Tuition fees

Ed Miliband’s pledge to cut student tuition fees from £9k to £6k is nonsensical.

Student loans in the UK are not real debt and should not be thought of as ‘debt’. You pay back x% of your income over a certain amount, and it gets wiped after y years. For most people, the repayment rate is so low and the loan so big that they will pay back a small amount of money for their entire working life, or until y years have passed. They will never repay the whole amount. It more resembles a tax than a debt and should be thought of as such.

Cutting the fees to £6k will mean that high earners pay off their debt sooner and thus no longer pay the tax. Medium and low earners will still never fully repay their debt, so they will pay back exactly the same amount of money whether the fees are £6k, £9k or £100000k. It does not make sense to cut fees in this manner because it just means a tax cut for high earners, i.e. the people who need a tax cut the least.

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Shoe industry oppression #2

After going into four shops and trying on god knows how many pairs of shoes I finally found one that: 1. Was the correct size, 2. Was the correct shape, and 3. Had no miscellaneous weirdness going on.

I am, of course, still highly sceptical of this pair, but I’m prepared to give them a chance. I still see it as a genuine possibility that I end up shunning all known etiquette guidelines and just spend the rest of my life wearing nice comfy running shoes.

I was thinking about why I have such trouble with shoes and I think the answer is simple: I don’t own a car. My feet are my primary mode of transport. I am therefore much less error tolerant when it comes to shoes than a large majority of people, some of whom seem to be strangely liberal about the idea of shoes that basically cripple their wearer. I have recently read some shoe reviews online (exciting, yes) and there are often comments like “these are comfortable shoes, but you can’t wear them for long walks”. Allow me to express myself in punctuation: ???????????!!!!!!!!!!!!!????. And now in meme:

jackie-chan-meme

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Shoe industry oppression

I’ve been wearing my running shoes every day for the past 3 weeks and my foot feels ok. Ok means that it’s still not 100%, but it’s not bad. I have run a short distance once a week for the past two weeks, which hasn’t aggravated it. I still don’t know how it will handle more normal volume, but I am going to start aiming to get back to it.

So: SHOES. I need to replace my regular walking shoes, which is a shame because I quite liked them. Unfortunately, I do not know which attributes of my other shoes have caused my pain and which attributes of my running shoes have eased it. My running shoes are a half size up and my other shoes feel a touch tight around the width of the forefoot. I thought that maybe my feet were wide, so I measured them and it turns out they are slightly narrow. Also, the measurements have no real relation to the size of shoes I can actually physically fit around my foot, so, clearly, I can’t trust shoe manufacturers to create shoes in shapes that resemble the human foot.

I think that width in the forefoot is probably the most important thing because it makes no sense to compress the metatarsals together, even though that’s apparently what most shoes are shaped to do.

I’m not looking forward to this because I probably won’t know for a few weeks if I’ve made the right decision.

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Scepticism

Employment has supposedly gone up to record levels and the tories are patting themselves on the back for it.

With it, we get the news that wage growth is up at 2.1%.

But we had 2.x% wage growth in 2010 and 2011; it’s only 2012-2014 that it really tanked down to ~1%, and now it’s just come back up to 2010 levels (at which point it was already considered low). The main difference now is that since inflation has unexpectedly plummeted, it suddenly sounds like a good deal, but this is mostly down to international oil prices and have nothing to do with the conservatives.

If we really have reached record employment levels then in the space of a few years we’ve gone from record unemployment to record employment, and should therefore be seeing a very, very sharp upturn in wage growth as employers find it harder to fill positions and have to offer a better deal. So far, all we’ve really done is reclaim the ground we lost two years ago.

It is unfortunate this has happened in the months preceding a general election.

To demonstrate a little, this morning I received some recruitment spam for PHP developers with “strong experience”, offering £23k. The only people with “strong experience” this could be appealing to are people who have been unemployed a long time, because anyone who isn’t unemployed should be earning at least that amount. So if unemployment is at record lows, this position has absolutely no chance of being filled. There’s a similar C# developer position for 20-28k. If unemployment was low, why would anyone waste their time interviewing for a position starting at £20k?

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Fifty.

It seems like on the internet there is a competition in any Fifty Shades of Grey (FSOG) related discussion to be the first to say it’s terrible and unrealistic and a whole bunch of other things. Okay okay okay okay guys, that may or may not be true, but before you become euphoric in your own enlightenment, consider this:

1. Reading is actually a pretty commendable activity, and FSOG found a lot of success as a book so a lot of people must have read it. It expands your vocabulary, you think more about how language is constructed and it generally improves your ability to express yourself, even if the source material is not very good. Reading makes you a more intelligent and more functional person; it should never be discouraged, particularly among people who don’t read much.

2. FSOG encourages people to be more open minded about BDSM, which is something that a huge number of people find exciting on some level and which is generally viewed as an embarrassing urge for absolutely no good reason.

3. It doesn’t actually matter that it’s unrealistic. It’s fictional. Most fiction is unrealistic; that’s why it’s fiction. FSOG is not supposed to be a how to guide, and it would be pretty dull if it was (note: it may already be dull).

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Metatarsalgia #3

Following my doctors visit last week about my metatarsalgia…

The doctor wants to get blood tests and an x-ray done. The x-ray is self explanatory. The blood tests are for things like diabetes and gout, which it makes sense to check, but I don’t really expect either to come back positive. After that he mentioned a podiatrist, but this is the NHS so the timespans involved here will likely be measured in months.

But it actually seems to be improving. I know I have been here before, but for the last few days I’ve been walking around with no real discomfort. The treatment plan so far has been: wearing running shoes for everyday walking, icing 2-3x a day, lots of foam rolling of my calves and some very gentle calf stretching (less gentle stretches seemed to aggravate it more), and two more things I don’t think do much but I should include for completeness: a huge amount of towel scrunching (like 5-7 sets of 50 after I get out of the shower), and some fingers-between-toes-stretching. I’m trying to wean myself off the ice so I’m down to 1x a day now.

I did a short and (very) slow run on Saturday, and it hurt a tiny bit more on Sunday, but hasn’t interfered with the overall trend of getting better. So that seems ok, and maybe even helpful, as long as I don’t overload it.

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Trains

This morning:

Train 1 cancelled
Train 2 turns up with only 3 carriages, completely packed. About three people manage to get on.
Train 3 turns up with 6, count them, 6, completely 100% empty carriages. But it doesn’t stop, because that sounds a lot like customer service and ain’t nobody got time for that.
Train 4 turns up but it doesn’t go to the right station
Train 5 turns up and I board it

Get to the station, train 3 is sat there at another platform waiting to depart in the opposite direction, so if it had picked up passengers, it would have moved 90% of the people on my line affected by the problems to their intended destination, and still would have been in the right place at the right time for the next timetable. And then about 300 people tried to get through 3 ticket barriers, because why let people go about their daily lives when you can delay them even more? FUN.

In other news I am going to see a doctor later about my metatarsalgia. Predictably, after getting to the point last week that I was having trouble walking, it all feels almost better most of the time now, except still some weirdness e.g. when I step off a train and put the front of my foot down first.

I haven’t run in almost 4 weeks now, and I also stopped doing squats and overhead presses (but I’m still doing deadlifts and rows). I iced it a lot over the weekend and since, I’ve been aggressively foam rolling and gently stretching my calves, and have been wearing running shoes to work. This all seems to help, but I can’t ice it forever.

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