Eye Upgrade

Aug. 7th, 2016 02:09 am
tigerfort: The Captain, in pirate captain uniform (Default)
Update, sorry, I meant update. It is almost back to normal functioning now, but I don't (sadly) have any cyberpunky extras like a built in telephoto lens or infra-red vision. My pupil is round again and dilating normally, and the related pain seems to be gone as well. The steroid drops make my vision a bit dodgy - focussing just isn't quite right for the first couple of hours after each one - but I'm dropping to four doses per day from tomorrow, which should make it a bit easier to do things that require proper binocular vision.

Once more, we say hurrah for modern medicine and the NHS!
tigerfort: The Captain, in pirate captain uniform (Default)
Why don't hazardous waste bins have "Caveat Emptier" on them?
tigerfort: The Captain, in pirate captain uniform (Default)
I've been asked if I can let anyone who is both in/near London and might be interested in it know about "a staging of Midsummer Nights Dream exploring equality, the patriarchy and LGBTQIA+". I can't really say anything more about it, since I've not seen it, but if anyone here is interested, performances seem to be every evening this week. (With a two-tickets-for-GBP10 on Fri/Sat/Sun, see here.)
tigerfort: The Captain, in pirate captain uniform (Default)
The difference a day and a huge quantity of prescription medicines make, to be more specific. (Where "huge quantity" amounts to probably less than 1/10 gram of actual drugs, but that's in quite a lot of doses of several different things.)

Relatedly, I seem to still be sucking at the more-frequent-posting thing, don't I?

medical stuff, in case you'd not guessed )
Other than that, I have mostly spent the last week or so listening to audiobooks, for some reason. If anyone would like to recommend cheerful soothing podcasts that I can download as MP3s without having to f*ck around with iThings, I'd be very grateful.
tigerfort: The Captain, in pirate captain uniform (Default)
Just a quick post nailing together some thoughts:

My working hypothesis, given the evidence from his own statements and his wife's leaked email, is that Gove genuinely stepped into the leadership campaign to stop Johnson, but also that he genuinely doesn't want to be PM. Specifically, he's entered the leadership contest because his presence gives the 1922 committee two candidates (Gove and May) that they can convincingly claim are better candidates than Johnson. That means that Johnson never makes it to the last-two-only election by members (which he might plausibly win) instead being chucked out "with regret" by a group of parliamentary colleagues who are known to loath him. (This calculation is also why Johnson folded immediately. He can't win, and defeated candidates don't get a second chance. Whether he thinks he'll get another opportunity later, or is accepting defeat I don't want to guess.)

Why does this matter to Gove? Well, it's possible that he's genuinely noticed that Johnson would be a shockingly bad PM. But I think Gove has primarily backstabbed Johnson on behalf of someone else: a certain media baron who (according to Sarah Vine) does not regard Johnson as reliably on-side. With Johnson out of the way, the final Tory leader is guaranteed to be someone Murdoch approves of, and who will ensure Murdoch gets what he wants (in the name of "markets", probably).

On the basis of this, I predict that, assuming we wind up with Gove and May as the final two, he will then announce that he's dropping out (in exchange for one of the "great offices of state"). Everything neat and tidy and controlled, with no Johnson and no need for a members' vote. (If they reckon May is a shoe-in, Gove might stay in for the appearance of democracy, but I'm not sure whether they value the appearance of democracy or unity higher.) If one of the others makes it to the final two (unlikely, IMO), then whichever of Gove or May is the official candidate stays in, though I think Gove is the more likely of the two to be knocked out anyway.
tigerfort: The Captain, in pirate captain uniform (Default)
Today's drop in the value of the pound (against the USD, specifically) was, as many people have noted, the largest ever recorded. That's true, but doesn't give a real sense of how unprecedented it is: today's drop - from day's end to day's end - was bigger than the second and third largest drops put together. If you count from yesterday's peak at the start of counting to today's nadir (ie 24-hr high to low), the Leave drop is larger than the second, third, and fourth largest currency crashes in UK history put together.

(For reference, drops two to four are the "Winter of Discontent" in 1978, the UK's ignominious exit from the ERM in 1992, and the 2008 financial crisis, in that order.)

Except that according to Krugman none of that is even remotely true. Which makes me wonder where the BBC (and others reporting the same) got their figures from, given how far off they look to be. (The BBC gives the ERM crash as 4.3%, Krugman says "about a quarter". That's a big difference!)

Correction to the correction: Krugman turns out to be comparing yesterday's single-day change with the longer-term effects of other catastrophes. The original stands. Thanks to [personal profile] ewx for pointing this out.
tigerfort: The Captain, in pirate captain uniform (Default)
Technically, it's not over as I type this, but since the 14 authorities that haven't declared their counts would all need to be in the top 15 remain vote-shares, it doesn't look good. Even in the vanishingly unlikely chance that we do edge the referendum, the country is wrecked, and the world economy looks set to follow; realistically, the singularity has arrived, just not the one we were supposed to be expecting.

I shall continue to hope for the best, but my fears have become much stronger.
tigerfort: The Captain, in pirate captain uniform (Default)
Naturally, practically the first thing that happened once the workmen had finished was that [personal profile] stripey_cat slipped on the stairs and sprained her ankle. Nothing worse than a sprain, but plenty bad enough to put paid to her plan to get started straight away on redecorating a couple of rooms. The bruising is beginning to fade, and she's starting to walk more normally again, which is good, but we're both a little frustrated by the loss of forward momentum.

However, the wiring is now done (except for the garage, which will be sorted out in a couple of weeks' time). The chandeliers have been replaced with fittings that are both more to our taste and easier not to bang your head on. The wall sockets have not increased that much in number, but they're all properly earthed, and none of them are dangling of their wires or connected to lighting circuits. And the light inside the downstairs shower[1] is now a watertight unit designed for use in a bathroom, rather than a random GU10 halogen fitting with no environmental sealing.

[1] yes, literally inside the shower cubicle. Yes, I did shower in there with the lights off, the couple of times I used it. Why do you ask?

Now I suppose I should go back to trying not to be an nPower customer. Bunch of R-soles.
tigerfort: The Captain, in pirate captain uniform (Default)
I've just updated my essay on asking about gender and titles with a note that you should never assume you can "work out" someone's gender from other information about them. I'd rather assumed this was obvious, but apparently it isn't. Oh, people.
tigerfort: The Captain, in pirate captain uniform (Default)
It seems to be a month or so since I last posted, making a mockery once more of the once-a-week target. Currently (not literally currently, it's Sunday morning! But much of last week and also of next week), the fort is full of people drilling holes in walls, pulling up floorboards, and replacing the previous owners' unique artisan wiring with stuff that complies with safety regs and doesn't give me nightmares. [personal profile] stripey_cat's social anxiety handles this sort of thing about as well as you might expect. (I may be the teensiest bit strung-out myself, one way and another.)

In the meantime, I've now had my second appointment with the audiologist. Second and last, in fact; I've been officially discharged from the clinic, to (I think) mutual satisfaction. The tinnitus hasn't changed at all over the intervening period, but I'm now able to cope with it much better than I was. Little things (some of which I'd meant to try anyway), but a big cumulative difference.
tigerfort: The Captain, in pirate captain uniform (Default)
So Sentinel News have a post doubting the idea of a Universal Basic Income, consisting of questions the author thinks you should ask of anyone who proposes it. The author asserts that people "are using Universal Basic Income (UBI) as a euphemism for their lack of understanding of welfare, the labour market, and the economy." But the questions she proposes can be asked to varying degrees about any proposed change to our current welfare system, and her comments under those headings pre-suppose that the UBI is intended to be a magical panacea. I've not met anyone who thinks that it would be a complete solution to the problems with our current system (though I'm willing to belive that such people exist, and that she's had to deal with them, because there are idiots everywhere). The real world is complicated, and full of people who are not only complicated, but also imperfect, and all different from one another in both their complexities and imperfections. You can't have a panacea for societal problems, except perhaps in the very smallest groups (though even there I suspect someone will feel hard-done-by).

Do I want a UBI? Well, I want to massively overhaul the current system to make it easier for people to get what they need (fraud is largely a non-problem, despite what some will claim), and to provide better support for those who need more - or different - than just the basics[1]. It could also stand a good deal of simplification, given how mind-bendingly difficult to understand the current arrangements are. A universal basic income could certainly be a part of such an improved-and-simplified system. Is it the best basis to work from in building one? I don't know. But it could certainly be made to work, which is as much as can be said for any other proposal I've seen.

[1] note of personal interest: my partner and I are both disabled, and need extra support because of that. Neither of us is ever likely to be able to work again. I have a very strong personal interest in ensuring a working welfare state.

However, lets go through the questions and supply some answers:
Read more... )

TL,DR? The benefit system needs reworking, as the author of the original piece admits. Any system can be distorted to punish, rather than help, the poor (as the author also acknowledges), and our current system has become seriously distorted.
Our current benefits system held out for 70 years before the context changed significantly enough around it that we need to replace it. How long will UBI last and how will it respond to changing economic and social circumstances that cannot be predicted?

That's a hard question to answer. But it isn't a question that only applies to UBI, it's a question that needs to be asked of every solution anyone proposes. Unfortunately, I suspect that the answer is actually the same in every case - we don't know, because we don't know what the future will hold. We can only do our best to choose the option that gives the best results now.
Is that option going to be a UBI based system? I don't know, but I'm not willing to dismiss the possibility, given the various promising trials around the world. Yes, a UBI by itself is not an adequate social safety net, but no single measure ever will be.

Still TLDR? The benefits system is complicated, and currently broken. It needs fixing, and a UBI could be part of that fixed system. Is it part of the "best" solution? I don't know. I don't even know if there is a "best" solution. But some UBI-including solutions could certainly work.

[NB: responses to comments likely to be slow; I've spent about two days' worth of spoons getting all this on screen since the piece was posted yesterday, and I'm unlikely to have many spare while I recover from the exertion.]
tigerfort: The Captain, in pirate captain uniform (Default)
SpaceX have just successfully landed the first stage of a Falcon 9 rocket. From a technological viewpoint, provided that the rocket is indeed fully (or even mostly) reusable, that's a pretty big step forward. Even if that rocket can't be reused, it's a solid move towards making one that is. I was impressed.

But then I started to think about the physics of it from outside the aerospace technology angle. Essentially, what they did was this: They dropped a 25-storey building out of the sky, and used controlled explosions to land it exactly upright on a floating platform that's narrower than the building is tall, without damaging either and leaving the combined system nice and stable.

When I look at it like that, it's no longer impressive, it's incredible.

Science is awesome.

ETA: Actually, that's not quite right. The height figure I was using (just over 70 metres) turns out to be for the whole Falcon 9 rocket, rather than just the first stage. The part landing on the barge is only 44m tall, so that's only about 15 stories, not 25. Which doesn't make the achievement any less amazing.
tigerfort: The Captain, in pirate captain uniform (Default)
It seems to be about two months since I last posted - I knew I'd been thoroughly failing the one-per-week goal, but I hadn't realised it was that bad.

Mostly, things have been carrying on steadily, either level or slowly improving, since February:

  • Our cooker was finally fitted, and is very nice to have. I may have spent more of the day it arrived than was strictly necessary bouncing joyfully up and down and saying "cooker" excitedly.

  • The builders do appear to have successfully stopped the rain coming in.

  • The DWP managed to sort themselves out and start paying again, even coughing up the back payment in time for us to hand most of it over to the builders.

  • nPower continue to be both our electricity supplier and completely useless. Partly this is because they're so determined to make life difficult, and partly it's because dealing with them requires quite a lot of spoons that I often have more urgent uses for.

  • Our assorted medical conditions seem to continue largely the same.



Because of these things and, er, one or two others, I've not been online much, but will hopefully be able to pay some more attention to life now.
tigerfort: The Captain, in pirate captain uniform (Default)
So now that we've (finally) had various things done to the kitchen, the nice men from John Lewis came to the house this morning with our cooker (again).

Immediately, the fitter spotted a problem that he'd missed last time (because it was hidden by other, more obvious problems) that meant he still can't fit the cooker, because it wouldn't be safe. So now I need to call up the electrician again, and find out how much more of the money we don't have it's going to cost to sort this out.

And then I might cry, or go and live in a yurt.
tigerfort: The Captain, in pirate captain uniform (Default)
And now it looks as though water from the leaky garage roof has probably got into the electrics in the garage, to add to the fun. (If not, something else nasty has gone wrong with them, given the state of what's left of the fuse.) So I can add "get an electrician in" to the list of expensive things we need to do fairly urgently. Yaay!
tigerfort: The Captain, in pirate captain uniform (Default)
Once more, the plan to try and write at least one post per week seems to have got off to a poor start.

A number of things have happened over the last week or so. )

But the car passed its MOT test with no problems, so at least I can stop worrying about that. I hope. And the new is due to go in next week, and we'll be able to have real food!
tigerfort: The Captain, in pirate captain uniform (Default)
What with the moving house and the chaos and the unexpected brief trip upcountry only a week or so ago, we have as usual totally failed to get christmas cards sent out. Some of the tigers tried to help sort it out, but pens aren't really designed for paws. Especially paws as small as theirs.



Seasons greetings to you all, and may all manner of things be well.
tigerfort: The Captain, in pirate captain uniform (Default)
Progress towards getting the new fort properly sorted out has been slow, the last month, partly due to taking a week to go to Cambridge for the weekend (Photos to be sorted and uploaded hopefully fairly soon), and partly due to the fine sequence of colds that we exchanged on our return.

So we still don't have a proper cooker (or even a date when the kitchen will be ready for it), and we still haven't managed to get rid of the foul evil monstrosity lurking in one of the kitchen cupboards. By which I mean the key-meter for our electricity supply. (What's worse than going out in the rain to top up the wretched key? Realising just as you reach the shop that you've left the stupid thing in the house, and that you're now soaking wet and knackered to no actual purpose.) We're not sure whether the previous owners were actually forced to have the thing as a punitive measure, or just had no idea how badly they were being ripped off. But we're impressed by how difficult the electricity company (npower in our case, but I don't imagine the others are any better) make it to get rid of the thing. Normally, when you move into a house, they're delighted to start billing you, but with a key-meter, they seem to need a remarkable array of evidence that you really do own the place. It's almost as though they don't want to give up the absurd profit that they make from the thing.
tigerfort: The Captain, in pirate captain uniform (Default)
So [personal profile] stripey_cat and I both got up early this morning to be ready for the arrival of our cooker from John Lewis, accompanied by fitting team. The fitters duly arrived pretty much on the dot of 7am, took one look at the cooker's spot in the kitchen and said "we can't fit it there, it isn't safe". If we hadn't been fooled by the previous owners having had a gas cooker in the same spot (presumably installed before the regulations were tightened), we might have reached that conclusion ourselves. The presence of a plug socket intruding into the space above the cooker, the unprotected plastic wiring run down the wall, the bare chipboard immediately behind, the fact that the gas point isn't secured properly, and went sproing when the fitter poked it...

So they've taken our lovely new cooker away again, and we're stuck with microwave and kettle for the indefinite future while we find someone to refit half the kitchen for us. Which is definitely a "first-world problems" sort of problem, but it's a problem we'd rather thought would be ending today, not continuing towards (and perhaps beyond) Christmas.

[ETA: and a quick look at the weather forecast suggests today will be grey, miserable, and very wet, with a side-order of low cloud and ongoing heavy rain.]

[ETA2: then I moved on to the news, and the events in Paris really put our very minor problems in perspective.]

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