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calcinations
30 January 2016 @ 07:21 pm
I saw this nice bit of film on the BBC website, showing you round parts of the new bridge.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-35448984

The bit they don't show you is the south end. They spend a lot of time at the north end, but not the south.
Why woud that be, I wonder?

Well, if you look closely at the south approach to the bridge, there are 5 supports that have the road deck on them before the towers take the strain.
The first 3 and last one are fine and full height and the road deck has been rolled out onto them. You can find photos of it all online if you look, but I couldn't see one showing what I want to show, and it's hard to take such a photo when driving over the older road bridge.

So you'll have to imagine it instead, although I'd rather use a photo.
THe 4th support out though was, as of last week, still barely even halfway complete in height. This is a little odd given the fact that the other 4 are fine and complete. My source from Port Edgar Yacht club tells me that they've had more than a little trouble with getting the foundations right for this 4th support and that it has been leaning a bit. Which explains why it isn't finished yet. And also why the bridge builders might encourage the camera crews from going near the south end of it.

Sure, there is a good possibility they'll manage to sort it out in time to finish the bridge properly, but at the moment it looks rather like they're keeping it quiet in the hope that they can and everything will come right in the end. Hopefully other parts of the build won't develop a lean.
 
 
calcinations
22 January 2016 @ 08:37 pm
that the your average American worker hasn't had a pay rise for 30 years; all the benefits of the last 30 years of growth have gone to a tiny minority. Sure, there are more electronic toys and you can buy a greater variety of cheap clothing, but actual standard of living are not improved.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/steven-hill/sharing-economy-american-workers_b_9018724.html?utm_hp_ref=books&ir=Books

THis is not a new issue. I was looking through a book I have, published in 1997, "The United States of Anger" by Gavin Esler. It describes situations very like in the above article, despite being 20 years younger. The descriptions of people's hopes and fears and actions, and associated anger, match those seen now, when if anything things are worse now for even more people.

Unfortunately similar things have been happening here in the UK, cushioned only by our welfare system, which has become increasingly tyranical, as if you can make people get jobs that just don't exist. THe trend is downwards, except for the top few percent in income.
So the question as always is what can be done about it?
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calcinations
I noticed at work today that there's now a fuck of great big light industrial/ pharmaceutical/ biotech park beside Radnor Mere, which features in "The weirdstone of Brisingamen" by Alan Garner.

It was published in 1960, and became a major success that decade, and continued to be popular certainly until the 1980's and probably 1990's. There was a sequal, and a third book in 2012 makes it a trilogy. He also wrote a number of other books set in the same area of Cheshire.

Now, the thing I was wondering was, if we've now moved into another era of childrens books, when books that were popular with our parents generation, ones that my generation and people a little younger could read and enjoy even in the late 20th century, are now not so popular, or else harder to read.

At this stage I do not have any real information about whether it is or not. And I think it likely that it is still somewhat popular amongst a smaller segment of the market, the point being that it's mass appeal which made it so famous over 50 years ago is less likely now.

The reason being simply that as time has changed, reader expectations and willingness to work with an author or read through confusing bits also changes. For instance, in the Weirdstone of Brisingamen the children are picked up from the railway station in Macclesfield by someone driving a horse and cart.
There are no mobile phones, no calling for help when you are stuck out in the countryside. No internet to ask if that sound is from a ghost or not.

Having said that, there are some very strong things in the books favour, from the scene setting and the horror that is evoked and the characters. Yet I think back to some of the childrens books I read as a child, the classics from the late 19th and early 20th century, and even then I found them dated, hard to read and sometimes dull. I wonder what a modern child makes of what we would regard as classics, that are now 50 or 60 years old?
 
 
calcinations
13 December 2015 @ 07:28 pm
I need to buy a new waterproof jacket for hillwalking. Not skiing, so it doesn't need to be padded and warm. Not climbing, so it doesn't need to fit like a glove and stretch and have lots of seams for water to get in.
No, it should be waterproof, breathable and importantly, have a good deep hood within which I can hide my face.

These points are fairly simple, after all.

But I cannot find a jacket with a decent hood. I'm willing to accept that the current fashion for unflapped zips that are somehow magically waterproof by themselves, is something unavoidable. And that I'll have to pay in the 3 figures for something long lasting, strong and properly breathable.

But every jacket I've tried on, by all sorts of manufacturers, many expensive, high class ones included, has a titchy wee hood that is of no use at all.
Every fucking one! It's hopelesss. You'd think stupid corporations would like people using their product to have a good time, but no, they want me to get a wet face, to have my nose freeze off from all the snow on it, or piling up on my glasses. Having a good deep hood is a matter of safety and comfort. It's hard to see out of glasses that are coated with water or snow, and cold wet noses or chins are no fun at all.

So I'm going to have to start a campaign for them to make real jackets with proper hoods.

One way you can tell the manufacturers are following each other and some moronic idea of fashion is that 99% of jackets are cut short. You'd think the stupid bastards had never been to business school and not heard about product differentiation. Why should I buy manufacturer X jacket over Y when they have identical features????

Longer, mid-thigh length jackets are ideal for walkers, because they help catch the drips from rucsacs, and give better protection all round. They also make walking more comfortable because a lot of the time you don't need you waterproof trousers on because there is only a small gap between gaiters and jacket, but that gap is big enough to let moisture out. But if the jacket is short like they are now, you will need to put your waterproof trousers on as soon as it starts to rain because of the water coming off the jacket and the bigger target your bottom and thighs make.

It really is stupid how naff some areas of walking gear are now. No attention paid to detail and effectiveness. Some thought has gone into some parts of the jackets, but mostly it is clear they are just being fashionable and not asking what walkers actually want and what will be best for them.
So a pox on all of them.
 
 
calcinations
28 May 2015 @ 05:38 pm
well known SF reviewer, James Nicoll, has had problems with Adam Roberts writing over the years.
http://james-nicoll.livejournal.com/2311305.html
http://james-nicoll.livejournal.com/1679645.html
and others, if you search.
The issues he has rather overlap mine, and frankly after reading 2 of his books I don't feel like reading any more, and Nicoll certainly doesn't make me feel like doing so.

See also:
http://james-nicoll.livejournal.com/1899465.html
Where Charlie Stross writes:
" Literary style he's got by the bucketload -- but he uses the form of sf as a discipline without actually understanding that not only is a rocket ship sometimes a rocket ship (rather than a metaphor), but it is constrained by physical law, as well as literary convention."

Which I entirely agree with.
Also John Scalzi years ago wrote this:
http://whatever.scalzi.com/2009/07/21/on-the-subject-of-to-whom-to-address-your-literary-kvetch/#comments
 
 
 
calcinations
08 May 2015 @ 09:58 am
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/election/2015/results

Alliance Party have the following results:

0 seats in total.
0 seats gained.
1 seats lost.
-1 net change in seats.
61,556 total votes taken.
0.2% share of the total vote
+0.1% change in share of the votes

TUSC have the following results:

0 seats in total.
0 seats gained.
0 seats lost.
0 net change in seats.
36,327 total votes taken.
0.1% share of the total vote
+0.1% change in share of the votes

National Health Action have the following results:

0 seats in total.
0 seats gained.
0 seats lost.
0 net change in seats.
20,210 total votes taken.
0.1% share of the total vote
0.0% change in share of the votes

Traditional Unionist Voice have the following results:

0 seats in total.
0 seats gained.
0 seats lost.
0 net change in seats.
16,538 total votes taken.
0.1% share of the total vote
0.0% change in share of the votes

Yorkshire First have the following results:

0 seats in total.
0 seats gained.
0 seats lost.
0 net change in seats.
12,734 total votes taken.
0.0% share of the total vote
0.0% change in share of the votes

Respect Party have the following results:

0 seats in total.
0 seats gained.
0 seats lost.
0 net change in seats.
9,989 total votes taken.
0.0% share of the total vote
-0.1% change in share of the votes

Cannabis Is Safer Than Alcohol have the following results:

0 seats in total.
0 seats gained.
0 seats lost.
0 net change in seats.
8,419 total votes taken.
0.0% share of the total vote
0.0% change in share of the votes

English Democrats have the following results:

0 seats in total.
0 seats gained.
0 seats lost.
0 net change in seats.
6,443 total votes taken.
0.0% share of the total vote
-0.2% change in share of the votes

Monster Raving Loony Party have the following results:

0 seats in total.
0 seats gained.
0 seats lost.
0 net change in seats.
3,528 total votes taken.
0.0% share of the total vote
0.0% change in share of the votes

Socialist Labour Party have the following results:

0 seats in total.
0 seats gained.
0 seats lost.
0 net change in seats.
3,481 total votes taken.
0.0% share of the total vote
0.0% change in share of the votes

Christian Peoples Alliance have the following results:

0 seats in total.
0 seats gained.
0 seats lost.
0 net change in seats.
3,260 total votes taken.
0.0% share of the total vote
0.0% change in share of the votes

Christian Party have the following results:

0 seats in total.
0 seats gained.
0 seats lost.
0 net change in seats.
3,205 total votes taken.
0.0% share of the total vote
-0.1% change in share of the votes

Workers Party have the following results:

0 seats in total.
0 seats gained.
0 seats lost.
0 net change in seats.
2,724 total votes taken.
0.0% share of the total vote
0.0% change in share of the votes

British National Party have the following results:

0 seats in total.
0 seats gained.
0 seats lost.
0 net change in seats.
1,667 total votes taken.
0.0% share of the total vote
-1.9% change in share of the votes

Class War have the following results:

0 seats in total.
0 seats gained.
0 seats lost.
0 net change in seats.
526 total votes taken.
0.0% share of the total vote
0.0% change in share of the votes

Others have the following results:
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calcinations
13 April 2015 @ 10:08 pm
Those of you who read SF & F will have heard of them. THe problem this year is that they have been gamed by a villainous cabal of right wingers who have different motivations depending on what of their bletherings you believe. They certainly range from more money and fame for themselves, through to hating lefties and anyone who isn't like them. They even claim to be fore greater variety in SF &F, but their organised slate means that there is LESS variety in the Hugo awards short list this year.

So, for future reference, various links:
http://www.bookwormblues.net/2015/04/06/hugo-awards-2015-a-lamentation/
In comments note that Andromeda spaceways magazine say they weren't told about it, and that htey've had flack from people who say they shouldn't have turned the nomination down.

A big list of links:
http://relentlessreading.com/2015/04/04/my-thoughts-on-the-hugo-nominations/
Most of which I have read.

http://leeaharris.com/the-hugos-2015/
Comments include skewring of a sad puppy supporter.

http://terribleminds.com/ramble/2015/04/06/the-hugo-awards-gamergate-edition-2015/
Notable for the revbobmib in comments saying how Correia acted badly towards him. An anecdote counter to Correia's persecution mania...
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calcinations
16 February 2015 @ 07:12 pm
You'd think that after decades of being told we have to switch energy supplier that we in the UK might be better at it.
But no, we aren't. Thus dies the simplistic idea that we can have a free and good market in energy supplies. It turns out that real humans are much more complex and motivated by different things which simply aren't captured in the energy prices that they are charged.
And that large corporations like to fiddle things to suit themselves. Oddly enough that isn't taken into account by market worshippers, although at least more centrist folks agree a regulator is a good idea.
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calcinations
29 January 2015 @ 11:09 am
Sky news via MSN, "Roads closed as 'thundersnow' storms batter Britain"

Aye, right.
It's just some winter, you know, that time of year when it gets a bit colder?
 
 
calcinations
27 January 2015 @ 01:14 pm
SUrprisingly, if you maximise your business efficiency by treating staff as temporary entities to be put to work only when there is work, or rather your algorithm tells you that there will be work, the staff can't handle it and take days off because their real life outside work gets in the way!
http://equitablegrowth.org/news/pitfalls-just-time-scheduling/

Research indicates that unstable schedules lead to high annual turnover, possibly because a worker quits or doesn’t show up to work because they can’t balance their work and life schedules. Companies, therefore, must invest in increased re-hiring and training costs, and may suffer from poor customer service because, as Williams says, “new employees do not have a strong grasp of the product and a high level commitment to the organization.”

Investing in company profit and employee well-being may not be a zero sum situation. Instead, providing scheduling stability to workers may allow them to realize their full economic potential.


Anyone with half a brain will of course already know this. But companies still refuse to follow the evidence.
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