Thursday, 26 November 2015

Cartoon Corner

Calvin and Hobbes

Robot Gets An Artificial Soul - Dilbert by Scott Adams


Yes Please to LiFi

A new type of wireless internet technology has been developed that could provide a connection that's 100 times faster than traditional WiFi.
The tech is called LiFi, and was tested by an Estonian start-up called Velmenni, who are currently trialling it in offices.
LiFi has proved capable of sending data at speeds of up to 1GBps, around 100 times faster than most current WiFi connections.
At speeds like this, albums,high-definition films and even video games could be downloaded in a matter of seconds.
More on this at TInd

Neat Pooter, But...

The latest version of British computer Raspberry Pi has become the first computer to be given away free with a magazine.
The Pi Zero is a fully fledged computer which measures just 6.5cm by 3cm. Made in Wales, it sells for just £4 in the UK and $5 in the US. Raspberry Pi is also giving the device away for free with the purchase of its £5.99 monthly magazine, MagPi.
More at TG

My Photo

Since when has $5 equated to £4, especially as transports costs from Wales to England are far less than to the States?

Yet another prime example of "Rip Off Britain"...


Winter Woes

So the cuts are deep but not quite as deep as we’d been led to expect. But the Chancellor will only be able to let up on austerity for as long as the Office for Budget Responsibility remains committed to its optimistic economic forecasts.
What’s happened to the growth forecasts?
Not much since the Budget in July. Projected GDP growth for 2015 is unchanged at 2.4 per cent. It’s actually up very slightly in 2016 and 2017 at 2.4 per cent and 2.5 per cent respectively, despite the slowing global economy. 
One of the reasons is that the government will cut spending by much less than expected in July. The Chancellor has also retreated on his plan to cut tax credits for the working poor. This extra spending in the economy will all help support growth in a classic “Keynesian” style. 
Does that mean more borrowing then?
No. The OBR still projects a £10bn overall budget surplus in 2019-20, exactly the same as in July. The downward path of the national debt is also very similar to July. It descends from 82.5 per cent of GDP in 2015-16 to 71.3 per cent in 2010-21. However the OBR does note that in this financial year debt only falls due to an avalanche of privatisations of public assets such as Royal Mail.
ben autumn statement.PNG

More spending but not more borrowing? How can that add up?
The Chancellor has been helped by a large upward revision in tax revenue estimates by OBR due to “modelling changes”. These include a correction of a “systematic overestimate of VAT deductions” and “improved modelling of national insurance contributions”. 
It all adds up to a £23bn windfall for the Treasury over five years – and some analysts called it an “early Christmas present” for the Chancellor. This is a big surprise as the monthly public finances figures had suggested a deterioration of revenues relative to OBR forecasts. 
What about tax?
Rather awkwardly for a Chancellor who claims to be a tax cutter, there are a host of effective net tax increases in his latest package. The apprenticeship levy on firms raises serious money: £11.6bn over the next five years. The OBR says it expects this to be passed on to employees in the form of lower pay or fewer jobs. 
The Chancellor is also making it easier for local authorities to raise council tax. The OBR estimates this will raise £6.2bn over the five-year period. There are also little nibbles on company car allowances and a cut to a tax break for household and commercial renewable energy production.
George Osborne announced a lot of spending increases didn’t he?
Indeed he did. He boasted that the NHS would receive “the largest investment… since its creation”. He said the housing budget would be doubled to £2bn a year to fund “the biggest house building programme by any government since the 1970s”. 
This isn’t all just bluster. Total day-to-day Whitehall spending is £22.9bn higher  than the OBR’s projections in July. And spending falls by an average of 1.1 per cent a year, less severe than the 1.6 per a year average in the last Parliament. However, the reversal shouldn’t be exaggerated. Total public expenditure will still fall to just 36.5 per cent of GDP in 2019-20. Only twice since the Second World War has it been so low. 
What about capital investment?
The Chancellor made a lot of his additional infrastructure spending commitments for new high-speed rail lines and the electrification of existing lines in Northern England. And capital spending will rise by 20 per cent over this Parliament according to the OBR. Yet that needs to be seen in the broader context. Public sector investment spending (excluding wear and tear) will only be 1.4 per cent of GDP by 2020, still pretty low in historic terms. And with interest rates still extremely low, many economists see this as a squandered opportunity to invest.
What will be cut?
For some departments it was still a brutal spending round. Day-to-day spending by the Business department will be slashed by 17 per cent over the next four years. Environment and Rural Affairs will be reduced by 15 per cent. Energy and climate change will take a 16 per cent hit. Transport’s budget will fall by 37 per cent. The Culture department’s administrative budget will fall by 20 per cent.
The implication of all these settlements will come into greater focus over the following days and weeks. The overall pain is less than feared – but it will nevertheless be great. And this is on top of some huge cuts to these departments in the previous Parliament. Over the decade to 2019-20 the Business budget looks set to be 42 per cent smaller. Justice is facing a 45 per cent contraction. Transport is in line for a 70 per cent hit. The impact of the cuts on local government are likely to be the most severe of all.

How will this be mitigated?
The Chancellor promised “far-reaching changes to what the state does and how it does it”. There will be more tax raising powers for councils to pay for social care. More additional user charges are likely in other areas of the state. Old prisons will close and be sold off. This suggests more convicts could be rehabilitated more cheaply in the community.
What about tax credits?
Here there was a massive retreat. Tax credits will not be withdrawn from the working poor as laid out in the July Budget – the decision that provoked a massive backlash and defeat for the Government in the House of Lords. The cost of that reversal is £9.4bn. But it’s not a complete reversal. The two-child limit on claiming tax credits from July still remains. The Universal Credit system, which will roll-up lots of benefits into a single programme, will also be less generous. This will hit future recipients.
How sustainable is it all?
Despite the Chancellor’s pledge to build lots more houses, the OBR still expects average house prices to rise by around 5 per cent a year. That’s quicker than it expects average wages to rise, which will make homes less affordable. Higher house prices also push up aggregate household borrowing to income ratios back up close to pre-2007 highs. The current account – a measure of how much the country as a whole is borrowing from the rest of the world – also remains high over the forecast period.

Happy Holidays


Thanksgiving Ads- 4

Capture your murderous memories for future generations. (Source)

Don't look so surprised—it's just corn! (Source)

Thanksgiving Ads- 3

If this is what the turkey tasted like the first time, we're not sure we'd want seconds. (Source)

Call us crazy, but we're pretty sure airplane blueprints and whisky don't make for a winning combo. (Source)

Ah, the days when wrapping everything in aluminum foil made you a "champion chef." (Source)

Thanksgiving Ads- 2

The hipster beer of 2015 was once "an American tradition" at Thanksgiving. (Source)

We sure hope this turkey can't read! (Source)

Perfect for the lazy, TV-addled family of the 1970s. (Source)

Thanksgiving Ads- 1

Because nothing says Thanksgiving more than cigarettes, beer, and dishes with too much mayonnaise. 

Cigarettes—as much a Thanksgiving tradition as turkey and all the trimmings (not to mention, they're great digestion aids)! (Source)

The "surprise" is that anyone would eat this to begin with. (Source)

We long for the days of food as kitchy art. (Source)


Christmas Card List

Putin having Turkey for dinner
Russian Premier Vladimir Putin has issued a worryingly ambiguous statement that he’ll be having Turkey for Christmas.
Reporters were left asking precisely what he meant as Putin went into great detail about how he would wring it’s neck and carve the Turkey into tiny, tiny pieces in time for Christmas Day.
He will then proceed to devour the Turkey over the following few days, he said, before picking over the bones and leftovers over the subsequent week.
“It’s the big, strutting Turkey which waddles around pecking at others in the coop and thinking it rules the roost, but is in fact ripe for plucking,” said Putin, ominously.
“As my mother once told me; if you wish to pluck the bird, it is easier if you first cut off the head.
“I’m really looking forward to filleting it as part of my festive celebrations.”
Putin went on to add further uncertainty when he said that he expected some ‘loud bangs’ as he pulled crackers over the Turkey, but didn’t expect there would be any gifts or jokes.
The Russian foreign ministry was not much more help when they described Putin’s holiday plans as “exciting for the rest of the world to watch and filled with fireworks.”
French President Francois Hollander, who is visiting Putin today, is taking a gift of sauces and pickles in the hope of convincing him to stick to dinner.

Getting the Shitty Bus

When it comes to renewable energy, we’ve gotten used to seeing solar panels atop neighbourhood roofs and wind turbines dotting the landscape. Perhaps much farther down the list of green fuel we’d immediately think to use is our own faeces. But in Bristol, human waste is the next big thing in public transport.
The city has been running a “Bio-Bus” since March of this year and it’s been a huge success. The gas generated from the poo and food waste of just 5 people - through a process performed at the sewage treatment works in Avonmouth called “anaerobic digestion” - can power the bus for up to 186 miles, so it’s no wonder that the system is being touted for long-term use.
Now, operator First West of England has submitted a proposal to the government that would see a full fleet of 110 double-decker Bio-Buses hit the streets.
"If we are successful we will be leading the way in creating a fully sustainable public transport network that can really make a difference to people in and around Bristol," said First West of England's Jenny MacLeod.
In fact, the original scheme has been so popular that rival bus company Wessex Bus has hopped on the bandwagon and applied for its own grant to start running the vehicles.
"This is a great opportunity to increase the number of gas-powered buses on the streets of Bristol and surrounding area, which will significantly improve air quality,” explained Wessex Bus’ Antony Goozee.
"We believe this would be the most sustainably fuelled fleet in the UK, as it will be the only fleet where the buses are actually powered by treatment of sewage and inedible food waste from the local community."
The gas itself is stored in tanks on the roof of the Bio-Bus and is almost odour free, releasing up to 30% less in carbon dioxide emissions than a comparable diesel vehicle.
One ticket for the poo bus, please.

After You

Santa Worker with a tool belt construction background.To most people, re-gifting an unwanted Christmas present is rude, ungrateful and a little miserly. However, to Roy Collette and Larry Kunkel, it was not only a treasured Christmas-time tradition that they upheld for well over two decades, but an ever escalating game to see which one would fail to be able to re-gift the pair of pants in question first.
The origins of this trousers-based Christmas tale go all the way back to the 1960s, when Larry Kunkel’s well-meaning mother gave him a pair of yellow-brown moleskin pants one Christmas while he was studying at St. Cloud State University, believing that they’d keep him warm during the winter. Kunkle wore the pants a reported three times before realising that in the harsh, unforgiving Minnesotan winters he had to endure at University, the pants would stiffen uncomfortably.
So, the following year, Kunkel re-gifted the pants to his brother-in-law, Roy Collette, who sported a similar build. Like Kunkel, Collette found that the pants were uncomfortable during winter and, lo and behold, Kunkel found the pants under his Christmas tree the very next year. This amused Kunkel and for several years, the two continued to exchange the pants each Christmas until Collette had the bright idea to roll the pants up as tightly as possible before cramming them into a small, “3 foot long, 1 inch wide pipe”. Collette, saw this move as a joke, Kunkel on the other hand saw it as a challenge.
Wanting to outdo his brother, a year later Kunkle took the pants, folded them into a tiny square and wrapped them tightly with several dozen feet of steel wire. Collette rose to the challenge admirably, freeing the pants before putting them into a wooden box filled with rocks that he then nailed shut and had banded with strips of steel. Collette patiently waited for a year before dutifully delivering the box to Kunkle on Christmas eve. And thus, the game was afoot- who could successfully put the pants in a container so unwieldy that the other wouldn’t be able to get them out to re-gift the next year.
To keep things interesting and sporting over the years, the two men agreed to a number of rules. First, if the pants were damaged, either while being wrapped or unwrapped, the game would end and the loser would be the one who damaged them. Another rule was that neither man could spend any money wrapping the pants (agreeing to use only junk parts, things they had lying around, or items they could acquire from others for free) and that delivery expenses had to be kept to a minimum. Finally, it was agreed that they had to wrap the pants in a way that they felt was “morally, legally and spiritually correct” given the spirit of the game.
And so it was that the two men came up with increasingly fiendish ways to wrap the pants to make it all the more difficult for the recipient to get them out. For example, after receiving the pants inside of the stone filled box, Kunkle returned them mounted inside a window (complete with a 20 year guarantee) and sent them back. Collette’s response was to put the pants in a coffee can which he then put into an old oil drum which he filled with reinforced concrete.
As the wrapping efforts became more and more elaborate, the yearly tradition came to the attention of local newspapers and business owners, who were only too happy to help the men outdo one another, often footing the cost of delivery on their behalf.
Some of the more outrageous wrapping efforts included a 600 pound safe that had been welded shut and covered in seasonal, festive wrapping (which was kindly supplied and delivered to Kunkle by a branch of the company he worked for near Collette’s house), a truck tire filled with concrete, and in a 1974 Gremlin’s glove compartment. If that last one doesn’t sound that bad, we should point out that Kunkel had the car crushed into a 3 foot wide cube before delivering it with a note stating that the pants were in the glove compartment.
Perhaps getting annoyed at the countless hours spent carefully extracting the pants without damaging them, one year Collette tried to get Kunkel to stop the game, suggesting they gift the pants back to his mother. Collette liked this idea and had the pants sealed inside “bulletproof” glass and sent them to Kunkel to pass on to his mother. That Christmas, Kunkel delivered a car filled with concrete to Collette’s house and told him that the pants, still inside the bulletproof glass, were inside.
In 1985, Collette hid the pants inside a gigantic, four ton concrete Rubik’s cube that he then covered with 2000 board-feet of lumber. In 1986, Kunkel returned the pants inside a car, into which he’d welded over a 100 generators that Collette had to meticulously take apart to find the pants somewhere within without damaging them. No source we could find mentions exactly what the pants were housed in for the two years following that, but we do know what happened in 1989 when it was, once again, Collette’s turn to wrap the pants.
After some deliberation, Collette decided to seal the pants inside of an insulated container that would then itself be sealed inside over 10,000 pounds of glass. Collette had all of the kinks worked out and had even managed to convince a friend in charge of a glass manufacturing company to supply the glass free of charge, so that he wouldn’t break the rules by spending any money. However, tragedy struck when the insulation for the pants failed while molten glass was being poured over them, causing them to burst into flames. A heartbroken Collette, now officially the loser of the over two decade long game, swept up the ashes and placed them in an urn, which he had delivered to Kunkel that year with a note reading:
Sorry Old Man, here lies the pants … An attempt to cast the pants in glass brought about the demise of the pants at last.
Kunkel graciously accepted the urn and placed it on the mantle above his fireplace. Although Collette was worried that Kunkel would continue the game with the urn, being quoted as saying “Larry’s the most competitive person I know. I won’t be surprised if I get the ashes back – in something – next year.” However, as far as we can tell, the pants were never re-gifted again and currently enjoy a quiet burnt-up life in an urn.
Bonus Fact:
  • In a 1983 interview with the New York Times about the tradition, Collette, who’s turn it was to receive the pants that year, claimed that he was sort of disappointed because Kunkel had recently built a house. He stated, “If I could, I would have put them in the foundation of his house, or under the fireplace or something. Then we’d sit there on Christmas Eve warming ourselves by the fire, and I’d just point down at the floor and tell him where they were.” One would think given the expense of extracting the pants from the home’s foundation that this would have made Collette the victor. But alas, it wasn’t his turn.


Good Question

MI5 and MI6 cover the British secret service. But what on earth are MI1, MI2, MI3 and MI4?

One would like to think that James Bond started his spying/murdering/drinking/womanising life as a lowly intern in MI1, spying on a local branch of PC World before successfully climbing the ranks all the way to MI6, where the really good spying and cocktails can be found.
It turns out, though, that it doesn’t work that way at all. The different branches of the Directorate of Military Intelligence (of which MI6 is the sixth department, obviously) started out as different spying departments in World War II, before eventually being closed on the grounds that World War II isn’t happening any more.
Only two, MI5 and MI6 still remain, although officially they go by the names of the Security Service and Special Intelligence Service respectively. The old names have stuck, however, due to their widespread use in fiction.
So what were the others?
MI1 dates back to World War I, where it simply was the military intelligence department of the War Office. Back then it incorporated the modern day intelligence services, albeit as sub departments with a different naming structure. Presumably, when the Security Service was redesignated from MI1c to MI5, there was significant debate. Good to concentrate on the important things while millions are rotting in trench. During World War II, MI1 was the code breaking branch, and later was incorporated into Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ), causing the designation to become defunct.
MI2 and 3 were responsible for specific geographic intelligence. The precise jurisdictions changed considerably over the years as the situation demanded. At first MI2 handled the entire world, splitting up different areas into different subdepartments, before MI3 was formed and the world was split roughly into Europe (MI3) and the rest of the world (MI2). MI14 was later spun off to specifically handle German intelligence. MI3 also handled translation at one point. Eventually MI2 and MI14 were absorbed into MI3, and then MI3 was absorbed into MI6.
MI4 was for aerial reconnaissance. Much like MI5 and MI6, MI4 continues to this day under a different name - the Defence Intelligence Fusion Centre. At various points it was known as the Photographic Development Unit, the Photographic Interpretation Unit, the Central Interpretation Unit, the Joint Air Photographic Intelligence Centre UK, and the Joint Air Reconnaissance Intelligence Centre, and finally the Defence Geospatial Intelligence Fusion Centre. Imagine how much money it cost just to reprint the letterheads. MI15 also provided a similar function, and presumably was incorporated into MI4 during one of the many name changes.
MI7 was the department responsible for press, propaganda, censorship and translation. However, it was absorbed into the Ministry of Information early in World War II, and the designation was thus short lived. As a result, many writers use it as a fictional agency - Rowan Atkinson’s Johnny English is an MI7 agent, for example. It liaised with MI12, an equally short lived organisation which was responsible for internal censorship of military documents.
MI8 was responsible for signals, which included everything from intercepting enemy transmissions, to managing military phone calls. It disappeared between the wars, and in World War II became so intertwined with the work at Bletchley Park that it was absorbed wholesale into MI6.
MI9 has also been used as a fictional agency, most notably by CBBC series MI-High, however the real agency was concerned with the safety and return of prisoners of war during World War II, and as such became defunct shortly afterwards. MI9 was so low profile and low budget that for a good portion of the war it was run out of a single hotel room. This is in stark contrast to its well-funded counterpart, MI19, which was set up to interrogate German soldiers. Although interrogate may be a polite term.
MI10 and MI16 dealt with technical and scientific analysis, respectively, of captured technology and weapons. Both are now part of GCHQ. They are probably the closest things to a real-life Q Branch.
MI11 was military security, specifically responsible for protecting the civilian population from enemy agents. It was disbanded after World War II when it was made redundant by the expansion of MI6.
MI17, finally, was the administrative department. It oversaw the bureaucracy of all Military Intelligence sections and interdepartmental communications. It was rendered defunct as the various departments were absorbed into each other.
If you’ve been paying attention, you may be wondering about MI13 and MI18; neither MI13 or MI18 actually existed.


Ba-doom Tisch

John Mcdonnell
Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell is to follow-up his hilarious Little Red Book stunt with some classic slapstick comedy for his next Commons appearance.
“I think it’s important that, in these difficult times, Her Majesty’s opposition is on hand to give everyone a good laugh,” said the wacky socialist.
“Jeremy’s been doing his best with that appointment of Ken Livingstone and having a silly beard, but we all need to help out, so I thought I’d get involved with this bonkers Mighty Boosh-esque reference to Chairman Mao’s Little Red Book.
“But I am very aware that we need to broaden our appeal. A Chairman Mao reference is going to make the trendy political elite laugh, but I want to have the whole population laughing.
“And what’s going to make everyone laugh more than a pie to the face?”
It is also expected that Mr McDonnell will arrive for his next Commons appearance in a clown car, the wheels of which will fall off as it comes to a halt. As he exits the car, his trousers will fall down before he trips over a small dog.
Pleasingly for the zany trade-unionist, it seems many Tories already find him hilarious.
“I don’t think I’ve ever seen anything that funny,” said one.
“Well, not since that woman cried on Question Time about her Tax credits. I mean, I thought I’d burst.”

FAO All Bigotted Twats

Any woman who doesn’t want children is automatically worse than Hitler, says an mob made up of fucking morons.
The mob, which has been gathering online under the name “Your Uterus, Our Business,” has been gaining traction over the last week by writing all in caps, yelling incoherently and getting really sweary.
“It’s a fucking disgrace,” head pitchfork wielder William Limpdick spat.
“A woman’s decision not to reproduce affects everybody. What am I supposed to tell my children? That some people don’t think they’re the centre of the universe? I want my kids to have healthy self esteem, thank you very much.”
Mob member Gemma Judgey said: “No, reproductive decisions are not private and personal ones, because they directly affect how validated I feel by society.
“If a woman doesn’t want kids, she’s basically saying that I should have drowned mine at birth, and that’s unacceptable.
“Maybe the world is overpopulated, under-resourced and full of wars, disease and Justin Bieber, but not having a child is still the most selfish thing I can think of.”
In a public statement, Your Uterus, Our Business revealed that it will be lobbying the government to introduce a spare womb tax.
“An unused womb is a waste of anatomy, and we don’t see why childless women should be allowed to strut around with their fancy jobs, disposable income and vomit-free clothes at the taxpayer’s expense.
“We don’t care how many people they employ, or how much they contribute to the so-called economy, they’re a drain on society.”
“Now who wants to see pictures of our kids?”

Get Ready for Christmas- 11

Flo Perry / BuzzFeed
The rarest of hangovers. You might have had them a lot in your youth, but nowadays you’re convinced these are actually mythical.

Get Ready for Christmas- 10

Flo Perry / BuzzFeed
You’re hungover enough so that you’re not bored out of your mind by watching reruns of Masterchef all day, but not so hungover you have to make any sudden dashes to the toilet. You had a great time last night, and you don’t have anything to do today. These are the most blissful of hangovers.

Get Ready for Christmas- 9

Flo Perry / BuzzFeed
Often experienced the day after a think-you-might-die. You were so looking forward to this morning when you’d finally feel like you again, and then you didn’t. But you know you deserve this: You did a bad thing and drank way, way too much and this is the price you have to pay. But anyone who thinks you’re going to be making pleasant conversation today can do one.