Monthly Archives: April 2015

Change is Bad – So is choice

Apps and websites often make changes. It is usually called, rather euphemistically, an ‘improvement.’ I don’t want it improved I want everything to stay the way it is. Change is bad.

You tube, at one point, had a box of the six latest videos. If you didn’t want to watch a video you could just dismiss it with a little ‘x’ in the corner – then the next newest would pop up. Now we have a long list of videos and if one doesn’t interest us it just sits there. It stares at you. You must watch it. Then there is auto play. You will never leave you tube.

Every time I hear the phrase ‘we’re making improvements’ I just cringe. Occasionally the new version is better but it is so rare I don’t think its worth the risk. My bank’s website made a change not too long ago and now their nice easy to use website is confusing.

Choice is bad too. Sometimes, at the supermarket, I’ll be looking at two products. They’re almost identical but one of them is priced slightly more. I look at both of them and I wonder just what the difference is. What makes one product worth £0.50 more than the other?

I don’t want choice. I want to be able to go to the supermarket and get tuna, or something, and just be told this is tuna – rather than have tuna in spring water, in oil, in brine, and often all those from different companies. What is the difference? I bet that if I had a taste test between tuna in brine from company A and the same from company B I wouldn’t be able to tell.

Of course the way things are going choice may disappear. In my everyday life I only use google, Tesco, Amazon, and facebook. Maybe they’ll all become subsumed into one on day – okay that is a scary thing to consider.

So maybe we should embrace change and choice. I did say maybe. Though really how much difference is their between all those different brands of milk? Are the cows all fed of slightly different grass? Are their different types of grass? I don’t know. I drink oat milk now –

And another thing….

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Deadlines

Deadlines are something we all must face. According to Douglas Adams they make a ‘whooshing noise’ as they fly by. I have deadlines. One self imposed and one externally imposed. So for this week I wanted to point you at a metro article.

English Teacher takes red pen to mistake-ridden UKIP flyer.

I know pointing out these mistakes is rather, as the cliche goes, like throwing stones from my glass house but I still wanted to show this. I found it rather amusing – it is always easier to notice mistakes in a piece of work that you haven’t been slaving over.

In closing I want two promise ewe that I do try and proofread. Speelling has always been a problem for me. This sight is important t00 me so I will do my best. Some mistakes will always slip through, this I no, but trying you’re best is all u can do – oar ewe can always get some kind sole to czech it four ewe.

See you next week – when I’ll be panicking.

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Please Vote

For this week the title says it all. Please vote.

We are just four weeks away from a general election here in the United Kingdom.

Whenever an election comes up I always have the thought that this time it will work – the new government will be so much better than the old one – a new era of prosperity will begin – the government will be loved by all. Well that’s rather over egging the pudding but it is the general sense of it. The annoying truth is that governments are all much of a muchness.

You should still vote.

You might be thinking that all the parties are the same.

You should still vote.

It could be that you simply don’t believe any of them. It could simply be that the party you like has no chance of winning – well they certainly won’t if people don’t vote.

Can I use history to appeal to you? I’m a white heterosexual man – so I’m aware of my privileged position. For women the right to vote was a long battle. Here is a link to a Wikipedia page on the subject. People have been denied the vote, across the world now, for race, religion, social class, and no doubt a multitude of other reasons. Unfortunately humans are very good at prejudice.

There is another option. It sounds strange but you could try a spoit ballot. This is when a ballot is invalidated for some reason. Click on the link to learn more. This is useful in a roundabout sort of way. It shows, unlike not going to the polling station at all, that you want to participate in the election but that you don’t like any candidate.

Voter turnout is always fairly low. If people spoiled the ballot instead of not bothering to vote it would show that people are interested and want to participate but they feel cut off from politicians. As it stands not bothering just shows the population as apathetic and, to be frank, you can’t really complain about MPs if you didn’t vote.

I told myself that I wasn’t going to post the following but I feel I must. Please don’t vote for UKIP. It is frequently accused of racism and its ideas tend to be based on lies. You can read all about at via this The Huffington Post. One UKIP donor said that women shouldn’t wear trousers this is beyond ridiculous! The main issue of UKIP is the EU. They believe it is undemocratic and not in our best interest. What is rather laughable is that their candidates often don’t even show up to vote!

I hope you will look at these articles but you should, of course, come to your own conclusions.

So please vote in four weeks time.

Voting is supposed to be private so I won’t declare it here. I also haven’t decided yet.

****

Finally I wanted to share this little titbit from Stargate SG-1

Senator Kinsey

Oh please, given the chance half of
all American citizens won’t even vote
and the half that do vote are too stupid
to know what they’re doing.

Colonel O’Neill
Which explains how you got elected.

Chain Reaction – SG-1 Season 4 Episode 15

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First Contact

Fourth-eight years from today, in the Star Trek universe, humanity will make contact with an alien race: the Vulcans.

I believe that there is certainly life on other planets. There may be as many as 70 sextillion stars in the universe. That’s 70,000,000,000,000,000,000,000. It is a number completely beyond human comprehension.

To me it seems impossible that we are the only life in the universe. We might be alone in this galaxy, though that still seems unlikely, but surely not the universe.

Whether we will ever encounter this life is a different question entirely. It might be possible to travel between distant stars, I’m a writer not a physicists so I’m not going to speculate on the technology, but for humans that is way beyond our current capabilities.

In the Star Trek universe encountering alien life brings about a new era of peace for humanity. The knowledge of alien life makes our own problems seem petty and Earth becomes a paradise. I’m more inclined to believe that real first contact is more likely to produce panic.

I do believe that world peace could be achievable. All it takes is for us not to pass on our prejudices to the next generation. This is easier said than done.

I won’t pretend to be all high and mighty. I have had bad thoughts every so often. I wonder where they came from because there is no obvious place. If they remain thoughts, rather than transforming to words or actions, then there is less of an issue. We’ve all heard stories of children of different backgrounds interacting happily – no such thing as a racist baby. Then as adolescents and adults things change. We no longer see Joe Blogs as a friend. He is now: black, gay, Jewish, Muslim, disabled, poor, or any other ‘other’ that we can think of.

I can think of only one example of outside influence of prejudice from my own life: Politics. I remember being in conversation with someone in high school and making a comment about a political party.

‘A bunch of mindless jerks who’ll be the first up against the wall when the revolution comes.’*

Well I wasn’t that witty but that was probably the sense of it. Then I realised that I had no bases for thinking that. I was repeating the ideas of my parents. Later I became aware of politics and found myself agreeing with the assessment. I also met, in my politics class, the local MP for that party. All I remember now was that he was really oily.

Distrusting a political party is one thing but it should never be applied to a whole group of people. The more extreme someone is in their views the louder they are. There are terrorist attacks in the name of God – they make the news. The millions of people who practice their religion, and attend a temple every week, don’t make the news because there is no story.

I’ve found the same basic issue working in retail. If you server a customer quickly and effectively nothing happens. That’s what customers expect. If you go above and beyond the shop might get a thank you letter. If you screw up then you’ll certainly receive a complaint. Bad news also travels faster. If doesn’t make a good story telling your friends about good customer service – bad customer service can be quite the anecdote. Therefore it is more likely that you’ll see bad reviews than good ones. All this gives us a lopsided view of reality.

So when the news talks about terrorism it makes it look like there is tremendous evil in the world. It creates the feeling that a particular group is evil. This generates more hate. It doesn’t mention the millions of people who manage to get through their day without killing anyone.

The fact of the matter is most people are good. I think we will achieve world peace one day. It is simply a matter of respecting others. We may not believe the same as someone else. We may believe that the God Obplexsemkoplop doesn’t exist and is in fact just an old deflated beach ball. However if that belief is helping people to be better, if saying the mantra of the beach ball helps them through tough times, then why is it an issue? It is harming nobody. Of course the followers of Obplexsemkoplop must also respect your right not to worship too.

We will achieve world peace if we accept that diversity is fantastic.

To paraphrase Dave Allen: ‘May your God, or no God, go with you.’

* quote taken from The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy.

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