Category Archives: Uncategorized

A quick note to those in public office demonising harm reduction

Some people in public office are quite proud of their acheivements to prevent access to harm reduced nicotine methods, like e-cigs, snus etc.

Don’t worry, we’re watching. And when you inevitably claim that you were mis-advised, that you just didn’t know, that you didn’t have the right information…

We

Will.

Remind

You

That

You

Did

But that you deliberately and consciously chose to ignore it, rather than check to see if literally everyone who replied to your post may have had a valid point.

This is all in public, and all on record.

I’m pretty sure that there are still criminal charges for deliberately misleading the public while in office.

I look forward to seeing you on charges as such.

And it’ll be soon.

Deception through omission, or lying while staying accurate

Or, how to lie like a tobacco controller.

So, something I’ve noticed recently is an uptick in the number of ‘accurate’ but highly misleading claims being made by those who purport to be against tobacco harm. This normally takes the turn of stating an fact, but utterly removing the context.

Here are some examples.

E-cigarettes produce formaldehyde*

Smokeless tobacco is not safe.

Dihydrogen monoxide is a solvent that leads to the oxidisation of metals.

*they actually claim that they contain formaldehyde, which isn’t true; it’s a byproduct of the vapourisation process in extreme abuse scenarios – but that doesn’t stop them. The doses in normal use are, as far as anyone can ascertain, functionally harmless acutely, and unlikely to be majorly problematic in the long term, and compared to lit tobacco, it barely touches the sides in terms of risk…but I digress.

The more astute among you will have noticed that the last one is a joke – it’s water, of course. But the ones above, are not. But the fact that http://www.dhmo.org/ use this exact tactic to present water as a scary, dangerous, lethal substance should give you a clue about how this works. The important difference being, of course, that DHMO.org is a parody of exactly this tactic, the sort used by chemophobes like The Food Babe. Surely professional public health operatives woul….sorry, I couldn’t finish that sentence, of course they’re beyond parody.

Basically, the idea is that you can’t lie when disseminating public health info (well, it happens a lot, but it should be avoided if possible). What you don’t have to do, however, is tell the whole truth. You can be very selective.

Hence, as there is extremely limited evidence of harm from smokeless tobacco of any form (and, to be blunt, plenty of evidence of little harm, even objectively when not comparing to lit tobacco) it’s hard to push your prohibitionist message without coming across as a bit mealy mouthed and making a fuss over nothing.

So instead of actively lying, you simply pick the particular parts of the truth you like, and present them in a manner which makes them appear intimidating or risky, be that through your own subtext, or simply through failing to provide a comparator for them – and allowing the reader to assume from your position (IE if you’re in public health, then what you are stating must be a warning) that something is more dangerous than it actually is.

Syke have been trying this recently and, well, the response they’ve had from the THR grassroots has been…shall we say, interesting. I had a good pop at ’em myself. On multiple posts. Their responses were disappointingly lacking in bite, frankly.

Tonight, the ironically titled Truth Initiative stated that smokeless tobacco is not a safe alternative to lit tobacco.

Well of course it’s not a ‘safe’ alternative, as nothing is entirely safe.  That statement, in itself, is accurate and ‘true’.

Smokeless tobacco is, however, a massively, drastically safer alternative to lit tobacco, with small elevated risks of cancers over non-users, and hugely *reduced* risk for multiple  forms of cancer over lit tobacco. In fact, the only thing that chewing tobacco is linked to (that I’m aware of) is oral cancers, where the elevated risk above baseline is notable (or in research terms, significant – that is, it exists above a level you’d expect from random happenstance), but long term use is far, far from a guarantee of getting it; it increases your odds, in short.

However, it doesn’t increase your risks of lung cancer (or other respiratory diseases), nor does it increase the risks of heart disease, dangerously increase blood pressure, or basically any of the other things that lit tobacco increases the risks of.

And those are, as you’re likely aware a lot of things.

And thus, simply by omitting context, or by using specific language designed to deceive but remaining accurate in the very narrow sense of accuracy, you can lie through your fucking teeth, and still claim to have never said anything that is not a fact.

It’s not unique to tobacco of course – once you spot this technique, you see it in many other places. But it’s definitely a fun one to catch and to throw back in people’s faces.

Well, it is if you like to fuck with the po-faced neo-temperance puritan dickwaffles you typically find in the public health world.

They’d like you to get down on your knees and thank them for their hard work making your life dull and ‘safe’, and they tend to get a bit uppity when you explain that you can’t because you’re not their mother last night.

And if you can’t enjoy doing that, then you can’t enjoy life at all. Which is what they want, really.

A quiet, plain, life, free from risk, till you die at age 90 having never had extramarital sex, smoked a cigar or driven above the speed limit.

The riposte to that isn’t that you should go fill your viens with skag and have a threesome with some dodgy prozzies, of course – but accurate dissemination of relative risk of activities is utterly key to allow people to make their own informed decisions on lifestyle choices that they make. They can’t accurately determine if those choices are more or less risky (or whether, more specfically, the risk is worth the reward) if you don’t tell them the whole truth.

And that’s a fact.

Quick ramble on conflict of interest

I might discuss this in more detail with a few folk, but here are some rambles on conflict of interest and how it’s used as a pejorative in the place of actual evidence of a material conflict, to smear people when they can’t actually argue the data.

I literally typed this out in one go, so expect it to be a bit all over the place and lacking in parts, but here we go….

Conflict of interest is a concept where someone presenting information on a subject should be considered less trustworthy, or at least, not necessarily taken at face value, due to having an interest in the subject that might influence their opinion (generally, it’s inferred that it would be financial, but realistically, it may be ideological). The shorthand is that it may introduce unconscious bias from them.

Generally speaking, all it means is that if someone has an alleged conflict of interest, you should take a closer look at the data they provide, and the methodology they used to derive it, and ensure that it appears free of bias, which that conflict may raise.

Conflict of interest is typically something that is declared when necessary (as it always is, in responsible journals)

However, it is increasingly being abused. Here, however, are some tips for navigating this concept.

What is the conflict context?
When conflict of interest is being raised, take a look at what the conflict is. Receiving funding from an industry partner does not automatically mean they are shilling; it may simply be that the industry partner is the only place that someone can actually get the raw data, or hardware, or software, to perform the analysis and present the data.

You’ll see this conflict declared on game or computer hardware reviews, although it’s not stated in the same way  – the reviewer may have recieved an activation code, gratis but that their review is otherwise unaffected by this (‘to the best of their awareness’ is inferred, but rarely stated).

You’ll see this conflict declared on research papers – it may be that (hypothetically) only a pharmaceutical company can provide a sample of a drug treatment.

Also on research papers, it may be that the hypothetical pharmaceutical company has an interest in getting the data to the public, and so funded the research and labs and whatnot directly.

You may look a the above examples and think ‘biased review’ and ‘pharma shill’ – None of the above actually means that there is an intrinsic problem with the data however. That only occurs when problems with the data show otherwise, which is when it stops being a claim (effectively nothing more than a cheap slur) and starts being something to be taken note of.

Who is making the claim of conflict of interest, and how is it being positioned?

This is where it gets really, really interesting.

If you see a claim of conflict of interest being used as anything other than a statement that some kind of assistance was provided (that is, anything other than a bare fact), such as inference of bias, but without anything further to back this up, such as a demonstration of problematic methodology (not merely an inference thereof) then you can, to be blunt, dismiss it as an attempt to smear someone and nothing more.

This is called an ad-hominem attack, otherwise known as ‘playing the man, not the ball’, and it is, (again to be blunt) the last defence of the intellectual coward and the charlatan who has nothing to counter the data with and who has, at this point, lost the argument.

There are no exceptions to this rule.

While you should always have a dose of cynicism about any research, generally speaking if someone who claims conflict of interest can’t back that up, you can almost certainly dismiss it out of hand without further consideration, and mark up the person making the claim as a complete buffoon.

If someone claims a conflict of interest and fails to have a cohesive argument to demonstrate an actual resultant bias in the data provided themselves (as the onus is on them to demonstrate this), all they’ve done is prove the idiom that it’s better to be thought of as an idiot and keep quiet, than to open your mouth and prove it beyond all doubt.

If you see a claim of conflict of interest that appears to be backed up by some solid evidence – such as results contrary to the established data (IE someone claiming that a new form of combustion engine tech that is notably less polluting than extant examples with either very unusual methodology, or other oddities in the methodology, such as using a non-standard testing method, or having unusual performance outside of the standard test criteria – see Volkswagen diesels for more info) then this basically means you need to turn your skeptical hat on, although really, it should be already – just turn it up to 11 this time.

Look at the data, look at how it’s been presented, look at the methodology applied and see if it makes sense. If you can go through the numbers, and can’t see anything that appears to be unusual, then this isn’t a conflict of interest – it’s a conflict of opinion.

Obviously, if there is an apparent bias, then that’s good too – you know that now, and can (if you’re lucky) discuss it with whomever presented the data to find out if they can explain how they got to the result they did. If not, then the research should be considered at the very least, somewhat suspect.

In short, the data and how it’s managed is more important than who paid for the data to be analysed, and also more important than who claims it’s corrupted by funding, or existing industry affiliations.

The last part is clear conflict of interest – where the research has been found (likely in a bargain bucket research paper or industry rag, has been whole-cloth funded by it’s own industry , by an employee of the company who is promoting it, or the equivelant for someone making a contrary claim; being funded by a competitor, etc) to be promoting a viewpoint that is contrary to the existing knowledge, and the methodology is also suspect. This should be quite apparent from the research and it’s quality, how it’s presented, and how well it’s arguments hold up. Chances are, not well. This is where the average layman can look at the data and show clear errors in the research, such as using Sprague-Dawly rats – who are known to spontaneously grow tumours – to show that something is carcinogenic (see Seralini et al).

Very clear conflict of interest is most often attached to pure junk science, often at the fringes of the field, such as extreme environmental or animal rights research. Typically, you’ll only find this research being thrown around sites like Natural News, InfoWars, BMJ Tobacco control or other publications who claim to be providing accurate information but who can be clearly proven to be working to an agenda, and have a history of poor research publication and promotion.

This sort of research typically doesn’t get past peer review in real journals – and if it does happen, the retraction process is generally swift and brutal.

However…

…bear in mind that conflict of interest works both ways, and this is especially true when looking at government policy based research.

If you have pumped tens of millions through to billions into shaping policy to suit an agenda, and that policy doesn’t appear to be working, then if a government department (or affiliated pressure group or lobby group) suddenly manages to find corroborating evidence in their research, look very closely at the funding.

If it states it was funded from a national government body, do NOT assume that makes it squeaky clean and free of ethical conflicts. This is as much a conflict of interest as a tobacco company funding research which states that lit tobacco doesn’t increase the likelihood of contracting lung disease.

Government has a very real and deadly serious interest in not being undermined and embarrassed by lack of traction with it’s policies, and as such, is as liable (if not more) to conflict of interest than private industry.

This is something you won’t hear *that* many people saying, because quite often, those in a position to say it rely on government funding themselves due to the nature of their work. It would be considered whistleblowing, which is inherently risky, career wise, as many have discovered – David Nutt, Carl V Phillips, Michael Seigel can all attest to this.

Bear in mind if you piss off PharmaCo-A by saying that they tried to pay you to make WonderDrug No9 look better than it actually was, other PharmaCos are available.

if you rely primarily or solely on government funding for your research work, and you get pressured to produce the ‘right’ result and you fail to follow through, push back against it,  or worse, blow the whistle, you’re effectively fucked for life – you’ll never work in that government field again. You lose all influence (and for many, that influence is large; it can literally be world changing) and unless you’re at the top of your field, finding work in private industry may be harder than expected.

But this doesn’t change the fact that just because someone works in public health and is funded by government, that they cannot be influenced by conflict of interest; if the policy they have been performing research for is being shown to be ineffectual, and they are a career public health researcher, that can be, in and of itself, an inherent bias – if they believe in the public health movement, they will want it to succeed.

And there is your unconscious (at best) bias.

I am, of course, allowed to be biased because I don’t produce research, I just interpret it, because I’m just some guy. If I get it wrong, I’m just a pillock.

If someone in public health gets it wrong, it’s almost certain that at best, people will be inconvenienced and large sums of public money wasted, and at worst, a lot of people will plain fucking die for no good reason.

See – tobacco harm reduction policy (and before that, harm reduction for intravenous drug users).

So remember kids, check your source, know your own biases, try to be aware of (and sympathetic to) the biases of others, and rarely accept anything at face value. And if it comes from public health, *never* accept it at face value.

Ever.

They have way, way too much to lose.

The Denormalisation Fallacy, and why it’s a waste of our time

Bloody hell, this is a bit long for you, Raith…

Yeah, I’m chewing over doing some more long format stuff – but as I have a lack of focus on these matters, and these matters being massively complex and nuanced, I have no idea how it’ll turn out.

 

But fuck it, if you don’t try, etc etc.

The Denormalisation fallacy, and why it’s a waste of all our time.

 

Something that has seen a rise in public health policy lately is the concept of denormalisation.

Denormalistaion doesn’t actually have a specific definition in public health/public policy terms (it actually originates to management of data in relational databases to improve read performance at the expense of write performance, effectively) as it is, in that context, a made up word, but the meaning is quite clear – to make something appear to not be normal.

To not be normal means to not be acceptable, or societally justifiable in broad terms of this context.

So lets take a slightly closer look at this.

Practical denormalisation

Denormalisation is something that typically happens – in the real world – from a grass roots level. For example, someone having sex with an animal is seen as being not normal, which is then accentuated by whatever societal rulesets are in place at the time be they religious tenets, or in more modern times, based around the rule of law, psychology, or just whatever societal norms are prevalent – these days, you could argue, it’s ‘what can you can get away with posting on social media without getting hundreds of nasty reactions’.

Although if you posted a video of you fucking your dog on Facebook, you’d get a bit more attention than just a few ‘angry reacts’ – you’d probably get arrested. That’s likely a good thing, as everyone can agree that shagging your dog is generally not a good thing to be doing, no matter how how short a skirt the dog was wearing at the time.

Sex with a dog is considered so abnormal that’s it’s seen as abhorrent – all without the input of government or religion. We just know it’s not something you should be doing.

What we see these days, however, is the attempt to *manufacture* denormalisation for far milder slights; this is far harder as generally, if society hasn’t already defacto agreed that something should be deemed wrong across the board (like animal abuse) , and the subject is something that many people already do (unlike animal abuse), then the only way to do this is to create a narrative and disseminate it publicly, and see if the public picks up on it.

The real problem is when this comes to social habits that have always been seen as normal. Drinking, smoking, and illicit drug taking (which, regardless of what anyone will tell you, has been part of human culture since agriculture was a thing). have always been considered as normal, or not far off of normal,  as having a long lay in bed on a Saturday morning; it’s just something we all do at some point and no-one really minds it, as long as it doesn’t impact on those outside of the person doing the behaviour.

These are very strongly normal practises – they are how everyone (yes, even the more well heeled of us, not just the working class) – unwind after a long week, after a hard day, after difficult personal times; this is about as normal as it gets.

You have a shitty week, you have a bottle of wine on the Friday night and you fuck Saturday off to the hangover.

The car breaks down and you need to drop a notable chunk of your income to repairing it, lest you lose your job due to not being able to make it in – you sit down and have a joint and let the cannibinoids unwind your neck and shoulders, and the THC lighten your beaten spirits.

You get a phone call that a relative has died, and as a smoker – perhaps a regular one, perhaps less so – you spark up a fag and let the nicotine rush to your brain and give you a few minutes to gather your thoughts.

These things aren’t considered normal because mass media tells or government tells us they are; they are considered normal because they’ve been normal since before mass media or even formal government was even a real thing.

So attempting to denormalise them is not only a challenge, it brings up the question of whether we *should* attempt to denormalise them, given that this concept predates attempts at social engineering – which is what this, at heart, is

How does denormalisation work?

When it comes to the how, we have various examples of governments and pan-national bodies attempting this. Probably the most obvious example is the attempt to denormalise communism – a political movement. This took the might of the entire West working in concert to make The Red Menace appear to be a thing that screams “I am unnatural. I am wrong”. This, despite it being (at the time) a fairly functional, if slightly odd to us in the west, form of government. It was not what we in the west were familiar with, but it generally did what government was meant to do, which is to keep it’s populace mostly fed, and mostly not at war with each other. Mostly. It had it’s problems just like capitalism does, but it’s not as if communism is a fundamentally broken premise at heart – although to be fair, it only seems to last as long as their citizens start to realise the value of individual wealth, but that’s a different argument for another day.

Anyway, this concept mostly worked, but lets be honest, it wasn’t the government saying that communism was bad that got people on their side – it was the nuclear missiles and games of brinkmanship that really won the day – there were real stakes at play, and the public went with it due to them not wanting to see the result of those stakes playing out, rather then because they understood why communism was a sub-optimal form of governance.

More recently, we’ve seen massive public health ordnance to denormalise smoking, which have predictably failed, because the stakes are seen as being much lower; the reaction you get when someone kicks (or fucks) a dog is one of utter disgust. The reaction you get when someone finds out you’re a smoker is ‘meh’ with possibly a request you pop out the back of their house to spark up, as they don’t like the smell.

You are, in fact, more likely to get a strange reaction if you tell someone you don’t drink. Being teetotal is not considered a bad thing by anyone who has an IQ greater than 60, but it is considered to be quite outside the norm. Not drinking is something that society deemed to be unusual as it’s outside of the common accepted experience of most of us. It’s never been denormalised, because from a societal standpoint, it was never normal. Note, not good or bad, just not normal.

So how do we currently try to denormalise, lets say, smoking and drinking. Well, we have huge public health campaigns, most of them viciously demonising, and specifically designed to divide and conquer – to set one side up as the heroes (public health, non-smokers, non-drinkers) and one side up as the villians (smokers, drinkers, tobacco companies, alcohol companies). You then play a narrative which shows that one side is out to get you, and the other wants to save you, by infringing on the rights and behaviours of the bad guys, for the Greater Good. This description is hyperbolic, but at it’s core, is how it works.

However, this fails at the most fundamental step, which is making the assumption that the public don’t know that tobacco companies have a shady past, that cigarettes are dangerous to those who use them, that regularly drinking to excess is bad for you, etc.

It’s massively patronising, and often contains outright lies; the black lungs of smokers were always dyed pigs lungs (fun fact – smokers lungs are often used for transplants because they’re perfectly good compared to those of the person requiring them, and any damage clears up pretty quick when you take the act of smoking away – there’s barely a difference in recovery rates for the transplantee); the Helena Miracle (that is, that heart attack rates drop when smoking is banned in public) was an example of statistical number stretching of legendary degrees, literally never replicated anywhere, ever – but used almost everywhere as the basis to ban smoking in public despite being laughably poor evidence, if it can even be called evidence at all.

Those who pointed out that this evidence was low quality, and that harms from second hand smoke were being massively overblown were excommunicated from the public health tobacco control field. This is not hyperbole, this literally happened on multiple occasions to people who, until they showed they were not going to toe the ‘party line’, were considered to be at the top of their field.

This is how far some factions of public health are prepared to go to ensure that their narrative to justify an attempt at ‘denormalisation’ is not upset.

Of course, what they seem to forget is that the public are, in short, not as stupid as many in government (and especially in public health) would like to think.

The Problem With Denormalistion

The main issue with this tactic is that while you can wheel out quotes about the power of stupid people in large numbers, this isn’t really a strong argument; it is, in fact, quite a poor one. The fact of the matter is that you can tell people till you’re blue in the face that smoking will kill them, but if they enjoy it, they’ll keep smoking.

You can harp on about the social costs of drinking, but as 90% of the public don’t go out on a weekend long bender and get utterly wrecked and try to fight a lamp-post, then they will ignore you because they are not the ones who are part of the problem.

You can tell a cannabis smoker that it’s been shown in mice to slow mental processes, but they’re an account manager at a mobile network and they’ve been promoted twice in the last three years – that rather goes against that little theory.

When you try to deny any benefit of something, and only play up the negatives – that is, to demonise someone’s personal choice – then people stop listening to you. You undermine your own currency amongst most, and you seriously damage your credibility among those who take the time to look into it in more detail.

So what now?

Well, all this rambling aside, what’s a more useful way to get people to elect to change their behaviour? The answer appears to be fairly self evident, but instead of denormalising ‘bad’ behaviour, a likely more useful response is to normalise more desirable behaviour.

Take smoking – there are ways to massively reduce the harm from wanting nicotine, such as snus and e-cigs (my personal way), and even chewing tobacco – basically, any form of tobacco (or nicotine containg substance) that isn’t burned is massively, hilariously less harmful than burning the stuff.

Rather than trying to ‘denormalise’ smoking, instead, encourage and attempt to normalise the less harmful forms of nicotine.

To attempt to denormalise smoking is far, far too large a task and will never happen, ever – regardless of whether any given government sets goals to have a ‘tobacco free world’ (or more recently, as reduced harm options have become available, we see this being twisted to a ‘nicotine free world’ – so that they can demonise even those who have given up smoking) the fact of the matter is people enjoy their vices; it’ll never stop entirely and to claim otherwise is either rank stupidity or wishful thinking – backed by rank stupidity.

I am not exaggerating when I say that anyone – and I mean anyone who sincerely wants to see a tobacco free world and genuinely thinks they can achieve this is utterly deluded, to the same degree that anyone who wants to see a murder free world and thinks they can achieve it would be – it’s a literal impossibility.

Such people should be ridiculed at every opportunity, because nine times out of then, they’ll be using taxpayers money to try to push for their demonstrably impossible goal.

When it comes to drinking, there is very solid evidence that moderate drinking – that is, a couple of pints here or there, rather than blasting through ten pints in three hours – is actually at worst, of no impact to health, and at best,  somewhat beneficial.
Yet again, however, we see public health attempting to demonise almost any imbibement of alcohol, with the CMO recently stating that every time she has a glass of wine, she thinks about cancer; what she is actually saying is that if you drink and don’t think about cancer, you’re doing it wrong. This is clearly an insane position to take, and one that quite rightly got her lampooned in the press because you be damned sure that when she’s at official functions supping on taxpayer funded wine, she’s not thinking that at all. It’s virtue signalling of the highest order.

The fact is that there is objectively little wrong with the odd drink here and there; the problem comes when you can’t get by without a drink, or when you must get falling-down-drunk to have considered yourself to have had a good time. And that is already considered to be socially unacceptable by the vast majority of the public. We have already denormalised problem drinkers; what needs to be done is to normalise helping problem drinkers, rather than demonising them, or sweeping the problem under the carpet.

As for cannabis, the only problem with it is that it’s supply is entirely illegal; legalise it for recreational use, and suddently it’s no longer viewed as dangerous and rebellious. Almost every ‘evidence’ of harm from cannabis is correlative, not causative, it’s important to note; links to mental health strongly side on it being self medication, not the cause of the mental health problems. There is a similar links between schizophrenia and smoking, but no-one seriously claims that smoking cigarettes makes you schizophrenic.
Make it better quality and price comparable with street cannabis (not difficult, frankly – cannabis isn’t something that requires massive reprocessing, unless your cutting it with bulking agents, as illegal producers do…) and surprisingly enough, people might not be so tempted to try whatever else they get offered by their local dealer because they won’t be interacting with their local dealer.

Nor will they be offered freebies, or loans when they’re short, then end up getting beaten up in a back alley for not paying up, as dealers aren’t exactly known for being sensitive when handling debts.

If you normalise cannabis (or at least, stop trying to denormalise it) then it just becomes part of life. Hell, maybe encourage harm reduced ways of getting it (dry burners, etc) if you really feel the need to ‘do the right thing’ but denormalising it has clearly not worked, along with the rest of the war on drugs.

 

Long story short

You don’t denormalise existing behaviour, that’s just something that doesn’t really work at a societal level as that’s something society, not government, does – but you can encourage the normalisation what you consider to be better behaviour, if you do it right and without stepping on everyone’s toes.

And chances are, society already agrees with you, so the best thing you can do is just get the fuck out of the way and let us get on with it by ourselves.

Quick update

I’ve updated my new hosts switchgear, and currently updating their other internal hardware. All going (he says, tempting fate) quite smoothly.

I’ve been getting seriously pissed off with various parts of public health and the press lately. I have thoughts on this, and may well expand on them in a  long form on here at some point soon to get ’em off my chest, but I realise that a stream of consciousness rant is less useful than a structured critique; we’ll see what I can come up with.

Otherwise, I’m fucking skint.

plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose, eh kids?

Oh yeah, get fucked.

Progress of sorts

Well, I now have  a flat in Pudsey. And I’ve now got a strong handle on my new hosts IT infrastructure.

I’ve also finally had the time to really start getting into MySQL. Last time I looked at it, I didn’t really get a chance to properly dig into it. Last week I got delayed replication working in my test environment.

Money is tight, but not too tight (thankfully). Should be better once I sort out various bills and things that slipped when I was out of work.

Puma is a bit flaky, but again, once bills are sorted, I’ll get it sorted.

Computer PSU has popped, so once bills are sorted, add that to the list, too.

Lots going on at work at the moment – got core switch upgrade and new core hardware install (the hardware that makes the company money) so, er, no pressure.

Things will hopefully calm down before Christmas and I can get properly back into talking crap, advocating for tobacco harm reduction, dicking with cars and generally getting my life back on track.

Still got a yacht for sale if anyone wants it, by the way….

Get fucked,
Steven R

Life update

So, some quick updates.

Had some good times with a psychologist, pulling apart my thought processes and making them less stupid. That seems to have worked pretty well.

Got me a job. I’m going to be looking after the infrastructure of a company who’s multimillion pound income is dependant on their IT gear. So, you know, no pressure. That said, 18 months ago I’d never worked in Linux, and I managed that pretty easily, so how hard can it be?

Anyway, I’ll be moving closer to work at some point too, as work is 70 miles away. I’m a glutton for punishment, but I’m not a sadist.

I’ll likely expand upon my previous employment experience – which was horrific –  the hosts of which will likely remain anonymous (although this is dependant upon how drunk I am and how many fucks I give at the time of posting) but it might be a good guide for anyone who thinks working in a ‘startup environment’ lead by personalities etc is a good idea. ProTip – it’s really not, and HR knowledge is a good thing for a reason.

I’ll also not be spending as much time as I’d like in my local vape shop, which is a shame as we have a true ‘care in the community’ vibe in there, helping people sort out their discrepancies in life (including my own) and I’ll miss talking people through their problems over a coffee and a vape.

I may also have a rant about the fucking idiocy kicking off in public health regarding vaping that has been evident lately; I’ve been pretty deep in the advocacy movement of late (and I intend to remain as such, although obviously timing pressures will affect this) to the extent where a large org who deal with such matters offered to help me get to the Global Forum on Nicotine, a pretty extensive harm reduction conference in Warsaw – but which I coudn’t take up due to the fact that I was interviewing for this job that I got. It’s also been suggested that I write an article for a large rag with interests in these matters, I seem to get far too many ‘Likes’ and retweets on these matters etc. Perhaps I should set time aside for these things.

Anyway, I’ll expand on most, if not all, of the above once I’m settled in at my new job, etc.

Otherwise, I’m carrying on carrying on.

Keep it stealthy, you monsters.

Steven R
<3

Updates soon

Just a quicky – I’ll be posting up some thoughts on Universal Credit.

I’ll also be pubishing some thoughts on why I’m not in work at the moment. I’m not perfect, but being made an ‘offer to leave’ the day after my fathers funeral means that yes, I’ll be talking about ethics, hyprocrisy and how mishandling staffing and HR issues can affect the staff you proudly proclaim to care about. I understand it’s happened again, so this just appears to be the way my former hosts operate. Sad really.

I might also ramble on about the whole iPhone/FBI thing as that’s been on my mind a lot lately too.

More at the weekend I imagine.

Out of hours?

I’m on the Out of Hours rota this week (Friday to Friday – to allow a weekend to get back into 9-5 type shenanigans) and I’m quite enjoying it so far.

Nothing has gone too badly, other than a physical box swap that ended up being a tad more complicated than it needed to be, but it seems to be sorted now.

Fingers crossed the rest of the week is as smooth as this.

I bobbed into the office to do the physical box swop myself, even. Given it’s a 40 mile run in, and then back out, that’s quite a bit of work but the roads were quiet so it wasn’t too bad.