I spend a lot of time doing things in my study – which is not a very sociable thing to do when your partner spends a lot of time in the lounge, particularly during lockdown times when we weren’t getting out much. I’ve often thought I could have been doing some of the things in the lounge – but it lacked a suitable work surface. Putting a desk in the lounge wouldn’t be acceptable; what’s needed is a work surface that can be concealed until you need it, and in a position preferably where you can watch the TV just like your partner. Clearly the answer is to build a folding desk into the back of a lounge suite armchair that you can either stand at (addressing the problem of too much sitting) or sit on a folding stool also incorporated into the back of the armchair. Maybe there’d also be space for a bit of stationery and paper storage.
It’s been a tradition in our family to have table presents at the Christmas lunch, but this year we didn’t; it had all become a bit difficult and expensive, and, in this year of pandemic lockdowns, there were only three of us at the table. However, its quite a nice thing to do, so I got to thinking there might be an easier and cheaper way. Maybe the present could just contain a piece of paper describing something you think the person concerned might like but didn’t know about. For example, a holiday destination, or a hotel, or a book, or a hobby, or a restaurant, or a walking trail, or a type of pet, or a band, or a piece of clothing, or a voluntary job with a particular charity…. or almost anything really that you think the person might enjoy. Might also work for New Year meals as well.
During a wet round of golf last Wednesday, I was reminded again of the problems of slippery wet golf club grips. In a previous wet round, I’d tried putting the club handle up inside the front of my waterproof jacket: it kept the handle dry but was fiddly. Last Wednesday, however, I tried putting the handle underneath my arm on the outside of my waterproof jacket which I found much easier, and just as effective at keeping the rain off the grip. Now, if waterproof jacket manufacturers could put some towelling or other drying device on the underside of one of the arms, which would dry already wet handles, I think we might have a solution to the problem.
The TED talk I’ve just listened to by Yaël Eisenstat (Dear Facebook, this is how you’re breaking democracy, Aug2020), is important because it explains how Facebook’s business model is dependent on creating constant interest and emotion in its users. This ultimately leads to the system essentially promoting extremism. As I was listening, it occurred to me that it is Facebook’s structures (the extra functionality provided around a simple messaging system – such as adding a ‘like’ button) that dictates this result. A Social Media system with a different set of structures could avoid such harmful effects. Perhaps it’s time for competitors, or an Open Source operation, to create a messaging system with structures that promote a society with people who listen to each other and work together; and to draw users away from Facebook. In the meantime, the more people who listen to Ms. Eisenstat’s talk the better.
People in power a few hundred years ago just didn’t have access to up to date global information. These days such people have no excuse as large numbers of diligent writers research global issues and publish up to the minute resumes on a wide range of topics around the world. There is no excuse for failing to be aware of what humans have done, and continue to do, to each other; what effects we are having on the planet we live and depend upon; what our universe might consist of; and what possible futures we might have within it. Even I, with just a few books I have read in the last few years, feel informed and broadened. If each world leader were to be given just ten or fifteen books to read at the start of their reigns, perhaps they would act rather more in the interests of all of us, than they currently appear to do so.
I wonder if any internet entrepreneur has come up with a web service to help with choices in present buying… I’m envisaging a website called EitherOr which enables people to outline a number of gift options, and possibly a ‘none of the above’ option, for the individuals they want to buy for. The recipients would be notified and be able to use links to review the items and to choose the option they want. The service would then purchase the item for them and have it sent to them. The ‘none of the above’ option, if provided, might enable the recipients to specify any item on the net up to the specified amount, for the service to purchase for them.
I got to thinking in the shower the other day (probably prompted by the BBC’s Years and Years series) that we’ll be needing the concept of the NaturalBody sooner rather than later. NaturalBody people – NBod1.0 – have no piercings or permanent embellishments on the skin; have had no parts of the body deliberately removed, filled or cut (and that includes teeth and the sexual organs); and have not had surgery to alter their natural appearance. They have no permanently attached artificial physical appendages; and they don’t contain any embedded physical engineering equipment. NatBod1.0 people don’t have any embedded chips or other computer equipment, or software that connects them to any digital networks. NatBod1.0s have not had their DNA adjusted to enhance their or their offspring’s capabilities or appearance (the offspring will not be NBod1.0 as they will inherit their changed DNA status). NBod1.0s are simply people who are as they were born and who have developed naturally. They may have been born with disabilities, or have had accidents or illnesses – the notion of NBod includes no value judgements. In the western world there may be relatively few NBod1.0s (mainly babies and young people) as many people have had dental fillings and/or tattoos; but large numbers must still be up at the 0.8 or 0.9 levels. Going forward, however, we may need the concept of NBod to remind us of what humans are as we gain a growing capability to augment our bodies with technology. Even today, such a concept might help us make choices in the face of cultural and religious motivations to deface, cut, mutilate and remould our bodies.
Observing politics over the last few years, it does seem that women sometimes have a different perspective on some issues and how they are approached. It’s got me thinking that perhaps women and men ought to be equally represented in political systems. The easy way to achieve that would simply be to have two election contests for each constituency – one for the female representative and one for the male representative.
I’ve been pondering on my last entry about easy-pull-on socks, and realised that, actually, balancing on one leg to put a sock on is really quite athletic. Perhaps it would be possible to put together a coherent fitness programme based around dressing and undressing. Specific designs of particular items of clothing would require the use of particular muscles and skills to put them on and take them-off; and different designs would facilitate the exercise of different sets of muscles and different levels of difficulty.