Clarity

I don’t actually do as much these days, but I think about things a whole lot more.

Somebody the other day asked me about my views on religion. I gave my stock response – that if somebody decided to embrace a religion, then that was fine. Would likely be very positive for them, in fact. But they need to understand that they’re only really qualified to make the decision for themselves, not anybody else. So I have no time for somebody who tries to convince somebody else to adopt their beliefs. The fundamental premise, that what I believe is better than what you believe, is wrong.

To me, anyway. This is a view I’ve held for decades, so I’m perfectly comfortable with it.So, I’m perfectly comfortable with the principle that, what somebody decides is good for them, is nobody else’s business.

I can quite neatly apply this rule to sexuality. If a pair of people do something with each other, and they both consent, what business is it of mine, what they do? Because I’m not involved.

However, I leave my comfort zone at that point. Because of one specific issue – the environment. I’m happy to do what I can – less meat, no flying etc. But, actually, I want the next person to do rheir bit too. When they pollute the environment, I have a problem with it. Because ultimately, their actions will affect me.

In the same vein, I see a conflict with, say, the Extinction Rebellion protesters. My gut feel is that they should not be disrupting people or businesses, but in their defence, those businesses are actively harming the environment, which sustains us all, not just those businesses. It might not be obvious now, because from day-to-day, we don’t see it with our eyes, but science is quite readily detecting it in all sorts of areas. Not just change, but change which has been brought about by mankind. One might hope that companies would understand that their ability to make any kind of long-term profit would depend upon having a benign environment in which to operate, but making a buck as easily as possible always wins the day.

I suppose you can’t blame a business for thinking in this way – their goal is to deliver growth for their shareholders, it doesn’t surprise me one bit that they are interested in the next two years, not the next two hundred – but it does highlight to me that governments have a role to play, by constructing the framework in which businesses exist. It should be governments who are forcing businesses to behave in the best interests of their electorate. I leave it to you to decide whether my government, or yours, is doing this. I suppose because governments themselves only last for a few years, there’s not much imperative for them to put the environment at the top of their list.

It’s funny, I sometimes start writing these posts, sometimes to tease out my own ideas, without any particular known result. I find it easier, to set things out in print. Certainly on this one, I feel I can support the Extinction Rebellion, because businesses are not just making a buck, they are harming something in which we all have a vested interest.

More tea, vicar?

Only last week (but a few posts ago now) I wrote the post Connected, My experiments with home technology. A brief recao: I got one of these home hubs on offer (£25), thought “How far can I take this?” and found a smart ligbt bulb on Ebay (£10), got it working (i.e. controlled by my voice). Then I thought “How much further can I take this?” and botght a smart electric switch on eBay (another £10).

The switch arrived yesterday. It plugs into your normal, unadulterated, electrical wall socket, that you’ve been using these last forty or fifty years. This smart switch is itself a socket. Into it, you plug your very unsmart kettle, which you’ve been using these last forty or fifty years. The purpose of a smart socket? It acts as a switch between the wall and the kettle, but controlled over wi-fi. You tap an app on your phone, the switch turns on, the kettle boils. Tap it again, everything switches off.

The only real “smart” on my part was: when the light bulb arrived, it came with instructions to download an app to my phone (called Smart Life). This was part of the setting-up process. With only one device, it didn’t much matter what that app was, other than the end result was that it could be connected to my Google account, controlled by my new Google Home Mini device, and my voice. It was clear, though, that this app could control many (hundreds, I think) devices if I set them up, so when I got the switch, I looked for one which could be controlled by the same app. I didn’t want to have one app for my bedroom light, another for the switch, a third for some other light, and so on. So I looked on the web. This wasn’t trivial, in that it took two or three hours, but hey, it was only looking at web pages. Eventually I found some switches (eBay again) which mentioned that they were controlled by this particular app.

They duly arrived yesterday, and because they were controlled by an app I had already set up, it took less than a minute. I set the switch up in the bedroom, where the wi-fi is signal nice and strong, and was duly able to turn the switch on and off from my phone. Because Smart Life was already linked to Google, with my voice too. I then moved the switch into the kitchen, where the wi-fi signal from that network is much weaker (I set up different wi-fi networks so that the whole house is covered, the kitchen it covered by a different network. I know I could improve this now, but at the time I set up the wireless networks, it was the best option).

Anyway, I plugged the kettle into the switch, and….hey presto!

So, this morning I was able to kick-start my first cup of tea by speaking to my hub, from in my bed. ‘Course, I still had to pour the hot water into the cup myself.

With the light bulb, there is an element of it stopping me from banging into things in the dark, so I can argue a case for that. But with the switch, this is pure decadence, and really was an experiment, to see how far I could go. I am impressed that I’ve come this far, having not spent £50!