Author Archives: writinghouse

About writinghouse

I am an Author, Database Consultant and Guitar Player. I have no idea what that makes me.

Fixing the future

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Imagine, for a moment, a world run by corporations, not governments. A world where everyone is born an employee who is looked after as a company asset and, consequently, where there is no food or fuel poverty, no homelessness. All materials are recycled where possible, to the point that using new materials is reserved for special products. One downside? It is illegal to repair anything yourself or, indeed, make anything yourself. No knitting, no quilting, no soldering, no ScrapHappy. This kind of activity is deemed anti-corporation and is punishable by “credit history expungement”.*

We aren’t at this level of part dystopian, part idyllic (possibly, depending on your point of view) society yet. So far, this is just the world my newest creation, Nathan Xylophone, finds himself in as he is transported to 2088 after a bit of an accident (new novel on its way soon, honest!) .

But how close are we to not being allowed to mend things ourselves?

A few weeks ago, we moved a little closer to such a scenario as Apple won a landmark case in Norway against a repairer, Henrik Huseby, who dared to offer screen repairs for iPhones. His crime? He used imported refurbished Apple screens. He never once said he was using genuine spare parts, because once a screen has been refurbished by a third party, it is no longer considered to be a genuine Apple part, although it basically is, of course. Apple had sued in 2018, claiming an infringement of trademark, a case they lost. So they came at Henrik from a different angle – the screens, imported into Norway they claimed, were illegal copies.

In Norway’s Supreme Court, they won, leaving Henrik with a huge legal bill (one that repairers and supporters of the right to repair movement have rallied to help pay) and the potential for any and every company to prevent what they would see as “unauthorised” repairs. Apple already make their products almost impossible to fix without returning them – now they appear to have a mandate (at least in Norway) to continue that policy.

So, what is the solution? Apple say they reclaim some of the materials from their products and encourage people to return them when they upgrade, but they also render iPhones that are more than 3 or 4 years old useless by making the software run grindingly slowly – they are less than keen on keeping existing tech running!

Perhaps an answer might be to make it law that things have to be repaired at the manufacturers expense thus making the economics shift from throwaway to keep-forever. Or maybe, make things that are completely open source, and allow anyone to fix anything? What do you think? Should something that can be repaired have to be repaired?

As I write this (30/06/2020), apparently the Federal Congress of Mexico have approved the criminalisation of the right to repair or modify the hardware and software of devices, with penalties including ten years in jail. I haven’t found this on a newsfeed, just Twitter, so I can’t verify it – perhaps someone out there can?

Maybe Nathan Xylophone shouldn’t be too surprised what he finds in 2088!

oOo

* “I see this is not today’s software. Isn’t that treason or espionage or something?”

Although he did not look up from his work, Nathan could tell Jay Gee was grimacing, just a little. “Technically, it is both, with both punishable by removal of credit rating. Credit History Expungement, it’s called.”

“Sounds nasty. Can you get ointment for it?”

“After the expungement, no. You can’t get anything. You can’t buy, rent or indeed use anything that is less than two years old.”

“Wow, that’s harsh! Actually, what?”

“In this time, two years old is ancient history.”

“Even food? I mean, can you get food if you been ex, er, sponged then? Can you eat sponge cake?”

“You get the ‘C’ treatment. Charity. Worst thing a consumer can ask for. And you have to ask for it to. That or starve. Most choose the latter although we haven’t had any expungements for nearly five years, so recently people have been very good consumers indeed.”

“So, are you going to expunge yourself then, or in this joyless society, is that illegal too?”

“Ha ha. Joyless? We have none of the plagues that were raging across the planet in the twenty twenties, Nathan, not one of them. Poverty is all but gone, replaced by that most useless of things, fashion. But fashion that everyone has access to and can buy into. And everyone can buy into it…”

“Unless they’ve been expunged, of course.”

“Of course. But then, that’s their fault, isn’t it? With a great credit history comes great consumer responsibility.”

Categories: repair, Writing | Tags: , | 8 Comments

ScrapHappy June 2020: Scrum from Scrap

When cardboard and old credit card bills are on the menu:

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Take some old cardboard and paper shreddings…

 

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…add the shreddings to the bed…

 

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…tuck the shreddings in with a blanket of cardboard to keep it warm (and in the bed!)…

 

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..throw away the bits that won’t help…

 

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…plant up and wait for things to grow. Then eat. Yum!

oOo

The lovely Kate Chiconi and Gun created this idea and the people listed below have embraced it, as well as turning a blind eye to my nonsense:

KateGun, TittiHeléneEvaSue, Lynn, Lynda,
Birthe, Turid, Susan, Cathy,  Tracy, Jill, Claire, Jan,
Moira, SandraLindaChrisNancy, Alys, Kerry, Claire, Jean,
Joanne, Jon (me), HayleyDawn, Gwen, Connie, Bekki, Pauline,
Sue L, Sunny, Kjerstin and Vera

Categories: gardening, recycling, ScrapHappy, Sustainable Stuff | Tags: , , , , | 16 Comments

Lockdown Dinners 2: The Pub Crawl

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First stop – The Slug and Lattice

We checked out the wide range of drinks available and plumped for the beer made with local wild yeast – delicious!

 

Next, it was on to the Snail and Courgette for another beer…

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… and then onto the Dog and Bone, where there was more beer and kebabs were on offer too! Well, it would be rude not to…

… and finally, a little worse for wear maybe, it was time for a pub quiz at the Sam and Sofa…

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Ah, the perfect end to the perfect pub crawl. Now, where on earth did this traffic cone come from?

cone

oOo

Categories: General silliness | Tags: , | 8 Comments

And the name of the movie is…

 

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I had some requests to reveal what was showing at our local Odear VuCase cinema the other night. As some of you may recall, we went there after eating at one of our local lockdown restaurants (see here for way more detail than is necessary).

The cinema thought it funny/thought-provoking/irritating* to have the movie name as a puzzle to solve. So there is a picture of a blind, followed by a ted(dy bear) with a cup of tea below it crossed out, a waving hand, a cup of tea, the symbol for a male (so could be he, him, man) and a picture of a lamp.

Still puzzled? Well, I wouldn’t want to boss you around but it breaks down as Blind Ted Bye T He Light

BLINDED BY THE LIGHT

And it’s not a bad movie either!

There may be a couple of other film titles in the next few weeks, you never know!

oOo

* Don’t delete any of them, it makes a mess on the screen

Categories: Films, General silliness | Tags: , | 4 Comments

Lockdown Dinners at The Dogs’ Diner (and other suspiciously similar-looking places)

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It started with some fizz…

PROLOGUE

There are three things that you need to know about Chez Snail:

  1.  There is an attention-loving, and hence pesky, spaniel-based lifeform called Daisy who is involved in the day-to-day running of some eating and drinking establishments shown here.
  2. There is a squeaky-ball-obsessed terrier-based lifeform called Sam, who also appears to be involved in self same establishments.
  3. There is a general level of silliness that pervades the very bricks and mortar of Chez Snail.

END OF PROLOGUE

Three weeks after lockdown started, the Snail said to me “Dress up, we’re going out to eat”. As only one of these things was actually illegal (my crimes of fashion were already being well documented and paid for), I thought “OK then”. And off we went, to the Limery, where The Bistro at Chez Snail has just, like a good pop-up restaurant, well, popped up. We drank fizz and ate yummy food, and I got to wash up afterwards.

Such a good idea was this (the pop-up restaurant not the washing up, although that becomes a good idea when you’re left eating off of old crisp packets), that we started up some more eating establishments. Here they are, in no order whatsoever…

First, the menus from our trips to The Bistro at Chez Snail:

And then the cafés and cocktail bars we have frequented:

And finally, the restaurants we have eaten in:

There was also one evening at the cinema – the film was much less taxing than the sign for it!

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And the name of the film is…

I started the hashtag #stayinginisthenewgoingout on Twitter and, including the usage figures from today, I can see that it has caught on the way government advisors catch on to the rules they created*.

The Snail and I are privileged to be able to express our silliness in order to make this odd life we are currently experiencing a little more bearable and I hope by sharing it, it maybe makes a few people smile and perhaps inspires people to create a little silliness of their own!

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I’ll have my dinner now, thanks

Next time: A mini pub crawl…

oOo

* Apologies, this is mildly passive-aggressive political satire. But I am guessing that those of you who kindly read my blog probably don’t read that of a certain Dominic Cummings or if you do, only under some kind of duress. Anyway, what I meant to convey was that no one has used the hashtag.

Categories: General silliness, Travel | Tags: , | 12 Comments

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