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BUPA have now replied again, getting the point rather more than they did last time. Hopefully this has now been cleared up; the most recent reply tells me that,
BUPA does not give information to credit reference agencies, as this is unnecessary. If payment is not received after several credit control letters, the BUPA membership is cancelled.
-- which surprises me slightly, because I would have expected BUPA, as an insurance company, to try to measure and control the risk of non-payment just as it tries to measure and control the risk of its customers developing an expensive medical condition. In any case, assuming that this statement is true, it removes my major concern about the whole cock-up.
Barclaycard have also written back to me, though in this case their letter has illustrated only that you do not need to be able to read to become a `Customer Relationship Manager' at Barclaycard plc. Chris Garner writes, (punctuation as in original)
Whilst I am not aware percentage wise of how many addresses are changed fraudulently, if the figure was has high as you state, (40%) I am certain we would not use this procedure.
-- quite so. What I actually wrote was,
Signatures don't provide much security in this type of situation. According to researchers (see, e.g., Ross Anderson, Security Engineering (2001); New York, Wiley; and references therein) a failure rate of around 40% is to be expected in signature comparisons of this type. Requiring a signature at this stage does not of itself prevent fraud.
I don't in any way claim that 40% of change-of-address requests are fraudulent; rather, that simply requiring a `correct' signature to confirm a change-of-address isn't much use, because such a comparison would be expected to yield a 40% failure rate.
I cannot begin to conceive of the confusion of thought which would lead someone to read one statement and reach the conclusion above. I don't think this is worth following up.
A proposal for a new comic book: The Adventures Of Libertarian Man In The Twenty-First Century.
Like most superheroes, Libertarian Man wears his underpants on the outside of his trousers, but he has to go around like that all day, since phone boxes are an unreasonable exercise of state power (boo!). Libertarian Man does not have a sidekick. That would be gay... err, I'm sorry, I mean `collectivist'.
In each episode Libertarian Man takes on some group of statists, socialists, altruists, collectivists, or whatever -- bus passengers, charity workers, free software developers, police officers chasing a burglar, etc.; and beats them up a bit to turn them into Libertarians just like him. But after some early success, they regroup and fight him off, incidentally making him look a total ass in the process. The strip ends with a simple moral message: LIBERTARIANISM IS STUPID.
Yesterday I went to see the National Theatre's adaptation of Philip Pullman's His Dark Materials. This was really very good and you should all go and see it.
The director, Nicholas Hytner, initially regarded the work as unstageable; what he's done is very cool. I'm not the sort of person to write a review, but some comments:
The trilogy -- in two three-hour parts, making watching it a bit of a marathon -- is staged on a pair of rotating stages, which rise and fall to accomodate different scenes in about two dozen locations, with about half that many different sets; the mechanics are perhaps over-exploited, but the scene changes are almost cinematically smooth, though there were a couple of moments when sounds of hammering could be heard from behind the scenes. (This didn't detract at all, and the production is quite new, so presumably the bugs will be ironed out in due course.)
The dæmons (and Gallivespians) are represented by puppets, so that each character is followed by a puppeteer, who also provides the dæmon's voice; this is extremely -- surprisingly -- effective. (The power of willing-suspension-of-disbelief strikes again....) The scripts were adapted by Nicholas Wright, who's had to add lots of `authorial voice' characters in order to make the story comprehensible on stage; this also allows him to cut a large chunk of the story and bring it down to a manageable length. In my opinion, he's cut the least effective story line, which is something of a win; but the dialogue falls a little short by comparison with the staging.
The stage production makes an interesting comparison to the Radio 4 adaptation; that made extensive use of a narrator, which probably couldn't be made to work on stage. I'm now looking forward to the films, though I expect them to be unremittingly literal.
Update: the Economist has a review of the production, giving away a little bit more about it than I do. It describes the plays as `the season's delight'; I don't really go to the theatre often enough to be able to make any intelligent comment about an entire season; in other respects, I agree with the praise heaped on by the Economist.
Some friends of mine went to see the latest Lord of the Rings film. For those of you who aren't going to waste their money seeing it, I can now reveal exclusively to my half-dozen readers how it ends: apparently Frodo does eventually manage to destroy the Death Star.
This is all done with wwwitter.
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