Monthly Archives: April 2015

Very basic politics #1: three ways to deal with the deficit

First, a disclaimer. I am not very informed about UK party politics or about how our parliamentary system works. I know people who are much more informed in these matters (but I won’t link to them because they have party affiliations and I don’t want to advocate a particular party).

But I do want to talk about political principles. This is the first in what I expect to be a short series, where I want to tackle the very fundamentals that we vote on.

The key issue underlying much of the electioneering this time around seems to be the deficit.  Continue reading

My quest to become overweight

I am 1.81 meters tall — I know this, because I got the nurse to measure me at my annual health-check a few days ago. For the last decade or so, my weight (or mass, if you’re scientifically inclined and pedantic) has hovered between 100 and 105 kg. At the bottom end of that range, 100 kg and 1.81 m gives me a body mass index of 100 / 1.812 = 30.5. According to the standard categories, that makes me obese — only just, as the threshhold is 30.

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Liberal Democrat manifesto on policing and security service powers

I’m still not 100% sure who I’m going to vote for in the General Election, but if I end up going for the Lib Dems, this section of their manifesto is going to be a big part of the reason why. From page 111:

Liberal Democrats believe security and liberty are two sides of the  same coin: you cannot have one without the other. The police and  intelligence agencies do vital work to protect the public and we  are rightly proud of them. But we always have to be vigilant that  the state does not overreach itself, as it has done at times through  corruption, heavy-handedness or illiberal laws.

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What I’ve been reading lately, part 4

[Previously: part 1, part 2, part 3]

Murder on the Orient Express — Agatha Christie

This one has quite a well-known twist, but happily I’d completely forgotten about it, so it wasn’t spoiled for me. And in fact, it works really well. I don’t want to say any more for fear of spoilers, but I’d definitely recommend this one. But not as a first Agatha Christie. Read a couple of more regular stories first (e.g. Styles, End House) to get into the idiom. Continue reading

A busy few days

These are busy days. In a few minutes, I’ll drive down to Newport, just across the Welsh border, to do a short set at The People’s Folk Festival. Tomorrow morning, I’ll play in a competitive football match for, I think, the first time in a decade (for Cinderford Veterans). Then I’ll watch proper footballers in the afternoon, as Liverpool play Aston Villa in the FA Cup semi-final. Then I’ll drive down to London to stay with old friends for a couple of days as I participate in the Royal Society’s discussion on The Future of Scholarly Scientific Communication. Oh, and I made sushi a couple of days ago.

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Great service is not dead

Several years ago, my brother Gerard gave us an Xbox 360 Elite for Christmas. At the time I was sceptical: we had a PS2 already and I didn’t see the need for another console. But time showed Gerard’s wisdom: the Xbox has been used for many thousands of hours of gaming — I myself have played well over a hundred hours of Just Cause 2 on it.

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Old music was better

For a long while — decades at least, I’ve had the impression the modern popular music is not as good as it was in the 60s, and indeed when I was growing up in the 70s or even the early 80s. What do I mean by “not as good”? I mean less melody, less harmony, less lyrical invention and most of all, a growing uniformity, where every song songs increasingly the same as every other song. Continue reading