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* Posts by Mike Richards

3579 posts • joined 28 Feb 2007

Net pedants dismantle Quantum of Solace

Mike Richards

Have you spotted

That when James Bond appears in 'Dr. No' he's played by Sean Connery, but when he leaves 'A Quantum of Solace' he's played by Daniel Craig? How does this sort of basic continuity error slip through? I think someone in the BBC should apologise.

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DARPA wargamer calls for US X-Men superplane fleet

Mike Richards

'Ghost'

Don't remember the torture scene - was that before or after Demi Moore and the potter's wheel?

And 'supertroopers'? What are they; a low-key ABBA tribute band?

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NASA's curious climate capers

Mike Richards

@ jake @ Anonymous Coward

'Yes. The world is getting warmer. When was the last time the Thames froze over?'

Since you ask it was the winter of 1962 - 63 when it froze as far downstream as Teddington Lock. If you're asking when was the last Frost Fair then it was 1813 - 14 which is recognised as an exceptionally cold winter even for the Little Ice Age, possibly as a result of the colossal eruption of Tambora in Indonesia. It's questionable whether frost fairs were possible much later, not just because of a general warming trend, but also because the construction of London Bridge from 1825 and the Embankment changed the flow of the river, making it faster and much less likely to freeze.

'It's still not as warm as it was in Roman times. When was the last time you drank wine from grapes grown along Hadrian's Wall?'

Actually you could grow vines at Hadrian's Wall today, it's just that it doesn't make economic sense. I've heard this story about Romans and Northumberland wine a number of times, but I can't find a definitive source apart from Freddie Forsyth blustering on 'Question Time', so I wonder if the Romans ever did have vineyards that far north.

As for temperatures changing. Yes they do, it is the RATE of change in the current warming phase that is abnormal compared to other changes in the Holocene.

@ Anonymous Coward said:

'One problem we have is that severe volcanic activity a couple of centuries ago threw a lot of ash into the air and resulted in wonderful sunsets (no you don't see sunsets like Turner painted, but you did back then)'

Already factored into the calculations and we have plenty of empirical evidence from eruptions such as El Chichon and Pinatubo to know the amount of cooling these eruptions would cause.

As for not seeing sunsets like Turner's ummmm - perhaps some of Turner's paintings are impressionistic?

'Then of course we had the industrial revolution, you should therefore have seen all those CO2 emissions producing significant global warming over the 18th and 19th centuries - but that doesn't seem to be the case from the data we have.'

We're burning an order of magnitude more carbon than we were in the 18th and 19th Century when only a tiny minority of the population were consuming fossil fuels and even then only consuming a small fraction of the energy we use today.

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BNP races to get membership list off the net

Mike Richards

Human Rights Act

Strange they feel the need to use the Human Rights Act when the BNP officially opposes the introduction of the act into British Law.

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Most biometric checks will bypass ID database

Mike Richards

Eh?

Meg (yes I read it as Hitler as well) prattled: 'The Identity and Passport Service is still in the process of procurement of specific biometric systems,'

Ummm, according to Wacky Jacqui, 2009 will see the glorious issuing of the first ID cards to foreign residents and the great unwashed gagging for a Blunkettcard.

By the sounds of it they still haven't decided what system to buy, let alone install it, test it and enroll people. How the hell can the Home Office claim to be in a position to roll out the cards and infrastructure when the basics haven't been established?

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German bawdy house offers free entry for life

Mike Richards

Shagatoria

Word of the week.

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Wacky Jacqui's £12bn gIMP could be unleashed by 2012

Mike Richards

@ Anonymous Coward

'but haven't the tories and that 3rd party stated they would not follow this through? And there will almost certainly be a general election in 2010-2011?'

Yes but there's a terrifyng prospect that Labour will go to the polls with a snap election in the next few months under a campaign that can be summed up as 'free money!', 'beastly Tories talking down the Pound', 'more money for pensioners!', 'horrible American mortgages', 'lovely money for nurses!', 'ooooh look - puppies.' And any mention of civil liberties won't get a look in.

Knowing the British public, a quick tax cut is all that Labour will need to get Jacqui's GIMP and ID cards.

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BNP membership list leaks online

Mike Richards

Let me get this straight...

...People in certain occupations are banned from joining extreme political parties. This is well known and yet it looks like people in these positions have still given their job details to the BNP - which then recorded it.

Guess the entry requirements for Master Race aren't what they used to be.

Now the thorny question remains - is this a shocking intrusion on personal information or just hilarious.

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Magazine faces legal action for bowing to legal action

Mike Richards

Libel laws

The English libel laws are now such a farce that I'm amazed they've not been comprehensively binned and replaced by something more compatible with human rights legislation such as the ECHR.

Since Labour have legislated on everything else up to and including selling squirrels (you can't!) why have they left these dreadful laws on the statute book?

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Still sending naked email? Get your protection here

Mike Richards

Have to agree - it's too complex

I've just tried installing GPG on a new Linux box, I followed the instructions and what happens? The make file doesn't - well - make. The error is unintelligible to me, I have absolutely no idea how to fix the problem and so my machine goes without protection.

The suggestion above that Thunderbird needs to ship with this sort of security out of the box is an excellent one. Install it (preferably with a click interface) then follow the one-off wizard to set up protection.

Until then...

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Judge says tech-addled jurors undermine justice

Mike Richards

@ Dan

'judge who famously interrupted a trial to ask what a web page was'

Actually the judge was doing everyone a favour not showing ignorance. The defence and prosecution were using different definitions of Internet technology which could have had some bearing on the outcome.

There have been attempts to improve this situation by getting the two sides to agree terminology and to introduce experts called amici curiae into trials where large amounts of specialised information must be discussed.

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India draws up own Google Earth plan

Mike Richards

@ Anonymous Coward

So it's just me who thinks that building world-class technology that's in commercial demand might be a way for India to grow its economy and lift people out of poverty?

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Amazon UK pulls Scientology exposé for 'legal reasons'

Mike Richards

@ Tom Austin

'(Also, why hydrogen bombs in particular? What's wrong with basic atomic bombs? Or more hi-spec nuclear / neutron? Is there some kind of specific blast yield that only hydrogen bombs can deliver? Confused.)'

See it's cynics like you that spoil Scientology for everyone. L Ron spent literally *minutes* doing the exhaustive 'research' needed to come up with the 'evidence' that makes "Dianetics" the sort of book it is - a doorstop.

Somehow L Ron got that bit right*. H-bombs can have an unlimited yield, you're just limited by the amount of fusion fuel. Old-fashioned, bargain basement atom bombs are limited to less than a megaton - and here's a bit that will make the heart of a Brit swell with pride - the biggest ever fission bomb explosion was BRITISH - Orange Herald at 720 kilotonnes - even Xenu would be scared by that.

* I 'spose it's like monkeys and typewriters. If you leave a really shite science fiction author in front of a blank page long enough they might get something right. I think the BBC is trying something similar with their technology correspondents.

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Royal Society of Chemistry defines perfect Yorkshire pud

Mike Richards

To combine threads

How can I use a Yorkshire pudding to solve 'The Italian Job'?

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Carphone Warehouse denies mass Linux Webbook recall

Mike Richards

Love my Aspire One - but...

...the distributors of subnotebooks have got to get better at supporting the 'average' user. My Aspire One is brand new, but it has old versions of Firefox and Open Office pre-installed with no easy way of updating them to the newer releases.

So I've been on a steep learning curve to bring my machine up-to-date and make sure it is secure; I wouldn't like to see how my parents would cope. I've been using UNIX for [ahem] years now and it's still much fiddlier on the Aspire than it is on a Windows machine.

But it is kind of nice to be sudo ing again. ;)

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Half of Brits abuse apostrophe's

Mike Richards

My biggest bugbear...

...is that the greengrocers' apostrophe has escaped into the wild and can be found infesting the media section of Tesco like a particularly nasty boll weevil resulting in horrors like [and look away now if you're easily scared]

CD's and DVD's.

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Finland's flawed e-voting scheme - blame the voters?

Mike Richards

Ways of stopping this sort of problem

If this is more than someone covering their asses; then the supposed problem of voters removing their cards too early could have been prevented by basing the machine on an ATM which only releases a card when the transaction is complete. And perhaps a machine that displays 'Thank-you' to show the interaction is over.

Or a paper receipt containing a unique code and a phone number or URL that would let a voter check their vote at a later date.

Or, they could have used (and stop me if this gets too nose-bleedingly technical), a piece of paper, a pencil on a string and a box.

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White House network pwned 'multiple' times by Chinese

Mike Richards

On the upside...

...the Chinese might be able to provide investigators with Bush's 'missing' email archive.

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Swedish transsexuals offered prosthetic todgers

Mike Richards

Interesting whitepaper link

Just below the headline:

'Free whitepaper: Prosthetic Penises in the Data Centre'

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Cream drummer may flash ginger nuts in court

Mike Richards

We demand!

A PlayMobil reconstruction.

Hey, it makes a difference from court artist sketches.

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Passport and ID card price hike laundered via private sector

Mike Richards

Post Office - they must be joking?

I queued for 20 minutes at a post office yesterday to post a parcel. Every other person was there putting money in or taking money out, paying bills, getting travel money, you name it... am I now going to have to stand in line while people have their eyeballs scanned three or four times before being told the machine isn't working.

And how long before the Paul Daniels fronted advertising campaign for Tesco Biometrics - with Clubcard points? Oooh probably shouldn't give them ideas, half the population would flock to Tescos if they thought they could get half price KitKats in exchange for their liberty.

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MP calls for Jezza Clarkson's head

Mike Richards

As theyworkforyou says

http://www.theyworkforyou.com/mp/chris_mole/ipswich

Voted for the Iraq war, ID cards, foundation hospitals, student fees, current anti-terror laws and for replacing Trident. Since he doesn't have any independent thoughs on the big issues, he's got plenty of time to come up with stupid irrelevances of his own.

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Sony pitches blue-laser Compact Disc revival

Mike Richards

Hold on a moment

When they launched CD Sony promised 'Perfect Sound - Forever.'

Have I been lied to by an advertiser? I'm shocked! Shocked I tell you!

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Nasty Toryboy bloggers ate my politics, claims Blears

Mike Richards

@ Chris

'Is she seriously suggesting that there are people who think the Labour government is left of centre?'

Ah but that's the joy of New Labour. They talk (a lot) about 'moving the centre of British politics' to wherever it is that New Labour is camped out at any given time. The gutless rump of the Labour Party that is to the left of New Labour can then be given a Blearsian hug and called 'left-of-centre'. It's genius when you think about it; New Labour can move ever rightwards to appeal to the Daily Mail, call itself a centrist party AND mop up the Left Wing vote.

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Lords demand DNA database deletions

Mike Richards

Ummm folks...

The Lords haven't done anything that can't be undone by the Commons. The Lords have voted to amend part of the current Counter Terrorism Bill rather than pass it unchanged. The amended bill now has to go back to the House of Commons where the government can simply remove the amendment, pass *that* version of the Bill and send THAT back to the Lords for a further reading. The Lords could then choose to re-amend the bill and send that back - so-called Parliamentary Ping Pong - when all sorts of loathsome government toadies come out of the wood work to rail against the Lords frustrating democracy.

However, I don't think it'll go that far, because of Parliamentary timing. The current session is coming to an end later this month and it is unusual for a bill to be carried from one session to another. If the bill is not given Royal Approval before Parliament is preroged then the whole bill falls and must be reintroduced from the very beginning. So the government will be expecting the Lords to accept Parliamentary Supremacy and to accept the original version passed by the Commons on the grounds that the House of Commons (and don't laugh now) represents the will of the people - okay take a few minutes to compose yourselves.

For the Lords to stand firm and refuse to let the Commons get its way would be incredible. The government could choose to force the bill through using one of the two Parliament Acts, but I'm not sure if this is one of the bills the PAs are supposed to apply to.

All of which shows why the British model of the legislature is broken. We still have a bicamaral assembly, but the Commons has decided that all of the power is held in one chamber. Much better if we had either a unicamaral parliament or the American model of two elected chambers with different voting systems and different election dates. The Labour Party approach to reforming the HoL would be to make it just as toadying to the executive as the Commons. So like most of the people here, I'm with the Lords on this one.

Now if only we could get a proper consitution...

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Michael Crichton dead at 66

Mike Richards

'Eaters of the Dead'

Thomas Shinnick wrote: 're-imagined an old Anglo-Saxon tale'.

Actually it's based on an incomplete account by the Arab Ibn Fadlan of his encounters with Swedes ;) Crichton's brilliant idea was to start his book where the Ibn Fadlan account suddenly breaks off.

The book is excellent, the movie much less so. An annotated version of the original Ibn Fadlan narrative is here:

http://www.uib.no/jais/v003ht/03-001-025Montgom1.htm

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US air force inks 'tactical' space-war deal

Mike Richards

@ Anonymous Coward

'So the real gig is to slide up next to it and covertly disable it somehow. You could spray stuff on its solar cells, you could bend or snip antennas, etc. and hopefully make it look like standard random failures and debris impacts.'

The Soviet Union tried something like this from 1967 with a series of tests by Kosmos satellites which sidled up close to other satellites and then - ummm - exploded - so 9 out of 10 for effort, 2 out fo 10 for covertness.

The program was declared a success and was said to be operational from 1971 until 1987 when it was going to be replaced by a mysterious program called Polyus. Only one Polyus launch was attempted but rather than reach orbit it ended up in the South Pacific - that had lasers, presumably it now has sharks AND lasers.

And it was huge: http://www.astronautix.com/craft/polyus.htm

(Is it just me being of a certain age, but doesn't that erector look like something Gerry Anderson would have come up with?)

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Orange ditches Phorm

Mike Richards

BT Phorm Trials

Remember them? Has anyone here know of a BT customer who got roped into the trials?

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Mandelson's dept mulls UK internet power grab

Mike Richards

Can't kick the habit...

Looks like New Labour have become nationalisation junkies and are busy looking for things they can take into 'public' ownership without upsetting their gazillionaire friends and donors.

Brown's lot are getting like the Attlee government - albeit without the competence, decency, intelligence, sense of purpose or flat caps.

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E-voting fears run high as election day looms

Mike Richards

Not a very good conspiracy

Let's get the paranoia out of the way first. This doesn't sound like a fraud to me - after all if you wanted to rig an election, would you let the voter know that you were doing it?

It sounds more like an HCI issue. Without seeing the machines it's hard to say what could be going wrong, but I'm going to guess... if these are touch screen machines either they've never been calibrated or the calibration has drifted so much that presses are being misregistered. Alternatively it it is an ATM style machine with hardware buttons, it's possible the layout of the on-screen ballot is just lousy.

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MoD pledges greener buying

Mike Richards

Love it!

A sustainable development policy for an organisation that's going to be buying more hydrogen bombs.

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Home Office acts to kick out Iceland's hate preachers

Mike Richards

Bloody Scandinavians

Coming over here raising uproar about their progressive social policies, high standards of literacy and education and preaching tolerance. Mind you, with the Icelandic economy officially titsup.com, have they thought about recapitalising their banks the old-fashioned Viking way?

Oh and just to remind Jacqui: Íslendingar eru ekki hryðjuverkamenn.

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Financial meltdown hits Hilton where it hurts

Mike Richards

One for the physics boffins

'Well, it remains to be seen if Paris can survive on a paltry £25,000 or so a month, but if she does have trouble paying the rent we suggest she moves in with her new chum Katie Price, aka Jordan, who was recently spotted with our fave celebutard.'

If you keep adding micro-celebrities together, do they eventually reach some critical mass beyond which they coalesce into someone we might just care about?

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BBC's TV detector vans to remain a state secret

Mike Richards

@ Damn Yank

'You have to pay a license fee for over-the-air television??'

It's a small price to avoid being told to ask your doctor about irritable bowels which appears to be the only way American TV is funded these days.

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NASA's greatest clanger

Mike Richards

@ Tom Paine

'Things were fabulous in 1973, kids today have no idea. We only had to work three days a week, you know. Worker's paradise, it was...'

And it's back!

In 1973, we had an unpopular government, nationalisation, a run on the banks, collapsing house prices, rising unemployment, an economy in the crapper, energy supply problems and to top it all we were busy losing a war with Iceland.

Now all we need is Jon Pertwee back as the Doctor.

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Oprah cuddles Kindle

Mike Richards

'Does no-one go to libraries anymore'

Ever since libraries became Internet cafes cum social centres cum kindergartens the number of books they stock has plummeted and been reduced to a selection ranging from 'Blood! Action! Death!' (the anonymised recollections of someone who may or may not have been in the SAS), to 'Look at Me! Look at Me!' (the autobiography of an 18-year old tattooed oik who lasted all the way to week 3 of 'Big Brother'), by way of 'Kiss Me You Fool' (romantic fiction for ladies of advanced years in which nothing more erotic than a cardigan is removed, and even then without teeth being involved - either in the romancing or indeed in the audience).

So if you want a book that, ooooh I dunno, involves thinking, you have to order a title which takes anything from a week to year before you get the inevitable, 'Sorry our only copy got eaten by a badger during the construction of a bypass.'

About time they put books back in libraries and developed a new generation of librarians (possibly even robot libraries with death rays) that know when to say Shhh! and fix people with a petrifying glare over half-moon spectacles.

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'Magnetic Death Star' fragments unearthed in New Jersey

Mike Richards

Never wanting to doubt the mighty Register

But are you *sure* the Caltech boffins mentioned superpowers in their paper?

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Gov approval given for Saudi Eurofighter sale

Mike Richards

Of course the US approved it...

...because now Israel will demand the latest gee-whizz hardware from American companies to tackle the new Saudi threat.

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Putin's dog gets satnav tracker collar

Mike Richards

Hold on...

''but Moscow is probably more interested in military operations and the guidance systems of missiles.''

They're putting labradors into missiles? The bastards.

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Designer touts 'super sight' sunglasses

Mike Richards

Impressive

Especially if it could expand certain cyclists' vision to tell them when they're cycling on the pavement.

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Thrust SSC team to build 1000 mph 'Bloodhound' car

Mike Richards

Fantastic sense of priorities here

Only a few weeks ago the government said that the expensively useless practice of strapping someone in a tin can and firing it straight up will encourage children to take an interest in science and technology; now the expensively useless practice of strapping someone in a tin can and firing it sideways will encourage kids to take an interest in science and technology.

Because obviously no one could be interested in dinosaurs, volcanoes, explosions and radiation just because they're awesome could they????

The only important question these pork barrel projects can answer is - 'What is the effect on science and technology education when the men in spaulas arrive to scrape the test subject into a bucket?'

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Bank of England prescribes 'boredom'

Mike Richards

On the upside...

The Pound is still stronger than the Icelandic Krona.

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India's Moon shot takes to the skies

Mike Richards

Re: photographic Apollo sites

The camera on Chandrayaan-1 has a minimum resolution of 5m - really amazing for a geological survey - but not quite enough to pick out details Apollo LM lower stages and the Moon Rovers left by the America. It *MAY* be enough to show SOMETHING is there, especially if they can photograph one of the landing sites in favourable lighting conditions when the American kit is all a twinkle, but don't get to hopeful of seeing Richard Nixon's lunar signature any time soon.

Your best hope is next year's Lunar Reconnaisance Orbiter (LRO) due to blast off from Kennedy late next April. It has a stunning 0.5m resolution, easily capable of resolving the landing sites and it is planned to make several passes over each of the Apollo sites.

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Top prosecutor warns against growing state power

Mike Richards

Home Office consultation, New Labour style

'We asked a representative panel of intellectuals comprised of David Aaronovitch, Nick Cohen, Jon Gaunt, Melanie Phillips and Gary Bushell under the prestigious chairmanship of Kelvin McKenzie to discuss their opinion of government proposals.'

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Amazon UK downplays Kindle Christmas

Mike Richards

Dumb quote

Kindle will work just fine on the beach, it has 180Mb of online storage and has an SD card. You just won't be able to get the downloads over EVDO.

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BBC clarifies location of England

Mike Richards

Further help for the still confused

Shouldn't it also have an arrow pointing left to show where Wales is relative to America? And one sort of north, north west to show the all important geographic Cambrian relationship to Iceland. Not to mention one pointing sort of south so I can locate Wales' position from Tristan da Cunha.

Bloody dumbing down of the BBC...

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UK puts £55m into disabled parking reform

Mike Richards

Easier solution

Bring back those weird pale blue 2mph 'Invalid Carriages' that used to potter round in the 1960s and 70s*.

Under my new policy, if you wanted a disabled badge you'd have to use one of those. The new policy would be like Biblical feel-good story; with the prospect of being forced to use an Invalid Carriage, tens of thousands of drivers all across Britain would be mysteriously healed of their crippling (but strangely unidentifiable) diseases and be free to continue driving sportscars and SUVs.

* For youngsters, they were something like the GWizz (favoured by slebs in London) but without the social stigma.

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UK.gov says: Regulate the internet

Mike Richards

Outsourcing...

Why doesn't the UK government save a shed-load of money by simply outsourcing Internet policing to the People's Republic of China?

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Invest in Britain, it's fingerprinting good

Mike Richards

Entertainer visas will be easier to get

So our best defence against terror is the hope that Osama bin Laden can't get his comic exploding dog act booked for the panto season in Margate.

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HP-EDS combo makes General Motors 'uncomfortable'

Mike Richards

Blimey

GM were in the economic crapper before HP got their hands on EDS. With them on board it'll be like the captain of the Titanic deciding to take another swing at the iceberg because they didn't quite hit it last time.

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