Nov 192020
 

So that is a graph of average house prices divided by the median salary (average but not allowing extreme salaries to distort the value), or in other words how many average salaries you would need to buy a house.

The graph is a little small, but it shows that in 1977, the multiple was roughly 0.9 increasing to nearly 7 by 2019.

Now there’s all sorts of factors involved but fundamentally that is a huge increase in housing costs as proportion of our salaries.

Nov 152020
 

There’s a myth propagated by the far-right anti-EU brigade – that the “original” European Economic Community (there was an earlier ECSC) was only ever about a single market for goods and services. As can be seen from the Schuman Declaration, the long-term aim was always political integration :-

A united Europe was not achieved and we had war.

Europe will not be made all at once, or according to a single plan. It will be built through concrete achievements which first create a de facto solidarity. The coming together of the nations of Europe requires the elimination of the age-old opposition of France and Germany. Any action taken must in the first place concern these two countries.

Now you could argue that a unified Europe is undesirable and that it is perfectly reasonable to stop at a single market. That would be an agreeable position – stupid in my opinion, but valid.

But arguing that unification was never the goal would be dishonest.

Toward The Sea
Nov 072020
 

Now that Trump has been rejected by the US electorate, it is time to examine just what caused him to be elected in the first place. It’s all too easy to blame the electoral system (and there are issues with that), but fundamentally Trump got a lot more votes in 2016 (and 2020) than a self-obsessed failed business-critter should have done.

A big part of the MAGA phenomenon was (and is) frustration with mainstream politicians. Yes, there are other contributing factions – evangelical “christians”, far-right racists, the so-called “alt-right”, and traditional Republicans (who may have been reluctant but voted for him nevertheless).

But there is an immense level of frustration with the current political landscape with both political parties beholden to their corporate masters. And ordinary working people (who may not always have the most sophisticated political knowledge) have the urge to vote for “something different”.

Or in other words, “populism” or anti-elitism. Which is not always a bad thing especially if you pick the right elites to be against. But Trump’s brand of populism was fake – he promised to drain the swamp and just jumped in.

Fox News had a poll (don’t laugh – their polling is well done as long as they aren’t just polling their viewers) which was surprising – the US public overwhelmingly support more progressive values (universal health care, etc.) than either of the mainstream parties.

And that’s the key – neither of the two main parties is aligned with the interests of the electorate. Trump appeared to be anti-establishment, and those who didn’t see through to his con-act may well have voted for him because of that. Especially as he lacked corporate donors in 2016.

And that’s the key – the mainstream parties represent the interests of the corporations and not the electorate. And in the long term that is dangerous.

Two Posts in the Sea
Oct 282020
 

I’m a political extremist – I believe in destroying the current model of capitalism (although some individual entrepreneurs deserve to survive and indeed thrive). I believe in a religious test for public office – if you prioritise your god over the will of the people you have no place in public office, etc.

But I know those positions are extreme and most people don’t agree with me. I don’t believe in holding out for a political candidate who espouses my beliefs (or becoming one myself); especially not in the undemocratic political systems we have in the UK (or the USA).

The Bare Family

It is a bit of a shame, but the only sensible thing to do is to vote for a candidate that is closest to what you believe (even if that is not very close). Or to put it another way: Vote for the candidate you dislike the least.

Choosing not to vote is an abdication of your obligations as a citizen – to take part in electing the next government. You can’t very well complain about the government if you didn’t take part in an election (except if you were too young to vote). There are those who last time refused to vote for Hillary Clinton because she was a corporate Democrat and not their ideal candidate; they are at least partially responsible for the disastrous Trump presidency.

Hold your nose and vote.

Oct 102020
 

One of the big names in the opensource world – Eric Raymond – has declared that Windows will soon be effectively a Linux distribution. Which seems like a ridiculous notion; except technically it might make a lot of sense.

How?

It seems impossible for Microsoft to replace Windows with Linux, but actually it could be done. Windows itself consists of a bunch of software applications which call Windows “APIs” which in turn make calls to the legacy NT kernel. If all that software is written cleanly (it won’t be, but bear with me), it should be possible to make modifications to both (or either) the Linux kernel and the Windows APIs to allow Windows software to run natively.

Impossible? Nope – it has already been done to a certain extent – Wine and Proton allow a considerable amount of Windows software (and games!) to run under Linux.

Why?

So it’s not impossible, but surely it is a lot of work. So why?

Microsoft has a bit of a problem – they don’t make a huge amount of money selling the Windows operating system, and maintaining it is hugely expensive. All those security fixes, all those bug fixes, and all those new features they want to introduce.

Now most of this is done to the “userland” rather than the kernel itself, but the kernel does still need to be maintained. But what if you could use the Linux kernel and get some level of maintenance supplied by those not employed by Microsoft?

Would that save Microsoft money? It seems quite possible, and you can bet someone in Microsoft has estimated whether it would or not.

Will It Happen?

There are those who point to certain actions by Microsoft – the Linux subsystem for Windows, the Edge browser for Linux, the rumour of an Office build under Linux, etc. as indicators that Microsoft is planning this.

I think they’re wrong to the extent that those actions don’t say whether Microsoft is planning to make Windows a Linux distribution or not. There are plenty of reasons why Microsoft is releasing Linux software not least because they will almost certainly have developers that believe that porting software is a good way of finding bugs.

The real answer is that the only people who know are inside Microsoft.

The Join
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