The Chaos Of Twitter

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So, Twitter is complete chaos at the moment, isn’t it? 

To be fair, I’m not sure Twitter has ever been anything but chaos. But the Twitter that Elon Musk now owns is has entered a chaos that’s fascinating to watch, if only because the changes that are being made feel completely batshit.  

I feel for the thousands of Twitter employees that Musk mercilessly kicked to the curb, then subsequently tried to offer some of them their jobs back. Because, when you try and skip the proper process and get rid of a huge chunk of your workforce after only about a week of deliberating, you’re going to leave your company in a shit state.  

But a shit state is what Musk is seemingly hellbent on turning Twitter into. Whether it’s saying that ‘free speech’ is now back at Twitter (although it seemingly doesn’t extend to allowing people to take the piss out of Musk), making us all worry that he’s about to subject us to Trump’s inane ramblings again, or introducing a new verification system that was immediately shown to be useless. 

If you’re not clued up on the blue tick verification system, it’s basically used to show that the account is the official account of that person, organisation, company etc. In regards to people, ticks are generally reserved for people who are notable in some way. So, a celebrity will be verified, as may a journalist who has plenty of by-lines. It makes it easier for Twitter to stop people impersonating that person.  

In an attempt to raise money, Musk said that the paid Twitter Blue feature will give anyone a blue tick for the princely sum of $8 (£6.99 in the UK). This totally defeats the point of verification. If anyone can pay to be verified then it not only no longer makes it special, but what’s to also stop them pretending to be someone else? Apparently, nothing, as today has shown. You’ve got someone pretending to be President Biden lubing up, Mario flipping people off, Trump ‘coming back’, and even Jesus getting verified. Advertisers were pissed (EDIT: Check out this Twitter thread of some companies that were impersonated), and avoiding pissing off the people who make you money is Business 101.

Twitter tried to make it clearer by showing you why they were verified when you click on the tick; either it’s because they’re notable, or that the user has paid Twitter Blue (which then makes you a target of ridicule). But people don’t do their due diligence and will easily fall for a fake account, simply because it looks official and now has a tick. People fell for it before they had a tick, so it’s now even less obvious to those who can’t be bothered to notice that the username is wrong. 

It’s a stupid system, thought up by a person who thousands of cult-like followers think is some sort of genius. A genius wouldn’t have bought Twitter in the first place. It doesn’t make a profit and it’s commonly known as the ‘hell site’. Musk even tried to back out, which practicality forced him to take it on. I’m not sure he knows what he even wants to do with it.  

Apparently, he’s discussed putting the entire site behind a paywall. I don’t think Twitter is as important to people as he thinks. Once you ask people to start paying, they’ll leave the site in droves. There’s a cost of living crisis and a global recession on the way. I don’t think people really give a shit about paying to tweet when they’re trying to pay their bills. 

Maybe he knows he’s fucked up and is actively trying to burn Twitter to the ground. People who say this reckon that he can brush off the billions he’d lose since he’s the richest man in the world. Nah, I put it to you that he would have just paid the money that Twitter would have got if they sued him for pulling out if he wasn’t that bothered about losing money. Oh, and he also wouldn’t fire all those staff to save money. But, hey, I could be wrong. His leadership of Twitter so far is so chaotic that I have no idea what this dude might do next.

It’s sort of both fascinating and hilarious watching Musk’s flailing attempts to change Twitter over the last few days, and to read everyone’s reactions to it. I’ve seen some of the funniest Tweets ever, and I’ve probably spent more time on the site than ever.  

Will Twitter fall? I’m unsure, but I can’t see it being a business success anytime soon.

EDIT (Friday, 11 November): Elon Musk had his first meeting with Twitter employees not long after I published this post. Unsurprisingly, it didn’t go well. He wants staff to go ‘hardcore’, said the company might go bankrupt (smart move to buy it then, eh?), said remote work was basically ending, amongst plenty of other answers. Not long after this meeting, a number of key people resigned, so it doesn’t sound like they were impressed with what he had to say.

Anyway, you can read the full transcript of the meeting over at The Verge.

We’re Having Another Baby!

I’ve got some big news that I’ve yet to announce on my blog. We’re having another baby! 

While we did want another baby, it was still a bit of a surprise. We’d just taken the approach of ‘wait and see’ than actively focusing on it. Alex decided to do a pregnancy test because she was feeling a little different and, lo and behold, it came out positive. Given that it took so long for us to get pregnant the first time, which ended in tragedy, I didn’t expect another one to come so soon.  

Our baby looks to have a head as big as my massive noggin!

Our baby is due in early January, and I honestly can’t wait to do it all again. Everyone said that our baby boy would grow up so quick, and they were right. Now we get to experience all that again. By the way, we don’t know the sex of our second child, which is what we did with Noah too. Having a girl this time would be fantastic, but I’m honestly fine with either sex. 

However, I’m under no illusions that this is going to be easy. We currently have a boisterous three year-old who can be a handful at the best of times. Add a newborn baby into that mix, and I don’t think we’ll be getting any sleep for the foreseeable future. Although I’m hoping things will be slightly easier when Noah goes to school near the end of next year (I can’t believe that’s come so soon!).  

But all those tiring days are worth it when you look into the eyes of your little one and they smile back. Noah has been the best thing that ever happened to us, and our new baby will be the equal of that. It’s magical, and I love the feeling that we made a whole person with a cheeky personality.  

That said, remind me of this in about a year when I’ve collapsed from exhaustion! 

UK Energy Price Woes

Last week I received what I’m sure a lot of people dread to see these days – my new energy quote. I’ve been lucky up until now in that I’ve been on a fixed tariff since September 2020. My bill went up by £20 a month when I moved house, but I moved from a well-insulated new build into an older house that was built in the 1960’s, so I expected to pay a little more. But I don’t think any of us expected what’s happening in the energy market right now.  

I currently pay £100.51 a month, which is amazing compared to what a lot of other people are currently paying. If I were to fix my prices for 12 months, Octopus Energy, my current provider, will fix the price at a ridiculous estimated £542.59 a month, which is around the same as what I pay for my mortgage.  

If I switch to Loyal Octopus, a tariff that’s only available to customers who have been with them at least 8 months, it will go down to an estimated £519.12 a month. While a saving of £23.47 a month would normally be great if I was still paying £100.51 a month, it’s nothing when you get into these extremes.  

Finally, I can switch to the variable rate, which will be an estimated £217.81 a month. Obviously, this is the one I’m going to go for, but it’s still over double what I’m paying now, and variable comes with its own downsides.  

To be fair on Octopus Energy, they’re yet to announce what the prices will be now that the government has announced a cap of £2,500 a year for the typical family (and I like to think we use less energy than the typical family), so it will probably end up being a bit less than what they’ve quoted me. Still, it’s crazy expensive right now. 

While these costs suck up a chunk of my disposable income, I can still afford it. But there are millions of people who won’t be able to afford a rise like this, even when all the help from the government is in place. How does an old person on state pension afford to keep their heating on when the prices are this high? Deaths in the older generation are surely going to go up. I’m just hoping that the winter will be mild, but any cold weather affects older people far more than someone my age. 

While I’m glad the Tories have finally done something about this (let’s face it, it would have been political suicide for them to ignore it), there’s still a lot more they could be doing. Like a windfall tax on energy companies’ profits, or investing more in renewable energy rather than approving more oil drills as Liz Truss is gearing up to do. But Tories will be Tories.  

Musings From The Island Of Mourning

It’s been a crazy few weeks on this bleak little island. Firstly, you’ve got energy bills seemingly getting more expensive by the week, while the party who is supposed to be in charge of the country fights amongst themselves to pick a new leader and, ultimately, a new Prime Minister. The Tories appeared to be missing in action when it came to providing any kind of solution, while a few thousand of their members decided on who would lead the country for the next few years and do things that will affect the millions of the rest of us who didn’t even have a say. 

Then, only a few days after the new Prime Minister, Liz Truss, visited Queen Elizabeth II to receive the ceremonial offer to form a government, the Queen dies. Now, the Queen was 96, so her peacefully shuffling off this mortal coil is no great surprise. But, with the whole country already in chaos, it was a rather large catastrophe to throw into an already tumultuous mix.  

Now, I’m no royalist, but the Queen has been one of the few stable constants of the last 70 years of UK history and that has finally crumbled. It’s sad that the Elizabethan era has come to an end, but for me that’s mostly because the next era isn’t looking all that bright.  

I’m largely neutral when it comes to the Royals. I don’t have a hatred for them, but I would also never feel the need to practically worship a group of rich people that are only there through circumstance of birth. This country does pomp and ceremony extremely well, but it’s hard to be all that interested in it when large swathes of the UK population are getting poorer, while the rich only get richer. 

The country has practically been on pause for the last couple of weeks and, if you flick on terrestrial/satellite/cable TV, listen to the radio, or open any newspaper, then you start to get the feeling that the media is screaming ‘YOU WILL MOURN & BE SAD UNTIL SHE’S BURIED.’ The over-saturation of coverage knocked important stories like another devastating study on the effects of climate change far away from the public consciousness. Because, who cares about the future of life on our planet eh? It obviously doesn’t draw eyeballs, and that’s the depressing truth.  

Oh, and then there was The Queue. The miles long display of Britishness (we love a good queue) of people who wanted to pay their respects. It’s quite amazing what we can do when we come together and put our minds to it, I just feel like our priorities are often in the wrong place. We consistently come across as a nation that bows down to the ‘cult of celebrity’ when there are so many other important matters that we could be focusing our attention on. Accounts like GrieveWatch on Twitter have been interesting to follow, as they’ve been documenting just how mad this country has become since the Queen died.

Look, I don’t begrudge anyone wanting to pay their respects, or anyone who loves the Royals for that matter. I just think the media reaction to it all has been slightly over the top when there are far more important, and more immediate, crises going on right now. It feels like we’re being told to forget all that for the moment as this is ‘more important’. In reality, the death of a 96-year-old woman who had a pretty cushty life in no way affects the daily struggle that many people are going through in what’s supposed to be the 5th richest nation on Earth. 

But it’s over now anyway, and this brief hiatus from the mess that this country is in will be gone by tomorrow. The 24/7 rolling coverage of the Queen’s death will be replaced by the usual 24/7 doom & gloom that’s now a common staple of British life. So, maybe Diamond Geezer is right when he puts it far more eloquently than me that we may ‘just wish that the National hiatus had gone on a lot longer.’ 

A Hot, Sticky, Sweaty Tuesday In July 2022

The flowers in my garden have seen better days, but forgetting to water them on the night before the hottest day since records began is my fault.

Well, the predictions I was talking about yesterday came true. Not long after midday at Heathrow, they finalised the hottest temperature ever recorded in the U.K. as 40.2C. This was following the hottest night on record, where the highest minimum temperature hit 25.8C in south London.  

That hot night was certainly felt in the Mulrooney household, where we all struggled to sleep in the stifling heat. It doesn’t help that the fan we have is basically blowing warm air at you. If these kind of nights become normal, it’s going be very uncomfortable to sleep during summer months. 

When we went upstairs to check on Noah, we noticed that his bedroom felt very hot. We made the decision to move his mattress into our bedroom so that all three of us could benefit from the fan, even if it turned out to be pretty lousy. At first he barely stirred, so we headed off downstairs. About 9.30 we heard him crying, and then all hell broke loose.  

Understandably, he was confused as to why he’d fallen asleep in his bedroom and was now waking up in our bedroom. He was kicking and screaming, barely able to get a breath out. A three-year-old doesn’t see reason when they’re in this state, so we let him calm himself down. He eventually told us he wanted to be back in his bedroom, so we carted everything back in there. But, again, he started screaming about something, and then wouldn’t let us take his duvet away. This was despite the fact that it was far too hot to be covering yourself with a duvet. But, kids, eh? They do weird things. We left him to it then came back while he was asleep to pull the duvet off him.

Instead of heading to an office that has no air con, I decided to work from home today. I realise I’m privileged to be in that position, but if you don’t have air con in your office and the heat is stifling, your employer should be letting you work from home if it’s practical. I’m glad I did, as comments from other co-workers who did go in made it sound like they were walking through the fiery gates of hell.  

Not that my little spare bedroom was much better. Even with the fan literally next to me, it still felt hot as fuck. On the bright side, I did manage to get lots of washing loads dried on the line. So, I guess there’s that.  

Tomorrow it’s supposed to go down to normal northern England summer temperatures of a high of 21C. Rain is even on the cards, which I’m sure my garden will be very pleased about. But, from the hot, sticky, sweaty, mess that I currently find myself in, I’m betting that tonight will also be tough to sleep through.  

Anyway, I’m off for a cool shower! 

It’s Time To Stop Saying It’s ‘Just Summer’

Today we reached 32 degrees in Burnley, a temperature I don’t think I’ve ever seen here. Tomorrow it’s forecast to reach 36 degrees. That’s definitely a temperature I’ve never seen here. We’re living in unprecedented times when we’re seeing temperatures like that in the North of England. If you look at what the experts are saying, periods like this will only become more common. 

People keep banging on about how the media is going overboard with their warnings. While the media are no strangers to hyperbole, and headlines that include words like ‘apocalypse’ are on the extreme side, the media also has a job to inform people and warning us about the dangers of extreme heat is exactly what they should be doing. Would you rather they stay quiet and don’t give out sensible advice through channels that millions of people read every day?

People accuse the media of not focusing on the climate crisis enough, then dismiss it all as ‘clickbait’ when the headlines eventually decide to run with it. On the other hand, the people dismissing such warnings from the media are probably the same people who don’t believe we have a climate crisis at all and that the hot temperatures are ‘just summer’. 

I’m convinced that lots of people only read headlines. These are usually fed to them in one of their social feeds, then they rush to the comments to spout their opinions without taking the time to read the content of the article. In fact, there’s research to back that up. According to a study in 2016, 59% of people shared links to news stories without ever clicking on the link. 

If you actually took the time to read the content of these seemingly hyperbolic news stories about the UK heatwave, you’ll discover that this isn’t normal. As stated in this ITV News article, the average maximum summer temperature here in the UK is 23-24C. The possibility of it reaching 40C means that it’s 17C higher than the lowest average maximum temperature. That’s not normal. It’s not ‘just summer’ and it’s not something we regularly experience in this country. Especially not 40C, which has never been reached in the UK since records began (the highest recorded temperature so far is 38.7C, which was set in Cambridge in 2019). How can people look at a temperature like that, in a country that’s known for having lousy weather, and think that everything is ok?

The warnings put out by the media are simply common sense advice that you should be following. When you go abroad to countries that regularly hit extreme temperatures, you’d be stupid to not consume more water than you would if you were back in the 23C summer of the UK. Countries abroad have also evolved to cope with these temperatures. People are used to working in higher temperatures, and they take breaks when the sun is at its highest. Air conditioning is also common in public and private buildings – including homes. Infrastructure in hot countries is built with heat in mind, and homes are designed to be cool inside. In the UK, our homes are designed to keep heat in.

But here’s what people fail to think about. If you’re fit and healthy then, as long as you stay hydrated and keep in the shade between 11am – 3pm, you’ll probably be fine. But, guess what? There are plenty of vulnerable people out there who won’t be fine. In fact, more people die during heatwaves. People need to get over the fact that it’s not just about them, and we live in a country where millions of people are vulnerable to events such as extreme weather. 

It reminds me of Covid when people thought it was ok to not wear a mask at the height of the pandemic, forgetting about the fact that it was done to protect those around you (actually, it was simply not giving a shit, and believing crazy conspiracies that some guy you went to school with 20 years ago has been posting all over Facebook). You might be ok if you have Covid, but that person with a weakened immune system who caught it off you in the super market might end up in hospital on death’s door.  

‘It’s ok, I’ll be fine’, seems to be the mentality of the people who spout that it’s ‘just summer’. Meanwhile, they’re unaware that their 80 year-old next-door neighbour has dropped dead from heatstroke.

When did we stop listening to experts anyway? Why are there so many people saying ‘I did my own research’? Like reading dodgy sites while you’re sat on the toilet somehow trumps experts who have dedicated their lives to studying a single topic. We have access to all the world’s information in our pockets, yet we’re somehow dumber than ever. Don’t Look Up, that film on Netflix about an asteroid hurtling towards Earth while everyone ignores the warnings of scientists, was 100% on the mark.

Of course, I’m no expert. But I listen to the experts. I try to understand what they’re saying. I don’t just read a headline and then jump into the comments to spout nonsense.  

So, if you do want to take the time to read more about what’s going on at the moment, click through to the links below. 

The terrifying truth: Britain’s a hothouse, but one day 40C will seem cool – The Guardian 

‘Collective action or collective suicide’: U.N. chief issues a stark warning as heatwaves sear Europe, the U.S. and China – Fortune 

UK Heatwave: Britain’s 40C future and why our homes, trains and schools aren’t prepared – I News 

Disability and the heatwave: Cooling solutions and disability as weather alert goes red – BBC News 

This excellent Twitter thread that sums up what’s happening across Europe. 

Advice and information from the Met Office.