The Sermon

So, today there was a wedding, a Royal Wedding. And while I wish Harry and Meghan to live happily ever after; I remain a republican. This Royal Wedding was unlike any I have previously seen. Today, I witnessed the sermon from the Rev. Michael Curry. And  “witnessed” is the apt term.

Yes, I’m an atheist, but I loved this. Probably shook up the congregation a bit, but quite right.

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A New Arrival

It’s been almost a year since we had to have our Labrador, Kai, put to sleep. We miss him a lot, although our other Labrador, Watson, seems much more sanguine about it. In the beginning we didn’t actively think about getting another dog, but in the last few months we have begun to entertain the possibility.

We decided against getting another puppy – Watson was enough of a handful to think about avoiding going through all that again – so we kept an eye on the central website of the Dutch Animal Shelters, thinking that we might be able to adopt a dog.

As a result, in the last six weeks we’ve visited four animal shelters, the length and breadth of the Netherlands, looking at possible candidates. The first one was far too hyperactive for us; Watson is as mad as a box of frogs as it is, the thought of yet another did not appeal. Then Watson did not get on with the second or the third candidate, but the fourth seemed just right.

We went last Saturday with Watson to the animal shelter in Enschede to see Lexie, a 6½ year old female Labrador cross. We were all, Watson included, taken with her. Initially we thought that we’d have to make several visits to the shelter before the process of adoption could be completed, so we were surprised when the staff said that  we could adopt her that very day.

So, since last Saturday, we are now the proud owners of Lexie.

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It will take a while for her to settle in, at the moment she is very dependent on us, and does not like to let us out of her sight, or to be left alone. However, she is now becoming confident of her territory in our large garden, and today began exploring beyond its borders, so we’re going to have to keep an eye on that. She and Watson are getting on well, and play together.

And today we had a surprise from our neighbours. It’s the tradition around here to welcome new arrivals into the neighbourhood. Usually that’s for babies (mostly human – but last Sunday our neighbours celebrated the arrival of a foal at the farm next door). I looked out of the window after dinner, and saw balloons tied to the entrance to the garden, which certainly were not there a couple of hours earlier. Walking out to the front revealed the following sight:

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It says: “Welcome to the neighbourhood, Lexie”.

It’s a delightful surprise. Thank you, neighbours! Hartstikke bedankt, buren!

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The Internet Apologizes…

… that’s the title of a sobering article on what has gone wrong with the internet. Well worth reading.

The apology is necessary, but it’s too damn late – the damage is done. I’m not sure how it will ever be possible to undo the damage that platforms such as Facebook and Twitter have caused. To many people, Facebook is the internet, and it is a global monopoly. And it has connected people for both good and ill. The recent Buddhist violence against Muslims in Sri Lanka is but the latest example.

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Dance or Die

A documentary about Ahmad Joudeh. Watch it

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You Are the Product

That’s the title of an article about Facebook by John Lanchester. Published back in August 2017, it is eerily prescient about the shit that has now hit Facebook’s fan.

It’s a long article, but definitely worth a read. As Lanchester writes:

I am scared of Facebook. The company’s ambition, its ruthlessness, and its lack of a moral compass scare me.

His conclusion is sobering:

Automation and artificial intelligence are going to have a big impact in all kinds of worlds. These technologies are new and real and they are coming soon. Facebook is deeply interested in these trends. We don’t know where this is going, we don’t know what the social costs and consequences will be, we don’t know what will be the next area of life to be hollowed out, the next business model to be destroyed, the next company to go the way of Polaroid or the next business to go the way of journalism or the next set of tools and techniques to become available to the people who used Facebook to manipulate the elections of 2016. We just don’t know what’s next, but we know it’s likely to be consequential, and that a big part will be played by the world’s biggest social network. On the evidence of Facebook’s actions so far, it’s impossible to face this prospect without unease.

I deleted my Facebook account yesterday. I hope that I can remain outside its walled garden.

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Pulling the Plug (again)

I noticed this when I was reading the Guardian website today:

https://www.theguardian.com/isle-of-man-travel

I’ll bet it was triggered by some algorithm that knows I am Manx.

I suspect it’s high time that I deleted my Facebook account (again). And to be clear, I loathe and detest Facebook, but I needed an account because of my community work. Everybody else insisted that using a Facebook group was the only way to coordinate. Bollocks, said I, but everyone else seems to have drunk the kool-aid…

The invasion of the body snatchers has long since come to pass…

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From Wet String to Glass

If you’ve been following the saga of trying to get broadband internet here, you’ll know that last November a campaign started to persuade householders in our area to sign up for a new fibre optic network. We needed a minimum of 50% of the households in the area to sign up; so 2,800 addresses out of the total catchment area of 5,600 addresses.

The campaign came to an end on the 19th February, and I’m very pleased to say that 69.4% of the households signed up.

The detailed engineering plan for the network is now being worked on, and the expectation is that work will begin on laying the network in the 3rd quarter this year. The first households are expected to be connected by the end of the year, and everyone should be on the network by mid-2019.

We’ve been fighting for a decent broadband connection here since the end of 2014, so it’s a bit of a relief that at last we seem to be in sight of getting the dream realised.

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