US Presidential Election Swing States

Post length: 1,081 words, almost 5 minutes.

As political observation goes I am nothing more than casual when it comes to politics in the United States of America. However I have been keeping an eye on this election and have, over the years, kept tabs on previous elections. I also know enough to understand the way in which the electoral college works to elect a president. With this in mind I have taken a look at the 13 so-called swing states — the states in which the presidency will be won or lost — in order to understand how the electoral college may look once the popular vote has been counted. [read more]

Posted on Monday 31st October, 2016 at 8:52 am in Obiter dicta.
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TDS: It’s Worth Referring the Matter

Post length: 3,191 words, just over 14 minutes.

In July 2016 we completed the purchase of our first home and moved out of a property we rented via Greenwood & Company. During the checkout process the agent attempted to retain some of the deposit for alleged cleaning oversights. We challenged the claim ultimately opening a Deposit Dispute with the Tenancy Deposit Scheme, resulting in us getting all every penny of our money back. This is how it played out for us. (If you want to just read the case we presented to the TDS — a summary of the dispute — rather than what went on in the lead up, jump down to here.)

We moved into the rented property back in 2013. When we’d first seen the property advertised the price was beyond what we were willing to pay so looked on despite thinking that it would suit us. A week or so later we noticed the price had been reduced and decided to view it. We viewed, offered and our offer was accepted. We moved in a couple of weeks after that. By this time the property had been empty for a number of weeks — it was empty when we viewed and remained so while we went through the usual credit and ID checks. When we moved in we set to cleaning the whole property from top to bottom — it wasn’t dirty but it was obvious it had been left untouched for a little while. [read more]

Posted on Monday 22nd August, 2016 at 10:33 am in Home.
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talkRADIO’s Launch Reviewed

Post length: 497 words, just over 2 minutes.

Note: this review was written before the Brussels attacks of 23rd March 2016.

There is no doubt that launching a radio station is a difficult thing to do, especially a poorly promoted talk station with no callers. That’s what Paul Ross was battling against yesterday morning on the launch day of Wireless Group’s talkRADIO. But the Paul Ross Full Set Breakfast really struggled to find its identity jumping from current affairs to gossip, staying with no topic long enough to do it justice. Backed by male-dominated, shouty idents, adverts clearly lifted from sister station talkSPORT and impeded by terrible sound quality from poorly tuned compression and the shoebox of a studio the station launched with a whimper rather than a bang.

The station’s lineup also leaves something to be desired: women. There is currently only one female presenter on the station’s weekday schedule, two on Saturday and one Sunday, although Katherine Boyle is not credited in the title of her “7 Days of talkRADIO” programme.* (Arguably this isn’t a problem unique to talkRADIO. The station’s closest competitor, LBC, also only has one female weekday presenter although they do have two on each of Saturday and Sunday.) [read more]

Posted on Tuesday 22nd March, 2016 at 7:48 am in Arts & Ents, Obiter dicta.
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Train Tickets Explained 2016

Post length: 459 words, just over 2 minutes.

UK train tickets were recently redesigned and are slowly being rolled out across the network. The new design, which has actually been floating around since 2014, has just reached the self-service machines in Farnham (although as of writing not the staffed ticket counter). The Association of Train Operating Companies (ATOC) claim the new design is supposed to make tickets “clearer and easier to understand.” With this in mind I thought it was time I updated my previous post explaining what you see on the British train tickets. [read more]

Posted on Monday 25th January, 2016 at 9:03 am in Obiter dicta.
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Syndicate Out 0.9

Post length: 204 words, almost 1 minute.

More than a year after the previous release of Syndicate Out, this weekend I pushed version 0.9 to the WordPress plugin repository.  Work on this version started in January 2015 and it includes a range of improvements and bugfixes which have been the highest priority requests including transmission of featured images and fixes to improve the syndication of custom meta added by other popular plugins. The full changelog is as follows:

  • Added syndication of featured images (díky Jan at lwd.cz for the majority of this).
  • Added syndication of custom post types & new filter ‘syndicate_out_post_types’ (thanks Martin Burchell and Aptivate).
  • Bug fix to prevent old custom meta data being transmitted (thanks again to Martin Burchell and Aptivate).
  • Fix for API authentication failure when corrections are needed to remote site URL (thanks Brandon).
  • Made some improvements to error reporting when API authentication fails.
  • [read more]

Posted on Monday 11th January, 2016 at 8:04 am in Syndicate Out.
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House Hunting

Post length: 1,482 words, about 6 and a half minutes.

Monica and I have recently been looking to buy a house. We got a mortgage agreement in principal, set our budget and set about looking for houses.

Living in the south east of England house prices are notoriously high, so I thought I’d take a look at some areas I have a connection to and see what the same budget — £300,000 — would buy there. For reference, let’s see the kind of property £300k will buy in Surrey and Hampshire.

[read more]

Posted on Monday 14th December, 2015 at 9:29 am in Home, Uncategorized.
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Tragic (Politically) Perfect Timing

Post length: 812 words, about 3 and a half minutes.

Romania made the headlines across the world at the end of last month due to a tragic fire in a nighclub which has, so far, claimed the lives of more than 50 people. The fire itself is reported to have started when fireworks were used as part of an album launch, setting alight the club’s foam sound proofing. One of the reasons so many people were killed is because of the woefully inadequate fire precautions in the club. Following the fire Romanians did what they seem to do best — they took to the streets in protest.*

It seems that there is no doubt that safety rules were flaunted in Colectiv Club on the night of the fire and there is significant public feeling that this was allowed to happen due to high levels of corruption in both local and national government, and that’s what brought people out in massive numbers. Fundamentally they were protesting over the corruption which has embroiled pretty much every element of the state from Bucharest’s sector Mayors to the Prime Minister Victor Ponta. That said it was hard to ascertain exactly what the protesters were hoping would come of their street campaign. Of course with mass spontaneous protest of this kind there’s always a mixed message, but pinning down an outcome which would make people happy was somewhat of a challenge. [read more]

Posted on Monday 16th November, 2015 at 8:58 am in Obiter dicta.
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GCSE English: The Merchant of Venice

Post length: 1,709 words, about 7 and a half minutes.

The following essay was written for my GCSE English course in February 2001 and relates to the William Shakespeare play “The Merchant of Venice”.  It’s released here under a Creative Commons Attribution-Non-Commercial 2.0 UK: England & Wales Licence. I can’t vouch for it’s completeness: the only copy of the essay I have includes “PASTE HERE!” after the 4th paragraph and a section in red towards the end. I am also unsure of the title or question of the piece as this is also not in the document. I hope it will still be of some use to someone!

William Shakespeare’s ‘The Merchant of Venice’ addresses some very important points in term of religious and social views. The play centers around the idea of antisemitism in society and the way the Jewish community has been, and to some extent still is, persecuted for their religion. Due to this the play is of a controversial nature and so one which it is hard to put on in today’s multi religious society. The objections raised today are mainly about Act Four, Scene One – the court room scene. [read more]

Posted on Monday 28th September, 2015 at 9:28 am in School Work.
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September 2015 Films

Post length: 604 words, about 2 and a half minutes.

With the first weekend of September well underway it’s time to look forward to the films which we might take in this month. As we leave behind the summer and people start to return from their holidays the upcoming releases are starting to look much more appealing that the August set. The first wave — from 4th September — we have of course already seen and I have linked to those items in my movie database with the listing.

4th September

American Ultra – between the two of us we gave this mixed reviews. I thought it was surprisingly good — a little off-beat, with humor and enough action. Admittedly it was all pretty much just about fighting, and this lead to Monica finding it long and boring. I was also surprised to find out that is had a $28million budget — if felt kind of indi.
No Escape – perhaps “Escape via Vietnam” is more accurate. To give him his due Owen Wilson is actually not bad in a film well out of his comfort zone. [read more]

Posted on Sunday 6th September, 2015 at 10:18 am in Arts & Ents.
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2015 Labour Leadership Elections

Post length: 1,027 words, about 4 and a half minutes.

As the Labour leadership campaign rumbles on I find myself torn. There are four candidates standing — Andy Burnham, Yvette Cooper, Jeremy Corbyn and Liz Kendall — but one has been the subject of the most media attention.

Jeremy Corbyn has excited the media by seemingly being the outsider who has defied the odds to become the hot favourite to win the contest. Along side this Corbyn has got the media’s interest by being a staunch socialist — arguably flying in the face of today’s standard centrist “they’re all the same” image of politicians — what some paint as the party stepping back in time.

From a personal point of view I’ve been in the uncomfortable position recently of finding myself agreeing with Tony Blair a couple of times. Putting aside that people seem to find it strange for an outspoken socialist to be in a strong position to challenge for the leadership of what is supposed to be a party built on socialist foundations, the prospect of Corbyn becoming leader of the party rings alarm bells for the prospect of being elected in the 2020 general election. [read more]

Posted on Monday 17th August, 2015 at 9:43 am in Obiter dicta.
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