Wednesday, December 30, 2020

The Civil Servants and the Time Warp

 Those of us of a certain age and with particular interests in popular software have been having a quiet chuckle as some of the details buried within the UK-EU Brexit trade deal come to light. It appears that the civil servants who drafted it have been locked in a cupboard for the past twenty years, for the document makes explicit reference to Netscape, Mozilla Mail and Outlook as leading technologies. The kindest commentators have suggested that it was getting very late, there was pressure to complete a section on security in IT and someone did what they always do in such circumstances, dig out the previous file and copy the most likely looking bits.

It's funny because, of course, if they had applied this to other sections of the document, then it would been noticed and edited before being released to an incredulous public. Let me give you some examples of errors that would, one hopes, have never seen the light of day.

Transport: - Heavier than Air Flight
Hot-air Balloon stations shall be maintained at the frontiers of each contracting party with adequate supplies of heated air so as to facilitate the onward journeys of the aeronauts.

Fishing: - Whaling
Supplies of sperm oil, baleen and blubber are to be zero rated for tariffs

Alcoholic Beverages:- Tariffs
A maximum import tariff of 10% of the net landed cost may be applied for Mead, Sack, Finest Rhenish and the true, the blushful Hippocrene. Beakers of the Warm South must not exceed 15ltrs. Libations poured to the gods before commencing a journey are exempt.

Opiates and similar controlled drugs: - Sale conditions
Opium, morphine, laudanum, cocaine and related narcotics may be sold freely provided that
a) They are sold in bottles  with labels showing reassuring, full-bearded, gentlemen drinking them.
b) They are branded as "Dr Fields' Essential Remedy for all Household Ills" or similar.
c) They are labelled as "Absolutely harmless"

Computers and electronic equipment: - Security
Babbage Calculating Engines are of strategic significance to the British Empire UK and to the High Contracting Parties of the Congress of Vienna EU  and the export of same is forbidden.

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