Less about the world, more about me.

Category: Stuff (Page 3 of 5)

Weekly Links #21

Another bunch of links. An interesting  mix this week, from Star Trek to abortion to patriotism and finally to the question of who should the Left, in the UK, cater for. That question appears in the last two links. They are somewhat in opposition though not written in opposition as such. It’s a subject that interests me a lot. As a very recent mover to the Left, I am enjoying grappling with what I mean by ‘a recent mover to the Left,’ just how Left have I moved and what is the Left. Then my brain hurts and I remember there’s always Star Trek. But it will be new Star Trek. Will it be dark and challenging as one expects from a good drama in this Golden Age for TV or will it be Star Trek, replete with easy answers? I don’t even know what I want to be honest. Which makes my brain hurt and then I go back to solving the World’s problems from my keyboard. It’s a full life really.

As always, feel free to subscribe to my blog and perhaps even have a look at some of my published works on Amazon.

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“Showrunners Aaron Harberts and Gretchen J. Berg — working from a creative roadmap laid out by executive producer Bryan Fuller — are delivering a Trek saga that gets rid of one the franchise’s decades-old limitations in an effort to evolve the series.” Star Trek: Discovery to ditch a long frustrating Trek rule

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“DS9 frames terrorism differently especially since we have a character that is a regular member of the crew. Kira is in a moral grey area in this episode. It makes that a difficult place to be in as she is with the provisional government and works with Starfleet.” Star Trek Redux: Terrorism on DS9

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“There has never been a day since Alan’s birth I haven’t thought of him. Not one. His beautiful face is always before me even if his photographs aren’t in my wallet or at work. I could be enjoying a meal with my wife and friends, on holidays, at work, reading a paper, and I see him. I never want to forget him because his life broke my heart and taught me some valuable lessons about life and people.” A death in the family: The short life of my beautiful son Alan

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“She said these contraceptives are reliable and don’t rely on people’s actions for them to work, like condoms and the contraceptive pill do. Family Planning is hopeful more people are getting education, as well as hoping more people are delaying their first time having sex, Ms Edmond said. Other countries are also showing a decrease in abortions on an annual basis, she said.” NZ abortion rate lowest in over 25 years, with long-term contraception said to be influencing factor

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“Anniversaries give rise to wistful reminiscences that tap into what Perry Anderson once termed “the history of possibility”: none more so than the Russian Revolution of 1917, though the allure of “October” has greatly diminished since the collapse of the state it spawned. The global triumph of liberal capitalism has distilled the revolution – and the idea of revolution more generally – into a single frightening adjective: totalitarianism.” Red mist – the legacy of the October revolution

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“Labour has to build a new labour interest out of these estranged class and ethnic cultures. But Labour’s membership has been increasingly concentrated amongst the higher educated and in the globally connected places of the economic winners. As the party has become more socially liberal it has grown more culturally exclusive, and so has found itself estranged from the class it once represented.” A Labour politics of belonging

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“The contemporary debate about Britishness is framed, of course, by the political and cultural transformation being wrought by Brexit. For opponents of the EU, Brexit allows the nation to take back sovereignty and reassert its identity. Opponents of Brexit deride such desires as xenophobic, driven by a compulsion to turn away from the world. Neither side seem willing to grapple with the entangled character of our identities.” for common values, against patriotism

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Weekly Links #20

I’ve been meaning to get back to this ‘weekly links’ series of posts for some time. I think it is now the right time. My mental health has improved immeasurably and I’m making actual progress on my novel. So, I’m re-committing myself to this links round-up. Beats a whole bunch of retweets I suppose. One of the things I love most about twitter is that I get to read articles I would never have discovered for myself. The following are the ones I found most interesting this week.

And feel free to subscribe to my blog and perhaps even have a look at some of my published works on Amazon.

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“Even as this incredible academic story nears its climax, darkness shrouds the manuscript itself. In 2015, as Saudi Arabia began bombing Yemen, the manuscript’s caretakers in Sana’a fled, locking the manuscript in a secret safe that can only be opened if all of them gather again. The longer the manuscript remains in the safe, the more rapidly it will deteriorate: climate control is essential to its preservation.” Decades after earliest Quran was discovered, scholars to share full text of the Sana’a manuscript

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“IN THE UNITED States, Gay Pride marches were triggered by the Stonewall Riots in 1969, which were a huge turning point for LGBTQ history. After ongoing harassment by police, a group of LGBTQ people (who were predominantly transgender women of colour) took a stand at the Stonewall Inn in New York’s Greenwich Village.” Why we need to reconsider how we view Gay Pride Festivals

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“The House-passed version of the American Health Care Act would strip $834 billion from Medicaid, deprive 23 million Americans of health insurance over a decade and spike premiums in the individual insurance market by 20 percent in the first year alone, according to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office.” WTF Is Going on With the Secret Senate Version of Trumpcare?

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” No. Go crawl back to the time capsule you came out of. Ninety-five percent of Americans have pre-marital sex. Nine months of unwanted pain and possibly death is not an acceptable punishment for being unlucky while engaging in an almost universally practiced past time. It is the punishment for 0 percent of men, which is the correct percentage.” WHY A PRO-LIFE WORLD HAS A LOT OF DEAD WOMEN IN IT

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“Instead, pornography trains us to redirect sexual desire as mimetic desire. That is, the sociological theory — and marketers’ dream — that humans learn to want what they see. In porn terms: If you build it, they will come.” Pornhub Is the Kinsey Report of Our Time

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“This transporter room is quite a departure from typical Trek transporters, with large dishes behind each platform. The large dishes are perhaps meant to show that the Shenzhou is older/less advanced.” First Look At ‘Star Trek: Discovery’ Transporter Room And Phasers

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Anniversaries

I hate nostalgia. Well, I hate other people’s nostalgia. I quite like my own. And I want to indulge my nostalgia as I recently celebrated being two years married to Paula. This isn’t just a piece of nostalgia about Paula. It’s also about Twitter. I’ve a somewhat rose-tinted view of old Twitter. I remember Twitter in 2012 as being a much gentler environment than the febrile maelstrom that it has now become. And it was in 2012 Twitter that I met Paula.

I’d joined Twitter with certain goals in mind. First, I wanted to meet fellow Middle Earth and Federation nerds. I had been assured that nerds lived in the internet and not in really rural Kerry. Second, I wanted to tout my blog. And finally, I’d declaim on politics. I knew everything and would enlighten the gentle folk of the internet machine with my incisive assessments.

I got a bit of a shock. I quickly realised the people there were smarter and more interesting than me. I reacted to this in a way I still take pride in, I enjoyed it. I learned a great deal and I made friends. Many good friends, but friends I never got to see in real life as they almost all lived in Dublin. I found myself quite jealous anytime a tweetup was being planned and I couldn’t go because of either work commitments or lack of funds. But I got to talk about Middle Earth and about why Deep Space 9 is the best Star Trek. And people read my blog. A blog I had to improve as I knew now the calibre of person I wanted reading my thoughts and opinions.

And Twitter being Twitter, it managed to combine my writing and Lord of the Rings into a meeting with the woman I eventually married.

Paula was on Twitter but we weren’t aware of each other. Irish Twitter was tiny so there was only ever a few degrees of separation between us all. The ‘degree’ between us was Andrew Madden. I’d written a piece that had been provoked by an unpleasant (not homophobic obviously as we aren’t allowed say that word anymore) Irish Independent column. It proved a popular post and was brought to Paula’s attention by Andrew. We began to follow each other. There was nothing of romance at this time as I knew Paula to be a lesbian.

I wrote my article on October 31, 2011. We met for the first on October 29, 2012. And we met because of Lord of the Rings.

The RTE Concert Orchestra was due to perform the music of Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers, and as I’d been to the Fellowship of The Ring performance, I was definitely going to this one. It occurred to me that this would be a great opportunity to arrange my very own tweetup. To finally meet the people I’d been chatting to for a year or so. It took place in O’Neill’s on Suffolk Street. To my surprise and joy it was well-attended and many of the people went on to be guests at our wedding.

Again, there was no romantic connection but there was a connection. I thought she was a lesbian so it didn’t occur to me that a romantic connection was even possible. But a firm friend she would definitely be. What I hadn’t read before we met, was a post she’d written, coming out as bi. We worked out a few months later that it had been published during a Twitter break I was on. Yes, even in Old Twitter, Twitter breaks were a thing.

Poor sheltered culchie that I am, I hadn’t encountered someone who was bi before. I wasn’t entirely clear of the rules. But over a few months of DMs we decided a date was called for. And it just so happened that I’d be in Dublin for the release of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey. We’d planned to see each other on 17th as I was going to the cinema on the 16th. But we decided we couldn’t wait so we met briefly on the 16th, before I headed to the cinema. We married 15 months later. Half the guests were friends we had made on Twitter.

I am aware that I remember old Twitter through a fog of nostalgic bliss. But I think you’ll agree that my excuse for doing so is a good one. Because of Twitter (and Lord of the Rings) I met my wife to be. Because of The Hobbit, I went on my first date with my future wife. The only sad part is Paula couldn’t give a shit about Lord of the Rings.

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Anxiety

So, I’m back in therapy. This will be the third time in my life I’ve had to enter into a long-term relationship with a stranger where I tell them all my deepest darkest secrets and they give me fuck all in return. Worse, I have to pay them large sums of money for the privilege.

It is very annoying to have waited until middle-age to become acquainted with anxiety. Depression I can handle. Been there, done that, bought the non-tax-deductible remedy. Anxiety however is new. Where depression I felt in my stomach and behind my eyes, anxiety appears to live in my chest.

What gives this unfortunate place of residence that extra soupcon of unpleasantness is that I’m a middle-aged man with a genetic predisposition to heart disease. A middle-aged man who has read a bit too much about the physical cost of stress and anxiety. A middle-aged man who is now paranoid that every twitch and twinge in his chest is a prelude to a fatal heart explosion. A middle-aged man who is quickly piling on all the pounds he had managed to lose last year. And all those pounds can be measured in take-aways and crisps.

I never thought I would miss depression. The thing about depression is that it has an element of anaesthesia about it. That numbing effect that helps one shut out the stuff a grown-up person is supposed to care about. You know, bills, relationships and Climate Change.

This anxiety thingy however makes me hyperaware of everything. And I’m using the term ‘hyperaware’ utterly incorrectly here. I’m not hyperaware, it just feels that way. And because my mind is signalling fear in the face of such mundane issues like my phone ringing, my chest tightens and this makes me more scared which tightens my chest ever more and in the end, I’m exhausted and drained.

It has shut me down professionally, creatively and socially. Again, that sounds very dramatic. I still turn up for work, I still have ideas, I interact with people I have to interreact with, but the effort is almost overwhelming. I’m shit in work, I can’t write for shit and I’d give my last cent to avoid any social situations that might extend to actually being me.

I am struggling to express myself. Yes, a straight white man who is writing on his blog about his struggle to express himself, is struggling to express himself. More ironing than you can shake a stick at there. Yet that is where my head and chest are at.

A typical day now consists of lurking on Twitter and Instagram and playing CivIII for hours on end. And not writing, not debating, not dieting or exercising, not in fact being a grownup middle-aged man who does want to do all these things but is stuck avoiding all these things because they make his chest hurt. And because he’s avoiding all these things his chest hurts. No wonder I’m reduced to forking out money I don’t have to speak at a professional who is tasked with using the silences for me to find my own solutions. Therapy is such a fucking racket. Life-saving yes, but still, a bastard fucking racket.

I am now in the accomplishing tiny little goals phase of the process. I am trying to write 1000 words a day, walk Arwen, trying to eat only one packet of crisps a day (a bloody big bag I’ll grant you, but still, baby steps, I haven’t even looked at the chocolate content of my day), read a bit (did I mention I’m even struggling to read?) and do a few chores. The sort of day that most adults manage before leaving for work in the morning.

Those 1000 words don’t even have to be creative. This blog post counts towards my daily 1000. And I’ve a bunch of other posts I’ve tried to write over the last few months that I can return to, to get my count up. Anything to get the expression muscle motoring again. Yep, I just typed ‘expression muscle’ and haven’t deleted it. But it, and repeating it, means four more words. So fuck it, it’s staying.

At this point I’d gut my entire family, even the ones I like, if it meant I could get writing again. If it meant relaxing the knot seizing my chest. Fuck, I’d even settle for the knot returning to my stomach where it has always been before when I’ve been unhappy.

Now I have to decide if 800 words is close enough to 1000 words to count as task accomplished. Which will lead to an internal debate about back-sliding and whether a bit of slacking is ok in the current circumstance or if settling for nearly there will defeat the purpose of having a daily task. That knot just gets tighter. If I could only afford daily therapy or even weekly I could dump this issue at the feet of my therapist and then watch him manipulate me into picking up that mess myself and deciding my own solutions. Like I said, a fucking racket.

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Weekly Links #19

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Oops, I missed last week. So this is Weekly Links #19. Been a busy few weeks, not a very productive two weeks, more stuck doing grown up stuff and feeling sorry for myself. Did read a lot of interesting things though, so not a total loss. I’ve also decided to avoid Trump nonsense in this weekly round up. I find that I have begun to grasp at straws, that he’ll resign, there’ll be a successful recount, an alien invasion. I think I’ll just pretend the world isn’t falling apart. I can get back to that after Winterfest.

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“What’s more, a “common theme” researchers found is that people under 30 who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender are more likely to witness and/or experience online abuse, and therefore more likely to self-censor what they post online. And the same holds true for young African-American internet users.” Women and Minority Groups Self-Censor Online to Avoid Harassment, Study Says

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“The ethicists all agreed that no, punching fascists is neither moral nor ethical, even if it makes you feel better about the rise of the alt-right. They emphasized that anti-fascist violence often ends up empowering those regimes, and can be used as an excuse to expand fascist power — a trend that bears out throughout the history of anti-fascist violence from Benito Mussolini’s Italy during World War II to Argentina in the early 20th century.” Is it ethical to punch a neo-Nazi? We asked the experts.

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“After a vote in the Polish parliament in April, Our Lord Jesus Christ was officially crowned the king of Poland last weekend. You might think you’ve accidentally landed on a fake news site, but you didn’t. It’s true, Jesus really does rule Poland now.” Jesus Christ Is Now Officially the King of Poland

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“The research confirms previous animal studies suggesting that social status affects the way genes turn on and off within immune cells. The new study, appearing Friday, Nov. 25 in the journal Science, goes further by showing that the effects are reversible.” Upward mobility boosts immunity in monkeys

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“In the “dual labour markets” of Japan and southern European countries, older men have secure, skilled, well-paid jobs for life, while women and younger men have insecure, low-paid, low-skilled jobs. But in America and Britain, where labour markets are deregulated, this distinction is fast disappearing as manufacturing jobs are outsourced to developing countries and routine skilled jobs are automated away. The labour market “reforms” beloved of institutions such as the IMF level the playing field for insecure workers not by making them more secure, but by destroying the security of those in employment.” Why the changing nature of work means we need a Universal Basic Income

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“The 2.52 billion-year-old sulfur-oxidizing bacteria are described by Czaja as exceptionally large, spherical-shaped, smooth-walled microscopic structures much larger than most modern bacteria, but similar to some modern single-celled organisms that live in deepwater sulfur-rich ocean settings today, where even now there are almost no traces of oxygen.” Life before oxygen

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“The site was occupied about 9,000 years ago when the level of the Baltic Sea was about 10-12 metres lower than it is today, Anton Hansson, a PhD geology student at Lund University in Sweden told IBTimes UK.” Underwater Stone Age settlement a haven for fishing – and yields mysterious elk-antler pick axe

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“Now, it may be that these statistics simply indicate that modern women are just exerting more control over when and under what circumstances they become mothers. To a large degree that’s true. But it doesn’t jibe with an even more shocking reality: that half of pregnancies in the United States are unintended. Once you factor in the abortion rate and pregnancies that end in miscarriage, we’re left with the rather surprising fact that one-third of babies born in the United States were unplanned. Not so surprising, however, is that the intention to have children definitively impacts how parents feel about their children, and how those children are treated — sometimes to terrifying results.” Not Wanting Kids Is Entirely Normal

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Weekly Links #18

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Another week, another raft of interesting articles that grabbed my attention. I’ve totally thrown in the towel with #NaNoWriMo. I hit a wall last week and just wasn’t able to pick myself up after it. But I learned some useful things and am already looking forward to next November. But more importantly, I think there is a novel in the idea I tried turning into 50000 words this month. My plan now is to ensure I have absolutely nothing else to do next year other than write. I’m putting a lot of pressure on myself in 2017. I’ve decided that if I don’t complete at least one novel before 2018 then I’m giving up. A tad precipitous I’ll grant you, but it feels like the right thing to do.

As for the links this week, I have included a few regarding Trump. I’d hoped after the election his relevance would wane. Instead the orange buffoon is even more important. I shudder.

As always feel free to subscribe to this blog and if you’d like to read some of my published fiction, please visit here.

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“On Nov. 8, the most powerful country in world history, which will set its stamp on what comes next, had an election. The outcome placed total control of the government—executive, Congress, the Supreme Court—in the hands of the Republican Party, which has become the most dangerous organization in world history.” Noam Chomsky: ‘The Republican Party Has Become the Most Dangerous Organization in World History’

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“Nationalism is a slippery concept, which is why politicians find it so easy to manipulate. At its best, it unites the country around common values to accomplish things that people could never manage alone. This “civic nationalism” is conciliatory and forward-looking—the nationalism of the Peace Corps, say, or Canada’s inclusive patriotism or German support for the home team as hosts of the 2006 World Cup. Civic nationalism appeals to universal values, such as freedom and equality. It contrasts with “ethnic nationalism”, which is zero-sum, aggressive and nostalgic and which draws on race or history to set the nation apart. In its darkest hour in the first half of the 20th century ethnic nationalism led to war.” The new nationalism

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“It said in the article [that] the production team of that movie of the remake, that they would go back more and more towards the novel. And of course, we really, really tried to get away from the novel, because we felt that the novel was fascistic and militaristic,” said Verhoeven.  “You feel that going back to the novel would fit very much in a Trump Presidency.” Paul Verhoeven Slams ‘Starship Troopers’ Remake, Says It’ll Be a Fascist Update Perfect for a Trump Presidency

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“Obama’s insistence on hope felt more willed than audacious. It spoke to the civic duty he felt to prevent despair not only among the young people in the West Wing but also among countless Americans across the country. At the White House, as elsewhere, dread and dejection were compounded by shock. Administration officials recalled the collective sense of confidence about the election that had persisted for many months, the sense of balloons and confetti waiting to be released.” OBAMA RECKONS WITH A TRUMP PRESIDENCY

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“Two centuries ago, electricity was the quantum physics of its age, a mysterious and poorly understood force that was the subject of bizarre and grotesque experiments to understand its relation to life. Ideas about energy and life force appear again and again in pseudoscience, so it’s not surprising that electromagnetism formed the basis for all kinds of quackery, from galvanic resurrection to antigravity via radionics, a branch of nonsense that seeks to cure illness with radio waves. The famous tin foil hat, the bulletproof vest of the quack world, was invented to protect the brain of its wearer from the force.” Why are people who reject conventional science so in love with its trappings?

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“When someone swore in their Twitter posts, participants classified them in the group of people without any college degree. Sometimes this assumption was accurate, but participants tended to over-attribute profanity and conversational language like “lol,” “wanna,” and “gonna” to the non-college-educated group.” Swearing on Twitter makes people presume you’re less educated than you are

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“The Victorian public that first read or read about the Origin of Species were, for the most part, not biblical literalists. For decades the most enlightened writers in the fields of science and religion had accepted that much of the Old Testament, andGenesis in particular, had to be read in a metaphorical sense. Some believed that the creation story dealt only with the latest geological epoch – in which humanity appears on Earth.” Darwin vs God?

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“There was still something oddly reassuring about the scene, if only for confirmation once again of the enduring gulf between the way the game is glossed and sold by its governing marketeers and the unyielding reality. In many ways this is still the best thing about football. For all the styling and the schmaltz, the attempts to ruin it with money, football refuses to bend completely, to lose its dingier corners. Above all, and for all its faults, football reserves the right to be stubborn, elusive and insistently uncontrolled.” China and Qatar: spendthrift would-be superpowers unlikely to reach Russia

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“So many old friends behind the camera, but I missed the old team of actors. Mind you, it was a joy to work with Martin Freeman and the dwarves. I was glad to be rid of that old stick Gandalf The White. The Grey was always my favourite. Don’t you remember when it was my turn to play a track, I asked for silence instead? Now I’m nostalgic, remembering those early mornings in the make-up trailer, six days a week.” Lord Of The Rings at 15: theFellowship interview each other

 

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Weekly Links #17

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A week in which I am feeling sorry for myself. My NaNoWriMo project hit a wall. I’m not sure why, but after completing Act One I lost heart. I think there’s a novel in there but this first draft is going to take a lot longer than I’d hoped. I haven’t read a huge amount either but have happened upon some interesting articles. I hope you find them illuminating.

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“Let us also agree that ethnic or religious discrimination cannot be justified by calls for greater security. During World War II, the government argued that military authorities could not distinguish between alleged enemy elements and peaceful, patriotic Japanese Americans. It concluded, therefore, that all those of Japanese descent, including American citizens, should be presumed guilty and held without charge, trial or legal recourse, in many cases for years. The very same arguments echo today, on the assumption that a handful of presumed radical elements within the Muslim community necessitates draconian measures against the whole, all in the name of national security.” George Takei: They interned my family. Don’t let them do it to Muslims.

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“Despite the fact I’d be joining a workers’ brigade, helping to rebuild civilian infrastructure in Kobane rather than fighting, simply going to Syria provoked some extreme responses. Two people who’d like to think of themselves as “of note” to MI5 for their thoroughbred leftiness blocked me on Facebook for “security reasons”, and an ex-partner threatened to report me to the “the government” – despite no laws being broken; others on the left seemed to go into denial, deciding I was a fantasist.” Revolution in the mountains

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“Instead of individual subjects, students will study events and phenomena in an interdisciplinary format. For example, the Second World War will be examined from the perspective of history, geography, and math. And by taking the course ”Working in a Cafe,” students will absorb a whole body of knowledge about the English language, economics, and communication skills.” Finland Will Become the First Country in the World to Get Rid of All School Subjects

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“That ancient genes are swimming in our gene pool has been known a while. Non-African individuals inherited about 2% of their genomes from Neanderthals, while people of Melanesian ancestry inherited another 2 to 4% of their genomes from Denisovan ancestors.” Thank Neanderthal and Denisovan genes for health and skin colour

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“It is in the seventh century, before any known document written in Romance or Germanic languages, that the first allusion to our theme appears. It is contained in an attempt, on the part of the Irish grammarians, to defend spoken Gaelic over written Latin.” Eco on a Perfect Language: Gaelic

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“Dogs are hugging us with their eyes? That might be the cutest thing in the entire world. And that’s backed up by another recent study, which was part of a BBC documentary. When dogs interact with humans, their oxytocin levels go up, just like when humans interact with dogs, or even their own children. And as a win for dog people, dogs had those hormones spike more than cats did in similar situations, according to the Telegraph.” An Expert Has Confirmed That Dogs Understand How Much We Love Them

 

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Weekly Links #16

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Well they did it. They actually did it. They voted to make that clown the most powerful man-child on the planet. Appalled doesn’t cover it. There will be a million articles that seek to understand why this happened and how pollsters got it so wrong and why the apocalypse will be orange. I’m only going to offer one this week. This is by Kenan Malik. I read a lot of stuff by Kenan Malik. I think you should too. But anyway, he blames identity politics.

Besides stocking up on canned goods I’ve been tipping away at NaNoWriMo. As of today I’m a little behind, but I can’t blame that entirely on Trump. Mostly, but not entirely. I also had a bit of food poisoning, some activism to do and the dog ate my homework. But after Sunday I have a whole week free to catch up and maybe even get a little ahead.

As always feel free to subscribe to my blog and have a look at my fiction that’s available on Amazon.

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“At first sight all this seems to give weight to the ‘whitelash’ thesis, the idea that Trump rose to power on a wave of rage from white, male Christians. The real story is, however, more complex. If we look not at the aggregate figures but at the shifts in support, we can tell a different story.” how america got trumped

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“Reactionaries are not conservatives. This is the first thing to be understood about them. Conservatives have always seen society as a kind of inheritance we receive and are responsible for. The healthiest way to bring about change, the conservative believes, is through consultation and slow transformations in custom and tradition, not by announcing bold reform programs or inventing supposedly inalienable individual rights. But the conservative is also reconciled to the fact that history never stands still and that we are only passing through. Conservatism seeks to instill the humble thought that history moves us forward, not the other way around. And that radical attempts to master it through sheer will bring disaster.” Our Reactionary Age

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“I hoped that the trend would fade as quickly as it had come to prominence. Instead, the memes went viral. For nearly two years now I have tracked the trajectory of the ‘Irish slaves’ mythos online and in that time the memefication of this myth has reached unprecedented levels of visibility and popularity across the social web, primarily in the United States. Google searches for the term ‘Irish slaves’ have exploded since October 2014, with September 2016 as the highest month on record so far.” Two years of the ‘Irish slaves’ myth: racism, reductionism and the tradition of diminishing the transatlantic slave trade

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“When Trump, for example, suggested that “you can take the baby and rip the baby out of the womb in the ninth month on the final day,” he appears not to realize that the term for that — and it’s done considerably less violently — is a Cesarean section, a common, safe procedure by which about a third of women deliver their babies every year. In other words, Trump described how more than a million women every year give birth. It’s quite legal, and generally a cause for celebration.” No, Late-Term Abortions Don’t ‘Rip’ Babies Out Of Wombs — And They Exist For A Reason

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“To what extent is radical right-wing popularity fueling this backslide? Certainly in Poland the message is clear: The nationalist ruling party seeks to quash women’s reproductive rights under the guise of so-called Christian family values.” Why the Rise of the European Right Spells Doom for Reproductive Health

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“Britain has long argued that the EU’s pensions are too generous and pensions are one of many areas where complex joint liabilities will need to be unravelled. Failing to find a solution could put at risk pension payments to about 3000 UK officials who have worked in the EU institutions, including the Commission and Parliament, since 1973.” Brexit triggers row over British EU civil servants’ pensions

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“The call to action was more political than humanitarian. America was slowly emerging from the Great Depression and, although unemployment was gradually dipping, it still stood at a staggering 19 percent. Roosevelt found himself facing the twin pressures of isolationism and overt anti-Semitism. The later had spiked in the l930s with the advent of a string of anti-Semitic publications and the popular anti-Semitic radio addresses of Charles Coughlin, a Detroit Catholic priest. Father Coughlin had a following of more than forty million, and the Catholic hierarchy made no attempt to silence him.” that proud history of welcoming refugees

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Weekly Links #15

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Haven’t been able to do a lot reading this week. I’m taking part in the annual NaNoWriMo madness. This is a competition where participants are expected to write a 50,000 word novel in a month. For people like me that means completing a 50,000 word first draft. More accomplished writers might be able to manage more than a rough draft but I certainly don’t want to do anymore than get that draft done.

The problem I have with first drafts is that I can’t switch off that part of my brain that imagines it being read. A first draft should be for the writer alone. This ridiculous deadline makes it easier for me to ignore my worries about unfleshed out ideas, poor grammar, plot holes and weird inconsistencies.

I’m four days in and still full of enthusiasm. I just hope that enthusiasm lasts.

Again there are US presidential election and Brexit nonsense to read. Thank Gandalf the election will be over by next week. No doubt all the news will end then. I’ve also included a piece about pensions. It’s a bit right wing in tone but the issue remains important. Especially for someone like me as I can’t help thinking it will have all fallen apart by the time I’m due to retire, even if I have to wait until I’m 70.

Finally do please consider checking out my one and only completed novel over on Amazon.

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“And the principle means the tabloids used to obtain this result was the “endless xenophobic nudges of its immigration coverage.” Of course these newspapers will say they were just expressing their readers fears, but when they are reduced to making up stories to encourage this fear any claim to innocence becomes very hollow. Fueling anti-immigration feeling was their version of a southern strategy, and Brexit saw its culmination.” Brexit and neoliberalism

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“Demonology aside, most conservatives and Republicans—and yes, many non-conservatives and non-Republicans—will recognize many of the factual predicates of the critiques of Hillary Clinton’s methods and character. The Clintons sold access to a present secretary of state and a potential future president in pursuit of personal wealth. Hillary Clinton does indeed seem a suspicious and vindictive personality. For sure, a President Clinton will want to spend and regulate even more than the Obama administration has done. Like Henny Youngman, however, the voter must always ask: compared to what?” The Conservative Case for Voting for Clinton

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“Geraldine “Jerry” Emmett, 102, was born before the 19th Amendment to the Constitution and lived through the women’s suffrage movement. She’s a Democrat and now lives in Arizona.” Arizona woman born before women’s suffrage votes for Clinton

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“Contemporary sexism is mainly ambivalent in nature. We often hold both positive (benevolent) and negative (hostile) attitudes to women (and men). Hostile sexism involves old-fashioned and overt negativity towards women, whereby they are perceived as wanting to control men. It reflects beliefs that men should have more power than women, that women may use their sexuality to benefit from men’s higher status and that women are less competent than men.” Why do so many women oppose feminism? A psychologist explains

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“When I visit high schools with my novels, I always encourage teenage girls to call themselves feminists because I believe all girls need feminism. They need it to safeguard the rights they already have and those inequalities still not fought. I have always been a feminist, but it’s from feminists that I’ve faced my harshest criticisms.” Call yourself a feminist?

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“I am a veteran of 3 Caesarean Sections. When I read the phrase “grievous assault”, my blood ran cold and my uterus contracted because that’s how I felt. Assaulted. I was not too posh or too old to push. During my first labour I was told that if I didn’t push the baby out by 5.30pm the doctor was going to come in and give me a section.  I was lying on a bed strapped to a heart monitor with a clock ticking down the next 30 minutes. I was tired, drugged and scared and was in no state to make a stand.  I consented to a section.” Papa Don’t Preach, Repeal the 8th

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“The plot line of the episode is not tied to anything in the history of Beverly’s character. Nor does it depend on her being a doctor or a woman. In theory, any of the major characters could have been the star of this episode. But it is not at all a coincidence that it is Beverly — a woman, a healer, a mother, and Picard’s occasional love interest — who lives out this story.” Star Trek’s Feminist Statement: Believe Women

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“Prof O’Malley-Dunlop says the law should set out clearly the circumstances where consent cannot be given. This would include cases where the complainant was asleep or otherwise unconscious, or too affected by alcohol or drugs to freely agree to sexual activity; while Anne Sexton says a YouTube video, Tea Consent, makes a comical but accurate analogy between making someone a cup of tea and having sex with them.” It’s time to talk about consent

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“The bizarre attack on Max Mosley – the third spread Pendlebury has penned about him this year – was motivated by the former Formula One bosses’ support for Impress, the new press regulatory body. Pendlebury did not mention that the pre-war owner of the Daily Mail, Harold Sidney Harmsworth, 1st Viscount Rothermere, was so excited by the BUF that he personally wrote a full-page editorial headlined ‘ ‘Hurrah for the Blackshirts’ in January 1934.” Revealed: The Extent of the Daily Mail’s Support for the British Union of Fascists

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“Demographic aging is the social and economic equivalent of climate change: it is a problem that we all know must be addressed, but which we would rather leave for future generations to solve. The impulse to put things off for a later day is understandable, given current economic and political troubles; but when it comes to public pensions, procrastination comes at a high cost – even more so than in the case of global warming.” The Creeping Public-Pension Debacle

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Weekly Links #14

weekly-links-14

To my great surprise I managed to avoid any articles on the car crash that is Trump this week. Though I did read a bit about Brexit, which is a car crash of the same economically marginalised, post-factual and nativist stripe. It is depressing to be already one of those nostalgic types who mourns for a time when things were less stupid.

But there are vampires so at least I’m topical.

As ever, feel free to subscribe to my blog and perhaps take a look at some of my fiction over on Amazon.

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“Britain did not become a different country on 24 June. It did not overnight get taken over by xenophobes and racists and the ignorant. Rather people, and views, that many liberals, and many within the elite, were able previously to ignore, they no longer could.” i want my country back

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“Labour and the Conservatives have always positioned themselves in accordance with the country’s social divisions: Labour for the workers, Tories for the businesspeople. The EU referendum confirmed that this logic no longer applies. Labour has largely split in two: an urban left-wing liberal middle class that voted against Brexit on the one hand and an independent worker class that was in favor of leaving the EU on the other. The Tories, meanwhile, is made up of nationally patriotic EU opponents as well as business-oriented globalists.” Searching for the True Britain

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“Experts had never seen a glacier move like Kolka before. It seemed like the icy equivalent of a pyroclastic flow of hot gas and rock that gushed out of Vesuvius and flattened Pompeii. Most incredibly of all, Kolka had achieved high speeds on a surface that was inclined an average of only six degrees above the horizontal.” When Glaciers Transform Into Deadly 150-mph Avalanches

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“Today, cooking helps us make meat easier to eat and digest, but Lieberman thinks our ancestors started eating meat long before they learned how to roast it. There’s evidence that our early ancestors—upright apes called hominins—were regularly eating meat as far back as 2.5 million years ago, but cooking doesn’t seem to become common until 500,000 years ago” How sliced meat drove human evolution

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“They found that when people were dishonest, activity in a part of the brain called the amygdala—the hub of emotional processing and arousal—changed. With each scenario, the more dishonestly the participant advised his partner, the less activated the amygdala was on the fMRI. That may be because lying triggers emotional arousal and activates the amygdala, but with each additional lie, the arousal and conflict of telling an untruth diminishes, making it easier to lie.” The Fascinating Reason Why Liars Keep On Lying

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“Discreetly nestled away on the first floor of Colchester hospital is a bedroom with a full-width forest mural on the wall, a double-bed with purple floral duvet and a rocking chair in the corner. It is a room where parents spend time with their dead baby.” The bereavement midwife: Is this the saddest job in England?

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“I have bitten my nails for as long as I remember. My fingertips are a state. These stubs won’t score frenzied red tracks down your back. They can barely feel anymore. I think I’ve eaten the very nerves, like vermin cutting through encased wire.” SKINPICKER

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“And yet, as is often the case when it comes to the web, reality is not quite that black and white. As a female football fan myself, I feel lucky that my own encounters with overt sexism online have been few and far between. What I have seen plenty of, however, are deeply knowledgeable, funny and passionate football fans — who also just happen to be women.” How the web is helping women to find their voice in football

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A New Big Bad: There have been a lot of big, bad threats in all corners of the globe on Game of Thrones for the past six seasons, but the show is now winding down, we assume, to a single major conflict. This means that while all the heroes are likely amassing and readying themselves for battle on one side (see above), the threats will likely be winnowed down to one. And, sorry to say, there’s no way a scheming Lannister is the true big boss of Game of Thrones.Rumor has it there’s a big battle coming, and Cersei will probably be on the wrong side of it. What does that mean for Jaime? We can only guess.” The Game of Thrones Endgame Is Nearer than We Thought

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“Working with the conservative estimate that vampires only need to feed once a month, Efthimiou and Gandhi looked at population stats and concluded that vampires would eliminate humans within three years. Put simply, they said, “vampires cannot exist, since their existence contradicts the existence of human beings.” (They also threw in a bit of sass: “Apparently, whomever devised the vampire legend had failed his college algebra and philosophy courses.”)” Here’s How Long it Would Take for Vampires to Annihilate Humanity

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