pseudomonas: Hungry dragon! (hungry)
2017-08-30 02:14 pm
Entry tags:

A bit of a pickle.

I have been getting into pickling things. Mainly, but not only, cucumbers.

It turns out, it's really easy. Cucumbers are less easy than other veg cos they can go a bit over-soft if you get the proportions wrong, but I love properly fermented cucumbers so much I'll talk about them here.

So, you get a jar. I've been using 2-litre spring-top Mason jars. Needs to be properly clean but doesn't need to be sterile.

If you're doing cucumbers, then some source of tannins is needed to keep things crunchy. I use some vine leaves (the sort that you can get preserved in a jar); other people use blackcurrant leaves, oak leaves, black tea, or horseradish leaves. You also want to top & tail the cucumbers (AIUI this is to halt the ripening process). I can fit about eight small cucumbers into a two-litre jar; I think it's worth getting the straighter mini-cucumbers rather than the curly ones just for efficiency of packing.

For seasoning (all of which is optional!) I use maybe half-a-bunch of dill weed, several cloves of garlic, peeled and halved, some dried chilis, bay leaves, whole black peppercorns, and mustard seed. I hear dill flowers are the thing to use, but they're something one has to grow oneself.

Salt solution "brine" is 3.5% w/v - this means 35g per litre of boiled-and-cooled water. 35g is about 25ml for standard table salt.

The fermentation relies on bacteria on the skins of your veg, which is why they need to be non-blanched, and why the brine can't be boiling hot. Pack all the veg and flavourings into a jar, and fill the jar with the brine. I sometimes use a slice of plastic bottle to stop stuff from floating above the surface of the brine.

Over the course of a week to ten days, you'll see the brine go cloudier, the cucumbers become a more yellowish green, and the smell and taste of the brine become more delicious. I tend to open the jar briefly daily to check the smell, taste a teaspoonful of the brine, and to vent any pressure build-up (though the jars I use seem not to explode, presumably the sprung lids let the gas out a bit. If you're worried you can use a less-sealed system).

When they're done to your liking, put the jar in the fridge; it'll slow the fermentation to a crawl and the pickles will keep for a good few weeks after that.
pseudomonas: (Default)
2017-04-11 01:59 pm

(no subject)

More in due course about life &c., but an admin note: I'm no longer crossposting to Livejournal, for the same reasons as everyone else.
pseudomonas: (Default)
2017-02-01 11:36 am

Five suggestions for wannabe-activists

1) Pick a cause you care about, and focus on it, get knowledgeable, be prepared to become expert.

2) Approach things in ways that suit you, your temperament, your skills, your contacts, your knowledge. There are lots of strategies.

3) Don't do it alone — either find a group doing it already, or find a friend/partner/teammate so you can encourage each other.

4) Celebrate even small victories, and never beat yourself up when you can't save the world single-handed

5) Take time out if you need it; get enough food and sleep and socialising and alone-time. Self-care is a prerequisite to activism, not an optional add-on!

and tea!
pseudomonas: (Default)
2016-11-13 02:55 pm

Facebook Sanity

To calm down your Facebook feed (if you use Facebook from a desktop browser): install FBPurity and then click "import settings", tell it you don't want to upload a file, and paste in the following:

You may well wish to change the filter text and other preferences; it's easily editable after you've imported these settings.

As is, it will hide most types of posts apart from actual content written (or photographed) by your friends — including "shared a link" posts — and filter a few obvious politics keywords. You can easily make it more or less restrictive afterwards.
pseudomonas: (Default)
2016-11-04 04:34 pm

Newspapers, supermarkets, and having it both ways.

This was written in part before today's tabloid shitstorm.

The Co-op supermarket account on Twitter had said, in response to someone saying that tabloid headlines inciting hatred against immigrants made them feel unsafe:

Now, I respect organizations that take the extreme-free-speech position "we will allow everything that does not break the law". In fact, I expect it of organizations like ISPs.

But the Co-op doesn't take that position - it refuses to stock pornography, and it made great play of requiring "lads' mags" to be presented in plain covers, and removing them when they refused. And I'm pretty sure they wouldn't stock anything titled Neo-Nazi Monthly no matter how much demand there was.

The state of being an immigrant is not a protected characteristic in the way that race, religion, or sexual orientation is. But inciting hatred against immigrants is (in my eyes, anyway!) equally reprehensible to stirring up hatred against Jewish or Muslim or black or gay people.

The Co-op* is welcome to decide that it's going to stock everything. It's welcome to decide that it's going to exclude some offensive things, but the Daily Express is not sufficiently offensive. What it doesn't get to do is to exclude some offensive things but then pretend that its reason for not excluding the Daily Express is that they "need to offer choice to all customers, regardless of political leanings".

Catering for customers who want to read diatribes against refugees but not customers who want to see sideboob is an arbitrary political position, it's not the high ground of hallowed neutrality, and if you're going to take that position, you should be prepared to defend it rather than pretend it doesn't exist.

* or any other mainstream retailer, pretty much. The Co-op is no worse than any other AFAICT.
TBH I'm unsure myself whether it's appropriate to stock these titles, to refuse to stock them, or to stock them but insist on plain covers. But I am sure that it's a reasonable question to ask and shouldn't be dismissed with "we have to cater to all political orientations".
pseudomonas: (libdem)
2016-10-27 10:53 pm

Brexit logic, redux

Brexiters must — I think — hold one of two positions* for any given value C of "catastrophe":

1) It's right to implement the referendum result even if it will lead to catastrophe C
2) It would be wrong to implement the referendum result if it would lead to catastrophe C, but we believe that it will not lead to catastrophe C

If their position is (2), they have no right decrying as anti-democratic those of us who oppose implementing the referendum result because of a reasonable belief that it will lead to catastrophe C.

If their position is (1) they should have the [redacted] to come out and say so.

* Whether consciously or otherwise.
Someone may consistently take position 1 for C = a small misfortune (a 50% chance of recession, say), and position 2 for C = a major cataclysm (say, nuclear war)
pseudomonas: Ostrakon against Themistocles. (ostrakon)
2016-10-27 05:04 pm
Entry tags:

On the amazing electoral physics of referendums.

We don't have referendums* in the UK very much. Maybe we'd be more adept at dealing with them if we did. Who knows? So I'm talking on the basis of the representative sample of one referendum in recent times that actually passed.

There seems to be a view that a referendum passing on a matter makes it… real. One gets the idea that if we voted in a referendum to repeal the laws of gravity, the government would even now be reassuring people that weightlessness means weightlessness and of course it'll happen, it'd be undemocratic to suggest otherwise. We voted to leave the EU without losing jobs, so that's what we'll do! We voted to leave the EU without a brain drain, so that is what must happen!

The other view I see around is that this is a solemn overriding pressure; an irresistible force against which no objection is immovable. Brexit means Brexit! If it costs 5% of GDP, so be it! If it costs 15% of GDP, so be it! If it leads to a breakdown in foreign relations and influence, so be it! If it necessitates declaring war on France, so be it! If it calls up the Great Old Ones to devour the residents of all coastal local authorities, then, well, you get the idea.

The question "what price is worth paying or not paying" for Brexit is one that is never answered because the Government is still trying to kid us that there's not even a possibility that things might just not go the way they want.

I readily admit that I'm one of those Remoaner types who thinks that a bad outcome is very likely. But I think that even an ardent Brexiter with their head screwed on right ought to be taking the position:

a) It is bad to go against a democratic referendum.
b) Even so, there are some things which are worse than going against a referendum result.
c) There are various outcomes to the process. Some are bad. (You might well think the bad ones are less likely than I do — but I think any honest observer admits they're not impossible)
d) However much you think that a referendum result is a good thing and ought to be honoured, there are some outcomes that make it on balance not worthwhile.

My position on (d) is "we need to have a grown up discussion on what price is worth paying for what kind of Brexit".

The government's position on (d) seems to be "it's literally impossible for this situation to arise because that would mean going against a referendum". And we're back, circuitously, to the reality-bending powers of referendums. Weightlessness means weightlessness.

But don't worry. Everything will be OK because we voted for it to be OK.

* Or referenda. I don't mind.
Negotiations. Markets. Diplomacy. Whatever.
Who knows? Maybe it will all be OK.
Thought experiment that is deliberately extreme: there is a consultative referendum to sacrifice every firstborn child to placate the gods. A democratic one. It passes. You are the PM. Is your first act on hearing the result to whip out your cleaver?

Comments policy: This is not the place to debate the merits of Brexit per se, there are approximately eleventy million other places to do that. It's to discuss how one should *respond* to a referendum in various circumstances. Also, be nice. Also also, do not be Steven Kitson.
pseudomonas: (eyebrow)
2016-09-24 01:53 pm
Entry tags:

An open letter to Jeremy Corbyn on Europe.

Dear Mr Corbyn,

I realise we probably don't agree on Europe. That's fine. It's a big world and there's room for different opinions. What I can't stomach is the feeling that you think it doesn't much matter what happens.

It seems to me that this is the biggest challenge facing the UK in the short to medium term. Yet you seem resolutely tight-lipped about it — the fact that you haven't been bringing it up at Prime Minister's Questions is just the most obvious manifestation of this.

You seem, based on comments in the media, opposed both to a parliamentary vote on triggering Article 50, and to a referendum on the negotiated terms of an exit deal. The effect of this is that you're happy to let the Conservative government negotiate whatever terms suit them, with minimal scrutiny or restraint. Do you believe that they are the best people to conduct matters? Or do you just feel that it doesn't much matter what happens?

To your credit, you have mentioned your concern for workers' rights in a post-Brexit UK. But you haven't set out definitive positions on membership of* the Single Market, freedom of movement, research collaboration, Common Agricultural Policy, financial passporting, and so on. These are all issues that affect hundreds of thousands of jobs and lives. Workers' rights don't mean much if the jobs have all evaporated.

I'm a member of the Liberal Democrats, who have set out a clear summary of their policy position in a format that Labour might usefully copy. It's fine if you don't agree (though I hope you'd set out your rationale!). It's not fine if you don't care.

Yours &c.

Adam ([personal profile] pseudomonas)

* As distinct from "access to" which is not usefully informative.
Declaration of interest: I work in biomedical research, a field that is likely to suffer particularly heavily under a "hard" Brexit.
pseudomonas: Hungry dragon! (hungry)
2016-09-11 01:20 pm
Entry tags:


I had some of Morrison's "breakfast mushrooms" - they're just large (maybe 10cm diameter) field mushrooms, I think.

I sautéed one very slowly in a mixture of butter & olive oil with a small sprinkle of my all-purpose seasoning mix (equal parts garlic powder, chili powder, and smoked paprika) and towards the end seasoned with minced (well, grated) garlic, and fresh-horseradish-grated-into-vinegar (cos it was around and I thought it'd be nice.)

Served on top of a toasted pitta bread (because that's what I had), and with mushroomy pan juices (deglazed with a tiny amount of lemon juice) poured over it so the bread soaked it up, it was more delicious than I'd anticipated.
pseudomonas: (harp)
2016-07-04 05:18 pm

Extract from the Report of the Royal Commission on Alien Immigration 1903;view=1up;seq=16
37. It is said that a large and gradually increasing number of Aliens have during the last 20 years arrived in this country with the object of permanently settling here.

38. In respect of many of these Alien Immigrants it is alleged—

(1) That on their arrival they are
   (a) in an impoverished and destitute condition,
   (b) deficient in cleanliness, and practice insanitary habits,
   (c) and being subject to no medical examination on embarkation or arrival, are liable to introduce infectious diseases.

(2) That amongst them are criminals, anarchists, prostitutes, and persons of had character, in number beyond the ordinary percentage of the native population.

(3) That many of these being and becoming paupers and receiving poor law relief, a burden is thereby thrown upon the local rates.

(4) That on their arrival in this country they congregate as dwellers in certain districts, principally in the East End of London, and especially in the Borough of Stepney, and that when they so settle they become a compact, non-assimilating community.

(5) That this influx into limited localities has caused the native dweller to be dispossessed of his house accommodation, has occasioned. overcrowding, has raised the charge for rents, and introduced the abuse known as “key money”; and that in consequence in certain localities much ill-feeling exists against the Alien Immigrants.

(6) That in consequence of these Aliens dealing exclusively with those of their own race and religion the native tradesmen in the localities affected by the immigration have suffered loss of trade, and, in many 1nstances, have been superseded by Aliens.

(7) That, on arrival, many being unskilled in any industrial trade, and in a state of poverty, work for a rate of wages below a standard upon which a native workman can fairly live.

(8) That the unskilled Aliens on their arrival in this country, set themselves to learn the easier portions of different trades, that during such probationary periods they produce work for a very low remuneration, and when by degrees they become skilled workers they are willing to accept a lower rate of wage than that demanded by the native workmen, who have by this cause been driven to some extent out of certain trades.

(9) In addition to these allegations it was complained in respect to immigrants of the Jewish faith
   (a) that they do not assimilate and intermarry with the native race, and so remain a solid and distinct colony; and
   (b) that their existence in large numbers in certain areas gravely interferes with the observance of the Christian Sunday.

39. Into all these allegations and into the replies given to them we have felt it our duty fully to inquire.
pseudomonas: (Default)
2016-06-19 11:58 pm

referendum - GOTV

I've booked Thursday off work to help with contacting likely Remain voters and encouraging them actually to vote (aka Get Out The Vote). This is absolutely critical, since younger people in particular are likely to place a lower priority on voting, and are more likely to vote Remain. If you have the kind of work* that allows you to take a day or half-day off at this short notice, do consider helping your local Remain campaign on Thursday. Many places will be running 7am-10pm, so if you can offer help before or after work, that might be appreciated too.

If there's no StrongerIn hub near enough you to be feasible, try political parties; in my area, I'll likely be offering help to our local Labour party's operation, despite my being a paid-up Liberal Democrat (the Lib Dems in Harrow being too few to have the necessary infrastructure). Whatever gets the result.

* and state of health, family, &c.; I know many people have constraints that mean they can't do this. That's OK.
pseudomonas: Ostrakon against Themistocles. (ostrakon)
2016-06-05 07:59 pm

StrongerIn campaigning

So, this weekend I have mainly been leafletting and talking to shoppers in Harrow for the Remain cause in the EU referendum. It was my first time doing this kind of public-facing campaigning, and while I was very nervous beforehand, it turned out much less scary than I'd thought it might be. No-one was abusive, and a number of people were actively interested in talking about the issue; also several people took information on how to register to vote.

The polls are *very* close - about 1-2% in it at the moment [ETA: latest polls have Leave very slightly ahead]. If you want to see a Remain win, I strongly urge you not just to vote, but (as far as your time, health, and family commitments allow!) to get the message out there, outside your immediate circle of friends, twitter/FB followers, and colleagues, and counter some of the deeply misleading Leave arguments. will tell you what is going on near you - almost all events will be happy to have volunteers rock up at short notice!

Extra credit: If there are no events near you, or not enough, or none that are at a convenient time - find the nearest event you can (Google for { events TownName} to find events that have already passed), phone or email the organizer, and ask them how to get some campaign materials, and where would be useful for you to distribute them - to pedestrians in the street, to commuters at stations, through letterboxes, whatever. It doesn't need to be organised, it's something you can do when you have a spare half-hour.

If you're talking to people, you don't have to be a complete expert in everything anyone might ask; it's more important to reassure people that yes, their vote will count; that no, it's not a complicated-arguments-on-both-sides issue, it's mainly about some fringe politicians who want less immigration and don't care if they wreck the country to get it; that yes, there are problems with the UK and with the EU, but almost nothing that running away will make better.

Comments policy: this is to discuss campaigning details for the Remain campaign, not the respective merits of Remain and Leave, of Cameron and Johnson, or of Daddy and Chips.
Sharing policy: this is a public post, please feel free to spread the link, or copy the text; no permission or attribution required
pseudomonas: (libdem)
2016-03-05 11:07 am
Entry tags:

Lib Dems for Basic Income - bureaucratic planning meeting in York

Any Lib Dem members who are interested in arranging for the party to adopt a stance in favour of Basic Income (aka Citizen's Income, Negative Income Tax, Unconditional Basic Income, Citizen's Dividend…) might be interested in a meeting during the York conference next Saturday (12th March).

This isn't a meeting to discuss the policy, it's to discuss the process of getting something into party policy.

times and agenda )
Anyone who won't be at the meeting but who wants to either a) suggest themselves for drafting or promoting the motion, or b) make any comments for the meeting to consider, please let me know; in comments here is fine.
pseudomonas: (eyebrow)
2016-02-08 11:05 am

Dear [company] with a [website]...

You've been linked, possibly by me, to this post because you had

a) a non-optional request for title
b) that didn't include my title (or the title of the person that pointed you here it).

Solutions to this include:

a) make "title" optional (you can always address people as Dear Forename Surname!)
b) make title a field which the customer can type in themselves
c) Just don't collect title at all

Frequently Questioned Answers

A: How about you tell us what your title is, and we'll sort it out manually
Q: Is that actually going to solve your problem?

A: Can't we just have a longer list of titles?
Q: How long a list do you want? There are a lot of titles out there!

A: But we don't actually want to know your title, we want to know your gender
Q: Is it any of your business what my gender is? If it really really is then maybe explain why. If it's so you can better stereotype marketing emails, then no, it isn't.
Q2: You know that asking non-binary people if they're male or female is really quite rude, don't you? If you don't, try on for size "Are you Christian or Muslim? Just pick whichever one is a better fit. No, 'Buddhist' isn't an option, so just pick the closest of 'Christian' or 'Muslim'. It doesn't really matter, it's just our system needs to know. Because it does. Surely everyone's *basically* Christian or Muslim? No? Well, try describing your genitalia to me and I'll guess for you". If you want a title that is suitable for non-binary people, use "Mx" — but that still won't
help you with the set of your clientele that are Dr/Revd/Rabbi/Dame/Major/Prof/etc. etc.

More comprehensive reasons why this is bad practice; UK Government advice says this as well.

[This entry is CC0 - anyone may copy it and modify it for any purpose without attribution or permission. Please feel encouraged to paste it into emails or create your own improved version]
pseudomonas: (making)
2015-12-23 05:47 pm
Entry tags:

MLP:Crafting Is Awesome — Introducing Κιτροκοκκαριον the Trojan Pony.

My first custom MLP modification project! Thanks to LM for introducing me to the idea of pony-modification, and making me a gift of the initial model. It's been great fun to subvert that ridiculous "boy's toys" / "girl's toys" distinction with both ponies and soldiers. Mares can be warhorses too!

It all starts with Lemon Drop...The Making Of... )
I really enjoyed making this over the course of a damp December, and it's also so nice to finish a project properly!
pseudomonas: (Default)
2015-12-09 12:18 pm

On appeals for help

Please, please. It's fine and good for you to promote your cause, and appeal for help. But please don't say1 things like If you're not taking [action] on [insert cause here] then you're [the problem|a terrible person|why we can't have nice things]. (sometimes seen as If you're [demographic group] and not taking action…).

Three reasons:
1) Salience bias. While you're very upset about X injustice, there are (sadly!) many many many problems in the world, and it's not OK to berate people for working on things that aren't the one that has your attention at the moment. It's definitely OK to hope that people are working/donating/campaigning to make the world a better place, but not to slag strangers off because they're focussing on (say) economic inequality rather than (say) antibiotic resistance2.

2) Not everyone is in a position to help. Some people have disabilities, physical and mental. Some people aren't economically placed to give up money or time. Making these people feel bad about it is what is technically known as "a dick move".

3) It's really not a nice look. Yes, this is "the tone argument", aka "concern trolling", well done, you have sussed me out. But it's pretty dispiriting to see people promoting causes I care about by making people feel awful for very little gain. And yes, it's quite likely that the cause is more important than not hurting people's feelings. But one can urge action without gleefully slagging off people who may have very good reasons that they can't get involved

Sadly I've not got a concrete example to hand - but this isn't in reference to a particular thing, but it's something I've seen from time to time and only recently learned not to take as personally as I have in the past.

1 Or, preferably, share/retweet/reblog/promulgate
2 Or vice versa, naturally. I think both of these are pressing concerns for the world.
pseudomonas: (Default)
2015-11-18 06:54 pm

A very brief rant.

O people who say "we must stop letting foreigners in because some of them might be terrorists" - you do realise that this will have to apply to tourists as well as to immigrants? It's not like someone who wants to blow themselves up needs a very long-term visa to do it.
pseudomonas: Ostrakon against Themistocles. (ostrakon)
2015-09-20 12:09 pm

The three interpretations of Corbyn

So, I think there is a bit of discussion at cross-purposes going on in the UK. I have seen a lot of discussions that consist of one person saying "Labour led by an extreme left-winger might not be ideal" and another saying "but his policies are by and large pretty sensible and hard to disagree with"*. This can go on for a long time because they're both right.

Jeremy Corbyn is no fool. He sensibly has played the game as intended - the policies that he has proposed during the leadership contest place him enough to the left of the other contenders to make it clear that he's more socialist than them, but not really much more than that - why would he want to? I am not faulting him for this, it's what I would have done in his situation too.

The question remains though - over the past four decades of his political career, he's espoused positions far to the left (or more extreme/radical for those that aren't strictly left/right issues) of those that he's proposed so far in the leadership campaign and subsequently. There are three possibilities.

■ He has moved with the times and is now more moderate than he once was.

■ He still believes in these positions, but does not intend to pursue them in the foreseeable future (possibly for pragmatic reasons such as desire to win votes)

■ He still believes in these positions, and once his role is more secure (or once Labour is in power) he is intending to install them as official Labour policy.

So, it's clear that the discussion I caricatured at the top is between someone who believes (c) and someone who believes (a) or (b). Me? I don't know what to think. I don't think he's so incredibly guileless that he's incapable of holding a belief without mentioning it; time will tell. I think it's good to note that this uncertainty applies to those who approve of the more extreme positions as well as those who disapprove — even if he's (a) or (b), some of his support will rely on not disillusioning people fervently hoping for (c). And it's important to recognize that not all his critics are necessarily assuming (a).

*I disagree with some bits that I shan't discuss in this post, but it's mostly a fairly standard centre-left programme.