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Below are the 20 most recent journal entries recorded in rdmaughan's LiveJournal:

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    Tuesday, July 17th, 2012
    12:12 pm
    Updated rules for Internet Debates.
    I got some good feedback when I first posted these and I have tried to incorporate it below.  Rules 6 and 7 got reworked and I added a 6a as a modifier to 6.  I did not thank everyone who contributes last time but I did appreciate the feedback.

    These are the rules I try to follow when debating on the Internet.  I tend to be at my most tetchy when dealing with people who cannot grasp rule three.  More and more I skip straight to rule eight and save my energy,  one person on facebook got defriended because I was getting bored refuting that much libertarian conspiracy theory stuff that often (I think it was the "Remember Everything the Nazis did was legal too" in connection with the ACA that did it).

    Nobody else is required to play by my rules but this does give everyone a good idea of what debating tactics are likely to push my buttons which I consider fair warning.

    1) You have the right to your own opinions (so does everyone else).

    2) You do not have the right to your own facts (You do have the right to challenge something presented as fact if you believe it to be incorrect).

    3) If you cannot tell the difference between facts and opinions, you have the right to remain silent (please).

    4) You have the right to express your opinion (so does everyone else).

    5) You do not have the right to expect agreement when you do (and this is the Internet so someone will disagree with you).

    6) You have the right to expect courtesy when you express yourself.

    6 a) You give up your right to expect courtesy if you do not show it to other people. 

    7) By expressing on opinion on the Internet you give people the right to challenge your opinion.  (Provided they do so politely.  If you cannot cope with the concept of your opinion being challenged then stop sharing them or post in a forum when comments cannot be made)

    8) You have the right to walk away (and sometimes that is all you can do)
    Friday, August 27th, 2010
    11:46 am
    MPs' abused staff over expenses
    Basically MPs do not like the new expenses system which was brought in after the level of abuse of the old system got too blatant to ignore.  Several MPs reacted so badly to the new system that they became abusive to staff, in one case reducing a civil servant to tears.  This story broke earlier this week, if you missed it the details are at

    I had several thoughts on this.  I know no MP will ever read this journal but if any ever did the following four points are for them.

    1) Every employer I have ever had required me to jump through certain hoops to get my expenses.  Some were better designed than others, none of them provided me with a trainer to explain the system I was expected to read the manual and get on with it.

    2) If you think the expenses system is complicated then perhaps you might like to try a tax return or benefits claim form.   I would be shocked if the paperwork you are being asked for is harder than the paperwork the government asks us to complete.

    3) Any organization should keep records of abusive behaviour towards its staff.  The problem the Standards Agency has is it cannot get you sacked for being abusive or refuse to do business with you in future.  Please understand that your position of privilege comes with a responsibility not to abuse it.

    4) If you are really too stupid or lazy to cope with the expenses system perhaps you should quit politics and let someone better qualified run the country.
    Sunday, December 27th, 2009
    3:51 pm
    So Christmas Doctor Who
    As expected it was incoherent drivel. Can anyone explain why the Doctor is fighting Draco Malfoy?
    Friday, December 11th, 2009
    12:22 pm
    Happy Birthday to UNICEF
    Sixty Three today still going strong and unfortunately still needed.
    Wednesday, December 9th, 2009
    10:11 am
    Vodafone Graduate Recruitment
    Applications for our 2010 graduate recruitment programme are now open. If anyone reading this is a graduate or likely to become one in the near future then the scheme is detailed at . We are looking for fifty graduates next year, starting salary of £25,000. In the first year you work in three different roles, one of which would be a retail outlet. As far as I can see you don't have to be a recent graduate to apply.

    I have no involvement with the scheme at all so I cannot assist in getting you in or in getting a particular role if you do get in. I am posting this simply because I think I work for a decent employer and I am happy to encourage people to work here.
    Friday, September 25th, 2009
    7:10 am
    Save money and give to Oxfam at the same time.
    I have just had an email from Oxfam advertising their current deal with Borders.  If you spend £25 at and enter the code loveoxfam at the checkout you get £5 off and Oxfam get 5% of whatever you spend.  Obviously Borders are doing this to drum up business but if you are looking to order something online it might be worth checking this deal out.

    I have no particular interest in Borders but i am interested in helping Oxfam raise extra money.
    Wednesday, September 2nd, 2009
    5:16 pm
    Nicholas Winton and others like him.
    The holocaust is without any doubt the single worst act in human history. However what I want to talk about is the lights in that darkness.

    If you live in the UK and have seen the news in the last day or so then you will probably have seen the name Nicholas Winton. In 1939 Mr Winton was a stock broker planning a skiing holiday in Switzerland. He was concerned by the news coming out of Czechoslovakia and decided to go there instead. Horrified at what he found there he started arranging the evacuation of children. Initially at his own expense he met with families, paid for travel and located foster families in the UK. Before the invasion of Poland placed the UK and Germany at war he was able to rescue 669 children. Most of the families those children came from were murdered in Auschwitz and but for Mr Winton those children would have gone to the same fate.

    The war ended, life went on for those who survived and Mr Winton went back to his work and his philanthropic activities. Mr Winton was made an MBE for his charitable work with the elderly. He never talked about the Kindertransport.

    In 1988, Mrs Winton was looking for something in the attic and found a scrapbook detailing the children who were rescued. This was the first time she had heard of this work from her husband's past. He just regarded it as the right thing to do, not something to be boasted about.

    Today there are over five thousand descendants of Winton's children scattered across the world. He has been called Britian's Oskar Schindler. He is now Sir Nicholas and more importantly appears on the curriculum of czech schools as part of a course called the power of good.

    Which sent me to look up Oskar Schindler, from there I went to the list of those Righteous Amongst the Nations, sometimes referred to as the Righteous Gentiles. This is a list of gentiles who risked their lives to help Jews during the holocaust. The list has 22,765 names from 44 countries. This number is lower than it could be, the danish resistance asked to be given a single collective entry rather than individual ones and in the Netherlands it is estimates several hundred resistance workers died without the people they saved ever knowing their names.

    Even in the worst of times some will find the courage to do the right thing.
    Tuesday, September 1st, 2009
    9:53 am
    Scam phone call.
    I just had a call on the home phone which I assume was a phishing scam.  The person calling had a heavy foreign accent and mispronounced my surname even worse than usual.  They claimed to be calling from a reclaiming company although it took me three goes to understand them well enough to get that bit.

    They said they were calling to offer to help me reclaim the bank charges I had paid in the last six years.  I asked what sort of scam they were running and they hung up on me.
    Monday, August 31st, 2009
    9:31 pm
    Economic Theory 101
     The point of a trade is to leave both parties better off afterwards.  Please note, not feeling better or thinking they are better off but actually better off.  Of course this is dependent on the parties knowing what is good for them, if you buy lottery tickets and don't win anything on them then you are not better off but that is as much your fault as the fault of the person selling you the tickets.

    If I buy food I get a meal without having to grow or hunt the food myself.  The shop keeper gets my money.  We should both be better off.  Likewise if a farmer wants to sell 500 gallons of milk then selling to a store rather than trying to find 4000 people who want to buy a pint of milk makes sense.  The farmer gets paid and can get on with farming, the store can sell the milk without having to learn how to raise cows.  This gets more important when you consider tea and coffee, I am not going to go to the trouble of contacting a tea grower and asking them to send me a enough tea to make a cuppa.  I will go to a store and buy it.  The tea may have passed through the hands of many traders before it reaches me but I only need to know where to find my closest store that stocks my preferred brand.

    Trade fails to work correctly when one party has the power to distort the trade.  If the tea grower can only sell to one broker then that broker can pay less because the grower cannot go anywhere else.  If a country charges different tariffs for bananas from Africa than they do for bananas from the caribbean then purchasers will buy from the country with the lower tariff.

    So please don't tell me that business or trade as a concept is evil or bad.  If you want to point to a specific business or trade and tell me that is evil or bad then fine but please tell me why you consider it so.

    This rant brought to you courtesy of despair at rants on the evils of all businesses which appear not to contain any understanding of how businesses actually work.
    Thursday, August 6th, 2009
    5:30 pm
    Picnic Reminder
    The next guerrilla picnic is scheduled for Saturday the fifteenth of August.  The assembly point is in the grounds of Southwark Cathedral at 11 AM.

    Currently on the likely to be there list are:

    grey_lady oreouk demoneyes aunty_marion callylevy little_cinnamon  djbp 

    Currently confirmed as not available that weekend:

    plaid_dragon losthismarbles cuboid_ursinoid and the Raftery/Knighton clan.

    More folks always welcome and notice not really required although moderately useful.

    Saturday, July 25th, 2009
    8:30 am
    New Laptop
    My old laptop is in the process of giving up the ghost and so I have succumbed to the dark side and got an Mac Book Pro. So what software should I get for it? Parallels seems an obvious choice and I'll stick with open office for now but what else should I be picking up?
    Thursday, July 23rd, 2009
    11:48 am
    Happy Birthday
    Happy Birthday to my wonderful wife grey_lady, who is enjoying a significant birthday today. 
    Thursday, July 2nd, 2009
    1:08 pm
    Book recommendation needed
    I recently read Churchill's Wizard's: The British Genius for Deception, 1914-1945, which I found an interesting and enjoyable read.  I should note in passing that my father, who maintains he has never done anything interesting in his life, was part of R Force which is covered by the book.

    However this book did leave me with a number of questions about the origins of the first world war and I was wondering if anyone has any book recommendations around this?  Although it would have to be in English I would be interested in both Allied and Germany perspectives on the run up to the outbreak of hostilities.
    7:33 am
    Barcode Scanner
    Does anyone have a barcode scanner I could borrow for a couple of weeks?  I know this is not exactly a standard household item but many of my friends are not exactly standard households.

    ETA: Sorted, a work colleague of my better half has one.
    Tuesday, June 9th, 2009
    7:33 pm
    In my opinion the BNP are fascists.  However Nick Griffin is entitled to go about his business without being assaulted the same as anyone else is.  The point is we are better than he is and when we forget that he wins.
    Monday, June 8th, 2009
    11:41 am
    Guerrilla Picnic Suggested date
    I am proposing Saturday the 15th of August as a date for holding a Guerrilla Picnic.  So for those of you interested that would mean being in the grounds of Southwark Cathedral by Borough market by about 11 AM.

    I don't need a promise of attendance as the whole point of this event is to allow people to turn up or not as they feel on the day.  However the minimum number this works with is six people so it would be good to have some idea of who might show up.

    As usual we can offer crash space to those of you coming from further away if needed but please bear in mind we don't live in London any more.

    If you have no idea what I am talking about the original post explaining the Guerrilla Picnic concept is at
    Wednesday, June 3rd, 2009
    11:57 am
    Free Time and using it to be sociable.
    According to my records we are currently free the following dates:
    Week end of 6/7

    Sunday the 5th
    Weekend 11/12
    Weekend 18/19
    Sunday 26th


    Weekend 8/9
    Weekend 15/16
    Weekend 22/23
    Weekend 29/30/31

    So three questions:
    1) What commitments did I forget?
    2) What date or dates should I decree a guerrilla picnic?
    3) Anyone want to come visit or have us come visit?
    Monday, April 27th, 2009
    7:19 pm
    You know you're family when... turn up unexpectedly on their doorstep and their reaction is "What am I feeding them?" rather than "What are they doing here?"

    I hope everyone else had a good weekend too.
    Friday, March 13th, 2009
    12:39 pm
    BNP even dumber than previously though.
    I know it is difficult to believe that the moronic knuckle draggers that make up the BNP could do something which makes them look even dumbers than usual but they have managed it.

    Their latest xenophobic poster campaign uses the classic images of a spitfire to symbolise Britain fighting against evil foreigners. A classic patriotic image of a defiant Britain standing alone? Except the ID on the side of the plane is that of the Polish 303 Squadron. Register article with picture at

    Of course, anyone who has any interest in the battle of Britain know that about 20% of the pilots who flew for the RAF were foreign. In addition to Britain and the aforementioned Poland there were pilots from Australia, Belgium, Canada, Czechoslovakia, Eire, France, Jamaica, New Zealand, Palestine, Rhodesia, South Africa and the USA. So it was actually a great example of international cooperation.
    Tuesday, March 10th, 2009
    12:23 pm
    Missing, possibly out on loan
    Does anyone have my copies of the Watchmen graphic novel, the first volume of Girl Genius or the Two Georges? I don't recall seeing them since we moved house. Either I have managed to lend them out and forget or I have lost them.
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