Monthly Archives: October 2015

Dependency injection demystified

At the moment, most of my actual coding work is in Java — which is a novelty for me, as it’s not a language that I am naturally inclined to like. But as I’m coming to grips with it, I’m finding that Java in 2015 is a rather more pleasant language than the one I wrote a CQL parser in back in 2002. The main problem with it is the culture, and in particular the huge vocabulary of patterns, which takes a long time to learn.


So here is today’s brief lesson, which is on dependency injection. Continue reading

Letter to my MP: Please vote AGAINST Osborne’s cuts to working tax credits

Just sent this. Please write to your own MP if you also feel strongly about this issue.

Dear Mark Harper,

I am writing to you as my constituency MP. As you will know well, the Forest of Dean is not a prosperous area, and your consituents will be harder hit than most if George Osborne’s proposed cuts to working tax credits go through. I am begging you, if you stand for the people who you represent, to vote against this regressive measure.

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How much are e-books worth compared with physical books?

We all have a good intuitive grasp for the value of a physical book. We grew up with them. We know roughly what they cost new (£5-15), what they cost in a second hand book-shop (about half that) and what you’d expect to pay in a charity shop (20p-£1).

We don’t really have a sense yet of what an e-book is worth. Continue reading

What I’ve been reading lately, part 9

[See also previous and subsequent posts in this series.]

The Man who Sold the Moon — Cory Doctorow

Not the Heinlein novel of the same name — which I assumed Doctorow would name-check, but he doesn’t. A pleasant enough near-future story of finding love in the midst of technology and music festivals. Passed the time painlessly enough.
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Austerity for the rich

It’s only just occurred to me …

That when we say that in times of national economic hardship, we need to practice austerity so that we live within our means …

We always mean that the poorest must tighten their belts — in the present case, by cuts to tax credits for the working poor. Why do we never mean that the richest must tighten their belts, by tax increases? Isn’t that austerity as well?


I don’t think there is any intrinsic reason why “austerity” should mean “austerity for the poor”. We’ve just got used to it meaning that.

Sag gosht (lamb and spinach curry)

This is one of my favourite curries. I have a recipe on a bit of paper that I took down over the phone from a friend, but I have no idea where it’s originally from. Anyway, it deserves to be  more widely known. Rather than list the ingredients separately at the top, I am just bolding them when they’re first mentioned.

Just a picture of lamb spinach curry that I found on the Internet, not one that I made myself.

Just a random picture of some lamb spinach curry that I found on the Internet, not a photo of some that I made myself.

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The inauspicious beginning of my musical career

My sister Lindsey (that’s her at the bottom of the photo, enjoying experiencing my performance) recently found this old photo, taken in our back garden when I was about three years old. So that would be 1972, the year of Fragile, Machine Head, For the Roses and Paul Simon’s first solo album.


Dawkins’ new “atheist bus” doesn’t go down as well as the original


(Credit to my son Daniel for coming up with this idea.)

My comments on the Government’s BBC consultation

At present, the UK Government is running a little-publicised public consultation on the future of the BBC. (That’s the British Broadcasting Corporation for you Americans — our state-owned and funded broadcaster.)


The campaigning group 38 Degrees has provided a simple way to respond online to this consultation, and I did so this morning. Here are the questions and my responses. I urge you to submit your own thoughts, too.

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Very basic politics #4: how do we measure the strength of the economy?

“The economy is the central, critical, irreducible core of this election”, wrote David Cameron in the run-up to the election. “Everything depends on a strong economy.” And although I am not inclined to agree with everything Cameron says, this seems pretty much unarguable. If we as a country want to do the things that civilised countries do — educate our young, heal our sick, feed our poor, care for our elderly — we need money to do it.


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