The Blog

I've just stumbled across the Hertford & Stortford CLP Labour Party newsletter.

I'm going to quote the section on Brexit in full because it's quite a reasonable summary of where we are in early March 2018. One sentence stood out though under "known unknowns" (sic!).

"(c) After the May Local Government elections the Labour Party will revise its position on Brexit"

Ah, politics and the pursuit of power. Donchajusloveem! The Labour Party is so busy trying to get itself elected, it's sidelining the big problems. It's somehow persuaded itself (cough, Momentum has persuaded it, cough) that an overtly anti-Brexit stance will hurt it in the polls. So it won't do that until the May 2018->Mar 2019 window when there's no elections scheduled.

here's the text
Brexit: Seven months to go?

Here are the milestones:
1. Phase one written agreement March 2018
2. Phase 2 agreement October 2018
3. Departure from EU institutions 29th March 2019 (D-day)
4. Transition phase/implementation of any deal , not later than December 2020

And here are the variables:
(a) The EU four freedoms, the body of social, technical and commercial regulations, the European Court of Justice (ECJ), security, EU trade agreements, single market and customs union, air traffic, passporting, and EU institutions (commission, parliament, council)
(b) The UK redlines are no single market, no customs union, no free movement, no ECJ oversight, freedom to set UK trade deals, soft Irish border

The UK does not appear to have a position apart from a fall back ‘no deal’ exit from all of the EU variables above, and a World Trade Organisation (WTO) basis for trading.

The phase 1 agreement was fudged in December 2017, i.e. the divorce settlement, end of free movement (EU and UK citizen status) and the Irish internal border. The EU requires the agreement in writing (no fudges) at the end of March (milestone 1). Only the divorce settlement at £39 billion may be definite, citizens rights are contentious and a soft Irish border is impossible without either the EU or the UK or both compromising on the variables. The EU has made it clear what it expects to include in the agreement (see It is not clear how the EU will react if agreement cannot be reached on the phase 1 issues.

The phase 2 agreement is about to start negotiation. Although D-day (departure day) is March 2019, any agreement has to be approved by the 27 national governments, the EU Commission, and the European Parliament. This approval is estimated to require the six months October 2018 (milestone 2) to March 2019 (milestone 3). The UK Westminster Parliament and the devolved Assemblies potentially have the
opportunity to approve the agreement although the Government has warned this may not be possible in time to influence the outcome of phase 2 (milestone 2). A key part of phase 2 negotiation is the transition (implementation) phase after milestone 3. This is currently highly contentious but may end up as exit from the EU institutions, but retention of the other EU variables with the ability to negotiate (but not sign)
trade treaties. Reese Mogg, as leading Brexiteer, refers to this as a ‘vassal state’ and might force the Government to drop the transition phase. The EU, in the absence of a UK position, has produced a position paper “Transitional Arrangements in the Withdrawal Agreement” It is not clear what will happen
if one or other or both of the agreements are unacceptable or require further negotiation so that the EU approvals are not received by D-day.

The EU has indicated that it would welcome the UK’s return to the Union although stopping Brexit might require the approval of all 27 EU nations. If this were to take place before milestone 3 then Brexit could simply be stopped. If it takes place before milestone 4 (if there is a milestone 4) then the UK could simply
rejoin the EU institutions and continue in a (diminished) membership. If it takes place after milestone 4, then the UK would join the list of countries seeking access to the Union and could be required to join the Euro as the price of re-admission.

Within the EU, there is a common negotiating position and strong resistance to ‘cherry-picking’ and ‘having cake and eating it’ approaches to modifying this position, although the UK lives in hope.

Within the UK, the known unknowns are:
(a) There is no customs union of any form
(b) Theresa May’s government might be replaced by a strongly pro hard Brexit administration
(c) After the May Local Government elections the Labour Party will revise its position on Brexit
(d) Passage of legislation embodied in the UK Withdrawal Bill and other bills may falter
(e) The Tories may call a General Election

The Government has already indicated that it will not remain in the customs union but might be a member of a customs union; however some Brexiteers are opposed even to this. No customs union (option (a)) is a significant barrier to trade (and to the Irish Border). The “customs arrangement” suggested by the UK is ill-defined and may be unacceptable to the EU. Option (b) is a possibility if the Tories can agree a replacement leader. The signs are that this could move the Government even further to the right and to a definite hard Brexit position. Option (c), if it happens, might result in the Government (even with its DUP backed majority) being unable to pass key legislation. Resistance to parts of the withdrawal legislation can be expected, for example the ‘Henry VIII’ powers that give the Government a virtually blank legislative cheque, or omissions of key aspects such as worker’s rights and environmental issues. However, failure to provide a legal framework post Brexit (option (d)) would have a nuclear impact on the UK so that Labour might press for amending rather than outright blocking of legislation.

The Tories would not want to risk losing a General Election (and maybe having a soft or no Brexit) and would seek to avoid option (e), although they might be tempted to risk it after D-day (milestone 3) on a “job done, don’t spoil it” platform but before the end of any transition period. Labour would then get the blame for the expected problems that would follow milestone 4.
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Always scary to see yourself on TV. Our local Save Green Belt campaign got chosen with an hour's notice to represent the problems with Sajid Javid and his proposals due to be announced tomorrow.

Here's the 90 seconds we got on Channel 4 news tonight.

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[from: Librarything]

[from: Librarything]

Space is unbelievably hostile to meat sacks.

Space is at the other end of a deep gravity well.

It looks like we had one shot at using a cheap source of energy to make the leap off planet.

And failed.

Well done mankind. You had one job ...


Maybe, there will never be another period of laying down fossil fuel on earth now that fungi that can digest Lignin have appeared. Which means no future life on earth will have the benefit of easy access to very large quantities of energy to bootstrap a technological civilisation.
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Another spectacularly meaningless collection from a large number of "Thought Leaders". ;)

Here's mine.

"What's the minimum viable population and civilisation that can support a chip foundry".
 The Edge Question 2018 - 1 | »
Subscribe to Edge. ×. You can subscribe to Edge and receive e-mail versions of EdgeEditions as they are published on the web. Fill out the form, below, with your name and e-mail address and your subscription will be automatically processed. Email address *. Your name *. Country *. NOTE: if you use a ...

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Farr Festival

This is going to be a hard sell this year as there's no discount for rep tickets. But, If you or your friends buy through this link and give me an email address I can reward them with £9 via paypal. But to be honest, the 5 for 4 deal is a better offer.

What can I say, last year (and the year before!) was fun with great sets from Chaos in the CBD, Omar-S, Ramzi, Huerco S, Mr G, Willow, Avalon Emerson, Sad City and others.
 Farr Festival 2018 »
For the next edition of Farr Festival we have a weighty selection of record labels and institutions to bring the heat to Bygrave Woods. But first, here’s a taste of the initial acts joining us at Farr Festival 2018. Taking centre stage we welcome Innervisions co-founder Dixon, Mahogani Music legend Moodymann, Running Back label founder Gerd Janson, Glasgow’s iconic DJ duo Optimo and LuckyMe family member Eclair Fifi. Now over to our stage hosts...

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version burn to the ground.

The original was a big inspiration for me. That still stands.

Needless to say, planning permission is an ongoing battle for them. I have very mixed feelings about this, because our wood is in an area where planning permission for new houses is pretty strictly controlled. And this is right, because there's so much pressure for new building round here that given half a chance, all that green belt and SSSI woodland would be converted into housing estates. Though it's really apparent that if you have the right friends and plenty of money, any old barn can become a hamlet of half a dozen converted and extended farm buildings. Before you know it, you've got a village or another gated community. Going ahead and building anyway, and then spending the next 20 years appealing retrospective planning requests is a viable option provided you spend little money and are prepared to just walk away. That doesn't mean that's necessarily the right, moral thing to do.

Electrical fire? Building codes are there for a reason. Even if you're off grid.

I mustn't be too negative though. The buildings that these people have built are beautiful and properly amazing.

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It's that time again.

As ever, if you can't absorb all of them try this one for club music.

And for the gratuitously obscure or maybe just obscurely gratuitous

I like that Kendrick Lamar: DAMN. is simultaneously best album and most over-rated album. electronic music Tracks Albums RA Best House Slav House

And finally my two picks of the year.
Grant - Perception. Finely crafted House music for the cocktail hour.
DJ Python – Dulce Compañia. "Deep Reggaeton". Hypnotic dance music that's not 4/4.
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We kept on trying stuff. Because that's what humans do.

Here's an incomplete list of things we tried. For example:-

#23: Believe you are making a difference.

Some of these should be passed to The Long Now group.
 An Incomplete Timeline of What We Tried »
Working back from human extinction.

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Way back in 2005, I wrote a little piece about my search for Turkish rolling tobacco[1]. Today, Adsense noticed that it links to somebody who sells tobacco. Which of course is a heinous sin and violates their programme policies! We can't be selling advertising on a web page that links to a tobacco salesman. So I get a warning and rap over the knuckles. I've now deleted the blog entry which should keep them quiet.

I ran into this once before over alcohol where I'd posted one of my "Friday Night Cocktail" recipes with a link to a specific brand website on G+. Another heinous sin because I'd neglected to specify my posts as being for over 18s and we can't be linking to a website that might sell or promote alcohol.

On the plus side, I re-found another wonderful blog entry in the same vein and from the same time.

At least this time I didn't get the "You did something really bad and we might block and delete your account, but we won't tell you what it was" routine.

[1] 6 years now since I gave up. I don't miss the smoking but I do still occasionally miss the process of smoking.
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The Labour party membership renewal team are phoning me about once a week at the moment. I'm having to explain why I won't be renewing every time so they've asked me to email and fill in the contact form with an explanation.

This is what I sent:-

While I broadly support the Labour Party and it's principles, I will not be renewing my membership until the Labour Party formally commits to stopping Brexit and cancelling Article 50.
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In the last couple of years, the Poly-Named-One posted a comment on the Charles Stross Blog ( explaining it's categorising levels of Meta from M1-M5. I've been completely unable to find this again. Google and the Blog's search engine are failing to track it down, or my search-Fu is hopeless. Anyone remember this and can help me find it?

Is there a place to have the kind of meta-discussions about the blog that would rightly be blocked by the moderators within a specific blog-comments thread? I was kind of expecting a sub-Reddit but can't see one.

And the reason for looking is James Bridle has recently posted a long and important essay about algorithmically generated kid's videos on Youtube. Here.
This demands a Wild Hunt ( because they're stealing our kids. But it's symptomatic and just one example of a much bigger problem. And it felt right up the PolyNamedOne's street. There are layers and layers of Meta here.

And incidentally, there's a discussion to be had about appropriate places in 2018 for posting personal long form text. People rightly hate Medium. And self hosted blogs-RSS are a bit out of favour these days. Blogspot-Wordpress style insta-blogs always run the risk of censorship or simply going out of business. The Social Media platforms have similar censorship issues and are generally hopeless for long form text. I've even seen suggested. It may work, but it feels like a toy.
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The Charter of the Forest is among the first ecological charters in history and among the first to assert the rights of the common man and woman.

As it coincided with the first feminist advance, in a modified Article 7 of the Magna Carta, which could have been in the Forest Charter, it could also be called a first feminist charter.

The Charter has the distinction of being the most durable piece of legislation in British history, having only been superseded in 1971, with the Wild Creatures and Forest Laws Act, by when most of its principles had been embedded in other legislation, including the Commons Act of 1876, which ruled that enclosure should be allowed only if there were public benefit, and by the establishment of the Forestry Commission in 1919.
 Celebrating the 800th anniversary of the Charter of the Forest »
This year is the 800th anniversary of a founding document of the British constitution, and of other constitutions as well. Issued in the name of a ten-year-old King Henry III alongside the modified Charter of Liberties that had been sealed by King John and the barons at Runnymede on June 15, 2015 th...

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Ok. This is genius. Got a couple of hours?

"Paperclip Maximiser"

Yonatan Zunger originally shared this post:
A few weeks ago, I posted an article about the Parable of the Paperclip Maximizer — just what happens when an AI has clear goals and no sense of balance about achieving them. But this parable has just been utterly perfected by Frank Lantz of the NYU Game Center, who has built a game all about it. It's a browser game, it's free to play, it can be played end-to-end in about a day, and it is unreasonably satisfying and fun. And addictive.

It is, in fact, a Cow Clicker about Paperclip Maximizing.

At first, I was making paperclips – first bending them by hand, then buying machines, managing market prices, buying wire when the market is favorable. An hour and a half in, I was mostly focused on getting better at game theory tournaments so that I could improve the AI I was using to cure cancer, solve climate change, and bring about world peace on the one hand (and so build public trust in my paperclip company) and manipulate financial markets on the other hand (so that I would have enough money to bribe officials into trusting me with the HypnoDrones).

Suffice it to say that the game gets even more interesting from there.

Something I really love about it is how many different games it really is: every time you get good at something, not only do new mechanics show up, but radically new mechanics show up, so that it feels like you just played a dozen games in rapid succession. And the ending (at least, the ending I got to) is smooth, perfect, and deeply satisfying.

This is a true gem among seemingly simple games.

One warning: It does not work well on mobile; you'll want a computer for this.

(Those of you wanting to read about paperclip maximization, or why someone would write a game about this, can start here:

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Whoosh! Another tool for exploring Music Genre space. It's based on Spotify's Genre tags.

Click on things to hear samples of typical artists, or dig down into lists to get Spotify playlists.

LoFi house seems to be buried in the Deep House section.

A companion to this exploration tool.

As far as I can tell Spotify's genre tags are curated by Spotify or one of their suppliers. And not generated by their users like So your idea of what's in uk funky or such like may not agree with their's. I've just had a quick look at Google Music again. And their Genre tagging is all over the place as well.
[from: Google+ Posts] said he was moving servers and updating to 1.6.1 so maybe it all went horribly wrong. is the main mastodon developer which suggests the problem might be the new 1.6.1 release.

This makes me sad. Even though the Mastodon community doesn't really feel like it's really taken off just yet. We've become used to systems that just work so having two of the major instances just go off line is not good.
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