A knockout blow to free will

Living to over 145 years, flying carpets, a year of continuous rain followed by 10 years of drought. These preposterous things occur in One hundred years of solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez. I'm literal minded, and so I also found difficult all the premonitions and apparitions and such.

Generation after generation is dysfunctional. The characters are weird and unhappy. It left me feeling hopeless. Readers have described the book's atmosphere as dreamlike. To me it was nightmarish.

Perhaps this book presents a mature view of the world that I'm just not ready for. Maybe the devices that I find anoying are in fact clever ways of conveying life's truths.

As an aside, when Ursula was confined to her room in her later years, she could tell what was going on in the house from the various sounds. In fact this gave her a unique insight into the other occupants. My housemate is like that. From her room she knows everthing that's going on.

The ending was brilliant. A knockout blow delivered to free will!


Mapping on The Elected

I've added mapping to The Elected. I've only mapped one constituency so far. As it's a wiki, anyone can add mapping data to a constituency. Let me know if you try it and have any problems.


I'm pleased to announce the marriage of XSL and JavaScript

To get an XSL stylesheet to output XML with JavaScript in it, do this:

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="us-ascii"?>
<xsl:stylesheet version="1.0"
<xsl:output method="xml"
doctype-public="-//W3C//DTD XHTML 1.1//EN"
cdata-section-elements="javascript-escape" />

<xsl:template match="/">
<html xmlns="http://www.w3.org/1999/xhtml" xml:lang="en">
<title>The Marriage of XSL and JavaScript</title>
<script type="text/javascript">


function load() {
alert("All your bases are belong to us.");

/* ]]>

<body onload="load()">
<p>Captain: You know what you doing.</p>


Good food

Andy's pointed me to this Economist article on the ethical buying of food. There are several different issues involved:

  • CO2 emissions. Many people attempt to buy food that has caused the minimum CO2 pollution. But as the article points out, this is incredibly difficult. I buy groceries from an organic box scheme that doesn't allow air freight. The best solution though is to have a carbon dioxide tax.

  • Health of the person eating the food. Here it seems that organic labelling does its job. With organic, you're eating food that's been tried and tested for thousands of years. Where's the benefit to the consumer in ingesting novel chemical compounds?

Next stop Bath Spa. The other points will have to wait!


Abolish VAT

We should make sure that poor people don't have to pay tax. At the moment we pay means-tested benefits to the poor, while also charging them VAT. This is bad because it is bureaucratic and creates perverse incentives. Abolishing VAT would be funded by: