We need to talk about Donald Friday, Dec 2 2016 


I first posted the following on a Right of Centre forum.

This isn’t a political post.

It’s not about his politics.

It’s not going to critique the GOP.

It’s about the failure that has been elected.  Ignore the electoral college/popular vote.  Well read Europeans (ie like me) understand how that works.  Its not even about how DJT doesn’t understand that.  Like he didn’t understand the way Primaries work.

Hillary knew the EC.  Bush, Rubio et al understood Primaries.

It’s not that.

Its about how a man-child is going to be in charge of the public face of the USA.

He is incompetent.

He can not handle the post.

His dad maybe.  I know little of his dad, but he was a driver of the Trump empire.  Donald inherited.  He never drove.

He’s skipping intelligence briefings, and is now doing victory parades.

Is it only non’Republicans’* who see the problem?

The bloke is an idiot.

As a businessman he is a failure. (As a man who makes money he may be a success – maybe)

All countries have a ‘creation myth’.  “This is who we are.”  It tends to be misinterpreted bullshit.  So for the French it is all ‘Storming the Bastille’, and ignores ‘The Terror’.  For the US it is all ‘Standing up to King George, and plucky farmers beating Red Coats’.

The problem with the US is people get elected on that bullshit.

“I’m an outsider.”  I think we may have Jimmy Stewart to blame for that.

Outsiders don’t know how things work.  They don’t see ‘pressure at point ‘a’ produces result at point ‘v’.  Yes Civil Services are slow.  There are hurdles that make them slow.  Those hurdles are there for a reason.  They make sure that what is being done isn’t being done to profit those at the top.

As a business man, Trump is free to appoint who he likes. As a Public Servant he must act in the interest of all.

As a businessman, if Trump screws up a chain of casinos goes down.  If Trump fails to understand that having two businesses competing when he owns both may not be a good idea then a business, maybe two, goes down.

THIS IS NOT TRUE OF A PRESIDENT.  It doesn’t matter what the country is.  It could be some African dictatorship.  If it goes down the tubes an entire population suffers.  You don’t shift citizenships like you shift jobs.

And this is the USA.  This is the Big Beast.  I won’t go into why and hows.  It isn’t exceptionalism though. But still, it is the biggest (by GDP) economy.

It is the military that spends more than the next 15 combined.

It is the largest, or 2nd largest (depending on metric) nuclear force.

And the man in charge doesn’t understand how it works.

The man with the ability to end life on Earth can not be trusted by his own staff with Twitter…

Think about that.

So… This is a man who is carrying out a victory parade across the US.  This is also the man who is turning down Intelligence Briefings from the daily digest the President gets.  He is REFUSING to be the most informed person on the planet.

Everything Mike Pence stands for I disagree with. Women’s rights, gay rights.  You name it.  He is pretty much opposed to me.  Trump is a New Yorker.  He has been pretty liberal (lower case ‘l’) in the past.  But Pence knows how The Hill works.  He doesn’t say the first thing that pops into his head.  He would be a more competent president.

Trump made promises he has no way of fulfilling.  He rolled them back as soon as the vote was in.  He didn’t even pretend.

You can’t defend him.  Trump is a failed President before he starts.

 

*ie non ‘GOP’ as opposed to anti-monarchists.

Rule of Law (as opposed to the Right wing version) Wednesday, Nov 9 2016 


Media Whore Nigel Farage (Grandson of immigrants, married an immigrant) has said he will lead a march of 100,000 on the Supreme Court.
The reason to lead a march is to try and change opinion. Thats fine – when leading a march on Parliament- MPs should listen. They don’t have to accept, but they should listen..
BUT
These aren’t MPs he is trying to influence. These are judges. They have one rule – apply the law. The law isn’t hostage to public opinion. It can only be what it is.
Farage is literally trying to subvert the law.
Imagine if you are playing a game of Monopoly. You land on Mayfair and say “I will buy that for £400, as printed on the board.”
The other 4 players say “We’ve decided that it has to be £1,000.”
“Hold on,” you say, “the rules state £400.”
“We’ve held a vote – and the majority have decided.”
You wouldn’t accept it in a board game. Why the hell should we accept it as the Law of the Land?

Narrowing Horizons Thursday, Jul 21 2016 


“We’re going to see if the Yanks can get this bucket of junk into space again”

In the Eighties my science class was herded into the school’s lecture theatre. The rest of the year were probably there- I seem to recall the whole year did the same subject at the same time. By coincidence I was in Science at the time the space shuttle was relaunched. We were going to watch the 2nd launch of the space shuttle.

Why the 2nd launch?

NASA was about to do something that had never been attempted before. They were going to relaunch a spacecraft.

As I grow older, I think, that despite his ‘bucket of junk’ comment, my science teacher was actually impressed.

In the 80s anything was possible. When did humans become so introspective?

Christmas Rituals, and who are they for? Saturday, Dec 19 2015 


Sorry another long and serious one.  If that’s not for you kitty pics are here:
https://www.google.co.uk/search?q=kitty+pics&safe=off&rlz=1C1GGGE_en-gbGB487GB488&source=lnms&tbm=isch&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwi9hqvo5ujJAhULHxoKHasLDMwQ_AUIBygB&biw=1299&bih=683#safe=off&tbm=isch&q=kitten+pics+cute

A number of people are posting a poster on Faceboom “That time of year where Christians and Atheists suspend their belief systems to celebrate paganism.’  And it is annoying me in its inaccuracy.  I ignored the first few, but I really need to respond, especially as they are also the people who post ‘Co-exist’ posts.  And yes, I know 600 word replies on Facebook are the height of idiocy.

While many of the traditions established around Christmas, and to a lesser extent Easter, are co-opted from pre-Christian Germanic culture and religious rites, they have been re-purposed to represent Christian ideas and ideals, and so no longer have their original meanings.

For instance the Christmas tree was introduced to Britain by Prince Albert, and is an old Germanic custom. In its translation to Victorian Britain, it lost what ever remnants of the old meanings it had in Dark Age Germany. It was then exported around the world via the British Empire, already stripped of any pre-Christian meaning

To state that Christians are becoming involved in worship on non-Christian entities is misleading at best, and more likely disingenuous- the Christmas rituals that copy non-Christian have acquired a meaning of their own, so the original ideas have been forgotten.  Take for instance eating horse meat.  Why do they eat horse in France, yet to find it in mince in Britain is considered disgusting?  Because British tribes sacrificed horses to their gods, and thus the practice was suppressed by the Church to stop people keeping the association with the ‘Old Gods’.  In France and Belgium this did not need to happen, so horse meat continued to be an acceptable food: in fact a French chef will tell you the real crime of Findus was to ruin it by putting it into lasagne. (In a reverse example very few people know the actual reason the Bride wears white to her wedding- instead it has acquired a mythos that was not present.)

Incidentally ‘pagan’ means ‘person who does not follow an Abrahamic religion’, and thus includes Hindus and Sikhs – the word has been co-opted by those who think it is all about druids and stuff like that, or whatever.  It only means pentagrams etc because THEY have changed the meaning (sound familiar).   Following rituals that Christianity co-opted from other religions does not mean the person is not practicing their Christian beliefs, it means they attach their belief system to those actions, and the actual roots have become unimportant.  They are not following paganism, in the same way the ritual of ‘warming the pot’ is no longer needed, but still carried out by some, unaware of its root.

Likewise I am asked how an atheist can celebrate Christmas.  To start I find the word ‘atheist’ misleading – people don’t use the word ‘afairyist’.  Atheism is not a belief in no gods, it is no belief in any gods.  We don’t describe children as becoming “asantaists” – they don’t go round actively not believing in Father Christmas.  You can call me a Humanist – Humans definitely exist, I just wish they would do better.  Why celebrate? Why not?  As I wrote a week ago it is a European tradition, because nights are long and days are cold (maybe not this year!)  You gather with friends and family to share time, and reaffirm our basic humanity.  Self harm in prisons increases this time of year.  They have access to religion, they don’t spend much time with loved ones.  If it was about the religion than the family it wouldn’t be a problem.

I’ve been to church weddings – nobody assumes I am a Christian because of that.

Celebrating whatever you celebrate this time of year using symbols that may (or may not) have originated with a different culture 3000 years ago doesn’t stop you being whatever you think you are.  So please stop trying to claim other people’s actions unrelated to your beliefs as some sort of victory.

All I want for Christmas… Saturday, Dec 12 2015 


This is a time of stress for me. People will ask me what I want for Christmas, and get upset if I say “nothing”. So, here is what I want:
A couple of Saville Row suits, some handmade shirts from Jermyn Street, and hand crafted shoes from a traditional shoemaker. Oh and silk ties. One red, one dark grey. If you can throw in a Jackpot lottery ticket, a big house and an Aston Martin while you’re at it…

What? Too much? I suppose Peace on Earth, Goodwill to all People and a rebalancing of the World Economy is out the question then?

See, here’s the thing. I like Christmas. I like the shared experience that we have, that Northern European tradition of going “It’s cold and dark, and we’re on dried food for the next three months. Sod it, let’s have a big party.” Sure, it’s been hijacked over the millennia by various mystics, nutters and men in dresses, insisting it is all about their particular gods/goddesses/bunch of rocks/life force, but that is just the excuse: nights are long and days are cold, and people want to be together.

And that is the point. Take me for example. Yes I wargame, pushing toy soldiers that cost [mumble, mumble] across a table. But for me that isn’t the point; no matter how much I might say “I really need some dragoons/panzers/better dice” what I really want from my little lead men is the shared experience- the sitting across a table from a mate, having a beer and a laugh, telling each other stories, and laughing even though it’s the tenth time we’ve told it in the last two years.

It’s not about the possessions. It’s about the shared experiences they allow.

And that’s what I want. You can’t buy it. You can’t wrap it. You can only give it. It’s that shared experience, my sister in law saying something silly, and my brother ragging her on it, the Old Man acting like a silly old fool, the arguments over who had the best card in Apples to Apples. I want my wife not to stress about achieving the unbelievably perfect Christmas, just sit down and enjoy it, because people won’t care that you failed to hit 100%, only that you cared enough to do it

I want to know that in the coming year that my friends will be there for me, and for them to know I will be there for them. I want you all to find the man or woman of your dreams, no matter what your gender, sexuality, or even if you’re an ex! All I ask is that they are someone who deserves you, and loves you like you love them. (Side note to some of my female friends- No seriously, please stop hooking up with dickheads. What do I have to do, interview them myself?)

So stop buying me books I won’t read, clothes I won’t wear, and … ‘stuff’ (Just what the hell am I supposed to do with a lightsabre the size of my thumb?) Just give me the only presents I’ve really ever wanted for Christmas.
Your time, your company and your friendship.

Thank you

PS. My Birthday, however, is in February😉

Strong Action, Daesh, Cameron and Corbyn Friday, Nov 27 2015 


So here we are again, clamouring for bombing.  Exactly who are we bombing?  This isn’t Gulf 1, with formations of tanks to be destroyed.  This is a terrorist militia, intermingled with women and children.  But not bombing them is weakness.

Really?  The Paris attackers came from Paris and Brussels.  Maybe we should bomb Belgium.  Because when the civilians die, and they will – the bombs may be smart, but the shrapnel isn’t – you might as well print a big poster of Cameron in pointing Kitchener pose with the caption “Wants You – to join the fight against the Kufir”

Corbyn has made it clear we should be looking to cut off the support that Daesh receive, stop them selling oil, stop them receiving money, stop them receiving weapons. And that has hardly been reported on. Of course, this would mean upsetting their biggest supporters – Saudi Arabia, the country that executes people for wanting free speech, even as Cameron sucks up to them.

Meanwhile the Tory press present him as a sympathiser, and allow Cameron to claim he is defending Britain. And, oh what a surprise, the Tory press completely fail to mention the Tories have made Britain more vulnerable. Hidden away is the fact that in 2018 they will cut fleet flagship, HMS Ocean, our only helicopter carrier. Not did they mention that due to the Cuts earlier this month that we had to ask the French to lend us Sub hunting aircraft to help find a Russian sub off Scotland because the Tories had cut all ours, and we no longer have that capability.

Worst Adventuring Parties EVER Thursday, Nov 26 2015 


Gandalf and Thorin

Fellowship 2

Uncle Balin was right, you can’t put a balanced party together.

Shut up Gimli.

A wizard, an elf fighter, a dwarf fighter, two human fighters…

I’m a ranger

…one of whom speaks ‘Bunny’

and four level 0 halflings.  At least Bilbo levelled up to a Thief.

I’ve got 3 skill points in Cooking.

And again, not one bloody cleric or healer.

And anyway, it’s “Speak to Stoat” actually.

Liberté, égalité, fraternité Saturday, Nov 14 2015 


Liberty.  Equality. Brotherhood.

The French national motto.

In the wake of Friday perhaps we should make a concerted effort to make it mankinds.

You’ll notice those three words contain no mention of any higher power.  Nothing not achievable by man.

What you want to believe in private is up to you.  But don’t expect others to believe it.  And certainly don’t bring it into the public arena.  Stop justifying your actions because of some mysterious invisible force.

Not just hurting people, but rejecting truths because they don’t fit in with your Big Book of Stories.  that isn’t just killing people because they said something rude about people who may, or may not, have lived hundreds of years ago.

It’s about punishing those who have broken the rules laid down by a supernatural being.

It’s about ignoring science that doesn’t fit in with those Stories.

It’s about insisting your beliefs have some sort of special place in society, that some rules don’t have to apply to you.

I don’t care if you believe in Gods, Goddesses, Tree Spirits or mice in a teapot orbiting on the other side of the sun.

If you can’t do the right thing without being told to by something supernatural, you may want to take a good long hard look at yourself.

Liberté, égalité, fraternité

We don’t need anything else.

Black Powder ‘Command’ rule amendment Sunday, Aug 23 2015 


Never been happy with the statistical likelihood for the various move probabilities in Warlord Games ‘Black Powder’.

Every commander on the table has a command value – usually in the range 7 to 9, but 4 to 10 is the total range; the higher the better. This can be modified for local conditions

When giving an order you roll 2d6.

Equal or 1 less – one move
2 less – two moves
3 or more less – 3 moves.

The problem is that this generally makes 2 moves the LEAST likely, which seems odd. You expect

i) 1 move most likely, 3 least, or
ii) 3 moves most likely, 1 least likely, or
iii) 2 MOST likely.

All 3 can be rationalised – increasing likelihood, or ‘2’ being the ‘ground state’. 2 moves LEAST likely makes no sense.

So recently we trialled a modification.  To get 3 moves you must roll 3 less than target AND equal or under half, otherwise it stays as ‘2’

Examples

Command 9- 3 moves on 4 or less
Command 8- 3 moves on 4 or less
Command 7- 3 moves on 3 or less

The differences can be seen in this table
Combos is number of different ways to get this result of 2d6. For example Command 8 you get 1 move on a 8 or a 7. There are 6 ways to roll 7, and 5 ways to roll 8, so ‘8 combos’ out of a total 36.

Original Method
Command 9 Command 8 Command 7
Moves Combos Chance Combos Chance Combos Chance
1 9 25.0% 11 30.6% 11 30.6%
2 6 16.7% 5 13.9% 4 11.1%
3 15 41.7% 10 27.8% 6 16.7%
New Method
Command 9 Command 8 Command 7
Moves Combos Chance Combos Chance Combos Chance
1 9 25.0% 11 30.6% 11 30.6%
2 11 30.6% 9 25.0% 7 19.4%
3 6 16.7% 6 16.7% 3 8.3%

Weird things you find out as a writer. Sunday, Jul 26 2015 


Isobel (lead female in new novel) has her next period this Tuesday coming.

I didn’t mean to work it out, it came up in conversation.  I have had to timeline this one, because unlike ‘Promises’ I need to keep track of who’s doing what (or even who’s doing who!)

Alex and Izzy who houseshare are having the following conversation, and I know the date it is happening:

“I was having some really weird dreams, and when I woke up all sorts of stuff was going through my head.”  She forked some yolk covered salmon into her mouth.

“Is it ‘cause you’re due on Monday?”

“Could be… hold on, how do you know when my period is?”

“You don’t need a sexual relationship with a woman you share a house with for any length of time to know that,” he said, “and you are like clockwork.”

“Most men don’t, No-Show was always surprised.  When’s my next one then?”

She watched as Alex did the maths muttering under his breath and then said “Twenty-eighth of July, which will be a Tuesday.”

The fact that this is 2 days away from when I’m writing is a complete co-incidence.

 

I wonder if new surgeons feel like this? Thursday, Jun 4 2015 


Cracked open my 4 year old lap top today to see if I could fix an overheating problem.

That’s a nervewracking time – wondering how delicate it all is in there. (I’ve done stuff in towers before, but that was easy things, drives, and they are designed to be like Lego, and easier to get into).

(more…)

I High-Fived a vicar Sunday, May 17 2015 


Highlight of the weekend – it’s not something you do very often.

I ran a quiz for the local church last night. Although the building is 13th century, very traditional Church Of England, the vicar is from Florida You have to feel sorry for him at things like this. He always gives his full support even though he is often lost and bewildered, and I have heard he has problems at these Anglo-centric quizzes. So I wrote a round specifically for him.  (I say specifically, the questions were general enough for people to know.)

Question 3
In January 1861, Florida declared its secession from the Union and became a founding member of the Confederate States. However, in what previous decade had it joined the United States? It wasn’t a founding member.

He had to think hard, but he got correct answer – I’ve never seen anyone so excited when quiz answers are given!  OBVIOUSLY I had to High-five him.

General Election 2015 – The worst possible result. Friday, May 8 2015 


The UK 2015 General Election has produced the worst possible result for anyone who isn’t Sir Bufton Tufton, MP for Much Frothing in the Marsh.

Don’t be poor.
Don’t be sick.
Don’t be vulnerable.

The Tories have a majority.  This will be taken as a sign they can do what they like, much like Thatcher at the peak of her powers in the ’80s or even Blair. There are no brakes.  The fact that a majority of people don’t want the NHS to be privatised, believe that the Big Businesses who call the shots to be reigned in and pay their tax, fora rebalancing of Britain towards fairness, won’t matter.

We can now expect ‘Cutting Red Tape’ (code for removing workers protections), ‘Freeing business’ (code for reducing regulation on the very companies that crashed the economy in 2008) and ‘Rewarding hard work’ (Tory code for tax cuts to the rich, with attacks on the bottom of society to pay for it). All with the Right Wing press cheering them on. (I’m going to miss the BBC when they gut it).

Don’t be poor.
Don’t be sick.
Don’t be vulnerable.

This is the Party who brought in a £1,200 fee for workers to go to employment tribunals.  That’s about 3 weeks of the AVERAGE take home wake, let alone what it is for those in the low paid jobs who are more likely to need protection.  Then they crowed how businesses had been helped by the fall in the number being sued.  That’s like closing Police Stations then saying how reported crime has gone down.

This is the party who are stopping green energy and subsidising fracking and oil.  We could make a push, we could have a vibrant tech sector selling renewables to the rest of the world. But no. Throw money at the Oilmen.  No matter what your thoughts on Global Warming, even if you put your head in the sand and pretend it isn’t happening, the idea of subsidising a hugely profitable yet polluting industry is madness.

Expect more money and public services thrown at ‘Service Industry’ giants, with a proven track record. Of screwing up. Who rake in huge profits while their employees qualify for Government Benefits.

And yet Cameron is facing his own nightmare. He already knows this, and so do all those around him.  They realised it even as they popped the corks in their constituencies last night.  The majority is wafer thin.  It is smaller than John Major’s in 92, and look at the trouble he had.  The loonies will crawl off the back benches.  They are no longer lobby fodder, they have power.  All the kind of people who thought about joining UKIP because no one at Tory HQ would listen to them.

Don’t be poor.
Don’t be sick.
Don’t be vulnerable.

Good luck, because we may all be on our own.

Google and Microsoft ARRRRRGGGHHHHH Sunday, Apr 26 2015 


I have Excel and Word 2013. MS think you want to save everything to OneDrive or your computer. Just OneDrive, nobody elses cloud drive, just theirs. It is inconceivable that you would have anything stored anywhere else.

On the Laptop this isn’t a problem, because Google Drive acts like another drive/folder. Fine, can just go to My Computer and save in that handy little subfolder which also happens to be a cloud drive. Google Drive easy to use on MS Windows.
Now I can open that file on my tablet using Excel for tablets (but see next para). BUT I can’t save it to Google Drive. Why? Because Google have hidden Google Drive, buried deep withing Chrome WHICH IS PUBLISHED BY GOOGLE. When you do find it, after a tortuous path, each document has its own folder, with a name like 2he7whdhw8d28hh2hhsnm – I kid you not. You can’t save to these so it appears in Google Drive.

Oh, the same with opening on a tablet- I can’t see Google Drive in Excel, but I can open by opening the Drive, and opening the file that way. But because I can’t save it is read only – so no editing on the go.

Of course Google can’t believe I’d want to receive emailed documents in anything other than the manure-like ‘Google Docs’.

“Its a Word Document. I have Word. Open it in Word”
“I can open it in Google Docs”
“I don’t WANT IT open in Google Docs – you won’t let me edit it.”
“Howabout we download it to Google Drive”
“Howabout you Bleeped texting open it in a programme of my choice”

Stormtrooper name generator Sunday, Apr 5 2015 


For all your Star Wars games

Copy and Paste the following into Excel

=MID(“QWERTYUIOPASDFGHJKLZXCVBNM”,RANDBETWEEN(1,26),1)&MID(“QWERTYUIOPASDFGHJKLZXCVBNM”,RANDBETWEEN(1,26),1)&RANDBETWEEN(100,999)

For greater realism change the font.

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