thomeone should write a thong about that...
5197 posts • joined 18 Jun 2009
thomeone should write a thong about that...
I didn't realise the Manson family also did it. I know it was a common tactic for the Stasi, and I believe the KGB played similar games.
Although did anyone else read, "the Manson family" and immediately try and think which sitcom that was? Just me then? Even if I say duh-duh de dum and click my fingers twice?
With all the attention-grabbing keywords already on this thread, did you really want to be typing "in Al Qaeda's defence"?
Oh bugger! I said it now. Will people please STOP saying Jehovah!
So that's what happens to the TV remote controller? It's Al Qaeda I tell you!
Ah, the good old Sunday Sport...
My favourite headline was "Vampire 3-in-a-bed Sex Scandal".
Nope. It was a slow shoes day...
OK. OK. I'll get my coat. Just a minute. Where's my coat? Who's stolen my coat!?!
Are these people stupid? Have they not been observing what's just happened to Google? Do they not have lobbyists who can tell them which way the wind is blowing in Brussels?
The Spitzenkandidate system was a German idea (hence the name) from some of the last remaining believers in the one true church of the EU. The idea being to get power to the Parliament from the Council of Ministers. By a clever bit of ambush, it worked. It got its candidate to be President of the Commission. One of the big drivers of German politics is privacy. And this was long before the Snowden revelations! A bit of crude nationalism and sulking that the tech giants are all American isn't exactly going to help matters.
Added to the fact that Cameron attempted to get the Council of Ministers not to vote to give their power away by accident, and they basically didn't like the idea but couldn't really be arsed to oppose it. However, he nearly stopped it, except for a last minute move by the German opposition and press. That gave us Juncker, and he seems to be capable of remembering a favour - hence the complete transformation of the Commission's policy on Google - pretty much from the moment his Commission took over.
Given those political movements in the EU, surely this is the time for giant US corporations that rely on hoovering up as much private data as they can get away with, to keep their bloody heads down and say "yes sir" a few times to keep the politicians sweet. I'm sure it'll all blow over in a bit, and if they don't keep poking the angry bear with a stick, it'll roll over and go back to sleep again.
What are the boards of these companies doing? Is there no adult supervision at Facebook? Or are they just so stupid that they think paying their lobbying cash to Congress covers them globally? Well if they get what's coming to them from the EU, I shall laugh. It's not like they haven't had warnings.
There is nothing to worry about from Facebook. Facebook are our friends. Facebook is wonderful. I only live to serve the Master. All Hail Overlord Zuckerberg! You are our leader! All good things come from you! I must have 150 emails a day spewed into my inbox to show me what cat videos my friends are watching. I love Big Brother. I love Big Brother.
Help! Help! They're coming for all of...
There is nothing to worry about. Facebook are our friends. Facebook is great. No interaction with my family or friend units is complete without Facebook. They got you too? They got me a long time ago...
If I had a pound for every time an architect has fucked up a job, because they couldn't be arsed to check with a competent engineer first, then I wouldn't be posting this comment, as I'd now be drinking cocktails on the deck of my yacht...
I lost a bit of love for Amazon at Christmas. They gave me a month's trial of Prime, just as I was buying Christmas prezzies, so I took them up on their kind offer. Thinking that it was about time I got myself some of this streaming video malarkey. I also happened to have bought a Google Chromecast stick, because someone was coming over to watch an American football match at mine, and it was so cheap I decided it was easier than moving the PC to the sitting room for streaming purposes. Easy access to iPlayer and a cheap toy.
I was a bit disappointed that Amazon didn't have an app on the Chromecast. Particularly given their attitude to Kindle, where they had apps on almost everyone's systems - so you could know there'd be a good chance to access books you'd bought in many years time. Not that I did, but that's a promise I would severely doubt now.
But OK, Amazon have got their Fire TV, and stick in the US, so maybe they couldn't be bothered to write an app. So off I toddled to the PC, open the Chrome browser, and then if you launch the video player in its own window you can cast to Chromecast. Ah, nope. Amazon have deliberately blocked this. So now I'm intrigued, and do a bit of research online. Amazon have also blocked Apple AirPlay, so I can have their app and watch stuff on my iPad, but not cast to the big screen.
Now I'm a bit annoyed. Then I look for some content to watch. I think I searched for about 15 different things. Series or films. Some quite old too. They're all on there. Hooray! Oh no, hang on, there's no button to watch them. But I can buy them? Huh? Oh, I see. They're not actually available on Amazon Prime
Instant Irritating Video - there's no way to just filter for stuff you've actually paid to watch, you can't use other devices to watch it, and basically you're paying them £5 a month for them to advertise stuff at you that they would sell to you anyway.
So I cancelled my Prime membership that evening, in case I forgot later. The Chromecast does the NFL app and iPlayer, plus Youtube. So far, that's enough. Apple TV is tempting, but quite restrictive, and I guess the real answer is a mini-PC or maybe a Roku. But everything out there seems to be limited in one petty way or another.
Amazon have disappointed me though. They used to be all about the content. But now they've gone into making mediocre tablets and phones, that seems to be changing.
I believe tanks of pirhanas to drop unsuccessful henchpersons into are far more important. In fact, this may be what finally happened to the cat...
Full credit to the designers and builders. Mistreated, bounced a kilometre, frozen and subjected to all sorts of indignities and yet - it LIVES!
And now it's heading back to Earth bent on revenge!!!
The Duma have just been investigating Roscosmos and some people from their contractors have just been charged with corruption. The head of the Duma committee said something like $1.3 billion of their 2013 budget can't be accounted for. This is either a major probe into sorting out serious corruption - or some of senior management being punished for various recent failures, it's hard to know.
Russian government spending was already being tightened before sanctions and the collapse in the oil price did such damage to the Russian economy and tax base. They've also been heavily increasing defence spending for a few years, so I do wonder if money has been moved from the civilian to the military space programmes.
Equally it's possible that Roscosmos is extremely well funded, but now suffering crippling levels of corruption.
Apparently 98% of people arrested in Russia go on to get convicted, and according to a piece I read from a Russian commentator you have to bribe the police to let you go before you get to the police station, as once you're there and the paperwork is started, you're doomed.
Personally I'd be more worried by the Villa...
Not a problem? What eats mongooses? Or is that mongeese? Eventually we'll get up to a pest so large, that you can simply build a fence to control it. Or keep it as a pet, or just eat it...
Perhaps the tech savvy aren't using Windows Phone? MS seem to have given up on the high end, and don't seem to have taken advantage of all the camera goodness that Nokia was putting into their top phones about the time of the sale. Which were features worth bragging about. I was hoping to go for one of those nice cameras, when they got to the mid-price bit of the market.
But I know a few basic users who are very happy. Smartphones are nicer for texts, and although it's a little more complicated to make calls, it's much easier to maintain your address book. Plus you get mapping and email. Win Pho is very good at all of those. Who needs more in a phone?
Well lots of people of course, and if you want the best apps you're better of elsewhere. But for a basic, decent quality smartphone there's little wrong with the cheaper Lumias. If you get one as a first smartphone and then want to be using a lot as a mobile computer, its limitations could get frustrating.
My iPad is my mobile computer. My phone is for work, comms and a bit of mapping or emergency looking stuff up online when out-and-about. If I really want apps, I can tether the two together, and go online with a decent sized screen. Different people have different needs.
My current phone is an iPhone 5 from work. Of our batch of 6, one got lost 2 didn't make the first year and had to be replaced under warranty - and both of those have since started going wrong (mine is having random battery problems and a dodgy button after maybe 14 months since the replacement). One other made 18 months, one hardly gets used, and the last one has been bashed to hell but survived kids, and constant facebooking/texting. Oh and the address book is the worst of any smartphone I've ever used (including my old Sony Ericsson P800...) I think I shall be pointing the company credit card at a replacement mid-priced Lumia or a Samsung Galaxy Note, now we've gone SIM only.
I doubt MS make much. Although I believe not having full multi-tasking, and the OS being quite efficient means that they can get away with cheaper processors and less RAM - and still have a phone that works well.
For example, 5 years ago my old HTC Wildfire on Android 2.2 sometimes used to stutter with no apps running on its sad 350MB of RAM. My Mum's Lumia 630 runs as smoothly as anything on only 500MB now, although I'm not sure if that will update to Win Pho 10. But then she paid £60 for it on my recommendation.
Since she got it in April, I've had one call asking me how to do stuff. Much better than I was expecting - and much less trouble than she had learning the iPad.
It's a really nice phone. And the apps available in the Marketplace are far better than when I had one (Win Pho 7.5) 3 years ago. There's still quite a lot missing though. It's not as good as an iPhone, but an iPhone is nowhere near ten times better - but it is ten times the price!
My next phone will be a slightly better £100-£200) Lumia or 'Droid, with a nicer camera. I like the simplicity and big buttons of the Lumia, and mostly use apps on my tablet. I would not recommend Android to anyone who's not good with computers though, it still seems too complicated.
All those asteroid miners, cooped up in their tiny ships for months at a time, are going to require repeated deliveries of fresh porn.
Short of frisbeeing it out to them with some sort of orbital DVD firing gun, that requires a space-internet...
I turned on my TV one Saturday afternoon a few years ago, to see 5 women doing roller-disco in silver miniskirts to some sort of synthesiser bebop. Before it cut to Starbuck (or Face out of the A-Team depending on your age) winning another hand of space-poker.
Through my laughter I reflected that nothing dates as fast as peoples' ideas of the future.
I suspect if I went back and watched it now, the original Battlestar Galactica would look really crap. I loved it when I was a kid, but then I still remember the disappointment of getting a DVD of Blakes 7, ten years ago.
In my opinion, the first series of the BSG remake is absolutely brilliant TV. Really well made, well written and just well done in general. But once they go into series 2 I thought it started to go downhill, and I stopped watching sometime in early series 3. Other opinions are of course available, but I'd rate that first series alongside anything else I've seen, sci-fi or otherwise.
I currently have the rather pleasant image of someone in leathers and a full face helmet. With a hole drilled through the visor, and a pipe stem poking out. Mounted above the fuel tank on his bike is an ashtray, plus one of those wooden pipe racks, with matches, blade, pipecleaners and a spare pipe, just in case.
Apparently WG Grace's book On Cricket contains the excellent advice to batsmen, that they should stop smoking their pipe before going out to bat...
You seriously say toasties cause no serious risk of burning? Have you never tried a jam toasty? Delicious but deadly.
Although my favourite is the egg toasty. Your machine has to have tight fitting plates, or you just end up with work surfaces covered in egg. But the trick is to hold the centre of the bread down in the moulded bit of the plate with a knice, pour in one egg from a cup - rapidly drop the knife and grab the top slice, shove on and whack lid closed as quickly as possible. Then hold tight shut until a seal forms. With practice you can do this totally without spillage. And the fried outside and poached inside of the egg, in buttery fried toasty badness if truly delicious with a little ketchup.
Thinks, I must dig my old toasty maker out of whatever cupboard it's been living in for the last few years.
Milk also works, although I've tended to use half buttermilk and half ordinary milk when making soda bread. But I guess it'll work with whatever you've got to hand.
I guess soda bread itself is just about easy enough to do when you get home from the pub. It is definitely fine the next morning when fried with bacon and fried eggs (and sausages), beans. Yummy.
I notice that a bunch of senior Russian space officials are now being charged with corruption. Including a committee of the Duma saying that Roscosmos can't account for about $1.3 billion of cash from 2013 alone.
However, I'm not sure if this isn't just the modern Russian equivalent of being sent to Siberia. Someone has to get punished for an embarrassing cock-up, so why not try a few high profile people, who don't have the right connections? Or have annoyed the wrong person lately?
On the other hand, looting state enterprises for all their cash is something the Putin regime excels at. I wondered if the recent spate of accidents was because the large increases in defence spending over the last few years (not to mention the Olympics), had already been straining the Russian government budget. And that's before sanctions and the oil price crash last year. So I wondered if they'd been cutting margins too much. But equally it could be corruption. Or both. Or just bad luck - and the usual learning curve as designs are slowly updated.
I make that ( a brief pause while i take my socks off... ) FORTY TWO years.
Erm, are you from Norfolk by any chance?
You haven't even quoted enough evidence to support a disagreement with me, let alone call me dishonest.
I didn't call you dishonest. I said your argument was - because I've only seen it made by people from the left as a sort of "nyer nyer Osborne's shit" mantra. I don't know where you sit on the political spectrum, and I wasn't sure if you were even saying you believed that argument, or if you were using it as a way of demonstrating people's lack of understanding of the problem.
However, my supporting evidence, from my post, is here:
in that the trajectory of national debt was set during the administration of the previous government - and short of insane levels of cuts, as were enforced on Greece with utterly disastrous (and utterly predictable) results the coalition was only ever going to have a limited effect on the total debt.
To put this more clearly, the deficit in 2009-10 was something like £150 billion ish (sorry for not looking up the exact figures, but an approximation makes the point perfectly well). The coalition emergency Summer budget had about £6 billion of cuts in it, and I think they also underspent that year by a few billions more.
But even with making cuts the total stock of debt was going to go up by those figures of hundreds of billions a year. So what was the total debt stock by 2010? £700bn? Add 5 x £120 bn and you've got some serious money...
So yes, the ever increasing debt stock was a problem they inherited from the last government. There was no realistic policy they could have pursued that would have made a material difference to the fact that national debt was going to roughly double in that period. They could have cut more steeply, which would have been bad for the economy, or they could have defaulted on a portion of the national debt to get it down to reasonable levels - which would have been a catastrophic idea.
Even if Osborne had managed to follow his plan to eliminate most of the deficit by the end of the Parliament (which would have required the Euro crisis not to happen - amongst other things), national debt would have still ballooned massively.
Well they may have been Ken Clarke's plans, but it was Brown that carried them out. And Ken Clarke could safely make them, as he knew that he didn't have a cat in hell's chance of winning the 97 election.
Labour could almost certainly have got away with promising a bit more spending in 97, if they were reasonable. The Major government was on its last legs by then. But who can blame Labour for playing it safe, after what happened in 92.
Remember though that currencies change their value. So if our economy isn't doing swimmingly, but we're paying off debt to foreigners, then Johnny-Foreigner might choose to sell those pounds to someone else at below the market rate.
Then our exchange rate falls. This makes our exports cheaper abroad, and so may help us to sell more of them. But it also makes our imports more expensive. This means we have become poorer as an economy, as we have to sell more exports in order to achieve the same level of imports we were getting before. If a large part of our economy is made up of international trade - then overall prices of goods will rise (again we are poorer). This is of course inflation - and workers may demand higher pay in order to counteract it. And so the merry dance of economic ripple-effects continues...
It makes sense to run a deficit in a recession - it's a way to get out of it - but you must run a surplus during the boom, or the debt will become too high to pay.
Not quite true. The bit about running compensatory deficits in busts is obviously right. The Austrians are mad. Remember those predictions from the Troika in 2010 that the Greek economy would only shrink by 4%, then 8%, if they took their medicine? Well the Greeks cut their total government spending by 25%! And their economy shrank in the same period by 26%. I believe that's the biggest peacetime cut in government spending in modern history - and not coincidentally is one of the biggest peacetime recessions in modern economic history. One for the Austrian school to ponder on perhaps...
Oh, and by the way, the Germans are big, fat liars. The Greeks sure dragged their feet a lot and squealed - and I wouldn't trust their government to run a whelk stall - but they did implelment quite a few of the reforms. According to the OECD more than any other country in Europe during this recession (although their economy started as one of the least flexible). And I think the 2nd biggest cuttters in Europe were Ireland, who cut government spending by about 6% over 2 years, not Greece's 25% over 4.
But to get back to the point, Keynes was the one who advocated running a surplus during the boom. He wanted to have some wiggle room ready for spending in the recession of course. But he was also talking about demand management, so you'd cool the boom by raising taxes or cutting spending, and then stimulate during the busts with deficit spending.
But so long as your deficit and interest bill is less than GDP growth plus inflation, then the national debt will fall as a percentage of GDP. So if you've got 2% inflation, plus 2% growth and are only paying debt interest of 3% of GDP, then you don't have an urgent need to cut. You could even run a small deficit, say 0.5% of GDP and still have the overall debt-to-GDP level fall. There are risks to this. After all Brown's over-spending wasn't awful, by historical standards, it's just that the bubble was so big and the bust so nasty that it made things materially worse. Had we had a recession that only lost us 2%-2% of GDP, without the chaos of the banking crisis, recovering would have been far less painful.
Pointing out to these people that the coalition had actually increased the national debt more in their term of office than the previous three administrations combined was met with general disbelief
This is a pretty dishonest argument though, in that the trajectory of national debt was set during the administration of the previous government - and short of insane levels of cuts, as were enforced on Greece with utterly disastrous (and utterly predictable) results the coalition was only ever going to have a limited effect on the total debt.
On the other hand though, many people don't seem to get the difference between debt and deficit. Including some politicians seemingly. Many people when asked at the beginning of the last government apparently believed that Osborne had pledged to eliminate the national debt by the end of this Parliament, not the deficit. But I am suspicious of those kind of surveys, like when the Daily Mail tries to ramp up the shock with 20% of teenagers don't know who Adolf Hitler was / can't point out the UK on a globe, etc. Whereas I suspect the real meaning of those surveys is that 20% of people couldn't be bothered to answer a silly question.
I slightly disagree with Tim on the point of the article though. That report with the Excel spreadsheet error still seemed to show a correlation between economies with lower growth and those with debt-to-GDP ratios over about 90%. Although correlation is not causation - so it could as well be said that dysfunctional economies run up large debts.
But trajectory matters. Running deficits around 10% of GDP is dangerous. That kind of money mounts up really quickly. When the Conservatives had to re-write their entire program for government in 2009 - they had no way to predict that interest rates would still be so ridiculously low 6 years later. I mean there was a good chance that they wouldn't be shooting up, as growth and inflatoin might be expected to be rare commodities after such a nasty recession. But it would he horribly reckless to not worry about interest rates on government debt jumping - and it could then start getting seriously expensive to service the national debt. Congratulations are due to the Treasury under Gordon Brown here, for pushing out our government debt maturities to much longer periods than any other country during the last boom. Thus locking in the low interest rates on offer at the time, and making this period much easier for us now.
I've changed my opinion on the risk of the bond markets turning against us. I thought it was reasonably likely in 2010, without some action - but on watching the Euro-crisis unfold and how willing people continue to be to lend money at insanely low rates - even though the risks are both historically high and impossible to properly calculate. Personally I feel that there's more than a 50% chance of Italy having to partially default. Their debt is rising, their economy is stagnant, their population is falling and they're in a fixed exchange rate system at the wrong rate, with a political system that makes serious reforms all but impossible. Yet they're paying under 2% with a debt to GDP ratio of around 136%, and rising by 4%-5% a year. Oh and almost all the Italian opposition parties are now committed to a Euro referendum, and campaigning to leave.
On the other hand, the blockchain as an idea might turn out to be useful. Obviously designed not to be so computationally intensive, so that power use doen't have to go up to insane levels. And possibly using a fixed pool of computers to do the generating, but distributed enough that it's hard to build a cartel to control it. Apparently the Bank of England put out a paper on using this for various inter-bank transfers - I assume things like assets used as collaterol on the repo market, though I've not read it.
I'm no Bitcoin expert, but wouldn't using it like this start to make the blockchain unfeasibly huge, such that it needs ever greater amounts of computing power to keep registering transactions? Which is all very well while mining carries on, but eventually there's going to be an end to mining new Bitcoins, and then every transaction will have to be paid for - in order to make it worthwhile for the miners to keep on going, and keep the blockchain working.
I'm afraid I also live a barren, mostly toast-free, life. Tragic isn't it. Although my cupboard space is at more of a premium than work-top space, so my toaster lives an al fresco existence in comparison.
During the quid-a-day nosh posse thing, my toaster saw regular action - due to home made bread being so cheap - and Lidl's thoughtful provision of 46p jars of "I Can't Believe It's Not Marmalade". I've still not worked out what to do with the rest of that jar...
But normally I make small loaves, and so consume my bread in its cold sandichy state. Often with bacon in - and bacon sandwiches just aren't as nice with toast. Or with with soup.
Even the amazing M&S calvados marmalade I scored in a hamper last Christmas doesn't seem to be enough of an incentive to get me toasting. It must be some sort of disease of the brain...
In one sense, the people who oversaw it all did get scalped. We loaned the banks central bank cash, against assets, and that kept them liquid. We also then decided that they needed even more money, to keep them solvent, and we gave them that. And took shares in return. So the government diluted the shares of the existing shareholders, in exchange for re-capitalising the banks. And that means that the people who were ultimately supposed to supervise the boards of directors did get scalped. The shareholders.
Of course shareholder democracy seems to have broken down (if it ever worked properly at all). But it's still the shareholders who own the company, and so are taking the risk on their investment. In the case of RBOS, the government now owns 70%, leaving only 30% of the company they used to own to the original shareholders.
A way to claw back bonuses, and to structure bonus incentives better, would also be good. But it's notoriously hard to do.
One of the problems of banking/capitalism that Tim doesn't cover in this article is that banks are pro-cyclical.
This means that instead of countering booms and busts, they inflate the booms and worsen the busts. So during the height of the boom, when they should be saying "oh dear this is looking too bubbly, let's wind our necks in and borrow less" - they actually lend more - as that house is bound to keep going up in value for the next ten years...
Then the bust comes. And now they won't lend to anyone unless they can prove they don't actually need the money, however good their business plan or credit is. They get all cautious, having just had their fingers burnt in the preceeding boom. So they shrink their balance sheets in order to become more solvent, but this reduces the money supply, and the credit avaiable to the economy to pay for growth and investment.
Regulation often makes this worse. Because the regulators are under political pressure to rein the banks in. And so during this recession our governments were making banks expand their fractional reserves (to make them more liquid) and raise more capital (to make them more solvent). This was for good and understandable reasons. There's an argument to say that they should have told the banks that they needed to have these larger capital buffers by about 2015, but were allowed to run less safely before that. But it would be pretty politically indefensible, and took a risk - that's pretty much what the Eurozone did - they stuck their heads in the sand, then had to bail out Greece to the tune of nearly €300 billion in order to save the German and French banks who'd recklessly lent to them. They also then implemented the bailout incompetently, fucked up the Greek economy in the process, and are now blaming the Greeks for their own (and Greece's too) massive clusterfuck, such that the Greeks can't pay, the banks are off the hook and the governments have put themselves in the firing line.
Anyway an example of counter-cyclical measures would be unemployment (and some other) benefits. Because these are paid out automatically, the government will pay out more of them as joblessness increases, and pay falls, during a recession. These are called automatic stabilisers. The government now spends loads more during recessions, something that didn't happen in the 30s, and this helps to keep the economy from cratering - and makes the recessions shorter and less painful.
There's an idea to make banking regulation counter-cyclical. So that in the boom times, they'll have to maintain a higher fractional reserve or capital adequacy ratio. Thus meaning they can't lend as much, and stoke the bubbles as hard. Then when the recession comes, the pressure will be released somewhat, in the hopes they'll now be more willing to lend, having sustained smaller losses from the collapse of the boom, and having more money on hand. In a big scary recession like the recent one, that probably wouldn't work. But it might have made the 1990-91 recession a lot less steep, for example.
He at least had the good sense to wait until the plane was on the ground, before risking destroying it...
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Click on your own username beside you comment, and you'll see:
136 posts • joined 30 Dec 2010
However that's the publically available one, that I can see. And only counts posters where you haven't ticked the anon box, or using this username. If you've had a different handle on this account those wouldn't show up there.
I hadn't realised the "My Posts" page only shows your total up and down votes.
As the old saying goes, if you can't be an example to your children, you can at least be a horrible warning...
Indeedy! Thank you from the heart of our bottoms...
I found an actual piece of orange peel in my 49p Lidl thick cut marmalade today. Woohoo! That's the first piece I've seen all week. But at about 2p per slice of toast covered, it's surprisingly good.
The 300g of Lidl "cheese" for £1.55 on the other hand...
Oh, do they not do so? I thought it was the other way round, and donations didn't show up on the team page - as I've got a few hopefully coming in today. Booo.
Anyway, thank you to our myserious benefactor.
You had a sofa made out of catalogues? That sounds very uncomfortable!
At £1 a week, I'd say you paid way over the odds...
If that were true, how come the iPhone sells so well? The only difference is a radio chip, costing a few dollars at the most, and possibly an LED flash for the camera. Oh and the iPad is 4 times the size, so has a much more expensive screen and battery.
Actually I've used the argument of tablet prices to say that all the top-end phones are over-priced. Which I believe they are, so I won't spend more than £200-£300 on a phone (and there's some pretty good ones at £150).
But the 10" iPad isn't significantly more expensive than the premium Android tablets. Until you pay Apple's rip-off price for extra storage of course. Or in fact the £100 extra they charge for the one with a mobile radio chip costing a few dollars...
I'd say it's more likely that tablets often get left at home, and don't take as much of a hammering as phones, in battery or getting dropped terms. Plus lots of people still expect a shiny new phone with every new mobile contract - whereas they're paying the price of the tablet up-front (not as part of a disguised hire purchase and airtime contract).
I think we agree on the round. Mine is a modern lazy round, where I'll often cut along only the long side to make the sandwich a bit more convenient to hold. The poncier the bread, the taller it seems to be, and therefore the more likely to flop over and dump the delicious contents all over the shop.
Whereas in the days of tea at my Nan's, it was sliced white all the way. Ham and cucumber or crab paste in fact. Much squarer bread, so makes nice squares (triangles if you're feeling all posh). A round would be the 2 slices of bread's worth, so either 2 or 4 sub sandwiches (sandwich-ettes, sarnitos perhaps?). This all to be followed by Mr Kipling's finest cherry bakewells and French fancies, plus Jaffa cakes, and/or maybe even fruit cake if she'd made some.
Oh, and dandelion and burdock. Foul, sickly stuff that coats your teeth and makes them go furry - but I did used to love it. Radio 2 on in the kitchen, the sounds of aircraft over South London, drifts away into happy nostalgia...
Anyway, you are correct. This is a vital question. We need to form a Nosh Posse Sandwich Sizing Sub-committee. Stat!
Isn't it a round of sarnies, which is 2 slices sandwiched, then cut in half to make 2 smaller sarnies? Or some such. Otherwise I've had that confusion with people before.
Myself I'd say a sandwich is what you get with some stuff, and 2 slices of bread.
This is before we've even mentioned the abomination that is the club sandwich, which always seems to use an odd number of slices. At which I always think, should you butter both sides of the slice that's in the middle?
Chimay bleu is about 11% alcohol, but just tastes like a nice dark beer. It's very moreish. Sadly it's about £4 a bottle whenever I've seen it in the UK - so would make a bit of a hole in the week's budget.
The strongest I've had was Carlsburg Elephant Beer, which is 13% from memory. Had it once in a Danish bar, and it was truly horrible. The danger with many Belgian beers is how many of them are so nice, and don't taste like they've got more than 7% alcohol. I guess that's why they come in half measures..
Give people time...
I personally haven't, as I live in a flat, so can't. But also I've tried to go for a balance of my rice, which is bought in huge bags every few months anyway (and people in developing countries are likely to do the same - or store what they grow) - and buying some things in smaller packages just to use this week. On which subject I owe Lester an email, a spreadsheet and a picture of my stash of "goodies".
However, apparently the $1.50 a day figure is consumption at purchasing power parity. So this is supposedly a monetary value assigned to everything that people comsume each day - at a notional global standardised dollar's purchasing power. It's all very hard to work out - for example that figure includes housing - and I simply don't believe that you could get any kind of housing in the UK at rates of a couple of hundred a year, even a small concrete/brick single roomed one.
Also my bank won't take a couple of quid for the week as my mortgage payment - and Thames Water are probably getting £2-£3 a week off me. Not to mention electricity.
In the end this is a charity event, a bit of fun, and hopefully an excercise in thinking about what we have and what we use. It should be taken in a spirit of enquiry, with a sense of proportion, and with a sense of humour.
Yesterday I spent about 30p on frozen veg (not available to people below the poverty line, but their fresh veg is probably cheaper than ours), 39p on 6 eggs, maybe 10p on half an onion and half a potato, a little butter and made a nice omelette. Which is big enough for a dinner and a lunch, for 80p. But that doesn't include electricity to cook it.
And to think that I was only telling a friend on Saturday, as we left the cinema for the pub, that I'd just ticked something off my bucket list. Which was walking down the up escalator (while moving of course), because the other was out of order and my excuse was I didn't want to wait for the lift.
I'm obviously a bit more easily pleased than you...
The difference between a VAT and a sales tax is that a VAT is harder to avoid. To take the example of a retailer in the two systems:
VAT - They buy a bunch of goods from their suppliers and have to pay net price + 25% VAT. But this is OK, as they're going to claim that money back. They add their mark-up for their own profit, then the government's 25% VAT - and sell on to customers. Then pay the government their pound of flesh, less what they can claim back from their suppliers.
To cheat the system, they'd sell to the customers at say 10% cheaper than everyone else, pocketing the rest that they were claiming was VAT, but this is barely going to cover them for the fact that they now can't claim back the VAT on their suppliers. Ooops. You still get the issue that very small suppliers can undercut everyone else by not charging VAT, but then they also can't claim it back - so there's a limit to how much they can do.
Assuming our shop operates properly, they're paying no VAT themselves - it's just some extra admin, and a varying effect on their cash-flow.
Sales Tax - In this example of a sales tax, there is only one side to the transaction. Being business-to-business, then our shop goes out and buys their supplies, no sales tax will be payable. Thus they have the ablity to sell to the customers at a discount, and pocket some portion of the sales tax. Obviously big firms can't get away with this, but smaller ones can, and if they can undercut the big boys (who do pay) then that's going to be a route to avoidance there.
Now you might say the answer here is to have the retailer fill out loads of forms for the lovely tax man, so he can track what's going on and catch them at their dirty game. At which point, the simplicity and lack of bureaucracy that is the advantage of a sales tax has just collapsed. Now you've got the same level of paperwork going on, the same admin losses to businesses, the same level of paperwork for the government to tax - but still the easier possibility to avoid tax, as you've not got the incentive of claiming your own VAT back - that keeps (most of) the VAT people more honest.
Also, you've had a big old moan about how bloated European governments are. And sure, governments can always find ways to spend money. But even though people may resent being taxed, they also resent it if you stop spending government money on stuff. That tension is the major issue of politics. But what would you cut? Health? Defence? Unemployment benefits? Pensions? Education? The UK government has averaged just under 40% of GDP in spending in the last 35 years, which means it's going to need to average taxes of about 40% of GDP. I suspect it will be very hard to move it very far from that, and keep the voters onside.
Actually the US is a lot closer to that level of spending/taxing itself now, as federal spending has increased so much since the 50s.
To think that all I scoffed last night was the last of the salad and quiche - I can almost feel virtuous. There's still lager in the fridge, but a friend cleaned me out of beer last week. I did manage to polish off a couple of left-over jammy dodgers though.
Current plan is to celebrate the finish with either a bacon or a fish finger sandwich. Unfortunately there's a packet of bacon left in there, calling out to me.
My Antikythera machine ran the far superior Solaris, the operating system designed by Apollo Himself. In order to start the system you were forced to make a libation of wine, and a sacrifice of ambrosia - and since Devon's finest rice pudding was a bugger to get hold of, and no-one wants to waste good wine (or even retsina), we endeavoured never to have to do so.
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