Tales from the Bitface

Martin's Journal

All the Things in the World
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Do you ever look around and think how amazing everything is? How it all got there? And I’m not talking about the grandeur of nature, the glory of the universe, and all that. I’m talking about all the human-made stuff.

I have often found myself in the middle of a city, or looking out of a train window at a bridge or power station, and thought, “Wow: people built this. Just ordinary people, like me, actually made all this.”

Look at ancient buildings and you realise that they used to do it without the help of modern machinery, too.

And then think about the infrastructure that’s carrying these words from where I’m typing them to where you’re reading them. Hundreds of miles of fibre and copper cables across the country. Thousands of miles of undersea cables. Satellites, and the rockets to launch them.

We’re pretty amazing sometimes, us humans.

Like I say, I’ve often thought about this kind of thing. But today, while not at work because I’m a bit under the weather1 I had a slightly different version of it.

I had a sudden, overwhelming sense of how much cultural work we have created. Specifically stories and TV and films. Though in fact it was comics that really triggered it.

As I say, I’m not at my best, so I wanted something simple. I ended up reading a bunch of comics on Marvel Unlimited. And no matter how many I could read in a day, I could only make the tiniest of scratches in the surface.

And in TV, Netflix seem to have a new original series or two coming out every week.

It’s not all great, of course. But just think of all those people, writing away, acting, filming. Making things.


  1. I have a vague memory of someone in a film or TV programme mis-saying that as “beneath the weather,” but I can’t think who, or where. I kind of want it to be Josie in Twin Peaks, but I’m not sure. []

This entry was automatically crossposted from my blog, A Labourer at the Bitface. You can comment here on LJ, but it might be nice if you commented over there.

Why Are MPs Doing It?
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This is the burning question of the day: why are our elected representatives in parliament behaving like idiots, frankly?

I wrote most of this a few days ago, but the question still stands.

The “it,” in case it’s not obvious, is waving through the bill to enable to government to trigger Article 50. They did so with very little scrutiny, and without accepting a single amendment. Now as I’ve made clear, I’m firmly of the opinion that Brexit must be stopped. But it’s looking increasingly likely that it won’t be.

We in the populace may have to accept that fact. But members of parliament don’t. They are (or were) exactly the ones who could have stopped it all.

It’s like there’s a bus full of schoolkids. The driver has lost control, and it’s careering towards a cliff edge. The driver jumped out and somehow survived. But the kids can’t get off. Luckily there’s another adult aboard. She grabs the wheel. Hooray, the kids will be saved as she swerves and brakes.

But wait: oh no, she isn’t braking. She’s steering more directly towards the cliff, and putting her foot down.

And all the people who could stop her are at best letting her go on, at worst egging her on. Even the ones who said they didn’t want to go over the cliff in the first place.

This simile may be getting out of hand.


This entry was automatically crossposted from my blog, A Labourer at the Bitface. You can comment here on LJ, but it might be nice if you commented over there.

Brexit Hope?
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A very small hope. Brexit—take back control by the improbably-named Jolyon Maugham, suggests that a court ruling could be achieved which would ensure that we can back out of Brexit at the last moment:

The effects of an Article 50 notification are not fully understood—and not only because May is still peddling a blind bargain, a Brexit pig-in-a-poke. We do know that, should we ask and the other 27 member states agree, we could remain. But it is brave to assume that two years of exposure to the negotiating skills of Boris Johnson, Liam Fox and David Davis will not generate even one hold-out. […] The preponderance of legal opinion is that we could, after all, decide to remain. That we could, having notified, withdraw that notification. But, given the magnitude of the issue, our parliament must know more than what the answer probably is. It must know what it actually is.
[…]
only the court to which we all subscribe can give an answer: the European Court in Luxembourg.

He/she (I’m guessing “he,” from the writing style) says:

But a case which—along with Green Party co-leader Jonathan Bartley, Steven Agnew, a Green member of the Northern Irish Assembly and Keith Taylor, a Green MEP—I am bringing in the Dublin High Court seeks to give us the power to travel back if we need it.

And he explains that:

We access it via a national court. And it can’t be one of ours. One of the complaints in the Dublin case is that the other 27 have breached the Treaty by excluding us from Council meetings before we’ve notified under Article 50. And that complaint can only be made by a court in one of those 27. The Irish court is the natural choice

Which all seems fair. The idea seems to be that the European Court of Justice could rule definitively that we could revoke our triggering of Article 50 at the end of the two-year negotiating period. And if the deal is bad, or especially if there isn’t one, parliament is likely to call another referendum in those circumstances, wherein we’ll know exactly what we’re voting for, and get it right this time.

A small hope, like I say. And it doesn’t protect us from the damage that’s being inflicted in the meantime.

But a small hope is better than none at all.


This entry was automatically crossposted from my blog, A Labourer at the Bitface. You can comment here on LJ, but it might be nice if you commented over there.

Placeholder
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More travel today, back to London. And feeling under the weather. I wrote part of a post on the train, but won’t complete it cos we’re about to go out to see La La Land.

Proper posting will resume tomorrow.


This entry was automatically crossposted from my blog, A Labourer at the Bitface. You can comment here on LJ, but it might be nice if you commented over there.

Daily Posting Harder When You’re Away
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I may not get to do a proper post today, as I’m in Edinburgh visiting friends. As well, my phone’s battery has become increasingly erratic, so it could go down at any moment.

So this is my post for today, unless I get round to writing more.

Have a good weekend, everyone.


This entry was automatically crossposted from my blog, A Labourer at the Bitface. You can comment here on LJ, but it might be nice if you commented over there.

(no subject)
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No snow after Peterborough. In fact we’ve had some sun since then.


This entry was automatically crossposted from my blog, A Labourer at the Bitface. You can comment here on LJ, but it might be nice if you commented over there.

Ticket Captcha Fail
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Just tried and failed to book Dylan tickets. Three nights at the London Palladium in April. I got an email from Songkick telling me about it yesterday, and jumped straight on it.

To learn that tickets didn’t go on sale till 10:00 today. At which time I was going to be traveling to King’s Cross to get a train to Edinburgh, which is a wee bit inconvenient.

As it happened by just after ten I was at KX, and buying my lunch for the journey. But of course at that time I had forgotten about the tickets. By the time I remembered it was 12:44. The Palladium only holds just over 2000, so there wasn’t much hope.

But I wasn’t helped by Ticketmaster’s ludicrous captcha overkill. Seemed like every time I moved from one page to another I had to click an “I am not a robot” checkbox and then select all the pictures containing street signs, or pickup trucks, or storefronts, from an array of tiny shitty pictures. Pickup trucks and storefronts? We barely have the former in this country, and we don’t use the latter term. And sometimes it’s hard to tell what’s in the pictures. I was doing this on a phone, after all.

I wonder how serious their problem with automated ticket-buying bots is. I guess it must be an issue, given that the whole business of an inflated resale markets and touts at venues still exists.

Anyway, all gone in London, but you may have a chance elsewhere.


This entry was automatically crossposted from my blog, A Labourer at the Bitface. You can comment here on LJ, but it might be nice if you commented over there.

(no subject)
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On a train to Edinburgh. Snowing at Peterborough. What will happen next?


This entry was automatically crossposted from my blog, A Labourer at the Bitface. You can comment here on LJ, but it might be nice if you commented over there.

“Thread” Dread
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I don’t mind people posting a tweetstorm, wherein they have a lot to say and do so via a series of linked tweets. I think there are better ways to do it; better places to host medium-length pieces of writing,1 but whatever works for you.

And of course I don’t mind other people tweeting a link to the top of the thread and urging others to read it.

But I really don’t care for the habit of doing so while saying nothing other than, “Thread.”

I mean, come on, people: if it’s worth linking to, it’s worth writing few words to tell us why you think we should read it.

This post could fit in five or six tweets. I suppose I should have posted it that way. Except #OwnYourContent.


  1. Actually the typical tweetstorm is probably still quite short. []

This entry was automatically crossposted from my blog, A Labourer at the Bitface. You can comment here on LJ, but it might be nice if you commented over there.

Optics
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The word “optics” used to mean the science of light. It still does, of course, but it now also refers to “how things look,” in terms of public image and so on.

And it from what I can tell it has only come into this use in the last year or so. I first heard it on tech podcasts, but it was recently in a front-page headline (though the second story) in The Guardian. And I heard it on the telly. I think it was in Agents of SHIELD, wherein they included an explanation of what it means.

I can see how it can be used in its new meaning, but how did it come to be used that way?

And it seems that I’m right that it’s relatively new: Wikipedia, googling: both only turn up definitions like “the branch of physics to do with light.”

Now Urban Dictionary’s top definition is exactly what I’m talking about:

What something will look like to the outside world; the perception a public relations person would have on something. First seen (at least by me) in article by Equity Private on finance blog dealbreaker

Economists repurposing words from real science to dismal? Sounds entirely plausible.


This entry was automatically crossposted from my blog, A Labourer at the Bitface. You can comment here on LJ, but it might be nice if you commented over there.

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