Assault, indecent assault and beating someone up

We’ve been working through old boxes stashed away in the workshop, trying to reduce the amount of *stuff* that’s cluttering up what was meant to be a working space.
Today I came across a piece of paper I thought long gone 🙂 Between my year abroad and the final year of my degree (which in fact turned out not to be my final year, but that’s another story…) I had a summer job working for an exam board. Most of what I did was checking that marks tallied and entering data from printouts, but occasionally we were able to have contact with actual exam papers. My favourites were Sociology GCSE 🙂 and the piece of paper I found today was one where I jotted down quotes I particularly liked.

The title of this post comes from a response to a question about the three stages for a Bill to become law: assault, indecent assault and beating someone up.
The same question was also answered:
– It must pass the House of Commons and the White House…
– Two stages are the bill being made up by people who have to pay the bill eg using the telephone. Also the company adding the bill up and sending it to the payers.

Two functions of the speaker in the House of Commons:
– The Chancler of the Checker and the prime minister Jon Major.

Two state benefits paid for by National Insurance contributions:
– war arms and importing goods
– doll money, health mobility, accidents insurance, car insurance

On the role of Trades Unions:
– Fright for their Rights
– It’s when everyone get together and set out here prombles
– Two function of a trade union are 1) to agree or disagree about the trade and 2) to do something about it.

Reasons why the Government might subsidise an industry:
– Too much violence, rap and trouble.

Social differences between adults and children:
– an adult has been fully bread into society whereas a child hasn’t, an adult has already been taught i.e. to say please and thankyou.
– Two social differences between a child and an adult are adults behave more matually than children and adults are not so venerable as children.
– The addate actes more senserbul and knows what is best for the kids and child is probberly miss behaveing and arguing with the addalte.

Two members of the extended and not nuclear family:
– the groundmother and the groundfather.

On dealing with the elderly:
– The elderly could go to pubs, play bingo or do gardening. Arguments against these are that if they go to pubs they might get drunk, they might not be fit enough to do gardening and if they play Bingo they might win and get excited and not believe it and have a heart attack.
– The problem with elderly relatives they become an nuisance moaning all the time. Get under your feet while living in a family home. Become ill but know one can do nothing about it have to face facts that they are getting old.

Reasons for relationships breaking up:
– The male mite of bine haveing an iever with some other femal or they mite of had a argument about the child what is coming along.

I never intended to have children.

I don’t mean that the four we now have were an accident, or unwanted, or even unplanned, but somewhere along the line something changed and I went from thinking that children were a nice idea, but not my own, to thinking that at this time, with this man, I could begin to think about dealing with the issues I had around birth.

It was never that I didn’t want children – I did; even as a child who could not envisage wanting to get married or give birth I planned to be a teacher but also to adopt, foster or generally look after as many little scraps of humanity as I could. My great aunt, a single woman who took in lodgers, took on a Barnardo’s boy, looked after nieces and nephews and was generally everybody’s favourite auntie, was my heroine and I planned to do much the same. My role as class agony aunt had put me right off boys so having my own children didn’t seem likely to be an issue. And then I met Bob.

This post is meant to be about health in pregnancy, as part of a blog hop to launch Tommy’s new 5 point pregnancy plan by encouraging us to think about our first pregnancy and what we learned from it about planning and having a healthy pregnancy. I guess that means it’s time for me to talk about my first pregnancy – the one that I had always insisted would never happen.

I was very lucky, I think, to find somebody who said he would support me in whatever choices I made. If I remained adamant that I didn’t want to have children then that was fine – we could adopt, foster or just make the most of ourselves as a couple without children at all. If my feelings changed then having our own children was fine too, and somehow, gradually and I think partly as a result of that unquestioning support, things did change until eventually I was quite desperate to have a child with this man, who was by then my husband. Of course, life being the way it is, having made that decision nothing happened and I spent several years working as a teacher but wishing, hoping, dreaming of having a child to stay at home with instead. I was still too uncertain about the whole thing ever to voice the longing but it persisted, overriding my fears, and eventually there was a line on a stick and….

all of a sudden it was real – and overwhelmingly scary.

My mother had died in childbirth, and I had never quite known why – only the explanation given to me by an older child at the time (I was 5; I don’t even remember who she was, only that she was telling me things grown-ups wouldn’t) that the baby had been cut out of my mummy’s tummy and had taken too much blood. I guess at that point she hadn’t yet died or presumably that would have been part of the story too; I found out later that she had held on for a while, although without regaining consciousness and received 16 pints of blood before the doctors gave up and stopped trying to pump in fresh supplies of what was pumping out so rapidly. My father never spoke about her and I didn’t dare to ask him. My paternal grandparents came out and took me and my new baby sister back to England with them, but they hadn’t been there so didn’t know much either and actually they probably wouldn’t have felt it right to say anything even if they had known the whole story. My mother’s family, although they might have talked about it, again knew very little. The whole thing was just a mystery to me and left me feeling that having children was somehow a very negative thing, unsafe and in any case unnecessary, given how many children in the world were unwanted and uncared-for. I got on with living a kind of adult childhood, taking very seriously the words of those who had told me, helpfully, that it was my job to look after my father and my little baby sister now (please, please don’t ever say those words to a newly bereaved child!) and concentrated on becoming a little mother to everyone, thinking as little as possible about my own mother because that made me cry and then people would stare…

Now I was pregnant I had to think about her. Everywhere, it seemed, I came across articles and advice suggesting that my pregnancy and labour were likely to echo my mothers’. Even at my booking-in appointment I was asked about family history and had to explain. Other women I met at ante-natal groups talked about their mothers and how much help they would or wouldn’t be before, at or after the birth while I sat there thinking how unfair it was that my mother wouldn’t have the chance to be helpful or not helpful at all.

My response to all the turmoil this caused was to seek knowledge. My aunt gave me the letter my father had written from the hospital just after my mother’s death, which tore my heart in two, his grief was so raw in it. From that letter I found that she had had a C-section on medical advice because of previous blood losses (when having my brother and then me) and that she had had multiple and massive transfusions but had not regained consciousness at all. It gave me enough to start to talk to health professionals about what might have happened. I needed to do this for my own mental health, because otherwise I wasn’t sure I could go through with this pregnancy but equally my own convictions meant that there was no way I could have a termination.

I was immensely fortunate in finding myself registered at a surgery with domino midwives, who prided themselves on being “the natural midwives” and encouraged me to find out as much as I could about how to have as natural a labour and birth as possible. I have a great need to stay in control of my body (I don’t drink as part of this) and that coupled with my mother’s death as a result of a C-section meant that I was petrified at the thought of giving birth any way other than naturally. The midwives were determined to help me to make that happen. Again, I decided that knowledge was my friend. I already had a healthy diet (vegetarian but balanced, so my iron count was good enough to surprise those who had been convinced I would need supplements as a matter of course) and was of a healthy weight. I reminded myself that I wasn’t eating for two but in fact for something more like one and a twelfth and made sure there were carrot sticks and similar healthy snacks available all the time. Actually, Bob did most of this, because the biggest physical problem I had was tiredness. I would get home from work and fall asleep on the settee, books for marking spread around me, and be woken by my lovely husband with food and drink then tucked into bed. Morning sickness was met with a cup of tea and cream crackers or ginger biscuits in bed the instant I woke up – plain carbohydrate in small but regular doses seemed to be the best answer for keeping nausea at bay.

The midwives ran an Aquanatal class at the local swimming pool, which was great both for the exercise and for the chance to meet the whole team – and fortunately for me fell on a day when I could get away from school for long enough to attend most weeks. Then there was an antenatal yoga class, which fitted in perfectly with all my dreams of natural childbirth – and taught me to drink fruit tea, which I had never been able to stomach until then. We squatted and stretched and shared ideas and even after the few sessions I could afford (it was cripplingly expensive) had finished I still maintained the exercises. I went to a chiropractor about my back, which had been dodgy since a childhood car accident, followed by a fall in my teens, and was delighted to find that he could fix it for me. In fact, I suspect that the time I was expecting my first child I was probably the fittest and healthiest I have ever been, physically.

Mentally, however, it was a different story. I was doing all I could to be healthy and to prepare for a safe delivery of a healthy baby, but there were so many things I just didn’t know and they ate away at my peace of mind. I had to know more. We had signed up for NCT classes on the advice of friends and finally the time came for us to go along to those. At first it was hard because once again we had the discussions about mothers and their influence, once again I found myself having to explain the reality of being (about to be) a motherless mother, once again I cried and tried not to cry. The tutor was excellent, though, and set aside time to have chats with each of us about our fears and concerns. She was training to be a midwife and so had access to more information than I had alone. I showed her my precious letter and together we tried to piece together what had happened. She said (and a doctor I spoke to later confirmed it) that she felt my mother had been poorly advised, that PPH, which appears to be what had happened in the first two births, is not generally considered to be best dealt with by C-section, that there were drugs now to deal with it if it happened. We talked about positions for birth and about the third stage of labour and how it could be managed (or not) to make risks as low as possible. I came out of those sessions feeling so much more empowered than I went into them that I felt this baby thing might actually work out okay!

I did optimal foetal positioning – scrubbed and polished the wooden floor in the hall until it was almost dangerously shiny and slippery just so I could get on my hands and knees and be “upright, forward and open”. I took prenatal vitamins and ate healthy foods, practised my yoga exercises and swam, squatted to get strong enough for upright birth positions and generally felt as much in control and connected with my baby as I could. Perineal massage (ouch!) was supposed to help prevent tears, Bob learned aromatherapy and massage for labour, we got a birthball and left it partially inflated so it would fit in the Mini but still be quick to blow up at the hospital. Bob compiled an album of music he thought I’d find helpful and I washed nappies, packed my hospital bag and practised using a sling. We felt just about ready – although I remember saying to Bob after we’d been visiting friends with their newborn that I’d love to offer to look after it for them for a few hours so they could rest, but wouldn’t know how – and then realising with a jolt just how soon we would have a newborn ourselves and would have to work it out!

Around 38 weeks I had a massive attack of doubt again. I had started maternity leave so I guess I had more time to think about things. I wasn’t sleeping, despite hot milk and warm baths. I had to wake Bob up to get him to help me turn over at night. Most of the other babies from our NHS and NCT classes were due before ours and the (grand)mothers seemed to be all rallying round to support their daughters, leaving me feeling conspicuously unsupported. I worked through everything I knew, planned and replanned, wrote out my wishes and expectations and tried very hard to keep things as open as I could so that I wouldn’t be disappointed if it went wrong. I would have liked a home birth, having lost my mum in hospital, but this was the one thing Bob put his foot down over – if anything went wrong he wanted to know we were where we could get medical attention as quickly as possible – so I made sure I knew exactly what was likely to happen (domino midwife system a saviour here – I knew one of “my” team would be around and that knowledge made a huge difference to me) and that I had written down everything anybody might need to know in any conceivable scenario. It passed and by due date I was feeling calmer again and managed to stay that way despite a letter from midwifery services saying that due to cuts and short-staffing the domino team would no longer be available all the time (just made a mental note to keep my legs crossed if baby started to arrive at the wrong time) for the few more days until my number one son decided to put in an appearance.

As it turned out, the labour was about as good as it could have been. I didn’t go into hospital after all, because things progressed very quickly, with the timing just about perfect to catch my midwife just as she came on duty (having been told by hospital when we phoned there that it couldn’t possibly be real labour if it was that fast and we should wait) and have her come out to us – only to ask if we had considered having the baby at home, because otherwise we’d have to go in on a blue light and probably still have it in the ambulance, which was always very annoying because you had to call the baby after the ambulance driver…

That house had a lovely big bathroom, so we went there and Bob sat on the loo and supported me in a lovely open squatting position while the midwife made me laugh and chat and work all at once until… there he was!

I’ve had three more since then, but this first pregnancy and labour is the one I remember most fondly. It was such a luxury, although I didn’t know it at the time, to be able to savour my baby, my moments in communion with that little being, that scrap of humanity, inside me. I am so glad that I sought out the knowledge I did – and so grateful for the help I received in doing that – because for me that knowledge was empowerment. Knowing just what might happen and just what I could do about it if it did, as well as knowing at what point I was prepared to hand everything over to medical staff (and having primed Bob to ask the right questions if I couldn’t) made it so much easier for me to birth the baby I had intended never to have. As things turned out it was in many ways an easy and straightforward labour and birth – except for the fact that he came too quickly for me to have got to the hospital, I tore and had to be stitched (by bike light, because there was no torch around) and PPH meant the natural third stage I had optimistically planned was not to be. I do sometimes wonder, if I had made it to the hospital, if I hadn’t had the knowledge I had and made the plans I had made, would it have been so straightforward? Being prepared gives power, knowledge gives power and if there’s one thing a woman in labour needs, and one thing which is frequently taken away from her, it’s power. Researching my options, looking after my health so that I kept those options open, exercising regularly so that I would be able to give birth the way I wanted, or recover more quickly from a more intervention-heavy birth – all of those things not only kept me healthy and lowered the risks of things going wrong anyway but also kept me sane at a time when I was struggling to deal with some big issues. My father, by the way, barely spoke to me from the time he found out I was pregnant until the baby was born; I guess he was wrestling with issues too.

All three of my subsequent babies were planned home births and all went smoothly, apart from the second who arrived two weeks early, when I was in full denial and panic mode, having the same doubts as at 38 weeks last time around, and then came very fast, while a midwife I had greeted with relief stood by and watched. Presumably she thought I had done it before and wouldn’t want any interference when actually all I wanted was the chat and fun and reassurance of the midwife at that first birth. As a result many of my fears returned and baby number three would not have happened at all had it not been for the really rather excellent Birth Afterthoughts service which helped me to plan and get in control again. Babies three and four were both born in water, with a clear plan and a list of what I did and didn’t want to happen and if not quite the healing process I needed were at least happy enough events not to haunt me as birth number two still does, just a little, usually in the wee small hours.

The biggest difference, I think, between my first pregnancy and my second was how much time and effort I was able to put into preparation. For baby number one I was (had to be!) ultra prepared, whereas pregnancy number two found me splitting time between work, toddler and bump, with bump getting the least share as I planned to catch up once maternity leave had started. Then he came early, before I was ready at all, and an apparently straightforward birth left me traumatised emotionally and wrung out physically. I was careful not to make that mistake again, but put aside some “bump and me” time for the others, made an effort to get to antenatal exercise classes, dug out the yoga stuff – and hired a birth pool, which made a huge difference!

Protected: So, what do you do?

This content is password protected. To view it please enter your password below:

Growing up with Big Brother

I saw an excellent programme on TV last night: The History of Now. It’s a series about 2000-2009, and it helped me to put my finger on things that had been vaguely lurking in my head.

One of the things it mentioned was Mosaic – the postcode-based classifcation of people so that shops and, more recently, politicans can target particular things to particular people. It divides society up into 16 or so categories, and then says what category is most common in each postcode.

It made me think of a book I’m reading for work: Competing on Analytics. It has all kinds of interesting and scary things about how companies are storing information about customers and their behaviour, and then using this behaviour to make more money. Things like store loyalty cards, online accounts, using search engines and so on.

Apparently the industry average rate for people actually using money-off coupons is about 2%. Tesco can use its vast knowledge of its customers to tailor its coupons so that they are more relevant, and so get 20-50%. (So people buy e.g. cat food in Tesco rather than anywhere else.) It issues about 7 million targetted variations of product coupons a year, and has given away Clubcard points worth about £1 billion pounds. (Don’t feel sorry for Tesco, the points keep you with them rather than going elsewhere.)

It’s taken a while for me to realise what makes the weird feeling in all this, and I think it’s two main things (there might be more, but these are it for now). The first is that Tesco etc. know so much about me from a distance i.e. without properly knowing me. In the past, in the days before people left such a rich digital trail in their wake, to do this sort of thing you’d need to go through the rubbish in someone’s bins, tap their phones, intercept their post etc. In short, you’d be spying on them. We (at least, people my age or older) haven’t adjusted our social expectations to move this kind of knowledge gathering into the Acceptable category.

The second thing that’s behind the weird feeling is the imbalance in the relationship. You know so much about me, but I know so little about you. In fact, I don’t even know which “you” I’m dealing with much of the time – I see the shop workers, but the marketing departments, IT operations departments and other backroom boys and girls who shepherd all this data are people I will never meet. Just as a thought experiment, I imagined what it would be like if when I hand over my clubcard in Tesco (and give them yet more data) I got a little book with details of all the Tesco staff who will touch my data – their names, addresses, a photo maybe, what they typically buy in Tesco etc. ‘Cos that’s what I’m giving them.

While this rant has built up a head of steam, I’ll grumble about a particularly unpleasant version of all this. On Facebook there are occasionally adverts that say “Aged X-Y?” where X and Y just happen to bracket my age, or even “Are you a man aged X?” where X is exactly my age. I’m fairly sure that Facebook gives its advertisers that information about me i.e. the advertisers know exactly my age and sex, so they could just as easily say “Seeing as you’re a man aged X…” Putting it as a question makes it look like they just happen to have an offer on at the moment that just happens to suit me (according to them) and so I would be foolish to let such a brilliant offer pass me by. At least Tesco are honest about their omniscience (although they don’t go out of their way to help people realise quite how much data they have). While I’m in the area, there’s an interesting blog about someone trying to get Tesco to show him what they hold about him.

Of course, in some ways, there’s a choice in all this. We choose to exchange this information in return for convenience and, possibly, lower prices. Although the choice is more and more being made for us. In order to leave no digital trail you’d have to work really quite hard – as films like Terminator 3 and The Bourne Identity (and many others) show.

What provoked a wry smile is the following passage of the Competing on Analytics book. Bear in mind it was written in 2007:

Of course, any quantitative analysis relies upon a series of assumptions. When the conditions behind the assumptions no longer apply, the analyses should no longer be employed. For example, Capital One [an example in the book of a company succeeding through analytics] and other credit card companies make analytical predictions about customers’ willingness to repay their balances under conditions of general economic prosperity. If the economy took a sharp downturn, the predictions would no longer apply, and it would be dangerous to continue using them.

Those were the days my friend

I got a big letter in the post at the weekend from my college. Most of it was a yearbook of sorts, showing the matriculation (joining the college as a 1st year) photo – the big one where the whole year sat in rows in suits and gowns. We all looked so young and fresh-faced, but then it was over half my life ago. Then inside was a collection of the “what I’m doing now” for everyone. Mine was very out of date – no wife, no children, and two companies ago.

There were loooooads of people doing something in the city, generic important-but-boring-sounding law, or management consultancy and unsurprisingly quite a few academics. A handful had got married to each other. Two stood out as quite hard to beat in the Reunion Top Trumps stakes: one has been doing legal stuff for the UN in Cambodia – human rights abuses and so on. The other is presenting Newsnight. Our paths crossed at college so little (i.e. not at all) that I had not even been aware of her until I read the yearbook. I managed to imagine back from how she is to how she was and pick her out in the photo.

I dropped out from that year and restarted in the year below. I’ve lost touch with most people, but I know one is now deputy ambassador to Jordan (the country, not Peter Andre’s ex). Here’s a recent newspaper article and photo, for all you Arabic fans.

la la la laaa la-laa, la la la laaa la-laa …

Bittersweet

Today the consultation process into the proposed redundancies at work formally ended. The redundancies will go ahead, so on Monday the normal programming work in the office will basically stop – all that the people being made redundant will need to do on Monday is receive the formal letters, hand in company property, collect their belongings, and leave.

The number of people who, like me, have got new jobs with the company (in the same office) has gone up a bit, but still about three quarters of the people at risk will go. There were some other people who have never been at risk (the people running the data centre, and technical support) but not many.

When the UK company I used to work for was bought by the US company I currently work for, there was an interesting interplay of influences. Both companies had a billing product, but aimed at overlapping rather than identical markets. The US had a few mega-customers, the UK had many small customers. The US had, for several reasons, a get-it-out-the-door-fix-it-later approach, and the UK (also for several reasons) had a get-it-right-first-time approach.

What happened was the US product was pensioned off, and the UK product adopted as pretty much the only show in town but needing lots of work to cope with mega-customers. The two approaches were combined – officially it was the UK approach, but it never got the whole way to adoption (for several reasons 😉 ). The UK high-ups gradually all left or were made redundant, so the official clout of the UK was reduced, but the slight change in culture and complete change in code had already become permanent. An Indian outpost was set up, to take advantage of the large pool of talented cheap labour.

And now, the UK development group has stopped. All work previously done by the UK is supposed to be done by India (with the US continuing as before). Whether or not India is up to the job is uncertain.

Those like me who are left are supposedly doing new jobs – proper research e.g. investigating new technologies and new markets, and also consulting with customers over things that don’t fit easily with the development sausage machine view of the world. Whether or not we will actually be pulled back to help India is uncertain. We will all be huddling together in one bit of the office – this means a change of floor for me, and also a change of boss – so that half the office can keep its lights off.

Every Friday for about a couple of years there has been something called Happy Hour (cakes etc, starting at 4 p.m.) so that people can mingle, particularly aimed at building a community between our building and the local sales office across the car park. This week one of my long-standing colleagues, who worked in the sales office and was a prime mover behind Happy Hour, died suddenly after a long illness. She was a lovely woman – always smiling and enthusiastic in a nice kind of way.

Anyway, today our section went to the pub for lunch, and then back to the office for an especially extended Happy Hour. The pub was great – lovely surroundings, no sign of gallows humour or unhappiness, just friends enjoying themselves together. A colleague on maternity leave brought in her very cute baby. And there was a very nice pub cat.

Happy Hour was bittersweet. I tried not to think too often that I wouldn’t see most of the people after Monday. I wouldn’t say that I got on hugely with everyone, but there was no-one that I actively disliked, and I knew pretty much everyone and trusted the judgment of most that I knew. Many had worked together for 5 years, and quite a few for 10 or more – we were a team, who had achieved a lot. But no more. My new job does sound like it could be very good, but there’s a lot of ways I can see it not going well, so I’m not fully happy or sad or anything at the moment.

I still have a job that pays the bills, I have a home (at least, the bank has 😉 ), a lovely wife and four children who are smashers, so in the proper way of looking at things I am richly blessed.

Fighting entropy

I should be in bed as I was nearly asleep several times today, but wide awake now :(.

Err… what’s been happening? I took some time off and my Mum and Dad came down so that we could attack the fence at the bottom of the garden. Because our garden is higher than the land beyond, the soil is trying to flow downhill through the fence. The previous fence was buckled and in need of cuprinol, so when M+D asked what I’d like for my birthday I asked for help with the fence. We now have bright orange new wooden fence panels (not my choice of colour, but pre-treated by B&Q means less work for me). They now rest on new foot-high gravel boards, which should stop the buckling problem. Where the fence goes round the back of the workshop we have just put up chicken wire to mark our boundary as the workshop wall is a proper wall but about a foot inside the boundary.

This involved ripping out the old fence panels with a claw hammer 🙂 , chopping them up with a circular saw 🙂 , and wrestling several established brambles to the tip 🙁 . The gate still needs doing, but the rest is groovy. While Dad and I were being manly, Katy was attacking the clutter and Mum kindly weeded. I think the children did something or other … 😉 .

The downstairs of the house is now sorted largely due to Katy’s heroism, but we just need to fight untidiness fires mostly started by the children. (Constant vigilance!) The upstairs now has all the beds in the correct rooms, but only one of the chests of drawers. K was hiding a mother lode of clutter and junk under his bed, so dismantling it, moving it to another room and then mantling it exposed another job. Getting to the last boxes we moved with is a bit like being on the sea shore after a storm at sea – loads of random things wash up, mostly junk, but occasional treasures. Some treasures have been put back in new boxes of just treasure to sort at some point, as they now take up less room due to less junk.

Yesterday I took the youngest three out to Ely Museum, which is excellent. Small, friendly, enough hands-on stuff, covering woolly mammoths up to world war 2 (so it beats the Festival of History, then 😉 ). Well worth going again, particulary as the children were free.

A load of hot air

(Even more than usual from me, that is.)

When I read this article about a proposed data centre, I had mixed reactions.

The immediate ones were positive – well done, Ken and well done Telehouse for being sensible and having the foresight to realise what you could view as waste is actually a valuable resource, and so looking after the environment a bit better. (I know Ken’s not the mayor any more, but the rules were introduced when he was. 🙂 )

Then I was reminded of a friend who used to work for or do some consulting for British Sugar. They had a similar problem – their main activity (creating refined sugar etc.) produced lots of waste heat. They used this to heat greenhouses on site, and so grow tomatoes, which is a good bit of lateral thinking I think.

But then I compared the two sources of the waste heat – a factory and a data centre. How much has the UK moved away from its industrial past? The shift of the economy towards financial services has been highlighted by the recent stupid bankers saga – are we putting too many of our eggs in this basket? How much do we depend on the rest of the world (e.g. China) to do the unfashionable jobs i.e. make things? Do we realise the full social and environmental costs of this?

Also, it reminded me of the physical side of modern computing. We usually see our home PC as this shiny tidy portal into a huge amazing world of useful and/or fun stuff like online shopping, email, online banking, searching for and getting information quickly and easily. This is all true, but all this virtual-ness has physical underpinnings. The chips in all these computers were etched using nasty, nasty things like Hydrofluoric acid and contain arsenic and other unpleasant things. The big data centres run by the like of Google consume so much electricity they need to be built near power stations. When all these computers are got rid of (which, due to Moore’s law, is often fairly quickly) the cadmium, lead etc. put into them when they are made doesn’t always get disposed of safely.

I’m not saying all this to guilt anyone into not using their computer, just to bring in all the information when decisions are made. As I said, lots of hot air – time to put my brain to something more useful.

Interesting quote

Taken from from an interview with Alan Moore. You might not be a fan of any/some of his work, but this made me think:

All too often education actually acts as a form of aversion therapy, that what we’re really teaching our children is to associate learning with work and to associate work with drudgery so that the remainder of their lives they will possibly never go near a book because they associate books with learning, learning with work and work with drudgery. Whereas after a hard day’s toil, instead of relaxing with a book they’ll be much more likely to sit down in front of an undemanding soap opera because this is obviously teaching them nothing, so it is not learning, so it is not work, it is not drudgery, so it must be pleasure. And I think that that is the kind of circuitry that we tend to have imprinted on us because of the education process.

It does remind me of this rather geeky cartoon, too.