Interesting Links for 23-06-2017

Jun. 23rd, 2017 12:00 pm
andrewducker: (Default)
[personal profile] andrewducker
nanila: little and wicked (mizuno: lil naughty)
[personal profile] nanila
I’ll never understand the pride people take in saying, “I was born and bred here” or the use of the same phrase to defend one’s perceived superiority or deservingness of housing, health care or other basic human rights.

I mean, what did you, yourself, actually do to influence where you were born or bred? Unless you were a particularly ambitious embryo, the answer is “nothing”. Sure, your parents might have made some kind of effort to select your place of birth. Maybe they strove to move to better housing in a neighbourhood with better services and schools. Maybe they’re even immigrants, like my dad, and they struggled long and hard to learn their fourth language in order to integrate into their adopted country. But you? You didn’t do anything. Why are you so proud of that? Think of the things you've accomplished in your life. Isn't it far more fitting and fulfilling to be proud of those?

And why the obsession with asserting the superiority of a single identity over the others? “I’m English first and then British.” Pro-tip: Most of the rest of the world considers both of those to be synonymous with “ex-colonialist imperialist arsehole” so it doesn’t really matter which one you choose. ^.^

Here is a list of the geographically-linked identities that I consider myself able to lay claim to. I’m proud of some and not others.

  • American
  • British
  • European
  • Hawai’ian
  • Filipino
  • Olympian
  • Seattleite
  • Angeleno
  • San Diegan
  • Londoner
  • Brummie (this is a new one; still feels a little odd)


Today, I think I’m proudest of being European. I earned that identity and that passport, and I’m still very pissed off that some people want to take it away.

Today is also, weirdly, simultaneously:

  • the anniversary of Brexit, aka the Colossal Waste of Time and Money Foisted Upon Us by a Generation That Tore Down Decades of Painstakingly Won Goodwill with Our Neighbours and Won’t Live to Experience the Disastrous Consequences, Thanks a Lot, Dickheads.

    And

  • International Women in Engineering Day


So, to close this post, here is a peaceful photo of a woman doing some engineering.

Scientist at work

The Blood is the Life for 23-06-2017

Jun. 23rd, 2017 11:00 am
miss_s_b: (Default)
[personal profile] miss_s_b
miss_s_b: (Politics: Democracy)
[personal profile] miss_s_b
Definitely not standing: Jo Swinson, Jamie Stone, Layla Moran, Tom Brake, Tim Farron, Alistair Carmichael, Norman Lamb
Probably not standing: Stephen Lloyd, Wera Hobhouse, Christine Jardine
Probably standing: Ed Davey
Definitely standing: Vince Cable

You'll note that Norman Lamb has moved from probably standing to definitely not standing. He announced this with rather petulant article in the Grauniad, in which (among other things) he proclaimed the Lib Dems' second referendum policy as toxic. Now I agree, it is toxic. "First we'll negotiate brexit, then we'll set up a referendum, then we'll campaign against the deal we ourselves negotiated!" is an utterly ridiculous policy. The problem is, it was only in the sodding manifesto due to the insistence of people on the rump brexity wing of the party, of which Norman Lamb is definitely one. This was as far as the rest of the party, who just wanted "we will stop brexit" to be the manifesto position, could be dragged. Policy making by committee often comes up with soggy centrist compromises, and often that's a good thing and satisfies most people, but sometimes it's patently rubbish. This time was the latter. What I don't get is Captain Brexit blaming the rest of the party for it. Well, I do. He'd like us to embrace brexit. And that is not going to happen.

Anyway, the rest of the article sticks the boot in to members in various other ways, and alludes to, but doesn't actually acknowledge, the problems autistic people have with the idea of Norman as a leader, and frankly, just makes me glad he's not standing. At least he has the self-knowledge to know he's not right to lead the party as it currently is, even if he declares it in a rather Skinnerian way.

Principal Skinner asks a pertinent question

So the only likely runner at this point undeclared is Ed Davey. And there will be siren idiots voices whispering in his ear, saying:
Don't stand, Ed. Leadership elections are expensive, Ed. They are divisive and set party members up against each other, ed. It'd be easier all round just to crown Vince, Ed. You don't want the hassle, Ed. The party doesn't want the hassle, Ed. Lets just have a coronation, Ed.
To which I say, pish, tosh, bunkum, bollocks, and bullshit.

Yes, leadership elections are divisive, and do set members up against each other, and sometimes even cause resentments. Do you know what's even more divisive, and causes even more resentments? Not letting Lib Dems have democracy. Not letting us scrutinise each candidate and come to a decision on merit. Not having hustings at which we can put questions to candidates and examine their views and records and promises. Imposing a leader on us without us having a say. I can guarantee you that while a leadership election might be divisive, it's nowhere near as divisive as a coronation.

Now, Ed Davey told one of the BBC politics correspondents (I think Norman Smith) the other day that he would declare whether or not he was standing "on Thursday or Friday". He didn't declare yesterday. I'm hoping he declares he's standing today.

And if you'd told me last month I'd be crossing my fingers for Ed Davey to run in a leadership election, I'd have thought you insane in the membrane, crazy insane, got no brain. Just goes to show what a funny old world it is...
nanila: wrong side of the mirror (me: wrong side of the mirror)
[personal profile] nanila
I have been outrageously busy at work this week and I don't have the brain to string these together into a proper narrative. My apologies. So: Have a series of happy photos from the past week or so.

20170617_171856
[Keiki with freshly dug potatoes in his fist, ready to deposit them in one of the two white bowls in front of him.]

We ate our first potato harvest tonight. Yum!

+6 )

Lothian Transport are awesome

Jun. 22nd, 2017 09:11 pm
andrewducker: (Default)
[personal profile] andrewducker
At 2:06pm on Sunday I posted my feature request for the Lothian Transport app.

At 3:14pm the following afternoon I received an email saying
Sorry, street names and localities should have been added to the search screen before now. I’ve sent an update to the Google Play store just now so you should have an update available in the next few hours.
and about 45 minutes later my phone automatically updated to the latest version and I could see this:


I emailed back saying that this was awesome, but wondering why one of them just said "Edinburgh", and got this in response:
Unfortunately sometimes we can’t control what we get back from Google’s Places API. If Google decides that a place doesn’t need to have more than the town/city listed, then that’s all we get I’m afraid. We also mix in Foursquare and Google Geocoding data where appropriate as well.

It helps to include a bit more in your search, such as ‘Morrisons Granton’ or ‘Morrisons Ferry Road' rather than just ‘Morrisons’. The more you type in, the more accurate the results. It also takes into account your current location – typing in ‘Morrisons’ while you’re near Hyvots Bank will give you results geared towards South/West Edinburgh rather than North/East Edinburgh.

As to your other point (distance to search result) - at the moment, showing distance isn’t possible. We use Google Places to match search queries: that service is great because you can type in anything - ‘Morrisons’, ‘Tesco’, ‘pizza in Leith’ etc. and it comes back with accurate results. However, it doesn’t give the app the location of each place. Instead it gives the app a ‘Place ID’ - once you’ve tapped on a search result, the app sends the Place ID to Google which sends back the exact coordinate of the search result. If that changes in the future, we’ll be sure to include distance as part of the search result.


Which was a fascinating look at how their systems work in the background.

If only more places were so responsive to users taking an interest.

Interesting Links for 22-06-2017

Jun. 22nd, 2017 12:00 pm

The Blood is the Life for 22-06-2017

Jun. 22nd, 2017 11:00 am
miss_s_b: (Default)
[personal profile] miss_s_b
oursin: Photograph of a statue of Hygeia, goddess of health (Hygeia)
[personal profile] oursin
[R]ed tape also means regulations that protect citizens, at a certain cost to companies that otherwise have little incentive to sacrifice some profit to mitigate risk. It is because of red tape that you cannot buy a flammable sofa, and that you are very unlikely to die in an air crash.

Much red tape, indeed, is the frozen memory of past disaster. Modern regulatory regimes as a whole came into being in the late 19th and early 20th centuries because of public outrage at the dangerous practices of unrestrained industry.

This is perhaps partly similar to the phenomenon that having effective infrastructure and ongoing regular maintenance of same is not as dramatic a story as horrendous accidents.

It's possibly also analogous to people becoming anti-vaxxers, because vaccination programmes have been so successful that there is no notion of the risks there used to be from common diseases of childhood.

For the first few years of 'there were no new cases of polio in the last twelve months' this is news. And then that becomes the default setting.

For those who decry 'Elf and Safety, I recommend a salutary reading of the London Medical Officer of Health reports from the C19th, freely available digitised and searchable online.

There are some Victorian values one can get behind, and the rise of public health is one of them.

On other Victorian values, however, and those who ignore history are condemned to repeat it, this person seems unaware that providing tied housing contingent upon working for a particular employer is nothing like a 'welfare state':

it was recently reported that Google’s parent company, Alphabet, is spending is around $30m to provide short-term, prefab housing for 300 of its employees because Silicon Valley housing is in such short supply. Tech giants helped cause a housing crisis in Silicon Valley, now it seems they are becoming landlords. It’s feudalism 2.0.
Not so much feudalism as C19th model towns, e.g. Saltaire, founded by businessmen to keep their workers contented and (I hypothesise) spurning the trades union movement (having had to do with a late C19th enterprise with some of the same elements of benevolent paternalism towards the workforce).

And, looking at that article, was New Lanark really quite the same thing? Enlightened capitalism not quite the same as utopian socialism.

Also had the thought that people who are 'regulation BAD' seem to reverse this opinion when it comes to panic measures against terrorism that are often symbolic rather than proven efficacious.

(no subject)

Jun. 22nd, 2017 09:40 am
oursin: Brush the Wandering Hedgehog by the fire (Default)
[personal profile] oursin
Happy birthday, [personal profile] woldy!

Reading: Tam Lin

Jun. 21st, 2017 07:55 pm
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[personal profile] white_hart
Diana Wynne Jones's Fire and Hemlock, which is a modern reworking of the Scottish ballad 'Tam Lin' as a suburban English adolescence, is one of my favourite books ever, so ever since someone mentioned Pamela Dean's Tam Lin, a reworking of the same ballad as the student experience at a Midwestern US liberal arts college, I've wanted to read it, and I finally got to the point where I wanted to read it enough that I actually ordered a copy a couple of months ago. (It isn't published in the UK, so there's no ebook version available, and I do tend to give more thought to purchases of paper books than ebooks.)

Dean's retelling covers three years and a couple of months of Janet Carter's life as a student at Blackstock College, pursuing a liberal arts degree with a major in English literature, building friendships, learning how to get along with a wide range of people and exploring romantic relationships, and at the same time investigating a book-throwing ghost and trying to work out why it is that everyone in the Classics department seems rather strange. Translating the plot of a ballad into a 450-page book leaves a lot of space around the plot for Dean to paint a picture of the college atmosphere, the pressures of studying and the delights and unreality of spending four years isolated from the world, surrounded by learning and other people who want to learn and share your interests. I found the liberal-arts college background familiar enough to make me rather nostalgic for my own student days, but different enough to be fascinating, and I liked the characters and their interactions a lot. I particularly enjoyed the way the friendship between Janet and her two roommates develops, from a very prickly relationship at the start (they have very little in common) to a real friendship and mutual support network, and the way that the college environment masks the very real peculiarities of some of the Classics students.

For me, this felt like the book I wanted Jo Walton's Among Others to be; a literate and literary study of growing up bookish, with a liminal fantastic element. Among Others simply didn't do it for me, but this did, and while I will never love it as much as Fire and Hemlock (which, interestingly, is also a very literary book - I read a lot of things for the first time because they were mentioned in it) I did like it a great deal.

Is £70,000 a year rich?

Jun. 21st, 2017 03:35 pm
miss_s_b: (Fangirling: Arachnia Janeway)
[personal profile] miss_s_b
I think the argument boils down to two things: what you earn, and what you picture in your head as a rich person's lifestyle.

£70,000 is in the 95th percentile for personal income. This means that if you earn £70,000 you earn more than 94% (or thereabouts) of people. If you're earning more than 94% of your fellow countrymen, you ought to be rich, right? Like, if you're better off than the vast, vast majority of people, you should feel well off, or else how must the poor buggers on less than you feel?

The problem is, of course, that £70,000 doesn't actually buy that much these days. Like, it won't get you a mortgage on a decent house anywhere in the home counties. It won't buy you a new car and a couple of holidays every year after housing costs. It won't pay school fees for your little ones to go to private school once you've paid for housing costs either. £70,000 a year doesn't feel rich; and that's what the problem is.

If you look at the lifestyles our parents had, well, this is what my parents did in the 80s:
  • owned a home
  • bought a new car every two years
  • didn't go on foreign holidays but DID send me to private school
  • were in the pub three nights a week
etc., etc.

Now, I'm not saying they didn't work for that: they did. My dad had two full time jobs (mild mannered biology teacher by day, superchef by night) and my mum worked 9-5 too. They worked bloody hard. But the same amount of work in the same jobs these days would get you, if you were lucky:
  • a rented house that is one of three poky little Barratt boxes built in the back garden of the kind of house your parents owned
  • a second hand banger that you run till it dies, or a bus/rail pass
  • a cheap holiday for now, but only until brexit happens and then we have to pay visa fees and the exchange rate is knackered and oh look we can only afford Butlins
  • Pre-loading because the pubs are so bloody expensive, thank you alcohol duty escalator
Now most of the people I see arguing about this are either saying "£70k is mega rich, you're in the 95th percentile FFS" or "£70k is not that rich when you consider what you can buy" but not many are following both thoughts through.

How bloody scandalous is it that even if you're in the 95th percentile you are still struggling, and you are well worse off than your parents would have been on an equivalent income adjusted for inflation etc.? If 95% of the country is not getting a good enough income, that's a bloody disgrace and somebody ought to do something about it.

Anybody know any politicians?
miss_s_b: (Default)
[personal profile] miss_s_b
The relevant part (and the reason why I am posting this) will also be made bigger and bolder for those hard of thinking people. I thought I'd post the whole thing again though, just because it's periodically useful to do so.

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Interesting Links for 21-06-2017

Jun. 21st, 2017 12:00 pm
andrewducker: (Default)
[personal profile] andrewducker
oursin: Photograph of small impressionistic metal figurine seated reading a book (Reader)
[personal profile] oursin

What I read

Finished Binti. Reminded me a bit of other things I have read over my sff reading life, but well-done, may well go for the next one.

Sarah Gailey, River of Teeth (2017). Okay, everybody mentions the hippos, but isn't it, underneath that, a combination western/caper tale where an unlikely team is brought together and has its own tensions besides the issues with what it has to do? (not that that isn't a good armature). Enjoyable, but ended abruptly and cliffhangingly, and is the new thing (see Binti above) of issuing novellas which are only the beginning of a longer story arc the new allotrope of serialised fiction? (but hey, it worked for Middlemarch, though at least Ms Evans indicated that it was an ongoing story.)

Dana Stabenow, Bad Blood (2013). Not quite as good as the last one I read, I think, but ended with A Thing that makes me want to go on to the next quite shortly to see how that pans out for Kate Shugak.

Two short pieces of Barbara Hambly's 'Further Adventures': Hazard (2017) (Sunwolf and Starhawk) and Elsewhere (2017) (Darwath).

Picked up in booksale, Arthur Ransome, Missee Lee (1941). I remembered very little about this, even though I later discovered I already had a copy on my shelves. I don't think it was ever among my favourites of the Swallows and Amazons books; but I've found, on re-reads of these books, that somehow they do not do for me what they did in youth - something about the style? I don't know. Also, early C20th rendering of Chinglish, sigh.

On the go

Elizabeth George, A Banquet of Consequences (2015). I was considerably off these when they were turning Lynley's Epic Manpain up to 11, but this one was very cheap in a charity shop and promised mostly Havers. And really, do we not want more of the scruffy maverick with constant disciplinary issues who is also a woman? - the 'top brass not pleased' is massive at the beginning of this one. Okay, it's got a standard E George riff on 'all unhappy families are different in baroquely complicated ways, and there are no happy families' (the misery handed on is not so much a coastal shelf as the Mariana Trench), but I have stuck with it, though have just been irked that over 500 pages into the narrative they are only just looking into how anyone might have got hold of the somewhat unusual toxic substance involved.

Also, on the ereader, because I don't want to tote around a damn great fat paperback, from the romance bundle, Ivory Lei, How to Wed an Earl (2013) - not got very far, but seems as, 'be betrothed in infancy by respective parents' is how...

Up next

Well, in another charity shop found the preceding volume by Elizabeth George, Just One Evil Act (2013), which, I daresay, will reveal what got Havers into the deepest of disgrace and quite possibly the depths of depression, but I'm not sure I really want to commit to going straight on to another of these. Or maybe the next Stabenow in the series.

Or I could look through my tbr piles, actual and virtual.

Somebody’s woke af.

Jun. 21st, 2017 11:01 am
nanila: wrong side of the mirror (me: wrong side of the mirror)
[personal profile] nanila
Humuhumu: “Keiki, are you a boy?”
Keiki: “No!”
Humuhumu: “Keiki, are you a girl?”
Keiki: “No!”
Humuhumu: “What are you, Keiki?”
Keiki: “I’m a KEI-KI.” syllables of name drawn out emphatically

20170620_194627
[Humuhumu and Keiki in the bath, giving themselves bubble beards.]

The Blood is the Life for 21-06-2017

Jun. 21st, 2017 11:00 am
miss_s_b: (Default)
[personal profile] miss_s_b

Happy Solstice

Jun. 21st, 2017 10:16 am
miss_s_b: (Fangirling: Arachnia Janeway)
[personal profile] miss_s_b
... especially to all those of us who fear the filthy day star and can now look forward to inexorably encroaching cool soft darkness for the next 6 whole months :)