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MarkC

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Everything posted by MarkC

  1. I thoroughly enjoyed the 50th anniversary episode, from the original theme music at the start through to "the curator" at the end. So nice to see Delia Derbyshire get a credit in the closing titles as well.
  2. Last night I carved a pumpkin, lit tealights inside and sat it on the windowsill of my front room. Despite having a box chocolates ready, I got no trick-or-treaters at all On my way home from work I passed a herd of about 30 children dressed up and being shepherded by various adults (in high-vis jackets) around a different part of the village. I guess all the local children had been rounded up into some kind of "official" activity (seems to go slightly against the grain for Samhain, but maybe that's just me) so there were none left by the time I was ready for them.
  3. Apparently there were over 200 trees down across railway lines yesterday morning, which was why most of the train operators did not start services until after 9am. I chose a different route to work, avoiding roads I knew could flood, fortunately with it being half term the traffic was a lot lighter. Our office building, which was originally the stables for the pub over the road when it was an inn and post office, suffered a bit with the rain. There was rain water running down the wall next to me in the morning. The inside wall, over the wallpaper!
  4. http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/0/speedway/24412504 Britain has its first Speedway GP world champion in 13 years. Well done to Tai Woffinden. I was watching the final round on Eurosport on Saturday evening cheering him on from my sofa
  5. I didn't have to make any subject choices until the start of the 4th form, for 'O' levels. In the two years prior to that we had some "careers" consultation where the requirements for particular jobs or pre-requisites for university entrance were outlined. It wasn't even thought about when I selected which secondary school I wanted to attend, should I pass the 12 plus. I guess things must have changed a lot. Actually, before I started secondary school my parents still believed that their sons would leave school and get a job at 16 like they did. 'A' levels and university were definitely not in their thought process!
  6. In conversation I've never seen the need to use someone's name or title. If I'm talking to someone, I don't need to address a question or statement to them by name. Similarly I prefer it if people don't do it when talking to me, but if they must for some reason then I want them to use my first name. When I was looking for houses a few years ago, one of the local estate agents needed to use my name in every sentence, I found it most peculiar. There was no-one else present so there was no danger anyone else would think they were being spoken to so I couldn't see the point. More than that, I really, really dislike being called "Sir". I haven't been knighted by the queen. Of course, I'm not a teacher so don't have to contend with pupils wanting to attract my attention. Interesting about Germany, I wonder if it's a result of German still retaining formal and informal version of the second person pronouns which forces people to think about forms of address more.
  7. My mortgage is the same as yours and my income is lower. I normally have money over at the end of the month, despite having more cars than is sensible for one person and all of them costing me plenty of money to maintain, plus I seem to be spending a fortune dealing with 40 years of bad decor and neglect in my home. So, as meg says, write everything down and see where it all goes - go back over several months if you have bank and credit card statements. Have a look at regular outgoings by DD/SO, do they all need to be there? Some things can't be avoided, like paying for the electric, but others can (e.g. Lovefilm type subscriptions - I'm guilty of this, I haven't watched any of the DVDs they sent me weeks ago so I'm paying them to do nothing). I know people that kept gym memberships running as a statement of intent, not because they actually ever went to the gym that they were members of. Food : One thing I found was that lunches can cost a bomb if you go out and buy a sandwich every day, so I take my lunches in. I buy my meat in bulk, portion it up and freeze it then only go to the supermarket for perishables. It is very rare that I have takeaways, even rarer that I eat out and aside from the occasional supermarket pizza I don't buy any ready made meals. This keeps my food budget well down, around £100/month for one person (it goes up in term time as I eat in a cafe before my evening class to save driving home to cook then driving back in to Bristol) and I eat a self-cooked meal every evening.
  8. Is it fixed now? With Sky+ it stops working if the box doesn't have a working incoming satellite signal, so when the wind blew my dish out of alignment I not only lost broadcast TV but couldn't watch any of the stuff I had recorded until I had it re-aligned (Sky say this is to stop people unplugging their box and taking it round to someone else's house so they can watch a program recorded onto the box). Sky charged about £60 a go to send a man in a van round to move it the 1/4" back into alignment, so I got a local independent installer to replace the whole thing, which resisted the wind better but eventually I lost half the channels following a gale. Since I can't climb ladders above a few feet and the existing dish is at the ridge line perhaps 16' from the ground, I bought my own dish and positioned it round the back of the house (mine's a bungalow) on a pole just above the gutter where I could reach it should I need to re-align it, and installed it and all the cabling myself. No further problems so far, fingers crossed.
  9. MarkC

    Anonymity

    There are two strands to anonymity on the internet in the context of discussion forums, whether ones like this, facebook groups, or whatever. The first is identification of posters by visitors, so anyone visiting the site can see that a Jane Smith wrote a particular post. I don't think this is necessary or of any benefit, there is no need for anyone to be able to track everything another person writes on the internet and I can't see this ever being legislated for - enforcing it would be near impossible anyway. The second is the ability to identify posters by the site owners or ultimately the police or third parties that wish to litigate. This I am in favour of, because of the way defamation law in the UK is written. At present in addition to the author of a defamatory post, the website hosting a defamatory post is liable as the publisher, even though the website owner did not write it or even agree with it. The site owner will be identifiable and potentially an easier target for the litigant than the original author (tracking them down might require one or more applications to the court for Norwich Pharmacal orders, if it's possible at all). I would like the law changed to remove publisher liability for user generated content, but at the same time to require the user to be indentifiable to the site owner (but not necessarily to visitors) so that they can be made to stand by their words in a court, if necessary. I stand by my words, I expect others to do the same. (That's the short version, the long version includes a discussion on the merits and problems of the "notify and take down" system that arose out of Godfrey vs Demon Internet)
  10. Since Dark Horse started up their new "Star Wars" series around the start of the year and I realised my trips to Forbidden Planet weren't frequent enough to ensure I got every issue, I started subscribing so I wouldn't miss issues. The trouble with this is that every time I see something interesting I add it to my order and the list gets ever longer - currently it looks like this: Star Wars Ten Grand The X-files s10 Saga The Star Wars (no.1 just out) Sandman : Overture (no.1 not out yet) Anyone else following series as they are published each month?
  11. Bought the first volume, read it, immediately bought the second volume and started a subscription from number 13. So it's fair to say I like it! I've always been a bit of a sucker for "love triumphs against the odds" type stories though.
  12. Fantasy set (inevitably) in pre-industrial times, with magic, non-human races, which considers the contention between hereditary rule and democratic representation (you don't find many high fantasy novels with elected parliaments in my experience), and what limits a society would place on the use of magic to stop those able from becoming despots. I've also had an idea with a similar initial premise to Apple's floating around since I was a teenager, but since I was one of those teenagers that very much knew their own mind, I'd tell the story of one that refused to be labelled a victim by the groupthink of social services, the police, CPS and their political masters, none of whom seem able to accept that the ability to make decisions is not formed overnight on one's 16th (or 18th) birthday. That one was inspired by the actions of one Mrs Victoria Gillick, who fought a legal battle through the courts while I was a teenager.
  13. It gives context, but IMO the series doesn't really find its feet until the final comic included in the collection ("The sound of her wings"), then really gets going in the second collection, "The dolls' house". This one includes my favourite individual issue, "Men of good fortune", which introduces Hob Gadling, who is in turn my favourite comic character (to return to the topic). The other I would mention is Gaiman's version of Death, from the same series.
  14. If I do end up eating out alone, which will only happen if I'm away for home for some reason, I will quite happily read a book while waiting between courses. At home I eat my food, then I find somewhere more comfortable to read.
  15. Yes, I live just outside Bristol. They fly the balloons very early in the morning or in the evening, there's a good reason for it (which I either don't know or have forgotten!)
  16. I've just had to turn down my friend who asked for help at the balloon festival this weekend as I managed to fully book myself working at motorsport things. Argh. I'm actually due a ride on his balloon as I've helped enough in the past. Maybe next year!
  17. MarkC

    Opening Lines

    Since I remember this one, it has to be good! "The sky above the port was the colour of television, tuned to a dead channel", which sci-fi enthusiasts will know is from Neuromancer, by William Gibson. I have corrected the spelling of "colour" from how it was published
  18. An up front fee of 20% on a one week loan is going to work out to around 1000% APR (that's a very rough guess, it's too early in the morning for logarithms) So borrow £100 for one week and repay £120 (and a few pence for the interest), APR=1000%. If you eliminate the setup fees and charge market interest rates, say 20% APR like a credit card, the £100 borrowed for one week attracts 38 pence in interest. However with that rate of return for the lender there is no point given the risk of bad debt, so anyone wanting a short term loan will either need to pawn something, or go to an "unregulated lender" (a genuine loan shark). Basically, quoting an APR for a very short term loan gives a figure that will always be very high, the fact is that any setup fee will have an enormous effect on the APR. I welcome the CofE entering the short term lending market, but unless they can magically get customers that all do not default, or are prepared to underwrite losses that will inevitably come from defaults from their other income I don't see how they are going to get interest rates that far down without running at a loss. I'm not an accountant though
  19. Used to be Amazon for collections, but nowadays I enjoy a trip into Bristol to Forbidden Planet and I always visit the huge Shaftesbury avenue branch if I'm in London, usually either coming from or heading too the (even more huge) Waterstones on Piccadily.
  20. I used to keep a list an averaged a novel a week. For about the last five years it's been more like 20/year though, too many other demands on my time,
  21. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-23424289 Jane Austen to be the face of the next £10 note design. I approve!
  22. On the 24 hour news channels here they had reporters stood outside the hospital saying essentially the same thing over and over, intercut with pictures of an empty easel outside the palace. The government managed to bury its plans to censor the Internet (like that will work) under the welter of baby speculation.
  23. I have been in Edinbugh in the winter and you can always tell who are the locals. While I had about nine layers on and was still cold, they were wandering around with just a light coat over their normal clothes. So I guess that if you can deal with the cold you don't cope so well with the heat.
  24. It's 29C here (may be up to 30C now) and I went out for a walk in my lunch hour as it is so lovely. I think it's hotter in the office than out, because we have a flat roof and the only ventilation is from opening the few openable windows. Yesterday I sat outside in the shade of a tree and read for an hour. I complain often and loudly about the cold in winter, so I'm unlikely to complain when the weather is good!
  25. That would take me down to 5st 4lbs (I managed to drop 10lbs earlier this year following a few minor diet changes and am back to what I weighed 10 years ago), which would not be a good look for me.
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