September 23rd, 2017
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I've been paying attention to the many attempts to repeal the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare)* and what's been really obvious in the last year is that the Republican majority don't actually want to repeal it.

There seem to be three different groups:
1) Republican Senators who can see that Obamacare is actually about as right-wing a way to have universal healthcare as you can get**, and don't actually want to get rid of it.
2) Republican Senators who may or may not be in favour of Obamacare, but can see that their constituents are now attached to their healthcare, will be furious if they lose it, and only have a slim majority which they are terrified of losing at the next election.
3) Republican Senators who really are against Obamacare.

The problem here is that all three groups need to pretend that they're in category (3), because they've spent the last decade telling their supporters how terrible Obamacare is, to the point where there are voters who support all of the individual parts of the bill, and even the "Affordable Care Act" but will be will be against Obamacare.

And the longer the ACA exists, and the more that voters understand about it (as is happening the more Republicans talk about it) the more popular it gets. To the point where a majority of the public are now in favour of it***. But the Republican Party now has a central point of belief that "Obamacare is bad".

Which means that in order to be against it, but not actually remove it, we're left with a few Republican Senators taking it in turns to vote against repeal, on various largely spurious grounds. Being very careful to say "Oh no, I hate Obamacare as much as the next person. But I can't vote to repeal it this time, because of a minor provision. Maybe next time." - and then the next time a _different_ Republican Senator can do exactly the same thing.

None of which means that Obamacare is safe. It's balanced on a bunch of senators believing that if they repeal it they'll lose their jobs. So every time a repeal bill is put forward they have to be persuaded _again_ that the public still cares. And I am very grateful for my US friends who are involved in getting people to phone their representatives every time it comes up.

But I am moderately hopeful that we'll make it through to the mid-terms without it being repealed. Because I don't think that a majority of the senate actually wants it to be.****

*There were over 50 of these between 2011 and 2014, goodness knows how many we're up to now
**Not surprising, as it's very similar to RomneyCare.
***But only 17% of registered Republicans. It's the swing voters who have moved.
****But don't trust me. This is just my impression from what I've read from, frankly, a long way away.
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September 22nd, 2017
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posted by [personal profile] andrewducker at 06:37pm on 22/09/2017
Jane and I went up to Nethy Bridge, near Aviemore, and stayed at the Lazy Duck in one of their Eco-Lodges. Which is a cabin built for two, with electricity, gas cooking, and (distant, wobbly) wifi, right next to a large duck pond full of a variety of different species of ducks.
Loads of photos and four videos )
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September 21st, 2017
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September 20th, 2017
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Fiction: still reading Neal Stephenson's "Reamde", a bit over halfway now. I think there's a vague feeling that it's pulling back together rather than opening out now, but nowhere near the endgame yet.

Non-fiction: still reading Gerald Harriss's "Shaping the Nation: England 1360-1461" - more about the church (as institution) and monasteries in particular this time. Which never quite recovered from the Black Death to their previous levels of population, might almost say that the monastic way of life was in decline.

Maps: 200BCE-500AD - the rise of Christianity and the decline of Rome. China also falls to pieces over this period. And the first empires in South America arise (Tiwanaku & Wari). Madagascar got settled by Indonesians, which I hadn't realised, and New Zealand is still uninhabited.


Podcasts: ep 28-33 of Renaissance English History podcast. Mostly been bios of this person or that who was significant during the period, still interesting, but still the least favourite of the ones I'm keeping listening to (so OK but not great).

Sunday podcast: ep 7 & 8 of Our Man in the Middle East - build up to 9/11, the previous career of Osama bin Laden and the buildup of reasons for the US & UK to invade Iraq a second time.

Music: while running I've mostly listened to 80s compilations.


ep 3 of Reginald D. Hunter's Songs of the South - Mississippi & Louisiana. A good series overall, kept the tone light but didn't feel shallow.

ep 2 of The World's Busiest Cities - Mexico City this time, most of the sprawl is self-built by people just arriving and putting up a house where they found space.

ep 1 & 2 of Dangerous Borders: A Journey Across India & Pakistan - two British journalists, whose families are from the Punjab, making parallel journeys along the border region. Different tone to the other stuff I recorded about Partition, this has a focus on what the countries are like now, what life is like now, and so it rather more upbeat overall. Without sugarcoating the realities of both present & past.

Best Album 2017: Meet the Mercury Prize Shortlist & Mercury Music Prize: Best Album of the Year 2017 - I wasn't that keen on the shortlist, a lot felt bland or if not bland then not interesting enough to investigate further. The interview snippets put me off some of the bands too. For me the stand out act was Kate Tempest, tho I also quite liked the performance from Stormzy. But it was Sampha who won it and he was in the bland category.

Indie Classics at the BBC - one of the Beebs music programmes that strings together various bits of live footage they have in a theme, with facts subtitled over them. The theme here was earlier indie music, it ended with Happy Mondays & the Stone Roses, and was fun to watch. Wasn't just the obvious bands or tracks.

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September 19th, 2017
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September 18th, 2017
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September 17th, 2017
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September 16th, 2017
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September 15th, 2017
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posted by [personal profile] andrewducker at 01:13pm on 15/09/2017
When I rule the world the mechanism for cancelling a subscription will have to be at least as easy as the mechanism for setting one up.

So, for example*, if you can take out a subscription to the Financial Times online in about 30 seconds online, by clicking on a few options, then you should be able to cancel your subscription by clicking on something on your subscription details on their site. And they should not require you to email their support desk, reply with a second email explaining why you don't want it any more, and then answer a phone call wherein they offer it to you cheaper and then have to insist that, no, really, you don't want it any more.

The rule shall, instead, be that if ten random people take longer to unsubscribe than they did to subscribe that your home page will be replaced by a big flashing sign reading "We will treat you badly in the hope of holding on to your money."

Secondary rule: No introductory offers. Free trials are allowed (but must be easily cancellable, as above), but you can't offer new people a better deal than your existing customers. Introductory offers are a way of tricking people into signing up, and then hanging onto them when inertia stops them from cancelling/moving. Instead you must offer a good deal in the first place, which is sustainable, and which is easily compared to your competitors. I know this makes life harder for companies who are trying to hide long-term costs from their customers. I really, really, don't care.

*Or, possibly, exactly what happened to me at lunchtime.
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September 14th, 2017
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September 13th, 2017
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Fiction: still reading Neal Stephenson's "Reamde", and will be for a while yet - I think I'm only about a third of the way through. Still enjoying it, still not sure I know where the story is going yet, the introduction of complicating factors to the plot is still continuing.

Non-fiction: still reading Gerald Harriss's "Shaping the Nation: England 1360-1461" - finished off the chapter on urban life and started the one on the institutional Church (as opposed to religion which is the next chapter). Read about bishops, and was surprised to discover it was to large extent a meritocracy. Eventual bishops rose through the ranks in court administration (generally) before promotion to a see, most had a university education and over this period more & more had higher degrees. Generally educated in law rather than theology, except during Henry VI's reign when theologians were more promoted.

Maps: 800-200BCE - waves of empires in the Middle East (the Persians come & go, Alexander ditto). China fragments, and then re-coalesces (via the conquest of the First Emperor). India also comes together as an almost single unit briefly under Ashoka. Iron working spreads from niche tech to in use across Eurasia. And several of the great religions/philosophies are founded - Hinduism, Buddhism, Confucianism.


Podcasts: ep 2-28 of Renaissance English History podcast. Somewhat patchy to start off with, but it feels like she's beginning to hit her stride (and the dates on the episodes are getting closer together). It does feel like the most amateur of the podcasts I've listened to so far but still interesting.

Sunday podcast: ep 5 & 6 of Our Man in the Middle East - more Jerusalem/Israel in the 90s, the assassination of their Prime Minister which also killed the peace process.

Music: while running I've listened Prince, Scissor Sisters, Roxette and an 80s compilation.


Diablo - bumped up the difficulty level a notch, and died loads as we're still adjusting to that ;)


ep 4 of From Russia to Iran - Armenia & finally Iran. This last episode felt a little padded, partly because there were big jumps in distance so they felt we needed more orientation. A good series, and a part of the world I knew nothing about before.

ep 2 of Reginald D. Hunter's Songs of the South - Alabama and Georgia (where he was born but left). Delved rather more into the racial tensions of the South along with the music (Confederate flags at Lynyrd Skynyrd concerts for instance), but somehow remained upbeat in tone.

Seven Days in Summer: Countdown to Partition - more about Partition. This focused on the absolute clusterfuck of the handover & division process. Perhaps the violence would've happened anyway, but I don't think the British Government of the time helped the situation one bit (like, some dude who'd never been to India before was flown in to draw the boundaries between India & Pakistan and the line wasn't even finalised till after the handover so people were in limbo & relying on rumour).

ep 3 of The Sweet Makers - our intrepid confectioners were pretending to be Victorians, and were perhaps a little more competent with this level of tech than the older tech. Fun series, but not as high quality as other living history type documentaries we've watched.

ep 1 of The World's Busiest Cities - Dan Snow, Anita Rani & Ade Adepitan visiting some of the busiest cities. This episode was Hong Kong, which has a massive gulf between the winners of capitalism and the losers (people living in cubicles no bigger than their beds, Filipino domestic servants whose days off are spent camped out in public spaces because they have no place of their own).

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September 12th, 2017
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September 11th, 2017
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posted by [personal profile] mousetrappling at 02:39pm on 11/09/2017 under

After enjoying doing embroidery on my birthday I worked out that I could sit & stitch while we were watching TV, so I've actually made some progress on the penguin I'm stitching over the last couple of weeks!

My stitches aren't as neat as they once were. Primarily because I'm out of practice - they're still OK so I'm keeping going and they'll get better over time. But some of it's also because my eyesight isn't as good as it was even 10 years ago, seems there's nothing quite as good as embroidery to show up the deficiencies in one's close up vision.

location: Ipswich
Mood:: 'accomplished' accomplished
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September 10th, 2017
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