Stocks

People say the stock market will always rise, and my stocks and shares ISA suggests I am also one of those people.

But in reality, the long term trend of the FTSE100 is not really that inspiring:

ftse100

https://finance.yahoo.com/echarts?s=^FTSE+Interactive#{%22range%22:%22max%22,%22allowChartStacking%22:true}

There are two ways to read this:

1. The market has a cap and we’re pretty close to it. This seems convincing from looking at the graph; we have hit this cap three times now and crashed immediately after. But I’m pretty sceptical because it raises questions of “why is the cap here?” which don’t have obvious answers.
2. If you extrapolate the gradient from the mid-late 80s through to the present day, you do actually end up with just about the right present day value. So you could argue that growth is healthy and linear, just with some bubbles along the way.

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Google Fit

I started using Google Fit on my phone last week.

Google fit is yet another app for recording exercise activity, but it’s a bit different from others in that it’s very passive. It runs all the time and tries to tell you how long you spent walking/running, how far, and how many steps.

It seems to do this without GPS (because it would kill your battery), so it’s not very precise, but it’s also not completely imprecise and I’m a bit mystified how it works out where you are (maybe signal? Or has Google mapped wifi networks and router mac addresses?!). That means that it doesn’t map your route, just your rough location.

It’s pretty smart – it knows when you’re walking, it knows when you’re running, and it also seems to know that you’re sat on a train rather than running really fast.

So… summary: it seems to get walking distance reasonably accurate. I have only run once with it so far but it was missing a kilometre (6 in reality vs 4.8). I don’t know about the step counter; it guessed my run had me doing 145 steps per minute which seems a bit low really…

It’s probably more interesting to see overall trends rather than absolute data.

Battery life is definitely reduced, but I don’t think it’s by enough that I’ll have to charge it more frequently than I do already (I hate batteries).

The privacy implications are of course absolutely horrifying, but that’s smartphones for you.

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The Labour party is a mess

In recent Labour party news:

  • The non-Corbyn contestants have tried to band together in an anyone-but-Corbyn pact. Good idea guys, that’s not at all ridiculous!
  • Yvette Cooper, who up until this point has done absolutely nothing of interest, has come out and said that Corbyn (and Burnham) is the wrong choice because he’s a white man. “I’m not winning, I’d better be sexist. It’s lucky I’m a woman”
  • Some Labour MPs (most notably Simon Danczuk) have said they’ll revolt as soon as Corbyn is elected, so don’t elect him, because who cares about the democratic process?
  • Labour are banning people from participating in the election if they might be intending to vote for Corbyn, because who cares about the democratic process?.

This is the current quality of the main opposition party in the UK – they are fielding a candidate that people like and they are so surprised by this, it is such an unusual turn of events, that they just don’t know how to handle it.

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Corbyn

The thing with Jeremy Corbyn is that I can’t understand why any member of the Labour party would ever vote for someone who is not Jeremy Corbyn. The main concern people have about JC is that he’s not likely to win an election. Hello, have you seen the other three candidates? If winning elections is what you care about, you’re backing the wrong party.

Only an extremely blind and partisan Labour supporter could ever think that Andy Burnham, a man who last time around was decisively deemed to be less interesting and less capable than Ed Miliband (an analysis which is still correct), could ever win an election on his own merits. It’s not going to happen. The only credible route to Andy Burnham becoming PM is that the economy flounders and dies, which in fairness could happen with a housing market collapse but with sustained low interest rates and a gradual pickup in wage growth there’s no reason to suppose this will happen imminently. At this point Corbyn is actually more credible than Burnham, so it really makes no sense to choose Burnham at all; there is no situation in which he becomes PM but Corbyn does not.

Positive reasons for backing Corbyn are:

1. The public are extremely bored of polished political clones run by PR teams and committees. Jeremy Corbyn is a genuine person, and the public WILL respect that even if they don’t agree with his overall approach.

2. He is the best candidate to provide a strong opposition. The other three are extremely confused about what they should be doing; they think that they should be emulating the Tories to try to steal votes from them. This is idiotic because it reinforces the public’s view that politicians are all the same, and it makes Labour look like a less capable version of the Tories. There was no real reason to vote for Labour at the last election, and with Burnham, Cooper or Kendall in charge, there will be no real reason to vote for them at the next election. Stand for something and people will vote for you. The SNP proved that. Ukip proved that!

3. It will break the stagnation of the Labour party by polarising them either towards victory or dismal failure. He might not go on to win 2020, but by then he should have shaken things up so much that the next leadership candidates are not just 2010’s rejects. He might even split the party into two, which will make things very interesting as then only the Tories will be against proportional representation and then we’ll see a radical reshuffling of the political landscape; that’s goodbye to the two party system and goodbye to the Tories as we see large numbers of Ukip defections and probably a new libertarian party.

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Sleep

I know a lot of people on Hacker News and just in general like to claim that they function optimally with 5 hours sleep or whatever. Last night I hit a new low with only four hours (not for lack of trying), and I feel physically OK. Not great, but not terrible.

The main noticeable difference is in mental abilities. I spent most of this morning staring at a terminal window telling me repeatedly that my code was crashing on execution for completely trivial reasons while I wondered vaguely where my IQ points went.

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phones

There are a few ways to wield a smartphone.

1. The teenager holds it in two hands while stabbing rapidly at the screen with both thumbs.

2. The suave 20 something year old bends the laws of physics to balance it in their hand while using the same hand to interact with it.

3. The confused old lady holds it up to her face with one hand, angles her head back so she can look down her nose at it while narrowing her eyes in concentration, then jabs at it suspiciously with her other.

It turns out I am a confused old lady.

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Pod

Today I finally had my podiatrist visit.

The result is not very illuminating. I originally got the referral mainly for the dull metatarsalgia, but in the time it took to get to the appointment, that has resolved itself on its own. I still get the sharp pain which I thought might be a neuroma so he looked at that…

…and he diagnosed Morton’s Neuroma, said that treatment would consist of injections and surgery, and said it’s best to avoid that unless the pain is actively disrupting my life. From what I’ve read, I agree with that statement, but I’m not entirely convinced by the diagnosis. He tried to narrow it down to a neuroma by asking me a bunch of questions which I said ‘no’ to, then squeezed and prodded my foot and failed to elicit any pain, then diagnosed a neuroma anyway, which hardly seems sound (but isn’t necessarily incorrect). So maybe it is a neuroma, maybe it isn’t, who knows.

At the moment I am running twice a week, and while it does hurt if I step on it awkwardly it’s not causing me any real practical problems right now, so ‘do nothing’ is probably the right strategy. Or another way to look at it is: the irony of the podiatrist is that it’s two miles away, so I walked 7 miles today to get there and back and then to work and back, and if I can walk 7 miles in a day then it’s not so bad.

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