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Showing posts from 2017

Strange bedfellows

These are increasingly strange times.

I'm not going to pass comment on the rights or wrongs of Trump's surprise airstrike in Syria, other than to note that it's a surprising volte-face from a man who was consistently opposed to any form of foreign intervention even prior to his ultimately successful tilt at the Presidency. There's a hefty word-count already devoted to that particular issue, and I'm sure you aready have your own opinion.

I'm not even sure that I'm going to pass much comment on Trump's motivation. It seems unlikely that he was moved to tears by the "beautiful babies" as he put it in his emotional speech justifying the attack. Beautiful babies have been dying in Syria since the war started. He currently won't allow any of those beautiful babies into the US, as refugees from Syria are barred. So that seems unlikely. Some have suggested a deliberate muddying of the waters regarding Russia, and it's true that, a few disgrunt…

The colour of passports

Is this what it was all about?

Andrew Rossindell M.P: "it's a matter of identity, having the pink European passports has been a matter of national humiliation"

Now, leaving aside that my passport is a fetching shade of maroon, rather than pink (and that Rossindell's recoiling from that colour, imagined as it is, speaks to lengthy and expensive analysis required), and leaving aside the observation that I really don't understand why it matters what colour a passport holder is, given that it's the information inside which is important, and leaving even further aside the fact that we were already free to choose the colour of our passports (EU member Croatia's is a perfectly pleasant blue) I am forced to ask:

National humiliation?

Going cap in hand in the seventies to the IMF was a national humiliation. Our spiralling rates of child child poverty are a national humiliation. The fact that cancer survival rates in the UK are lower than most other comparable coun…

Entitlement: the most destructive force in the universe

Well, it's been a day.

I'm not about to go into grindingly tedious hand-wringing about the reasons behind Brexit. Nor am I going to bewail its finally being set in motion. Doesn't seem a lot of point, anyhow I'm a bit too busy battening down the hatches for the shitstorm which will ineivitably ensue. Now is not the time for gnashing of teeth. Particularly because your dentist bills will go up once that nice Polish nurse is told to do one.

But I will reflect, grimly, on one of the aspects of the national character which has led us to this point; and it was illustrated rather beautifully today, for shortly after Theresa May breezily told a house full of braying white blokes that trade negotiations would happen in parallel with the exit talks, over on the continent Angela Merkel was smiling thinly and saying nein. And I thought yep, that about sums it up.

You see, just because you say something's going to happen, doesn't necessarily mean that it's going to. Th…

The sparrows outside the window

I am, I confess, a birdwatcher.

Not in the traditional sense. I rarely go out with the express intention of spotting birds, rather it's something I do when already out. I'll own up to keeping a list, but that's mostly for the benefit of my son, who didn't display much interest in the natural world until he realised there were lists where you could tick things off, that it could be quantifiable: like collecting football stickers. I hope that having been sucked in by ticking boxes he'll end up just appreciating them for what they are.

This is the simple pleasure I've arrived at. And, to be honest, I don't have room in my head for every variety of bird (I used to, it's how I bonded with one of my oldest friends), these days I'd struggle to tell my sedge warbler from my reed warbler, and whilst I do follow rare bird twitter accounts, and was excited by the arrival of black terns at mere sands wood last summer, that's not really what gets me going.

I…

Virtue signalling for fun and profit

Oh I got into an argument on Twitter.

You may have noticed, there's a lot of that sort of thing about at the moment. I'm not about to go over already well-trodden ground. We all know the bigots are slithering out of the woodwork. You don't need me to point it out to you. But one aspect of their current standard practice is causing me considerable disquiet.

It's the phrase "virtue signalling". Generally used to dismiss somone who's said something vaguely liberal, or left leaning. Y'know, like maybe we shouldn't make thousands of child refugees sit in a dismal camp, prey to traffickers. Possibly, being the world's sixth largest economy, we could maybe afford to take a few more.

You're just virtue signalling, cry the trolls from their bedroom in their mum's house. You wouldn't have them come to live with you.

Of course; because not being able to fit a refugee into my terraced house is exactly the same as a GOVERNMENT not being able to…

A new authoritarianism

According to Theodor Adorno, elements of an authoritarian personality type include:

"Blind allegiance to conventional beliefs about right and wrong

Respect for submission to acknowledged authority

Belief in aggression toward those who do not subscribe to conventional thinking, or who are different

A negative view of people in general - i.e. the belief that people would all lie, cheat or steal if given the opportunity

A need for strong leadership which displays uncompromising power

A belief in simple answers and polemics - i.e. The media controls us all or The source of all our problems is the loss of morals these
days.

Resistance to creative, dangerous ideas. A black and white worldview.

A tendency to project one's own feelings of inadequacy, rage and fear onto a scapegoated group"

Source

Any of this sounding familiar?

The pace of events since June 23rd last year has been hard to keep up with, but the train of events set in motion by the Brexit vote is, somehow, impossib…

The unwritten places

I've been reading Roger Deakin's Waterlog, a moving and stille vocation of the seemingly faintly transgressive act of wild swimming. Being someone who tends to go against the grain, I've got a lot of sympathy for Deakin's cussedness, and determination to swim wherever the hell he pleases. This isn't, however, intended to be a book review, I'd recommend it,by all means, you should check it out, but it was one idea that came from the reading which particularly stuck with me.

Whilst exploring a series of Tarns in the Welsh Rhinog Mountains, Deakin discovers some ruined outbuildings, not marked on the map. It is this fact which pleases him most, the idea that we don't know everything, that maps can be wrong. I'd extrapolate further that this is a delight that life still has a bit of mystery to it (what on earth he'd make of Google Maps is anybody's guess, I imagine that for him they'd be something else stripping magic from the world). In this se…