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State of the Charlie

I'm not blogging a huge amount this month because, well, it's autumn, I always have fun adapting to the shorter days at this time of year (as I grow older I tend to hibernate for 10-12 hours a day for about a month as the Scottish autumn and winter comes calling), and in those hours I'm awake I'm busy with other stuff.

~~Tomorrow~~ Sunday I'm flying out to Tel Aviv where I will be spending much of the week as guest of honour at the ICon Festival 2016, Israel's largest SF convention. A couple of weeks later (from the 4th to 6th of November) I will also be attending Bcon, the 2016 Eurocon in Barcelona.

And when I'm not at my last two SF conventions of 2016, I'm keeping myself busy working on "Ghost Engine", the space opera for 2018. (The first draft of which is just past the halfway mark—it's shaping up to be a big-ass 400+ page beast, longer than any other stand-alone novel I've written since "Iron Sunrise".)

I'd like to apologize for not giving you more chewy essays to gnaw on; it's just that time spent blogging is time spent not writing the next novel, and time spent traveling is time spent not writing anything at all.



Does bright light help much re:hibernation for you?

I often have a similar experience in autumn and the only thing I find helps is to go somewhere with bright, ideally natural light and lie down facing the light for a little while.

Have fun with the book!


I'll second Murphy's recommendation. I bought a 10,000 lux SAD lamp several years ago and it's totally changed my life when there's less than 10 hours of daylight. An hour or so first thing in the morning, and maybe a top up on gloomy afternoons, and I'm actually a functioning human being rather than a lump of meh attempting to hibernate.


Don't melt! But enjoy the trips.


My regular office light bulb is a 7000 lumen daylight-spectrum death ray (the CFL tube, when uncoiled, is a metre long, and it's not a very big office).

It takes the edge off things, but there's usually a point in October when I realize I'm sleeping 12 hours a day. I usually get back to a semblance of normal after Samhain, though. (At this latitude, in midwinter we get maybbe 6 hours of daylight per day, and the sun never gets more than about 12 degrees above the horizon, and I live -- and work -- on the northern downhill slope of a hill.)


"Soldiers will be allowed to enter only with their personal weapons and uniform presentation of certificate of wear / officer. Citizens will be allowed to hold a gun presenting a valid license"

Reminder to self - dont annoy anyone at Israeli Sci Fi conventions.


How much will being in sunny Israel for a week affect your SAD/autumnal sleepiness?

Noticed that John de Lancie ('Q' - ST:TNG/Voyageur) is also a guest. Neil Gaimon, another god-associated fellow, is also a guest. Add Charlie and this could make for an interesting panel discussion re: god, variations on a theme.


FWIW, during the 90s I worked in Nairobi, Kenya for several years. The sunrise/sunset times don't change there much. I found it very wearing during UK Autumn which was essentially summer there, and clearly haven't lived in other latitudes enough to ignore or be immune the effect...

So I conclude SAD works both ways, at least for me.


Really? I haven't seen Neil for a couple of years ... (the Star Trek spin-offery I wot not of.)


In case you thought I was exaggerating about the ceiling-mounted death ray in my office:


Mine probably rams 10x as much light at me, because it is a SAD box, just above my screen, angled down. It's not completely effective, either :-(


Trust me, I have SAD lamps as well. (Not to mention a death ray for an LCD monitor to bask in front of. Hmm. I should find some desktop wallpaper that puts out daylight spectrum warm light by default :)


Risk of excessive SADness is definitely one issue with what I'm starting to call my Exbrit plan, yeah. I guess it wouldn't be hitting quite as bad given that I'm that further south right now except for my sleep phase having me very much on US hours!

G'luck on the road.


Then you can't do much more - 10K lumens pointed at me at 2' distance is as much as I can handle :-( I, too, hope your trip alleviates things.


Damned - apologies! Misread while rushed .. rereading says past guests have included ... next page visited was all in Hebrew (which I do not read).

Anyways - have a good time and soak in those rays!


I'm not as far north of the 45th here in Portland, but it's dreary enough in the winter that I'm contemplating erecting a small, heated greenhouse packed with pro cannabis grow operation-lumens of LED grow lights, tropical plants, and maybe a burbling water feature. Take my coffee there in the morning, see if that doesn't improve the mood and the sleep cycle.


For those of us actually in Israel, would there be some sort of pub crawl, or other informal drink-and-greet? I'd be happy to suggest recommended places (based on wherever you'll be staying) and/or buy you a beer or three...


Insufficient data. Due to stupid time zone/flight connections I managed to fencepost the duration of my stay so I'm there basically for convention plus 24 hours rather than having any spare time.


Gotcha. In that case, if and when the stars align and you actually do have the time and the will, I'm sure there will be more than enough people waiting to hear from you here and come see you other than at the convention.


This seems to be a semi-open thread, so I'll bring up that if you want more Charlie, he appears (tuckerized) in the two recent books Arabella of Mars and A Gathering of Shadows.

A few years ago, he was in Questionable Content for a wedding. (Charlie tells me that he's been tuckerized in several other places as well).


Just like Marten, I didn't recognize Charlie at the wedding. I'd hoped the QC wiki would have something enlightening about the other guests, but no.


I'm with Lior, keep us israeli fans updated.


Ugh nothing to add but my sympathy. After spending the last 8 winters out of the Pacific Northwest, in places like California, Arizona, or Maryland, I'm readjusting to rain and grey. The Lights help. But I'm going back on anti-depressants and gonna be a teetotaler for the winter.


I feel for you. I was in Edinburgh for four days last week, and although I did enjoy my stay (and even the weather, though Saturday was somewhat inconvenient for the castle visit), I realized that it will get dark in the winter, and you don't usually even get any snow. I live in Espoo, in Southern Finland, so while we get even less sunlight during the winter, we usually get snow for two or three months which does help.

There was a winter almost a decade ago when we did not get much snow and that was quite depressing for me.

Otherwise, I did like Edinburgh, from what little I saw. I was there for a two-day course and had two half-days for sightseeing, so I didn't venture far from the centre.


Unless you specifically want the Scottish Gallery of Modern Art, Suntrap (garden), Edinburgh Botanic Garden, Edinburgh Zoo, or Leith (includes "Royal Yacht Britannia") most things are in or within half a mile of the New and Old Towns anyway.


Does supplemental vitamin D help you?

I have taken it at a low dose over the last few UK winters, as I don't get very much UV on my skin for several months. As we have had a mild start to autumn, I have been able to run in shorts and T shirt a few days a week, so I haven't started taking it yet this year. But when the greying body hair is no longer visible, the pills have to be taken.

While there are other factors to SAD, it is worth fixing the simplest and most easily avoidable.


Looks like, despite all plans, I'll miss your Q&A session on Wednesday, so I'll just throw this here… 1. Please reconsider your decision not to write the novel about 1973 Israel thrown into 1942; 2. Please write something new (and exciting… ;-) ) with Cory Doctorow; 3. In Halting State and Rule 34 there are many references to state surveillance and corporate surveillance but none, IIRC, to peer-to-peer surveillance; will that come up in a future novel? Will you care to share any thoughts on the subject, if you have any?


I'm in the Netherlands where the daylight hours are close to fitting inside my commute+work, and I'm starting to feel the blues and sluggishness as well.

My usual remedy is a couple of weeks in South America around Midwinter, but buying a slightly more power-hungry lamp and some vitamins seems like a quick win to tide me over!


Israely sildiers are required to take their guns with them when going on leave, in case of a terrorist attack. As there is a draft, 17-year-old Sci-Fi fans become 18-year-old soldiers, who, when on leave, sometimes attend Sci-Fi conventions. Just fans, who happen to be in uniform.


Re Charlie's post with the pic in post 9... I've got a Bad Feeling about that... it's not a light bulb, he meant it, it's a Death Ray, and he probably uses it to remove offending Persons From Porlock who annoy him....

"Stand right there", he says, pointing. "Right here, whyAAAAAYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYY!!!" Charlie then sends the Roomba to clean up the ashes.


Re post 5: "Reminder to self - dont annoy anyone at Israeli Sci Fi conventions."

That does not sound like a con I want to be at, esp. if "annoy" includes phrases like "peace with the Palestinians", "Out of the West Bank and Gaza, and East Jerusalem"....



Nah, mine is better... here it is, 65W of fluorescent goodness:

Makes the auxiliary 14W LED lamp look dim...

And here is the actual Death Ray, zapping a tree on the other side of the garden:


Whitroth, please see comment no. 30. Thank you.


And they're all absolutely sober about carrying, and nothing happened the week before the con that upset them greatly, or....

I've known vets that had been in combat, and not vets are comfortable to be around.



That's no death ray. This is a death ray.... (can't seem to copy a pic...)... Dr. Zeus with the Zeusaphone


While I understand that most people don't spend a lot of time around firearms... that's perhaps slightly more sensitive than necessary. But then, I grew up around soldiers carrying weaponry, so for me it's utterly unsurprising.

This is a society where the carriage of weapons is normalised; and done by a representative sample of the whole population, not just a... shall we say, "slightly obsessive" minority?

The "open carry" movement in the US are a self-selected group; many/most of whom have never undergone military service selection and training. While I appreciate that a few veterans with operational service are not the easiest people to be around, it'a vanishingly small percentage that are dangerous to others.

To explain local attitudes... Trust me, the damn things are terribly exciting for the first half an hour of carrying it around. After that it becomes a heavy lump of metal, and by the month's end it's an utter pain in the arrse because it's a sod to clean, and you're paranoid about the major nausea and shouting that happens if you don't have it when you're supposed to... It's about as dramatic as carrying a shovel around everywhere. It's a tool.

And because everyone's done that military service, that's the attitude everyone has to them :)


Thinking of carrying shovels around everywhere, though, does raise the point that getting into a fight with a gang of navvies probably isn't a very good idea. And then when they've killed you their shovels go back to being tools, to bury you in the railway embankment they're building and trains will run back and forth over your mouldering corpse. Ahahahahaaa...


+1 to comment 37 by Martin, and also: Almost everyone I know is "a veteran", including women, because in Israel almost everyone serve; most people I know also get called for miluim, reserve service, for training and/or active service. Its a fact of life, for the majority of Israelis from all political sides; it is not an ideology or a political conviction, and deffinitly not the realm of extremists. My niece was drafted some months ago, now takes her gun home when on leave and I'm more worried about the other kids in the house playing with it (though I'm sure they follow all safety rules) then about her getting angry and shooting someone. It's a non-issue.

It's also an open question to Charlie: having now spent some time with Israelis, most of whome would be ex-soldiers, did you feel uncomfortable? Worried about unexpected violence? Threatened by people's "normal" behavior? (I have a great story about that, maybe for another time...)


Well, I'd be a lot more scared of "untrained USians with guns" than I would of "Israeli soldiers (and reservists) with guns".


"It's a tool." That's true, but it's not the most important point, which is what it is a tool FOR. Guns are a sod-awful method of self-defence in a civil context (or against wild animals), and the problems arise when they are used as tools for resolving personal and business disputes or keeping under-people in their place. In places like the USA and Israel, and even to some extent in the UK, whether you are threatened by them is primarily dependent on which group you are in.


OK, guns for self-defence against wild animals... I am puzzled. Obviously the best thing to do is make sure you don't get attacked in the first place (with all the ramifications that entails, such as "don't misinterpret something as an attack and react like prey so it suddenly is an attack", and "don't be overconfident just because you've got a gun"), but what do you do if everything has failed, and the bear or whatever is charging at you and is very certainly about to eat you all up? You can't run away because it's faster than you, you can't fight it because it's stronger than you, and Scotty is drowning his sorrows over the referendum result and is too pished to beam you up. To be sure, you're most likely fucked no matter what, but it seems to me that about the only thing that could possibly achieve a fast enough result to stand a chance of making it a bit less likely would be as powerful a handgun as you could comfortably handle (and that you can handle and are well-practised with), with a capacious magazine full of soft-nosed ammunition.


Guns are a sod-awful method of self-defence in a civil context

In untrained hands, maybe. However, consider that soldiers and police officers are hardly "untrained" (undertrained on occasion, perhaps) and these are the people with the guns.

To repeat Pigeon @42, I am also puzzled. For self-defence against an armed attacker (e.g. terrorist with a gun / nutjob with a knife), guns pretty much can't be beaten. What is your proposed alternative? :) Harsh language, or an understanding tone and a quick protest song? :)

You appear to be applying UK reasoning to a foreign context - false conclusions may be drawn.


Martin, in post 43, writes "...To repeat Pigeon @42, I am also puzzled. For self-defence against an armed attacker (e.g. terrorist with a gun / nutjob with a knife), guns pretty much can't be beaten. What is your proposed alternative? :) Harsh language, or an understanding tone and a quick protest song? :)..."

And a sneer right back at you. I don't feel like doing it, so feel free to go find the military firearm trainer who thinks they're a bad idea for civilian self-defense. I did see one short video, from a surveillance camera, of a bad guy with a gun, other guy pulls his gun, and the bad guy is already closed with hem, grabs him, and grabs his gun, which is apparently better than the bad guy's gun.

And then there's folks real familiar with guns... remember the shootout at the Twin Peaks restaurant?

How many times have you, personally, needed one? How many people do you personally know who defended themselves in an actual life-and-death situation?

Normal people, as opposed to crazy nutcases, are not going to be ready to pull a gun and shoot someone without thinking. Nor are they likely, in a real situation, as opposed to staged, or on a range, as likely to hit their target, as opposed to collateral damage.

And about that knife... you don't want to pull one on me, esp. if I have my walking stick. I'd say, with 90% confidence, that you've got a broken limb, or possibly a crushed skull, before you get close enough to use that 6" blade....

mark, in the US, with very strong feelings about this - sorry, Charlie.


The point is that the majority of unavoidable incidents occur when you (say) walk round a corner into a bear at a few yards' distance. If it does attack on sight, only someone who walks with a heavy gun (which means something like a 450 express or modern equivalent for a grizzly) loaded AND READY has any real chance of stopping it. Most of the time, it won't attack, and the very worst thing you can do is to shoot at it and not stop it dead (a much stronger action than merely killing it). And it doesn't matter if you are carrying military firearms if you walk into (and piss off) a herd of Cape buffalo or a troop of baboons, because it won't be just one animal attacking you. Ditto leopards; if one is going to attack you, unprovoked, the first warning you will get is it landing on your neck.

In almost all cases where you would have time to make a gun ready, you have the option of avoiding conflict. The reason that people carrying guns are more likely to be killed than their equivalents not doing so (yes, really) is that they more likely to walk regardless and less likely to take avoiding action when a potential conflict arises. Yes, of course, there are exceptions, but my point stands.


Yes, precisely. Most of the time, guns are used by the police and armed forces to impose the authorities' will on the population, whether they are demonstrations or enforcing arrests. Even if a wanted person is armed, it is NOT self-defence to use a gun to impose your will. It may well be justifiable, but that's irrelevant - let's stick to genuine self-defence.

The number of incidents where somebody starts off by saying "Hey, I'm a bad guy! Look at my weapon! I'm going to attack you!", and THEN leaves you enough time and space to get out a gun, is far smaller than is made out, even in the USA. Yes, training will reduce the time needed and increase the chances of a successful identification.

But, as you say, in most incidents, you don't know if a situation is going to turn violent until it does. A couple of policemen surrounded by a hostile but currently non-violent crowd? Pulling out weapons may cause the crowd to back off (which is back to enforcing will), but is sod-all use if they attack. And a gun is NBG for an individual to protecting himself against an effective attack (such as a knife in the back or cosh on the head) that comes without warning.

And, of course, the use of guns as 'self-defence' by the police and military has precisely the converse effect on the people they kill that are (in hindsight) no danger to them. That is precisely why they are strongly discouraged in the UK.


so feel free to go find the military firearm trainer who thinks they're a bad idea for civilian self-defense.

You are, of course, absolutely correct (and I have been a military firearm trainer); and I even agree completely with E_C on the subject of firearms for self-defence in the UK; but that's not what we're talking about...

We were discussing Israeli society, and the prevalence of weaponry - you added a tone of concern about the implications @35. I point out that in an Israeli context, where everyone does military service, and the people with guns are either soldiers or police, that it is normalised behaviour; and that there is less call for worry compared to (say) the more extreme "open carry" mob in the US, namely swivel-eyed Second Amendment types who on occasion think it a good idea to exercise their rights near schools.

So; having tried to explain that Israeli society will probably regard firearms in the same way you regard a work laptop (an unexciting tool, that you get shouted at if you lose it or don't have it when expected), E_C makes a comment @41 about what firearms are for, and that guns are useless for self-defence in a civil context. My response, given that we're talking about Israel, reflects that "a civil context" is not "civilians with guns" but soldiers and reservists with guns going about their daily business.

One analogy might be Northern Ireland (where my father carried a personal protection weapon), and where multiple members of the Security Forces (Regular Army, UDR, and RUC) would attest that firearms are most definitely not "useless" for self-defence in a civil context. Yes, soldiers and police were killed while attempting to defend themselves, but others were successful.


In almost all cases where you would have time to make a gun ready, you have the option of avoiding conflict.

In the mainland UK or USA, you are perfectly correct. I also happen to completely agree with you that guns are totally inappropriate for self-defence in mainland UK.

However, in the context of the discussion, you are incorrect. What would you have suggested as a self-defence mechanism for an off-duty policeman during the Troubles?

As I said @43, you appear to be applying UK / US thinking and context to an Israeli situation, with the risk of drawing inappropriate conclusions as a result.


Ah, then I think we agree on the fundamentals and are just looking at it from a different angle. You describe the same kind of situations I was imagining (see my points about avoidance being the best option and not succumbing to gun-induced overconfidence), you agree that having the right sort of gun already ready to use is the only chance if the emergency does arise, and we both reckon that "you're fucked" is the most likely outcome no matter what; the difference seems to be that you're looking at the outcome as a foregone conclusion whereas I'm looking at the chance, minimal though it may be, of avoiding that.


Hang on, we've got two sub-threads going on here - guns for self-defence against humans, and guns for self-defence against animals. That comment by EC was a reply to me about the animals sub-thread. I have nothing to say about the human sub-thread because my imagination is not up to visualising the situations.


Heck how do either fit into this thread anyways? Nuke the thread from orbit, its all full of people wanting to argue stuff no one wants to discuss, but rather have rants on their own opinions.


No, you have missed the point. Apply game theory (the mathematical basis of risk analysis). Virtually nobody has the near-prescient judgement and lightning reactions to shoot only when not doing so would be fatal, the risk of shooting when not essential is higher than that of not shooting, and the number of occasions when it is not essential but looks as if it is, is much larger than the number when it IS essential. That is why you are INCREASING your risk by carrying a gun for that purpose. Seriously.

There are exceptions, but damn few (polar bears are one). The game wardens in African game parks carry heavy guns, not because they want them for self-defence, but to protect the tourists against the consequences of their mistakes. Back in 1950, in an undeveloped part of Africa, most whites who went into the bush carried guns, and they stayed in their cases except when used for hunting something.


I happen to regard Israeli Arabs and Palestinians as part of "everyone", and worthy of the same rights and protection; your posting implies that you don't. And you might like to think of why the 'Catholic' population welcomed the British soldiers into Belfast, in 1969, but rapidly turned against them.


I happen to regard Israeli Arabs and Palestinians as part of "everyone", and worthy of the same rights and protection; your posting implies that you don't.

I think perhaps you are reading things in that I didn't intend. I very strongly agree with your position that all deserve equal protection, but can't see where I imply that they don't...

Charlie is in Tel Aviv, at an SF Con. Droid@5 notes the firearms rules; David@30 puts them into context; Mark@32 and @35 states discomfort with the concept; Me@37 tries to put the local attitudes in context.

Israeli Druze and Circassians are also liable for National Service, and are just as likely to be at ICon carrying their personal weapons.

Christian Israelis (but not Israeli Arab Christians) are also liable - AIUI (David may correct me) although Israeli Arabs are not conscripted, they may volunteer. The irony is that three times as many young Arabs as Haredim volunteer for National Service...


The point is that the majority of unavoidable incidents occur when you (say) walk round a corner into a bear at a few yards' distance.

That happened to one of my uncle's college friends. One morning in Alaska he found himself face to face with an irate bear. Luckily he had a pistol and was able to put a magnum round into its forehead at point blank range. This did not kill the bear! It did stun the animal long enough for the human to make a quick and motivated retreat.

Disclaimer: So far as I know there are very few Alaskan bears in Israel. grin


I only wanted to defend the reputation of Israeli Sci-Fi fans who happen to be soldiers, and look where this got...

OK, a bit of context again: defence against animal attacks - another non-issue. Not much wildlife left and what there is of it stays away from people, UNLESS - in my (almost) 50 years here I heard of 3 incidents of firearms used to dafend against animals. Two were against vipers in or near a home, one against a rabid jackal; IN ALL INCIDENTS IT WAS NOT THE FIRST PERSON TO ENCOUNTER THE ANIMAL WHO SHOT IT, BUT SOMEONE ELSE WHO HEARD CALLS FOR HELP AND INTERVIENED.

And that is what is expected of sildiers in case of a terrorist attack occuring near them - not (only) PERSONAL defence, but intervention to stop an ongoing attack on others.

Such attacks have, in the recent past, consisted of "nutjobs with knives", drivers intentionaly overrunning pedestrians, and (fire-)armed assaults; guns were almost always the ending factor in such attacks; some by Police personel on active duty, some by soldiers and police personel off-duty, some by civilian security (armed guards posted at the entrance to businesses/schools/etc.).

I hope this makes the context clearer; I had no intention of hijacking this thread.

And I still stand by post 28!


swivel-eyed Second Amendment types who on occasion think it a good idea to exercise their rights near schools

While I don't approve of the current Israeli government's policies, to put it mildly[1], I approve even less of the aforemented American second amendment fundamentalists. The 2nd amendment was phrased as it is precisely to permit informal militias to carry arms in the slave states -- as a tool of oppression. The one terror that keeps all slave-owners awake at night is the idea of a slave uprising, and the deeply racist culture slavery bequeathed to the post-civil war USA keeps a level of paranoia about the African-American community bubbling away in the background that seems starkly insane to anyone whose outlook isn't informed by a family tradition of fearing that Those People will (with justification) do to you what your ancestors did unto their ancestors if you give them a chance.

I'll also note that the vast majority of folks toting M-16s around Tel Aviv were in uniform and presumably therefore properly trained and under military discipline, and usually in groups of two or more. As such, they're far less alarming than J. Random Obsessive Redneck with a Glock in his pocket. Unless one is clearly of Arab extraction, in which case, welcome to being black in the Deep South (and see footnote [1]).

[1] Colonialism sucks, especially for the colonised, but also for the sane/non-fanatical descendants of the original colonists who are stuck with the resentful colonized and the dipshit wingnuts who leverage fear of a backlash/uprising into a death-grip on power for the paranoid right -- see also Benjamin Netenyahu, who seems to be about as popular among the Israelis I was socializing with as Donald Trump.


Guns for self-defense against animals: necessary in the hinterlands, but no animals are indigenous to the UK that you'd need a gun to deal with (possible exception: escaped zoo inmates -- in which case, police and/or vets are called in to deal with them).

Guns for self-defense against fellow-citizens: not necessary or desirable unless everyone around you is armed (and inclined towards violence) in which case you get trapped in a really undesirable iterated prisoner's dilemma game. (The solution is to gradually clamp down on the ability of undesirables to own guns, and a necessary precondition -- if I was benign dictator in charge of the USA -- would be to start by preventing firearms manufacturers from lobbying for laws that make it easy for them to sell more products profitably.)

Guns for collective self-defense against an external human threat: that's what the army is for.


Guns for self-defense against animals: necessary in the hinterlands, but no animals are indigenous to the UK that you'd need a gun to deal with (possible exception: escaped zoo inmates -- in which case, police and/or vets are called in to deal with them).

To cheer you up: The Very British Anti-Harambe Meme. (For the oldies who still struggle with Boaty McBoatface: Harambe the Gorilla - Brandon Wardell's "dicks out for harambe" Tweet. They shot the Gorilla: lots of Racism and Men getting their Willies out followed. No, really. LOTS of all that stuff [REAL])

But the UK still has some claim to civilisation:

A gorilla who sparked a lockdown at London Zoo when he escaped from his enclosure spent some of his freedom downing five litres of undiluted blackcurrant squash...

"The zookeeper was able to continually reassure Kumbuka, talking to him calmly and in the same light-hearted tone he would always use, as he removed himself from the area."

Prof Field added: "Kumbuka was immediately contained in the non-public area by quick-thinking zookeepers responding to the alarm, where he was tranquilised and moved back to his den."

Gorilla at London Zoo downed squash during breakout Heart Radio, 20th Oct, 2016 (Because - just what... Radio Station has webpage that crawls other sources to get clicks? WTF MARKETING).


Anyhow, that was the Tale of Two Gorillas. Tragedy and Comedy, all in a Revolutionary Year. (Don't mind me, I'll not bring out the puns in the original French, these days ze'd have to make the puns off the Stage Musicals).


"Guns for self-defense against animals: necessary in the hinterlands, ..."

And my point was, as someone who has lived in them, is that they are neither necessary nor desirable, even there.


And since this is #Chaos2016, expect a Ribena advert to follow.

3, 2, 1... Thunderbirds are not surprised as prediction comes true:

Google: "Ribena".

You get the Gorilla story from Metro London UK paper on the first page as well as Gorilla marketing: Ribena is capitalising on Kumbuka, the squash-drinking gorilla Business Insider, 20th Oct, 2016.

This makes Johnny Rotten & the speed infused PUNK era look like Miss Marple.


[Meta-Note to Host: Wikileaks Twitter = Compromised / State Actor Ahoy]

It's the dropped letters, yo!


You thought that shit was just us being mad?

Ok then.

No, really.

Dropped letters = Black Smudged Mascara Through Tears

And don't Google that. [NSFW!!! NSFW!!!]

Yes, it's a fucking pr0n reference already.

Slow Claps at people chanting and clapping while the Republic [hint: she's the one getting abused / deep-throated into crying] dies

Or was that the psycho-sexual basis of said Republic?

You fuckers are slow: Turkey, suicide bombs, a little obelisk from ~3k years ago.

And you think that Ze's can't upgrade to Modern Symbolism?

Zese fuckers designed most of the symbolism your World depends on.


I used to spunk into the Nile, back before I was Orion.

Get a clue, before you die out.


Minor note about Militias in US history. Charlie is very right that the Southerners loved Militias, and for them it had massive connotations about whites being able to keep power in the event of a slave rebellion. This has massive effects later on, as the South was better trained at the start of the Civil War and had more experienced officers. Rebellions like Nat Turner's were deep fear for the rich whites of the South, meaning their Militias were well trained and well armed.

But there's a bit of over simplification on the second and militias. (I won't get into individual right to bear arms as I'm not only a fence sitter, I'm exhausted by the debate). The Militia culture in the US stems from bad relationships with the Natives, and a need to have mutual defense. By the time of the Constitution, relationships with the Natives were not a big issue in settled lands, although in the 'west' it was very much a thing. Instead the wars with the French and the Revolution led to a series of myths.

There was this romantic view that the colonies fought off the French with Militia forces, and that experience produced the core fighting force for the Revolution. Rather it was regulars from the provenances (like the New Hampshire Provincial Regiment) that did the major fighting. The Militia won at Bunker Hill, and in those initial fights of the Revolution. But Militia hate fighting away from home, and the Continental Regulars came into being and were further drilled by Prussians. The Militias spent the war mostly doing homeguard actions against native raids and slave uprisings.

But soooo many people were in the Militias, it became a way to lie to yourself about what you did in the post-revolution period. And it was politically hard to criticize them. Washington disliked them in private, but only spoke words of praise in public. It was the failure of the Militia to deal swiftly with Shay's Rebellion that sped up the constitutional convention. There was also resentment at the Continental Army as they were seeking pensions for their service requiring extra taxes. Former Militia represented a fair amount of the men of the state governments. To top it off, the major figures were obsessed with the English Civil War, including the various abuses of power. (not to mention the general conclusion was had the Levellers won, everything would be peachy. John Lilburne is beloved by SCOTUS justices.)

Militias were view also as a compromise, a way of allowing the states the police power needed (often, yes to put down slave rebellions or deal with hostile natives) as well as to lower the cost of the army by having homeguard actions and training done via the militia while the federal government could take control of the militia during war. It was viewed by some as a way of avoiding the problem of Cromwell and the New Model Army being able to take control by having the militia and national army as a counter balance.

The second amendment was viewed as a way to allow those militias to act in order to get them 1. under federal control during a war, 2. a bone for the state governments obsessed with playing up their war record, 3. a way to allow them to have a national army.


Behold a nice autumn late afternoon:

But after Saturday, it will be sunset at that time, and our metabolisms will be yelling "Bed, guys!" even while most of us are still at work. But we have to put up with this stupidity for the next five months; otherwise, the UK would crumble to the mighty powers of Berlin after the sacrifices that we made in two world wars. It does not help when fighting the urge to hibernate.


Oh, golly, yes. GMT sucks. BST 365 FTW.

They don't even put us back on to sensible time at a, er, sensible time - which would be once the days have lengthened again to match their length at this point - but make us wait beyond the equinox, in increasing frustration as the refusal to move the clocks wastes an ever-more-obvious amount of daylight.

Indeed "Daylight Wasting Time" would be a much more appropriate name for GMT. It takes away what little daylight time of their own remains to people on a conventional daily cycle, and moves it to the morning where it is useless. To be sure, around midwinter that portion of remaining daylight would disappear anyway, but the idiotic GMT ensures that it is also gone for the months on either side of that.


If you and Pigeon want to play that sort of thing, "Let's all get up an hour earlier and reset the clocks in an attempt to pretend we aren't" time is what truly sucks and blows.

For anyone North of about 54N, running that in the Winter would mean travelling both to and from work in the dark or at best at dawn/dusk for 5 months.


For anyone North of about 54N, running that in the Winter would mean travelling both to and from work in the dark or at best at dawn/dusk for 5 months.

But no Real People live north of Watford Gap. They're romantic abstractions in works of fiction published for the edification of London folk, so catering to their imaginary needs is pointless.


So, assuming for the sake of argument that you're somewhere level with Manchester, the existing arrangement means that you'll be travelling to work in the light, but returning from it in the dark ( ). Maybe we should even have double DST, so that you have dark mornings but light-ish early evenings instead? Skew the balance in favour of leisure rather than work?


To satisfy everybody, we should have a plebiscite, and weeks in a year are divided up pro rata to the proportion of people who fancy a particular scheme. To not disenfranchise some people, the weeks would be assigned to each group at random, and change every year. You know it makes sense.


"...travelling both to and from work in the dark..."

Pick one or the other, it can't be both...

I've lived at 54 deg N and it does not alter my view: dark evenings suck, darker evenings suck more, and dark evenings suck more than dark mornings since if you're working the evening is time for you to enjoy for yourself (that resource which if you're working is the rarest and most precious of all), whereas the morning isn't. Winter at 54 deg N was always going to be dark and shit no matter what you did, but restricting the period of dark-when-you-go-home to a minimal stretch either side of the solstice would still have been a better option than the current perversity of deliberately extending its duration.

Anyway, all the arguments are fairly well thrashed over in the linked Hansard piece, often several times, so there's little point repeating them here. The one thing they did miss out is that people should not be under compulsion to get up so early in the first place. Alarm clocks are quite literally instruments of torture, since their purpose is to enforce sleep deprivation by forcing you awake before your body decides to wake up naturally, and any society that normalises their use has something deeply wrong with it.


Idk, I'm at 45.5 N and right now I'm barely having any light coming or going. Light at 8 am and dark at 6. By midwinter even with the time change, it will be past 8 for light and dark at 430.


Alarm clocks are quite literally instruments of torture, since their purpose is to enforce sleep deprivation by forcing you awake before your body decides to wake up naturally, and any society that normalises their use has something deeply wrong with it.

And the same for coffee. As Terry Pratchett once said, "Coffee is a way of stealing time that should by rights belong to your older self." A society that normalises its use because without it people can't work also has something deeply wrong with it.


No, but what we ought to do is to shrink the workday in proportion to the day length. "Um noch etwas vom Tag haben".


Pick one or the other, it can't be both...

Edinburgh is 56 degrees North, i.e. further North than Moscow and Copenhagen; it's not unusual to both start the journey to work, and finishing the return, in the dark.

Pity the Aberdonians...


"Alarm clocks are quite literally instruments of torture, since their purpose is to enforce sleep deprivation by forcing you awake before your body decides to wake up naturally, and any society that normalises their use has something deeply wrong with it."

Can I quote you on this? Please? It's exactly how I feel!


It was Pigeon's words, not mine!


...and Pigeon says, "By all means, go ahead!" :)


Sorry, and thanks!



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This page contains a single entry by Charlie Stross published on October 14, 2016 12:23 PM.

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