Election debates

I thought the election debates would be a waste of time, but I accidentally ended up on the live stream on Youtube and was greeted to the extraordinarily surprising sight of Ed Miliband answering the audience’s questions directly and reasonably. He did make a bit of a mess with Paxman, but it was hardly Paxman’s finest hour either, and he seemed to bring it around in the end.

I didn’t see Cameron’s section to compare, but the Conservatives’ election campaign of “DO YOU WANT TO BE RULED BY THIS IDIOT” might need rethinking now.

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Inflation

The UK’s inflation rate falls to zero. Here is the current scene from the treasury:

b7e

In all seriousness the outcome here is unclear. Firstly, inflation measurements are bollocks and everyone knows that; real inflation for the average person’s expenditure is not at 0.0%. But they do measure something, and that something is worth measuring because it does correlate to inflation. Deflation due to fallen oil prices is absolutely ok. Deflation due to people being reluctant to spend or unable to spend is absolutely not. It’s not clear whether this is entirely due to oil price or whether there’s some fall in consumer demand hidden in there too.

As long as wages continue to grow at around the current rate of 2% or more we are probably ok. If they stall, deflation will become self sustaining. I think the take away right now is that this isn’t what we were aiming for, but while it’s not necessarily bad, we don’t have a particularly strong employment market and sustaining positive wage growth is not something we can take for granted, but on the positive side, temporary deflation is a pretty good thing for most people. So: cautiously optimistic, I guess.

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Gainz #2

bmi2

I’m very excited as for the first time in my life my BMI is very almost in the healthy range, thanks to my 50kg weight set (note: if you buy a weight set, also buy some gloves unless you like metal splinters – I use running gloves).

Current effects: I don’t look a whole lot different in the broad sense which is a bit surprising, but also good because muscle is denser than fat so hopefully it’s mostly muscle. If you pick somewhere to poke it generally feels firm. My forearms are pretty solid. Some of my clothes feel tighter around my chest and shoulders. When I notice my shadow (on the rare occasions the great yellow ball graces us with its presence) my posture is noticeably much better. Everyone probably thinks I’ve grown a few inches. I feel generally more confident.

Foot pain: still here but definitely following a very gradual reduction. I’m still only running once a week, but I’m now spending most of the week pain free.
Other: I seem to have triggered my knee pain again doing squats. It’s the sort of vague “that doesn’t feel quite right” feeling from anywhere along the inside of my knee, from the shin up to the thigh. I suspect my adductors are too tight. Again.

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elections

Now Ed Miliband has ruled out a Lab/SNP coalition, as we head towards another hung parliament, our options seem to be:

Con/Lab – Seems like a weird outcome. With near equal support, is either party really going to agree to being the secondary party? Cameron is hardly going to step down to being deputy PM and Miliband would be daft to take on the role considering how Nick Clegg has been treated
Lab/Lib – Makes sense on paper but there’s a serious risk they’ll fall short of enough seats
Con/Lib – Again it’s not likely they’ll have enough seats
Con/SNP – This looks plausible from a numerical perspective but the SNP would never agree to that
Con/Ukip – Ukip have huge support, and this will translate into about 3 seats, so not a chance. The only way Ukip are relevant is if they manage to steal enough of the conservative vote to give labour enough swing seats to boost their numbers, but the SNP seem to be hitting Labour just as badly at the other end, so, no.

Then we start to go into three way coalitions… but we don’t really end up with any more options there because it almost certainly has to involve the SNP to get the numbers up.

So then we have to rely on the Queen to choose her own government, in which case I hope there is no requirement that she chooses from politicians.

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Work

Our sysadmin left on Friday. He is being replaced by somebody working remotely from Venezuela.

I work for a company that hires somebody who is only contactable by email to make sure our email server works.

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Terry Pratchett

Books are a strange relationship because without ever meeting an author, you gain such a vast insight into their psyche that you feel like you’ve known them for years. It’s a close form of one-way intimacy that no other art form gives, especially when the books in question ooze personality (or personalities) as Discworld does.

I had the opportunity to meet Terry Pratchett a book signing in my town when I was a bad tempered and apathetic teenager, but being apathetic I didn’t bother, even though I’d read quite a lot of his books. My mum and sister did though. They brought me back a signed copy of The Truth with the inscription “To <me>, and that’s the truth”.

They said he was grumpy and seemed fed up, which is both perfectly understandable and probably exactly how I’d have felt had I spent an hour stood in the line waiting. But now I wish I had gone.

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Jeremy Clarkson

Top Gear is a very successful international export so it may surprise foreign fans that Jeremy Clarkson is quite controversial here in Great Britaine, and some people really really hate him. The reason is roughly:

1. Jeremy Clarkson/Top Gear represents a BBC success story; it’s incredibly popular, it’s basically a money printing machine.
2. BBC is a (near enough) tax payer funded media organisation (and it’s really good, not just because it has no adverts, also because it has a lot of high quality TV and radio programming (R4) – not something you find a lot of when you venture outside of the BBC)
3. A lot of media companies really hate the BBC because they have to actually make money themselves
4. Clarkson is a goldmine of marginally offensive comments
5. Media mentioned in #3 see Clarkson as an easy target to express their hatred of the BBC because they can easily point to something he said/did and pretend he’s an awful person and that the BBC should be ashamed for employing him, blah blah blah your taxes pay for this etc.
6. People who read and irrationally feel allegiance to the media mentioned in #3 for some reason take it all very seriously and denounce the BBC as being a hive of left/right wing propaganda depending on which views they themselves have.

Most people in the UK don’t actually care much about him or think he’s mildly entertaining, but you wouldn’t realise that from the media circus that follows him around.

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