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We were exercising Gieia earlier when she decided to abandon the chair she was snaked around, go up my sleeve, round my back, and then out of my collar:

And then, when we tried to collect her, to put her back in her vivarium, she decided that the best view was from the top of my head:

and, indeed, that what I needed was a snake hat:


She survived the experience though, and is now back in her home, watching us through the glass, clearly wishing she could spend more of the evening watching TV with us on the sofa.
andrewducker: (Default)
There's a thing which seems to happen a lot when non-science-fiction writers write science fiction. Where they understand the vague shape of science fiction stories, but not how they work under the surface. It's a kind of cargo cult science fiction, which looks like it from a distance, but fails to do any of the things which would actually let it function as science fiction.

Last night's Doctor Who wasn't _terrible_, but it's a good example of this form.

So, the writer understands what shape they want the plot to take. And it comes in two parts:
The spoilery bit )

Instead of thinking "I have a thing that works this way (for instance, sentient wood) - what interesting things come out of this, and what kind of plot does it lead to?" the writer has thought "I want all of these scenes. If I wave my hands fast enough then nobody will be able to tell that they don't fit together well at all."

And this is common amongst people who don't actually think that science fiction makes sense, or needs to be coherent. Who haven't read/seen/written much science fiction, or who didn't actually follow the explanations and therefore didn't think they needed to make sense, because they didn't make sense to _them_. And you can get away with a certain amount of that - coherency is more important than making total sense, and you can frequently get away with a certain amount of handwaviness if your emotional plot comes together perfectly. But when your plot is basically _made_ of handwaving, and your emotional plot is compressed into only the final three minutes, you're left with a mess. Which is a shame. (Particularly as I enjoyed the first three episodes of the season, which also had plenty of silly handwaviness, but managed to still be entertaining fun.)
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The results for the Scottish Council Elections are nearly in and I am delighted to see that there are no councils so far under the control of one party. Last time we had a few (mostly Labour), but this time around it's going to have to be coalitions all the way.

In fact, looking at the 2012 results, I'm reminded that we had pretty much every coalition possible, from Con-SNP to Lab-Con to Lab-SNP, with a sprinkling of minority administrations.

Labour's fall in Edinburgh means that a continuation of the SNP-Lab coalition isn't going to happen, so instead it's either going to have to be SNP-Con, or SNP-Lab + either Lib-Dem or Green (or SNP-Lab as a minority). I suspect that's going to take a few days-to-weeks to iron out.

In any case, I am very happy that we use STV as the voting system for the councils up here. A much better result than we'd have had under the FPTP system used in England/Wales.

(Also happy that the Lib-Dems are up 3 seats! My commiserations to Patrick for not getting in as one of my councillors for my ward.)
andrewducker: (Default)
Stop whatever you were doing and watch this RIGHT NOW:


Because, if nothing else, I can't see Disney letting them keep it up forever. And the first video in the playlist made me giggle uncontrollably.
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The UK takes in 34.4% of GDP as tax*. This is a bit less than the EU average (35.7%), about 6% less than Germany (40.6%), and a chunk less than the countries at the top end (Sweden at 45.8%, France at 47.9%, Denmark at 50.8%).

Is this the major source of the UK being awful at providing a safety net at the moment? Or are there other things that play a significant part in exacerbating the situation?

And are those figures comparable? In the UK that 34.4% has to cover the vast majority of healthcare, while in Germany healthcare looks to be largely on top of that - which would have an effect there (Although that would make the overall figures even higher in Germany).

I'm not actually sure how much I trust the figures in this case either. That page has the USA at 26%, whereas the figures here show total US taxation as either 18% (Federal), or 42% (Federal, State, and Local).


*All figures from here.

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