use it in a way that doesn't unfairly impact on those with limited resources.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Posted in: Hong Kong airport bans transit passengers from 153 countries See in context

Get out whilst you can.

5 ( +7 / -2 )

Posted in: As McDonald’s Japan restricts French fry sales, rival boosts its fry sizes by 25%, at no extra cost See in context

Get used to it. Everything will be more expensive from now on.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Posted in: How targeted advertising on social media drives people to extremes See in context

Traditional media scaremongering about Web 2.0 (again).

I don't even see adverts online any more. My brain auto-filters them out. All except the YouTube ones for Grammarly. I have clicked skip on those so many times, that if a Grammarly representative turned up at my door, I would pop headphones on, count down from 5 and then pun... ahem click them, before closing the door.

Does that mean Grammarly has radicalised me to the level of Jan 6 civil war? Naughty Grammarly.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

Posted in: Fact-checkers urge YouTube to fight disinformation See in context

@albaleo -I'm assuming you're referring to fact checking organizations and not the idea of checking facts.

Yes. As adults we should not simply accept things we are told, instead making an effort to research contentious statements.

When an organisation sets itself up as an arbiter of 'facts', it is time to suspect their motives. Some may have good intentions and be doing good work. Others may have a political agenda.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Posted in: Judge rejects Facebook bid to derail US antitrust suit See in context

Desert Tortoise.

With your reasoning, Mozilla and Altavista would have been unshakeable monopolies. But they were never broken up by state intervention.

It doesn't matter what percentage of market share you have, if you have a markedly better product, access to VC and no patent blocks, you can compete. How well you compete is another matter.

You will never get 6 competing firms in much of the tech sector. Many areas run with an 80/20 split. Most have to, as you need a high level of compatibility. If we didn't have that, IT would be a complete mess. Economic theories are not universally applicable. They were based on historical data, and times change.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Posted in: Beware: Your job may be killing you See in context

-If in trouble, it advises, consult a lawyer.

But if everyone does that, the lawyers will suffer from karoshi.

0 ( +7 / -7 )

Posted in: We cannot respond to the Omicron variant using standards that we used for the Delta variant. If we cannot be certain of the characteristics of the Omicron variant, our measures will become ineffective. We need to pay close attention to the trend of the number of severe symptom patients and the number of hospital beds occupied. See in context

This is sensible. Too many governments have responded to previous variants.

Stop worrying about case numbers and focus on the numbers of seriously ill against numbers from past flu epidemics and available capacity. The faster a virus spreads, the sooner it goes.

5 ( +6 / -1 )

Posted in: British PM Johnson fights for survival after lockdown party hangover See in context

kohakuebisu makes a good point. The Tories may see this as an opportunity to dump all the public antagonism that has built up over the expensive consequences of Brexit, unpopular lockdowns, and the nightmare of home schooling on to Johnson and press 'rinse'. They do have Rishi Sunak as a viable replacement. But that's all. There's not much else in the locker.

It's a risk though. Ideally, more of Brexit and Covid would be dumped at his door a bit later (there is a lot more Brexit trouble to come, increased prices and shortages).

A party coup and the election of a replacement could go horribly wrong, with someone unelectable in a general election ending up in Downing Street.

They know that Johnson has bounced back from worse and has pulled votes from places no other Tory can.

It's really finely balanced. Johnson may have time, until the report comes out, to pull a few rabbits out of hats. And he does get lucky - the timing of the Prince Andrew story gives him some cover, unless the Tories decide to act.

This is as interesting as the Westminster swamp gets.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

Posted in: EU rejects merger of S Korean shipbuilders Daewoo, Hyundai See in context

-the new company would have ... a global market share exceeding 60%.

Microsoft Windows has a market share of 74%. They haven't banned that.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Posted in: Watch for these conflicts over education in 2022 See in context

Culture wars are ugly things.

It's not quite so bad in the UK where being at school is still a better solution for most.

In the US, if you can afford it, consider home schooling, avoiding the politics, propaganda, shootings, drugs, bullying, gangs, commutes and weather issues. Or move to Canada.

If your child is at a US school, explain (as you would in China) that saying and writing whatever the teacher wants, unquestioningly, will get them high marks. They should consider it an assault course, keeping their heads down until they reach the end and can escape the system. Then they can make up their own minds about the world around them. Kids are good at gaming the system and they can learn how to do it quite early. It is a useful skill.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Posted in: French teachers to walk out over COVID confusion See in context

Schools have always been part daycare. Much of what is taught in schools isn't too relevant to most pupils. When did you last do a differential equation? The actual process is often more important.

School conditions kids for adulthood: Long, dull days, lots of work, doing what you are told and dealing with bullying. It also teaches them the value of free time. Inspirational teachers may awaken something in kids that allows them to shine in a specific career, whilst their parents are busy earning a living. It also gives kids a sense of perspective, so they can determine whether their home life (compared to that of their school friends) is typical, repressive, weird or abusive.

Most governments have tried to keep schools open as home-learning works very badly, opening up yawning chasms in educational ability. School is a good leveller, giving poor and unsupported kids a decent chance of making a life for themselves.

Most of my teachers didn't look like models, wearing off the shoulder tops and split skirts, although a couple did inspire us in ways they might not have realised. Surely everyone had at least one teacher they devoted some of their free time to thinking of.

Gakinotsukai: Like it or not, clichés and stereotypes often have some basis in fact.

Mr. Kipling: The oddballs are often the most inspirational teachers.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

Posted in: Anti-vaccine protesters try to storm Bulgarian parliament See in context

-Protesters opposing COVID-19 restrictions. -Anti-vaccine protesters.

Despite an overlap, these are two different groups.

There are lots of demos against the rolling out of a global ID system by proxy using Covid and restrictions, when it is of far less value with Omicron.

Plenty of those who oppose the restrictions and the ID systems have been vaccinated.

Incidentally, a fascist is typically an empowered nationalist.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Posted in: Thailand to introduce $9 visitor fee from April See in context

International tourism won't return until the restrictions are lifted and Covid is considered no differently to Hepatitis, HIV and other viruses. Given Omicron, Thailand may be able to do that in 2022. The UK will. Japan may not reopen until later or may retain restrictions permanently, viewing tourists, foreign students and migrants (blue- or white-collar) as pollution: a cultural, medical and security threat. Only rich people may be allowed in. Time will tell.

The $9 is tiny. They should peg it at $50. If you can afford the air fare, you can afford that.

A $9 fee is unlikely to replace your travel insurance.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Posted in: Fact-checkers urge YouTube to fight disinformation See in context

Once, the view that the Earth orbited the Sun, and the view that humanity had evolved from ape-like creatures would both have been considered misinformation.

People have a right to voice unpopular opinions and dissenting views. They should not be censored. Adults do not require state censorship, because they are not children and the state is not their parent.

Any nation with a half decent education system should prepare children to analyse what people say, especially politicians, to determine how much credence they choose to give it.

Fact-checking is censorship. Hopefully, a more distributed internet and more user options will allow people to moderate their own access to content as they wish.

Incidentally, some of the major global broadcasters produce 'documentaries' on the paranormal as if it was real, and nobody complains about misinformation. Religious groups peddle anti-scientific views and are not subject to censorship. And politicians campaigning are not subject to 'fact-checking' by an independent body. But mainstream media channels and governments are happy to scaremonger about 'misinformation' on the internet and demand censorship.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

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