Posted on  UTC 2018-06-01 02:01

14.06.2018 – Solar sucks

…throughout the solar system, as Mars Opportunity now shows us.

However, a good opportunity to revisit Randall Monroe's classic cartoon from 2010:

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On January 26th [2010], 2274 Mars days into the mission, NASA declared Spirit a 'stationary research station', expected to stay operational for several more months until the dust buildup on its solar panels forces a final shutdown.

Solar sucks – wherever you are.

12.06.2018 – Trump Derangement Syndrome (TDS)

In the first draft of the piece below, I wrote in connection with Trump haters: 'The meme of the two dictators will be circulating soon'. It was cut out as being just silly speculation. Two minutes after uploading the piece I stumbled across an angry Canadian:

Trump obviously has a strategic agenda to terminate allied relationships from democratic countries,whilst aligning himself with leaders from dictatorships.Clearly,the true enemy he is trying to annihilate is democracy and is already breaking laws,as he slowly leans towards changing America from a democratic society to a dictatorship.

There is no known cure for TDS, either.

12.06.2018 – The Art of the Deal

We don't pretend to be experts, but we like a bit of good news as much as the next person.

We shouldn't minimise the importance of the symbolic in politics and culture. In this respect the summit between President Trump and the Korean Supreme Leader Kim Jong-un and the resultant agreement have immense symbolic value.

The rumour that after signing the agreement Donald Trump took a brief stroll on the waters of the nearby Singapore Strait is probably without foundation, though. But you never know with this man, do you?

Both the meeting and particularly the agreement that has come out of it represent a stunning, absolutely undeniable success for Donald Trump and his team. Holding this meeting in Singapore was a stroke of genius. Kim has been brought into the ambit of economically successful, peaceful nations (Singapore! South Korea!), who we hope will be factors in exerting some social control on this hitherto lonely figure. The Chinese will have a word or two to say in the matter, too.

The micromanagement pygmies of the G7 must be groaning inside; the Trump haters will carry on hating; Obama, who in eight years managed no foreign policy success worth the name and who has against all convention delighted in every opportunity to talk down his successor, must be busying himself with the distraction therapy of the construction of his memorial library.

The purpose of the summit – the reduction of the military threat posed by North Korea – has been achieved it seems. However, the next few months or years will be interesting: how will North Korea be brought into the modern economic world? South Korea will certainly do its bit to help its northern neighbour to develop – the faster the better: the population of North Korea has to stay where it is.

The USA will also do its bit: despite MAGA, a low wage offshore supplier is always welcome, certainly at the beginning of its growth curve. Exporting McDonalds and KFC into such countries is always a good move since they are franchises which push local development. But the people of North Korea first need money in their pockets: production and employment has got to come before consumption, so let's start building the factories, the roads, the railways, the power stations now. Good business for everyone.

We know little about the internal workings of the Kim regime, but it would be a surprise if it is not riddled with nepotism and corruption. Can the economic saviours of the country inject investment and pump up the flow of money without making corruption the growth industry?

Whether the old adage – that revolutions start when the lot of the people is actually improving – still holds in this case, only time will tell. The Marxist-Leninist troublemakers need to be kept out of the country: we don't want Venezuela Mk II; a velvet revolution would be nice, but is improbable. Let's wait and see and hope for the best.

But despite our caution we should still enjoy the glimmers of light in this gloomy world when they appear. Well done, President Trump and your team!

09.06.2018 – Yet more site changes

In the interests of making this website a kinder, friendlier place to be for busy people browsing with smartphones and tablets we have made the following changes.

  • The table of contents menu on the lefthand side has now been removed completely. It was of very limited use and took up more space than it deserved. The items that were in the menu are now on the home page.
  • We rejected the idea of implementing the menu in the header using modish, flickery drop-down menus. Why? Because we would have had to use scripting on each page, thus violating one of our design principles: no scripting (except for the email callout on the About page). These menus would still require two clicks.
  • Our alternative solution using the page trail also only needs two clicks from anywhere on the site – one click to go to the home page and one more click to select an item from the home page menu.
  • As before, the year number in the page trail will take you to the menu for that year.
  • The active elements in the page trail, the page numbers list and the home menu have been made bigger to assist the fat-fingered, the doddery, the tired, the world-weary or the drunk.
  • The discrete page data line (date, time, author) and the copyright line at the bottom of the page now use a slightly larger font to please those smartphone users who for some reason are incapable of reading a text that is three pixels high.
  • The home page has a background image. This image may be changed fairly frequently. The images have no profound meanings – at least none that we have spotted. The essential criterion for their selection is their layout, which had to survive the violation of the overlaid texts of the home page menu.

05.06.2018 – More site changes

Showing the empowering effect of a few bottles of Babycham, our developer has implemented the new multipage representation sooner than expected.

Each multipage set has a 'landing page' – this is the page you arrive at from the year menus. The landing page contains (and always has contained) a menu of the subpages. Once you enter one of the subpages you can move through the set of subpages using the page list at the top and the bottom of the page.

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If the page elements are not displayed on your screen correctly please try refreshing the cache of your browser – normally Ctrl+F5

Hovering the cursor over a page number will display a tooltip with the title and description of the page.

In the old system at the bottom of all but the last subpages there was a menu entry for the next page in the set. This is now redundant, but it has been left in: it still works and is doing no harm.

The landing pages of all the multipage sets so far are:

Our developer will move onto the improvements for smartphones and tablets when he has sobered up. This might take some time.

05.06.2018 – Site changes

Keeping the office drinks cabinet locked did the trick.

Our web engineer has been able to complete the second phase of the tender renovation of our website.

The first phase last month was to display articles in years not months.

The second phase just completed is to remove the listing of individual articles in the lefthand menu. The list was long, annoying and largely useless in the new structure.

If when reading an article you are overcome with boredom, a click on the year in either the top or the bottom 'pagetrail' or in the lefthand menu will return you to your departure position in the lengthy year menu.

Our web engineer will start phase three when he has finished the bottle of Babycham which he earned for such a good job well done. Phase three will introduce a more elegant handling of multipage articles and a little bit of assistance - but only a little bit - for the busy people who read Figures of Speech on smartphones and tablets.

02.06.2018 – Trump meets Rump

An early entry for headline of the year award from the New York Post– three at once in fact:

New York Post, 31 May 2018: Trump meets Rump

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