emperor: (Default)
2017-06-08 10:08 am

GE2017 (with predictions)

It's polling day. If you can, do please go and vote (I'm expecting a parcel, and will vote once it's arrived). When the GE was called, I wrote thus on facebook:

So we're going to have a general election as a proxy for a referendum on support for the Conservatives' ultra-hard Brexit strategy. When the main opposition party has not been meaningfully opposing hard Brexit, and I live in a safe Conservative seat (whose MP has not meaningfully opposed hard Brexit, despite saying she opposes hard Brexit).

The result of which is that we'll now be told that the Conservatives have a mandate for their hard Brexit, and there will be no opportunity to try and vote down whatever deal we end up with. And there's nothing I can usefully do to change this outcome - South Cambs isn't going to go non-Tory.

Great. :'(

It's fair to say the campaign hasn't really altered my feelings. I have done some leafletting for the Lib Dems in South Cambs, and I'm hopeful we can at least make the seat look like a winnable marginal for the next GE. I've so far been resisting efforts by the Cambridge LD party to go and help in the campaign there (I may weaken and put an hour or two in after work); it's still frustrating to see so much effort expended on fighting between two anti-Brexit candidates.

It's notable how little Brexit has featured in the campaign, but I guarantee "support for our Brexit plans" (which have still to be described meaningfully) will be one of the things Theresa May says in her victory speech tomorrow, and I'm sure it's going to make getting a vote on the final basically impossible.

I predict that the BBC's exit poll will be very close to the right answer, and that the Torys will get a minority of votes cast but end up with a majority of around 50 (substantially bigger than before, but not a landslide).
emperor: (Default)
2017-05-18 10:12 pm


I'm rubbish at films. I read a review or see a trailer or somesuch, and think "Oh, I should go to see that". But then somehow I never quite get round to it, and then the film's no longer on. One such film was Calvary, which I imagine I saw reviewed in the Church Times or similar. This evening, idly browsing iplayer, I saw it was available (for another 11 days at the time of writing), so thought I'd watch it.

It's a very good film, but deals with a number of difficult themes (clerical abuse, guilt, suicide, sin, forgiveness). The main character, Father James, is a priest as real person rather than the stereotypes that priests in fiction often are, and that makes him believable as well as sympathetic. He's trying to live out his vocation and make sense of it in difficult circumstances. It's a very witty film, as well, quite sharply observed in places, with a number of lines that feel like they're commenting on the film itself.

90 minutes feels quite short for a film these days, and you might find yourself wishing there was more of this film. Well worth your time, but not easy watching.
emperor: (Default)
2017-04-14 10:07 am

In which a Grade I listed building is damaged

For various uninteresting reasons, most of the adult choristers at GSM now vest in the vicar's study. This has quite a strong hinged-arm closer (like this one) - you have to pull quite hard to open it, and it slams the door somewhat.

Yesterday, just before the Maundy Thursday service, I opened the door, and the frame started to pull away from the wall, with a very alarming creaking sound! I let it close again, and Marion and I inspected the damage. Most pressingly, the way the frame was coming off, it was now fouling the arm of the door closure, which meant it took us a while to manage to get the door opened at all (and probably meant that the door would be hard to non-destructively open from the outside). So we propped the door open with a chair, and left several large notes saying "do not move door nor chair". Of course, we then spent some time trying to tell people what had happened, and still kept finding people about to shut the door...

The problem, it seems, is that the closer arm was screwed into the wooden frame, but not really into the plaster wall behind, and the wooden frame was only tacked in place. Perhaps surprising it's lasted this long! But still, not really the way to begin the Maundy Thursday service. Hopefully I'll break nothing else...
emperor: (Default)
2017-04-12 06:17 pm
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Star ratings

Star ratings have been in the news recently - firms like Uber essentially considering anything less than 5/5 as a complaint. This reminded me of a time a B&B owner who I'd given 4/5 on Tripadvisor was hurt enough by said rating that they grumbled at me about it when I tried to make a repeat booking!

I'm quite a keen tripadvisor user - both in terms of using it when trying to find places to eat/stay and writing reviews (110 reviews written, which have garnered 51 "helpful" votes). But it's quite rare for me to give somewhere a 5/5 rating. Even taking into account the fact I mostly go places that are already quite well-rated, I've given only 20 5/5 ratings[0]. It seems to me that in the tripadvisor case (which is distinct from the Uber one, I think), a "anything less than 5/5 is a complaint" model would render the rating system much less useful.

Perhaps I am in a minority, but to me 4/5 is, as the hover-text says, "very good"...

[0] 1x1, 2x2, 21x3, 65x4, 20x5
emperor: (Phoenix)
2017-03-26 03:10 pm
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Android (or smartphone) development?

I've been thinking for a while that I'd like to make an android app (basically, a dealing sheet - a friend has an online one, but I'd like one that would work offline and that could do simple things like keeping the display on for long enough for me to deal ;). I'm aware that the default way to do this is writing java (a language I've mostly avoided so far, and that seems to love boilerplate), but I'm wondering if there are plausible alternatives (I spotted Kivy via WP which seems python-based - any good?) and/or if anyone has useful pointers. Vague desiderata:

1) I can use my regular text editor to write code
2) As Free as is possible given mobile OSs :-/
3) Plausibly portable to iOS should someone feel like it

I expect to end up with something to distribute via F-Droid.
emperor: (Phoenix)
2016-12-20 02:53 pm
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Cambridge PSA: Market coffee stall update

People who like good coffee might like to know that the coffee stall on the market (link to previous post re opening hours) will be additionally open on Saturday from the new year.
emperor: (Phoenix)
2016-10-02 08:54 pm
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Finnish grammar notes

I'm (slowly, ineptly) trying to learn Finnish. My book is quite good at introducing grammar gradually, but this has left me wanting to have a single point of reference. Hence this post; which is probably both partial and full of mistakes. But it's a start!Read more... )
emperor: (Phoenix)
2016-09-12 10:28 pm
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Corbyn vs Smith again

Inevitably, I've heard nothing in response to my email to the two teams, despite a gentle poke on twitter. With a week to go before the deadline, I still need to work out who to vote for.

It's a rather unappealing choice; Jeremy Corbyn has made no sign of thinking he needs to work more effectively with the PLP and is now clearly quite happy for us to leave the EU. Owen Smith strikes me as politically thin (in the sense that I'm not sure he has strongly-held political beliefs), I have little confidence that he's as left-wing as he's trying to appear right now, he keeps being a sexist pig, I don't see him strongly opposing blaming immigrants for society's woes.

So, Corbyn who is generally closer to me politically or Smith who is clearly closer to me on what is my currently number 1 issue, the EU?

I think the most pressing issue at the moment politically is trying to ensure we remain in the EU; if we do actually leave it'll be very very hard to un-do. Which I think means I am reluctantly moving towards voting for Owen Smith. I'm definitely still persuadable either way, though, particularly if either candidate says or does something that addresses my concerns.
emperor: (Phoenix)
2016-09-04 06:18 pm

Corbyn vs Smith

I have a vote in the Labour leadership election (as a registered supporter). I'm still not sure who to vote for, so I figured I'd email the candidates to see if they wanted to address my concerns...text of letter ) I'll let you know if I hear anything...
emperor: (Phoenix)
2016-07-27 11:00 am
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I had to replace the light bracket on my bike. Again. That one replaced one that I bought in March 2014; this one has lasted less long, but it also hasn't quite failed - I noticed that the lamp was shining too low, and then saw a crack in the stand. The new one is a different design (tubular rather than pressed metal) so will hopefully last rather longer, but has the downside of pressing on the front mudguard; you can sort of see that in the picture below. While this isn't causing any problems now, I suspect it means I won't have enough clearance for the winter tyres any more :-/

new light bracket
emperor: (Phoenix)
2016-07-20 04:40 pm
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Cambridge PSA: market coffee stall

Caffeine-fiends in Cambridge might be interested to learn that the tea+coffee stall on the market is now open Monday-Friday, 10:00-15:30 (he starts to pack up the display from 15:00).
emperor: (Phoenix)
2016-06-22 11:40 am
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Please vote Remain tomorrow

I'm pretty worried about the outcome of the EU Referendum - the polls are really close, and the weather forecast is terrible (which tends to depress turnout, which is likely to help the Leave side). I've taken tomorrow off work to help the local Remain team get the vote out - I don't know how much difference it'll make, but I wanted to try and help. I've never done anything like this before, and am a bit nervous!

If you're eligible to vote (and haven't already done so), do please make sure you know when & where you will vote tomorrow (despite the rain!) - your vote is likely to count much more tomorrow than it does at general elections.

I strongly think that you should vote Remain - I think our future is brighter in the EU, and that we can make a positive difference to the EU (and, via the EU, to the world) by Remaining in the EU. If you're unsure, then vote Remain - we can better attempt to reform the EU from inside the EU, and be reassured that economists are almost universally agreed that we're better off economically inside the EU.

In the EU we can work together to make the world a better place - on the environment, on workers' rights and animal rights, in advancing peace and democracy, and in many other ways. We can enjoy the free movement of people - many of my friends and colleagues are from the EU, and some of my friends work in other parts of the EU. Fundamentally, I think the EU is a good thing; while it needs improving (what doesn't!), the way to improve it is not to turn our back on it.
emperor: (Phoenix)
2016-05-28 05:12 pm
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Lunchtime beer

Last trip to the beer festival this year; the range of beers is definitely decreasing (which is what you'd expect - you don't want too much left-over!).Read more... )
emperor: (Phoenix)
2016-05-26 11:22 pm
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Evening beer

I did go and work the evening shift at the beer festival. I managed to fit a few beers in before closing (but work tomorrow meant I didn't stay on for staff beer). Read more... )
emperor: (Phoenix)
2016-05-26 04:12 pm
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Today's beer

I failed to get up in time to go and picket, but I did make it to the beer festival for lunch. mmm, beer ) I may go and work behind a bar this evening
emperor: (Phoenix)
2016-05-25 10:30 am
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Yesterday's beer

[livejournal.com profile] atreic went to the beer festival for dinner yesterday, during which time I tried three Scottish beers Read more... )
emperor: (Phoenix)
2016-05-24 08:36 am
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Yesterday's beer

After pizza, I popped in to the beer festival (it's usually quieter earlier in the week, and there's a broader beer range); I bumped into some choir people so hung out with them, and have a few beers. Mostly for my own reference, I wanted to jot down what I had before I forget.Read more... )
emperor: (Phoenix)
2016-05-22 10:38 pm
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Hugo shortlist

The short-list for this year's Hugo Awards is available (has been for a while), and there's a useful analysis of the puppy-slate issues here. Voting is open until the end of July.

I'd like to read at least most of the nominees (I've previously had a "don't read the puppies" policy, but that's going to be tricky this year), but presumably there will at some point be a voter packet which will contain some of them. And on past form, while there are some nominees I'm likely to want in dead tree in due course, there are others where an e-book version to read once would be just fine.

So, DoeS aNyBody know when the voter packet will be out and/or what's likely to be in it (or, for local folk, feel like lending me any of the nominees), please? The only one I've read thus far is Ancillary Mercy.
emperor: (Phoenix)
2016-04-24 07:29 pm
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Francegour - excursions

Other than the steam railway previous mentioned, we had two excursions from the Chateau - to Albi, and Moissac.

Albi is known for being one of the centers of Catharism (though this is disputed by historians); in any case the Albigensian Crusade killed a lot of the locals, so Bernard de Castanet, the bishop of Albi in the late 13th century was, shall we say, not very popular. Thus, he built a cathedral and bishops palace, both of which were essentially fortifications. The cathedral is an imposing presence in the town, perhaps more literally that you might expect until you see it. It's also one of the largest brick-built buildings in the world. For reasons that are unclear to me, there's also a limestone portico bolted on. The interior is much more ecclesiatical in feeling, with some very fine high gothic carving, and a lovely decorated choir (rubbish audio guide, though). After looking round the cathedral, I had a pretty indifferent lunch at Le Verdusse - for some reason all the more promising-looking places were closed, and then spent the afternoon gently meandering round the old city.

Moissac is smaller, and really only known for its fine old Abbey (church and cloisters). It also had a quite traumatic car-park (especially in a large hire car without reversing sensors!). We had a look round the Abbey church (some really excellent carvings round the South-West door), and then popped into Le Florentin for a quick lunch. Lunch was very good (the langoustine and prosciutto salad was really very tasty) and not expensive for the set menu, but alas not very speedy, which meant me kept some of the party waiting. After lunch there was time to walk up the hill to a church with an exhibition of Stations of the Cross before the Abbey Cloisters opened. The highlight of these were the carved capitals on the ~50 pillars, which are close enough to the ground to be comfortably admired. They're in varying states of repair, but I found the joyous mix of sacred and profane, serious and silly very pleasing.

We had a few detours on the way back to the Chateau; the first of which was the aquaduct where the Canal du Midi crosses the Tarn. The Canal du Midi is quite an engineering feat, but standing on a bridge with a canal on it over a river is a bit surreal! There were also some very loudly-amorous frogs nearby... Continuing the river theme, we then went to the confluence of the Tarn and Garonne rivers, which join at Really Quite a Wide Body of Water. Finally, since it was only a little out of the way, we stopped at the little hilltop town of Lauzerte (which has buildings surviving from the 13th Century), which was picturesque and briefly diverting.

If you're bored, I've reviewed many of the above on tripadvisor; I think you can see my comments here.
emperor: (Phoenix)
2016-04-21 10:27 pm
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Victorian attitudes to the poor?

I quite enjoy Ian Hislop's programmes (mostly HIGNFY), although I suspect he probably annoys Proper Historians. Currently (until 6th May), you can see Workeer or Shirkeys? Ian Hislop's Victorian Benefits on iplayer (publicity piece on the programme).

It's about how the Victorians tried to deal with poverty, and how many of the same arguments and behaviours crop up now; there's some unforgiving segues between a Victorian and some Tory MPs. But the arguments we're familiar with now were all there: is poverty the result of individual misbehaviour or a failure of society? can we make sure people in work are better off than those out of work without punishing the latter? Who should suffer in a time of austerity? And can middle-class journalists report on the experiences of the poor without othering them?

Given how IDS was reviled for his policies, the interview with him suggests he really did think he was trying to improve the lot of the less well-off.

Ian Hislop handles a serious issue with a mixture of insight and wit, concluding that you might divide people into workers and shirkers - those who think poverty is something we can and should fix, and those who think it's inevitable and there's nothing we can do about it...