Thursday, 8 December 2016


Image result for monkey

Just a quick note, as I've gone freelance to ask what sort of things you'd like to see on the blog. I'm conscious that contrary to received wisdom I blog about a fair number of things, from subculture, politics and 'real world stuff all the way to book reviews and gaming stuff.

Is there anything you'd like me, as readers, to focus upon?

I've thrown together a quick survey, so could you do me a favour and fill it out, please?

Also, could you give the ads on the site an occasional click, please? (kthnkx)

The Myth of Brexit

Back in June the UK voted to leave the EU by a narrow margin. Since that time, it's been interesting to watch what's happened not in terms of the negotiations or the UK's official voyage in leaving the EU but in the sense of the way that the vote has been perceived. In particular, it has become interesting to watch how the vote to Leave has metamorphosed from a slight majority to an all-encompassing desire to leave on behalf of the nation (just look at the Prime Minister's speech at the Tory Party Conference this year for more of that), and the way that it's become largely about immigration - consider the many 'throw it at the wall and see if we can get away with it' plans the Home Secretary Amber Rudd is trotting out. The way they speak it is as if the vast majority of the country was opposed to EU membership, rather than it being a 4% difference between Remain and Leave. That overlooks that Nigel Farage, formerly of UKIP, has admitted that if the situation had been reversed he would have continued campaigning. That is his right, of course, but the same courtesy is not being extended to the 'Remainers' who are concerned that Brexit will do more harm than good. It is as if the very people who were demanding a democratic voice now want to wipe out any chance of others having the same rights. Just witness Farage's response to Gina Miller's court case against the Theresa May's use of the royal prerogative ( or his hinting at mob violence if Brexit isn't honoured.  

This is deeply troubling as it suggests that there is nothing but disruption ahead and that one side will throw their teddies out of the pram at the first opportunity. Already the electorate in Sleaford and North Hykeham, who are voting in a byelection today, are questioning why we are still part of the EU and a number of people I've seen online have suggested that the leaving process should be as simple as just triggering Article 50 and walking off, presumably into the sunset. This, of course, is a vast oversimplification of the process and only confirms that most of us shouldn't be in charge of running the country. But part of the myth is that it's easy and that we will get our sovereignty back (I'm not convinced of that especially given that the Brexit Secretary David Davis is saying that we'll have to pay for access to the Common Market and that there may be more things to pay for than we expect).

Image result for Farage immigration poster
The other aspect of the myth is that everybody who voted Leave did so out of hatred of the EU and concerns over immigration. Certainly Farage stirred up concerns over the latter with the now infamous poster of lines of people who were 'queueing up to get into Britain'. By the time he apologised for it, the damage was done, immigration and an underhand appeal to both nativism and racism was out of the bag and the apology meant nothing. He had let the cat out of the bag and there was no doubt that a slice of the electorate (the one that contained Thomas Mair) had had their feelings validated. One need only look at the rise in the attacks on EU citizens and people of colour in the wake of the referendum to see that. Honestly, when three European governments are talking about sending police representatives to the UK investigate attacks on their citizens, you know something has gone wrong.

Further to that, it's apparent from research at Warwick University (here reported in the Boar: that the main reason people voted Leave was austerity. It was a way to give the government a bloody nose, nothing more. Most of these voters don't expect Brexit to be followed through on and have already consigned it to the bin marked 'politicians' broken promises'. This is one of the things that differentiates Leave and Remain. The latter largely voted to stay in the EU for similar reasons, some level of belief in the European project, even if that was simply down to trade (personally it was a mixture of things from Human Rights, concerns over environmental issues and the fact that in the age of transnational capital I simply don't believe that a single nation can do anything on its own - we need supranational political structures to fight supranational capitalism). The Leave vote, however, seems to have been fractured into a large number of reasons and if the EU wasn't actually a truly motivating factor, then Brexit will do nothing to mollify the discontent we're seeing in the nation. It feels as if a cancer patient is being prescribed band aids, because that's what seems to be wrong with them. Leaving the EU seems to me to be the course of action that will only entrench inequality and austerity and I'm not sure how we move out of that without taking on transnational capital (which we have just given every reason to vote with their feet and take their manufacturing plants to mainland Europe).

Buzzfeedhave a breakdown of who voted which way which is interesting, and does point to the influence of the Press as a major factor in deciding how people voted.

The case for Brexit feels as if it's been laid over eggs, one hard step and we're going to get mucky feet. While I, grudgingly, accept that the country is going to leave the EU, I greatly fear the future. It feels very much as if we're walking down a darkened lane, just waiting to be mugged or to learn that the safe looking house is full of monsters. Worse, those monsters now seem likely to be us.

Wednesday, 23 November 2016

We Choose to go to the Moon

While reading this article in the Guardian, I was struck by the truth of Monbiot's words about a lack of leadership in our politics, worldwide. We need our own JFK, a person to lead us in a vision for a new world, a new way of doing things, someone to say 'we choose to go to the moon' but with regards to climate change, which is ultimately about the survival of our species.

New ideas are sorely needed, more money for research (bear in mind that of the G7 countries the UK invests the least in R&D of any stripe, and that President-elect Trump is talking about slashing funding to NASA), but more than anything we need a vision and someone to articulate it.

We need someone to choose to go to the moon...

Tuesday, 22 November 2016

Weird Ales Volume 2


Just a quick note that Weird Ales volume 2 is now available via Amazon.

I don't have a story in this volume... but I did edit it. (Blows own trumpet).

It's full of dark tales, all of which are pub related and all of which are good reads. I won't promise that your hair will stand on end (as I have a feeling that pub prices will do that soon enough).

Thursday, 17 November 2016

Daily Cat 2

The tummy is a trap....

Seriously - it's cute and all, but try to touch it and he'll show you how sharp those claws are.

Wednesday, 16 November 2016

Daily Cat

As the world seems to be going to Hell (which may not be any change) I thought I'd post a picture of Himself.

Social Media

So, what I intended to blog about today was social media, but the Trump victory sort of sidelined me. What I wanted to talk about is why I've taken a break from social media, apart from this blog, and why I'm thinking about keeping that way.

And here we are, a week later... (yes I'm that efficient, lol).

To begin with, a small confession, when I do use Facebook, I find that I use it all the time and its hard to keep away from the site. I'm one of those users who keeps checking their feed, posts loads of stuff and often use it as a sort of 'dump my emotions' when I'm feeling low. I also use it as a lab, to discuss issues that are bugging me, whether that's something to do with the real world or just a writing problem. I find it hard to detach from the site, in a way that I don't with Twitter or Google Plus (though I do sort of prefer G+ because it's much more laid back). 

Perhaps it's because of this that I also find it stressful, Facebook pokes my anxiety, often very hard. It makes my feelings of isolation increase too, not just because of the algorithms that means that you only see certain stories, which have already been connected to feelings of depression in studies. I also find it alienating to see a feed that's full of loads of stuff I simply don't care about (Game of Thrones, Star Wars and so on) or memes that are just, from my perspective, moronic. It doesn't help that the things I am passionate about frequently slide off into the darkness, if I post about them. It shouldn't matter but it makes me feel as if my likes and dislikes are somehow less valid than what the mainstream is pushing. It feels as if all the brilliant book series, or anime shows that really pop my socks off are terrible and at times as if I'm wrong for liking them. It's stupid and I know that, but at times it just feels as if I'm staring at a wall of things I don't care about, with people who are more interested in what's cool than what's interesting. It feels as if what we have managed to create in social media is less a place for discussion and communication and more a playground where things are cool and cliques hang around together, all agreeing with each other.

It feels hard to get a good philosophical debate online these days, everyone is so entrenched and its sad that Facebook is actually encouraging that but creating data bubbles. I'm concerned that this is one of the things creating a distorted sense of our world, along with the fake news stories that get passed around. There are also issues around communicating online, where our reliance on body language and facial expression as well as tone of voice, are wrenched away, leaving only words. Is it any wonder we take things out of context?

I'm not sure how we fix this, only that we must.