Archive for the ‘Blog’ Category

Au revoir, auf wiedersehen & arrivederci

I’m hesitant to see politicians and politics in entirely black and white terms. I believe that the majority of politicians are hard working, and in general want the best for their constituents. I don’t expect them all the share the same views as me. I have no particular love or hate for any political party. The single quality I’m looking for is competence.

It’s been a while since we’ve had anyone competent in charge. Tony Blair is the only one that I can think of. He was thoughtful, intelligent, charismatic and competent, but not infallible. Why is it that leaders with such qualities are so few and far between? I suppose a better question is: why do we not vote in people with those qualities?

Time to show restraint

Michael Gove says that we will have to ‘show restraint’ in our shopping habits when stores reopen in mid-June. We won’t be allowed to try on clothes & shoes, or test make-up. Essentially, like my mother used to say, don’t bloody touch it unless you’re going to buy it. It’ll be like internet shopping, but you have to pay for parking and run the risk of catching a deadly disease. Such fun – buy one shoe, get one fatal lung malfunction free.

We will be allowed to meet others in private gardens, so long as we stick to the physical distance guidelines. Good news, particularly for grandparents, but it seems that most people started doing this weeks ago and that the public as a whole are a few steps ahead of the official guidance – which nobody has really tried to enforce.

The problem is with the quality of the messengers. None of the cabinet inspire any confidence that they have the remotest clue. Take Matt Hancock, our beleaguered Health Secretary, for example. You can tell that he’s as surprised as we are that he’s in this position because he looks completely bewildered when the press asks him a question. He’s like a crap supply teacher faced with a class that knows more about the subject than he does.

But that’s what you get when you relegate anyone with a spine to the backbenches, and all you have left to to form a cabinet from is a small group of supine cretins.

Count to 144 with two hands

Turns out that I’ve been counting with my fingers wrong for my whole life.

Europeans usually count with their hands by treating each finger as a single digit, up to a maximum of ten – unless they’ve been intimate with farm machinery. In other countries, instead of counting fingers as single digits they use the thumb to count the three sections on each of the four remaining fingers, allowing them to count to twelve on one hand.

The same trick is used on the other hand, but this time keeping track of the counts of twelve and taking you up to 144.


via Wikipedia

Notes for week ending May 17th, 2020

It’s been a while since I’ve done one of these. I’m going to try and do the whole thing without saying the words pandemic, coronavirus or COVID-19 – instead, I shall refer to the entire situation ‘that thing that is happening’.

So, that thing that is happening is still happening. We follow the guidance rigorously, even if nobody else is, and as it becomes clearer that the government has screwed the whole thing up. Life is good, the daily routine is relaxed, we’re not annoying each other, and I haven’t filled my car with petrol for over a month – which is annoying because the price at the pump has just dropped below a quid a litre.

I’m pathologically avoidant when it comes to DIY, but the circumstances mean that I’ve finally run out of excuses. The garden looks much better for it, and I’ve finally dismantled the plumbing under the bathroom sink to remove the partial blockage that has plagued us since we moved in. I’m not willing to endure the queue at B&Q, so I still have an excuse to avoid the bigger stuff.

Shopping continues to be an awful experience. I can cope with being kettled by trollies while queuing outside, but I’m infuriated by the people who don’t follow the distancing rules inside. I am occasionally guilty of this, but by omission rather than intransigence. Last week, a check out assistant admonished me for overstepping a line when I wasn’t paying attention. This was mortifying because I’ve been quietly judging everyone I see committing the same offence.

The debate about whether it is safe for kids to go back to school is heating up, and some – perhaps under the grip of lockdown-induced psychosis, or living too close to a 5G transmitter – say they would prefer to home school indefinitely. I’ve enjoyed spending extra time with the youngest, but it’s not a satisfactory replacement for a classroom, and she misses her friends. She announced that she is ‘more of a gamer than a learner’, which I feel doesn’t bode well for her academic future or reflect well on our ability as educators.

Like many, I’ve enjoyed working from home. My employer tells me that I’ll be here until Christmas at the earliest, which is pleasing because I’d already been preparing to argue for my right to work from home permanently. I’m not travelling hundreds of miles a week for meetings that can be replaced by video calls – and removing a commute from my daily routine has done wonders for my mental health. Unexpectedly, I’m more motivated and productive at home too.

Messing around with video inputs instead of working

We watched the entirety of Tiger King, which was bizarre but brilliant, and also The Guernsey Literary & Potato Peel Pie Society, which was lovely. Other than I’ve not watched much telly, which is odd given the enormous amount of free time that I have.

There’s still a big list of things that I meant to do but haven’t done – I might get round to them, I might not. Right now I’m happy to go with the flow.

Love what you do

I enjoyed this post by Kev Quirk, on the importance of doing work that you love.

If you’re working in a job you’re not happy with, move on. Even if you have to take a step back in your career, it’s so worth it in the long run.

Kev Quirk

It’s something I’ve thought about a lot over the past few years. I certainly don’t love my job. I can’t remember the last time I woke up raring to go in – it’s just what I’ve done for twenty-odd years. It pays the bills, it’s secure, and I’m good at it (or at least not bad at it).

Is that enough?

Unreal Engine on the PS5

I’m not a big gamer. I’ve had a console of some sort for as long as I can remember, but I usually play a game through and then put it down for months. I still enjoy looking at what new games are being released, and look forward to new console launches.

Epic has released a demo of their new Unreal engine running on one of the PS5 dev kits and it looks glorious.

The PS5 is due to be released later this year. If Sony can release it at under £500, with graphics at this level, it becomes very difficult to justify spending £1000+ for a fully specced gaming rig.

How many devices is too many?

In response to Kev, Bob and others who have posted lists of the extensive amount of devices that they use, while wondering aloud if they have too many. I absolutely do have too many, and I accept your judgement.

Here’s my list:

I’m a late adopter and usually a couple of iterations behind whatever is current, so while it looks like I’ve got the relatively new stuff – I’m just at that point in the cycle. My last phone, for example, was an iPhone 6. My laptop is seven years old, and I can’t see any reason to replace it.

I mean, it does look like a lot. But is it really?

Conspiracy theorists and free speech

Lots of talk on the internet today about YouTube & Facebook deleting the account belonging to David Icke, the former footballer and TV sports presenter now making a living as a paranoid bullshit merchant who believes a secret cabal of shape-shifting inter-dimensional lizard people run the world. Lately, he’s been wittering on about 5G, Bill Gates and COVID-19. An expert he is not, but he’d be a good case study on the long term effects of having a football kicked directly at your head.

The deletion of his account is seen, by a minority, as an attack on free speech. It’s nonsense, but let’s run with it. The main argument against is that social platforms should be an open field of opinion and that the best will win out. It sounds logical. I can buy into it on an emotional level. The flaw is that it relies on the assumption that people possess critical thinking skills – the ability to analyse a wide variety of sources, separate fact from fiction and come up with an informed opinion. That some people consider David Icke, Alex Jones and Katie Hopkins to be expert sources would indicate that this is not the case. We also know that social media is not a level playing field – because lies spread faster than the truth.

Falsehoods have real consequences. Idiots are burning down phone masts, children are dying from preventable diseases, and now it’s suggested that the government intends to turn the whole population into mindless zombies by including ‘nano-tech’ – designed by Bill Gates, no less – in the COVID-19 vaccine.

If you come to my house and act like a dickhead, I’m going to ask you to leave. Similarly, if Facebook and YouTube believe you are being a dick, in their capacity as private companies, they have every right to prevent you from posting on their platforms. It’s nothing to do with freedom of speech, and everything to do with you being a dick.