The Open Rights Group
Me
history_monk
Is an independent pressure group campaigning for openness and freedom on the Internet. I've belonged to it for a couple of years. They're mostly funded by members' subscriptions, and are having a membership drive to enable some campaigning for the general election, mainly against the government's message of "Privacy means the terrorists win."

https://www.openrightsgroup.org/join
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One can use too much brandy, actually
Me
history_monk
When flaming a Christmas Pudding, 15cl of brandy is too much. It takes ten minutes to burn out, and the nether regions of the pudding become overly crisp, although their flavour is fine.

My 2014 in 100 words
Me
history_monk
FrameMaker; Wendy; Citrus; MS-SDL; Windows 8.1; The Cardinal's Mistress; Embedded XP; Chicago; SHA-256; Rabul; Peenemünde; RHEL7; Daphne Oram; VC14; Reality quakes; JavaScript; Bethnal Green; John Lewis; Radio 3; Woolwich; Sea Serpents; Juliet McKenna; Princess Charlotte; Dr Bob; Anna; Frogmen; Mount Etna; Salamanders; Podcasting; B-axis; WinRT; Joe Root; SSL and TLS; Gary Balance; SLES12; TORG; "Where's your other?"; David Jackson; MH370; Gare Loch; Moen Ali; SSL and TLS; RPoL; Army & Navy Stores; John Meaney; Persistent & Vexatious; Book Depository; 10.10; Porcupine Books; DMW Carol; Winston Churchill; The Huntress; Ukraine; Skill of the Week; rasff; "Winkle" Brown; ODE; Everest; Classic Shell.

A Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to you all.

Tony Blair
Me
history_monk
I get quite a few "please sign our petition" e-mails, and I sign some of them. They all want you to pass them on, and I'm much more restrained about that. But the idea that Save The Children, a charity I had thought to be reasonably worthwhile, is giving Tony Blair an award for saving children is ... beyond polite description. There's a petition to ask them to withdraw it, here.
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11th November 2018
Me
history_monk
Is, of course the centenary of Armistice Day, the end of fighting in the First World War. It's a Sunday, which means that the Remembrance Day ceremonies (always on a Sunday nowadays in the UK) will take place on the correct day. There are normally parades, the laying of wreaths and a two-minute silence; I expect that there will be extra elements for the centenary, but we haven't reached the centenary of the start of the war yet, and nothing seems to have been announced yet.

I've thought of something I plan to do personally. A whole-day silence. This means no talking, unless it's necessary for safety, no TV or radio, no music except a part of a ceremony, and so on. This seems perfectly practical, as it's a Sunday - a working day without speech is not possible in my job - and while it will be strange, and something of a strain, I think it will force me to contemplate what the war and our memories of it mean.

I would be very happy if others were to do this, but I really don't think it ought to be made an official act of remembrance.

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Sale of Tax Records, part 2
Me
history_monk
I had a response from my MP. He was noncommittal about LibDem policy, since he's in no position to make rulings, but he's not in favour of this.

Here's a petition to the head of HMRC about it:

https://secure.38degrees.org.uk/hmrc-petition

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Sale of Tax Records
Me
history_monk
https://www.openrightsgroup.org/campaigns/dont-sell-our-tax-data



Here's the letter I've just written to my MP:

Guardian Article

The government is intending to provide "anonymised" access to tax records. A senior Tory MP has described this as "borderline insane". I'd go considerably further than that. It will mean that people don't reveal their financial affairs to the tax authorities, producing a vast increase in evasion and clogging the courts with pointless cases.

It's a very naked example of what has seemed to be this government's attitude to the population for some time: not as citizens to be safeguarded, but as resources to be strip-mined. If this goes ahead, it will be historically recorded as one of the steps that triggered revolution. The people will not put up with this.

It will, incidentally, make certain of the Scottish Referendum result. All the SNP has to do is undertake that an independent Scottish government will not do such a thing, and they've won. And a lot of the English will be considering emigration.

Up until now, I have still be prepared to support you at the general election. I am not happy with much of the coalition's policy, but I feel that Parliament needs at least one scientist, and Cambridge seems to have the role of supplying them. Were Nick Cleg my MP, voting for him would already be quite impossible. But sale of tax records passes, you would be mere collateral damage.

I'm already reasonably certain that you would vote against this scheme. That is not enough to save your seat: Parliament must reject the idea, if it is brought to a vote.

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Tories really not trying hard
Me
history_monk
Grant Shapps, Conservative Party Chairman, has said it's time to draw a line under the issue of Maria Miller's expenses, and the apparent attempt by one of Miler's staff to intimidate a newspaper that was investigating the story. Miller is the Culture Secretary, the minister responsible for regulation of the press.

Shapps' comment seems to translate as "We don't have any good answers to these questions, so we're asking our allies in the media to change the subject." At least, that's the charitable view. A less charitable view would be that this is a misguided attempt to intimidate all of the media.
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What stories shaped your ideas about story?
Me
history_monk
I've been thinking about this a bit recently, having noticed that my ideas about what makes a good story and what doesn't are a bit individual. I The books I read and re-read, in the most distant and foggy memories were mixed, to say the least.

The Swallows and Amazons series, which had been important in my mother's childhood (one of the best things about visiting her parents was the complete set in hardback in the loft, which she has now, and I will keep when she's gone). Asterix, which always seemed far better than the British boy's comics of the early seventies, even if I didn't understand everything. The space exploration novels of Hugh Walters, which got their numbers approximately right. Those are the ones that stand out.

There isn't any TV among those, because we didn't have one until I was about nine. Once we had it ... it didn't seem important, somehow, the way it did to so many other kids. We watched it, but not watching it was always an option. Not getting habituated to TV-style plotting may have been one of the things contributing to my alienation.

What stories shaped you?
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2013 in 100 words
Me
history_monk
Apple; Discworld; MS-SDL; Negotiation; Green Room; LSB; Aftermath; Getting rid of XP; Geology; Disappointment of 8; Compromise; CIX; Fonts; The Small Folk; Laptops; Snowdon; DrPam; Illnesses; Telephone spam; eBay; Werewolf; Webcomics; PayPal; Wendy; GURPS; Keyboards; Cataracts; Cold Front; Glasses; Annunaki; Ashes held and lost; TORG; Visual Studio; Alpha Centauri B; HMS Belfast; Wikipedia; VBCW; Spam; Ogre; DMWCarol; Chain of Command; Security paranoia; Dux Britanica; LiveJournal; Stalingrad; Aldebaran; Halley’s Comet; HMS Jackal; Etruscan; Ram; FN; Baghdad; Decline of Cook; Guadalcanal; Loss of Swann; Canaris; A Great Shedding; Fukuoka; Gift Aid; Mk14 vs. MKVIII; Waterstones; Tyr; Back to the loft; HHhH; Research!

A Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to you all; apologies to those who get this twice.
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