Category Archives: Blog Housekeeping

Writing About Brexit: When Boris Johnson Became Prime Minister

On 24th July this year, Boris Johnson became Prime Minister.

Due to a job that ate up a lot of my hours, I had not been blogging here: but in August, as things turned both weird and strange and complicated in UK politics around Brexit, I began clarifying things for myself by writing longer and longer posts on Facebook, initially just for my friends and then later as public posts as friends asked if they could share or link to them.
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Five more years of Tories

My wife tried to cheer me up after the election: “But at least it will be interesting!”

Indeed, in the past ten days, it’s been almost too interesting.

No wonder there has been so much social media focus on the Scottish Labour leadership, on the next UK Labour leader, heartsearching and complaint about why Labour lost, exposure of the various amusing and not so amusing problems UKIP and their funders are having – these are small, manageable problems while George Osborne announces that far from the UK economy having improved vastly under Conservative governance, things are so dire that there must be an Emergency Budget and £12bn in cuts and even more unemployment – and refugees from Syria are still drowning in the Mediterranean, all according to Conservative party policy, which finds the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms fundamentally objectionable.

The American science-fiction writer C.J. Cherryh said, in “Strong Characters versus Weak Characters”

Villains can also be ‘morally weak’ characters, meaning retiring, retreating, immoral, refusing to engage and committing their heinous acts by neglect or sloth or stupidity or greed. ‘Well-drawn,’ but ‘morally weak.’ The author’s literary dilemma is that it is difficult to show how such a retiring person ever got into a position to be a threat. Real life shows us, however, that it isn’t at all unlikely for such ‘morally weak’ persons to get into positions of authority.

In fact, real life shows us that ‘morally weak’ villains may be more common than ‘morally strong’ ones, and that they’re numerous enough to deal the death of a thousand cuts in say, the procedures of an uncaring bureaucracy. But in a book, to challenge a ‘morally strong’ hero using only ‘morally weak’ villains means that there has to be some natural advantage handed the villains at the outset and that the source of the advantage has to be accounted for in order to ‘play fair’ in dramatic terms.

Five more years of morally weak villains. Five years of “interesting times”. My goal was never more than to write one blog a day: it seems almost both too much and too little.

Let us go forward together in kindness and honesty: we’ll get little enough of either from our government.

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The last day of 2013

WordPress’s spectacular New Year present: the fireworks of 2013, an animated annual report of each blogpost represented as a firework, with the splash it made represented by the number and duration of stars. They did this last year, too.

This year I published 72 blogposts – that would average out to five a month, which would be not bad if I’d been that regular, but I wasn’t. (Resolutions for 2014 include planning to blog daily again, with a generic exemption for July for reasons that will become clear later.)

The blogposts that got most hits in 2013: Continue reading

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Escapism and fantasy

In 2012, I wrote a blogpost here every day. In 2013, for various reasons, I thought it better to cut down and write a blogpost only two or three times a week – with the predictable result that weeks could pass without writing one, when I was busy and nothing in particular came to mind.

For 2014, I plan to write a blogpost a day – though I’m giving myself a big exemption in July, for various reasons that I shall probably discuss in more detail nearer the time. (Anyway, in both 2012 and 2013, July was the month with fewest visitors to the blog.)

Writing a blogpost is not at all like writing a story. But I’ve written blogposts about stories – I wrote one about the end of House MD, and another about Doctor Who’s Christmas, and about the Hobbit, and I wrote four about Sherlock, and certainly plan to write more about the third season of Sherlock. Most of what I write about, here, is politics, with the odd bit of science: and what with 2014 as the Year of Indyref and 2015 a General Election year, I don’t anticipate any shortage of politics to write about.

But I shall still write about fantasy. Because when the world is grim and getting grimmer, we need to think about other things, too. Escapism is not a bad word unless you are a jailer.

Why should a man be scorned, if, finding himself in prison, he tries to get out and go home? Or if, when he cannot do so, he thinks and talks about other topics than jailers and prison-walls? The world outside has not become less real because the prisoner cannot see it. In using Escape in this way the critics have chosen the wrong word, and, what is more, they are confusing, not always by sincere error, the Escape of the Prisoner with the Flight of the Deserter. just so a Party-spokesman might have labeled departure from the misery of the Fuhrer’s or any other Reich and even criticism of it as treachery …. Not only do they confound the escape of the prisoner with the flight of the deserter; but they would seem to prefer the acquiescence of the “quisling” to the resistance of the patriot.

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Filed under Blog Housekeeping, J. R. R. Tolkien

The last day of the year

WordPress have done a spectacular New Year present: the fireworks of 2012, an animated annual report of each blogpost represented as a firework, with the splash it made represented by the number and duration of stars.

It’s not rocket science (this is rocket science) but yes, I did watch my entire year in blogging through fireworks… I hope they do this again next year.

On this day last year, I resolved that I was going to write a blogpost every day of 2012, and though I didn’t quite blog every day of the year, I did write (well over) 366 blog posts.
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Pseudonymity on the Internet

For those that need the warning, further down this blog I discuss child abuse.

I’ve been thinking about names and Internet privacy since Jeremy Duns asked the internet:

The answer to me is obvious: yes, they are. My personal unfavourite is the Herald, which bans all pseudonymous commenters: the New Statesman, which is just a complete muddle, is probably the next worse. Facebook is problematic, and Google Plus is a cosmic screwup all of its own. Part of that reason is that most computer systems do not handle names very well: see Falsehoods Programmers Believe About Names.

Jeremy Duns has, fairly enough, got valid reasons to detest people who use multiple pseudonyms on the Internet, aka sockpuppets, which the Urban Dictionary defines as:

An account made on an internet message board, by a person who already has an account, for the purpose of posting more-or-less anonymously.

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Filed under Blog Housekeeping, Children, Disability, Feng Shui Kitten Fixes Stuff, In The Media, LGBT Equality, Women

The IOC owns Boris and Google is on their side

“International Olympic Committee has reviewed your dispute and reinstated its copyright claim on your video, “Boris dancing to the Spice Girls”. – LatentExistence

It’s a remarkable best of times, worst of times situation in terms of information and media. On one level you have this unbelievable democratization of platforms that’s happened. Thought experiment: Say I’m a tenured professor at Princeton in 1980. I’m in humanities, so I’m not yet on email. And I want to tell 500 people about something. It’s a massive logistical problem, even for someone with a lot of social capital. You put up a sign in the faculty break room? You knock on doors? You flyer cars? Every teenager in Harlem now has that reach. Instantaneously. – Chris Hayes

The founders of the Internet and the World Wide Web created a platform that potentially, anyone can use. Quite deliberately, I don’t use GooglePlus. I do use Gmail (who doesn’t?) but if WordPress is ever bought by Google I will switch to some other blogging platform extremely fast.
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EdinburghEye’s first birthday

I started this blog on 11th August 2011, with a matching Twitterfeed. I resolved at the end of December to start writing at least one blog post every day, and so far – with a couple of exceptions – I’ve kept to that. Under the fold, some statistics that will probably be of not much interest to anyone except myself.
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Edinburgh Eye

A news roundup with an eye on Edinburgh.

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