Another shop tries to ensure I won't use their self-service checkouts: the Co-Op has disabled cash on their existing self-service checkouts (at a local store), and is installing new self-service checkouts that are card only (at another local store).
It's not that I don't have payment cards; I have half a dozen of them with plenty of spending power, thank you very much, because I'm financially secure in this society and I live here.
I object to card only: cashless is regressive on foreign travellers, on the poor, and on anyone unfortunate enough to have the third party in the transaction — the card issuer who doesn't care about the transaction happening — decide to decline.
I will continue to pay cash at the Co-Op and I will rate their service on whether their staffed till is fast, no matter if there are self-service checkouts free. Let us see how that goes.
The ICE train that I am riding in, which looks rather like a spaceship designed by ferrets
, has just entered the Netherlands from Germany.
I only noticed because my phone received an SMS saying I was now roaming in the Netherlands, and the quality of the German on the signs visible from the train has sharply deteriorated.
I love travelling in the Schengen Area. It's like travelling in the future.
I have made the mistake of arriving at London Stansted Airport 30 minutes earlier than necessary. Stansted continues to be a most unpleasant place. After an enforced circuitous walk through the retail maze one arrives in the "departure lounge", a space where most of the floor area is rented out to even more retail establishments.
The remaining seating space is entirely full; in fact so are all the food service shops with seating except the odious "Halo Fizz Bar" with its overpriced offerings of sour Champagne and signs warning of seating only for those wishing to engage in conspicuous consumption without even a veneer of good taste.
If the land transport infrastructure of Britain was not entirely insufficient in all ways I would not even be in this crass commercial meat grinder, but instead in some airport less repellently extractive.
I hate this airport and everything the grasping little shits in the management of Manchester Airports Group have done to its since they took over from BAA.
A report to Parliament says 25 million existing homes will not meet the insulation standards required by mid-century.Reported by the BBC.
I am not permitted to materially improve the insulation in my (grade 2 listed) house. So, if anyone in Government wants better home insulation from me, they need to let me do it.
The WiFi on this Thalys train works as well as WiFi on the Thalys train I took a few days ago: very badly. It doesn't work at all, one can sign in but not fetch any web pages.
They have many signs saying it's free, but it's worth what I paid for it: nothing.
(posted via mobile data, thanks to the European Union's regulations on mobile phone costs)
So, President Trump is confusing a lot of people - including those who thought he was an intelligent, able deal-maker and executive leader. In office, he and his staff are confused, incoherent, and incompetent (except Steven Bannon, who is competently malicious).
Trump is known as a deal-maker, a detail-obssessed control freak. This is documented in many reports of working for him, and in biographies. However, all the big deals he made personally were made before 10-15 years ago. Since then, his main commercial activities have been playing a billionaire on TV ("The Apprentice") and licensing his name. Most of the recent "TRUMP" commercial developments are managed by others and he has a minority stake or none at all, taking a licensing fee for use of his name and vague "consultancy" or advisory positions.
He is 70 years old, with a life of frequent excess behind him (including a well-documented cocaine-and-champagne habit in the 1970s and 1980). In the US Presidential campaign he frequently showed a lack of knowledge of details of current matters and of analytical ability. He is well known for arbitrary, emotive attacks on anyone he opposes. He often appears irrational in actions and inconsistent in his beliefs.
These signs may indicate he is suffering the early onset of old-age dementia (to be clear, not early-onset dementia - 70 years is a common age for old-age dementia signs to become evident).
The USA does not need a President who is losing his marbles. Ronald Reagan may have started to suffer from Alzheimer's Disease towards the end of his second term, but he did not become personally irrationally aggressive and he had a competent, coherent staff to run the Government of the United States around him. Trump lacks this, and his mental state may be becoming increasingly unbalanced as his cognitive powers decrease.
This is an alarmingly plausible idea.
The BBC has produced a video on Youtube of the London 2017 New Year fireworks from various viewpoints:
which is quite cool, especially the part from the viewpoint of the boat dock between the London Eye and the barges launching most of the fireworks.
Sun, Nov. 6th, 2016, 10:04 pm
So this time I have registered early - having missed the boat because the Barcelona Eurocon sold out pretty fast.
Flights from the UK, Luton to Dortmund on Easyjet, can currently be had for about 50 quid - in case anyone is thinking it'll be very expensive to get to.
Sun, Oct. 2nd, 2016, 08:34 pm
So it's a hard Brexit then?
It really is just about the xenophobia and racism. There's no depth other than that.
Mark watched all the TV debates in the run-up to the referendum. He voted to leave the European Union, citing uncontrolled immigration as his main reason. "I'm not racist," he insists. "I'm mixed race myself - my dad came over as an immigrant from Barbados - but it's the volume of people who are coming to our shores - we can't cope physically. We just overstretch our public services.
Both men work regularly in Europe.
"You only have to stand here five minutes and you'll see loads of them," grumbles Colin, nodding at two North African asylum seekers who are walking past.
"They do nothing all day and they get it all for free… whereas we have to go to work and we are getting less and less." John cuts across him.
"We should get out of the EU and close the tunnel!" he growls. Both men are surprised when I point out that asylum seekers are not allowed to work while they are waiting for their claims to be processed.
"But they'll knack us when they do work!" says John. "Because they will work for the minimum wage."
In the cramped, stuffy bedroom which she shares with a stranger, Camille, from Congo, sits sobbing.
"When I walk down the street, they shout Ebola, Ebola!" she weeps. "I don't want this life."
When her parents and sister were murdered in Congo,... Camille was trafficked ... and forced her to work as a prostitute.
"But they (the immigration authorities) say to me; 'You lie, you lie!'" she cries. She switches to her native French. "I'm not lying," she pleads. "My mum is dead, but I just want my mum. I just want my mum. "
Wayne voted out because he felt too many asylum seekers were coming to Britain and that Britain could not afford to welcome them. He is sure that when Britain leaves the EU, immigration will be curbed.
They're poor with few economic prospects, neglected by uncaring central government and given few chances to improve their lives.
They are also actually racists, in denial.
If they don't like me and want to get rid of me, I'm certainly not going to like them very much. Not until they stop being an existential threat to me.
Tue, Aug. 16th, 2016, 12:46 pm
, var. kvetchensraum noun
: Space to stretch out or move around and complain about a situation or state of affairs.
So, I feel like my car needs new rear tyres. I am usually a fan of National Tyres, since they've done me very well in the past, especially for some urgent work. However, their pricing is quite out of line with everyone else. For Pirelli Pzero 265/35 R18 97Y tyres, for example, the approximate price per tyre including fitting from several local people (booked online, fitting at their location and disposal of the old tyre):
National Tyres: £197
ATS Euromaster: £151
One of these prices is not like the others. Other tyre prices scale similarly between the various possible providers.
By way of comparison, a bare tyre from Amazon costs £121 delivered.
Not wishing to patronise Kwik-Fit, I may well go to Halfords.
Thu, Jul. 14th, 2016, 02:54 pm
Plenty of people now chasing augmented reality Pokemon also have fitbits. This causes them to move around and get significantly more exercise than previously.
I await the paper in a medicine journal in which someone has recruited a set of such people for a study in which they mined their Pokemon collecting time, fitbit activity record, and health records to show the health benefits of being more active.
Anyone planning to submit, perhaps, a letter to the editor of the Lancet on this topic is welcome to use the above title.
Nicolai The Hand Grenade of Courteous Debate