On unions, both Kingdom or European

I occasionally see a discussion which goes something like "How can you be in favour of staying in Europe and also of Scotland leaving the UK. Surely you're either in favour of closer ties to other countries or you aren't?"

And I am, frankly, baffled by this.

Because I am in favour of being in close ties which are well-structured, improve people's rights and working conditions, and are an overall positive to the lives of the people within them.

And I consider that the EU generally manages that. It's not perfect, but the benefits seem to be much larger than the costs.

And, as far as I can see, the UK doesn't. The things we'd lose from being a member are definitely _there_, but compared to not having welfare ruled from Westminster, not being stuck under a pair of parties who are anti-reform, anti-immigrant, and frequently illiberal*, I'd be delighted to get out.

If the EU went too far in a direction I didn't like, I'd vote to get out of that too. My support is not tribal, it's based on weighing up pros and cons of each union, and finding Europe acceptable, and the UK not.

*I am in no way convinced that Jack Straw was much better than Theresa May. I have forgotten neither ID cards or the protests against the Digital Economy Act.

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Interesting Links for 11-07-2018

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Interesting Links for 10-07-2018


Brexit and Theresa May: A ray of hope

Interesting thread here. Interesting tweet here.

The thrust of which is that Theresa May has cleared out the major architects of Brexit, by saying "Right, how do we do this?" at Chequers, making it clear that the Hard Brexit types don't have either the concrete plans or the backing to actually pull of Brexit, and then letting them resign rather than sacking them.

This actually strikes me as much more sensible that sacking Boris (which he's been trying to engineer since Brexit), as it means it's his decision to go, and she can't be held responsible for not having the Brexit wing in the cabinet. He was, basically, unsackable, but now she's free to act in a more sensible manner.

As Theresa May was a Remain supporter this is almost certainly a good thing. We're probably still going to have _some_ kind of Brexit, because she always (from my reading) carries out a job, even if she disagrees with it personally. But she'll presumably aim for the smallest Brexit she can manage. Which would have public support, I suspect, as the polls are currently showing a 7% lead for "Brexit was a stupid idea" (47% vs 40% in favour of Brexit).

(I await the announcement, fifteen minutes after I post this, that we're leaving immediately, on No Deal.)

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Why I don't talk about batteries much

One of the annoying things about reading tech news is that so much of it is recycled press releases and those press releases are frequently either years in advance or complete bluster designed to raise money from investors. And it's nearly impossible for me to tell which.

So I've now stopped reporting battery news, for instance, because there's a new "breakthrough" every three days, which will revolutionise absolutely everything, except that so far it only works inside their computer simulation/in their lab and no you can't see their full data/if it's specially handcrafted/kept under -200degrees/if it is kept inside a mouse.

Except that when they start announcing that a product will appear _this year_ that makes it more interesting. And Solid State Batteries now seem to be moving into the "This is actually a product" category. Hopefully. Maybe. Toyota are saying 2022, Hyundai have said that they have a small production line underway, and Volkswagen are saying 2025.

Nissan, on the other hand, is saying that the tech needs multiple breakthroughs before it's anywhere near ready.

And then there's this where semi-solid batteries will be on the market, for very small devices, by the end of the year.

Except that, having bought things on Kickstarter a fair few times, "On the market by the end of the year" can mean "We've only got a couple of minor issues to work through, how hard can it be?"

So, yeah, Solid State Batteries looks _amazing_ as a technology, but I think I'm going to go back to not reporting on battery technology until someone announces a shipping product.

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Interesting Links for 09-07-2018


Post-midnight thoughts on Brexit

The UK is currently sublimating under the kind of heatwave that the UK doesn't get, the Conservative government is disintegrating (with the Minister of the Brexit department resigning), and between these two things I can't sleep.

After the spectacular own goal in 2017 of calling an election and losing their majority, the Conservatives went into coalition with the DUP.
Which meant that they now had to come up with a solution to Brexit which:
1) Kept the DUP happy by not putting a border between Northern Ireland and mainland Britain.
2) Kept the Good Friday Agreement by not putting a border between Northern Ireland and The Republic of Ireland.
3) Kept the Brexiter Conservatives happy by putting a hard border between the UK and Europe.

And also:
1) Kept a majority of all MPs onside.
2) Kept a majority of Conservative MPs onside.
3) Came up with a deal that the EU will accept.

The problem being that there is no such thing. If May swings towards Remain then Davis (and Rees Mogg/The ERG) will unseat her - which is what the resignation is leading into. Probably followed by Boris, who would also like to be Prime Minister.

And if she swings towards No Deal then the Remainers have said they'll do likewise.

There is no majority anywhere for any kind of alternative to remaining in Europe. So either we cancel Brexit or we tie ourselves in knots so much that we can't negotiate at all and we fall out of the EU with no deal by default in March.

(And no, Labour aren't much better. See this, this , and this).

None of which is a change from my last summary. Except that Britain has, finally, over two years since it held a referendum, put together a negotiating position for "what it wants". And discovered that there is no one thing which they can agree makes for a satisfactory Brexit. But we already knew that nobody knew what they were voting for.

I could, of course, be wrong here. Davis might have resigned because he's realised that May's deal is terrible for the UK, what with our economy being 80% services, and he's had a damascene conversion to Remain, which is going to be followed by other heavyweight* Conservatives, as they realise that Brexit is a fucking stupid idea and start swimming with the tide.
- Nope

But as it is, both May, and anyone who follows her, is in for an impossible job.

*Seriously though - are there any currently competent Conservative MPs in positions of power? My father's been a Conservative voter since the Winter of Discontent (except for 1997), and he's absolutely disgusted by the current lot. I'm sure we used to have _some_ competent Conservatives in the olden days?

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Interesting Links for 08-07-2018


Interesting Links for 07-07-2018