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How to Behave When Involved In an Important Current Event

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As always, thanks for using my Amazon Affiliate links (USUKCanada), and for considering joining my Patreon

As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.

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zippy72
14 days ago
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Tom the Dancing Bug by Ruben Bolling for Fri, 02 Feb 2024

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Tom the Dancing Bug by Ruben Bolling on Fri, 02 Feb 2024

Source - Patreon

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zippy72
15 days ago
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50 “Obsolete” Bits Of Technology People Refuse To Stop Using

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Have you ever noticed that your grandparents' old fridge just keeps on ticking, despite often being multiple decades old? Or the home screen of a new phone has a Christmas tree’s worth of lights and color on it for no good reason? Well, you aren’t alone. 

Someone asked “What's a piece of 'obsolete' technology you still use today because it's better than the modern version?” and people gave their favorite examples. From good, old-fashioned knobs in their cars to, thankfully, not-smart home appliances, get comfortable before you read through, upvote your favorites and be sure to comment your own suggestions below. 

#1

Any non-“smart” things. Light bulbs, doorbell, washing machine, fridge, etc. I don’t need any of them to connect to the internet. Just do the basic job and don’t break or quickly become obsolete, please.

Image credits: rustybeancake

#2

Knobs in my car to control radio and heat/ac. So much safer than screens

Image credits: Many-Day8308

#3

Not exactly obsolete, but I've been told it's odd in 2023. I buy physical CDs, rip them to my hard drive, put a copy on my phone, and listen to my music without ad interruptions or subscription costs.

Edit: and for all you "bUt ThAt'S mOrE eXpEnSiVeR!" folks, no it ain't. I'm in my 40s. I listen to mostly the same s**t I listened to in the 90s, and I've already had most of my music collection for 25+ years. I'm buying 3 new CDs a year, max.

Image credits: Dr_Girlfriend_81

#4

Paper menu… why you making take a picture of a square, go to a website and squint on my phone to see what you got to eat.

Image credits: Empty-Taste-2777

#5

Opening a damn web browser and going to a store's website instead of using an app, if the option is there.

Image credits: Time_Significance

#6

Books. I take books out the library, read them, return them. Seeing what books are available on my “want to read list” is a fun game in itself.

Image credits: rustybeancake

#7

Wired headphones. Wireless airbuds make me irrationally angry, it just seems so frivolous and easy to lose.

Image credits: LonkFromZelda

#8

Paper and pencil.
Way better than trying to write or draw on an ipad

Image credits: Empty-Taste-2777

#9

100% all kitchen stuff like kitchenaids, mixing bowls, old Pyrex, old wooden spoons, Dutch ovens, ect all were better before the 90's newer items of all these things especially Pyrex are flimsy. The appliances have planned obsolescence and new Pyrex baking dishes I'm scared to even use in the oven because I've had 2 explode on me. My old ones I inherited from my grandmother never given me an issue

Image credits: iHaveaQuestionTrans

#10

Can opener. The manual ones work just fine, I don't know why an electric one that takes up space on the counter 24/7 when it gets used for all of 10 seconds is necessary.

Image credits: lilduf95

#11

I still use Adobe CS6 because paying monthly for software is some b******t.

Image credits: SchrodingersNutsack

#12

A few years ago I was really broke and had no car, so I bought a 1997 Buick Park Avenue with 200,000 miles on it. That car lasted all the way up to 350,000 miles. Yeah, stuff broke on it, but it was so easy to fix and parts were so cheap.

I had zero mechanical skills, and I was able to bring that car back from the dead on 3 separate occaisions with incredibly basic tools just by reading a manual.

They literally do not make cars like that anymore.

Image credits: Vict0r117

#13

F*****g leaf rake.
Leaf blowers are a scourge. In most cases they save 10% of the time it takes to rake, while annoying 100 people at once.

Image credits: Mikesaidit36

#14

My job is restoring/conserving obsolete objects (mechanical clocks), does that count?

Image credits: uitSCHOT

#15

Cash. I live in one of the most digitalized countries in the world and we are already so cashless that some places don't even accept cash anymore, even though they're still required to by law.

I still insist on paying with cash to everyones annoyance. It doesn't rely on power or internet and it's anonymeous, the latter being important to me.

Image credits: JanetWuzHere

#16

Books and traditional media. Harder to navigate than the online ones, but kind of stimulates the brain more with less distractions and more peace.

Image credits: Express-Cheesecake46

#17

A normal paper calendar. Idk why i just don't check the calendar on my phone, and I sometimes use a 50 something year old radio because it sounds nice, especially when my headphones run out of battery.

Image credits: Kjabus

#18

Vehicles without touchscreens.

Image credits: LadyTreeRoot

#19

A manual transmission, for a given definition of "better"

Image credits: disturbed286

#20

If I can find something that’s not reliant on electricity to operate, I’ll opt for it. I have a hand coffee grinder instead of an electric one. I have a French press instead of a coffee maker. I have a hand crank pasta maker instead of a motor operated or a kitchenaid pasta attachment. I’ve gotten to a point where I’m trying to find items that can end up being heirlooms, that’s how well built they are. F**k planned obsolescence, honestly.

Image credits: whataboutsam

#21

Word and MS Office. NOT THE 365 subscription.

Image credits: 2Loves2loves

#22

Pen and paper works so much better than Android notes.

Image credits: ScotiaG

#23

DVD and Blu-ray. Streaming is almost never at anything approaching full resolution.

Image credits: SlientlySmiling

#24

Cursive

Image credits: jba126

#25

My fountain pen.
I have a Parker 51 from '69. It's just so smooth

Image credits: affordable_firepower

#26

Cast iron

Image credits: mrg1957

#27

The old "unsafe" gas cans that don't leak gas all over the place.

Image credits: snack__pack

#28

My #7 Griswold cast iron skillet. Small logo so it isn’t that old, but it’s from 1938-1957. I use it to scramble eggs, bake cornbread, chocolate cornbread, quiche, and kielbasa, and I love it. It is way better than modern cast iron, the company polished the interior surface to make it super non-stick.

Image credits: SeddelCougar

#29

Actual address book. I have many in my phone. But when I’m doing Christmas cards/invitations/announcements, I go to the book every time.

Image credits: meadow_chef

#30

Hardwired network connections.

Image credits: terraceten

#31

I still use a washer from the early 2000’s. It’s very analog. Parts are easy to replace and it keeps chugging along. We have a local appliance shop that still stocks parts.

My parents buy a new washer about every 2-3 years because of technology issues.

Mines ugly, but it works.

Now, that being said, if and when I upgrade. I’ll probably upgrade to a speed Queen.

Image credits: Fuel_junkie

#32

I enjoy talking to a person with instead of doing something purely online. (Some banking, customer service, general questions about product...etc...)

Image credits: Guppy-Warrior

#33

Older vehicles, easily repaired, fraction of the cost of new

Image credits: leo1974leo

#34

Mechanical wrist watch. Technically keeps worse time than a $12 quartz Casio but they are amazing little machines/engines you can wear on your wrist (and are still only off by a few seconds a day).

Image credits: Conundrum1911

#35

Ipod classic. F**k apple for ending it.

Image credits: lonely-loner-666

#36

My wife recently cancelled Disney+ and brought out this massive collection of old VHS tapes to make the kids go through. I had forgotten how awesome it is actually owning a copy of a piece of media, instead of having to search online to see what platforms it might be streaming on.

Image credits: ParrotOx-CDXX

#37

Old tools. My garage sale planes are as good as anything made today. My panel saw is perfect. Now, there's a bunch of survivorship bias and sharpening going on here, but I love them.

Image credits: chiffed

#38

I love analogue photography!

I recognize that a digital camera is better in most respects like resolution (unless you're using large format cameras or special film), number of images, image rate, immediate results, ability to delete images without recourse, and so on.

But I have yet to handle a camera that feels as nice as a solid all metal mechanical marvel from decades ago, still working fine today. Even if not, these can still be serviced and handed down for generations.

Plus you can try many different types and formats of cameras for a fairly low price.

Image credits: mampfer

#39

I still have a micro cassette player that i have since 1988. I recorded my dad, my mum, who have passed away, myself when I was 18. It’s priceless. It stopped working recently but I just replaced the belt and it works now perfectly.

Image credits: dougheadline

#40

Original Nintendo DS. Never once has that video game device given me an ounce of trouble or forced me to buy some subscription service to be able to play my games. Maybe not the most advanced, but definitely the best-lasting tech gadget I’ve ever been gifted.

Image credits: lemontreetops

#41

A double edged razor. Much better and closer shave, it eliminated razor bump and ingrown hairs for me, new blades are $.10 when purchased 100 at a time from many online vendors.

Image credits: RealMichiganMAGA

#42

Record player (vinyl)

Image credits: whatstefansees

#43

I use VLC media player. It's been around since like 2000, and it's much better than the built-in video player which doesn't even support streaming or any advanced features that VLC has.

Image credits: HotChilliWithButter

#44

I have a really nice binder that holds 3-4 small notebooks in it that I use for work.

I transfer the major projects and such to Microsoft ToDo or OneNote, but for day to day note-taking, absolutely nothing beats pen and paper.

Image credits: chogram

#45

Printer with no wifi

Image credits: sigmund14

#46

Old dumb tv. Turn it on and it works. My smart TV takes minutes to turn on and load, download and install mandatory update, freeze up, restart, play ads, then freeze up again when I try to select what I want to actually watch.

Image credits: SNES_Salesman

#47

I just really wish I still had a blackberry. Damn i LOVED that keyboard!

Image credits: cecepoint

#48

Analog alarm clock. No electricity no problem. And the alarm is gentle.

Image credits: NecessaryExplorer883

#49

I used to wear a smartwatch. I travel internationally a lot for work now, and it was annoying that I had to connect to the internet to access the app to change time zones. So now I just wear a $20 Casio that lets me cycle time zones at the push of a button. Extra bonus is I don't need to charge it, which is convenient on its own and one less cord I need to bring.

edit: Never knew it was even called this, but after many comments: yes, it is a Casio Royale. Never even knew it was a whole thing, it was just what I grabbed off of Amazon at some point. Love the thing though.

Image credits: MuzzledScreaming

#50

VCR player.

Image credits: KKZBLUEEYES3



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zippy72
36 days ago
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Well I'm using three of these...
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OpenAI Is Not Training on Your Dropbox Documents—Today

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There’s a rumor flying around the Internet that OpenAI is training foundation models on your Dropbox documents.

Here’s CNBC. Here’s Boing Boing. Some articles are more nuanced, but there’s still a lot of confusion.

It seems not to be true. Dropbox isn’t sharing all of your documents with OpenAI. But here’s the problem: we don’t trust OpenAI. We don’t trust tech corporations. And—to be fair—corporations in general. We have no reason to.

Simon Willison nails it in a tweet:

“OpenAI are training on every piece of data they see, even when they say they aren’t” is the new “Facebook are showing you ads based on overhearing everything you say through your phone’s microphone.”

Willison expands this in a blog post, which I strongly recommend reading in its entirety. His point is that these companies have lost our trust:

Trust is really important. Companies lying about what they do with your privacy is a very serious allegation.

A society where big companies tell blatant lies about how they are handling our data—­and get away with it without consequences­—is a very unhealthy society.

A key role of government is to prevent this from happening. If OpenAI are training on data that they said they wouldn’t train on, or if Facebook are spying on us through our phone’s microphones, they should be hauled in front of regulators and/or sued into the ground.

If we believe that they are doing this without consequence, and have been getting away with it for years, our intolerance for corporate misbehavior becomes a victim as well. We risk letting companies get away with real misconduct because we incorrectly believed in conspiracy theories.

Privacy is important, and very easily misunderstood. People both overestimate and underestimate what companies are doing, and what’s possible. This isn’t helped by the fact that AI technology means the scope of what’s possible is changing at a rate that’s hard to appreciate even if you’re deeply aware of the space.

If we want to protect our privacy, we need to understand what’s going on. More importantly, we need to be able to trust companies to honestly and clearly explain what they are doing with our data.

On a personal level we risk losing out on useful tools. How many people cancelled their Dropbox accounts in the last 48 hours? How many more turned off that AI toggle, ruling out ever evaluating if those features were useful for them or not?

And while Dropbox is not sending your data to OpenAI today, it could do so tomorrow with a simple change of its terms of service. So could your bank, or credit card company, your phone company, or any other company that owns your data. Any of the tens of thousands of data brokers could be sending your data to train AI models right now, without your knowledge or consent. (At least, in the US. Hooray for the EU and GDPR.)

Or, as Thomas Claburn wrote:

“Your info won’t be harvested for training” is the new “Your private chatter won’t be used for ads.”

These foundation models want our data. The corporations that have our data want the money. It’s only a matter of time, unless we get serious government privacy regulation.

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zippy72
39 days ago
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The Hobbes OS/2 Archive logs off permanently in April

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Fans of the tech dinosaur have a few months to fill their drives with software

Bad news for OS/2 fans: the Hobbes OS/2 software archive is to be shuttered once and for all in April.…

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zippy72
40 days ago
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There's a mirror on archive.org already
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kazriko
39 days ago
There was already one from 2008, but they've updated it more recently.
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The Brexit self-punishment machine

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It’s tempting to ignore the government’s announcement, made in the doldrums between Christmas and the New Year, that it is to become legal to sell wine and champagne in pint bottles. It seems such a silly piece of fluff designed either to trigger remainer jeers or leaver cheers, and so it’s better not to rise to the bait. Yet on closer inspection it has more significance than that.

It certainly wasn’t ignored as fluff by Business Minister Kevin Hollinrake, who was moved to tweet that “this will help support businesses and grow the economy”, whilst the Mail celebrated it as an example of “post-Brexit freedoms” from what the Sun called the “Brussels killjoys”. For this reason alone, it’s worth discussing as an antidote to the still active, albeit increasingly risible, Brexit lie factory.

Myths about myths … built on myths

As with most Brexit stories, there is much which is obscure and convoluted, starting with whether pints of champagne were ever on sale and if so when. Without exception, every news report of this made mention of Churchill having supposedly favoured champagne pints, as if they rank with the Spitfire, or Vera Lynn singing of the white cliffs of Dover, in the endless mythologization of the Second World War that so pervades and deforms Brexity folklore. That Churchill did so was confirmed by a 2018 BBC interview with Hubert de Billy, the head of the Pol Roger company that supplied it. But it does not follow that the practice was widespread, and in that interview (which also features Brexit dunderhead ‘Sir’ Tim Martin getting all moist about Churchill), de Billy also explains that this bottle size was already dying out from the 1940s.

Meanwhile, Simon Berry, Chairman of Berry Bros and Rudd wine importers, a keen Brexiter who has campaigned for the re-introduction of champagne pints, mentions that the Conservative politician and diplomat Duff Cooper was bemoaning its demise as early as the First World War, and Berry’s own campaign started in the 1970s. At all events, it is unclear whether pints were ever available on the shelves of British shops, as opposed to direct supply, and, however supplied, it seems as if they had disappeared well before Britain joined the EU. So the whole idea of this being some fabled British tradition killed off by Brussels is a myth.

The government’s announcement implicitly acknowledged this, with the press release being titled “’Pints’ of wine stocked on Britain’s shelves for the first time ever” (emphasis added), making it clear that it is not the restoration of a pre-EU ‘freedom’ but a novelty. That press release title contains another implication, in its use of speech marks around the word ‘pints’, for, as the text of the release makes clear, what will be permitted are 568 ml bottles – in other words, a metric measure (the other new provisions are that both still and sparkling wine can be sold in 200 ml and 500 ml containers, whereas, currently, still wine cannot be sold in 200 ml and sparkling wine cannot be sold in 500 ml).

So, not only is this not a return to previous customs, it isn’t an end to even a single case of the use of metric measurements. It may well be that these 568 ml bottles – if they are ever produced, which I’ll return to – will also say on them ‘one imperial pint’, but this just opens the door to more myths.

Although the idea of champagne pints as a Brexit benefit has never been widespread – the Berry interview from August 2016, referenced above, is the first mention of it I can find – that of the restoration of imperial units of measurement has a much longer and deeper significance going back to the 2002 ‘Metric Martyrs’ prosecutions, to the extent that these are seen by some as the ultimate origin of Brexit. One myth in play here is that metrication was something imposed on the UK by the EU, whereas in fact it was a process which had begun long before joining, and the Metric Martyrs case arose within a confused mélange of EU and domestic law. A second myth is that metrication made it illegal to use imperial measures, whereas in fact it only prohibited the use of those measures alone, without also displaying their metric equivalent more prominently (it was for refusing to do this that the ‘Metric Martyrs’ were prosecuted and, in some cases, convicted). In this sense, the fact that 568 ml bottles of champagne will be permitted to also be marked as imperial pints represents no change at all.

The will of the people

Building on these myths, ever since the referendum the idea of restoring imperial units of measurement has regularly been dangled in front of leave voters, almost half of whom supported it according to a 2017 opinion poll*. It featured in Iain Duncan Smith’s TIGGR review in May 2021 and again in the government’s January 2022 ‘Benefits of Brexit’ report. Then, to coincide with the late Queen’s Platinum Jubilee, Boris Johnson announced that there would be a public consultation exercise on the matter, enthusiastically overseen by Jacob Rees-Mogg, holder of the now defunct post of Minister for Brexit Opportunities. It’s of note that even some of those who reacted to that announcement with enthusiasm were confused about what was at stake, with one market trader appearing to think it was to do with the use of decimal currency.

The consultation was launched in June 2022 and concluded in August 2022, and the results were supposed to have been announced in November 2022. However, little was then heard about it until now when, in fact, the substance of what was announced in the ‘pints of wine’ press release was the outcome of that consultation. It was presumably headlined in that way so as to distract attention from the embarrassment of what that outcome consisted of, and this probably also explains the obscure timing of the announcement. For, as anyone might have known without going to the wasted expense – the kind of waste which Rees-Mogg, who at the time was also the Minister for ‘government efficiency’, himself so often castigated – it reveals that the public regard the idea as a complete dud.

Thus, despite using a survey design widely criticized as flawed and  biased towards garnering support for the use of imperial units, of the over 100,000 responses to the consultation 98.7% were in favour of continuing to use metric measurements, whilst an utterly miserable 0.4% favoured returning to imperial units only. As a result, even this government has finally realized the game is up, and although the unteachable Rees-Mogg continues to moan (£) that this is an example of “government of the bureaucrat, by the bureaucrat, for the bureaucrat”, it is rather more obviously a case where ‘the will of the people’ is abundantly clear. Indeed, what would Rees-Mogg have the bureaucrats do? Impose imperial measures on a population almost unanimously opposed to them?

Others were more ebullient, none more than the ever-peculiar Mail columnist Peter Hitchens who rejoiced at this “blow against the metric commissars”, apparently not grasping that the only thing that has been achieved is to allow bottles of a distinctly metric 568 ml. In calling for an official pardon for the original Metric Martyr, Steve Thoburn, Hitchens also seems to have missed the fundamental point, that nothing about metrication has actually changed. Former Brexit Minister and ERG hardliner David Jones was equally easily gulled, welcoming the champagne pint but calling on the government to “go the whole hog and allow people the freedom to use imperial measures if they wish” as if the horse he is still flogging had not now been definitively pronounced as dead by this announcement.

Taking everything together, then, this is a dismally instructive story, enfolding generalized myths about the second world war and specific myths about champagne bottles, metrication, and the supposed outlawing of imperial units, stirred in with the faux-victimhood of martyrdom. Layered on this are the silly Brexit boosterism of Boris Johnson and the laboured antiquarianism of Jacob Rees-Mogg, all topped off with the disingenuity of the manner in which the whole stupid episode has finally been laid to rest. Even treated as no more than a symbol of Brexit, that makes it revealing. But there is more to it than that.

The power of size and the size of power

When Hollinrake was challenged on X-Twitter about his claim that wine pints would help businesses and economic growth he rowed back slightly, saying that “No-one is claiming this is some kind of economic game changer, just one of many incremental improvements across the business landscape that add up to £bns of benefits” and linking, presumably in support of this claim, an article from The Drinks Business, although, in fact, the article suggests that  champagne and sparkling wine producers have no plans to produce pint bottles.

That was published in February 2022, so it could be argued that the latest announcement will spur a change, but it is unlikely to be extensive. Non-UK producers have little incentive to take on the extra costs of producing pint bottles, since they will probably only be sellable in the UK (or, possibly, though I am not sure, only in Great Britain). It’s true that the UK is quite a large market – for champagne, specifically, it is the sixth largest importer by volume in the world, though, even within the EU, the Netherlands imports more – but it’s unlikely that it can be much expanded by a pint product. Perhaps some will think this worthwhile – Pol Roger, with the ‘Churchill’ association, might find it viable to produce a niche, super-premium product, and there may be others. Equally, some UK producers might create a pint product for the domestic market, though the early indications are that they will not.

In short, for the most part, wine producers in both the UK and elsewhere will continue to conform to the established global norm, including the US, of the 75cl (750 ml) bottle. It is worth reflecting on why this is the norm. Hitchens’ article actually touches on it when he notes that it is “because that is the size of bottle most people like. And — because we in Britain have always been such good customers for European wine — it is based on an old English wine measure, of roughly a pint and a third, known amusingly as . . . a 'Bottle'.” This explanation is partly based, as with some other examples in the article, on the idea that ye olde Englishe measurements are somehow ‘natural’, and so “what most people like”. But the more substantive point is the allusion to the historic importance of the British market.

Specifically, according to almost all sources, at a time when most wine was consumed in its country of origin, the main export market for French producers, especially those of Bordeaux, was Britain. The wine was shipped in barrels and, since the British measured in gallons and the French in litres, in the nineteenth century the practice emerged whereby barrels of 50 gallons or 225 litres were used, thus yielding 300 bottles of 75 cl each (clearly this is compatible with Hitchens’ account, as there are eight pints in a gallon, yielding six bottles of a pint and third, although I can find no other reference to such bottles being a traditional English measure). This 75 cl bottle size eventually became a European, and later a global, norm.

That was then, but this is now

So this is a story about the market power of Britain when it was the wealthiest country in the world and (probably) the biggest importer of wine. It could, effectively, set the standard even of a product it scarcely produced itself. This is no longer true, and, in endless different versions, that fact lies at the heart of almost everything which is happening to regulation in post-Brexit Britain. Britain has, in theory, ‘taken back control’ of the laws and regulations that govern it. In practice, it has virtually no power to do so without imposing exorbitant costs upon its already ailing economy. There may be the odd exception but generally, as Joel Reland of UK in a Changing Europe has explained, “non-divergence [from the EU] is the new consensus in British politics”.

That in itself might be enough to show the fatuity of Brexit. All that effort and expense, and the outcome is not just to stay aligned with the EU but to actually lose all control over its decisions. But the reality is worse than that. For if ‘staying aligned’ demolishes the central argument made for Brexit by its advocates, it still does relatively little to allay the costs of Brexit: Britain is aligned with single market rules, which is certainly less costly than diverging, but does not get most of the benefit of that in terms of single market membership.

What makes the single market function as such is not just shared standards but a shared system of registering, certifying, and enforcing those standards so as to remove the regulatory borders between the countries who are members of that market. Aligning standards is a necessary condition for accessing the single market, and avoids the costs of producing to dual standards, but it is not sufficient to enjoy the benefits of single market membership which entail what Michel Barnier frequently described as the EU’s “common ecosystem of rules, supervision and enforcement mechanisms”.

It is an issue which is about come to the fore again when the UK finally begins to implement full import controls on goods coming from the EU at the end of this month (unless there is a sixth delay in doing so). Why bother, if the standards are the same? Because it’s not just about the standards, it’s about the systems for ensuring and demonstrating those standards are met (it’s exactly the same issue, in reverse, which explains why the ‘Not for EU’ labelling now appearing in the UK doesn’t tell us anything about the standards to which the products so marked are made). Outside of the single market, that means border controls in some form, even if not literally ‘at the border’, which means costs and, potentially, delays.

Betwixt and between alignment and divergence

However (although, really, it is another aspect of the same basic issue) the situation of post-Brexit Britain is worse still than that of largely maintaining alignment with single market standards whilst not reaping the benefits of single market membership. What has actually been created is a situation of complete confusion because, whilst remaining largely aligned, the UK is no longer in lock-step with the EU (except for goods in Northern Ireland). It’s not just that in some relatively minor ways the UK has chosen to diverge from the EU, it is that EU regulations themselves are constantly changing, but with no UK commitment to track them (or to be bound by any disputes arising from them) or any process to do so, or even the state capacity to create such a process.

One consequence of this is that much of the burden of compliance falls on individual firms and their trade associations, which must try to keep abreast of EU changes and to comply with them. Because these changes are ongoing, it means that, as William Bain, Head of Trade Policy at the British Chambers of Commerce explained recently, it is a burden that is growing rather than being “a static mechanism” of one-off adjustment to Brexit. Stephen Phipson, CEO of MAKE UK, has a similar message: “we don’t have the regulatory capacity to keep up: it’s not intentional but we’re lagging behind”. That same report shows how the government does not even have a consistent or logical approach, so that, having dropped the general requirement on UK firms to adopt the UKCA mark rather than continuing to use CE, the construction sector is still supposed to do so by 2025. Perhaps, even probably, that, too, will end up being dropped but, for now, businesses in the sector are obliged to continue to prepare for it.

The same basic problem of having to align with the EU, for economic reasons, whilst having refused, for political reasons, to be in lockstep, is evident in the emerging situation with the EU Carbon Border Adjustment Mechanism (CBAM) and the associated issue of the EU Emissions Trading System (ETS). It is a complicated story, but in very brief the UK is set to create its own CBAM on similar lines to that of the EU. The UK can’t just ignore the EU because, despite having left it is directly affected by what the EU does. In this case, for example, a consequence of ignoring EU CBAM might be to end up having high-carbon steel from China dumped on the UK market.

However because the UK is not in lockstep, UK CBAM will come into force later (creating a ‘window’ for dumping) and, as things stand, without linking the UK CBAM and ETS and EU CBAM and ETS. Such linkage is something which might, in fact, be achievable via the existing Trade and Cooperation Agreement, and it is probably something that the next government, especially if it is a Labour government, will do. But even if so, the point holds: extra costs, uncertainties and complexities are incurred to no conceivable benefit or advantage, and with an outcome which in substantive terms is defined by the EU rather than the UK.

Self-punishment

Compared with these things, the champagne pint announcement may seem trivial. It will most likely be almost entirely ignored. But it is illustrative of a far bigger issue. It arises from a wholly nonsensical and imaginary idea of sovereignty, itself predicated on a nineteenth century view of Britain and the world. This creates a self-punishment machine where we pay a massive price to have a freedom to diverge which in most cases is too costly to exercise, like someone spending a fortune on a new car and then finding that, as they had been warned, there are no roads to drive it on.

It is easy to get lost in the detailed weeds of all this, and also to be distracted by the endless gaslighting from Brexiters, but the reality is straightforward, and the public are all too well aware of it: there is nothing that Brexit makes easier, cheaper or more pleasant. And it’s going to get worse, not better.

 

*The survey question asked itself confuses the issue, since it asked whether “selling goods in pounds and ounces” should be “brought back”, as if doing so had been outlawed.

Update (05/01/24: 08.50): to add extra piquancy to the mythological nature of Churchill’s ‘pints of champagne’, I’ve been alerted by David Scott to a report that these bottles were in fact 600 ml, rather than a 568 ml pint, and very rarely produced.


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zippy72
43 days ago
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