I have to accept that I am now living in a suburban area.
There are a few Facebook groups I am in that are "geographic" and the posts largely constitute of false claims about the European Union or endless moaning about how long the council is letting the grass grow.
I think maybe there is something to the EU debate that both sides are missing and that is that it is more to do with identity. People in the area are not exactly poor as they have fairly trivial concerns - parking is another one. I suspect that many who want us to exit are probably happy with a freshly cut grass, the odd Indian or Chinese takeaway, paved front gardens so cars can be parked, etc. It was quite interesting as we drove through rural Hampshire yesterday there were a lot of houses with Leave signs, yet these areas actually benefit most from the huge agricultural subsidy and they don't really have any immigrants to speak of. I don't think they are adding up cost and benefits or evaluating risks. They just want their view of England to be maintained.
The rather odd leave TV advert had a sort of Sliding Doors split screen where some poor old dear had to hang around for hours in the EU version, and was seen straight away in the Exit scenario. EU net immigration was the highest ever at 200,000 last year. I have heard this being talked about as a city the size of X(which tends to vary). But in reality it is not so big against the base population of 65 million. Assuming the numbers remain high that is still going to be 2 million or 3% in ten year’s time. That is only really going to be one person ahead of you in the crowded doctor's surgery or one extra kid in class. It is not going to make a huge difference. Of course this all assumes that the immigrants just consume public services rather than coming her as teacher, doctor, nurses or people who cut the fucking grass.
Many areas seem to struggle with public service provision(this is part of the reason why the grass is allowed to grow). We have faced public sector cuts for five years now, and it is odd that this issue seems to be one people care about. I suspect it might be that long grass is more visible than crappy social services or longer hospital waiting lists that just impact a small subset of the population.
I used to like LJ_Book which archived your journal into a pdf. So I was a bit disappointed to discover that it is now something that I have to pay for. It is $25 for a year or $70 for two years. I am not sure who you are making the payment to, so it is not a great deal. I think it is just a bit annoying as it leaves me with only dreamwidth as a backup. Poor old LJ_archive broke on me years ago.
The internet seems to be aflame with the dead Gorillas story. The story seems to be a 3-4 year old boy somehow slipped away from his mother and climbed into the Gorilla cage in the zoo. The Gorilla got close to the animal and the zookeepers shot it dead.
A heady mixture of:- 1. we love animals 2. bad mother! So for many people an innocent animal has been killed and the mother is responsible.
Neither of these points really stack up in my mind.
Firstly we don't love animals. We treat them like shit and it is accepted, totally accepted. In fact it is regarded as pretty weird if you do care much about animals - beyond the odd pet. Had her son slipped off and bought a beefburger no-one would have condemned her, although this would surely have contributed to the death of a cow. I suppose you might argue a gorilla is more intelligent than a cow, but I have no way of being sure. Maybe the gorilla is rarer, which makes some sense to me. But to value an animal on how rarity is different to how we value people. It is exactly how we value objects, and it might be akin to smashing a beautiful work of art - tragic but hardly a violation of the objects rights. And it seems odd that rights depend on how rare you are anyway. Human rights are generally regarded as indivisible, animals have to share them around(perhaps with bonus rights for being more like humans).
Secondly the bad mother argument is based on the one minute she took her eye off the child. Perhaps not the other four years in which she might possible have done a very good job. There is not enough information to tell. The baseline assumption has to be that someone is at least an average mother though, I don't think that losing sight of a child for a couple of minutes is that bad. I have certainly done it.
Perhaps her big downfall was not to show some kind of remorse, presumably because she was more worried about her son. Had she been able to afford a PR firm they might have advised her to combine gratitude with sorrow. As it was all the selfish, neglectful bitch could feel was happy her son was alive.
I am sorry that the Gorilla had to die, and that the zoo failed to adequately carry out what ought to have been in primary duty to protect the safety of its visitors and staff. Also sad that gorillas have to live in zoos to be safe, although it is quite hard to condemn people from eating bushmeat whilst eating a chicken and bacon sandwich.
I guess I feel a bad for the mother and worse for the people who are signing petitions and dedicating facebook groups calling for her to be punished. At worst she made a mistake, if you are sitting down and hating someone for their mistakes then it does not say much about your charity or compassion. I guess these are the types of people who burned witches or jews - hating because they are told to hate and the rest of the crowd is doing it.
The UK seemed to go for a long time without referendum. The rule seemed to be you elect some folk who you hope are wiser than you and they make decision for you. They were able to survey the facts, decisions were played out over a long period of time and discussed at great lengths. Education and access to information was much more limited so it was not totally absurd to assume they knew more about education, public health, or German-Danish relations than you. Very periodically you get decide whether to keep your representative or not, but only they can vote the whole lot of them out. It was hard to sack them because you simply disagreed with them on a single issue.
It seems that we are moving towards a system whereby we are going to have referendums. There was one on Europe before I was born, and one on Scottish independence. But we had a few on devolutions in the 1990s, alternative voting systems and more devolutions in the 2010s and the soon to happen EU Referendum.
I suppose the hope is that referendum support a sort of groundswell of learning and debate. In reality it seems that both sides have learned that voters are primarily motivated by fear of loss, and that most people are interested in one or two issues and scare stories are devised around these issues - neither side pays much attention to the truth. There probably are some moderate voices on both sides, but they do get drowned out by the nonsense and gobshites.
I think it is worst on social media, you see a lot of things posted that are obviously discredited or false - amounts transferred to europe or the precise relation of the European Court of Human Rights to the EU. The irony is the true numbers are facts are probably just as convincing. I am not sure that most people really draw a huge distinction between £380 million per week and £250 million per week.
The problem is that if one side decides to be balanced and try and present the truth they are going to get torn to pieces. So you see a lot of people asking for the facts, which is a bit difficult as no-one knows. A big focus on TV debates where someone has to have won are unlikely to really help matters too much. What you will see is clever turns of phrases or witty put-downs. It is simply not possible to have a debate on the basis of facts.
A lot was made of how the Scottish referendum campaign ignited interest in politics, and I wonder if the debate there was any better. I suspect not as no-one seems too keen to go in for a re-run.
The Conservative party especially are divided in Europe, in the 19th century they would probably have split in two, but modern political parties are too expensive and centralised to make that very likely. Instead there are two groups that don't seem to much like each other locked together, unable to finally decide on issue. Now the old system I mentionned at the top has been turned on its head, and they seem be hoping that the people that elected them are able to make the decision for them. The hope is to settle an issue for "a generation". The problem for our elites is whether they will really accept the argument has been won or lost.
I am clearly a long way behind the curve when it comes to adblockers. This may explain why I am still stuck on this website, which was basically aimed at slightly awkward and introverted 14-23 year old girls living in the early naughties.It seems that a lot of people are using them and so never see adverts. Whereas for me they are everywhere on the internet.
I am not sure that anyone admits to clicking on them, it seems everyone feels adverts do not influence them. But the global advertising industry is huge, so either the whole thing is just absolute bullshit. Or people are more influenced by adverts than they admit. Right now John Lewis is trying to sell me a couple Kenwood chef attachment - icecream maker and a grater - and three sofas that don't look hugely different to the ones I bought a couple of months ago. Frankly I have nowhere to store anymore vary similiar sofas and it just seems too soon to upgrade. I suspect it is about normalisation the idea of consumption of something. Do I really need an icecream maker? Or if they cost thousands would I lament the fact one could not be acquired for just £25? Probably not, but just knowing they are out there and not really all that expensive means I may acquire one. I don't feel confident in stating I would never buy one, and I suspect the more I see them the more I might think getting one is a good idea.
I guess I am probably doomed to see more of these things as everyone else is blocking them. It seems a little bit unfair that you should block adverts. I mean no-one wants to pay for any intellectual content on the web, so adverts are all there for creators. And yet people seem to find the adverts are too much of an imposition. Presumably the big players - who are basically Facebook and Google have ways around this.
The big news this week was the resignation of Iain Duncan Smith. I first mentionned him on my journal back in 2001(I did not even really get his name right which just goes to show the limited impact he was making back then.
Alan Duncan Smith, what is all that about. Can the Tory party not see the man is a bit doggy to say the least? Now I am a labour supporter, but I still feel the Tories will get back one day and he is not someone I would want governing the country. The man is so far to the right it is insane. He is perhaps the most anti-European man in parliament. He is reactionary on social policies. He is a man for the Alf Garnetts of this country. I am sure that the people who voted for the BNP cheer his Little Englander views. - way back when
His resignation this time was supposedly about cuts to disability benefit. He objected to them despite not objecting to them a few hours before resigning. Or maybe had always objected to them, but felt that this was the time to speak out against them. Oddly it seemed like the weirdest time to resign as it seems he was winning the argument. The cynical viewpoint is that he resigned because he hates Europe and I suppose that if we vote to leave Europe he can form some sort of government around Boris Johnson, Michael Gove and himself.
I watched his interview on the Andrew Marr Show. What was interesting was how angry he was, often politicians claim to be angry about injustice. Yet they look sort of normal. Whereas IDS seemed furious, like a man on the edge. I am not sure he can be that good an actor, otherwise I am wondering why he hasn't acted at being a bit more likeable over the last fifteen years. I suspect he really was pissed off.
Everyone of a certain age will probably remember one of these:-
The Paul Daniels' magic set. The tricks were sort of okish(you'll like them - not a lot), but Paul Daniels was massive in the 1980s. He was very much a man from the past. His style was a bit music hall, he cultivated a cheeky and slightly smarmy persona.
Magic moved on, TV moved on and his show got cancelled. New magicians are more mysterious - Derren Brown, Dynamo and David Blaine and are more psychological in approach. They seem to use less of the chatter(although in his live shows Derren Brown is funnier than when on TV). They seem darker. And they approach was more that they had some sort of super advanced skills that rather distanced them from the audience. Whereas Paul Daniels always seemed to imply that he was just sort of doing simple tricks - some of which you could buy and perform at home.
Now he is dead, perhaps not a huge tragedy as we was not terrible young. But overal he was a big part of television in my youth and has a better reputation than some of the other big names from that era(Rolf Harris, Stuart Hall, Jimmy Saville). He reminds me a bit of Bob Monkhouse, in that he did rather go out of fashion as style and tastes in their respective areas of performance changed. Yet both of them probably were at the pinancle of skill for the old fashion way of doing things. Both of them also did gameshows which seem to require an interest in and ability make ordinary people sparkle, however briefly, in the spotlight.
They certainly seem to be less a feature of the landscape. I used to go quite a lot and feel I have probably aged out of them, but they do seem very old fashioned. I am still somewhat surprised by the cost of alcohol when I visit a pub. And the idea of paying simply to be allowed inside a room playing loud music is quite odd. Plus a lot of the "super-dj"'s have got old. I am not sure if big DJs are even a thing anymore. The idea is a bit odd really, as basically they are just putting a load of other peoples music together rather than performing in a more normal way. I am never really sure much would be lost compared to a recording. But I never quite get it when people sit on a train or bus listening to loud(often ear damagingly loud) dance music, it seems like it is something to dance to rather than sit and listen.
I guess young people today have more things to do, there are a raft of pubs with late night opening and a hell of a lot more restaurants than there were 20 years ago. There also seem to be events and pop-up places. In my youth I always felt like a day club would be an interesting idea. The concept of living a nightclub when it was getting dark always blew a big hole in the weekend. You ended up waiting for something to happen on Saturday and then needing all of Sunday to recover or sleep. Then you would be exhausted on Monday.
Today was the budget, I am not sure that much is all that different. It was only a few months ago we had the last one. I am not really making a political point but it is odd that we have to have a new budget every few months. It used to be once a year, and now there is an autumn statement which is basically another budget and occasionally we have emergency ones too.
My big issue is that it seems the numbers are around what is going to happen in 2020, which is four years out. The aim seems to be have a zero balance in at the point. One a spend of £700billion spend and £1800billion national income even small differences in growth rates are going to translate into whopping variances(ie a difference in growth from 2.5% to 2% will be £48bn of income and £15bn in tax revenue).
I suppose it is all pure theatre. But it seems that tax and spending are better designed over a long time frame and not tweaked every couple of months.
Our work Christmas parties are always a bit tricky as...well I am not sure anyone is really that interested. We have a pretty small team and most of us simply want to go home early. We ended up with two in the end. The first was not so much a Christmas party as a reward and recognition meal. This involved me getting dragged along to a meal with a bunch of pretty senior people. We had a guided tour of the Tower of London which was cool, although it didn't start until quite close to closing time. After that we went for a meal. It was actually quite a bit better than it could have been, I seemed to be sat next to people I was able to talk too. Getting from East London to Reading was a bit of a pain though and it was too late when I got home, and it was on a Monday night. I guess you are old when your idea of a good Christmas party is one in which you are home quite early.
The second meal was a bit more low key I suppose and it was all done by 4pm. So it was lunch really rather than a party in any sense of the word. For some reason we had considered dozens of options. It had the feel of a place that was very much the cheapest we could find in the area. The portions were huge, I was already full up by the starter. But the taste was rather plan. Rather sadly I found out that someone I work with will no longer have a job. I feel for her as she has been in the company for 15 years at least, and has won various awards. It felt a bit weird that everyone seemed more concerned by what would happen next, rather than how she was feeling. But work is often quite a cold place. I did email her to thank her for her hard work and friendship. She seemed appreciative which is nice.
Rebecca has taken her first tentative steps. She can stand pretty well, and she can do one or two steps before launching herself as you. She seems to be very pleased with herself and is starting to develop a few more sounds that might be words. I think we are on the cusp of the toddler age, and will she will not be a baby for all that much longer.
It has not really felt all the Christmassy this year. Probably the lack of it actually being cold is part of it. I cannot say I love winter, so it is welcome and yet rather odd. Still we did the Clieveden christmas trail at the weekend, which got us out in the lovely warm air. It is a big National Trust place, and there always seems to be something new. The big surprise this time was a chapel which was closed before and had loads of interesting art inside. We also saw the Winter Giant which was a huge puppet that was marched down the streets of Reading. It was nice really as Reading often appears to be one of the least cultural towns in the planet.