* Posts by I ain't Spartacus

5189 posts • joined 18 Jun 2009

Siemens Healthcare struck by rebranding madness

I ain't Spartacus
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Re: Rebrand

I quite like Swordswain myself.

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I ain't Spartacus
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Happy

Re: Rebrand

On the cruise ship I work on I'm both part of the crew, and the entertainment staff.

In fact, I'm the coxswain, and a sword swallower. What should my rebranded job title be?

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I ain't Spartacus
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Re: is that PC..?

Lester,

If your bootie has ears, might I suggest that you ask your plastic surgeon for a refund?

I've heard of journalists trying to keep their ear to the ground, but this is ridiculous!

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Devil

Re: Visioneering?

I wonder what would happen to the poor sods who went for surgery to a DevOperating theatre?

Presumably the combined surgeon/tester, or "surjester" would administer the abomination operation, while the combined anaesthetist/whalesong DJ or "ether-jockey" kept the victim patient under.

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Woman charged with blowing AU$4.6m overdraft on 'a lot of handbags'

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Happy

Re: Never

No, that's not quite right.

Never get between a bank and its money, unless you can keep at least 5,000 miles between the bank, ant its money (and of course yourself too).

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I ain't Spartacus
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Mark 85,

Making a mistake is not a crime. And remember that the banks weren't checking carefully, but also the mortgage applications require you to say you can pay the money back. So you have to lie in order to get the money. Also, in a housing market with prices rising at silly rates like 10% a year, it's not that big an issue. If you can't pay after 5 years, you just sell, and everyone gets their money back - with you making some profit.

My brother quit as a mortgage underwriter in 2006 because he was sick of arguing with his bosses about whether to put through applications that were, in his opinion, dodgy. But even if you could prove that company did commit fraud, it wouldn't be on the people they lent to. It would be because they were then packaging up the mortgage debts and selling them on as CDOs - if you could prove that they were lending in cases where they believed the mortgages were riskier than they actually were.

Anyway the subprime mortgage crisis is not really a tale of fraud, but of market failure. There were two problems. The theory of CDOs was that you often packaged good mortgage debt with bad, in order to make the bad more sellable. Then even in a crash the good would still keep paying, and the repossessions would cover most of the loss of the bad. You sold the debt at a discount, so it was theoretically exremely low risk. Hence the AAA ratings. Unfortunately, this turned out to be bollocks.

The theory was actually correct though. Most of the UK packaged mortgage debts (CDOs) are still paying back at better than the worse predicted failure rate. So they weren't fraudulent, the calcs were correct and a lot of it was actually worthy of its AAA rating. There was some high risk paper, that was trading at bigger discounts, so you'd make more profit it it went right, but that wasn't AAA and so nobody could complain if it went wrong.

The second problem was that the market failed. Everyone panicked. Nobody trusted anybody else anymore. The banks wouldn't lend to each other, as they were scared the other banks were holding loads of worthless paper, and might go bust at any time. Which of course meant nobody would admit to what they were holding, which reinforced the crisis. Since nobody properly understood these CDOs, nobody was able to value them, so they became unsellable. Even though it's turned out that most of them were in fact correctly valued. So if you had a load, and needed cash, you had to sell at 50% of book value (to companies that have made a very nice profit since) - but that meant you were burning through twice the amount of reserves you needed to for a given amount of cash, which meant you didn't have enough reserves. That's why the banks needed bailing out. Most of them were in fact perfectly fine, but a crisis of markets and confidence made their survival impossible - hence we needed Central Banks to save the day. Which is why most of them have paid back all those loans. Hence the oft-quoted line about giving the banks money is bollocks, we lent them money because they were solvent (but illiquid) - which is the job of a Central Bank. Some we re-capitalised, and took shares in compensation.

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Doh! Sorry. Basic counting error.

There's a higher limit for withdrawals from branch, although in that case you might have to fill out a form (to get larger amounts), and you'd have thought they might notice. There's also cashback on debit card transactions (if they do that in Oz), and of course they may have higher ATM limits. I'm sure I could get mine raised, but have never needed to.

The point being that it takes conscious effort to get large amounts of cash out of a bank account. Which requires thought, which implies planning, and at some point that planning may become criminal. What you need to determine "mens rea" - i.e. Did you know your actions were wrong.

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I ain't Spartacus
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Re: No way you could 'withdraw' 4 mill from my branch of Lloyds...

OK, it's not my money. It's just resting in my account...

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I ain't Spartacus
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I don't buy that argument. The definition of theft in the UK is to take property belonging to somebody else with the intention to permanently deprive them of it.

Taking a bit more overdraft than you're allowed, not believing your luck and getting an extra few nights out is not theft. The bank screwed up, tough titty.

Taking millions of dollars of money that's not yours, systematically over a long period of time, because someone else has obviously screwed up, knowing that you'll never be able to pay it back is another matter entirely.

There's a point at which any reasonable adult has got to say to themselves, there will be consequences. Sure, the bank offered her a loan. But we're all adults, and we know what loan means. Loan means: Repayment. With interest.

If she successfully argues that she can't count. Or was too stupid to be able to manage her money, or too stupid to realise that it wasn't her cash allowing her to literally spend millions - then fair do. I just spent the cash until the card was declined, that's how I manage my finances - could be a valid defence. Execpt when you start taking out thousands of pounds in cash, or buying Gucci handbags. Then you surely know what you're doing.

My cash card only allows me to take out £500 a day. So to get a million in cash out of my bank, I'd have to daily go to the cash machine, and take out the full whack, for 200 days! That would be, by any reasonable definition, a calculated act.

The bank fucked up. No sympathy. They put huge temptation in her way. But she took it. At some point, giving in to that temptation was a choice.

If I find £1,000 in cash somewhere, that money isn't mine. Keeping a fiver you find is fair enough, it's impossible to trace. Good luck to you. If you find £1,000 though, someone's going to seriously miss that.

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She took advantage of an obvious mistake. Not obvious I'm sure, when she took the first couple of hundred of free overdraft.

Maybe she's just not competent, and kept spending. But you'd have to be pretty bloody stupid to not notice once your overdraft has hit your monthly salary. And it stretches credulity, once it's passed your annual salary.

But surely at the point when you look, notice you're overdrawn but not being charged interest, or are but the limit's not stopped growing - you make the decision to try and make your first $1,000 purchase or cash withdrawal. Surely at that point, you're doing it knowingly. It takes quite a lot of effort to spend or withdraw millions in cash. My daily cash machine withdrawal limit is only £500. And I think anything more than £1,000 over the counter has to be booked in advance, and a form filled out.

Any other argument is just sophistry. Although the bank put serious temptation in her way. So it's not like they deserve any sympathy. And they deserve to lose most of the cash when she inevitably declares bankrupt.

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Re: Unlimited Overdraft

Reckless lending isn't a crime. Though it's obviously a stupid thing to do. It's interesting as to whether the customer committed fraud. You have to prove intent to prove fraud. And this was a cock-up by the bank apparently, not a deliberate plan by the customer. On the other hand, if you're making your tenth, twentieth or thirtieth withdrawal of $10,000, which you know doesn't belong to you, and you can't pay back, surely at some point you're doing it with the intent of stealing it. The first time is a lucky accident, and a windfall. Can you still say that by the 20th?

If I give you the bag with my wallet in by mistake, instead of the one with your birthday present, does that give you right to spend all my money?

Oddly the law is not, "finders keepers". At least not in the UK, I can't speak for Australia.

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I ain't Spartacus
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Re: Question from a Murican...

I haven't used mine in ages, and I think the bank took it away a couple of years ago. But when I first opened my account with them I had £50 of free overdraft. This meant that if I made a small mistake, I could borrow £50 - so long as my monthly salary was paid into the account. That was free.

I did briefly also have an agreed overdraft. I think this was about £200. So I could spend this extra money. But at the end of every day I'd be charged interest on it. I think it was about 10% (when the base rate would have been around 5% at the time). So whatever a day's worth is of that.

There was once an error with their cash machine software. I was £10 overdrawn, but instead of showing O/D £10 - the machine showed O/D £10,000.00! Which caused me a moment's panic, I can tell you.

There's a third type, which is the unauthorised overdraft. Some banks or accounts don't have one of these. In which case they'll just bounce the cheque, your debit card will be refused, as will direct debits and cash withdrawals. Mine would allow this. But every time you went into the unauthorised O/D they'd charge you a £10 fee, the interest rate was something like 50% annualised - and they would also charge you £20 to send you a letter to tell you to pay it back, if you were above your authorised limit for more than a couple of days.

When I lived in Belgium, I don't think even rich people were allowed overdrafts. I can't remember if it was a legal issue, or just that the banks didn't do them. Even credit cards were different. You couldn't put debt on your card, as you can in the UK. It didn't take money out of your account when you spent on it, but all the outstanding money came out of your account on the last day of the month.

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I ain't Spartacus
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Happy

Re: What am I missing?

Perhaps time machines are a lot cheaper than you expect?

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I ain't Spartacus
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Well no. When they cock up and the client steals lots of money, it's the client's fault.

Sure, it's fun to laugh at the banks. And also, they've fucked up big time. So they're also to blame, for incompetence and putting massive temptation in someone's way. But you can't claim that the money is magically yours, just because the bank have messed up. And if her account is showing an overdraft, then she should also know it's a loan. Taking out a loan you have no intention or ability to pay back is basically fraud - at least if you plan it that way. But that intent is hard to prove, the bank are also responsible for checking your ability to pay an unsecured debt, and there was no intent to begin with here, as it was the bank's cock-up, presumably discovered accidentally.

HP once paid my company an £120,000 invoice twice. It took me most of a month to persuade their payments department that they'd made a mistake, and did they want their money back. Had I not bothered, and knowingly kept the cash, that would have been theft.

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Re: I believe her!

To be fair, you need an awful lot of handbags, if you're trying to carry $4.6m.

Clearly the tactic of the Gucci bag tackles the problem from both sides, as you've bought the bag, and now suddenly have much less to fit in it.

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Nerds make it rain in Nevada. The Las Vegas strip? No, cloud-seeding drones over the desert

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Trollface

Re: Messing with nature

Am I being downvoted for the suggestion of a sort of post apocalyptic Big Brother in Las Vegas for our televisual entertainment?

Or is it because I suggesed taking away the petrol? You have to do that to stop people escaping, but I do now realise that it massively limits the potential for Mad Max style chaos. For which oversight I apologise.

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Devil

Re: Messing with nature

Las Vegas running out of water would (if we also confiscated all the petrol/gas) make for an excellent reality TV show...

Corrected your obvious typo for you.

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There must be some level of making little difference, somewhere as hot as Nevada. Any rain that falls is soon going to be evapourated right back up into the air, ready to fall as rain somewhere else. I seem to remember reading a while ago about climate change in Saudi Arabia. Where they've built sufficient round fields (round because of the water distribution systems) around some towns that those places now get rainfall. Something they's almost never previously had.

I don't know what the climate effects would be of trying to green the desert though. But I don't know if they're being that ambitious, or just trying to get a little bit of rain.

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Stop resetting your passwords, says UK govt's spy network

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I'm quite good at remembering passwords, so this may not work for other people. But I pick themes. I have a simple password for sites like El Reg, where I don't particularly care if I get hacked. Although perhaps the pain of 1,000 downvotes when my hacker fills the site with campaign ads for Donald Trump will change my mind?

But when I was being forced to reset them for work regularly, I could pick the Persian Wars of the 5th Century BC. You've then got Platea, Thermopylae, Xerxes, Marathon to play with. Nice unusual letters, but obviously vulnerable to dictionary attacks. But I can remember the capitalisations and breaks introduced into the words to split them up once I've remember the word - and there's only a limited number of words to pick from. So I can remember what I've done, and it's easy to find a new password at short notice. Then pick a new historical event, or theme (say types of sportscar) - once you've mined the previous one.

I could use a password manager, but I don't trust them. They seem like a dangerous single point of failure to me. Two factor authentication on the bank and hope for the best.

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Auto erotic: Self-driving cars will let occupants bonk on the go

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Devil

Re: Just looking at the Google car

Not interested. I've heard it can be a punishing job...

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I ain't Spartacus
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Devil

Re: Just looking at the Google car

Shagging inside one of those would be like having sexual fantasies about a teletubby.

What's wrong with that? Po is very attractive. And when she says, "here comes the tubby custard!" I go all gooey...

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Revealed: How NASA saved the Kepler space telescope from suicide

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Old Handle,

They often go into safe mode (or one of the several safe modes), which is fine and dandy. And usually easy to recover from, though it takes ages - as NASA tend to do a lot of thinking before deciding to make changes.

In this case I guess they'll have had to react faster than they'd have liked, because they were losing so much fuel. But they obviously had some sort of major error - either bug, cosmic ray or possibly an interaction of both.

What if the main processors had been affected long enough that they couldn't reboot? Then communication would have been lost, the solar panels lock on the Sun would have gone, so no power, and therefore no way to recover the craft.

By having this backup system take over you're taking out a bit of insurance that might save your bacon at some point. And has at several points in the past. Like all insurance it has a cost, in this case wasted time on the DSN disrupting other projects, and some wasted fuel.

In a lot of cases you won't need such an expensive fail-safe, but where you're getting power from solar panels that require alignment you probably do.

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Re: Just Like Home?.

Obviously, if we did discover the planet of the Trumps (a gas giant with methane atmosphere presumably?) it would be the incentive that instantly gave us world government and a space navy, plus a mission for it. I know it's not quite the way Gene Roddenberry imagined, with the Federation's first fleet on a ten year mission to seek out and destroy all weird-hair based lifeforms.

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Re: Engineers and Scientists

Mage,

I'm not sure I buy the idea of the robotic repair spacecraft. If satellites had been designed from the start for in-orbit maintenance - then a robot could be built to do the job. But given even the low level of bodging that was required on the Hubble repair mission - I very much doubt it would be possible.

It seems to me that space tourism is going to be too expensive for decades given current technology. Isn't a Falcon 9's fuel cost something like $300,000 to orbit? So with 8 people in a Dragon capsule and totally re-usable rockets, that's still $50k minimum - and that would only be if you could do it in bulk to get the costs down, which you can't do at that price. Whereas some kind of space plane can operate with much less fuel - but it's a question as to whether we currently have the materials to build one. I'd say a 2 stage to orbit, big fat carrier jet to get to 40,000 feet and a smaller space plane looks to be the best bet - but maybe Reaction Engines will prove me wrong.

Anyway the most likely commercial application I can see for manned spaceflight is going to be satellite repair. A team of say 4 guys, with a Bigelow inflatable space habitat, launching presumably with Dragon capsules (assuming they're going to be cheaper than Soyuz in a few years). The Dragon has multiple engine firing capability and solar panels, and it's your in-orbit taxi too. So if each mission lasts a couple of months and requires one unmanned resupply with food, fuel and parts, that's say $100m in launch costs. If you can repair or refuel 4 satellites in that time, which doesn't seem unreasonable - you ought to be able to charge $60m to give an extra ten years life to a $500m satellite.

It's a big investment, but I'm sure the numbers work out. Particularly so if you can start building new satellites to be able to take in-orbit refuelling - and maybe even processor upgrades, new reaction wheels and such.

Then the question comes, how much do you have to compromise satellite design for what can go up on one lauch, and self deploy? Is there a demand for a small amount of in-orbit assembly (once you've got a small workshop up there)? So you could have a bigger unit, that maybe takes two launches and a small amount of assembly. The Ikea flat-pack satellite...

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Happy

Re: Need a bl**dy long bit of wire

According to the story, the satellite is some 70m from earth

If it's only 70 metres from earth, you could presumably fix it with a normal elevator...

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Australia copies UK's Google tax on 'contrived' dodges

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Re: Thre is a slight problem with this

We're going to have a tougher time dealing with this than Oz anyway. We're in the EU. One of the provisions of the single market is that you only have to set your company up in one jurisdiction, and pay tax there. So setting up in Ireland, operating from Ireland, and paying your corporation tax there is perfectly legal, and we could only stop it if we left the EU.

On the other hand, Ireland allowing transactions not from Ireland to be corp tax free is presumably going to be ruled an illegal subsidy by the ECJ.

Google were also, allegedly, selling advertising in the UK for a while, and then just having the Ireland office sign the contract. Which should surely have been UK money, to pay UK tax. Now the whole sales team is in Ireland, so there can't be an argument.

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Hacker flogs '42.5m freshly stolen logins' for seventy-five cents

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Not always. You buy 3 lots of hot dogs, and 4 lots of buns, and they last packets will finish at the same time.

Sorry, did you not want to know that...

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EU set to bin €500 note

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Re: For a minute there

I hope you're not just hoarding bacon. Otherwise, as soon as you cook your first post-apocalyptic bacon butty, those who prepared by arming themselves will be attracted by the smell, and will relieve you of your bacon.

Unless of course you are planning to use that to your advantage, and lure them towards you. Possibly for the twin purposes of getting more guns and ammo for trading purposes, and turning them into selling bacon. Make the streaky out of them perhaps?

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Re: ...exceedingly pleasing brick of €500 notes

I once tried to buy a flat off a drug dealer.

To be fair to me, I didn't know at the time. I thought it was a re-posession. Only found out the truth when we got the contract, and it was actually being sold by the courts service as part of his punishment. He hadn't apparently been using it for deals, it was part of his money laundering. He'd got 3 places in the town where I live, and had built a development of 12 villas in Spain. Was doing 10 years for being part of a big skunk ring (you can imagine I got googling once I saw the contract).

The funny bit is they were having so much trouble laundering all the cash they were taking in, that they had a lock-up garage locally where the police found £120,000 in a metal safe under a bit of the roof that leaked. It had turned to papier mache - because they couldn't get it out the door fast enough.

Much to my Mum's relief, I got gazumped, and decided not to up my offer when invited to join the bidding war.

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I ain't Spartacus
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Re: ...exceedingly pleasing brick of €500 notes

My Dad bought a house for cash, in the 1980s. He'd decided to save money, by doing his own conveyancing. With a bit of help from a lawyer mate, and a book he'd bought.

And his opposite number at the vendor's solicitors decided that the honour (and the closed shop) of the legal profession must be protected at all costs. So messed him about, and it ended up for various reasons with Dad driving to the building society, taking £105,000 out in a suitcase, and driving to the solicitors. Being England, all in £50 notes.

I'm surprised the bank let him. After all, if he'd lost it on the way, it would be an unsecured loan, seeing as the old house was sold (this was the cash) and the new one not bought yet.

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That's interesting. When I lived in Belgium, up to 2002, I used to get €100 notes all the time, if I wasn't careful. As I recall you could get smaller denomination ones in your own bank, as there are two kinds of cash machines in Belgium. The ones outside the bank offer bigger notes, the ones inside are only for customers, and at least KBC had seats, and you could get more smaller notes.

I'd have been glad to see the back of the 1 and 2 eurocent coins. They were almost identical anyway, and I had to resort to using a little plastic coin holder thing. The 20 and 50 cent are also quite similar in size and colour too - but it's easier as they're bigger. UK coinage is much nicer, because you've got both colour and shape changes, which make life a lot simpler.

I think it was more of a shock to the system in places like Italy and Belgium, where they didn't use coins very much beforehand. And suddenly had loads.

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Re: The usual bollocks from the Euros

We won't have the Barber of Seville, we've got Draghi instead. And he has a very dangerous blade indeed...

Mpeler,

Without Draghi, the Euro would have collapsed already. Despite what all the hawkish German politicians have told you about the risk of inflation, does Germany currently have runnaway inflation? No. You do not. You don't even have high inflation. The ECB is currently missing its inflation target by being 1.9 percentage points under target! And the South of the Eurozone has deflation - one of the reasons that the crisis there cannot be solved and why Germany will not get paid back. This is basic economics. While their economies are barely growing, and prices are falling, debt will rise faster than they can pay it - they will only be able to reduce national debt when nominal growth is high enough.

Meanwhile your trade surplus with these countries is growing. Which is A) a breach of the Eurozone stability pact, and; B) insane, as you are lending them money to buy your goods and make your economy look bigger. But like the false profits of the banks from the boom, this money will not be paid back, cannot be paid back, and so you are effectively working to give away your exports. The solution to this problem is for Germany to buy some of the exports from these countries, to give them the means to pay back loans to German banks (which are your pension savings remember) - this reducing your trade surplus - and to try to create more inflation in the Eurozone. You lose a bit of the value of your savings, but then have a chance of being paid back. Also inflation means higher interest rates, so you don't totally lose out.

Oh and the €500 note was heavily criticised at the foundation of the Euro. By the British government for one, as its use for organised crime was obvious. Sadly, like the warnings about the inevitable problems the Euro would cause, they were ignored. And proved right in both cases. The Euro can be made to work, but it won't be easy.

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Revealed: HMS Endeavour's ignominious fate

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Re: Hungry now

A filling between two slices of breadfruit and a cup of tahitea perhaps?

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Barclays.net Bank Holiday outage leaves firms unable to process payments

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They got me.

With my favourite error message too.

Having just chucked nearly £15k of VAT to our beloved masters at HMRC, I got the following error message:

"There has been an error. Your transaction may have failed. Please check over tollowing 4 hours, and try again if it hasn't appeared on your statement."

Now that's what I call reassuring! Volune 2...

You've got to love the non-specificity of it. Not a nice warning in there to say, your payment's probably gone, so don't worry and definitely don't pay again as we might process it then too. Or a system that if they can't be sure just pulls the payment out. But nope, give people vagueness! Because no-body will be too concerned about the whereabouts of a mere £15k. Why that's not even enough for the most derisory of bonuses! And anyway if we've double-paid it for you, those nice people at HMRC won't take 6 months to sort it out and get your money back to you. Not a problem at all.

And to think I filled out their customer survey last Monday, saying the site was OK - if their bloody web designers could only get over this fucking minimalism thing that's infected design of late. Because text entry boxes need not be of the palest blue available on a white background, without text labels so you can't find the fucking invisible things. Bet they won't be offering me a chance to re-do that today...

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Re: small number.

They usually say "limited number of customers". This is much better, because so long as at least one customer succeeded in logging in, then they aren't technically lying. But limited number implies small number, without actually claiming that.

I bet they've got stats to show that only a small-ish percentage of customers log in every day though, so in this case they can say it didn't affect the ones who didn't try to log in, even if it would have if they'd wanted to.

It's not lying. It's marketing...

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Rampant robot tries to rip my clothes off

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Re: 'three access points"

She's a busy girl. It says on the box that she has 3 working offices...

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Happy

Re: Autonomous Vehicles

Why buy an expensive robot to empty the cat litter tray? Just get a robot cat.

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E-cigarettes help save lives, says Royal College of Physicians

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Devil

Ah, but what about those of us who are addicted to being sanctimonious busybodies? What abour our rights?

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Colander-wearing Irishman denied driver's licence in Pastafarian slapdown

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Re: Clothing optional

I thought it was the Mormons who had the magic underwear?

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It's all a fusilli about nothing...

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El Reg Quid-A-Day Nosh Posse spared chickpea ordeal

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Happy

Re: Roadkill

NB it takes about 20,000 pellets to kill a cow!!!

Is that how they get the holes in swiss cheese?

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Happy

Surely better if he owns a brewery?

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Re: quid a day

Remember though that it's £1 a day, not a meal. So you've got to get brekkie, lunch and soemthing to drink out of it. Obviously I just chose to have water that week, but I couldn't go without a few cups of tea a day. The office coffee machine comes out at 50p a cup, so that was right out. A teabag is about 1.5p.

Also the global poverty line measure is actually a measure of consumption. So it's an economic value put on everything that the poorest people get to consume, not how much stuff they're able to buy. Given that most of the world's poorest barely interact with the cash economy. So lots of them are subsistence farmers, and the $1.60 a day includes the value of the crops they grow.

I therefore decided that it was cheating to use anything I could grow, or get free. Though others took a different view. And in the end, there's no point going over the top.

Veg was what I struggled with though. I'm perfectly happy to go without meat for a week. As I in fact did. But finding nice veg that I could afford was much harder. Peppers were out of the question. I could have afforded a few apples. But basically had to settle for carrots, potatoes, onions, chickpeas and the like. Salad stuff was too expensive. And even things like cauliflower, leeks and broccoli were too much of a stretch. A decent portion of cauliflower cheese would have been at least 70p, which doesn't leave anything for some other veg, let alone other meals and a handful of teabags for the rest of the day.

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Happy

When the electrician has finished the job - connect him to the mains. This solves your money problems in two ways. One, you won't have to pay him, and two, you've now got a ready barbecued meal. Admittedly it might be a stretch to get him to cover himself in marinade beforehand...

The wedding is more problematic. There is no known solution to this problem, short of selling the rights to Hello Magazine.

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Re: @ Sorry to hear the project is on hold...

I'm determined not to touch the chickpeas next year. Even though I've still got half a packet left from last year - still not feeling a strong desire to use them up... My Aunt tells me that the trick with the dried ones is to use a pressure cooker, but I don't have one. The tinned ones are nicer, but twice as expensive, and I already went 9p over budget last year (when I'd finally done the calcs). Shame!

I think perhaps lentils. Though tofu is £1.40 for 350g on Sainsbury's site. So a bit of shopping around might get it cheaper. And I can curry it or something. And eggs. Made a big omelette last time, with much veg and tatties, which did a dinner and two lunches. Yum. Frozen mixed veg is decently nutritious, but doesn't taste very nice, sadly. I'd only used the chickpeas to bulk out, and add a bit of protein to, my delicious Italian tomato and herb sauce. The plan was to convert this into curry, once I got bored. It also had a backup role as a tomato sauce for pizza, using Lidl (£1.49 for 300g) plastic cheddar and left over bread with a bit of veg. But the day I was going to do that, I couldn't be arsed, and just made eggy-bread (french toast) for dinner instead.

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Dutch students serve up world's first 'drone café'

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Re: Blue fluid?

Nah. It probably serves a brown liquid, that is not quite, entirely unlike tea...

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moiety,

Ah. What a wonderful piece of writing. Very nicely done sir. Very well played indeed.

I'm glad you mentioned the Freudianism at the end. I don't own a portrait of my Mother, and if I did, it wouldn't be hung in the bedroom. But I was more thinking the Bates Motel, rather than Freud.

As well as biscuit-shame (an excellent choice of phrase by the way) there is, as you say, the problem of crumbage. Of course you can avoid crumbs, by going the Jaffa Cake route. But who wants melted chocolate stains on their duvet? Perhaps the solution is a pair of pyjamas with built in bib - or a duvet-napkin? I quite like the idea of a giant napkin, to be tucked into the duvet - this also has the advantage of dealing with any spilled tea. The teasmade is a wonderful invention, but nobody's at their most accurate first thing in the morning.

I do remember reading about George IV, who used to eat kedgeree for breakfast in bed. I do like it, but I draw the line at a breakfast of smoked fish. He also one-upped my teasmade, by having a decanter of port on his bedside table. This was for if he was struggling to sleep, due to gout. Sadly the port would make things worse, but he aslo took the precaution of having a bottle of laudnum on hand. A boon that modern drugs policy sadly denies us - though a friend who reported severe toothache to a Kenyan pharmacist once got a bottle of the stuff, and said it was very moreish indeed. He didn't write any poetry thankfully...

I believe the favoured tactic of the honey badger, when locked in combat with larger animals is to go for the plums. Hence the saying, "attracted like honey badgers to nadgers"... So I'd suggest your movivational poster would be of a honey badger, eating a biscuit in bed, while simultaneously emasculating someone and pointing to the slogan, "Grab Life by the Balls!"

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I'd be interested in a drone that I could dispatch from bed for a pint; a pizza; and the 5 metres of catheter tube at the front door that has just arrived from eBay; but not really interested until that point.

This is what sold me on Mr Tickle at the age of 4. The first couple of pages of the book, where he yawns, and stretches, and stretches, and stretches... And then reaches down the stairs to the kitchen with his amazingly long arms, to get a biscuit from the tin. He was my favourite Mr Man from then on. The less said about the pervy touching people through windows, the better.

Of course, as an adult, I realise that despite the crippling handicap of not having twenty foot long arms I can simply have a biscuit tin on the bedsite table. I already own a teasmade (hooray! for being woken up with fresh tea) - so why I don't add biscuits to the ensemble is a continual mystery to me. I can only conclude that it's guilt, trained into me by my parents mother. Perhaps I should seek psychiatric help, to get me over these appalling feelings of guilt, and allow myself the bedside biscuit-y pleasure I so richly deserve?

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Jaron Lanier: Big Tech is worse than Big Oil

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Re: Employment: well, yes and no.

True. But they're mostly skilled jobs or professional ones, and automated factories employ orders of magnitude fewer people. Especially in unskilled and semi-skilled jobs.

The suggestion is that computers are coming for the semi-skilled jobs in offices next. I'm not sure how much I believe that though, but I guess automation making things easier/quicker should mean fewer people needed to do the same amount of work.

Obviously we need to improve education. Then we'll have more skilled people, with better options. But also to change attitudes over the prioritisation of academic learning over practical. Otherwise we risk leaving a bunch of people out of what should be a richer future.

Until we've got the robotic capacity to make everything for virtually free, and can become The Culture or Star Trek, we're going to need jobs.

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Romania suffers Eurovision premature ejection

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The sad thing is, I think the Germans and the BBC put up a huge chunk of the money, with other broadcasters paying much less, and the hosts footing the rest of the bill. I guess it guarantees that we don't have to go through qualifiying, but just think how much of a service to music it would be if the BBC were to spend that money on something (anything!) else. Although taking out a hit on Justin Bieber would surely be the best use of license fee payers' cash.

I'm guessing that the, more effective, option of assassinating Simon Cowell would be frowned upon by Ofcom, due to the damage it would do to ITV's Saturday evening ratings.

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