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Of course (following on from my previous post), I neglected to mention that Little Britain was never very funny.

In my humble opinion, of course.

Matt Lucas was much better in Doctor Who, and David Walliams was beter in… well, Attachments, if anyone remembers that.

Tate and Tennant Killing It

I see that, unlike Little Britain, Catherine Tate is still very funny when she brings back old characters for charity. Especially with David Tennant’s help.

Being Scottish is not an underlying condition!”

It strikes me that Richard of York’s battle wasn’t in vain, when I see all these rainbow paintings with the colours in the right order.

(Personally, though, I learned the order without learning about Richard.)

The Power and the Glory by Graham Greene (Books 2020, 5)

I’ve never read Greene before, except for I think one short story, and a chapter or two of his autobiography. This is fascinating. It’s the story of a Catholic priest in Mexico at a time when the church was banned. I had no idea that such a time existed: I think of Mexico as a very Catholic country, so such oppression is surprising.

The genius of it is that all the characters are so convincing. From the “whisky priest” himself — sinful, still believing, considering himself damned, yet trying to do what he can for people he feels are his parishioners; through to the hardline atheist lieutenant of police that is trying to find him. No-one is entirely good or bad, but there is sympathy for them all.

It’s justly considered a classic.

Mask Society

Out to the supermarket today, because we were running low on a few things and our next delivery isn’t arriving till Monday. It’s the first time I’ve been out — except to the back garden — since the bike incident. Admittedly that was only four days ago, but like everything now, it feels a lot longer.

And I felt some trepidation about it. The world’s a dangerous place: the very air is dangerous, depending on who you get close to. And some you can’t avoid, because pavements have a finite width, and some people still walk blithely two-abreast, or on their own but down the middle… honestly, people, keep your distance.

In keeping with my recent exhortation, I wore a mask. Just a bandana, but as I said there, anything is better than nothing. And hey, it reminded me of The Clash in the “Bankrobber” video.

Sainsbury’s was fine. A spaced-out queue of about ten people outside, one-in-one-out, and maybe only five people in the shop at once (it’s one of the small Sainsbury branches, I should note). All very well handled

People with and without masks — some kind of face covering, at least — I’d estimate at around 30/70. Some with were also wearing gloves and looking very overheated.

But there’s a feeling of society — there already, and that I think might grow — when you’re masked: you see someone who isn’t, you shy away; while when you see another mask wearer you make eye contact. A small nod passes between you: we’re different. We’re connected. We’re doing something they’re not. Or maybe just, we have the same fears.

On the way back I passed a bus stop, where the only person waiting was an NHS worker on her way to a shift at Homerton Hospital (I assume, because that’s where the bus goes). A month ago I’d have wondered why people wear their staff passes outside of their work. Today it’s a badge of honour.

The only thing about having put my site into a repo in GitHub, which has to be deployed to my server, is that I need to be able to get to the server to deploy it (until I automate that, at least). Still, I’ve just posted this entirely from my iPad.

Website Changes

Abstract/TL;DR

I’m changing my site. Everything should go on working, but comments will disappear for a while.

Details

I’m changing both the server my site runs on, and the way it’s built. I’ve been using WordPress for the blog since I started it in 2006 (before that I used LiveJournal, and at some point I imported those posts, so the earliest entries go back to 2002). Just recently, though, I started having a problem with it.

Everything was still running OK, but I couldn’t post to it from external sources. So I couldn’t use MarsEdit, which is my preferred way to post, or the Micro.blog app for status updates, or even services like IFTTT, which has been adding notes and ratings for all the films I’ve watched over the last few months, from Letterboxd.

I’m sure I could have tracked down the cause and fixed it. But then there’s also the fact that I recently got round to upgrading to WordPress 51. I had avoided that because I didn’t like the new editor when I tried it out before. I don’t know quite why, but eventually I bit the bullet and upgraded.

And I hate it. I never really cared for the online editing experience at the best of times, which is part of the reason I preferred using MarsEdit. But I just have a visceral bad reaction to the new editor.

Add to that that static sites are a) much faster to serve and b) what “all the cool kids” are using nowadays. I started to look into moving to a static site.

The two big players here are Jekyll and Hugo. I’ve used Jekyll before, when I was at SAHSU. The documentation for the RIF2 is hosted at GitHub Pages, and that uses Jekyll, so it’s worth having a local implementation for testing, which I did.

But as a programmer, there can be times when you want to change the tools you use. Jekyll is written in Ruby; Hugo is in Go. I don’t know either of those, and while I like learning new languages, that wasn’t the purpose of this exercise.

In short, I wanted something that is written in Python, and I found it in Nikola.3 For reasons too boring to explain, I had trouble with it on my existing server, so I’ve set up a new one at Linode. I’ll be switching over to it later today. You shouldn’t see any changes, except:

  • All the comments on the blog will disappear. They’re not lost, and I plan to get them back, but I need to find the best way to do that. For now, comment via Twitter or Micro.blog.
  • The Atom feed may be broken. I’ll try to get that fixed. The RSS feed should still be fine, and at the same location as before. Anything that uses it should carry on working without any fuss.
  • If you follow me via WordPress.com (Hi Andrew), sorry. That’s going away. Try my RSS feed instead. Or Twitter; all posts automatically get Tweeted to my timeline.

  1. Which may have in part caused the problem. 

  2. Rapid Inquiry Facility. 

  3. Named after Nikola Tesla. 

The Last Bike Ride

I came off my bike today. Don’t worry, I’m not hurt, beyond a couple of scrapes. But as I was going down — you know how people say things go into slow motion? It wasn’t quite like that, but I did have time to think, “Shit, I hope they don’t have to call an ambulance.” And once I was down and realised that nothing was broken, I thought, “I hope no-one comes running to help, cos I’ll have to wave them away.”

No-one came to help, of course — mainly because there was no-one around. But all this is ironic, given that I read a piece a week or so back by a keen cyclist, saying he wanted to ride, but wasn’t going to, because if he got hurt then he’d be taking much-needed resources from the NHS.

That’s very noble,” I thought, and then proceeded to completely ignore the implied advice.

No longer. From now until this is over, I’ll be exercising indoors, or at most, in the garden. It’s a shame, because I do love to get out on the bike, especially in the spring. But everyone has to put up with limitations during this, and this is a pretty minor one.

Wear a Mask! And Celebrate Your Immune System

Yesterday’s XKCD “Pathogen Resistance” turns things round and shows the current crisis from the point of view of the virus. It is genius. And even has a Watchmen reference in the mouseover text.1

But more importantly, and unrelated: it turns out that wearing a mask — any kind, even just a scarf– will help to reduce the spread of the virus. This is contrary to what we were told initially, but it makes complete sense even without technical analysis. Anything coming between someone else’s droplets and your lungs, or your droplets and someone else’s lungs, is better than nothing coming between them.

It’s like wearing a cycling helmet: I’ve always thought that something between my head and the ground, should I come off, is better than nothing.

And there are designs online for making masks out of any old cloth. I feel #blessed that my daughter has an A-level in textiles and a sewing machine.

On the question of masks, though, something has been confusing me since this all started. And to an extent, before that, really, when I’d occasionally see people out and about wearing what appeared to be a hospital-style mask. Which is, where did people get such things? How did they come to have what looked like professional medical supplies in their private possession? Aren’t these things controlled?

Clearly not, for the last one. And I wondered why? Why did people have them? Now, that seems like a foolish question. And it ignores the cultural differences, whereby in parts of Asia it’s considered rude not to wear a mask if you are sick. Makes sense, though I always wonder how horrible it is if you sneeze while wearing one.


  1. “We’re not trapped in here with the coronavirus. The coronavirus is trapped in here with us.”