Is the DVLA in chaos?

After I did some more googling after I posted the information below (beyond the more tag), I suddenly found this!

“To make it easier for drivers who need to update their photocard licence with a new photograph at the end of the 10 years validity, photocard driving licences that expire between 1 February 2020 and 31 August 2020 will be automatically extended for a period of 7 months from the date of expiry.”

How come DVLA on Twitter was not aware of this?

How come this information did not show up before or during the online renewal procedure?

And how come the post office was not aware of this either? My license got snipped with scissors and discarded and I was told that as of the next day, I would be breaking the law if I drove.

(For many people, their driving licence is their main ID.)

How come that apparently this information is not that easy to find on the web? (Failure to submit to the search engines at the time? But then, it is not that easy to find on the DVLA website either.

Was the information announced retroactively, such as on 4 June, perhaps?

(By the way, it also explains why I didn’t get the renewal reminder. Sorry anonymous.)

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Need a face mask for in public transport?

If you need a simple face cover for use in public transport or because you are looking after someone who is medically vulnerable to COVID-19, and aren’t able to make your own fabric mask, you could get one of these washable face masks with replaceable filter from Vistaprint.

They are not manufactured to any medical standard. The designs are a bit dull; this white one with the drawn hearts on it may be the nicest, but there is also for example a light blue one with smilies and a dark blue one with dinosaurs. They cost £17 and a pack of 10 filters cost £6 and delivery is free (checked on 8 May 2020). No, I don’t get a commission.

Dismantling police forces

Police forces no longer serve a useful role in society and have become a source of pain and crime and destruction, of historic untouchable lawlessness, in almost all countries.

They set the wrong example across the board.

I agree with Black Lives Matter’s initiative to defund police. One major American city has already decided to do away with its police force. I applaud that decision.

We shouldn’t merely reform police forces. We have to dismantle them and start over from scratch, applying what we’ve learned.

CNN about racism in the UK



Yep, I’ve also run into repeatedly that my objections against abuse were considered a mere expression of something being wrong with me. We are the most tolerant people in the world so if you disagree with that, then that’s simply because there is something wrong with you.

Having people like Boris Johnson in charge makes matters worse. Finding people who are willing to listen and help change things can make a big difference. They do exist.

It’s not “just” about racism. It’s all connected.

How we treat each other, how we treat others that look or behave slightly differently and also how we treat non-human animals.

I am not saying you have to be infallible. We’re all only human. We all have our bad days.

Jumping to conclusions

This morning, I went to Pets At Home, was asked whether I had a card. “No.” (I used to have one.) “I used to have lots of pets but now I only rehab.” That earned me an oddly inquisitive look.

On the way back, someone wished me a good morning. Closer to home, I saw two neighbours chatting. I realised that one of them might have Treacher-Collins syndrome. Or not.

Why I am no longer talking about COVID-19


I’ve found out just about everything that I wanted find out, for myself. The NAM/APHA webinars have also started to repeat themselves. I don’t think they already know everything there is to know about whether getting infected confers permanent immunity, but we’ll learn that in due course.

There is a massive effort underway to develop vaccines and treatments and the huge sums of money that are being pumped into it means that the development process is sped up immensely. I saw a graph last week that illustrated that very well.

I regret that animal models – proverbial “lab rats”- are still being used to test treatments and vaccines. A truly sophisticated society would have no need for that.

When I am in “scientist mode”, I tend to forget that me feeling that there is nothing left for me to contribute in this area – I mean, people have finally caught up on the droplet stuff and the purpose of wearing face coverings – is not necessarily true in a broader sense.

(I like being on the cutting edge of developments and like having momentum, so I have a tendency to transfer momentum to something else once the momentum in one area runs out. A very practical example of that is not getting bogged down by the various hiccups we experienced during the installation of an ICP-MS in a new lab, years ago. I couldn’t just sit down, wait and do nothing. It occasionally meant we were stuck. I transferred the momentum. I arranged for the lab’s Mac to get an upgrade. I had a different card installed which was also very useful, but the kind of thing that easily gets ignored when you have something much bigger in focus.)

There will still be people who I can help by translating some of the science into plain English, for example, or with whom I can walk through a building to identify bottlenecks with them and find solutions.

I could do this in a Skype, Zoom or Telegram video session or I could travel to places like Basingstoke, Littlehampton, Andover, Salisbury and Winchester.

One way of dealing with COVID-19 measures is to turn them into positive experiences. What do I mean by that? Supermarkets and other places are already supplying hand sanitizer etc. If you have a long waiting line, why not get a busker to entertain people? Not all the time, but say, between five and six every day. This could be any kind of busker, does not have to be a musician. Someone to entertain your customers and put a smile on their faces.

You don’t catch COVID-19 from smiling. 

Worse, I’ve been dreading the end of lockdown measures because during the strict lockdown, people were much friendlier and much more considerate. The occasional jackass who pretended there was no line quickly got sent to the end of the line and his loud muttering ignored by everyone who was waiting to be allowed into the supermarket. Aggressive behaviours were suddenly not done. Bliss!

Let’s keep some of that, shall we? 

Supermarkets could also have a few umbrellas to hand out to people standing in line in the rain. (Yes, disinfection needed.)

I also remind people that cleaning is not needed of any surfaces that go unused for 7 days or longer. So instead of cleaning, in some cases, you may be able to set up a rotation system, with for example objects being used by one (different) person only each day and different objects for each of the 5, 6 or 7 days of the week that get stored for a week. In some cases, in which cleaning might be complicated or simply too much work, this may be a solution.

This could be a solution for libraries, for example, to allow limited lending again. It is hard to clean books swiftly without damaging them. Patrons would not get access to the lending materials, but staff would instead collect items from the shelves and hand them over. Any materials that are returned can be left on a cart for a week to be returned to the shelf without risk to staff after that week.


Sadistic stalking: What it is like to be a target

It is like being a witness to a bank robbery and people around you concluding that you must be either a bank robber or a dishonest clerk.

I know. Bank robberies are getting rarer and rarer. But the example still works well as something to compare this with. Instead of a bank, maybe you can picture a jewellery store if that makes the comparison better for you.

Imagine you happen to be inside a bank when it gets robbed. Police will show up, take your witness statement and you may even be offered counselling. You will receive a lot of sympathy and support from the people you know and also from many people you don’t know.

If you become the target of sadistic stalking, however, and describe someone else’s behaviour – describe what happened, as you would do after a bank robbery – something really weird happens.

People think that YOU are the one who robbed the bank, so to speak.

But when you describe another person’s behaviour when that is focused on obtaining a financial gain, people believe you.

Shame and embarrassment

That seems to be a huge part of what it is like to live with NPD. Powerlessness, too. The inability to change what happens in your brain, that thing that determines what you behave like. Who you are.

Is that truly who you are? In a spiritual, cosmic sense?


It would be a bit like saying that snow is “bad” rain.

Rain is only rain and not snow or hail because of an external factor that rain can do nothing about. Temperature.

Shame and embarrassment.

That feeling that you will never ever be good enough. If only people knew what you were really like, eh?

Well, what you are really like is a perfectly good human being.

But you need other people’s eyes to see that for you.



The corona virus crisis. COVID-19

Do you still know what you are allowed to do and what not at the moment? Yeah, me neither.

Although I’ve been relatively quiet about it for a little while on this site and I find myself behaving a little bit more relaxed about it all, the topic hasn’t slipped my mind.

Being more relaxed about it all makes me feel that I am sloppier about it all, but perhaps social distancing is merely becoming an automatic habit now.

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Are you feeling miserable?

Then you are likely living in an area where a lot of people are miserable.

The good news? Positivity spreads much better than negativity.

This means that while your environment may be making you miserable, you have the power to change your environment just by being who you are and remaining true to who you are.

Don’t let the grouches win their battle against the good stuff in life.

That said, if watching the death of people like George Floyd makes you miserable even before you begin to imagine how anyone related to him in any way must feel when they watch it as well as how he must have felt when he was being killed, then it’s just about you having a normal heart and soul. It’s okay to cry and/or to hug someone when you’re feeling shitty over that.

It would have been an atrocity too if it had happened to a white-skinned person, but the sad fact is that this kind of thing is done to people who don’t have a white skin much more frequently in some societies.

Similar things are also done too often to other people who are a little bit different from the “standard white male” in other respects, such as men who are deaf or autistic.


Police violence and racism in the US

That’s a serious issue in the UK too.

I had been so turned off by all the idiotic headlines about Dominic Cummings that I stopped following all news.

I mean, jeez, I don’t think I saw more than one headline about Nigel Farage’s violation of the lockdown rules so that he could go catch dangerous migrants at Calais, but all of a sudden, all news sites had at least six items about Cummings, for days.

My point? Because I stopped following the news, I missed what happened in the US.

That’s why I didn’t understand why someone suddenly responded to one of my tweets about an earlier incident, a few weeks ago, in NYC.

When I saw the headlines yesterday, I wanted to cry. I feel like crying while I am typing this. Why can’t people get along?

On the other hand, I also know that a lot of really bad crap can be the precursor for a major change toward the better.

There is a big discussion about diversity going on in my home country at the moment too, possibly sparked by the pandemic, as it unleashed a lot of animosity against Asian-looking people there. The latter has also occurred in the US and in the UK.

I used to live in a city in the US in which police killed a young black man after which riots followed right when I had just returned to the Netherlands. It was normally a very peaceful environment to live in, much safer than the UK, generally speaking.

Cycling down streets there and observing people as well as having a few innocent remarks misinterpreted taught me how marginalised some people felt there. And the further north I cycled, the whiter and creepier the neighbourhoods became.

One of my marine science colleagues there saw nothing wrong with showing me his home and introducing me to the cats I was going to look after while he was on vacation, commenting that the house next-door was empty at the time and adding that he hoped no black people would move in as it would make the value of his property go down.

He said it as if it was the most normal thing in the world to say. I was too stunned and still too unfamiliar with this kind of thing to know what to say. I said nothing, sadly. I no longer remember the guy’s name. Probably for the best.

The university department was lily-white too. (I also noticed that people from Puerto Rico were often thought to be foreign. They are American. I am not sure what this misunderstanding means.)

To anyone in the UK thinking that this kind of thing is “typically American”, I say “No, it ain’t”. It happens a lot in the UK too. Police violence against people because their skin isn’t lily-white is common in the UK as well.

But it seems to raise fewer protests here.

(If any…)

Just like Brits see themselves as human rights champions, while they aren’t at all, they also often see themselves as highly tolerant when they aren’t at all. What we grow up with and are accustomed to, we see as perfectly normal. That doesn’t mean that it is perfectly normal when you look at it from a different angle.

So please, don’t point the finger at the US too quickly.