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A wilding

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  1. I don't think the Drake equation is implying that evolution has a direction or that sentience is inevitable. It simply has a term: So it does not regard the evolution of intelligent life as in any way inevitable, just as possible - and we know that it has happened once, here. (At least, after a fashion.)
  2. It is not a new idea though. It goes back at least as far as Greg Bear's Forge of God/Anvil of Stars duology. (Incidentally, Forge of God also explores the idea that the personal weaknesses of a US president might be used to paralyse the US).
  3. A small customer service rant. Today I phoned an insurance company. While I waited in the inevitable queue to speak to a real person, ignoring all the stuff about it being easier to do everything online (not in this case) they played me a message. Paraphrasing somewhat it was: "We pride ourselves on our exceptional customer service. Therefore, during this exceptionally busy period, when you get through to a customer service agent, please be polite." I had plenty of time to think about this message while I waited and it was played at me twice more before I eventually got through to someone (who was able to deal with my problem). Firstly, every single time I have phoned some customer service for the last many years I have invariably been told that they were in an exceptionally busy period. Hire some more staff, or own up to the fact that you have budgeted for customers having a significant wait! Secondly, being English, I am always polite. Especially when what I am saying is particularly vicious. But mainly I was just deconstructing that message. They pride themselves on their exceptional customer service, apparently without even noticing that the "exceptionally" long wait means they have clearly failed to provide it. But it felt more fundamental than that. They don't care what their actual customer service is. They take pride in the simple fact of projecting a PR image of themselves as providing an exceptional service, and the reality is irrelevant. Whoever came up with that script needs to get over themselves because the cracks are showing.
  4. We got another good gallows laugh out of the news this morning. The government has told Johnson that they will cut off the taxpayer funding for his lawyers if he releases any material to the Covid inquiry. https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-65801103
  5. Well he could if he wanted to, but would be doing it as an independent. A plus for the powerful political party system in the UK I suppose. Though I do wonder what would happen if a popular figure like Johnson in his heyday was accused of such behaviour. Though, that said, the only thing that made my Johnson supporting aunt doubtful about him was his private life, so I am hopeful.
  6. I don't blame them for the spit hood if she was genuinely spitting at them. The rest sounds a bit much though! This is something Raja likely knows more about than me, but I have seen hospital staff put padded mittens and a sort of spit trap on a very confused old woman in intensive care to stop her making a nuisance of herself. They were very gentle about it though.
  7. I definitely sympathise with the police here. They indeed don't have the training. Anecdote: a relative of mine was temporarily caring for a confused elderly relative last year, filling in a gap in her professional care. A minor emergency occurred, which had the side effect of distressing the elderly relative, causing them to flail about somewhat aggressively. They phoned 111 (NHS non-emergency helpline) to get some help. The 111 operator, rather than arranging advice or assistance, told them to call the police!
  8. However that is how dictatorships such as Russia work. They tell their citizens that black is white and the citizens are required to believe it, despite the evidence of their senses. And the citizens, with no experience of any other sort of government, do come to believe it in a way, while feeling a sort of disabling guilt that part of them can't stop seeing that black is not actually white at all. That said, Putin's feet of clay are definitely beginning to show now.
  9. Actually the news is now saying that he expects the taxpayer to pay for his new lawyers as well.
  10. My favourite Paul Torday is The Girl on the Landing which is a story about the supernatural that also has something to say about the use of psychoactive drugs.
  11. Just read Sea of Tranquillity by Emily St. John Mandel. I found her Station Eleven somewhat heavy going, but this one was much lighter, an entertaining jeu d'esprit that nonetheless tackles issues such as the simulation hypothesis and the trolley problem. And there is an amusing self insert of an author on an extended publicity tour following their most recent book, about a pandemic, unexpectedly becoming a best seller. Plus a wry comment about a character lumbered with having "St." in their name. Also been reading The Death of an Owl, the last book by Paul Torday (of Salmon Fishing in the Yemen fame.) This was generally up to his usual standards, though possibly a little flat in tone, and is a typical uncomfortable read. It is a savage portrait of an ambitious near psychopathic UK Tory politician. The comparison with Boris Johnson is inevitable, except that Torday died in 2013 (the book was tided up and published by his son in 2016). Scarily Torday's fictional politician, despite being a complete scumbag, is in several ways a better person than Johnson.
  12. Hmm. For the record, in any normal relationship, if you were working on the computer in your room then your partner would leave you in peace to get on with it. They might perhaps stick their head round your door to ask if you fancied a coffee break or something similar. Certainly they wouldn't come in and engage you in casual conversation or do random stuff around you when that was clearly distracting you. And peering at your screen without explicit permission is considered way beyond the pale - there might be confidential stuff on it. I love my wife dearly, but in the unlikely event that she were to start doing that sort of thing then I might well minimize all my tabs and sit there waiting for her to go away as well. She would quickly get the point I am sure. Though I would be more likely simply to say I was going to be busy for the next however long and ask her to go away until then - but clearly your mother would react badly to that.
  13. Just to pick up on this. You have made a classic correlation/causation error here. It is indeed generally considered proven that children bought up within a stable loving relationship have statistically better life outcomes, but that is irrelevant. You need to show that, once a relationship breaks down to the point where divorce is being considered, it is better for the child for the parents to stay together anyway, even if only because society pressures them to do so, rather than get divorced. As I understand it, what evidence there is tends to show the opposite.
  14. We received our official government leaflet informing us about this new ID card in yesterday's post. Far too late to apply for it, even if they had not brought the deadline to do so forward.
  15. On Thursday's elections and the new voter suppression measures. I see that the Right are pre-emptively declaring that left wing activists are going to pretend en masse not to have id at polling stations, so as to "disrupt the elections". Thus implanting the idea that what voter suppression does happen will just be fake news. Telegraph article They get more like the US Right every day.
  16. I am seriously tempted to buy this as a present for a certain elderly relative who is still (half) convinced he is wonderful ...
  17. As someone who knows many people who canvas during local elections, quite possibly yes. Apparently it sometimes seems that parking issues are the only thing people want to talk about on the doorstep. Though in Tory land it seems that they mostly want to talk about preventing any more houses being built in their area. (I know people who would never vote Tory in general elections, but do so in local elections because they "are against building more housing estates" - that is one lie that they do seem to have sold successfully.)
  18. Aren't bullies often pathetic inept people who just happen to be in a position to bully?
  19. Another vote for Sunshine. Extraordinary atmosphere and imagery, which means I can overlook the uneven plot and bad physics. I had the poster of the psychiatrist starring staring into the sun as my wallpaper for a while.
  20. Tsk. Everyone knows that The Fellowship of the King is actually a UK based Christian organisation. This Polychron person has stolen their name.
  21. However, from a UK perspective the history of the term is different. To the very best of my knowledge, it was introduced in the UK by right wingers criticising generally left leaning ideas. Though subsequently there have been half hearted attempts by left wingers to embrace the term (I think mistakenly as it just plays the Right's game). I would be interested to know if anyone can come up with any counter examples. It is another example of the UK following the US, right wingers over here seem often to pick up labels already used by US right wingers, and for much the same reasons.
  22. And didn't this whole thing get started off by Liz Truss calling high taxes "woke"?
  23. @Heartofice Basically that it is the people who complain about wokeness who "view people primarily through the lens of race and gender"..
  24. Because my experience of people complaining about "wokeness" is that what they really mean is that they feel that they can no longer causally be rule about or harass women, blacks, gays, etc as they used to. Edit: as for Liz Truss, she is a fool desperately trying to justify herself.
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