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National Talk About Something Else Day

It's November 6th, 2012, an election day in the USA. (I don't get to vote; I just get to live in a world where the winner's policies defines a whole bunch of parameters for my life. No, I'm not bitter or anything ...)

Anyway, I hereby designate today as National Global Talk About Something Else Day, because nothing anyone says is going to change the election outcome at this point (unless they're an election monitor and the words are something like "oops, what do you suppose this hanging chad means?").

Me, I'm up to my elbows in the next Laundry novel (hoping to pass the two-thirds mark on its notional 100,000 word first draft later today), while fielding copy edits and page proofs—this is the busiest six month patch of work I've had since some time in 2002 or 2003.

So: what are you busy with right now (which has nothing to do with electoral politics)?



Well, in Australia we've just had the crowning festivity of the annual Festival of Silly Hats (aka the Spring Racing Carnival) - the Melbourne Cup. Won by Green Moon.

Was there something else happening?


We've just hit the first control boundary for our next software release. I've still got several changes to implement, so things get slightly busy from now until we hit "that's it, no more changes, it works well enough".

At home, I've got models to paint with youngest (he wants to play Warhammer 40k with his older brother), and books to vet for firstborn (he's currently deep into the Enderverse). I'm doing some coaching for the University team in one event, and I've got some of the team who want initial coaching in a different but related event. While trying to sort out the start of season stuff for our club's entries in the national league (for my sins, I'm the match secretary).

Somewhere after that, I've got a pile of "wanna read" books growing slowly, to the extent that I can't visit Mike without a really good excuse (hmmmm.... space bankers).

Actually, it's rather fun :)


I'm code wrangling, putting together a personal coding project for tracking markets of various commodities I'm interested in on a single site.

When I need a break from that, I have no less than 4 new books to read. None by OGH because he's still writing the next one (write faster Charlie, please!) but 2 from an author whose works I know, and 1 each from 2 new authors I'm curious about. I have to also check the course blog for a course I'm teaching and I can feel a rude blog post about the poor general media coverage of the Saville affair coming on.


Trying to buy a motorbike and failing miserably - I decided to hell with it, I really don't like scooters despite needing a bike less than I used to, so I've been bidding on another classic BMW; ended up unsold (didn't reach reserve) at £70 over my top bid.

Oh well; hoping to look at another tomorrow after work, this one is in London and only 2/3rds the mileage, a bit more expensive but the mileage probably makes it worthwhile.


This morning, I'm tweaking a short scientific paper into a submission-ready state (which currently involves downloading and processing a whole new version of the data it was based on) and crunching data for a different project.

Also on today's agenda: trying to get my head around the style conventions of a journal (not the one I'm submitting to) for editing purposes, and previewing/polishing various presentations for a meeting next week that I'm not attending.

Oh, and worrying about the way that my NaNoWriMo outline is failing to stand up to the realities of writing the story. I seem to have been too busy/distracted in October to do a decent job of outlining, and the collection of scene notes I have may not be fit for purpose.

Getting the dual-boot Linux installation on my desktop computer working properly after the Ubuntu 12.10 debacle is on the back burner until December. Every couple of days I fire it up, download the latest patches, and poke it to see if it still falls over, but that's all the effort I can spare.


I'm getting ready to give a talk on my book The Praxis at one of the "Atlantis Presents" events on Wednesday evening in London:

As the blurb says:
"Author of TechnoMage: Technological Paradigms for the Modification of Consciousness and Reality in Magick will be discussing: Immortality in the multiverse, The Artilect Messiahs, The end of death and suffering, Humans into Gods, The rise of the unreal, Raising the dead, Apocalypse and Judgement Day, The validation of religion... and what we must do about it. "


I'm trying to work out how to get to work.

Sandy has left rail infrastructure in New Jersey and a complete shambles. Finally some trains are going to my destination station... but not on my rail line. So I could take a 35 minute bus journey, then a 40 minute train journey. Add in walking time plus connection wait time and I'm looking at a 2 hour commute, instead of my normal 1 hour commute. Also there are only 7 trains (one each 30 minutes from 06:33 to 09:33) so it's likely to be very very crowded.

If I do get to work then I'd have a similar return hassle (7 trains 16:00->19:15 - the last train is 15 minutes later, probably to catch stragglers); I'll probably want to leave early and aim for 16:00 or 16:30 to try and avoid crowds, so it wouldn't be a full days work.

I think I'm going to work from home again. Yay for internet! One day there will be enough electricity to power the switches and crossing gates to make it safe to run trains on my line...



I've been a raving Halo fan since 2003, and the release of Halo 4 today has me adequately distracted from the foofarah in the nether regions of my continent. (Perhaps too distracted; I woke up to take meds at 3am and, on a lark, checked my order to find my copy had already been dispatched to my local postal sorting station and was awaiting a truck for delivery. Took me a fair bit of time to get back to sleep as "kid at Christmas" mode kicked in. It's true; you have to grow old, but you don't have to grow up.)

-- Steve


(PS: as an Englishman living in New Jersey, I don't get to vote either... just pay the taxes. No taxation without representation, right? Right?! Oh.... )


If giving up your vote meant paying no taxes most people would vote autocracy.


On the subject of games, a new Kickstarter, for Elite: Dangerous, launched today.

Yep, David Braben wants to do a new updated version of Elite.

Be still my beating heart. I spent weeks playing that game during working hours back in '84, and it's still one of those games that people talk about even today.

(It was unusually well developed for a game of its era — Acronsfot[*] commissioned Rob Holdstock to do a novella that was included in the game box. This in an era of Space Invaders and Pacman and the like.)

A friend and I dispute which of us two was the first to reach Elite status. My rationale, as official in-house play tester, was that we had to be sure that there wasn't some horrible game-ruining glitch that kicked in on finishing the climb from Harmless to Elite.

[*] The company name on our payslips was Acornsoft, but I swear many of us were chronically unable to spell it.


I'm in between jobs, starting a new job on December 6th. In the meantime I'm trying to do as little as possible. Right now I'm doing a spot of cleaning and laundry (ordinary laundry, not the Cthulhu kind...)


Aside from day to day work, I'm plugging away on my Literature and History modules in the Humanities BA, and working on turning a more-or-less-still-functional SCA shire into a prominent and high-functioning one.

Between them, these are illustrating a few things for me, the main one of which is that an awful lot of significant history happened in the mid-19th century. It seems to be the first time that the world changed enough that people from one end of the century couldn't readily get a grasp on life at the other end. And then, while the pace of technological change may have increased since, the rate of social change, nation-forming, and so on slowed right down again.

It's also becoming clear from both pursuits that people will argue about anything - with no particular aim beyond hearing their own voices. That's not news, but it's useful to remind myself of it once in a while.


I've just become client, and technical support engineer (yes really both), on the biggest software project I've ever been part of before Site Acceptance Testing.


I'm looking for a job for the start of December, and a way to fund my visit to my girlfriend in Japan over Xmas, and... um... checking news sites about NOTHING AT ALL, NOPE.


I read a long article on the future of computing. It's not quite about singularity, but we are certainly getting there!


currently busy layouting various electronic circuits to be screenprinted at our company, also a few drawings for chip-placement. Plus discussions with colleagues about a few projects they have where we're scratching our heads. Also, I've become the go-to guy for actually reading all those cumbersome MIL and ESCC standards and telling everyone what they're doing wrong ..


I've got a day off work, in which I'm trying to write a coherent review of Nightwish last night, and sort through the photos I took. First time I've been in the photo pit for a big gig.


any good? Haven't really kept track of Nightwish after them and her parted ways back in .. uh .. a few years ago.


I'm not working today; I took the day off for my anniversary (easier than getting a babysitter so we can have an evening date). In addition to datelike stuff, today's plans involve taking my wife to look at ebook readers and tablets—she's been reading on my old Sony Reader, but has gotten dissatisfied with the contrast. I want to steer her to the Nexus 7—and she's not opposed—but we're going to check out the current ebook readers with better screens, to try to save her some money.


Next week is the start of the biggest book fair in Croatia. More or less all publishers I work with are at the running-around-like-headless-chickens-trying-to-get-everything-right stage. It's only going to get worse by the end of the week, of course, but it's definitely a great distractor from anyone's elections.


Working on my side project: a website that automatically discovers stories, images, videos etc. that are trending right now on Facebook. Just redesigned the whole thing, it can be found at (I apologize in advance for any election-related stuff you might find on it, but I guess that is unavoidable today).


I should be starting work in the next couple of hours, but I'm tempted to get my Arduino out and start debugging the motor control program I wrote over the weekend. When it's debugged and fully featured, it will drive the CNC laser cutter I'm building for my makerspace...

Hmmm. Code for work or code for fun? My life is full of variety!


bellinghman: I take it you've seen Oolite, right? In my opinion, this was what Elite was meant to be. (Not Frontier, which while it had some good ideas destroyed the fun of the space-combat component of Elite completely by insisting on too much physical realism.)


Ah, no, I wasn't - that's slipped under my radar. I shall take a look.


I'm at work, simultaneously trying to do my own work and fix all the crap left behind by someone the boss sacked as a personal vendetta.


I'm wondering if my friend's attractive flatmate will take up my offer of watching a film together. Fingers crossed.


I'm planning which sessions I will attend this week at the EDUCAUSE conference on IT in Higher Education, along with which vendors to go and schmooze.

I'm also hoping that my tooth that got chipped during this morning's breakfast doesn't cause any bigger problems during my stay in the USA. Quite apart from the potential hassle, my travel insurance doesn't cover dental work except for emergencies.


Impressed a lot.

Nightwish are now on their third singer. They and Anette Olzen parted company mid-tour, and they bought in Floor Jansen as a replacement. Great voice, seems to combine the best bits of Anette and Tarja, and a strong stage presence too.


"Getting the dual-boot Linux installation on my desktop computer working properly after the Ubuntu 12.10 debacle is on the back burner until December."

I'm still running Ubuntu 10.4 LTS, and I'd like to know 1) what is wrong with 12.10 and 2) whether 12.4 LTS works well enough to be worth upgrading to.


I just nuked the former comment #29 as spam. It seemed spammy to me -- totally off-topic non-sequiteur by someone with the email address "".

If is a real person, they are welcome to contact me via the feedback form (link captioned "talk to me" in the right sidebar, above) and I'll reinstate the comment.

Otherwise, that's the first spam that's got through since the new comment system went live!


It's not a non-sequiter - it's part of an ongoing conversation in comments 18 & 19.


wasn't that a reply to me, when I replied to him asking what the Nightwish concert was like that he had talked about in his first post farther above?


Jay@30: What's wrong with 12.10?

Compulsory Unity3d, for a start -- no more 2d. (And what amounts to Amazon ads built into the Dash, though those can be turned off) Combined with an open-source driver for my (low-end) nvidia card that puts too much of the load on my middle-aged CPU, that drove me to doing slightly non-recommended things to get my proprietary driver back, as well as installing a bunch of alternative desktops. I ended up with a system that kind of works OK under Gnome Shell, but crashes or hangs the desktop nearly every time I click on a link in Thunderbird.

12.04 was better, but not perfect -- I was getting quite a lot of Firefox-related desktop freezes. I'm probably going to end up doing a clean install of something -- not sure what yet, maybe Mint.


ahok, might look into them once again. Was mightily unimpressed with Anette when she came in. In the meantime, I've found Epica to be mightily impressed by ..


OK, comment reinstated.

Folks, if you're carrying on a thread can you please use the "Reply" links to link your response to the previous posting? Otherwise if it looks like word salad and the username looks like a gerbil spazzed out on my keyboard I may misidentify it ...


I'm catching up on (or rather: getting caught up in) PV, geothermal energy and the rather diversified zoo of containment structures for light water nuclear reactors.

In the latter, for some reason nobody seemed to have caught the idea of using convection and passive heat removal until the very late 1980ies.


I'm leaving in the next few minutes for the UK to pay a final visit to my grandmother who will not make it Christmas. This is only the second time I've been back to the UK since we moved to France at the end of 2005. That time was for a funeral.

This time I will be going back to the place where I grew up, Bridgend in South Wales. It will be interesting to see how much everything has changed. I suspect that I will no longer be able to find my way around the busier areas as a lot of the roads will have changed. My satnav only covers France so that will be fun. I am thankful that my car also has a speed limiter so that I can not worry so much about the speed cameras everywhere.


Over here, it does show up as a reply.

I suspect that you saw '<single-red-block>' and didn't see that as '<x> replies to <y>', which usually has a '<red> grey <red>' pattern. In this case, it's down to him/her not having a URL, so it's just 'grey <red>'.

(That 'tjhkalyr' does indeed look like a random letter sequence, yeah, prime spam spoor.)

So no spam yet and only one Tingey post in the dubious bucket. Thus far, pretty good.


A lot of semi-rural roads, at least round here, have surreptiously had their limits dropped from 60 to 50. And I know of one bit of road now running at 30 rather than 50. So keep your eyes open.


I'm taking a tea break after having to run up a 15-minute P*werP*int presentation, which I must give in person, half-way across the country tomorrow. Then I'll book some very expensive train tickets because there's no such thing as an Advance Saver with less than 24 hours notice.

It could have been worse; I managed to get my presentation slot put back to a time where I only have to catch an oh-dark-hundred train rather than have to find a hotel room.

Also, squeeing like a fanboy over the Elite kickstarter project. I got it for the Sinclair Spectrum the day it came out, and after getting through the LensLock DRM (fold plastic prism, place over TV screen, guess the three garbled characters), achieved Elite in one minute flat by loading the game, saving it, and reloading. Yup, it was a bug, and I didn't get an Elite badge for reporting it neither (mutter mutter...)

Right, that's my tea break over: back on my head.


I'm dealing with writer's block on a hardware specification for a product I am working on. I have writer's block because I really have had no input on the design. I've just been told to connect a(ever changing) set of parts up on a circuit board. So I really don't have anything vested in the whole project, except my job.

So I'm spending my time posting to Charlie's blog.

Arghh, maybe if I draw some pretty diagrams....


I'm trying to figure out how to analyze a bunch of qPCR data which gives microRNA expression in a mouse tissue differentiation time series. I don't know much about qPCR analysis yet... The HTqPCR package for R Bioconductor is looking promising, however. Once I'm done this I'll try to use the data to normalize the matching time series of short read sequence data that captures mature microRNA sequences.

Doing a lot of analysis in the R statistical language these days. Great software with a Perl-like library depth (CRAN) but it's a serious memory pig. Recently had memory use creep above 100G on an analysis run, good thing I have more space than that.


Normal workday: herding Linux boxen, while suffering deep anxiety about the quality and quantity of my work since I began this telecommute-only job.

Attending a party in the evening.


12.04 is a long term support. Why not keep using it?

I did try 12.10 with kubuntu and with some fiddling it does look like its possible to make the UI less ugly than the default KDE UI.

I have a newer computer so tried 12.10 and then decided to remove the crapware. I had remove unity-lens-shopping, and then use dconf-editor to remove all the amazon domains from com.canonical.unity.webapps preauthorized-domains.

After stripping canonicals amazon integration, I saw the press release about Ubuntu running on the nexus 7. I then found myself thinking ubuntu would be better than android, if only it included a way to buy ebooks on it.



I have just written 16,000 words of fiction in 5 consecutive days.

So I'm downing tools and taking tomorrow off work as an honorary Saturday.

On Thursday I intend to get back in the saddle again ...


My girlfriend and I are celebrating passing our PhD Qualifying exams (I passed mine a couple weeks ago, she passed hers yesterday). So we're taking the day off.


I like Nightwish, but prefer Therion. For those who have never heard of the latter, a fan video:


> 12.04 is a long term support. Why not keep using it?

It was an error of judgement on my part -- 12.04 had been kind of flaky for me latterly, and I thought it was worth a try -- and there's no way back without doing a clean install, which is logistically awkward (my wifi card doesn't work out of the box, and the router lives in a different room.) Given that my hardware is five years old, I'm somewhat tempted to drop back to the previous LTS version and see if that behaves better.


I'm busy being sick... caught something from a family member this weekend which much have been very contagious. It seems to be quick and intense; after tomorrow I expect to go back to work.


sweh @ 7 & 9
I understand that you also desperately need extra sub-Hudson tubes, but they got canned by the NJ Rethuglicans, because: [a] it's "socialist" public transport & [b] "it'll benefit NY & not us" ... idiots.

tlaurinolli @ 16
Which singularity would that be then? Oh, the next one up, you mean, apart from the 5 (at least) we've already had ... [ Agriculture, metallurgy, wheels, steam power, electric power ] note I do NOT include "flight" ....

bellinghman @ 39
& WHAT do you mean by "only one Tingey post in the dubious bucket?"
That's "sir's" prerogative, as being a Birman tom-kitten, the whole planet is a dubious bucket as far as he's concerned!

Oh, what am I doing today?
Posted yesterday's & this morning's survey reports in electronically [scan -> pdf -> attach to e-mail] - as part of my "more beer money" retirement project, doing railway passenger surveys.
Fed flealines, got in Great Green Beast & went to look for mushrooms - got some Wood Blewits, a couple of Red-cracked Boletes, & the remains of a Cep/Penny bun.
Oink for later!
Picked up 18 bags of horse-manure free, had lunchtime pint in "Forest Gate" Ivy-Chimneys, Epping, drove home via allotment plot, dropping off (& spreading) manure, picking up/off Brussels Sprouts (really nice if sliced & cooked with NO WATER) & some re-sprouting calabrese/broccoli.
Home, logged into this blog.
Curry (Rogan Josth, home-made) later, with a beer.


Greg @51 "I understand that you also desperately need extra sub-Hudson tubes"

You are so wrong, that you're not even in the right county. My commute issues have nothing to do with Hudson tunnels. But don't let reality get in the way of your rants...


I, for one, am sooooo looking forward to a TV ad landscape dominated by erectile-dysfunction drugs, energy drinks, and highly questionable investments, rather than stuff that makes my ears ring, my eyes water, and my finger convulsively punch the remote's off switch.

By the way, is it pathetic to hope that, due to the massive influx of ad money, that 2013 American TV might be slightly better than it has been for the last couple of years? Or is that just me stupidly hoping something positive will come out of this?

Otherwise, I'm back to writing and prepping for a meeting this evening.


I have no idea what part of NJ you live in, but a lot of people do (try) to commute into/out of NY across that river, don't they?
And that was not a rant, btw.

On the subject of "singularity" - I forgot one, even though I was using it (& am again) ...
WRITING ... duh!


We do still have 10.04 servers in production, it does look like its possible to keep firefox or chromium up to date. So it should probably be possible to keep it working as a desktop. As long as you're not depending too much on recent versions of scripting languages.


Well, today I have edited a short story of mine.

I've burnt some tin, because I'll be needing tin oxide soon.
I've calcined eggshells because I'll be needing them for some recipes.

Later on I shall open a coconut up, I don't recall having had real coconut before and thought i'd try it.

Nightwish are on their 3rd singer? That's rather careless of them. I found the stuff with their 1st singer too operatic for my taste. But Epica are in Glasgow next month, I should get a ticket.

I need to do some job searching as well.


Having voted 2 weeks ago by mail in ballot (who would have thought Oregon would have the sanest voting policies in the country?) I've moved on to polishing off the last 3rd of my novel-in progress. I have about 50K words to go out of an estimated 160K, so it's a bit large, with a suitably vast canvas, so plenty to keep me occupied.

Besides that, my wife and I are expecting our first child in February, so there's lots of baby stuff to do. Planning for the holidays, etc.


Waiting for you finish that Laundry novel.


Hmmm... today has been:

  • Chasing invoices (dealing with the "I'm sorry you've missed the monthly check writing cycle" dance that large companies use to turn 30 day invoices into 90 day invoices. F**kers.)
  • Volunteering to head up a redesign/rebuild of a community website just because I really can't stand the suckage of the current one.
  • Discovering with a mild sense of horror that that a whole bunch of people seem to like the conference I suggested organising in a moment of pique on Sunday night so I have let myself in for a metric shed load of work to sort out over the next few months. Idiot.
  • New Elite! Right On Commander!
  • Pitching workshop ideas to potential clients.
  • Seeing whether I can get Unity 3D up and running on my NC110 netbook so I can shift to 12.10 Ubuntu
  • Playing with vagrant and chef to see if I can better automate deployment and builds of $side-project
  • Walking the dog and seeing how much more of the local flood plain has... well.. flooded. Enjoying the added benefit of being able to have a winter walk with my partner for the first time in five years (Yay Science!)
  • Reading some more of The Hydrogen Sonata - which I'm thoroughly enjoying. And some Robert Benchley essays - which I'm also thoroughly enjoying for completely different reasons.

I should finish it within the next couple of weeks. However, you'll have to wait another 18 months to read it! It's not going to be published before 6th July 2014.


Rather than modern politics I am working on a paper about Swift's "A Modest Proposal" and it's reception at the time. Somewhat curious if there were people back then who were as bad at differentiating between satire and actual serious policy's as there are now (sadly I know people who think Colbert is serious conservative political thought).


Playing Marvel Avengers Alliance
Reading the Ars Magica Forum
Thinking on Ars Magica characters
Brooding about the Ars Magica video game Kickstarter being (IMO) doomed to fail
Oh, and depressing about finding out that a supposed friend I trusted don't care at all about me, or whether I live or die


Today will be spent partly recovering from some nasty that's done the rounds of the family and then cracking on with packing for a move to the UK, plus writing a paper, a review and a report. And I've been told I'm not to take any of the leave I'm owed.
Oh, and lab work.

In the latter, for some reason nobody seemed to have caught the idea of using convection and passive heat removal until the very late 1980ies.

I believe some US submarine reactors have/had convection/passive heat removal as some kind of fallback option in emergencies (there being a plentiful supply to cold wet stuff to hand) well before the 80's.

My partner's dad worked on some the the early UK submarine reactor designs - and I remember him telling me that they couldn't figure out how the yanks managed to fit a reactor in such a small space and yet deal with the failure modes safely. It was because the UK designers hadn't considered having passive/convection heat removal and so had a whole extra layer of pumps to deal with the submarine grounding in different positions, along with backups for those pumps, etc.


I'll be trying to consolidate feedback and comments on a draft paper on sustainability, specifically on how the interaction of ecosystem and socioeconomic constraints will impact on our ability to increase human well-being which, as OGH mentioned a few posts back, is all many people really care about. Given that we don't agree what sustainability is and that all the concepts we have for discussing it are flawed, you can imagine how varied the comments are. And it's my job to fairly represent those disagreements. Wish me luck.

And when I'm done with that, I'll be developing my library for helping Arduinos control LEDs in preparation for some LED-enhanced partying this weekend, with some hand-stand practice thrown in to fill my copious free time.


I'm hand printing Seasonal Greetings cards. Three Blocks, 100 cards… it's a good job the image is fascinating enough.
Other than that trying to parse all the information I keep pouring into my head.


Jez: For the sustainability paper, I wish you luck. Laying out the landscape of approaches to measuring sustainability and how various limits affect those is a big big job...

For the Arduino LEDs, a friend did that for a light-up tophat (bunch of fiber optics feeds to points around the inside of the hat) at last Burning Man. While he was sitting on the Playa temporarily bored, apparently...


Today was insane.

Out of bed at 0630, at the coffee shop 0645, installed in Death Cube for 0730. Preemptive start on day with some budget nonsense and kickstarting graduate programme design. Interview at 0900, needed minions to sweep up bloody sawdust (really not my fault), quant-human interaction at 1000 (fail), surrsurration of Dodd-Frank Act nightmare intruding, Hadoop / Big Data strategy at 1100, DBA beasting, chilli soup, reevaluation of trade population runtime (20 kiloseconds, manageable), Steering Committee which I'd have managed to 15 minutes if the primary stakeholder hadn't surfaced at minute 16 for a do-over, murex patch panic, detailed rework of another team's denial of service strategy, final mails, catch up with existing grad programme runner, brief offsite re full moon parties in Goa and audio card manufacturers in Guangzhou, train, dinner for kids, bedtime, bedtime redux, C++ consultancy on partner's medical imaging technology WTF hell (hint: vtk not that bad; last man's wrappers / specialisations not that good).

Cider, bath, ferrett, antipope.

Actually this has been therapeutic. I'm calling my time for the week and dialling back to 10pc.

Is there something going in the US post Sandy?


goto Post Office to leave parcels, on way to periodic blood pressure testing by local GP.
hang out washing (while keeping fingers crossed about the Melbourne (Vic) weather!).
stop avoiding finishing several electronic projects and refurbish ancient S-100 RAM card..
and avoid listening to the radio about the US elections!


Found someone at the hackerspace to print my shawm on their frankenprinter, and now I'm blasting the neighbours medieval style. Someone has to live the dream!


Well, it seems like at one level or another every technology will look like Thomas Newcomes steam engine in its early years. Everything seems to be really clever, except for some really obvious point ... and people would have slapped their heads, had they heard of it at the time. But they hadn't, so they didn't.

That said, I haven't heard much about (and didn't actually research) marine reactors, with the exception of the lead cooled reactor of the Soviet Alfa submarine (which did use natural convection).

Any good sources? Actually, I never really bothered researching military reactors as everybody just kept writing that most information about those is classified.


I'm working at least for a brief period of time because of Sandy. My regular work site* is also a FEMA call site because we have a robust phone system that can be activated at the turn of a switch. On the down side, my work hours are 6 a.m. to 2:30 a.m., which is wearing me out because of my slovenly laid-off sleep habits. On a positive note, it is good exercise walking long distances everywhere daily with my newish prosthetic leg.

Unfortunately, fiction is not happening here while I'm doing this because even though it is not horrible -- we ARE trying to help people and for the most part they are very happy to have a sympathetic ear that can move help forward for them -- it is draining.

I hope it lasts long enough to at least pay off my health insurance so if I get recalled in January, I won't lose too much of my paycheck again.

* I an technically 'seasonal;' though my first 'season' lasted more than two and one-half years. While on furlough, my health insurance is still paid for, though when I start working again I have to pay it back via my first check or two. Which is a happy thing considering what my summer has been like.


Well, I just got hit by my third layoff in 5 years, this time from AMD (true bloodbath - 1500 employees in Austin alone) so I am actually taking a breather until after Thanksgiving since my parents are flying in for the Holiday. (There are days I feel way too old for this stuff seeing as I am over 50, but give me enough coffee and I can still write assembly code with the best of them...)

Interesting 18 months (6 months contract, then full time for a year) worth of work, considering I worked for the Advanced Test and Characterization Functional Group, and was involved in bringing up of two separate microprocessors. One is to be used in laptops, and the other in one of the more popular next rev game consoles. So, I am revamping my resume. It's just a shame I didn't have Charlie's output when it comes to words, because I'd have it done by now.


I'm procrastinating - I should be recording some guitar tracks so instead I've changed the strings on four guitars, spent several hours trying out minute variations in amplifier settings, read the whole internet etc.

I found a very long discussion on an alternative history BB where someone had fleshed out Charlie's 'Floater In The Sea Of Time' concept with pages and pages of after-action reports, logistics etc. They've put a hell of a lot of work in on it. No link as it's on a section of the BB that requires registration.

Tomorrow I have to talk a venue manager who doesn't know me into booking two bands without a proven track record who play music I don't like (I like the people fine).

I'm very pleased to hear a possibility of a new Elite. I spent vast amounts of time playing it on the BBC micro, and later playing Frontier on a PC. One of the few space games that tried really hard with the physics. I remember learning never to accept time-sensitive missions that involved binary systems.

And in my ongoing Operation Flashpoint game I am now in the third day of mission time (The mission is Abandoned Armies) after several weeks of playing time (mostly spent hiding in bushes). All eight of my squad are unharmed and we have eliminated about half of the enemy forces - about half a battalion. Stamenev has lost fuel supplies and repair capacity, and Larche, Arudy and Dourdan have been liberated. It's a strange game, OpFlash. Hours of crawling in shrubbery seeing nobody, then 20 seconds of action where your entire squad can be wiped out by a never-seen enemy.


In a very cosy section of my property, nested in a corner of my Western cedar hedge, I am currently building a zen garden made up of two sand-filled circular “pools”. Each one is about 4 feet in diameter and two feet deep. Around them the Earth will be sloping down quite a bit.

I often work at this when the sun goes down. So, this morning before leaving for the office I got my first look at Sunday evening’s work in full light and I noticed for the first time that each “pool” is going to look a bit like a volcano or a lunar crater.

But I will be getting a very green lunar scene since I will be transplanting Ground Ivy (glechoma hederacea) on those sloping sides. And yes, I know that Ground Ivy is also called “Creeping Charlie”.


I'm listening to political podcasts from a different part of the year while I avoid the [redacted for off topic] on TV.

I may have a problem.


Petting my kitteh and catching up on Judge Dredd (from the beginning).


After the previous post, and this one, and to whom I'm writing, I feel slightly silly saying that I'm busy getting through NaNoWriMo. I think the subtitle for the event should be: Appreciate what professional writers go through every day.

I've written 5000 words since the 1st so I'm already behind, looking forward to catching up on the weekend.


p-f-h @ 70
A PRINTED shawm! How wonderful - made out of what materiel? A plastic composite?

dragonet 2 @ 72
Prosthetic leg?
Did you see [ Apologies in advance for the non-newspaper - someone sent me the link ]
This version of hand-& arm ...
Seems real advances are being made....
"I hope it lasts long enough to at least pay off my health insurance so if I get recalled in January, I won't lose too much of my paycheck again. "
THIS is barbarism - & why "socialist" health-care is a good idea [see later]

of course it is now the next day - & we have a result in the US.
Women can breathe a little more easily, it seems, as the xtian nutters have been kept at bay for another 4 years ... &, perhaps, some useful Supreme Court appointments will be made in that period.
At time of writing only Florida results not in (I think).
Can a USSAian explain how New Mexico & Colorado voted for "O"? I would have thought areas like that voted red-neck? Or am I out of date?


Sadly, what I’ve been up to has been to do with electoral politics but not USian outcome politics. I’ve been working on UK process politics

I’ve been preparing for the Annual General Meetings of Unlock Democracy and the Electoral Reform Society and thinking about and Electoral Reform Society Scotland programme of discussions on what makes a good Scottish democracy.


Charlie - "I should finish it within the next couple of weeks. However, you'll have to wait another 18 months to read it! "

I used to work in college publishing (in sales and marketing rather than editorial) and I know about publishers' lead times, but 18 months seems bit long after having seen the Imagine programme on the BBC last night, with Alan Yentob following your fellow EdinburgIan Rankin through the creation of his latest novel, Standing In Another Man's Grave.

December 2011 - look through folders of notes and clippings for ideas
Early January 2012 - start writing
Mar-May 2012 - first and second drafts, research, editorial input (I can't remember the exact date points)
June 28th 2012 - third draft/finished book emailed off
November 8th 2012 - publication day.

On the other hand, ten months from starting writing to pub date seems remarkably quick by anyone's standards. Also, and what I found a bit surprising, apparently Rankin's publishers and agents have no idea what each book is about (this one is another Rebus, workings on a cold case in retirement) until he hands it in, ie the end of June, which must compress various marketing opportunities/catalogues etc.

I liked the bit with his long-time editor. He insists on using her, even though she no longer works for his publisher. At one point he looked genuinely pissed off at some of her blunt comments and suggestions, like a young boy unfairly ticked off by a teacher. And she says he can be curmudgeonly. Of course, he insists on continuing to hire her precisely for her blunt comments and suggestions.

Overall the programme was interesting - within the limits of watching a guy type and think - with Rankin keeping a video diary as well as having more formal interviews with Yentob. But I don't suppose you need to relax in the evenings watching someone else do exactly the sort of thing you're doing a couple of miles from where you're doing it.


We do have another possible spammer. Should a 'RichardGinn' actually have something of relevance to say, he should avoid talking about the latest Nike footwear in such ... promotional ... terms.

(Branded shoes, their added value being almost entirely in the consumers' minds, are prime spammer territory. Stuff actually worth paying for never needs spammy promotion.)

Otherwise, well, we still have all the old filters up, it's just that the log-in requirement means they're developing cobwebs.


18 months seems bit long

The production cycle, from deadline and receipt of final manuscript to actual goes-on-sale publication, is just shy of 12 months. (1 of those months is for printing and distribution, so the book may show up in shops or warehouses ahead of the publication date.)

But this ignores the time during which the book is written. Notionally I get 12 months per contract to write the novel -- or rather, I'm under contract to turn in a book every 12 months. However, I got started early on this one and am making headway fast; I expect it to be finished and ready to turn in 6 months ahead of deadline. So, 18 months until it appears in the shops.

There'll be another novel in print first (July 6th, 2013 -- "Neptune's Brood"). And I'll be working on something else even before I hit the delivery deadline.

TL:DR; It's a production line.

It's also a production line at the publisher's end of things, but special high-budget custom jobs (like an Ian Rankine novel -- guaranteed best-seller) get special bespoke scheduling, hence the five month rush for the Christmas sales.


Charlie, you're famous enough now to have a reasonable horde of slightly-scary fanboys/girls - surely some of them would be crazy enough to pay you so that they could be your stenographer for a week. That'd surely save a lot of wear and tear on the typing spanners* and speed things along...

* sanitised version of a naval phrase my friend uses


I suspect not. Even an insanely productive 4000 word day basically involves spurts of a couple of paragraphs, followed by me wandering off to the kitchen to brew a pot of tea, feed the cat, use the bathroom, etcetera. Over an eight hour period! Averaging 500-1000 words per hour. To a proficient typist that's about 4-8 minutes' work. But on top of that there's a whole lot of backing up and re-writing each sentence at a word-for-word level. Probably half to two thirds of what I do when I'm writing is actually micro-editing until the text looks right, in front of my eyeballs, rather than simply extruding well-formed, finished, literary phrases without backing up.


Ah, a shame - I was hoping to start a crowd-sourced fanboy writing agency...
FUnnily enough, I encountered exactly the same problem with one of my lab mates when writing a proposal - I said fairly precisely what was needed as he was writing and it somehow didn't transmit, resulting in a proposal that got bounced fairy hard.


"I should finish it within the next couple of weeks. However, you'll have to wait another 18 months to read it! It's not going to be published before 6th July 2014"

I reread The Atrocity Archives a while ago, and was amused to see that the apocalypse was scheduled for something like 2007 in that book.

Anyway, now that National Talk About Something Else Day is over, I plan to celebrate National It Could Have Been Worse Day.


3 more days of work and then I'm off to Key West for a week of relaxation and fruity alcoholic beverages. w00t!


Can a USSAian explain how New Mexico & Colorado voted for "O"? I would have thought areas like that voted red-neck? Or am I out of date?

Maybe due to a growing Hispanic (non-Cuban variety) population in those two states. Will know more once all the numbers come out. I'm particularly curious about the local, Colorado Springs/El Paso County numbers. It tends to go conservative here.

Apologies for violating the post, but it is the next day.


It's okay; you can talk about it now, the worst is over.


To me, the big losers in this were the media and those who still bother to listen to them.

Reason I say that is that groups such as the Iowa Election Market have been predicting an Obama win since February (, and 538 has been predicting an Obama win for a while, based on simple aggregates of polls without processing the data.

Unfortunately, the media has become totally addicted to the Horse Race Model (even talking about "election handicappers"), and they spent the last two years seizing on anything they could use to support that story model, rather than reporting on what the polls were actually saying, let alone what they could see going on in the field.

I'm in the same boat as that viral video of the crying 4 year-old girl, who got so sick of listening to it all. On the bigger front, news suffers when they bias drama over truth. Yes, if it bleeds, it leads, but when supposedly unbiased media choose to ignore real news going on elsewhere in the world in favor of the latest iteration of the Horse Race, it damages their credibility on every topic.

The question is whether we can do anything about it, aside from listening to nothing but the BBC every other year. I've toyed with the idea of starting an online petition to ask people not to support public radio during election years until they reform their coverage practices. Are there are any better options?


At least we don't need to start looking into Canadian real estate.


To be honest, the easiest way to get an idea of which participant the general public think will win any given contest is to open a book on it, run the book according to the principles of bookmaking (take more money in total than you will pay out in any given eventuality) and look at the odds given on each outcome.

This does NOT predict the outcome. What it does do is it crowdsources the opinions of all people interested enough to risk money in trying to predict the outcome. Quite often this is correct; it is especially often correct in the case of political elections, where a lot of information is available.


Also on the plus side, the obnoxious lie-filled commercials have ended (yes, I watch too much TV, though it's mostly background noise), and the phone has stopped ringing incessantly.


"Horse Race Model [...] The question is whether we can do anything about it, aside from listening to nothing but the BBC every other year."

There was a columnist in The Times today complaining that she found herself uninterested in the US election precisely because the BBC, she says, covered it like a sporting event, not an ideological one, with talk of runners and riders and races. (Reasonably ironically she is Sarah Vine, whose husband Michael Gove is the current Education Secretary and is tipped as a possible future post-Cameron Tory prime minister instead of/as well as Boris Johnson).


The question is whether we can do anything about it, aside from listening to nothing but the BBC every other year.

The BBC were atrocious -- they bought into the horse-race narrative 100% and were still reporting it as "neck and neck drama" on Tuesday evening. Their news coverage is really rather poor this decade -- they're running scared of the Tories and they've cut back their newsgathering activities considerably on a worldwide scale.

Meanwhile, if muslim-Americans voted in 2012 as they did in 2000, Romney would have won. How to go from 80% of a minority group voting for you to 4% in just 11 years. Nice one, Republicans!


Para 2 - Interesting indeed. Thanks for that Charlie!


"Can a USSAian explain how New Mexico & Colorado voted for "O"? I would have thought areas like that voted red-neck? Or am I out of date?"

You don't have to be a USSAian to understand that the good citizens of Colorado all went to the polls after smoking pot for the whole day. Man, they were as high as the Rocky Mountains.


"Meanwhile, if muslim-Americans voted in 2012 as they did in 2000, Romney would have won."

Not necessarily. Without the fear of brown-skinned Others driving angry white folks to the polls I doubt the Muslims who would have voted for Republican tickets would have been sufficient to flip the results by any significant amount. I note, for example, the odious Republican Michelle Bachmann who has made a political career out of ostentatious Muslim-bashing was re-elected to Congress although by a slim margin.

Besides, reading the blog in question it becomes clear that the writer is living in the past herself in a world where the Muslim community is still lockstep patriarchical and there are few if any non-practicing Muslims around. She is fixated on the mosque and religion being the centre of Muslim-Americans and their experience in the US; indeed she is very careful to exclude the black American-Muslim world from her purview, focussing only on immigrant Muslim communities from the middle East (and possibly places like Indonesia too although that is not clear from the one blog entry of hers I have read).


In defense of the BBC, I should point out that the reason I listen to it isn't for the American coverage (which was thankfully short, albeit "sporting"), it was because it was the only way (other than listening to the local Republican-slanted news), to find out what the f*ck was going on in the world outside of DC. Normally, I'd listen to NPR to get some semblance of world coverage, but when elections roll in, their brains roll out, and it's The Horse Race. With Pundits. Again. Even when they complain about how much they hate the routine.



> [The BBCs] news coverage is really rather poor this decade

Do you mean it wasn't just my impression that the BBC got significantly worse in the time between ca. 2003 and 2007 when I tuned into the BBC world service on a regular basis?


Do you mean it wasn't just my impression that the BBC got significantly worse in the time between ca. 2003 and 2007 when I tuned into the BBC world service on a regular basis?

Well, finding an objective measurement is hard, but for what it's worth, I did pretty much the same thing. Then the WS budget got attacked with a chainsaw last year ...


What's keeping me busy is that next week we (my work) have assessors in with a potiential range of outcomes ranging from "Oh well done carry on then" to being shut down as an organisation and the individual members of staff never being able to work in the field again (struck off). I'm not suggesting that the latter is remotely likely just that the assessors are scary :) Also it's one of those inspections that is more focused on documentation and systems than process and results.

TL:DR Everybodies STRESSED!


From Boston, I still frequently listen to the BBC World Service, in part because however bad it is, reporting of overseas topics by American news networks is still reliably worse.

I'm more than occasionally looking into the Emir of Qatar's pet journalism crew at al-Jazeera English (which includes several BBC vets) as another option. You've got to watch them skeptically, but that goes for just about anyone these days. There are certain topics they shy away from; in particular, they almost never mention the role of Qatar itself in anything that might be going on in their own region, save mostly for when the government has a press release. But they do quite a lot of good work.


MANY thanks Bellingham - I have been after a decent Elite-equivalent for ages, Oolite is just what I needed, especially since I have a Windows box at home but a Mac laptop and Linux netbook.


Forgot to say in my previous comment that around the time that Elite for the PC launched I was working part-time for Morgan Computers, who had their shop directly underneath you, if I remember it correctly. Wondering if we ever bumped into each other?


Ooops - Nullnix, sorry, not Bellingham


Between when we first saw the initial Elite demo and its actual release, Acronsfot moved from 4a Market Hill to Betjeman House on Station Road Corner.

I recall the BBC being below us at Betjeman House.


I've drawn a robot Charlie. I could elaborate, but it's work in progress. Going well though.


I will break the norm: I'm very busy with electoral politics. The catch is that it isn't about US Elections, it's about elections in Catalonia (Spain). Elections, in fact, that have some common themes with the current political situation in Scotland.

I'm a local campaign manager for one of the parties, and I have my hands full preparing the campaign that we will have during the next 18 days. And it has some touch of the bureaucratic madness reflected in the Laundry novels...


Driving back to NC from Maryland so I can [we can't talk about it]. Got back around 4PM. Went out and [we can't talk about it] did another needed errand, then went to bed till after midnight. Not fun.

I got to spend 30 hours in bed starting Sunday night with some sinus bug while on this trip and didn't get done half the stuff I needed to on the trip.

I did learn how to pre-stage for Verizon FIOS. You'd think they'd make this available on their web site of via tech support but nooooooo. You basically have to schedule an installation to find out what you need to do for an installation in case your home does not fit the standard mold.


I understand that you also desperately need extra sub-Hudson tubes, but they got canned by the NJ Rethuglicans, because: [a] it's "socialist" public transport & [b] "it'll benefit NY & not us" ... idiots.

Maybe it was because the NJ costs were going to be a zillion or two dollars and all NJ had in the bank was $1.43?

Can a USSAian explain how New Mexico & Colorado voted for "O"? I would have thought areas like that voted red-neck? Or am I out of date?

Same as why North Carlolina went O last time and was somewhat close this time. People keep moving to these places from where they were and changing the dynamic away from what it was for 200 years. Here in NC my county, Wake, has 100 people a DAY moving in from somewhere else. Every day for about 10 years now. I can't complain since I was one of them back in 89. Although now I think I've lived in NC longer than half the population of my county.


For anyone interested, here's the Colorado & Colorado Springs voting results:
It doesn't list all the candidates for President; seventeen, including a few right of Republican parties, the Green Party, four different Socialist parties, and a Randian Objectivist Party candidate.

As expected the Springs went for Romney, and just barely against the marijuana legalization proposition which passed statewide (I'm indifferent to it myself, but voted for it because I think the issue needs to be addressed in the courts--too many stupid drug laws out there), but we went went for the Campaign Finance reform proposition--which really just instructs the Colorado Congress members to support an amendment for finance reform, and doesn't actually make any changes.


Growing a manly and reserved British m'starsh. Standing firm against waves of aggressively exuberant musstashes flourishing across the pond. Google Movember for details.


Playing with my new Surface. I have now cleverly invested in three ecosystems (webos, Android and Xbox), cunningly avoiding the one that actually works.

And a v1.0 product. From a new entrant in a crowded market. Totally failed save vs shiny.


Just ABS plastic. I suspect a plastic-wood composite would clog the extrusion nozzle, especially at the printing resolution I need. If I want to be a bit old-fashioned, I can CNC-mill from wood.


Sorry about that. In retrospect it does look like spam, which might be a sad commentary about what else I was doing besides not paying much attention to the [topic of disregard], but I was really just trying to say in the old fashioned way that I really liked my new boots a lot more than the [other thing]. And then the new-fangled mores swamped me unawares. Lesson learned, I guess.

Feel free to delete the original comment, it was, after all, just about boots. I will try to live a more interesting life :)


Just finished a seemingly endless edit on a suite of tech manuals for a server management/maintenance system. Now off the the pub for a cure.


Now it is (almost) all over, can a USSAian explain, please?
Florida: wtf?
I mean, if that happened here, the plod/electoral commission would be doing some serious questioning by now. It's not even as if it was an outlying district with a scattered population { US example, Alaska; UK example, the outer Hebrides ...)


I don't know the details about Florida but in some states you can basically pass a law or amend the state constitution via a ballot referendum. Plus you have bond issues and such. Here in North Carolina the ballot has a paragraph maybe two on such things that condense it down to for or against mini skirts or whatever. Full text on the table over there if you really want to read it.

The Florida ballot in many areas was 11 pages long. (Ballots vary by county and even within a county.) I suspect Florida is a state where the full text of everything on the ballot must be on the ballot. (Guessing here but this is how it works in some states.)

Plus we never have any where near 100% turn out. So officials try and make a reasonable guess as to turn out and then staff and supply for that plus some extra. If turn out is way more then you get long lines and wait times.

Now if you are talking why don't they know the answer yet, well you get into the entire issue of provisional and absentee ballots. Provisional are in general "we don't think you are allowed to vote here but if you really want to fill out this affidavit and we'll put it and your ballot into this pile to be sorted out later" or similar. And absentee ballots can show up in the mail up to the day of the vote. Folded/stuffed/stapled/whatever into an envelope. If after all the easy ballots are counted the margin is less than the number of absentee and provisional ballots (plus those filled out such that the OCR scanners and such barfed on it and put it in the manual review tray) then you get into some tedious hand counting and/or verifying to see who won. And there's not a crew of 1000s sitting around all year waiting to do this. So you get the few full time people who just had a 20 hour day showing up bright and early the next morning to sift through all the leftovers to see who really won. Plus you have the entire state to validate their preliminary counts with certified totals.


I assumed that Greg was talking about the numerous robocalls offering people misleading or utterly false information. When I asked about these elsewhere (because I couldn't understand how telling people you thought were likely to vote for the other party that the polling hours/location had changed could possibly be legal), I was told it was regarded as a free speech issue rather than an electoral malfeasance one. I boggled.


This is a bit of a long shot, but here goes. It's nothing to do with politics and back to the "talk about something else" concept.

1: I have this thing with my neck and shoulder, where if I sit at a keyboard for any length of time I get a burning pain in certain muscles.

2: I also have an opportunity to get an Aeron chair for next to nothing - all I'd need to pay is the $100 or so for a replacement seat.

3: I am Butler to four cats.

Since OGH is the only person who comes to mind when one thinks "Aeron chairs" and "cats", I'd like to ask - assuming that your cats scratch the mesh (or Pellicle, if were being sensitive to the marketing folks), is it resilient? If not, could you please recommend any tactics for preserving it?


Thanks for that.

Can you not have physically separate ballot forms for, say, POTUS, Assistant DA, and Second Assistant Dogcatcher?


Physically separate ballots. Not sure I'd like that.

Personally I think the best thing, well one of the best things, that could happen is for fewer ballot initiatives. People elect legislators then ram through laws and such because the ones they elect don't give them what they want. And there are many of these ballot initiatives that turn out to be just plain bad.

The root of much of the US election issues are that ballots and voting are controlled in most cases at the county level. So across a state you can get a wide variation in how ballots are designed and implemented.

Back to your question about multiple ballots. In most areas this would make things more complicated. My ballot was about 1 1/2 pages. Front and 1/2 of the back. And I got to make about 30 choices. Type was large and legible. And even got to vote on a bond issue. But it was on the ballot as one short paragraph summary, not the full resolution.

Also you need to understand that there were about a dozen different ballots in just my country. We are large enough that we have multiple representatives in the state legislature so each of these districts had a different ballot. Each only listing races where you were allowed to vote.

A big part of our issues is the elimination of old bad voting systems. Punch cards. Lever panels. Etc. But many of the newer setups required after the 2000 Florida fiasco aren't much better. I still am flabbergasted that we can't convince people that touch screen voting is a bad idea. Why not put the fate of the nation in the hands of a program that goes live the only time it is used? Gee. I don't know. Plus no real way to recount votes. All they recount is the output of the vote screen program. Not the actual votes. :(

My county is fairly sane. We have, and have had a similar setup for over 2 decades, a paper ballot where you fill in the circle next to your choices. When done you put it into a scanner that accepts it or not and tallies the count. Poorly marked ballots get tossed into a tray for later hand processing. When the polls close the machine spits out totals then calls home with the totals. Entire county is usually totaled (minus 1 or 2 machines that have trouble phoning home) within an hour or so. Machines are taken back to the office and bozo ballots counted. And if a hand recount is needed all the ballots are available.

Much of the mess you read about in the US is caused by local or state choices in the name of voter rights that turn out to be nothing but headaches.


Here in Scotland, for the last decade or so we've had as many as 3 or 4 separate elections run on the same voting day. It has not been unknown for them to use 2 or more separate polling methods (first past the post, single transferrable vote, additional vote...).

The papers for some of these elections have been up to about foolscap size sheets.

Of course, the format of the papers is controlled at national level, but basically voting sticks with (hopefully big) mark in a big box on the page. Recently we've started using counting machines, but they don't get to start counting until after voting has closed.


Hmm, Okay.

So that's two* comments since the return that have tripped the suspicious filters, yours and one by Greg (and in his case, he'd done a pretty good job of convincing them he was not quite kosher before the hiatus - no, I'm not sure how).

And none have tripped the definitely-spam filters.

Compared to the situation before, I think we can count the login requirement to be a great success.

[*] OK, three. The latest more obviously not spam.


I'm trying to get my first SF novel along the road (having already published a HF novel). Difficult to do as I have to hold down a full-time job as manager of a printing company. One school client sends me a complete pdf of the school diary. We print it. Then she comes back with "That was just supposed to be a proof for you to send to me for signing (!). I've got some changes, dearie."

Anyhow here is a quick Google site I knocked together to dump the first part of the MS into for anyone interested in giving it the once-over. Not a promo really as it's too far away from completion for that.


Here in Scotland, for the last decade or so we've had as many as 3 or 4 separate elections run on the same voting day. It has not been unknown for them to use 2 or more separate polling methods (first past the post, single transferrable vote, additional vote...).

Not sure what you mean. On my ballot last Tuesday I voted for a Pres and Vice, Gov and Lt Gov, 2 legislature at the state level and a Congressional rep. Plus an assortment of judges and a bond for the local community college. And maybe a few others but I'd have to go get my notes.


Not sure what you don't understand. If you're holding elections for completely distinct offices (in your example say POTUS and State Senate) they're different elections taking place on the same date.

If you don't understand the "different voting methods" bit, that's what Wikipedia is for.


I just didn't understand why you made a point of it. Or if the phrase had a cultural meaning. On this side of the pond ALL elections fall under your definition of "different elections" on the same day. The only time I've heard of an election for a single office was for a run off.


Sorry, nearly missed this.

I only switched to Aerons after acquiring two specific cats, of whom one still survives to this day, who had been trained by their previous human to not scratch furniture. (To an eerie and somewhat worrying degree.)

Having said that, Aerons do not offer a hospitable environment for a feline. They're not warm -- air circulates through the mesh -- and they're contoured for human hips and back, so there's nowhere for a cat to sit in one except on the human's lap. Finally, I think the mesh (which is fairly tough) probably wouldn't be terribly appealing to a cat -- too easy to get embarrassingly stuck to it.

(And as an afterthought, it's possible to buy replacement mesh units, so the chairs are repairable.)


In the UK, it's rare to run more than one election (for one post) on a given election day. That's paws' point: having as many as three elections on one day (e.g. Scottish Assembly MP, European Parliament MP, and City Councilor) is exotic and rare, and each election has its own piece of paper.


Which was the point of my question. It seems we use the word "election" somewhat differently. Spanner, boot, chemist, and all that.


#132 and 133 - 2 nations spearated by a common language and all that...

But surely a chemist is a person who does chemistry? A pharmacist is the one who (sometimes makes) and dispenses medicines. Pet peeve, from grandfather having been a production chemist for Nobel Explosives!


And now we have the utterly stupid PCC elections - a ballot missing the vital option of "None of the above, and nobody else either."

(Yes, I just voted. And no sign of any other voters, and no tellers (the guy lurking around outside was one of the clerks stretching his legs) and they were still on the first page of noting which voters had actually voted.)


Why would you have tellers at a Polling Place? The Returning Officer (in the event of a Major Problem there), a Polling Officer, one or more Polling Clerks, possibly a police offficer or 2, and 0 or more Election Agents for the candidates I can see, but tellers are the people who actively count the ballots.


Ah I don't think so. Tellers are the people who hover around just outside because they're not legally allowed to enter. Their function is to tell their party how the vote appears to be going.

I suspect you're confused by the fact that the preferred people for actually counting the ballots are bank tellers.


I'd be somewhat more impressed by the cite if it actually referenced the "Representation of the People Act", and wasn't over 20 years out of date. I did make an error in #136 by referring to "Election Agents" rather than "Polling Agents", but Polling Agents have been allowed to enter Polling Places since at least 1990 (may be earlier). In fact, Polling Agents are allowed to enter Polling Stations for specific purposes, such as assisting blind persons with voting.


My second cite is from the Electoral Commission about what tellers may and may not do. I'm taking that one as gospel.


It is from the Electoral Commission now. When I looked at it earlier, it was a circular reference to this thread. Hence my reaction. Whilst I've normally only acted effectively as a teller (as defined by the EC), I've always been formally registered as a Polling Agent, as has everyone I've known act in either role.


Back to not-politics...

So I'm busy working at the Mer Project getting ready for Jolla to launch the UI for their new phone \o/

So what?

Well, Mer is a properly open source evolution of MeeGo and many of the guys at Jolla were involved in the Nokia N9 project.

It's scary, risky and immensely satisfying ... really looking forward to delivering some answers to Q&A at - btw will someone please ask about the phone's DRM capabilities :D


My oldest has a learner's permit, which means I sit in the passenger seat with what looks like a nearly constant combination of an asthma attack, Tourette's and arrhythmia.


American or British? (I'm guessing the former, or you'd have said "a provisional license", but ...)


Thanks Charlie, that's reassuring. Now I just have to find a cheap seat and I'll be sorted.



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This page contains a single entry by Charlie Stross published on November 6, 2012 11:26 AM.

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