Feeling Lonely While Experiencing Depression | The Mighty

A woman talks about an often overlooked but very real symptom of depression — loneliness.

Source: Feeling Lonely While Experiencing Depression | The Mighty

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Message to my bank

Stop investing unethically, stop lending unsustainably and irresponsibly, separate the retail banking from the investment banking, change the whole culture of lending so it becomes in service of the public good instead of private profit (so that it helps small businesses and supports people who need loans whatever their situation).

Why tactical voting is a terrible idea

In lieu of my own post on the subject, here’s a blog post about tactical voting.

whats all this phd nonsense anyway?

In a departure from my usual focus on my PhD in astrophysics, I wanted to write down my thoughts on tactical voting. Please note that I’m not a political commentator, nor was I ever trained in politics. This is my opinion, based on my new and strong engagement in politics over the last few years. My arguments focus on Green supporters voting tactically for Labour, but could just as easily apply to similar situations across the political spectrum.

Part of my political awakening was my involvement in the fossil fuel divestment movement. Part of my political awakening was my involvement in the fossil fuel divestment movement.

Anyone I’ve ever spoken to about tactical voting agrees that it’s a shame that people feel the need to vote tactically. This, I think, transcribes into a relatively uniform agreement that our current electoral system in the UK is not fit for purpose. A system that sees some parties gain 5 times less seats than they win votes (e.g. Greens)…

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Consultation survey for “Better Care Together” Health & Social Care for Leicester, Leicestershire, and Rutland

I recently received an email from Leicester City CCG membership services inviting me to read about “Better Care Together” on http://www.bettercareleicester.nhs.uk/ and respond to the survey.

Looking through the first page of survey questions, I decided not to give answers to the survey questions because they seemed to start from assumptions that I don’t necessarily agree with – so there was no way for me to express my opinion without agreeing to those assumptions.  The assumptions seemed to be that the thrust of “Better Care Together” was what I would want, so the questions were merely asking for an opinion on minor tweaks of direction. They particular assumed that choice in who provides a service is what I want; choice sounds like a great thing, but actually I believe what people want in health & social care is control over the service they receive.  People don’t know how to rank particular specialists or services – they don’t have medical or social care training or knowledge.  We just want a high-quality service near to where we live and work, and to have more control over how this service is delivered in our particular case so it is tailored to our circumstances and isn’t about someone with power or specialist knowledge telling us what we will get.

In some cases, I agree with the thrust of “Better Care Together”, but I don’t want this to be taken for granted when being asked for my opinion.

The other problem I have with the survey is that it doesn’t seem to offer a way for the opinions of respondents to bring about changes in major ways; this ends up feeling like a public relations exercise, rather than genuine consultation.  “Better Care Together” is already written, so our responses wouldn’t change it – they would only adjust its direction.

But also “Better Care Together” is written in generalisations, so it’s hard to imagine how it would affect the health & social care we receive – so it’s hard to see, without reading between the lines, how specific services will change: this leads to the likely outcome of most respondents being positive about it because the generalisations are hard to disagree with, but only when it gets implemented will we see what it actually means at the grassroots.

Both of these factors render the survey pointless.

UK air strikes in Iraq and Syria

This is what I wrote to my MP, Liz Kendall:

I understand the impulse to do something when you see the evil being doing by IS (and others) in Iraq and Syria and potentially in the UK.  But killing people is wrong.  It has also historically always been counter-productive in that region.  And it seems that there is no good end in sight as a result of going forward with or without air strikes.

Please bear this in mind as my MP when you vote.  Please don’t collude with the message that the support for UK air strikes and ongoing war is somehow patriotic and united – I am one of many patriots who are not united with the idea of going to war.

What is DRIP and how, precisely, will it help the government ruin your life?

What is Drip and how, precisely, will it help the government ruin your life? | Charlie Brooker | Comment is free | The Guardian.

While not Charlie Brooker’s best work, one of the comments includes the following quote:

I have a foreboding of an America in my children’s or grandchildren’s time – when we’ re a service and information economy; when nearly all the key manufacturing industries have slipped away to other countries; when awesome technological powers are in the hands of a very few, and no one representing the public interest can even grasp the issues; when people have lost the ability to set their own agendas or question those in authority; when, clutching our crystals and consulting our horoscopes,our critical faculties in decline, unable to distinguish between what feels good and what’s true, we slide, almost without noticing, back into superstition.”

Carl Sagan

I think with the Data Retention and Investigatory Powers bill, and the way it was rushed through parliament, we’ve arrived at the situation Carl Sagan imagined – and in the UK.

Don’t Spy On Us – Message to my MP

See http://www.dontspyonus.org.uk/ for more information and to join the campaign.

Here’s what I wrote to my MP:

Please campaign to bring democratic balance back to the intelligence services and their data collection and surveillance practices.

The fact that the intelligence community and police authorities say they need the opaque powers to collect so much data, does NOT mean they should get those powers.  Their powerful voices need balancing by an independent and transparent judiciary and an elected parliament which listens to all the people.

Even though my data is not likely to be of interest to GCHQ and others, the fact that they can and probably do store at least some of it takes away some of my privacy and freedom.  As well as creating the potential for errors and miscarriages of justice in the future.

I would rather live in a country where some dangerous information is not known about by government or private companies, than live in a country where none of the information about me is “off limits” to the security services.  Living with and managing risk is part of life, and privacy and freedom are fundamental to a decent human existence.

Please don’t let the government’s good intentions to protect us all take us down the path of increasing authoritarianism.  This only legitimises the efforts by dictators to proceed likewise.

Please work to establish an independent inquiry to report before the next general election to recommend legislative reform on this issue.  And please be part of a parliament that does a better job of holding the intelligence agencies to account.

Thank you.