GBR48 comments

Posted in: Post-COVID era of hybrid work beckons in UK See in context

-pause their job.

Is that the new euphemism for getting sacked?

Banks are leading the way here, closing branches as fast as they can. Their customer service is being 'paused' as well.

One UK government entity appears to be using a chat bot to answer calls. It is as rubbish as you might expect.

-Companies though will reap the benefits of a more flexible approach to work.

Companies will save money by imprisoning you in your home alone or with your family, rather than in their office with your colleagues.

Up until now, many people have been furloughing. Couples who both have a job (common the UK - or it was) are going to have to negotiate for the best workspace. I wonder if unions will assist?

Home working has upsides (I worked from home before Covid), but it is going to isolate people. It is going to be tough on those with small flats and small children. It is not going to be for everyone.

And whenever anyone uses the phrase 'wellbeing' on the TV now, I immediately turn over. We get sermons on it all the time.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Posted in: Japanese hospital worker infected with coronavirus after 2 vaccine shots See in context

-Who’s expecting super powers after taking the vaccine?

I was exceedingly miffed at not obtaining any super powers.

The vaccines considerably reduce severe symptoms and appear to reduce the spread. At which point Covid begins to drop down the list of things you need to worry about prematurely ending your existence. There are several exotic but fun-to-catch STDs, three (viral) TikTok trends, the morning commute, those deadly Mochi rice cakes and running with scissors that all become more dangerous in relative terms.

Plus the case numbers are very, very, very, very small in a country of over 126 million people.

So ignore the scare stories in the media, get vaccinated and behave sensibly.

2 ( +4 / -2 )

Posted in: Pubs, hairdressers set to reopen as UK eases virus lockdown See in context

I'm not sure there was any point in closing 'non-essential' shops during lockdown. It just made life unnecessarily tough for those unable to shop online and damaged the economy a bit more.

At least in shops (and on public transport) people wear masks. The government have never asked people to wear masks generally in public in the UK at any point in the pandemic. Not wearing masks in a pandemic is a whole new level of stupid. In the UK, state-sanctioned stupidity. No surprise the case load and mortality is so high, although some of the figures are questionable.

The UK counts a death as attributed to Covid if someone dies having tested positive within the previous 28 days. That is different from someone known to have died as a direct result of having Covid. Theoretically it would inflate the figures, but by how much is anyone's guess.

Post-lockdown expect alcohol-related idiocy and a rapid rise in cases.

The hope is that the vaccines will have broken the casesdeaths link, which they might feasibly do. That would mean living with Covid (as I think Israel is doing) until the vaccine roll out produces herd immunity. That may be do-able, but kids could still remain an incubation hot-house for new variants.

Despite recent concerns over the SA variant, the percentage protection from vaccines appears to be good enough. The problem is the supply bottleneck - there are not enough labs producing enough vaccine, globally. That should have been fixed by now.

If it doesn't work, the UK will have another lockdown in the summer and foreign travel will be banned until 2022 or until the airlines and airports have gone bankrupt and you have to blag a ride on a container ship.

Not that anywhere will let you in their country any more, even if you have been vaccinated and tested negative. There is no logic to that. Maybe getting drunk isn't so idiotic after all.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Posted in: Name some movies that left you so confused at the end that you couldn't really figure out what they were about. See in context

Don't blame yourselves. Some movie makers, auteurs and script writers get off on confusing their audiences, particularly at the 'art house' end of the spectrum. Sometimes it is genuine, honest playfulness, sometimes they are offering a product for those who want it that way, accidentally pulling in punters who don't. It can be the unwholesome desire to be seen as superior to others.

If you aren't doing a film studies degree, feel free to bale out and accept that some movies aren't for you. It is better than staring at the credits and wishing you had 90 minutes of your life back. Pressing the 'Stop' button doesn't make you a bad person.

If you feel you really need to see a movie, even though it is awful, pop the subtitles on and watch it at twice normal speed.

The same thing happens with books. It's easier with books as you don't need the extra budget to twist reality inside out. Try 'Finnegan's Wake' and see how far you get. Joyce was tremendously important in the development of fiction, but I would only read his works at gunpoint.

Watch movies that you enjoy and that you get something from. It's not compulsory to watch them all the way to the end - it's not an exam.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Posted in: Northern Ireland wracked by week of riots See in context

Brexit and the GFA are fundamentally incompatible. The GFA was built upon the assumption that the UK and Eire would both be in the EU. Any fudge to make it work would require some sort of border between GB and NI or between NI and Eire. To some extent, both. That's why May's regime collapsed - she lost her majority and had to rely on the support of the DUP (NI Unionists).

Boris did what he always does - announced that there would be no border (appeasing the DUP and their supporters) and then agreed to one. When things looked a bit sticky (trade collapsing and threats to border posts), he suggested maintaining transition rules that exclude border checks. The EU took this about as well as the Unionists took the new borders and began court action against the British government.

Few traders in Britain are certain as to what the situation is or will be, so they are doing the sensible thing and blocking many 'exports' to NI. This is shafting the NI economy. A lot of trade from Eire used to travel by truck through the UK, sometimes via NI. Much of this has stopped too, leaving NI out of the economic loop.

The GFA was built on economic benefits and a rise in tourism. The pandemic and lockdowns have added to the new borders to ensure that NI may now be suffering from Brexit even more than GB is.

As NI has two disaffected groups, they will start by targeting the security forces, but will eventually start tit-for-tat violence against each other. This will be interesting, as pre-GFA sectarian violence was old school. Now they have the internet, it will be Sectarianism 2.0 using tactics learned from HK, mixed with the old staples such as punishment beatings, executions, kangaroo courts, nail bomb attacks and increasing social division.

Trade and tourism generally keeps the peace. When you limit both and start building walls, everything goes to hell.

The next inevitable consequence of Brexit will be the demand for Scottish independence. It's possible that a recent split in the nationalist Scottish political parties may save Boris's skin there. Otherwise the drive for self-determination will begin.

Unlike the Catalans, who will get cold-shouldered by the EU as Spain is a member state, the Scots may get a more positive response.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Posted in: Taylor Swift releases rerecording of hit 2008 "Fearless" album See in context

Always check the small print. If I shelled out a reputed $300m for recordings that were then re-recorded, I'd be a tad irked with my due diligence folk.

This has certainly turned out well for Universal.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Posted in: Experts say Suga gov't unlikely to approve female monarch See in context

Queen Victoria ruled over the largest empire in history.

Queen Elizabeth II is the longest-serving female head of state in history.

What are Tokyo's old men so afraid of?

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Posted in: Police find 424 stolen items at suspected underwear thief’s home See in context

Psychologically, I can join the dots on someone seeking worn items, which have always been sold to fetishists. Some platforms ban such sales, but I can't really understand why they would. It seems excessively prudish. It evens up the economic imbalance of the gender divide a bit (and might stop a few thefts).

But why would someone pinch freshly laundered items? Presumably for a different buzz. Is there a sharp divide amongst fetishists? Does each group look down upon the other, or is there some empathy there?

Either way, not nice to steal. Do the decent thing and pay for your second hand clothes, laundered or not.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Posted in: Man arrested for stealing women’s shoes and replacing them with new ones See in context

Why can't this oddball just sniff bicycle saddles like a normal person?

I foresee a lucrative career as an online shoe matcher. Damaged or lost a shoe? This is your guy. However obscure your footwear, he will find you a replacement.

Although he may be responsible for several blisters, he may not be the only person with this particular fetish. I was once asked to help someone's daughters out with the tech, to sell their worn socks to interested parties. There appears to be more of this about than most of us realised.

Discovering a fetish you have never heard of is a bit like finding a new species of frog in the rainforest. Well worth celebrating.

9 ( +9 / -0 )

Posted in: Prince Philip, husband of Queen Elizabeth II, dies at 99 See in context

A personal tragedy for his family, and a national loss - the Duke was genuinely and widely liked by the British public. His dedication to his wife and to 'the job' of being a Royal was remarkable. 'Phil the Greek' as he was dubbed by the press, cheerfully punctuated the duller bits of Royal events with the sort of off the cuff humour you might expect from a man of his years. If anything, this added to his general popularity.

The Queen and the Duke spent decades promoting a sense of national unity in an often divided nation, and the status of a country making the difficult transition from Empire to Commonwealth. Few of us could come close to matching their commitment.

RIP old chap.

3 ( +5 / -2 )

Posted in: New EU vaccine probe deepens Europe's COVID problems See in context

No medical intervention is inherently safe. There will always be risks.

It comes down to which pile of bodies will be bigger - with the virus or with the vaccine.

By a considerable margin, covid will kill more people than the vaccines.

The most serious side effects are lottery jackpot winner odds. You take more risks travelling to work in a morning.

It is still better to be vaccinated than not to be. I'll be having my second AZ when it is offered to me.

There are lots of things that we can do to make the world a better place, but rarely have the stakes been so high as in the case of the vaccination roll out. So man-up, get jabbed and do your bit for humanity.

Of more concern than the side effects is the failure of governments to build vaccine production labs across the planet. It is insane to create a supply bottleneck. It promotes 'vaccine diplomacy' and shortages. Wherever you are in the world, challenge your government on local vaccine production capacity. They have all spent money to mitigate the economic damage - they need to spend money building labs across the world to replicate vaccines in large quantities, quickly, for all nations.

It is not enough to behave as if they can just order a few more and they will arrive next day in the post. It is not like buying stuff from Amazon. Why are there not vaccine production labs springing up around the world?

2 ( +6 / -4 )

Posted in: Viral thoughts: Why COVID-19 conspiracy theories persist See in context

Unfortunately, the real 'misinformation experts' populate our governments.

Conspiracy theories are enabled and given credence by the continued corruption, deceitfulness and lying of politicians.

If we had honest, transparent, fair and decent politicians, we might believe them when they tell us things.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Posted in: Toyota unveils new cars with advanced driving assist technology See in context

-Wireless software update.

Will that be as reliable as Windows 10's updates?

Probably best to carry a jemmy to get yourself out of the car and to open the boot where your emergency folding bike is stored.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

Posted in: Northern Irish leaders struggle to quell worst violence in years See in context

At a grim time, this thread needs more positivity.

How often do you see a government policy actually work? And Brexit is certainly working. It was designed to drag the UK back to the 1970s, and it has done.

We've had a spike in hate crime that the National Front of the 1970s would be proud of, exports have gone down, tax revenue has gone down, any firms that the pandemic hasn't put out of business are having trouble attracting workers, and that 70s retro buzz is now starting to blossom in Northern Ireland.

Over the water, the kids are embracing their heritage, doing what their grandparents used to do, chucking petrol bombs at the old bill. Instead of being stuck inside playing computer games, they are out in the fresh air, getting some exercise. And they are doing it in a covid-safe manner, balaclavas and facial coverings being part of the uniform.

I don't think Brexit can be said to have promoted sales of vinyl, and the pandemic is enforcing staycations, rather than the exotic holidays that were rare in the 70s, but the reversion to times past continues a pace, largely due to Brexit. 70s levels of cultural isolation are returning too, with restrictions on bands performing on the other side of the new Great Wall of Dover and imports from abroad blocked by new biosecurity and tax border laws. Isolation is seen as the way to go. Expect more of the dangerous foreign internet to be restricted too.

It's true that Boris said there would be no border between NI and the UK and then created one, but that's how Boris rolls. He has built a career and a surprising amount of popular support on his bumbling ineptitude. If it works, why change it?

Ironically, the DUP had leverage over Theresa May's regime. But they overplayed their hand, undermining her and ending her regime. Corbyn had declined to fully back 'Remain' and made Labour unelectable. It is fair to say that Boris is PM largely because of Labour's choice of Corbyn as leader and the DUP taking down May. Which must rather irk both parties.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Posted in: Video saved the K-pop stars: Brave Girls reborn via YouTube See in context

The Korean wave - kpop and kdrama - was enabled, in great part, by 'unofficial' FMV uploads to YouTube. It paved the way for BTS and zillions of Won revenue from the sale of physical media.

Lock down your music with copyright lawyers and removal orders, and you lose the best global advertising you can get. Far better than any advertising that you actually pay for.

The switch from YT/physical media to paid streaming will redirect the revenue stream to the tech sector and cut off the free advertising.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Posted in: 'Spider-Man' and other Sony films to hit Netflix after theaters See in context

Does this exclude DVD releases? No physical media will shift control of the ability for people to see a movie to the tech sector.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Posted in: Crushing poll defeats for South Korea's ruling party See in context

Moon promised what only Kim could deliver, mortgaging his future to the whims of Pyongyang. Kim played him like a fiddle.

Although a one season rule for leaders isn't a bad idea, it promotes overpromising to get into power. There is no incentive to deliver when you are certain that you will be sacked (or imprisoned, historically) at the end of your term.

SK will endlessly yo-yo between progressives and conservatives (as the sitting government will always fail enough to merit being voted out). Both will play the nationalist card as required. That will poison any alliance with Japan even though it would suit both nations, given the situation with NK and China. As they will be unable to get along, both will have to work a lot harder at the difficult balancing act of keeping both their US protectors and China sweet.

Both JP and SK have a similar problem - traditionalist cultural structures that promote and mainstream abuse, making reform - political, economic and social, very difficult. And both are willing martyrs to their own history, endlessly stirring up past grudges to win a few votes.

Ironically, as Western governments pivot to the Chinese way of doing things, 'taking back control' of their borders, internet and citizens, despite all of the above, SK and JP will appear increasingly enticing, simply by remaining pretty much as they are, as the West slides downhill.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

Posted in: How social media turns online arguments between teens into real-world violence See in context

No reputable journalist would casually use the phrase 'the dangers of unregulated free speech'.

That's the sort of thing you would expect to read on a website run by the Chinese or Russian government.

The persistent scare stories pushed out on once reputable media outlets regarding Web 2.0 are starting to look sinister.

The internet should operate under the same laws as the rest of society. In the United States, that is the first amendment.

Taking individual examples of bad things happening, blaming a technology rather than the individuals concerned, and using that as an excuse to ban it, is a back-handed way of imposing a level of state censorship that most developed countries have not had for centuries.

Censorship is toxic to a civilised society. State censorship, more than anything else, is the mark of a dictatorship. And all a dictatorship deserves is to be overthrown by any necessary means.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Posted in: On average, how much time each day do you spend on social networking sites? See in context

1 to 5 mins every couple of days on FB, keeping track of Jpop, Kpop and friends. Sometimes I share a photo, link to a new Japanese or Korean MV on YouTube or post a Kdrama review.

Works fine for me. I don't know why people make such a fuss about it. Tweak the options so it works the way you want it to.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Posted in: Toshiba receives ¥2 tril acquisition offer from global fund See in context

Although this might seem useful for Toshiba management, given its issues, I'd be surprised if this squeezed past the new raft of foreign ownership rules. As Mezane points out, the memory of Nissan's buyout is still quite fresh.

The JPG did let a Taiwanese outfit buy Sharp though, and the FOR are primarily to stop Chinese companies progressively buying Japanese companies, properties and land. Plus it's a payday for senior Toshiba folk and shareholders, so they'd be happy.

If I had $18bn, I'm not sure I'd spend it on Toshiba. JP companies can be quite opaque when it comes to due diligence. Will they be able to asset strip it as easily as they would a Western company, keeping the good stuff and flogging off the rest, closing plants in Japan and sacking staff? Alternatively, $18bn buys you a lot of early stage start-ups.

-US private equity firms ... view Japan as one of the most target-rich markets in the world.

US companies used to see China as the promised land. That didn't work out quite so well. Not sure this will either. Some corporate culture clashes can lead to mutually assured destruction.

8 ( +8 / -0 )

Posted in: Sony announces end of online, PlayStation Store support for PS3 and Vita See in context

With no physical media, tech companies can erase the history of gaming. They can also do that now with TV and film.

We badly need a system of legal deposit for software and anything else the tech industry is going to deny us physical copies of, or the 'information age' will have big gaps in its history.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Posted in: Gov't fears COVID-19 variants are behind possible 4th wave See in context

The current vaccines do work with all variants. More generic boosters will arrive in the autumn. If we get lucky, we may see a virulent but benign strain emerge.

If you haven't vaccinated your citizens, case numbers will go up between lockdowns. The case numbers are still very low in terms of population.

In 2020, Japan's mortality rate actually went down. So lose the panic.

Concentrate on getting as many people vaccinated as soon as possible.

Japan has wasted time slowly duplicating the certification procedures of other nations and, like most countries, has not ramped up the number of domestic vaccine production labs. Get on with it.

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

Posted in: 'Dirty and ugly' city? Paris slams viral campaign See in context

Meh. The French are mere amateurs at littering. For 'world beating' litter levels you need to look to the other side of the Channel. The UK is awash with litter and has been for years. Professional, organised group littering can be witnessed at beauty spots, in parks and on beaches, but even the everyday levels in small towns are still far more impressive in extent and in the diversity of rubbish than anything the French can manage.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

Posted in: Yellen calls for minimum global corporate income tax See in context

Whatever the corporate tax rate, the big players will continue to find legal ways to avoid paying it. And how many US cities bend over backwards to offer freebies to large corporates in the hope that they will build facilities there.

This policy may simply be used to build tax borders, blocking foreign companies because foreign nations charge them lower taxes. It's already happening in the UK, where demands that online traders comply with UK tax systems for sales tax has seen an increasing number of companies ban UK customers from buying from them. The UK is becoming more North Korean every day with these indirect borders. Wherever you are, you will be getting more of them soon too.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Posted in: In apology, Amazon admits some drivers in U.S. have to 'pee in bottles' See in context

Couriers and tradesmen who work out of vans have been peeing in plastic bottles for decades. Although excessive targets may increase it, there simply aren't the public toilets available to support them, and most of those that do exist have been closed during the pandemic. Whilst it wouldn't surprise me if workers across multiple sectors are faced with excessive workloads and intrusive monitoring, peeing in bottles has always come with the job for anyone who is van-based.

All jobs have a bunch of lousy elements in them. That's why they call it 'work'. If you enjoyed it, it would be a hobby and you wouldn't need to be paid for it.

1 ( +5 / -4 )

Posted in: Facebook data on more than 500 mil accounts found online See in context

Most people spent the 20th century listing their names, addresses and phone numbers in public phone directories for general utility. Some folk were ex-directory. This mix has just transitioned online.

Users of FB, who considerably outnumber the vocal minority of active refuseniks, are happy with the trade for free use of social media networks in return for access to their data. They place a much higher value on the functionality which they feel improves their lives, keeping them connected with people and information, and offering them validation.

After two decades, I haven't seen much improvement in the quality of personalised ads. I suspect that the data scalping/'AI' model to personalise ads, adds much less value than the industry suggests. The money may be better spent simply producing better adverts. Simpler, internalised ads (Amazon's 'People who bought this also bought these') work much better. I guess folk still like to see 'AI' on the label before they buy their magic snakeoil.

Simply requesting users to create an advertising profile for themselves, based on their hobbies and lifestyle aspirations, may produce a better model than all the iffy 'AI' GAFA can throw at the process. That would allow them to move away from scalping and handling data. And that would permit them to evade the enforced responsibility of censoring and monitoring content by flipping to a distributed topology. FB would never need to see your posts, so would have no role in censoring or blocking them, but could remain ad-funded. It is a better model.

The distributed model can also improve security. Any servers with a lot of user data are attractive to hackers - it is worth the effort to target them with malware. Distribute that data on to users' own systems and you replace a small number of big juicy targets with a vast number of tiny targets, none of which are worth the effort.

If governments do wish to use the endless scare stories about tech that the media run to increase control of GAFA, loot it for cash, carve it up or take it down, it will backfire, certainly in the US. GAFA enforced a degree of global dominance in tech for the US (and for the NSA). If Biden undermines that, a new generation of non-US or Chinese-aligned alternatives will take their place with simpler services and distributed topologies.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Posted in: British PM Johnson launches mass COVID testing program See in context

How government usually works in the UK.

Boris announces something. It doesn't happen.

Boris announces something. It begins. It goes wrong. It is quietly forgotten.

Boris announces that something will not happen. Then he announces that it is the last thing he wants to happen. Then it happens.

The only certainty is that, at every stage, someone who is mates with someone in government will collect a huge sack of public money for doing very little.

Masks are only worn in limited circumstances in the UK. As soon as the pubs open or there are a few sunny days filling parks and beaches, the case numbers are likely to go back up again. Hopefully the vaccinations will stop hospital numbers rising. Vaccination passports/certificates combined with negative tests at least offer a way forward.

-1 ( +3 / -4 )

Posted in: More vaccinated travelers mean pricier hotels, flights See in context

This feels somewhat optimistic.

I'd be surprised if there is much international tourism until 2022. Then it may be regional and patchy. Some countries will open up, others will remain closed, using quarantine and other restrictions to indirectly block tourism. It's rare that a sector so comprehensively reboots, presenting a chance for some new players to leap in, whilst others vanish.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Posted in: Saitama officially forbids walking up and down escalators See in context

I usually follow local custom to appease native sentiment. Generally in Japan, people seem to stand to one side of the escalator and walk carefully up or down on the other. Everyone seems to know which side is which - nobody walks up the standing side, and nobody stands on the walking side. I once read that people stand on different sides in different Japanese cities. Not sure if that is true, but it wouldn't surprise me.

So this does present an ethical dilemma for 'legal aliens' such as myself. If I'm funnelled into the 'walking side' of an escalator by the crowd, what do I do? Annoy dozens of locals by obeying the rules and suddenly standing still? That's thirty people with another reason to hate gaijins. Or do I break the rules and carry on walking like all the local rebels, fearing uniformed officers awaiting me on the platform?

The only person I've ever seen fall in Japan at a station, was a lady walking down a flight of steps who missed her footing (at Ikebukuro). Everyone around her went to her assistance. She was shocked but OK, despite it being quite a fall.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Posted in: Australia to continue AstraZeneca vaccination despite blood clotting case See in context

As with every medicine you have ever taken, you are balancing the risk against the benefits.

With any pharmaceutical intervention, some people are going to have adverse reactions. Once they do, research is done to try to determine why, so that those who might have an adverse reaction do not take the medication. This happens with all vaccines and all medication. Only now is it getting so much media attention.

It boils down to which option gives you the smaller pile of dead bodies, and right now, that is the vaccine - by a huge margin.

Australia is keeping covid numbers down, but only by turning the country into North Korea and regularly imprisoning people in their homes.

As with every other thing we have a vaccination for, vaccines are the way forward, by stopping it from killing people or by reducing the number of potential hosts to a point at which it fades away.

The risk with blood clots may be higher taking a single economy class flight. Plenty of people willingly take that risk for a holiday. No one forces them to, and nobody is forcing you to have a jab. But it is a rare chance for you to step up to the plate and take a lottery-win level risk to benefit society.

You may do a thousand riskier things every day that the news doesn't focus on. The cigarette that flips the cancer switch in one cell in your lungs. The cupcake that nudges you closer to diabetes. That roll in the hay that could give you an STD that medical science cannot get rid of. Walking down stairs with a heavy box. Pushing the speed limit on a wet road to get to the office on time. Running with scissors. Life involves risk. If it scares you that much, go the full hikikomori and spend the rest of your life isolated in your bedroom, supported by your parents. That'll keep you safe from covid, vaccines, marriage, parenthood and much else.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

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