Charlie Stross

Charlie Stross

  • Commented on Unwelcome reality excursion
    Ahem: GCHQ's people are civil servants. They're on civil service pay and pensions. Yes, they have PhDs there; they're recruited straight out of university and a civil service job with the fast-track promotion scheme and a pension looks like heaven...
  • Commented on Unwelcome reality excursion
    War gadgets/arms/munitions are expensive. That was exactly my point: if we take GCHQ's nominal headcount at face value, and assume a low budget for them (based on published 1993 figures), then GCHQ are spending more than twice as much per...
  • Commented on Unwelcome reality excursion
    there are currently far fewer than a thousand security officers able to look at the filtered results, even briefly. Riiiiight. If you'd followed all the links in the original essay you'd have noticed a report that there are nearly double...
  • Commented on Unwelcome reality excursion
    An army with 200,000-400,000 soldiers on the streets means conscription, because it's going to need to be nearly a million strong to deploy those numbers. And that's not all. Conscription means unwilling or semi-willing troops. They can be expected to...
  • Commented on Unwelcome reality excursion
    Here's a problem with the EAW: The EAW is a perfectly sensible measure -- viewed from a federal level -- except that it can be invoked by individual states who have wildly differing criteria for what justifies issuing an EAW....
  • Commented on Unwelcome reality excursion
    Both the Nazi & Soviet systems did this with astonishing verve, the PRC is doing it, Ethiopia is kidnapping artists & sending them to death row. Here - de nada. I'm afraid you need to read your Chomsky; that's...
  • Commented on Unwelcome reality excursion
    But what will make the British public *feel* it, know it, fear it and - perhaps - find some way of rolling it all back, before we reach a state in which the 'Velvet Revolutions' of the former Soviet satellites...
  • Commented on Unwelcome reality excursion
    If MI-5, that relic of empire, morphed into a (cough, cough) SS MI5 doesn't officially exist by that name, and hasn't, for decades: it is officially The Security Service. Yes, they have a web site (www.mi5.gov.uk), but if you...
  • Commented on Unwelcome reality excursion
    Charlie, I think we would be morally worse off in freedom of movement between countries. I doubt it. The UK today is horribly hostile towards immigration. With the exception of existing UK citizens returning from overseas, and EU citizens who...
  • Commented on Unwelcome reality excursion
    Nile, please read comment 50. That is all....
  • Commented on Unwelcome reality excursion
    Hermeles, this is a yellow card warning. You explicitly disregarded the guidance in the very first paragraph of the essay. Further comments on the subject of how-it-happened will be unpublished, because that's fundamentally uninteresting to me and is derailing the...
  • Commented on Unwelcome reality excursion
    The modern British surveillance state depends on cheap integrated circuit electronics. ICs were invented at least partially due to Stop it. You are getting hung up on details of this, and treating it as an alternate history tech development scenario....
  • Commented on Unwelcome reality excursion
    I have no idea where you got that idea; Communist regimes are generally pretty hot on the idea of pure scientific research, except where it stomps on particularly ideological territory or gets over-politicized (see also Trofim Lysenko and genetics under...
  • Commented on Unwelcome reality excursion
    Carline (Cherryh), in a conversation with my late wife and me, noted that in her universe, Union and Alliance, over the decades and centuries, alternated in freedom vs. control.... Hmm. I had wondered about that! (Nice bit of background detail.)...
  • Commented on Unwelcome reality excursion
    That's a really good question. The only solid answer I can think of is "because the USSR politburo didn't roll that way". Glasnost aside, attempts at reforming imperial dominions along other lines were ruthlessly suppressed whenever they crossed the line...
  • Commented on Unwelcome reality excursion
    It's not just private property but privacy in general that was considered un-communist. As pointedly critiqued by Zamyatin in We ......
  • Commented on Unwelcome reality excursion
    The CPSU accidentally denounced computers as some sort of bourgeois capitalist deviation in the mid-1950s, if I'm not mistaken. Consequently interest in them was relegated to the mathematics faculty of universities. By the time it became obvious that they had...
  • Commented on Unwelcome reality excursion
    If you look at almost any modern multinational corporation, they are internally constituted as Stalinist dictatorships -- only with an employment market outside the enterprise to handle externalities such as what happens to people who become inconvenient to the dictator...
  • Commented on Unwelcome reality excursion
    the biggest difference between the soviet sphere and the anti-soviet sphere wasn't economics but how information and media was/is handled. See also Chomsky, to the effect that in the west -- with nominal freedom of speech -- censorship must be...
  • Commented on Unwelcome reality excursion
    You're assuming the value to the US national security complex lies in the secret surveillance information. I don't think it does; rather, the value lies in the process, which justifies a roughly $65Bn/year budget on gathering the information, of which...
  • Commented on Unwelcome reality excursion
    Administrative note: This side-discussion is off-topic and I'd be grateful if you'd drop it now....
  • Commented on The Curse of Laundry
    Adam Smith wasn't "the roots of economics" -- you're missing the physiocrats and all the earlier theorisers. He's just the root of modern economics, much as Newton is the root of modern physics (and we tend to forget about his...
  • Commented on Unwelcome reality excursion
    I think Britain would look a lot like Scarfolk. But in surveillance state terms? It's a wash....
  • Posted Unwelcome reality excursion to Charlie's Diary
    Here's a brief thought-experiment for you: imagine what the UK would look like today if the outcome of the second world war had taken a left turn early in 1940, and the whole of western Europe somehow ended up under...
  • Commented on The Curse of Laundry
    Wrong: Excel is Turing-complete. As such it passes the acid test for "is it a programming language". We can argue until the cows come home over whether it's a completely crap one or not, but that it is one is...
  • Commented on The Curse of Laundry
    the idea that politics is divorced from money goes back to the roots of economics, and it was reinforced both by the Cold War and by the increasing habit of presidents and prime ministers It's hard-wired into the origins of...
  • Commented on The Curse of Laundry
    If you stay mainly at the supposed dept location, you aren't on-hand for the backroom deals This disincentive only applies at ministerial/top executive level. To flip it on its head: a department that keeps most of its body away from...
  • Commented on The Curse of Laundry
    Greg, the "EU arrears" story is even funnier than I thought (in both senses of the word "funnier"): Sex, drugs and the EU budget Shorter version: the Office of National Statistics was ordered to cook the books by expanding their...
  • Commented on The Curse of Laundry
    It was built on the site of the building earmarked to become Gestapo HQ (England) after the successful execution of Operation Sealion. So welcoming! Much Secret Police! Wow!...
  • Commented on The Curse of Laundry
    It's only when someone thinks it's a wheeze to save the London weighting by shifting a department to Wales, or worse, the North; that you get newer buildings. But usually they don't last long, so far from the levers of...
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