Naming Conventions

If you browse this site regularly you may have noticed that the title of the communication doesn’t immediately have a lot to do with the content of that communication. It does, it’s just not obvious.

When I review a film on this site then the title of that communication is the name of that film such as this review of Now You See Me from 2013. There is a page somewhere in the old sites that has reviews of films going back to 2004. There might be stuff mentioned about films in this page which has stuff going back to 2004, I can’t be bothered to read it all.

Some of the cadet camp communications follow a naming convention of using the RAF TLA for the base where I stayed like this one from my first summer camp as a commissioned officer. I used the term BZN for the name of the RAF Station. That way I know I can find the other camps by searching although I think the Cyprus camp was named Via Platres. This was a reference to the name of the village we drove through everyday to get anywhere from Troodos base high in the mountains.

The Lego communications follow the format of Lego XX – Kit Number. The XX stands for the number of the communication of that type. It turns out there have been sixty six communications about the building of Lego sets. The last one is here. I think quite a few cover my building of the bucket wheel extractor a few years ago.

All my album reviews are named Album – Band. This makes a certain amount of sense and along with the movies is probably the only group of communications that is easy to find. Although as I write this I am only up to the P section of the albums by name. I chose to write these alphabetically by album name because I wouldn’t then be writing reviews for twenty AC/Dc albums on the trot. It mixes things up a bit.

The main problem with me trying to be clever about the naming of each communication is that I forget what they were called and end up searching my own website to find what I wrote or thought about a particular thing. This isn’t easy as sometimes I haven’t used the words that I thought I did when writing about that topic. In one communication I reference the Olive Harvest but that doesn’t mean anything unless you have the key to the code.

I’ve basically created a mess with these communications and I love it. It makes things harder to find. I end up seeing stuff I’d forgotten about. It is also slightly click-baity for which I apologise. You see I’ve written something and it won’t be obvious what it is unless it’s in those categories mentioned earlier, I bet you can’t wait to find out what madness lies within.

Not Fitting In

I guess this is a follow up to my choices communication last week. I finished that by saying that I expect to wake up sad at what this country is. I do believe it’s worse than that. I went to bed last Thursday, the day of the General Election, not really thinking about what the next day could bring but hoping for change. When I woke up I looked:

I am not pro-Labour. But I had hoped they would win. Because I care about people and do not want the conservatives leading this country for the next five years. I am not a member of the Labour party, I am a member of the Green party. The Green party has policies that closely match my own ideas about governance and the future of this planet. Next closest would be either the Lib Dems or Labour. The Lib Dems are damaged after being in a coalition with the tories and also electing a religious nut as their leader.

I do think that I feel depressed at what I see is a selfish choice by the country. I do not trust Boris, I have never liked the tories. I have never agreed with what they have done. I didn’t particularly agree with Blair and New Labour but at least they spent money and then saved the economic place of this country. The tories then forced austerity onto this country and the life expectancy shows that. The poor are going to suffer because people are selfish.

I do not feel as though I am part of this country. I do not stand with the beliefs that have arisen from this election. This country has in reality, it turns out, always been a bit racists and a very entrenched in its views of class and society. The country seems to believe that poor people are poor because they deserve it or did something wrong. That isn’t the case.

It’s quite telling that the first thing I did Friday morning was think about where in the world I can live, somewhere I feel my views are shared by those around me. Somewhere tolerant. Somewhere I could feel at home. I’ve never really felt comfortable with the retrospective jingoistic bullshit that this country falls for all the time. God, what a country of assholes.

It Was Better Than That

The other night the colours on display in the sky stopped me in my tracks and I just stared. The red was so deep and rich, contrasted with the black of the approaching night. I tried to take a photograph that would capture the hues but I don’t think it really does the sunset justice. Photographing atmospheric events is tricky and probably requires a deep investment in time and getting the DSLR out. I took this photograph with my iPhone and while the camera is good it’s not great. Also, I don’t do much in post. I like the shot to work. The things I will do are crop and maybe white balance adjustment. I rarely use filters as they seem to be a little “cheat”.

Sunset Colours
Sunset Colours

This view is in stark contrast to the view this morning through the window of . . . . nothing. There is fog out there and my normal uninterrupted view of around ten kilometres of countryside is reduced to 0.05km.

Over-Acting Joystick

Do you ever watch action movies and wonder where reality ends for them? It’s always the little things for me. Those small aspects of controlling mechanical objects that films like to exaggerate and mess up. But, it’s not just film, I see this sort of thing in kids cartoons and other media.

Last night I was watching a submarine based film. It was terrible and had loads of parts to it that I hated. But in it they had a small rescue sub piloted by two submariners. While driving this craft along they, on more than one occasion, had to turn “harder” and then ever “harder”. So, what did they do? They pulled harder on the joystick and made grimacing faces to show that this took more effort than normal to turn this tight. What shit.

Here’s some explanation. When we [humans] first made mechanical devices we had rigid linkages to the control systems and if it was going to take more effort to move the control system then we would have to put in more effort to our hand sized device be that a control column, wheel, or pedals. There used to be a direct mechanical connection from one end of the system to the other. This is fine for objects requiring little force to move control systems as humans can provide that force for a limited time.

Then, over time, our mechanical devices became larger and required more force input to move the control systems. Engineers and designers soon realised that the pilot/driver/controller couldn’t provide all the force [push or pull] required to move the control surface and so they needed help. Also, if large effort was required over a long period of time the pilot would become physically tired very quickly. So, powered control systems were invented.

When a pilot/driver/controller moves the control stick/wheel/pedals they actuate a motor which helps to turn the control surface or device. Now, it starts to get a little complicated. There is required a certain level of feedback force to the pilot through the control column so that they can “feel” what is going on with the aircraft/sub/car etc. This amount of feedback is controlled very carefully to ensure that the pilot can understand what’s happening to their craft while also allowing them to maintain a high level of work without becoming over-tired.

So, in the submarine movie they had the pilots obviously physically straining trying to turn this craft but that would not be the case in real life. Once the control column is moved as far as it will go there is nothing else you can do. It wouldn’t take that amount of effort to maneuver and you can’t turn a little tighter by grimacing. It’s bullshit.

This trope is similar to driving fast in a chase. It always seems the vehicles have another gear to change in to or the driver can put his foot down more. If you are being chased why aren’t you going as fast as possible from the very start. It’s lazy filmmaking because they could do other things to make the action interesting. The producers just settle for the easy.

So, as a rough guide to powered control systems and feedback devices I would suggest that anything before 1950 would require effort to move a control surface. That is a very broad brush. Many bombers had powered control systems and so it’s not the absolute guide but it does set a rough idea of how to spot the crap in a film.

What Value – Life?

Where this communication ends up I don’t know. It’s a theme I’ve been thinking about for a while now and I’m not sure what my conclusions are. I think about this whenever I watch a film with an aircraft crash or if I visit the Survival Equipment chaps at an air force base although it doesn’t just apply to flying stuff. Let’s see what happens.

There have been two crashes of the Boeing 737 Max 8 aircraft where everyone on board was killed. Straight after the second airlines started to stop using the aircraft and then eventually the FAA and CAA decided to withdraw the airworthiness certificates of those aircraft. The underlying thinking here is that you can’t have an aircraft type which regularly crashes killing people. It is a requirement of the manufacturer to correct any faults in the aircraft type. Society has a lower limit to what it expects the death rate for flying to be, whether most participating in that society understand that or not. The regulators have stepped in. Another pressure is that the market would stop choosing the 737 Max and Boeing would die if they didn’t make the changes. Society and capitalistic market forces require the product to work well. Human life has a value and should be cherished.

I’m old enough to remember the Herald Of Free Enterprise ferry disaster. I can still remember my dad telling me about it when he picked me up from cadets that evening. I remember feeling sick. I’m not sure why this affected me more than an aircraft crash but it did, maybe because I’d never heard of a ferry disaster before. There were issues with the ship’s operation procedures and the resulting investigation made recommendations which improved the safety for ferries in this country and around the world. The ultimate thinking here was that human life has a value and we should do all we can to preserve it.

In 1986 the space shuttle Challenger [rather the Space Transport System] launched and then blew up about a minute into its flight. This killed all seven astronauts on board. Nasa stopped all flights and investigated the disaster. There are, I guess, many pressures here: government funding, shuttle cost, human life, public relations, the cold war. It was deemed necessary for the programme to be paused while changes were made to ensure the safety of the astronauts. The lives of these people was important and nobody wanted to experience the “ultimate sacrifice”. To those youngsters out there who need to know, there is a phrase in my circles: “Space is hard”. Yes, space is hard. It’s complex and difficult and there will be sacrifices [just think about that word there!].

It would seem that companies like to try and cost cut to maximise profit and so the market forces only come to bear after a particular problem catches them out. So human life to companies is cheap, until they have to make changes I guess. My evidence for this is the General Slocum disaster in New York. A fire caused the Slocum to be abandoned. Most members of the public on board couldn’t swim, it wasn’t a common thing in 1904. Some of the life preservers were wired in place, maybe to stop them being stolen. The life preservers were meant to have cork of a certain volume in them to maintain buoyancy on humans. This cork was meant to be solid chunks and the amount was measured by mass. The life preserver manufacturer had chosen to use granulated cork as it was cheaper, but because it didn’t meet the mass requirements they then used metal bars hidden in the vest to bring the mass up. When humans jumped into the water the cork bubbled out of the vests as it wasn’t in large lumps and then the people were dragged under the water by the metal bars. 1021 people died that night. I guess afterwards there were investigations and corrections put in place to save this happening again on this scale. The city decided that human life is precious.

In the 1960s the Chevrolet Corvair had a design flaw that meant its handling could be unsafe. The company only started to rectify this after the problem was made public and even then it initially decided that the extra safety features should be “optional” and a paid extra on the model. This time a company succumbed to public pressure and eventually the Corvair was produced with suspension similar to contemporary designs. In this case human life was deemed to be precious but only after the flaw was made public and pressure was applied to the company.

When I visit the Squippers on an RAF base it becomes quite clear that the whole purpose of the military system is the protection of life of people within that particular branch of the military. The safety equipment designed to help a fast jet pilot in the case of a problem is impressive. The aim is to preserve the life of the pilot or aircrew in as many situations as possible. It doesn’t always happen but effectively the aircraft is expendable and the life is not. The motivation for this could be that aircrew are hard to find and cost a lot of money to train but the principle is the same, there is a value to the human life and it should be preserved.

So, governments and companies place a value on human life and it is generally seen to be a bad thing for people to die because of bad design or systemic issues with the rules and management of a system. If there are rail crashes then they are investigated. All shipping accidents are investigated and rules put in place to make sure those type of accidents either don’t happen again or the risk of them happening again is reduced to an “acceptable” level.

The rules governing the use of roads by people with vehicles have developed over time and change on occasion to make the roads safer. Deaths on UK roads have decreased over time and seem to have settled to around 1100.

There are probably many factors in this. I mean, when I was a child seatbelts WEREN’T compulsory to wear. Can you believe that? It was decided that people could choose for themselves whether to wear a seatbelt or not. There is only one problem with that: people are stupid. The best thing for a car would be to wear a five point harness and make sure it’s tight. But that is quite a hassle. Volvo invented the three point harness and gave away the technical rights to the whole industry. This means we have seatbelts in cars that, while they aren’t the safest, they are the best balance between safe and convenient.

When you get into a car you ACCEPT the risk that driving on the roads brings. You accept the balance between getting somewhere in comfort and the risk that you might not arrive. Now, you might not be aware of this, but it is what you should be thinking. Driving, or to an extent existing, means you implicitly accept the associated risks. If driving was an activity supplied by a company you would have to sign a disclaimer each time you decided to go somewhere. You decide to accept the implicit social contract every time you do something like driving or getting on a train etc.

The value of human life is not measurable. Current society tries to do the best for the people within that society. It tries to educate. It tries to help. It tries to save.

Except it clearly doesn’t.

Individuals on the whole are largely selfish and lack empathy. I mean this from a point of view of looking at individuals within a system. I’m not talking about you. I’m talking about a single person within a system, within society. Our system of collectivness means that we each have our freedoms within that social construct. We chose what to do with our own lives [we don’t really as free will is an illusion but that’s for another time], we can spend money how we want, we can arrange our time how we want. There are restrictions within that. I hope that everyone pays their tax [they don’t] and many of us have to work to get money to pay for the things we use but generally we have a certain amount of freedom.

This freedom leads to us not caring or thinking about others as much as we should. We all vote or feel empathy for the latest finalist on Britain’s Got Talent because their gran died when they were young and the zit on their nose lasted for ten years but we lack the empathy for people around the world who have oppressed lives. We don’t care collectively about the thousands of people dying in wars [Yemen] or those being abused by their own governments or those systematically killed through religion or lack of action of governments. We don’t care about the critical underfunding this country has had for over ten years now causing deaths and poverty on a massive scale. We don’t care about people more than one degree of freedom away from us. We don’t seem to care about people dying. Why do we lack this empathy? We don’t seem to care about the child-rape cabal headquartered in Rome.

It seems that some systems and social constructs are there to help us survive. They are there to save life and preserve humans. Lives are values in a social structure. But, as individuals, we seem not to care. Maybe it is too much for individuals to take on the world and do the “right thing”. There is only so much an individual can do to make changes.

In this country people still vote Tory even though their policies over the last ten years have led to the UK having a need for FUCKING FOOD BANKS. Let’s get this straight. FOOD BANKS. Places where people who can’t afford FOOD can go and get food. FOOD BANKS. There’s a lack of empathy for these people. As long as I am comfortable I don’t need to think about the lives of others and help them.

Damn, I’m not sure where this is going. My starting point was that human life is precious and yet in so many ways we don’t value it and people are dying through so many preventable causes but it’s not visible, so we don’t know or care about it. Maybe I need to lay out my arguments a little better. This communication seemed to end in a rant about selfishness and lacking empathy. It started well but ended up as a grumpy old lefty moaning.

I’ll come back to this.

Not 4WD

One of the laces on my running shoes died just over a week ago. I’d been thinking of getting new ones as I was sure these were now two years old and running out of steam. I also know I had written about the new trainers when I got them as a way of keeping tabs on when I bought them. It turns out that was just about three years ago! Here’s what they looked like new:

New – three years ago

This is what they look like now:

Three Years Old
Three Years Old

You can see they are worn, with holes appearing, there’s almost no tread on the soles. So, I took a trip to a local running shop and went for blue this time:

New Blue
New Blue

I guess we’ll see how long these ones last.

By the way, this is the 1501 communication published on this site. Keep an eye out for more over the next few years!

The Truth

It’s wrong to lie.

It’s your honour.

These are both slightly different ways of saying the same thing I think. We expect people to be honourable and largely I think that means that actions should match the words that people say. We expect people to essentially tell the truth, to speak words which are not false.

I’d considered this a lot over my life. What is “honour”? What does it mean to be honourable? How can we measure this aspect of life? I spent quite a while thinking about it from a religious point of view. People have died for what they say they believe. People have been tortured and not rescinded their stated views about which god or set of beliefs is theirs.

I don’t entirely understand that. I think that is because I have a level of un-belief beyond most. I don’t believe that god is real and therefore it doesn’t matter what you say about it. It doesn’t matter what magic spell you whisper before you go to bed, none of it will do a thing. If I was required to, I would lie about my belief to continue living, but ultimately I know that doesn’t matter. St. Peter isn’t going to be waiting for me to tell me I fucked up by lying about my belief.

However, we expect people to be honourable. We expect people to tell the truth. If we are to accept what people are then we need that level of trust that we see them how they really are. Which means the truth.

If you want to be in a relationship, whether friendship or romantic, then it’s likely there needs to be truth for the relationship to be trustworthy. For partner A to rely on B a level of trust needs to be developed, this requires actions to match up with words that are said [I think I’ve just sold the religion issue I mentioned earlier, I have to relationship with religion or god and so don’t care].

How can you trust someone who constantly lies or rebuts you with little lies?

[An aside on little lies – we all make little lies. Lying is a very early trait of humans that is learnt. People are remarkably good a lying. It’s why it’s hard to tell if someone is lying or not. NEWS ALERT – LIE DETECTORS DON’T WORK.]

So, lying. Little lies are things that make life a little more comfortable and seem to have few side effects. We use these constantly as people to make our lives a little easier each day. It’s easy. It’s learnt behaviour.

Proper lies are a different matter. How can you trust a person who lies about things that matter?

[Another aside – “things that matter” is a continuum and and the level of consequence will be different for different people.]

You can’t develop trust if someone lies about what they said or what their actions were or what happened. Without trust you don’t have a relationship. These had been my thoughts until about three years ago. I’d been bemused by the idea of honour because I thought about it mostly framed within the religion question.

So let’s talk about politicians.

We now have world leaders who lie. Blatantly.

We have always expected politicians to be slimy bastards. We have always know that politicians or other people in power are expected to do things and then try to explain what they did in the slipperiest terms so that the “spin” is that they look good. We have always expected politicians to not lie. I don’t think we expected them to tell the truth all the time but we don’t expect them to lie. We expect them to squirm their way around the issues and leave the question unanswered while they sit in the knowledge that they “got away with that one”.

We have always a vague level of honour amongst politicians that at least they wouldn’t outright lie. They might skirt the issue but, when pressed, they would be “honourable”. That’s why in the past politicians would resign straight away from their government post if they were caught lying. They would understand that the measure of trust has been reduced to zero with those lies. They would resign as a politician though, of course not, they’d still be selected by their local party because people are stupid.

Then you get tow main things in the western world.

TRUMP

BREXIT

The vote for Brexit was based on lies and influence from foreign agents. Even when caught out politicians like Gove and Johnson just carry on. They haven’t resigned. They haven’t apologised for the lies they told. They are still in their jobs and still in power. The level of trust between the public and those politicians and politicians in general has been eroded because of the lies told and still being told by the pro-Brexit groups.

Trump lies. All the time. Demonstrably. He’s also a racist, white supremacist. However, he lies. Constantly. How can there be a level of trust with this man? It doesn’t matter what he says because he’s lying or doubling down and his actions don’t match his words. There is still a massive industry of news in the USA and the world that hangs on his every word because of his position of power in the world. Yet, he lies. There can be no trust.

The way to hurt Trump the most would be to remove the press corps from him. To remove him entirely from the news cycle, except for Fox news I guess, that would hurt the narcissistic orange man-baby.

What’s worse is that his approval ratings are STILL HOVERING AT ABOUT 40%. It’s clear that some of the public don’t care about what he says or that he’s lying. They just know he’s “their man”. Fuck This Shit.

Also, those local party selection committees, for Gove and Johnson and all the others who have blatantly lied, they keep electing those lying arses to represent their constituency in parliament. Those people are selfish fuckers but I think I shall leave my derision for them for another day.

It’s only when things mess up that you realise just how good things were for you I think. I don’t think the Blair/Obama governments were perfect but it is quite clear that they were better than the world leaders we have today. Man, this world is depressing at the moment.

Sundays

I woke up this morning with a mild worry that I hadn’t added to these communications for a while. I then thought about a really easy one to write, it wouldn’t take a huge effort and required no pictures or special formatting. Then, as I approached the computer, I forgot entirely what it was I was going to write about.

Anyway, I’m missing American Football loads at the moment. Some people have talked to be about it and I suddenly realised that there hasn’t been any NFL since early February and I’m bored. I’m very much looking to August when the pre-season starts.

There was a power cut in the village and it turned out that we were being electricitised from mobile generated burning diesel fuel and being quiet but pretty loud if you lived nearby, at least the sound was a constant thrum rather than anything that swells and dips.

MEMS Power Services
MEMS Power Services

The power is back on now and I even had a text from the power company telling me there was going to be a short break in the power supply. I was out, which isn’t much use, because there are certain elements in my house that like to be powered down properly. The PS4, the NAS Drive and the PC all moaned at me about not being powered down correctly. At least the Pi seems un-bothered by it all. Also, IP acquisition from the router can be iffy sometimes on a power up, the SONOS system has issues occasionally.

I bought some Bic 4 coloured pens. I think I’ve come around to the idea that four colours in one pen is incredibly useful, especially when doing work-trips and cadet stuff. It’s got absolutely nothing to do with me spotting pilots using them while I was at RAF Wittering recently.

I bought a board game called They Come Unseen. It’s a strategy game where you either play a submarine commander or a soviet bad guy. I’ve not played it yet, but am looking froward to doing so. I’ll probably do it in a few years, it’d be quite a cool thing to do with some CCF staff on a camp, but I suspect they won’t be up for it.

The first box that came with They Come Unseen had parts missing which was quite a surprise so I let Amazon know and they posted a complete version to me the next day and it was easy to send the original one back.

I really want to go to the Royal International Air Tattoo. I’ve never been and I think it will rival an 80s Mildenhall airshow for experience.

Will I go and see End Game? That is quite a question. I find I don’t really care about the MCU but I suppose I will go and finish the story.

Words Not Justified

The normal “I’m working hard for you” leaflet came through the door yesterday from the local MP Tracey Crouch.

There are paragraphs explaining what she’s doing for “infrastructure” which largely means traffic management because that’s the sort of stuff that pisses people off on a daily basis. It’s something that is easy to do but doesn’t really solve the bigger issues. I guess there are legitimate reasons for an MP to get involved with this at a local level.

There’s a paragraph about how the MP is helping to look after the older people and this is good news as we should all learn to look after people and be nice. But the cynic in me can’t help but think that it’s old people who vote for the Tories.

I was impressed that Tracey Crouch resigned her ministerial position over her own party’s government not changing the law on Fixed Odds Betting Terminals. It just about forced the government to do something but the idea that it needed a minister to resign for the Tory government to want to do something to help people shows what contempt they have for the poor.

My biggest issue is with the following text at the top of the news leaflet:

“I want to reassure residents that I am working hard to deliver a Brexit that 65% of local people voted for.

These are challenging times but I believe that Chatham & Aylesford residents voted to leave the EU full in the knowledge of all the varying pros and cons and that is what I will strive to deliver.”

These words have angered me immensely. First, I want to break down the 65% number. The records for the referendum are broken down by local council area rather than constituency area. Tracey Crouch is MP for Chatham and Aylesford which contains part of Medway and also part of Tonbridge and Malling local council areas.

Medway voted OUT at a rate of 64% of those who voted but when total electorate is taken into consideration only 46% percent of those eligible to vote voted to leave the EU. [total electorate=192524, remain=49889, leave=88997 using numbers from Electoral Commission website].

Tonbridge and Malling voted out at a rate of 55.7% of those who bothered to turn up to vote. Once again, once the total electorate is taken into consideration the rate who voted to leave the EU is 44%. [total electorate=93019, remain=32792, remain=41229].

How my local MP can claim that 65% of local people voted to leave is ridiculous. She is taking the most extreme value possible from the referendum results. As her constituency contains residents from both the local authority areas it seems extremely likely that the actual number who wanted Brexit is remarkably low. By combining both areas the overall result is 44% to leave the EU.

My next problem with the few words the MP wrote in the leaflet is that she believes residents voted to leave the EU full in the knowledge of all the varying pros and cons. I disagree with this statement in its entirety. From polling we know that many people have differing views on what they were voting for. For some it was to end immigration, for others it was to stop those bloody Europeans interfering in our laws and so on. I suspect that all of those who voted to leave would explain what they wanted differently. The national debate was framed poorly and used fear of immigration to push a point while not explaining that we aren’t part of Schengen and so have control anyway.

If we had told people that their phone roaming charge would probably come back once we leave the EU I think some would have changed their mind. If the electorate had understood that to sell things to the EU we would have to maintain their current standards for manufacturing and all future standards without any say in those regulations I thin they would have changed their votes.

If people had a multitude of things explained to them then they may have voted differently. Obviously you are going to have those people whose views can’t be persuaded by facts or those who are just racist but I’m sure plenty would have voted differently if the benefits of being in the EU had been stated more clearly and if people had understood how the EU works.

The whole process of the referendum was driven by hate and fear and pushed by the right wing press. People didn’t understand what they were voting for and they all had different ideas of what the result would be.

So, the numbers don’t really stack up to support the MP’s view of how to approach all the decisions she needs to make during this period of debate on leaving the EU in parliament. I honestly believe that an MP should always do what is best for the future of the people in their constituency even if that means fucking them over and getting voted out because the people didn’t like it. We all like eating sugary desserts while fully in the knowledge that we will develop type 2 diabetes. The people don’t always know what is best for them.

Also, the concept that people understood what they were voting for two years ago is plainly ridiculous. Even if you asked people now I don’ t think they can agree on what “leaving the EU ” really means.

This whole thing is tearing this country apart and while we are doing this we are ignoring the general causes of the decision by not giving a shit about the chronic under investment in everything over the last ten years. We should be spending money to look after people and invest for the future. Instead we are slowly creating and economic and social collapse to suit the vagaries of personality in the tory party.