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Ugh, Saturday

Yesterday I awoke with a jolt just after 2am. Oh my god, I didn't set the alarm!.
As it happens, I did. But the jolt was enough of a wake up that it didn't seem likely that I'd get any sleep before 3.30am when the alarm went off.

At work, the guy not only installed himself into the little plonge again, he grabbed the helper to assist him, leaving me alone in big plonge. The head of production was "nope, not happening" and sent the helper to assist me.

Work went by tediously slowly until about 9am, by which point it seemed to pick up speed. At ten past twelve I shut down big plonge and drained down the washer machine for cleaning.
I knew there wouldn't be much complaint there as last year a somewhat bossy manglement woman kept on pushing stuff into the machine until twenty five past, despite my telling her that the machine takes about quarter of an hour to drain, never mind washing down the insides.
But, she knew best and wanted as much done as possible before everybody left at twelve thirty.
The site director let me go at 12.35 and he and bossy woman stayed behind the clean the machine, which hadn't even finished draining.

So I called it at ten past, it was done just before half past. A few things to do (like taking the bin bags to the wheelie bin) and I was out at 12.33pm.

Walked around the supermarket. Didn't buy much as I was just a total zombie so had no concentration.
Then came home, downed a cuppa, and failed to start the mower as there wasn't enough oomph in the battery.
Battery on charge, I guess time for more tea and to sit out awhile in some rather pleasant weather.

Then I mowed.

Afterwards, washed my hair to get all the grass bits out, put my clothes in the washing machine, and let that get on with things while I looked to see what had broken with the mower.

I piece of metal protruding from the bottom of the deck (it was some sort of runner, but had broken/corroded ages ago and was now just a bit of stiff metal only attached at one end) which had caught on the stone step as I was entering the shed to park.
That had been a jolt too, and subsequently the mower was making a rather nasty grating noise, even in idle. My first thought was the gearbox and I imagined pieces of bearing rattling around inside.

Luckily it turned out to be nothing as dramatic as that. There is a big wheel on the top of the gearbox that the drive belt goes around. Above that is the metal cage that carries the battery. The cage had been knocked loose by the jolt and one side was resting on the transmission wheel and that was the noise I heard. Put things back in the right place and no more problem.

The cage was rubbing the drive wheel.
The cage was rubbing the drive wheel.

I got into bed at about 7pm with a cup of Bird's Custard and intended to watch a film on Netflix. But by about eight I gave up and went to bed. I'm getting to be an old fart. Seventeen hours, five hours out of sync, with about eleven hours of physical work and.... that's about it. Time to plug myself in and switch to standby mode.

So I woke just after five. Had a tea, went to bed. Woke again at half seven. More tea, more bed. Finally by half ten I felt like opening both eyes.
Sat out, it's a slightly chilly wind but a powerful sun. Strimmed (strum?) some of the parts the mower didn't reach yesterday using the little electric strimmer. Now I'm in the easy chair under a tree writing this on the tablet. Annoyingly poking the screen as I don't remember where I put the Bluetooth keyboard. Have to use it portrait so the keyboard isn't ridiculously large.

I have no other plans. My washing, left on the line overnight, is dry and I might make a jacket potato with cheese for dinner. Or maybe linguine? Following up a comment on The Register about linguine sizes (where they still seem to think it's about 14cm) I need to compare the lengths of raw and cooked linguine. It fattens up a bit, but I don't think the size changes notably. Still, why think when it can be demonstrated?

 

Molly Russell

If you don't know the name, she's the teenager who took her own life after being led down a particularly dark abyss by Instagram and Pinterest.
Last week an inquest ruled that social media contributed to her death, by showing age-inappropriate content (she was 14) and sending a depressed girl recommendations that would only have made things worse. And no, it doesn't matter that these were the results of an algorithm.
In the five years since, all sorts of efforts have been made to water down and even dismiss things. Though one should not lose sight of the fact that this girl was algorithmically fed binge sessions of imagery that the psychiatrist on the case found highly disturbing.

The thing is, while social media is an out of control shouting box that arguably harms much more than it helps, things are not so great in reality.
Some highlights from The Guardian right now:

  • Iran - security forces arresting children in school (after a story yesterday about a teenage girl being beaten to death)
  • Ukraine - at least 17 killed in attack on housing in Zaporizhzhia (after a story yesterday about what would be the likely response after Putin takes the nuclear option)
  • Roe vs Wade and how women's rights are being eroded in "The Land of The Free" (so what hope anywhere else?)
  • How Liz Truss is wrecking the Tories.
  • Harvey Weinstein - new trial.
  • Hurricane Julia.
  • Explosion in Donegal.
  • Floods, death, and chaos.
This isn't even counting the financial meltdown, the lingering effects of Covid (Molly died in 2017), or the fact that children these days have to contend with financial ruin, ecological ruin, and maybe atomic ruin as well. Or perhaps just the ruin of conventional weapons all because some insecure little arsehole didn't think his dick was quite big enough.

It's no bloody wonder people are depressed. But if you're impressionable (i.e. a child) and you feel depressed, the absolute worst place to go is the internet. Content tagging algorithms are highly sophisticated because the longer that site keeps you interested, the longer you'll stay there, and the longer they can throw in advertising. That directly translates to coin in their pockets. So the algorithm will look for commonality in the things you're looking at and dredge up more than you could even stand to look at.

I just fired up a private tab and looked for "hanging noose" on Pinterest. After telling it that I didn't mean "hanging nose", it showed a bunch of images that were either sort of goth or photos of tattoos. But I did get full instructions on how to tie the rope for a noose, plus a link to a site about ways to off yourself and do it correctly (down, not across).
On the other hand, looking up "how to kill myself" doesn't show anything other than a link to Fil Santé Jeunes, an anonymous service a bit like the Samaritans for 12-25 year olds, which is a step in the right direction.
Too late for Molly, but on the other hand I don't envy anybody the job of trying to control the mess that is social media. And if Musk gets control of Twitter, and/or if the Republicans push their desire to be able to spew QAnon bollocks without risking censure, then it's only going to get worse.

I guess the takeaway from this is that if you're a parent and if your teenager is spending a lot of time on their phone or computer and it isn't Minecraft, then it might be a good idea to look at what has their attention before something bad happens.
Molly's parents probably didn't think it was that big a deal. Teenagers go through a sulky phase (a side effect of the many weird changes going on inside their bodies). They were wrong, and they had no idea what their daughter was being exposed to in the name of profit.

 

Hazards when driving...

It's been a while since I made a video, so let's see some dashcam footage from Friday and Saturday.

 

 

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David Pilling, 10th October 2022, 13:00
Back in the 70s there were bad things - dollar pound parity, strikes, power cuts, IRA bombs, threat of war with Russia. I don't recall being worried by any of it. 
 
Covid on the other hand - at one point I stopped reading the news for a couple of days. 
 
Is it about the media, or the facts. I might have been blown up by the IRA, but I wasn't, and being worried about it by the BBC made no difference. 
 
There's that wonderful thing that if you ask people about risk they get it wrong - because they are badly informed. 
 
I presume MSM think about what they say and how much of it there is. They are selective. They can and do turn off the worry for Christmas etc. 
 
Meanwhile, I can see the day coming when websites like this will have to be certified either to exist, or to appear on Google. Think of all the harm prevented, jobs created etc. 
 
Difficult to regulate all the small businesses that have their own website? Big tech will offer AI, software that looks for harm inducing references, like "noose" and bans those sites. 
 
Must be a possibility, people will pay to have a list of safe websites for kids to access, and website owners will have to pay to get ISO "safe content" accreditation. 
 
Over at the 'list I run, we're constantly being banned by big tech, despite being as harmless as can be. 
 
All they want to do is say "we blocked ten zillion spam emails this month".  
 
Coming soon an incentive to make the web smaller. 
Rick, 11th October 2022, 20:03
The problem with all of that sort of stuff is that there's always a way around it. If you believe the newspapers, there's quite a lively and active porn scene, especially the sort of porn that certain newspapers get all screamy about. 
 
But the average person doesn't tend to come across much more than underdressed Asians because all the scummier stuff exists within it's own little world of pseudo-anonymity. Dunno whether that's tor, magnet, or bittorrent (not my scene), but it's not stuff you can easily get to with a regular browser so it's sectioned itself off from "the internet" as most people understand it. 
 
If you start making things onerous for regular sites, you run the risk of sending them - and all the people that read/follow them - down the same sort of sick sad rabbit hole as is used by the likes of kiddie fiddlers. It's the law of unintended consequences. 
 
Now, while ISO certification may be an issue for me here (though utterly useless as there's nothing saying tomorrow's article mightn't be a thought crime), over the other side of the wet bit there's this issue of freedom of speech, that's currently being abused with the idea of making it possible to post "lawful but awful" content (well, it's the Republicans fed up of being censured or banned for spouting complete bullshit). 
Rick, 11th October 2022, 20:14
Things were different in the '70s and '80s. We weren't snowflakes that needed "trigger warnings" for folk tales (Little Red Riding Hood, anybody?). 
 
Yeah, bad stuff happened. But I think even so, it was considered a "safer" world. It was the latter days of free-range children. Something that doesn't happen now, what with rapists and murderers lurking around every corner (real or imagined). 
 
But, then, this does come back to my main point. The nasty stuff on the internet itself is really just an amplification of the nasty stuff in real life. Sure, it has become a lot easier to access and get involved, like all that "incel" stuff, but these are electronic representations of real world things, so when they have real world repercussions, is it "oh, the internet!" or is it simply that the internet is giving them a voice rather than creating them? 
 
Or, to put it another way, racist arseholes existed before computers. We can't even say that social media made racist arseholes electable. Look back at history... 
J.G.Harston, 12th October 2022, 03:04
My worry is that this is all being done by politians rather than engineers. A couple of days ago there was some polly stating "we must remove stuff that's unsuitable for children". Not "make it inaccessible for children" but /remove/ it. 
Why should I be unable to watch A Clockwork Orange because it's unsuitable for children? 
And those pollies with a smidgen of sense and talk about "preventing children..." - well, how? A 10-year-old can click on a "Yes I'm Over 18" box just as easily as a 50-year-old. How does a website stop a 10-year-old entering Daddy's credit card details? Just get the hashtags to work. 
 
Agree with your last point, "social media" is just "humans being humans". You think kids weren't bullying weaker kids in the '70s? Humans communicate with other humans, some of what humans say is nasty, shock horror, we must stop humans from communicating with other humans. 
J.G.Harston, 12th October 2022, 03:13
As a primary school kid, I had a picture book of Cinderella with nice pictures of sisters cutting off parts of their feet to get in the slipper. The doves nesting in a tree on Cinders' mother's grave call out to the prince "coo coo, there's blood in that shoe; the shoe is too tight, come back another night". At Cinder's wedding the birds come back to peck out the sister's eyes. All healthy stuff for '70s infant school kids. :)

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