nineveh_uk: Illustration that looks like Harriet Vane (Harriet)
This needs one of those webpages that just says "No".

All week I have been meaning to do a politics post and getting distracted by watching the news all evening. Tonight I managed to switch it off for a bit, but only to make a cake for work tomorrow*. Politics post will have to wait until tomorrow. We probably won't have a government yet, Theresa May will be continuing to demonstrate why she was, on their terms, a success as Conservative Home Secretary**, did OK to start with as PM as long as she didn't have to answer questions, and then failed so much in an election campaign, the DUP [insert rant here] will continue to demonstrate how much the LibDems failed in coalition negotiations, and more awful news will continue to come out about the catastrophic fire at Glenfell Tower. The details of that will also need another post. On the political front, when the Daily Mail has telephoto lens images of May not meeting the public and video of Corbyn doing a walkabout and hugging people, you know that the optics, as they say, are not good for the PM.

*Lemon drizzle. It needs to cook another 10 minutes and then I need to put the blasted drizzle on it and then I need to wait for it to cool so I can take it out. I am out of practice at baking. It doesn't help that I was doing it by the light of an anglepoise lamp on the other side of the room because the lighting circuit fuse blew yesterday evening. The electician is supposed to be turning up tomorrow. At least it is nearly midsummer.

**Being constitutionally incapable of recognising that something is a bad idea and changing tack, overseeing catastrophe by pretending there is no problem, and and being unable to communicate with people as human beings is a really good combination if you're a Tory Home Sec with the goal of survival.
nineveh_uk: Illustration that looks like Harriet Vane (Harriet)
I appear to be in agreement with a tweet by Nadine Dorries re. the contrasting coverage of Theresa May’s trousers vs. David Cameron’s far more expensive suits.

In other news, my employer now has a Head of Brexit Strategy, which is more than the government seems to.
nineveh_uk: Illustration that looks like Harriet Vane (Harriet)
I know that in terms of immediate personal threat, the despair that I feel right now is as nothing compared to that of my EU friends and colleagues, and indeed my friends and colleagues from beyond the EU who have been shown the foul xenophobia and racism of the UK, for make no mistake whatever other reasons might be spackled over the top this is sheer vile nationalism, but my sense of betrayal by my country and its politicians is absolute.

This need never have happened. This is a choice made not just by yesterday's voters, but by our political class. It is a choice that comes with an immediate cause, David Cameron's attempt to stave off UKIP at the last election, but it is a longer-term choice that comes from blaming every political ill on a nebulous European demon while systematically failing to address real grievances and driving people to think that the political establishment didn't give a shit for them. This last is sadly true, the terrible thing is that decades of misinformation mean people have targeted the wrong political establishment. If I believed in hell, I'd say Cameron, Gove, Farage, Johnson et al should burn in it. Add in Jeremy Corbyn, too, for an atrocious inability to do any sort of convincing Remain campaign. Unfortunately they're all going to be all right. It's the rest of us who will get hell.

On an immediate economic level I'm all right. My holiday spending will be curtailed*, but my employment protection is strong. If house prices crash, I will even benefit. But the place that I hoped I lived, and for someone who grew up under Thatcherism it was always only a hope, never a belief, is utterly gone.

*I feel incredibly fucking stupid for not thinking last night "book your European holiday now, anywhere at all". I know that this is trivial, but it adds to the surreal element of the morning's feelings.
nineveh_uk: Illustration that looks like Harriet Vane (Harriet)
I went, I picked up my pencil, I voted. It was definitely busier than usual, not that that is hard when it comes to council elections. I ended up walking to the polling station with my next-door neighbour who was leaving on the same errand, and there were other people turning up at the same time as we arrived (we put on a spurt and got there first).

And now we wait. I am not staying up tonight; I have to work tomorrow, and in particular I have to be alert tomorrow afternoon. That said, I can't imagine that the quality of decisions made is going to be very impressive. Everyone's going to be either giddy with relief or despondent.
nineveh_uk: Illustration that looks like Harriet Vane (Harriet)
I have just done some homework for the first time in umpteen years. Being in a classroom again, even an informal lunchtime classroom, is weird. [personal profile] white_hart kindly reassured me that the reason I had forgotten the German for computer and thus had to ask for it in order to create the sentence the instructor required was probably that I hadn't forgotten it, but that I had almost certainly never learned it. I feel both less forgetful and more old. I read something in the Journal of I Saw It Somewhere Studies about memories not being lost when we forget something but rather rendered inaccessible and the last couple of weeks of dragging myself up to my Lower Intermediate class level has really felt not like learning anew, but trying to clear away the detritus of years that obscures the things that I once knew from view, and drag the dative case kicking and screaming into the light.

After a week's EU referendum campaign that devolved into horror, things seem a bit calmer again, though I am avoiding this evening's television debate.* I don't know if the mood at work has changed to optimism or resignation. On a rather more trivial note I was supposed to be booking a summer holiday before the end of Thursday just in case the pound tanked, but I haven't quite managed to do it yet on account of having not quite decided what to do.** So apparently my worry about exchange rates does not quite outweigh my inability to make up my mind.

On a lighter note, it is very, very nearly the end of term! My last major committee meeting is on Friday, at which it can be safely assumed everyone will either be giddy with relief and demob happy, or sunk in despair.*** I suspect that either way the decisions made may not be entirely on rational grounds. Not, of course, that that is anything unusual. It is very nearly the end of term, and it can't come soon enough. There are garden parties tomorrow and Thursday and it may not rain. I have decided that on Thursday night I shall be taking sleeping pills. I do not need to repeat the experience of the Scottish referendum, sitting in bed at 2am watching the count. The morning will be soon enough to know, one way or the other.

*Gisela Stuart, have you lost your mind?

**Moral, don't leave booking your holiday for ages until loads of stuff is booked up. Also, try to work out the difference between the feeling that actually you aren't really bothered about doing Thing, and anxiety about Thing that you do want to do manifesting as pretending to yourself that you aren't really bothered about doing Thing.

***Universities are strongly institutionally and on an individual staff level pro-Remain. The consequences of leaving the EU will have a severe impact on British higher education as a global player, quite apart from the effect on individual EU staff and students.
nineveh_uk: Illustration that looks like Harriet Vane (Harriet)
I am sure that there are reasonable arguments that can be made in favour of the UK leaving the EU. They aren't arguments with which I'd agree - for all its manifest flaws, the EU is an institution I support in principle and think benefits the UK in practice - but I will acknowledge that they could be made.

The following is not a reasonable argument for leaving the EU:

There are secret plans to change the name of south-east England to "North France." It's already started. There used to be a sign at Exeter that said "Gateway to Devon", but now it says "Regional Capital".

Apparently Germany is plotting to rule us all, too. Call me sceptical, but it was my impression Angela Merkel had enough on her plate without plotting to invade Belgium.

Yes, I made the mistake with engaging with a local Brexit stand. Reasoned argument was not on the agenda. Straight up bigotry, conspiracy theory, and platitudes of "We should rule ourselves!" were.

I really, really don't want to go leafleting. And yet...
nineveh_uk: Illustration that looks like Harriet Vane (Harriet)
I've been following the revelations of the Hillsborough inquest today. As this article puts it, 'It wasn't about football in 1989, it isn't about football now.' It's about vested interests failing in the moment, in the following 26 years (including the inquest in which the South Yorkshire Police kept trying to claim it wasn't their fault), in favour of protecting the incompetence and prejudice of their own against people they considered scum. While prosecutions for events on the day seem distant, I wonder what scope there is for charging with perjury those people now clearly shown to have lied and to have known that they were lying.

On a very different note, Opera North has announced its 2016/17 programme, and I think I might have to move to Leeds. Billy Budd* and Rosenkavalier (production I've already seen) in the autumn, a concert Turandot in the spring, and best of all, Rimsky-Korsakov's The Snow Maiden in the winter. I admit that I want to see The Snow Maiden for Saga of the Exiles-related reasons rather than operatic ones, but I suspect that I shall not be alone in booking a ticket because of that.
nineveh_uk: Illustration that looks like Harriet Vane (Harriet)
I have been following the current outbreak of the ongoing global financial crisis, i.e. the events in Greece, with horrified fascination. I have little to say about how to solve the current situation beyond my standard "I wouldn't start from here". By this point, there is surely no short-term outcome that isn't going to very painful for many of the Greek population. The only possible positive outcome is to be found in identifying the course that works for the country in the long-term. What that is I have no idea, and I'm clearly not alone, but it is going to be very, very complicated. We have got here not simply with faults on both sides, but faults on dozens of sides. When would finding a solution ideally have started - 1910 or so? Certainly no later than 1945.

It's a lovely evening and I'm going for a walk. I wonder what will have changed by the time I get back. And what this is like to follow when it's your own life at stake.

ETA: Wednesday, and it goes on.
nineveh_uk: Illustration that looks like Harriet Vane (Harriet)
Well at least if everything is going to go to shit, I have a weekend with my family to commiserate in. But this is clearly going to take all night and I have to go to work tomorrow, so I'm off to bed. I was going to do a little rant, but I don't think I can be bothered to put it together (and I still need to pack). Let's see how things stand in the morning.
nineveh_uk: Picture of fabric with a peacock feather print. (peacock)
All my summer office trousers suddenly look horribly wide-legged and frumpy rather than Katherine Hepburn. Damn. I am going to have to see if I can alter them. The pair that doesn’t look horribly wide-legged suffers from Inadequate Waistband Construction Syndrome, and I need to alter those as well, and the one on a casual pair. Argh! I am fed up of crap waistbands on what can be quite pricey trousers. Waistbands have a job to do, and they need to be shaped so that they fit the contours of the body, and they need to be a bit smaller than the top of the trousers, which should be eased into them. It is NOT sufficient to line a bit of bias fabric and sew it round the top. There is more to finishing a pair of trousers than making the raw edge not show. I assume it is all down to money, and saving the pittance that a decent waistband would cost the manufacturer in pursuit of MORE PROFIT. I particularly resent this on trousers that are in fact rather expensive, and where part of the justification for the price ought to be decent construction, which is why one pair has just been returned with a sharp note.

In non-trouser news, I have now had election leaflets from the following: Conservatives, Lib Dems (loads from both), Labour, Greens, UKIP, Socialist Party of Great Britain, BNP, and the “Independence from Europe” party (AKA we fell out with UKIP). There are Monster Raving Loony Party posters in the centre of Oxford; I am not sure if they are standing in the council elections, but I am in a different ward.
nineveh_uk: Illustration that looks like Harriet Vane (Harriet)
• European elections, like general elections, bring out the small parties. I am not usually blessed with interesting ones, but yesterday received a leaflet from The Socialist Party of Great Britain*. Or so I discovered when I read the small print, because on picking it up and glancing at the text on the front page I thought that it was from the Jehovah’s Witnesses**. "In socialism the planet will be like the one you know, but also very different." All it needed was a picture of a toddler cuddling a lion. I am feeling rather bad about failing to volunteer for leafletting myself, but I'm just too tired.

• Further to angsting of earlier this week, my employer will be hosting a conference on Procrastination: Cultural Expectations in July. Fortunately I don’t really have to decide whether or not to go – the date is inconvenient. From their blog, one of the organisers appears to be a Gaudy Night, though they fail to mention that Peter Wimsey himself is a procrastinator – explicitly owning up to the fact in his final proposal.

The geographies of the impending zombie apocalypse.

• It is the end of the working week! Oh thank goodness, I am totally exhausted. I have a million and one things still to do, but they can’t be done, so I am going to pick the one that requires the least brain power and do that. It is forecast to rain most of the weekend, which I don’t mind. It will at least force me to do the ironing, and I am going to make myself write some fic come what may.

*As opposed to The Socialist Party, which is also a UK political party.

**Or possibly the United Federation of Planets.

ETA: And ended the week by [not] witnessing a traffic accident, a collision between a car and a motorcyclist. I was very close, but looking in the other direction, so only heard the crunch. I phoned the police, once I'd worked out how on the new phone; I wouldn't have had the old one with me, so it has now proved its worth. Then my boss turned up having been catching me up. It was all a bit strange. Fortunately it was at lowish speed and though an ambulance was required, injuries appeared not too serious considering the situation.
nineveh_uk: Illustration that looks like Harriet Vane (Default)
Margaret Thatcher is dead, but her legacy lives on.

She died in the Ritz as her political heirs throw people from their homes to die on the streets.

Thatcher destroyed communities and she destroyed individual lives, and she chose to do so. I have no patience with calls to respect her now: what respect had she for the elderly people who died of hypothermia in their homes because they could not afford fuel for heating? What respect had she for the northern industrial towns she turned to deserts? What respect had she for the dead of the Falklands war her negligence helped to cause, as she trampled on their backs to re-election? What respect had she for public services? What respect had she for the safety of gay children when she introduced Clause 28? What respect had she for the national infrastructure she left in such a parlous state? What respect had she for the proper investment of North Sea oil revenue? What respect had she for the NHS? What respect had she for Pinochet’s victims? What respect had she for those working to end South African apartheid?

Where was the respect then? Where is the respect now, as the government vilifies ordinary people? I have no respect for those who would not let the voices of people like David Hopper be heard, who would rather continue with Thatcher’s work and take away even this smallest of victories: that of living to cry out against the hagiography, to insist that the voices of those whom Thatcher tried to crush should be heard.
nineveh_uk: Picture of hollyhocks in bloom. Caption "WTF hollyhocks!" (hollyhocks)
I suppose it is a good thing - a very good thing - that a teenager of [background I cannot determine but is definitely not British*] is sufficiently inspired** by Robert Swindells' 80s children's apocalypse novel Brother in the Land to film some of it, but it is still deeply weird, and I don't mean the random crisp-eating scene. The houses are pink! The sky is blue! There is a distinct absence of moorland and of the protagonist looking down on to the glassy radioactive remains of the classroom in which I read the damn book. The one thing that isn't weird is the protagonist's not being white. In 1984, Danny Lodge is the son of a lower-middle class white family that owns a corner shop: given the location of Shipley/Bradford***, it makes perfect sense that in 2012 everything is the same except his race. I can only hope that the BBC doesn't realise this is an excellent opportunity to make a non-London kids' series with an ethnically Asian protagonist, and thus scar another generation for life. Fortunately nuclear war is less trendy these days.

*I assumed he was American until I saw the car numberplates. Middle Eastern ex-pat compound? The man responsible apparently lives in Canada at the moment, but I can't imagine they let one drive around with Arabic numberplates there any more than in the US.

**No it isn't! It will never be good! Burn the book and destroy all record of its existence save as a secret file warning publishers never to do it again. And that goes even more for the plague ones. Though I suppose that having found it interesting I ought to log in and comment.

***This being 1984, Bradford is yet to have been reduced to a hole in the ground**** through the non-atomic, but certainly devastating, efforts of Eric Pickles on behalf of Thatcher's govt.

****No hyperbole. Central Bradford is a giant hole in the ground thanks to the Westfield Group. I can't stand George Galloway, but there's a reason he picked the place.
nineveh_uk: Illustration that looks like Harriet Vane (Harriet)
Inspired by a postcard spotted (by bookwormsarah)in the People's History Museum in Manchester, an irresistible crossover.


"You see, Lady Peter," said Dr Baring, "after we had recovered from that appalling business, and had time to reflect on it in a scholarly spirit, we wondered if perhaps we were partly to blame. Not for upholding above all the importance of the honour and integrity of scholarship, but for allowing that importance to be felt only here, within these college walls, and only some of those. Why should we be surprised that a woman like Annie Wilson has no sympathy with our ideals, when we have never invited her to share them?" The Warden tapped her cigarette impatiently and continued.

"In brief, Lady Peter, Miss Barton invited the Principal to High Table one evening, and we proposed a collaboration. We have offered places to their most talented students, and a new degree is to be taught between us - though I'm afraid that it's the University of London external examination. The results you see before you. I may say that we are feeling rather proud of ourselves."

Harriet looked around the hall, the usual students in their gowns augmented by a handful of older faces, and even a couple of - presumably non-resident, one could not imagine Shrewsbury had changed so much in two years - men, and hanging at the far end of the room above the great double doors, the proud gold-bordered banner.

"But Warden," she said weakly, "Trade Union Studies?"

nineveh_uk: Illustration that looks like Harriet Vane (Default)
As I can't do a picture from a file on DW: the Equality of Sacrifice cartoon.
nineveh_uk: Picture of hollyhocks in bloom. Caption "WTF hollyhocks!" (hollyhocks)
On Friday I received my annual pay rise; that is, I proceeded one step up the salary scale, which happens in October. It was c. 3%, which comes in very welcome*. It is, however, a pay cut against the cost of living, given that the annual cost of living award for University staff across the sector was this year a set sum of £150 and prices are rising rather faster than that. So I'd like the rest of my 49%, please, as I have been reliably informed that we are all in it together.

On which note, a nice cartoon in the Grauniad**.

*Objectively, my day-to-day living is not greatly affected by the recession. I'm less able to save for the far-off days of home ownership than I was, but I can still afford food, foreign holidays, and fuel. Would all were so fortunate!

** I have here cut the section on why I am never surprised and thus never disappointed when the CofE hierarchy lives up to its nickname of the Tory Party at Prayer, as no-one else in interested in late C20 north Leeds church/education/local politics. But it involves the nativity scene, school governorship, league tables, "parental choice" re. school admissions, Tosca, birth rates following the summer of '76, various religious organisations including the Exclusive Brethren, local topography, council boundaries, brownie packs, the neighbourhood bad boy, Emmerdale Farm, newpaper rounds, two cricket clubs, and Sierra Leone. Apolitical it was not, and who was welcome or otherwise was very plain.
nineveh_uk: Picture of hollyhocks in bloom. Caption "WTF hollyhocks!" (hollyhocks)
Prescott can be a plonker, but I like this lunchtime quote on the resignation of Rebekah Brooks:

The former deputy prime minister said that, in her resignation letter, Brooks talked about not being able to remain "on the bridge". As a former seafarer, he found this strange, he said. "I would not like her on the bridge, if she did not know what was going on, where she was going or what direction it was."
nineveh_uk: Picture of hollyhocks in bloom. Caption "WTF hollyhocks!" (hollyhocks)
Insofar as it is possible whilst attempting to do a full day’s work, I cannot take my eyes off the unrolling story around the News of the World, News International, and the whole story of hacking, spying, bribery, corruption, lying in various places, to various people, and under oath, appalling security failures, appalling security breaches, obstructing police investigations (sometimes by the police), covering up murder, covering up bribery, covering up lying to parliament, obtaining data illegally in clear breach of the DPA whatever the methods used. Or as someone commenting in the Guardian put it:

“If spying on the prime minister, the deputy prime minister, the monarch, families of murder victims, families of dead soldiers and a child's medical records as well as bribing police officers and concealing evidence doesn't make an organisation not 'fit and proper' to hold a broadcasting licence I don't know what conceivable crime could.”

The whole thing is like a hydra in reverse: no sooner is a new head born than it sprouts another ten. Take yesterday evening’s story on a royal protection officer – a policeman - selling royal family contact details to NI – details that would allow location to be identified. It’s easy to over-use “terrorism”, but that really is serious security-at-the-heart-of-the-realm failure, because of course, once you’ve sold to one person you are (a) vulnerable to future target, and (b) have no control who will sell stuff on. Being a republican doesn’t actually mean I want the head of state’s security staff to be merrily selling their safety to anyone who comes up with the cash. And guess who the emails show was asked for the money to buy the stuff – that’s right, Andy Coulson. At this point, whether Coulson handed over the money is irrelevant; what matters is that he didn’t report an extraordinary security breach. And then he ended up in Number 10 because David Cameron decided he “deserved a second chance.”

That’s one tiny hydra head, but there’s more. And more. And more and more and more. The Met claim “cock-up, not conspiracy”. To borrow a well-known phrase, any sufficiently wide-spread cock-up becomes indistinguishable from conspiracy. Time for some independent oversight, methinks. I am sure that Hull and Birmingham would be willing. Come to that, NI is still acting directly to impede the investigation.

And there’s more. And more and more and more. “Worse to come” said Brooks (God, that woman is brilliant in her own way. It is hard to say “respect where it is due”, but perhaps “due acknowledgement that a genius found its field”). You bet there is. This one’s been building for years and it's going to run and run. The only question is, so many people having been trampled in the past, who is going down now?

I refer you again to Steve Bell's masterly cartoon. (SFW insofar as it is in the Guardian, but not if your workplace objects to cartoon nudity in broadsheet papers.)


Apr. 28th, 2011 02:37 pm
nineveh_uk: Picture of hollyhocks in bloom. Caption "WTF hollyhocks!" (hollyhocks)
For people undecided how to vote on AV, I recommend this paper produced by the non-partisan Political Studies Association, the UK’s leading academic association for political studies. It is by the far the best explanation of the system, its pros, and its cons, that I have come across. Or as it puts it:

We face a very important choice in the referendum on our electoral system on 5th May. But many of the claims being made by both sides are either false or exaggerated. We need a debate that is grounded in solid evidence. This paper provides that grounding.

I think it is worth a read however you intend to vote, and particularly if you are not sure, not because it will sway you to one side or the other, but because it explains things sensibly without being patronising or shrieking, and enhances the informed side of informed choice.

Disclaimer: I come from a perspective of “mild pro-” for AV – that is, I am not pro-AV as a system (indeed I have some serious doubts about it to the extent that I have considered voting against), but will vote for it as a possible step/signal of desire for electoral reform. It is, if I may agree with Nick for a moment*, a "miserable little compromise". I can’t stand, however, the claims for AV that have been made by the Yes campaign, particularly the way its supporters have conducted it on the internet and in the press, where their “if you have any concern whatsoever with AV it is only because you are uninformed, so I will educate you” stance could give elements of fandom a run for its money on the “you disagree with me so you are wrong, you will not be wrong once you have heard me” front.

*Excuse me as I go for a Dettol shower.
nineveh_uk: Illustration that looks like Harriet Vane (Default)
Remember 2009 SurveyFail, involving a bloke called Ogi Ogas asking leading questions for a book about pr0n on the internet?

Remember that it descended into tentacles, and that someone drew a cartoon?

Today’s Steve Bell in the Grauniad is, if possible worse in a brilliant sort of way (not worksafe, if your workplace objects to naked cartoon people in national newspapers). Comments have identified the original as this (not worksafe if your work objects to naked people in ancient Classical statuary), and the Murdoch!serpent is also familiar.


nineveh_uk: Illustration that looks like Harriet Vane (Default)

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