Thursday, 23 May 2019

Am I homophobic?

It's a question I don't ask myself too often, partly because it's dumb and partly because there's no ready set of acceptance criteria against which one can gain an accurate measure. Some would suggest that if you can intereact pleasantly with known homosexual people then the answer is no, while others will suggest that if you do not fully and completely approve the homosexual lifestyle or if you call someone else gay as an insult, even in fun, then you're inherently homophobic.

This post was promted by the folloing article on aunty beeb:

And it raises the question, if one doesn't approve of homosexual activity, does that make you homophobic (I suspect the answer is yes) even if you don't distinguish between straight & gay individuals in the way you treat them.

This has been sat as a draft for a couple of weeks - I opened blogger, saw the title and thought "God, I hope so!*". 

It feels like the world has gone nuts, in so many ways.

I do genuinely wonder whether, rather like caesarian section delivery which is apparently changing the gene pool (more mothers and children survive the effects of an otherwise lethal variation of physiology, thus passing it on to future generations) if the manner in which society accepts and promotes gender fluidity and a breakdown of gender stereotype is an increasingly lethal social inheritence. It's hard to find the time and enthusiams to write about it now, but from an evolutionary perspective and ignoring religious feelings, it's hard to see how either of those could encourage survival of the race.

To me, this is a far bigger challenge to the survival of the race than global warming. Certainly if large areas of land disappear under water it will result in wide-ranging suffering, death and war, but if society breaks to the point where people aren't interested in breeding and working together then the race is far less likely to bounce back in whatever world remains. I don't thing gay and trans people are going to cause the end of the world (or anything stupid like that) but I do wonder if they are the unwilling, unhappy victims of relative, wealth, comfort and success.

OTOH I wonder if this undermining of identity and liberalisation is a 'natural' response to overly successful development, and in the presence of comfort and abundance it is normal for humans to become decadent, lose vigour and their society to crumble and fall. When one might think people would thrive and grow, instead they are beset with depression and self-doubt. History is certainly full of events where empires rotted and collapsed because they had decayed from within.

And adversity tends to make both the church and people stronger. History has shown that a comfy church tends to do badly, but a suffering church is vital and powerful. Maybe it will be a pattern for ordinary human beings too? On a purely human level, do we need those less than fit to fail & die in order for humanity as a whole to survive? Are questions like this even allowed to be asked any more?

Maudlin thoughts at the end of a Thursday lunchtime.

*Don't take that too seriously.

Tuesday, 21 May 2019

It's that time again.

Another year, memories a little less sharp, but still there as a dull ache inside.Actually it's quite a sharp ache - memories are much less distant than I thought, and the feelings that hover decided to pounce instead of staying back.
I don't say too much here these days, but everything just seems so futile at times.

Friday, 10 May 2019

Friday, 3 May 2019

OK, it's finally happened.

I have lost touch. (p.s. don't read it all unless you want to).

"What's new since 0.16.0? For those who've been following along, a great many things have changed over the last 5 months since the 0.16.0 release - 99 people contributed over 5,700 commits during that time!"

"With this release, we highlight our approach to innovation, while maintaining our friendliness and focus on design and beauty. Keeping the focus on design Like our previous release, we have tried to make Lamarr a beautiful desktop with design elements being minimal and clean. It features a contrasting and sharp design theme inspired and derived from the Nitrux desktop. In Lamarr, we have simplified Plasma 5 by removing many controls which may confuse the everyday user. New welcome screen: Lamarr features a re-designed welcome screen with a heartbeat animated logo. The desktop: The desktop design has been kept traditional and minimal with modern design cues featuring a white color scheme by default. The panel: The Plasma 5 panel has been modified to keep a minimal set of configuration options, which we feel is helpful to new Linux users, who may otherwise get overwhelmed by the power of customization Plasma offers out of the box."

New upstream features and improvements include: additional container support with new tools such as Podman (a container management tool) that complements the previously released tools such as Buildah and Skopeo; policy-based decryption (PBD); GnuTLS support hardware security module (HSM); OpenSSL now works with CPACF; nftables enhancements and the nft command for greater packet filtering insight; OpenSC support for new smart cards; greater support for kdump, network and timesync; integration of Extended Berkeley Packet Filter (eBPF)...."

"A nice way of celebrating the sixth anniversary of this distribution is releasing KaOS 2019.04 with fully updated Midna theme, a new toolchain and Qt 5.12.3. As always with this rolling distribution, you will find the very latest packages for the Plasma Desktop, this includes Frameworks 5.57.0, Plasma 5.14.4 and KDE Applications 19.04.0. All built on Qt 5.12.3. A new glibc 2.29, GCC 8.3.0 and Binutils 2.32 toolchain is among the many changes to the base of the system. Updates to systemd, LLVM, MariaDB, Protobuf, MESA, Polkit and Qt required the rebuild of a large percentage of the KaOS repositories. The removal of Python2 from the KaOS repositories is ongoing. Many more packages are now build on Python3 exclusively. Highlights of KDE Applications 19.04 include an extensive re-write of Kdenlive as more than 60% of its internals have changed, improving its overall architecture."

"Elive 3.0 has been updated and it will probably be the last updated build for the 3.0 release. This updated release includes multiple internal improvements that have been developed for the next version of Elive and I backported these improvements to 3.0. There are too many internal code improvements to list all the details but I can at least summarize some important points. Persistence - overall improvements for saving the desktop configurations based on different hardware profiles and improvements for the option to encrypt persistence; Elive Health tool - improvements for the critical temperature detection feature; USB recorder tool - now supports compressed images; Sound - support for PulseAudio in the Elive internal mixer tool, in case the user installs it....

There's a lot more of this stuff. 

I've realised that the descriptions of Linux distros now looks like gobbeldygook to me where it once made sense.

OTOH a quick read of Distrowatch has made me want to experiment a little again.

Thursday, 2 May 2019

D'you ever see something engineery and think "what about......?"

Like the idea of storing energy for laser weapons mounted on ships in a flywheel.

Ships move in a variety of directions when travelling - how is that going to work with several megawatts of energy (I can't convert that in my head to joules or whatever else is appropriate) in a flywheel that's basically going to strongly resist non-linear motion? They'd better bolt the darn thing down good & hard if they don't want it tearing free & flapping around, and the hull is going to need to be strong enough to cope too. OTOH this may give the boat a much smoother progress through the ocean than usual.

I'm fascinated to know if this has been considered at all.

Wednesday, 1 May 2019

Well that was weird.

A good friend keeps links to 'voices' that have been connected with him in the past including some that have become quiet for various reasons. Being in a momentary gap, I followed a link to and behold there was a web page as if the original owner were still alive and blogging about IT.

Very very strange.

I also popped back and had a little wander down vandermeander, and it left me sad to be reminded of what I miss now. The blogging community changed years back, and there's not been a viable replacement since it ceased.

Monday, 29 April 2019


I'm an Android user, but I like to identify as an iPhone user.


Have to love the BOFH.

Monday, 8 April 2019

The arm is

somewhat less difficult today, for which I'm grateful.

Yesterday was also a nice day, where we had a morning out together in Oxford with a bit of lunch. Over the last few years, church has been increasingly something which took away rather than adding to energy and enjoyment, and Sunday felt like a day of chores after which there was no energy to do anything.

Sunday, 7 April 2019

And todays embuggerance

is a trapped nerve in my right arm/shoulder, likely cause by laying on the floor working at awkward angles yesterday. I can barely lift my right arm, and the pain makes me gasp - getting dressed was 'interesting' as was sleeping, and I can only type because I can rest my wrist on the laptop. I leave you to imagine some of the other areas that might be impacted by this.

There's a minor issue of also producing orange goo from respiratory orifices (thank you colleagues who came to work with horrible colds last week) but that's merely unpleasant.

Thanks to imgflip for the meme generator.

Saturday, 6 April 2019

Today I had a strong reminder of how it felt to be in my 20s again.

When we had no money and I used to do stuff like fit bathrooms and kitchens in our house.

A while back we asked a plumber friend (professional, qualified, full time business) to replace a couple of taps and a waste in our bathroom sink unit, which we wished to keep. However the taps were old and the fittings holding everything together were a bit corroded and reluctant to come undone with everything in situ - he had a go, but couldn't shift joints & suggested we had a nice vanity unit fitted instead.


The answer was 'obvious' old skool - just take the unit off the wall to get better access to joints and where they wouldn't cooperate then apply brute force or a hacksaw.

To a 57 year old who hasn't done any plumbing work to speak of in more than 10 years, it took an hour to get everything off the wall and in bits - not really any touble at all - but then 2 hours to get it all back and leakfree (it all had to come apart again because the new waste leaked - seems OK now) which was annoying and a sign that I really am out of practice.

In a way I'm pleased that I can still do this stuff, but I'd have preferred him to have done it first time & just taken an extra hour over it. And I have a headache, just like I used to get from doing this stuff. There's something about mechanics that requires just as much mental agility as designing tests to measure billionths of a gram of protein, and those cranial demands make themselves felt.

Thursday, 4 April 2019

GAS begets GAS

Or spending money makes you want to spend money.

Back in mid February I was unwell with, as it turned out, a nasty chest infection that took about 6 weeks to clear. With time on my hands I became aware that cameras had moved on from my slightly older system (picked up used in Dec 2015) and had become increasingly frustrated with its poor focussing and fixed rear screen. In an uncharacteristic moment of madness and spending, a used Sony A7III and then a (grey) 24-105 lens arrived and most of my Nikon stuff got sold off.

I won't particularly review the A7 other than to say in the areas I was looking to improve the over Nikon it's outstanding. AF is instant, and with the Sony lens quite silent, and the rear screen flips out nicely for photos at ground level. The 'eye-AF' funtction is astonishing with the way it finds an eye in a face and keeps it in focus, even finding it again if the owner turns away & then back again. And it's a darn complicated little beastie if you want to change a setting from a menu).

But there was a brief bump in the road.

Trying to find a cheapskate budgety way of making things work I picked up some used kit in the form of a Samyang 50mm f1.4 lens - really nice for super-shallow depth of field and super-soft bokeh - plus a Sony adapter that allowed me to use my older Minolta fit lenses and get autofocus BEFORE I bought the 24-105. While they were nice, didn't work that well with the cameras AF system, and they also weren't 'free' so I ended up selling them for what I paid to fund the other lens.

But GAS begets GAS.

Now I remember what I've just had, I'd quite like it again please. :p  Only not yet.

Something I liked about the Nikon outfit (apart from the easy traditional and very simple handling) was that I had pretty much most of the lenses etc I could use. Now I'm back at, if not square 1, then in the early stages of building an outfit again. Patience is required. And contentment.

With the 50 f1.4 on a very dark and dull London day.

On patrol-00221

And using the 24-105 on a much nicer, sunnier Oxfordshire afternoon.

Lord Blandford's Pheasant

Wednesday, 3 April 2019

We have just had snow.

Not much, but it was definitely particles that fell too slowly for hail but we're too dry for sleet.


Monday, 1 April 2019

Today I have sore fingertips

Yesterday morning I pretended to be James Herriot, unblocking a drain. There was a sharp object somewhere in there, and I managed to slice directly into the tips of 2nd and 3rd fingers. There was no pain at the time, but typically it's now open and sore. 🙄

Happiness, depression and certainty

In amongst the propaganda from the BBC about Brexit and LBGTQC(onfused) rights there has been a 'good news' piece regarding a woman who doesn't feel pain. It seems she has a particular genetic arrangement that helps her to not be aware of pain (comments about smelling burning flesh when touching hot metal, enjoying childbirth have been bounced around) and there has been some analysis done before all this hit the headlines.

This also coincided with the headline that twice as many people are using anti-depressants now compared with 10 years ago. I also seem to know far more people now who suffer serious depression than I ever did 30 years ago, depsite having somewhat suffered it myself.

On the radio (4) last week they had 'an expert' talking about why this particular person didn't feel pain as others do, and a part of it was raised canabinoids produced by her brain and a general disposition to happiness. Now the interesting part of this conversation started when the expert began to talk about happiness and the things that make people disposed towards being happy or unhappy/depressed.

A couple of key things that came out were extrovert personalities and certainty made depression less likely, while introvertion and uncertainty made a person more likely to suffer it.

This is interesting in the light of how society has been changing for quite some time. Certainty has been unfashionable for a long time now, with the post-modern backlash, and 'generation snowflake' seem opposed to anything that doesn't align with a nebulous set of all-permissive ideals. Speaking personally, I know that when I had assurance and felt certain about stuff I was far more positive and life looked much better, while over the years I have become far less likely to want to interact with others.

I'm sure my view is skewed by my own preferences.

Thursday, 28 March 2019

An aspect of modern life that boils my blood

Is wearing earphones at work. Try to talk with someone and they a) can't hear you or b) you feel like you're interrupting.


Friday, 22 March 2019

Austrian German is not German German.

I have received a letter recently from the Austrian embassy regarding upcoming European elections, and popping it through google translate does curious things with what I am sure are colloquialisms in the text.

For example: "In dolphin fields you can get used to your community.", "The shipwreck shipment through the southerly community wird ab 02 May 2019" and "Steam cabinets and wheelchairs in the wheelchairs and the wheelchair access, all the way to the bus stop 26 May 2019 at 5 pm."

Think I need to find me a German speaker to help out a little.

Monday, 18 March 2019

Reading a post this morning made me slightly sad.

It seems that my son and I are the only people who wipe water from their bodies after a shower or bath, before towelling dry.

At least, that's true for the small circle of people that we know.

And it made me feel slightly lonely too. I've always been different from others: sometimes I can dominate a group, sometimes guide it, sometimes be present watching what goes on, sometimes be ignored by it - I seldom feel just a part of it. Note the word feel - these are feelings, not necessarily how things really are - and feelings should not be the ultimate arbiter of reality.

I wonder too if this is one of the reasons for wanting adventure, to pioneer a bit - when you're doing that loneliness is not a problem, because OF COURSE you're alone. If you're in the trenches with everyone else then it can remind you more of feeling alone than solitude.

Blummin' 'eck, this is maudlin for a Monday afternoon, though I was even more maudlin this morning.

Thursday, 14 March 2019

More on the 'to vax or not vax'


Regardless. I read some statistics the other day, that before we had a meases vaccine the disease would kill 2.4 million annually worldwide. In countries without a universal vaccination program it STILL kills thousands every year. And those are just the dead, rather than brain damaged or with other long-term diseases remaining from the infection.

Vaccination really should not be a freedom of choice issue.

Tuesday, 12 March 2019

Never thought I'd see the day

But I find myself agreeing with someone who used to be a more prolific blogger. His experience is quite different from mine, both because of culture and world view, but it seems the disease of disinterest has spread to his part of the world too.

I was interested in his view of the cost of being part of church, particularly as church is no longer seen as the place we go to get re-filled and energised for the week ahead, but a drain on energy & resources on what would otherwise be a day of rest. I went looking for a post where I talked about this, only to realise I'd posted it as a comment on Backyard Missionary recently. In the post linked LT described himself as $20 in the plate and another voice drowned in the music - perhaps if that's all church really is then it's time for those gatherings to close?

Where is the real issue? Is it the people or something bigger?

Makes me wonder if a part of it is that what was underground and experienced with joy when persecuted has become the ordinary, commonplace and mainstream, sucking life out as it becomes increasingly democratised and mundane. The church has a long history of thriving and being healthy when suffering, but causing suffering when in power.

To vax or not vax?

Italy has begun to require vaccinations for children to be permitted to attend school. I hate the compulsion, but knowing that the parents who refuse vaccination will cause some of their children harm, and also cause harm to children unable to develop immunity through vaccination, it's not a completely unreasonable step.

It's amazing how short memories are, of how the diseases these vaccines prevent did so much harm.

Sunday, 10 March 2019

Toni Ertl, like you never saw him before.

 Toni Ertl and Pilgramsreuther Blaskapelle - Rosen und Flieder.

Friday, 8 March 2019

Hipsters all look the same - fact. ;-)

An amusing Friday morning article from El Reg here.

Essentially a 'hipster' saw an article from MIT Technology review suggesting that for a variety of reasons anti-conformists all end up conforming in appearance that was accompanied by a picture of a typical hipster that appeared to be himself. He complained angrily, only to discover that the photo was actually of a model, thus proving the point of the article and demonstrating that sometimes hipsters conformed so closely they couldn't even tell each other apart.

The comments after the article were also comedy gold:

Yup. I remember at a large bike rally a small child was found wandering around early in the morning and was taken to rally control.
"Ok, lad? You've lost your parents?"
"What's your Dad's name?"
"Ok, and what does John look like?"
"He's got a bald head and a long beard and tattoos down his arms!"
"Let me take a guess. Is he wearing jeans and a black shirt and a leather jacket?"
"Yes, do you know him?"

Was conformity ever so similar?

Wednesday, 6 March 2019

Just driven through horrible countryside

I'm working for a couple of days out towards East Anglia, pretty much directly east of where we live. I won't name the towns, but driving through the grey drizzle and pre-dawn light this looks such an ugly, almost blasted countryside. Possibly sunshine and clear skies would help, but I doubt it.

An early departure meant a clear run and early arrival, and now I'm looking at mouldy grey and orange brick buildings with ventilation stacks on top surrounded by a high fence topped in barbed wire. I came for a job interview at this place in 1997 and was pleased not to work here then. Hopefully I'll complete their training adequately today and not have to return in the morning.

Presently my throat is not happy, and the less I need to talk the better. At least it's just a demo, rather than teaching.

Monday, 4 March 2019

A man has been charged with assault by beating:

Presumably with beating an egg? 😉

Sometimes reality seems stranger than fiction, and the law only partially connected to reality.

BBC News - Jeremy Corbyn egged: Man charged over Finsbury mosque attack

Friday, 1 March 2019

How are you Toni, I hope you're having a great day?

I had a call from a recruiter at lunchtime that I'm sure I've never previously heard of. Then I saw this:

Last month, a world-wide telephone survey was conducted by the UN.

The only question asked was: "Would you please give your honest opinion about possible

solutions to the food shortage in the rest of the world?”

The survey was a complete failure because:

In Eastern Europe they didn't know what "honest" meant.

In Western Europe they didn't know what "shortage" meant.

In Africa they didn't know what "food" meant.

In China they didn't know what "opinion" meant.

In the Middle East they didn't know what "solution" meant.

In South America they didn't know what "please" meant.

In the USA they didn't know what "the rest of the world" meant.

And in Australia, New Zealand, Canada, and Great Britain everyone hung up as soon as they heard the Indian accent.

Friday, 22 February 2019

You know it's not big, and it's not clever. Well it's not clever anyway.

Artificial intelligence.

Do those words scare you? Excite you?

Well, perhaps they should, but not for the reasons you're thinking.

As a couple of people I know these days like to say, AI is not what you think it is. It's not a cold, dispassionate and amoral mind of greater sophistication than any human could manage, but simply a set of algorithms that have been trained to interpret a limited aspect of the world through a block of data presented to them.

There's an article here that's intended to be what passes for Friday afternoon humour in the IT industry, but is actually so accessible and levelling that it should be mandatory reading for people concerned with the care of people and the impact AI might have on them. Yes, it's a bit nihilistic, a touch sweary, but it's insightful and also funny. The article is probably biased too, but then again, everything people produce is only neutral from their reference point.

Seriously, if you don't really know what AI is then you should read it.

Suppose I should make some lunch.

I'm just not hungry right now, but I bet I don't lose any weight. :-p

Thursday, 21 February 2019

Lurgy is back with a vengeance.

My brain isn't quite right, and I read the title of Chris's Hilary Mantel book as bring up the boobies.

Now that's a pleasant thought for a sicknote Thursday.