A minor update

Please note all fiction, with the exception of part 1 of “A Not-So-Brief Encounter” are now removed fro mthis blog and can be found on the Tales of Lyniezia blog.

The Comments Policy has also been updated- plesse read before commenting. I hope I haven’t offended too many people in what is allowed.

Further substantial new content on this blog should (finally!) be coming before year’s end. Whatever it ends up being.

New blog announcement: Tales of Lyniezia

I’ve begun creating a new blog to house all of my in-progress short stories. The reasoning behind this is quite simple: it was not really my intention for this blog to be a fiction blog, but rather as a place to share my thoughts, ideas, and general frustrations with the world in such a way that some people might just bother to read about them. Though it would still take a lot more work in turning this blog from an occasional commentary on myself and the world as I see it into something that has a coherent purpose with a definable ‘Unique Selling Point’, it makes sense for it to have some coherent purpose. The easiest way of doing this would be to have a separate blog to house the fiction, for people who are specifically interested in that, and keep this blog for nonfictional articles.

At the time of writing this is just a barebones site with no theme or design flair to it as such; I’ll have to work on what might make it look good and as yet distinct from the main blog. As of yet, I will need to take some advice on ways in which I might possibly do this and welcome any suggestions in the comments below.

Why “Tales of Lyniezia”, you might ask, when not all of them relate to some version of the fictional Lyniezia? To be fair it is, in part, simply to have a snappy name that can easily be remembered.  (“Tales of Lyniezia and Other Stories”, although it might chime in well with my usual tendency towards archaisms, would just sound too long!) In other ways, it’s to link back to this blog, which is metaphorically the “Republic of Lyniezia”, and to demonstrate that it serves as a counterpart to this site.

You will find, alongside the materials published on this blog to date (including a slightly tweaked version of the first two parts of ‘A Not-So-Brief Encounter’) a new story, a silly, humorous and somewhat thrown-together attempt at referencing my other hobby of playing Dungeons and Dragons, entitled ‘Not Quite a Treasure Chest‘.

(As an aside, this site will be undergoing a few tweaks as well, for one to get rid of all the useless filler nonsense that really has no place on this blog anymore, and only served as a way to pretend I was doing something to keep the blog going. I really need to focus on self-improvement and managing my condition to the point where I can pass for a useful productive member of society, not try to make myself into the pathetic loser who loves to snark at himself but does nothing about overcoming his weaknesses. Eventually, I will consider removing the existing fictional content from the site once I have fixed the links on TV Tropes and elsewhere.)

So, ladies, gentlemen and other esteemed members of the human race, I present to you: Tales of Lyniezia!

So, another new year…

…and I have come to the conclusion the only new year’s resolution worth making is not to make any new year’s resolutons as you’ll always break them.

Meanwhile Brexit just gets sillier and siller as “no deal” seems to look ever more an inevitability since noone can agree on anything and no-one is willing to really back down, and somehow just to keep the ports running smoothly requires reopening old ports to completely unproven startups with very little capital and basically no ships, all of which has to turn around in 3 months.

And I have just nicknamed myself “Mr. Half-Done” as, well, basically anything I try and do – like, as you will have noticed, most of my stories and, as you will not have noticed, all the blog posts I want to write and very quickly give up on. If this was simply about blogging for one’s own amusement it might well be worth something, but when it permeates so many other aspects of life, one has perhaps to worry.

Perhaps a belated resolution I can make is to get as many tasks (and other things) as possible that are only half done, all done.

Meanwhile, last night’s Doctor Who episode seems to have overlooked the fact of a half done Dalek body. It was a goodish story, to be sure, if the slow dramatic bits of Ryan and his estranged father were not so much at odds with the fast paced hunting down of the Dalek, which had assumed a host body. The resulting Dalek body looked suitably cobbled together, but why does the series seem to assume that any suitably equipped workshop can churn out advanced alien technology like the Doctor herself did wit her sonic screwdriver back in the first episode?

I could critique the whole series but that would have to require something longer than a hastily cobbled together “useless filler” post, and would probably only end up languishing around in the drafts “tray” half done. (Don’t get me started on the PC-gone-mad reactionary haters who seemed to have decided in advance that this series was awful and was going to fail, but don’t get me started on “Kerblam!” either. It could have been a good episode and I know many like it but the “twist” completely ruined the point of the satire.)

So, the question is, where do I go from here? I have plenty more stories to upload, but feel perhaps I should move them to a separate blog as that wasn’t really the point of this one. “Tales of Lyniezia” perhaps? Also want to write a longer post on the frustratingly stupid nature of Brexit, finish a post on seemingly stupid words and phrases I had started and might even consider starting a whole series entitled “Things I Don’t Get: An A-Z.” Watch this space and see if they get all done.

A Not-So-Brief Encounter, part 1 (work-in-progress version)

[Author’s note, updated 26th November 2020: This is an old version of the story kept here purely for anyone who might have found their way here from Quora. For a more up-to-date version of the (still-incomplete!) story see the Tales of Lyniezia blog, here.]

Part 1: Laura

The wind whipped and howled along the station platform. Laura stood patiently while the tannoy announced the 18:45 train to Menaasa was running late. Another twenty minutes, she thought. Damn it all! Did these people even think of the ordinary passenger before they decided to call a strike? Well, of course not, she reminded herself, not when services and moreover their jobs are on the line, but when you’re cold and tired, when your hair has been so messed up by the wind that even your usual industrial strength hairspray couldnt hold it in place, when you’d promised to meet your sister at the other end by eight to have time for a drink and catch-up before the taverns shut for the night, any lingering feelings of solidarity are swept away much like the tattered pages of the Neyoven Dajaren newspaper currently sailing past her. And knowing her luck, if twenty minutes became thirty or forty or an hour, so would the eroding remnants of her patience. She pulled her coat tight around her body in a vain effort to stay warm, trying at the same time to stop her skirt flapping around too much in the wind, wondering if the station teemaanten was still open – if it had been at all today – for a warming mug of tea and maybe something to eat. She hadn’t eaten at all since midday, and had been too busy with clients to have a proper sit-down lunch. But nowhere served food this late, aside maybe from the pancake shops catering to those too busy or lazy to make themselves supper on a Friday night before going out to the disco or whatever they were calling them these days, and there was no way shed miss the train trying to find one. She sighed mournfully. Twenty-nine and she already felt the world was passing her by. Everything was changing, in Lyniezia, in the world. Like never in the past would she have known the trains not to run more than five minutes late, even during the strikes of the ’70s. They might not run at all, but at least if they did they’d be on time. Damn, damn, damn!

So caught up was Laura in the frustration of the moment she might barely have noticed the familiar-faced man, guitar case slung over one shoulder, heavy suitcase in his hands, making his way to sit down on the otherwise-deserted platform opposite. He put the suitcase on the floor, carefully placed the guitar case on the nearby seat trying to make sure it didnt blow over, and pulled on a pair of headphones which he clutched tightly to his ears with one hand as he fumbled for the play button on his fancy Japanese personal stereo. No mistaking him, then it was definitely Michael – but he had barely glanced at her and failed to make the connection. She thought perhaps she should wave across and try to get his attention, but a nagging feeling of uncertainty prevented her. It had been ten years since they were last together, when he’d dropped out of college to focus on his music career whilst she’d wanted to press ahead, hoping for a proper job and kids and a settled life he couldn’t give her. It had been hard for both of them to accept, and it seemed neither of them had quite got over it. Certainly not him, since he’d written the song Laura, filled with much longing and regretfulness, about her as little as five years ago on the fatefully titled album Who Needs Synthesizers? (It had turned out he did, if he wanted a career in popular music these days, and the record company had unceremoniously dropped him- but that was another story in itself.) She still had that record in her collection; she had collected them all. Nevertheless, it was worth a try to get his attention, and she could at least do with a bit of company whilst waiting for the train that might never come. Working up the courage, she waved maniacally at him and shouted his name- but he failed to notice, being too engrossed in his music as always, and trying to keep the sound of the wind from interfering with it, or trying to stop his precious guitar from falling over on the seat. She could barely contain her frustration at this complete lack of interest. Maybe, she reminded herself, he simply doesn’t recognize me after all this time, especially given how her look had changed from that of messy rock chick to the sophisticated, if suitably professional, modista she was trying to be. But that, likewise, seemed hard to believe: they had known each other since middle school, and she had changed far more in that time than in adult life. Or perhaps he was trying to pretend he hadnt noticed her to avoid any complications. Undeterred by any of these thoughts, there was only one thing for it: cross the footbridge to the other side of the tracks and go right up to him. A slightly daunting prospect given the high winds and the fact she still wasnt entirely steady on her feet in high heels, something the kirtle-and-hose brigade in her mothers generation would have said I told you so to, but she would not be deterred. There was no way she was going unnoticed by him, though there be the devil to pay for it.

At that point, the station tannoy piped up to announce that the 18:45 to Menaasa would be delayed indefinitely due to a disturbance on the line, and corresponding services in the opposite direction would be likewise delayed. Damned protestors, no doubt, she thought. There goes the weekend.

 

On the Thirteenth Doctor and sundry other matters

So, it’s been the better part of a year since I posted anything really. Not entirely for want of something to post about. I’ve had several ideas on the back burner for some time, including something on my ideas of religious tolerance, whether or not the idea of things like “democracy” in practice is little more than a myth, those annoying words and phrases which seem to make little sense, or even my frustrations over Remembrance Day and other attempts to commemorate the past, which really I think needs to wait until the Silly Season* rolls around again.

And then there was, of course, this, which is old news by now:

Now, I might almost be forgiven for thinking that I was the only male person who actually thought this was a good idea, given the in fact small but very vocal minority who were opposed to the idea of a time-travelling alien who can regenerate into a completely different form as a way of cheating death, happening to change form into something which wasn’t a white male humanoid with a stereotypically British accent**. Granted, some of these complaints were legitimate, like perhaps the one that there are very few male protagonists of adventure-type stories that aren’t the gun-toting action hero that blows away enemies with a snarky one-liner, and instead uses nothing more than his wits and a highly-evolved space-age DIY tool. And granted, if you’re an older viewer who can’t quite get used to the idea that a hitherto male main character is now suddenly female… well, you don’t have to watch. It’s a free country. Just don’t ruin the show for the rest of us.  I mean, do we really need all of this:

“The Doctor is a MAN and will always be a man! This is political correctness gone mad, shameful pandering to all the feminists and SJWs! I thought this was Doctor Who, not Nurse Who! How will she drive the TARDIS? What next, a female James Bond? A male Wonder Woman? This is the end of the show for me, RIP Doctor Who (1963-2017)!”

There’s war in Syria and Yemen in which innocent civilians are in the line of fire. There’s the Rohingya being ethnically cleansed from Myanmar, whilst the great and wonderful Aung San Suu Kyi plays it down. Multiple terrorist attacks, more people than several terrorist attacks put together dying in the Grenfell Tower fire due simply to gross negligence that was pointed out many times over the years and the concerns of residents ignored. We risk political and economic instability over a bad Brexit deal, and to cap it all, we are slowly killing the planet (so to speak). And yet casting a woman in a TV show is somehow even remotely an issue?

I’ll sum up my feelings on that matter with Sixth Doctor actor Colin Baker’s pronouncement, repurposing some old lines:

So there.

Meanwhile… well let’s just say there have been other changes in my life activities and means of support, which will require some re-prioritising with what I will do with my life. Let me just say that has lead me to having more free time and lesser obligations than I might have had before, and makes me wonder yet again just what is wrong with me if I am even that bad. And that includes where I take this blog. Can I somehow use this writing as some kind of purpose, or is it just going to stay the odd long-winded and pointless rant once in a blue moon? Can I make anything of it? Who knows? What do I even do with this blog, and am I capable? Do I use it to offer insights into the news, issues and other sundry things on which I have an opinion? Do I continue writing fiction, particularly the Jenny Everywhere snippet I put out a while back? Do I review more vintage anime? Do I need to focus on one thing or the other to be successful? Do I, in order to promote it, have to join up to that invention of the dark lord that is Satan himself, that is named for bird noises? Time will tell. Watch this space.

* By which, for those who haven’t read the rest of my blog, I mean the period roughly between Hallowe’en, Bonfire Night and Christmas. I guess there will be people who will be offended to see Remembrance Day lumped in with that lot and that description in the way I might do, and whilst that’s not entirely my intention, I sometimes wonder about the attitudes that surround it.

** Instead of… well, a white female humanoid with a slightly less than stereotypical British accents. As one of the Doctor’s previous incarnations noted, lots of planets have a North (and don’t you forget it!) but otherwise, hardly one giant leap for diversity…

Thoughts on the Manchester terror attacks

This will not be much. Thing is I have not really reacted to it up until now, as my mental “wiring” makes it rather difficult for me to form any kind of emotional response to events that aren’t happening right in front of me, and at the same time make it seem dishonest to try and feign one. Of course, I would like to hope that anyone I know in or around that area is safe. I offer my condolences to those who have suffered losing someone close to them in this attack. I can but imagine what it must be like to go out hoping for an enjoyable evening you were looking forward to for some time, only to have to be caught up in such a horrific incident. I might like to point out that, on the plus side from what I have heard, there have been some great positive examples of humanity being shown in people willing to go out of their way to help others. Including, lest anyone be prejudiced, from Muslims. This is certainly heartening

My main concern, as with any such attack, is the fall-out from all this. From the usual responses of hate or fear-mongering from the far right and professional shit-spewers like Katie Hopkins and the “final solution” tweet, and the anti-Muslim backlash that might result (it seems only hours after someone attempted to set fire to a mosque in Oldham, though of course whether it was connected, I dare not speculate). Or of the necessity of having the army drawn in to accompany armed police officers in patrolling key sites (perhaps slippery slope thinking this is one more step down the road to martial law). Or whether, with campaigning for the General Election rightly temporarily suspended, the Tories might try and gain capital from this the way the Thatcher government gained from the Falklands, in being seen to deal with this issue? (Never mind the possibility that cuts to police and security services in the regular sense upped the risk of this in the first place, and thus likely quelling any thoughts of the slippery slope nature). Is my saying this trying to make political capital out of the deaths of people? Perhaps, however at the same time do we pretend the aims of the bombers themselves are not political? That the inevitable fascist and far-right backlash is not political? That there are bound to be some people bringing up past associations with groups branded terrorist (rightly or wrongly is beyond the scope of this article and I dare offer no argument either way besides) to attack Corbyn and McDonnell with? That the nature of the government response is not in some way a political matter, subject to political scrutiny? Yes, there needs to be time to mourn, and time taken for the government to put in place some kind of emergency response, but as some people have said, it is almost like we are letting the terrorists get away with disrupting our democratic processes. 

In conclusion, yes, it is right to mourn. Fear and anger, moreover, are perfectly natural, understandable responses for those affected. But there is no reason to let go of what our true values are supposed to be, let the powers that be trample on our civil rights, or give in to misdirected hate or blame. And it is no reason for the rest of us to live in the abject fear some might suppose we should.

Registering to vote? (UK general elections 2017)

I am wondering, especially at this late stage, if it is worth asking people to register to vote. I always have in the back of my mind, for example, the anarchist types who don’t really agree with the state, think voting is a waste of time, and think direct action will do more good (if at all). I can sympathise with those people. In a way I can sympathise with those people who find the whole thing terribly confusing, or are sick of the whole thing, but…

At the same time, it still seems important to have some influence in the way the government is pushing things. Not just Brexit. Whether we want to see most of our major institutions and public services privatised or shut down. Whether we want a system which is fundamentally set up for rich capitalists, depriving those at the bottom of a decent life (or any life) or everyone. Whether we want a government which, in the nicest possible language, seeks to control the internet and undermine some of our civil liberties… maybe. And so on.

Much is made of the younger generations being the least likely to want to vote and there is a big push by some to get them to do so. This isn’t entirely a bad idea, as it means governments care more about the people whom they can win votes off. So, you get the triple lock on pensions but 18-21 year olds can’t get housing benefit, and tuition fees are sky-high. For example.

So, I’m not going to tell you you must register to vote, but I will say this- take an interest in how things are run, and be willing to make a change if you can. Don’t just fall back on the old excuses of “it’s not worth it, it’s too confusing”- just take some time to research. Read the manifestoes. Go to a local hustings event. Don’t necessarily follow the news, as it can be biased, but it is probably better than watching stupid crap that clogs up the airwaves and bandwidth elsewhere. Or read up on alternative ideas of politics.

And if you are going to register to vote- do it soon, as you only have until midnight. You  can do it here:

https://www.gov.uk/register-to-vote

The Black Dwarf

Trying to mentally search for a suitable derogatory epithet for that disgusting so-called newspaper The Sun, similar to “The Daily Fail” for the Daily Mail, I had to settle on “The Black Dwarf”- being the fizzled-out remnants of a dead sun. Whilst this doesn’t make an awful lot of sense at first, looking at it’s history, it makes perfect sense- it is the fizzled-out remains of a dead newspaper, no longer worthy of the name when it’s primary function seems to be a mix of tits, celebrity gossip and calculated faux-outrage.

(Of course, given that it still continues to output some radiation with unerring regularity perhaps I should call it “The Pulsar”- for reasons which will be familiar to people with a knowledge of astronomy. But that wouldn’t really have the impact I’m looking for.)

Media claptrap?

Now, it’s easy to treat the mainstream media or some sections of it as some kind of whipping boy. Those on both sides who like to accuse the BBC of bias, to those on the left who like to go on about the demonizing antics of the Daily Fail Daily Mail or The Sun whilst those on the right do exactly the same with The Guardian. Or the more conspiracy minded types- or at least those who have no truck with the ruling establishment – who consider that the entire mainstream media are not to be trusted at all and prefer some alternative media source, however biased and full of “fake news”. After all, it can be pointed out that often the regular media has not been above reporting “fake news” in the past itself. (But it is not as if alternative media on t’internet is automatically more trustworthy. There is no such thing as a totally unbiased, trustworthy source- or nothing we can be 100% sure is.) Now, much as in the past I’ve liked the BBC, I myself have a long tradition of shouting at the radio with regularity every morning, over some line it wants to push, or the antics of interviewers wanting to push from interviewees the line they want (though politicians are often all too keen to make a speech).

There are a couple of things that have drawn my attention of late in the British news media, relating to certain things within government that are legally impossible. One: that the sitting Prime Minister, currently Theresa May, has the power still to call an early General Election. Ignoring quite clearly a little thing called the Fixed Term Parliaments Act 2011, which quite clearly aimed to put a stop to that and requiring a motion, passed by a two-thirds majority in the House of Commons for this to happen, otherwise Parliament would sit for a period of 5 years. The other, similar thing is that Scottish First Minister Nichola Sturgeon is capable of threatening us with another Scots independence referendum at the time this country (Britain as a whole) needs it the least, in the vain hope the EU will let them back in with open arms. But, of course, she cannot do this without approval from Westminster, and before Brexit is concluded, Mrs. May is firmly opposed to any such undertaking. (Occasionally Tories are not without sense.)

I wonder what to make of Lansman and Momentum [left-wing Labour Party affiliated movement formed in the wake of Jeremy Corbyn’s appontment as leader] trying to get endorsement from Unite and take over the Labour Party, (Certainly some on the left do not like Lansman and ilk who they feel have launched a coup within Momentum, but that is beside the point). Look at the way the media are treating it as a “secret plot”- all the more to sensationalise it and possibly demonise those on the radical left. Or there are those who try and point out that the media- even the Guardian- are out to get Corbyn. Certainly they seem to be distorting facts about even when he is competent, but it seems a lot is left to be desired even then. Yet it is worth pointing out that any organ of the establishment and capitalism is not exactly going to give too much real space to anything that looks like socialism. Too much of a threat, I suspect.

Those who seem more conservative or nationalist leaning also seem to suppose that within the media there is some kind of “liberal elite”, affiliated with Europe to such an extent that they are out to derail Brexit by all counts. Maybe so. But then maybe the blogosphere is quite capable of producing its own twaddle. I’ll deal with that another time.

And then we have the narratives surrounding right wing populism in general. Particularly with Trump. Is this the reaction of a disaffected white working class? Perhaps there is some truth in this. Well, with Trump, I’ve heard allegation that those on lower incomes (perhaps however disproportionately from ethnic minorities) tended to vote Clinton, and not forgetting this was hardly a democratic result given Clinton actually won the popular vote.

Of course with Trump, too, they obsess over his tweets, his antics, his personality flaws, and whether or not the Russians hacked the election as to his actla policies- in other words, what matters.

Back here, it gets me how so much attention is paid when it comes to things like Brexit on what I would consider disgraced political has-been like Tony Blair (less respectable elder statesman, more potential war criminal and in hindsight less saviour than real destroyer of Labour?) The establishment looks like it will prop up those in its own club.

And don’t get me started on the way the news media seems to give so much space to celebrity related stories, the royal family, the ongoing doping and other corruption scandals within the world of sport, and indeed sport in general. These things are peripheral to the real issues facing the world at present, some of which are completely ignored.

And how the terrorist threat seems to be magnified beyond all proportion, when cars probably kill far more people than terrorists. And as for state actors, their stupid wars, mismangement, public service cuts…

Of course many today decry the internet age, the financial unviability of news media, and how it means the death of good quality journalism in favour of talentless hacks. But even as a kid I recall hearing how journalists- and let’s not forget politicians- were among the less trusted professions even back in the ’90s, as far as the popular imagination is concerned. There has long been the fact of advertising pressure on commercial media, the clear division of  bias in most of the British press, and state powers leaning on the lot – including the supposedly unbiased public service BBC.

Whatever media one chooses to trust, we must always critically evaluate, fact check, and question whether there truly is such thing as an unbiased source. Ever.

Well, this post has been something of a stream of consciousness semi-rant, and more to do with politics again. But ne’er mind. Maybe one day I will add some variety to this blog again. But first, I must post something.