Health anxiety, me and the NHS

Health anxiety, me and the NHS

Those of you who have been keeping track probably know that 2 years ago I self-referred myself for therapy to deal with a moderate case of anxiety that began around 2006 and has stayed with me since, although I can handle it much better with the techniques I learnt. Without the therapy I would not have a clue what was actually wrong with me and what the triggers of anxiety were. It turns out I have a phobia (in the medical sense of the word) of not being in control. I’m a medically diagnosed control freak! I wouldn’t swap my not-being-in-control-phobia1 for anything — it makes me who I am. My skills as a manager and software architect derive in part from it. My obsession with maps, public transport and strange details that other people miss. My...

The dangers of “curbing extremism”

I’ve come out of blog hiding for this because I think it’s really important. And I’ll try to keep it short. These are words spoken by David Cameron this morning about the Tories’ proposed new measures for “curbing extremism”: “The problem that we have had is this distinction of saying we will only go after you if you are an extremist that directly supports violence. “It has left the field open for extremists who know how not to step over the line. But these are people who have radicalised young minds and led to people heading off to Syria or Iraq to take part in this ghastly slaughter.” The reason we’ve had this distinction is quite simple: one is an incitement to violence, the other is political...

Leeds Tube map v3

Leeds Tube map v3

My Tube map has been getting a lot of attention recently. I’ve twice been on BBC Radio Leeds to talk about it, it’s been shared (uncredited) on the Facebook pages of O2 Academy and Trinity Leeds, and a version of it (bizarrely) appears in public transport app Moovit. So it’s high time for a little update. This version joins the Abbey Line and Skyrack Lines in Otley, and adds the two planned National Rail stations at Apperley Bridge and Kirkstall Forge. It also fixes the shape of the East Circle, which has been bugging me since I made version 2. As usual, it’s released under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial license, which means you can use it for any non-commercial purpose as long as you credit me when you share it. Contact me...

Rivers of Yorkshire

Rivers of Yorkshire

When I think about the locations of towns and cities in Yorkshire, I tend to think in terms of the railway maps. This gives a distorted view that connects Leeds with Huddersfield and Shipley with Ilkley. A more geographically sensible way to look at things would be to think in terms of the major rivers of Yorkshire. In school I remember learning “SUNWACD” as a mnemonic for remembering the order in which major rivers drain into the Ouse but I didn’t have a good visual picture of how they were laid out. So this afternoon I spent some time drawing a public-transport-style map of the major rivers in Yorkshire, and settlements along them. There’s no strong logic to which rivers and settlements I chose: they’re just based on my own...

The Humanity Party: a manifesto

The Humanity Party: a manifesto

The European elections are around the corner, in just two days. Like many others, I am tired of all the major political parties. It’s a race to the right, with every party spouting the same anti-immigration, anti-poor rhetoric. So I put together a mini-manifesto for a political party I could believe in. Who else would vote for the Humanity Party? The Humanity Party Every person in this country, regardless of who they are or where they come from, is a human being and entitled to be treated with dignity and respect. Every person is entitled to all human rights laid out in international law. The Humanity Party believes that human rights supersede all other laws. A Humanity government would never introduce or vote in favour of legislation that contravenes or...

What I now know about warts

What I now know about warts

Warts. We’ve all heard of them; we’ve all seen them; but how many of us know what they’re all about? I realized I didn’t have a clue until I found myself the not-so-proud owner of one. In December 2011 I discovered one on my thumb. I finally shook it exactly 2 years later in December 2013, and I’d like to tell you what I learnt during that time. Warts are caused by the HPV virus. In fact, the P in HPV stands for papilloma, the medical name for warts. You may have heard of HPV as a sexually transmitted infection that’s linked to cervical cancer and throat cancer. Seems pretty terrifying? But here’s something that wasn’t clear from the outset: there’s not just one kind of HPV virus. Different kinds of HPV infect...

Ebooks for materialists

Ebooks for materialists

You probably won’t be surprised to know that I love music. I have bought over 650 albums over the last 15 or so years and my collection is still growing fast. Almost every one of those albums I have bought on CD. And yet, the first thing I do when I get a new CD is rip it so that I can listen to it in digital format on my iPod. I’ve often thought about why it is that I hold on so tightly to the physical medium, even though music is readily available and easier to acquire as digital downloads. I think it’s because I’m a massive materialist. An album doesn’t really feel like an album unless I can touch it. I like being able to flick through the album artwork and liner notes. I like the craft involved in packaging. And I like displaying...