* Posts by Kubla Cant

1233 posts • joined 28 Jun 2010

Tea, Earl Grey, hot! NASA blows $125k on Star Trek 3D FOOD PRINTER

Kubla Cant
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Windows

The inkjet will handle “micronutrients, flavour and smell” ... but everything will taste like ink.

Will it be able to produce "a concoction that is almost, but not quite, entirely unlike tea"?

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Happy 23rd birthday, Windows 3.0

Kubla Cant
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"popular app Notepad"

I don't think I've ever seen that combination of words before.

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BMW offers in-car streaming music for cross-Europe road trips

Kubla Cant
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Re: My method

The problem with this solution is that you have to fiddle with the MP3 player to select music. A service that streams on demand, or an integrated media player, allows you to use the head unit controls and screen, which is a bit safer.

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Kubla Cant
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Embedded SIM

There's been an integrated SIM and 3G connection for at least the past five years. You can use it to browse the Internet, as long as the car is stationary and you're very, very patient. Entering text using the iDrive's twiddle/press interface is dire. You can also send a location from Google Maps to your car's satnav.

The traffic data, I think, is supplied through a radio link. It's certainly available on satnavs that don't have a 3G data connection.

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FLABBER-JASTED: It's 'jif', NOT '.gif', says man who should know

Kubla Cant
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I believe "sequel" reflects the fact that it was originally Structured English Query Language.

But in my experience, Oracle users say "sequel" because it's easier to say "sequel-plus" and "P-L-sequel". Sybase and Microsoft users say "S-Q-L" because it's easier after "Transact".

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Kubla Cant
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Re: Hard G, Mr Wilhite (what sort of name is that anyway?)

When there's an LCD display it makes it easier to enter your PIN number.

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Kubla Cant
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Pirate

Re: Apologies to Izzard

And we also say ghoti.

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Kubla Cant
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Re: nah mate

In America, Jif refers to peanut butter. End of story.

You clean the kitchen with peanut butter? Must be messy.

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Kubla Cant
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giga

I say gigabyte with an initial hard {g}, but there seems to be a community for "jigger-bite".

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Kubla Cant
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Headmaster

Re: idiots saying "jay-peg"

I disagree. There's a fairly well-established convention that when adjacent consonants in acronyms can't be pronounced as a composite, the leading consonant(s) get their alphabetic pronunciation. Hence jay-peg, bee-dos, etc.

I don't know about you, but I stopped naming letters "a, buh, cuh,...juh" at the age of six.

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EU boffins in plan for 'more nutritious' horsemeat ice cream

Kubla Cant
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Re: hecatonne?

A hecatomb was an Ancient Greek sacrifice to the gods of 100 cattle. I suppose this is related.

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Kubla Cant
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Windows

Re: "a Russian company specialised in production of protein-enriched food stuffs"

That's a phrase to inspire confidence, isn't it?

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Space dogs and Dragons: A brief history of reentry tech

Kubla Cant
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Oak

I'm sure I read that one of the Chinese capsules had a heat-shield made of oak. Maybe that was just Yankee devil propaganda.

I don't know why an oak heat-shield should be funny. If it's a suitable material it makes sense to use it. But I can't get rid of the image of astronauts re-entering the atmosphere on a dining table.

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Review: Sony Xperia SP

Kubla Cant
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Battery

My HTC phone is on its fourth, maybe fifth, battery. OK, it's three years old. Maybe batteries have improved in that time, but I don't suppose they've become immortal.

I like the look of this phone, but I don't fancy spending £300 on a phone that turns to junk when the battery dies.

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They WANT to EAT YOUR COMPUTER - welcome your ANT overlords

Kubla Cant
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Headmaster

Re: Solution???

Upvote for "a cross between a Jack Russell and a Tiger Tank" - brilliant.

But "egregarious"? Seems to a combination of "egregious", meaning "standing out from the flock", and "gregarious", meaning "running with the flock".

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Stephen Hawking nixes Intel voice upgrade plan

Kubla Cant
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@Hieronymus Howerd

Yet bath overflows do happen. My impression is that two taps can fill faster than the overflow drain can empty.

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Marks & Sparks accused of silently bonking punters over the tills

Kubla Cant
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Mushroom

Bad faith

I can see that contactless payments offer benefits for retailers because they speed up transactions and reduce cash throughput. I suppose there's a benefit for card companies because they increase card throughput. But what's in it for me?

The BBC programme included these pathetic attempts at exculpation from a card company drone:

"If you lose cash, it's gone, but that's not the case with a card" (nothing to do with contactless payment).

"The most you can lose is £50" (I want a system where the most I can lose is zero).

OK, maybe the system is really secure, and the chance of error infinitesimal. But I don't want it, and I regard the card companies' refusal to issue cards without contactless payment as evidence of bad faith.

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Crack Army pilot to be first PROPER British astronaut IN SPAAAACE

Kubla Cant
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Countdown commencing

Breaks the metre, it should be "Commencing countdown".

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So you want to be a contractor? Well, here's how it works

Kubla Cant
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Re: OK, just a couple of points as advisories...

I don't expect upvotes for this, in fact I can scarcely believe I'm doing it, but I'm going to defend agents.

Many of the agents who call me are wasting their time and mine by following up an inappropriate match. Few of them are people whose company and conversation I'd naturally choose. Some of them are unscrupulous.

But would I want to do their job? Not in a million years. Is the service they provide valuable to me? Of course it is - that's where my income comes from.

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Kubla Cant
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Headmaster

Re: Indeedy

Dunno about you, but I've frittered it all away on mortgages and school fees.

The best contracting year is the first. Suddenly your income is hugely more than what you're used to. By year two you're getting used to it, and by year three your "essential" expenses have expanded effortlessly to match your income. That's life, I suppose.

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Kubla Cant
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Joke

Re: Women Contractors

£6.5M is a typical contract rate.

(see icon)

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US government wants security research on car-to-car nets

Kubla Cant
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Unhappy

“vehicle cybersecurity”

That horse has well and truly bolted already. A while ago, El Reg reported on a fascinating paper describing how researchers attached a radio device to a car's system bus and were able to take control of anything. In theory there's supposed to be security separating the safety-critical systems from things like the radio, but they found that it was easily circumvented, and that they were able to take over the brakes and accelerator of a moving car.

You only have to spend some time with the UI of a car's computer to realise that it was designed by people who are new to this sort of thing, and probably more at home with nuts and bolts.

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Microsoft conceals job ad in Bing homepage

Kubla Cant
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Windows

Re: So here is the question-

My recollection is that if you have the debugger enabled in IE, it offers to debug any site with errors (maybe that's just script errors).

This is especially annoying, as few sites are completely error-free. If you're working on cross-browser pages, especially if you're targeting earlier versions of IE, then you'll certainly have the IE debugger enabled because IE is where your bugs will be.

A good approximation to hell is trying to debug client script on IE6 using its so-called debugger. It generally terminates with a stack dump on good days, or a BSOD on bad ones.

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Boffins find world's oldest virgin water trapped in Earth's crust

Kubla Cant
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Pirate

Re: The perfect gift . . .

[tm registered to Coca Cola]

Unlikely. When Coca Cola launched a bottled water brand in Britain it was soon revealed that the contents were actually tap water, from Surbiton, if I remember correctly. It wasn't long after that that the brand was withdrawn.

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Kubla Cant
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Piece of cake

So all they have to do on Mars is find a zinc and copper mine 1.5 miles deep, get to the bottom in one piece, then drill boreholes. Should be a piece of cake for the Curiosity rover.

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Things that cost the same as coffee with Tim Cook - and are WAY more fun

Kubla Cant
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Re: Charger...

Why does a dog lick his balls?

Because he can.

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Dark blue side of the Force used to quell Star Wars nerd clash

Kubla Cant
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Joke

Who won?

It was a meeting of Star Wars enthusiasts. Nobody won: they were all losers.

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Microsoft: YES! You can have your desktop back again for FREE!

Kubla Cant
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Boffin

Re: “advance the bold vision”

you can rely on people's ability to discern pictures more quickly than words

Can you cite any reliable evidence for this? It seems to be widely believed, but personally I doubt it.

The process of see word->read word->associate with concept is complicated and hard to understand, but it's very well-trained in literate people. It's fast enough to allow assimilation of pages of text at an average rate of one word every quarter second.

In the case of pictures, the idea is that process is more like see image->associate image with concept. The trouble is that the relationship between a picture and a concept is far vaguer than that between a word and a concept, so the second step in the process is slow, and may require some sort of probabilistic filtering produce an unambiguous result. This is one of the reasons why alphabetic writing displaced pictograms.

I get very annoyed with instruction leaflets that decide to set the clock back 47 centuries and communicate entirely in pictures. In the case of taskbar buttons, I find I often click one with the wrong icon but similar colours to the one I want, and I don't find a blue elephant to be the obvious symbol for a database.

Road signs are probably the exception, because they use a small set of images and you're obliged to learn what they mean, but even then some of the more obscure road signs require a lot of mental gear-churning before you can be certain what they mean.

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Rolls-Royce climbs aboard Bloodhound SUPERSONIC car

Kubla Cant
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Re: I'm not sure what the point it.

Whitney was right "The children are our future"

What did Pratt say?

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Why UK slid £150m to tax-exempt phone-mast master Arqiva

Kubla Cant
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WTF?

Tax exemption???

I thought the whole point of the rule of law, democracy etc, etc was that laws apply equally to everyone. But it seems that we're still in the 17th Century, where monopolies, subsidies and tax exemptions are handed out on an arbitrary basis by politicians.

Why hasn't Arqiva been broken up as a monopoly? They've invested in infrastructure, but it's not like mobile telephony is a socially valuable service that wouldn't be available without subsidy, is it?

It would be interesting to learn who else is tax-exempt.

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United Nations: 'Overpopulated Earth? Time to EAT BUGS'

Kubla Cant
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Feeding insects to cattle

What could possibly go wrong? It was fine when we fed sheep, etc*, to cattle, after all.

*etc: At the time of the BSE outbreak, I worked for a company that supplied (reputable) cattle feed ingredients as part of its business. It was known that some farmers were adding cement to their feed - presumably to stiffen up the dead sheep brains.

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Kubla Cant
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Headmaster

Re: bon apitite....

"apitite"?

"ice burg"?

If you want to be taken seriously, you should consider investing in a dictionary.

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Apple asked me for my BANK statements, says outraged reader

Kubla Cant
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Re: Apple are not the only ones

I too have one of the old A4-sheet driving licences. It's lived in my wallet since 1999, so it's in a pretty ragged state. I ought to charge wear and tear to anyone who asks to see it without good reason. My objective is to avoid the cost / time / hassle of getting a plastic one for as long as possible.

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Builder-in-a-hole outrage sparks Special Projects Bureau safety probe

Kubla Cant
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Unhappy

Re: Killjoy statistician Nazi here

European attitudes to all rules and regulations, including H&S, seem to be like this:

- For the Germans, any rule is a good rule. The more stringent and unreasonable, the better. Zu Befehl! I am only following orders, etc.

- For the Club Med countries, rules are suggestions that we might follow if it doesn't interfere in any way with our lifestyle.

- For the British, rules are things to worry about.

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John McAfee talks of sex, drugs, and bad coding

Kubla Cant
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Headmaster

@Zmodem

lose

lose

LOSE

LOSE

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How smart does your desk phone need to be?

Kubla Cant
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Conferencing

The last office I worked in used desktop-sharing software (Bridgit and something else) that integrated nicely with the desktop phones. You could join a conference on the computer and get it to call your phone, whereupon it would show who was dialled-in and who was talking.

The audio quality was obviously too good, though, because most cofnerences were punctuated by the manager saying "Somebody's breathing into the phone - please mute it!".

Of course the handsets were covered in buttons with no discernible function, but that's the way handsets always are. How many home phones have buttons that seem to assume everybody has a PABX?

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Retro-tech fan seeks cash for Commodore 64 clones

Kubla Cant
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How?

able to connect to the internet via a local network, and use Micro SD cards for storage

I know nothing about the C64, but given its age I would be surprised to learn that it runs an operating system with either of these capabilities. I suppose it might be possible to emulate a cassette recorder with SD cards (the emulator will need to run very slowly and fail on a random basis). But is he planning to write his own network stack in Basic?

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10-day stubble: Men's 'socio-sexual attributes' at their best

Kubla Cant
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@Montreal Sam

Her response was "Go out and find one of these women and sleep with her then."

And did you?

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Kubla Cant
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Headmaster

Re: @"nations that are run by sexually repressed religious nut bags."

@Drakkenson: Brush up your predicate logic.

"most nations that disapprove of facial hair are run by sexually repressed religious nut bags" does not imply "a particular nation (or even most nations) run by sexually repressed religious nut bags disapproves of facial hair".

∀a(MustShave(a) → RunByNuts(a))

is consistent with

∃a(RunByNuts(a) ∧¬ MustShave(a))

(Why can I paste these symbols into the message, but not enter them as HTML entities?)

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We've done it - we've gone and made LONG-LIFE BEER

Kubla Cant
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Pint

Re: I will never understand...

@The Grump: I take it from the way you spell "flavor" that you're a native of the country that specialises in flavourless beers, served so cold that any vestigial taste is undetectable.

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BMC successfully sells self

Kubla Cant
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BMC?

I have to say, their Morris Marina was rubbish.

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How did something so small and pink cause so much trouble?

Kubla Cant
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WTF?

Re: Decisive action and commitment

@Phil W: "phasing out passports as they expire"

- so we'd only be able to travel to countries that don't require a passport?

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Forget choice: 50% of firms will demand you BYOD by 2017

Kubla Cant
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WTF?

Meanwhile on planet Earth...

As a contractor I imagine I see the inside of more offices than many other people. What I see is people working at large desktop workstations with the biggest screens they can get. I'm looking at two wide screens, the person sitting next to me has three, and at my last place of work there were people with nine screens. You'd need a van to get the stuff home.

OK, let's leave aside these power users and look at low-paid clerical workers. At the moment they usually have a box under the table, a moderate-size screen, a keyboard and mouse. It's still a lot of kit to carry back and forth on the bus.

I guess the presumption of BYOD is that all this work will be taking place on portable devices. The accounts clerk will be using spreadsheets on her smartphone, and the secretaries will be hammering out letters on fondleslabs. Does Gartner have anything to say about the 90% drop in productivity that will result?

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Tiny fly-inspired RoboBee takes flight at Harvard

Kubla Cant
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Re:

I bet it can't walk on the ceiling, either.

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Japan's XP migration solution: Remove network cable

Kubla Cant
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FAIL

Re: Re: No network = No Work

I'm wrong. Just re-read and seen that the network ports are taped up.

So it's back to sneakernet.

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Kubla Cant
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Re: No network = No Work

@keithpeter No Internet != no network

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Yet another Cabinet-level ID card farce

Kubla Cant
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Alert

Here comes Godwin

One problem is that identity documents are so strongly associated with films of Anton Diffring in a long black leather overcoat shouting "Ausweis! Schnell!".

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Star Trek: The original computer game

Kubla Cant
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Alien

The original computer game?

Not even near. When I read that part of the ancestry of Star Trek was a game called Space Wars, it reminded me that I'd read about an earlier game with a similar name. It seems that Spacewar! is no relation to Star Trek, but it's much, much earlier.

According to a "reliable source", Spacewar! was written in 1962, on a PDP-1 (I never knew there was such a computer, though it makes sense that DEC didn't start from number 8. Were there ever PDPs 2-7?)

While I'm writing, is "numberical" a word you made up?

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UK.gov's love affair with ID cards: Curse or farce?

Kubla Cant
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Big Brother

The big difference is this

All the identifying documents I have at the moment are things that enable me to prove who I am, that I can drive, that I have a line of credit, that I shop at Tesco, that anyone who messes with me is going to hear from Her Britannic Majesty's Secretary of State, etc. I have them because I think the loss of anonymity is worth the benefit (or in the case of Tesco, I don't because I don't).

The ID card, on the other hand, was going to be something we were all required by law to own and to carry.

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Thousands rally behind teen girl cuffed, expelled in harmless 'explosion'

Kubla Cant
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Mushroom

Re: ah, schoolday 'pranks'

Not to mention:

- Sugar and weedkiller, but not in small tins. The class pyromaniac favoured lengths of bicycle frame with the ends beaten over.

- Potassium permanganate and glycerine, inside an empty desk. Began to burn about halfway through the lesson.

- Acetylene from calcium carbide dropped into a bottomless oil can standing in water, then ignited through the hole in the top. Amazingly, in the 1960s bike shops still stocked calcium carbide for people to use in cycle lamps.

- Iodine and ammonia. Anywhere.

It sounds like Bash Street, but this was a grammar school in what was, according to New Society, the most middle-class town in Britain.

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