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For any of you wanting a reason to be in A&E; by 6am tomorrow, we proudly present: the Election Results Drinking Game!
Simply tune in to a live broadcast of your choice by 10pm tonight, and…
- Every time the Labour party wins a seat, take a sip of Aftershock.
- Every time the Tories win a seat, take a sip of Blue Curaçao.
- Every time the Lib Dems win a seat, take a sip of brandy.
- Every time the Green party wins a seat, take a sip of absinthe.
- Every time UKIP wins a seat, read their manifesto, then make and drink a Purple Rain to get over the shock.
- Every time the BNP wins a seat, emigrate.
There are 649 seats up for grabs, so good luck and try to avoid an untimely demise!
In case you aren’t aware, my political views are rather towards the Left end of the spectrum, to the extent that while I’m not sure I’d fully commit to the label ‘Socialist’, I’m certainly not far off.
I make no secret, however, of being a Liberal Democrat supporter, and indeed I’ll be voting for them on Thursday. Despite their history and nominal status as a Centre party, they are now to my eyes the Leftmost of the three main parties.
I’d like to support Labour, I really would – the problem is, I’d like to support Old Labour. And I never got the chance. I was twelve years old in 1997, when a widely-grinning pair of ears swept into power to the tune of “Things Can Only Get Better”. And things probably did get better for ‘Middle England’. For the entirety of my politically-aware life, Labour has been New Labour. To me, it has always been about courting the middle classes, about image and spin and lobbying, about unjust wars and surveillance and mediocrity, and a bunch of laws that show just how far detached Whitehall is from the world outside.
They’ve drifted so far to the Centre and, on occasion, the Right, that I just can’t bring myself to show them any kind of support. Not to mention that as the incumbent party, they offer no hope of the kind of electoral reform I would like to see.
So sorry, Labour. Maybe if two or three Cameron governments drive you back to the Left where you once belonged, we’ll meet again.
I’ve been an advocate of opening up our democracy and involving the public in government decision-making for some time, without doing anything particularly concrete about it besides placing my vote. The Digital Economy Bill fiasco showed us that, really, we’re not involved with the day-to-day workings of government at all, and born of that is this experiment.
I’d like to know what we, the people, think our government should be talking about. I’d like us ordinary people to submit our ideas, vote on other people’s ideas, and come up with some idea of what we really care about. And so here we are:
This is all very experimental at the moment – please sign up, post ideas, vote on other people’s ideas, and if it proves popular I’ll take it on as a permanent project. Let’s do this!
Tomorrow is St George’s Day, a day of… frankly nothing, in honour of England’s dubious patron saint. Whereas St Andrew’s Day is at least a holiday for the Scots, and the Irish St Patrick’s Day has been exported all over the world as a celebration of stout and silly hats, we’ve kept ours to ourselves, down-played it, almost as if we’re embarrassed by it.
I can see why, though – celebrating English national identity has a stigma attached to it that few others have.
I can’t say that I love my country. The food’s tolerable, the weather’s pretty shite, I live here and I pay taxes here and I vote here. I care about its future. But that’s as far as it goes; I can’t say I’m proud of it. To shamelessly wheel out a quote by someone far more eloquent than I:
“Patriotism is the belief your country is superior to all other countries because you were born in it.” – George Bernard Shaw
Regardless of my own lack of patriotism and hence how little meaning the St George’s Cross has to me, I feel that it’s drifting in its symbolism toward unpleasantness. It’s starting to mean “football hooligan”, even “skinhead” and “racist”. It seems like it’s becoming something that we ought to be ashamed of.
Do people of foreign countries see the English flag that way, or is it a uniquely English idea of what our own flag represents? Or, for that matter, am I alone in my negative stereotyping and ought I to correct it immediately?
You will need:
- A block of metal with holes in (burring optional but entirely reccommended)
- About 3 gallons of thermal paste
- Rubber bands
Simply affix to your hot components as shown in the figure, and pretend you’re doing Proper Engineering!
The morning began with a blaze of contrails across the sky, traces of the early flights to far-off lands. With them came a sense that pent-up tension is being slowly released into the atmosphere, this time the tension of humanity and holidays and business, rather than that of rock and magma squeezed upwards by tectonic plates.
Was the flight ban necessary? Maybe. Will the combined forces of politics and profits drag out the inevitable inquiry more than it ought to be? Very likely. And with more than 150,000 Britons estimated to still be waiting for a flight back home, it will take a Herculean effort by governments and airlines to get this mess sorted out.
Chantelle is right to bemoan how quickly our polluting ways resumed – here’s the infographic of the moment – but could it have gone any other way? For all the poets’ visions of a future free of air travel, it’s not something we’re ever going to see. Rather, I think it’s a great testament to how well our species is doing that one of nature’s most destructive forces, that in ancient times could have decimated populations and been regarded in fear as the wrath of the gods, is to us a minor inconvenience to fill the news for a few days before being forgotten amidst a cloud of condensing water vapour and normal service resumed.
EDIT: Did I just unwittingly name _three Final Fantasy characters in the title of this post? Goddamnit, Squeenix._
Here’s a question for the interwebs that the combined mental might of our car-pool couldn’t answer this afternoon: Why the heck is Che Guevara cool?
I get why he’s cool now – his silhouetted face has become a cultural icon, worn on t-shirts of people who don’t even know who he was, and that recognisability creates ‘cool’ just as brand names do.
But why did it happen in the first place? Who first created that image and sold it, made it popular? It’s pretty much the equivalent of college kids 50 years from now wearing Osama bin Laden t-shirts, and from this decade’s point of view that seems a pretty strange idea.
Why Guevara specifically? Are Lenin and Trotsky too old, is Franco too right-wing, is Pol Pot too controversial? Why does he get his crimes erased from the public consciousness so much more easily than other revolutionary leaders?
It’s always confused me a little how, in most take-away pizza joints, the smallest size is ‘Medium’. Surely, by definition, it is not? Maybe it’s some sort of cultural adversity to buying a ‘small’ anything, but then surely they would call the smallest one ‘small’ to coerce people into buying larger and more expensive pizzas?
Anyway, the most impressive taking of the biscuit belongs to Charmin toilet paper – now called Cushelle, presumably as a stealth marketing effort once chavs start naming their daughters after it. The available pack sizes are XL and XXL. Nary a Large in sight. But why, you ask? The reason is obvious, if you merely horrifically misapply mathematics.
My first assumption is that their pack sizes increase exponentially, as with volume of pizza. So if XXL is 12 rolls, and XL is 8 rolls, L would be… 5.333 – clearly that’s not the way it works.
So we must assume an arithmetic progression, giving that the missing Large size would be 4 rolls, the Medium 0 rolls, and the Small –4 rolls.
Suddenly, it all starts to make sense. There is no Small size of Charmin toilet paper packs simply because they can’t afford to pay their staff to come to your house and steal four rolls of toilet paper every time you buy a Small pack.
The strange thing about all of this is that I’m sober. Perhaps it’s time to rectify this anomaly?
There’s little greater testament to the incredible pace of technological progress than the rate at which books set in the present day become dated.
Science Fiction, stories set in the far-flung future of interstellar colonisation, faster-than-light travel and so on, never seem to date unless they dare set themselves a date not far enough away – the events of “2001” clearly haven’t happened, but the technology is still somewhere distant on the roadmap of human achievement. We still feel like we’re going to get there someday.
Near-future dystopias, cyberpunk, they date much more easily. Maybe, back in the Eighties, it did seem like the future was in virtual reality, cyberspace as an immersive 3D world of glittering corporate data-spires, jacked straight into your central nervous system. But thirty years on, we have the internet and we watched VR be born and die. We know that world is not quite where we ended up.
But the present-day equivalent stories – I’m told these are “techno-thrillers”, despite my initial impression that that was some kind of Michael Jackson bastardisation – seem to date immeasurably quickly.
I’m currently reading “Spook Country” by William Gibson. It was written less than three years ago, and heavily involves the technology that was contemporary then. And by god, it feels old now. The first chapter refers to a PowerBook, and immediately the point in history the book occupies is precisely dated. There are clamshell phones with separate GPS receivers wired in; this book hit the shelves scarcely a few months before the iPhone came out, and three years later damn near everyone’s toting a smartphone with a GPS. Overlaying virtual objects on real space is edgy in their world, it’s new, it’s art. In our world, we got bored of Layar months ago. Cell-tower triangulation is advanced tech there. In 2010, I don’t know of a location-aware phone that can’t do that.
So unrelenting is the pace of technological change that what was cutting-edge three years ago is now jarringly antiquated.
In light of the passing of the Digital Economy Bill, and Ben Bradshaw’s intent to push for government power to force ISPs to block sites that are “likely” to be used for copyright infringement, the government could in a few months’ time demand that ISPs block access to the likes of Wikileaks, The Pirate Bay and Rapidshare, all sites that have perfectly legal uses. And I’m sure it can’t be long before the government and the IWF together have a go at 4chan.
A few questions for any internet lawyer-types out there:
Is it legal for a UK citizen to set up and maintain a private, secure proxy server in another country?
If ISPs in the UK are instructed to block a site, is it legal or illegal for a UK citizen to access that site via an overseas proxy?
If it is illegal, would the fact that the Briton runs and uses an overseas proxy ‘reasonable cause’ for them to be investigated in any way?
Would the server admin be legally obliged to keep logs for the proxy server in case such an investigation took place? (And does this depend on UK law or the law of the country where the server is located?)
Can a court or police warrant require the server admin to disclose passwords, encryption keys or logs?
For reference, I’m merely interested in the answers to these questions – I’m not necessarily considering doing this, particularly not if it does turn out to be illegal.