Coming to you in 2022…?

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[Note: I originally wrote this on New Year’s Day 2022, though worried I might be getting a little personal here, so hesitated a little too long to publish. Nevertheless, might as well just do it…]

[Update, 21/02/2022: I’ve make some minor tweaks/edits since yesterday, to edit mistakes or to make the article read better. Please be aware this post was originally pretty stream-of-consciousness and the spelling or grammar may not be perfect.]

I will, of course, begin by wishing my readers (whoever is out there, hi!) a Happy New Year, even if, by the time this post is complete, it might be a day or two late. [Addendum: Try a couple of months late…]

It probably hasn’t escaped the notice of anyone who has actually bothered to peruse my blog archives on those rare occasions such a thing actually happens, or anyone who has seen my near constant attempts to take the “pee” out of myself, but I don’t write very frequently. What’s the point, it sometimes seems, of having a blog one rarely posts in?

Of course, it might, on the surface, make some sense if I had anything particular going on in my life to justify that, or any particular responsibilities to justify that, but really, I don’t. At the same time, there are justifiable reasons for this. In part, as I’m not always the world’s greatest or (in all situations) most confident communicator, except for those times where I seem to get into stupid arguments and/or stick my foot in it somehow. Being on the autistic spectrum, this is far from easy, as relating to supposedly “normal” people on the same wavelength as they are, and actually have myself be understood, isn’t always easy. Do I say this, or will it offend someone? Will they understand what I’m getting at? Will they be bored to tears? Can anyone understand my sometimes long-winded and convoluted style of writing? All these things I sometimes feel is true of me when I actually try interacting with other people on any more than a superficial level. And (yet?) once upon a time, I did have a bit of a history of getting into stupid arguments online. These never and well for anyone it seems. More so when you have views that might be at odds with many people, and you have difficulty fully explaining them.

So, to actually write a full blog article, get it finished, publish and hopefully not be damned, and then know I’ll come back to it in years to come and find a dozen typos, unfinished paragraphs (this happened once!) and worse, can actually be a pretty daunting prospect. Same goes for much else in my life, even though in all those cases it would be easy to do what I used to do: put it down to simple laziness. Which perhaps, it sometimes is. It’s always easier to get sidetracked by something more interesting, or less mentally and/or physically demanding, or just get lost in one’s own thoughts. But even there, habits once formed are not easily overcome.

As regards 2021, the less said the better. As you will see from my previous post, the last two years, especially in terms of what is going on in the world, are hard enough for most people to have to deal with. Perhaps I am relatively sheltered from the worst of it (should I thank whatever Gods are out there?) but trying to blog about it is still a major headache. Why some people react the way they do, in the face of events (be it coronavirus, racial issues, climate change or politics in general or anything of the other million and one things which come up from time to time) is ultimately beyond my ken. I can’t think like these people, I don’t know their circumstances, I’m no expert on some issues, so somehow it seems whatever my thoughts are on them are not worth sharing and would seem too much.

At the same time, I have had a post in the works exploring an idea I had which might seem pertinent to both the coronavirus situation and that of climate change, given last year’s hype over the UK hosting of the COP26 climate conference, which I might eventually finish and publish, though I might have to rewrite the whole thing. The original idea was that many of us, at least those of us who comprise the more comfortably off in the Western world of all but the oldest generations, have less and less had to put up with major threats or worse still, anything that would constitute an existential crisis. As such, we simply aren’t prepared for to happen and this shapes our responses. I did add in an observation I’ve hard before, that we are more evolved to deal with short term threats to our lives (for example predators, potential enemies, the immediate challenge of finding food etc.) But of course, that gets complcated by things. What about people who live in places where extreme weather events, seismic activity happens? Which obviously is not the UK, but in certain parts of, say, the United States, this is true. And what about the 2008 financial crisis? Not existential, but it certainly affected a lot of people’s livelihoods and how the economy fundamentally operates, as well as, quite probably, being partially responsible for all the divisions, mistrust and sometimes extremism in politics. So, does my idea have any merit to warrant a full post? Watch this space.

There are certain topics, though, which seem too thorny to touch, including anything to do with anti-racism (thinking particularly about George Floyd and BLM), identity politics or culture wars in general, or anything to do with revolutionary politics. Moreover, I don’t think I can be sure enough to make my mind up about some of these issues. I might want to touch on the nature of things like free speech, religious tolerance etc. in a more general sense though as opposed to in reaction to specific events, as these seem relevant enough to anyone including me. On that score, there is also the very personal matter of why, coming up to nearly 7 years ago now (how time flies!) I ended up leaving Christianity behind, which I think needs going into, somehow.

But at the same time, this was mostly meant, as I recall, to be a blog about my random thoughts on the world, not just covering the news and hot-button topics like it often ends up being, plus more filler posts like this one when I can’t think of anything to write. A couple I have been working on, on and off, are about those strange and sometimes annoying words, phrases and sayings that people use from time to time. Some of my views on these might get a little controversial, mind, so I don’t know what to include. As I said before, I worry about offending people given I have had a tendency to do it at times in the past. So I’m somewhat wary of doing it now.

Of course there is also my other blog, Tales of Lyniezia, which is meant to showcase my dabblings in creative writing. There as much as anything I have some difficulty with wanting to get many of these stories finished, even if I have a rough mental outline of how I want them to go. I’m not even sure what it is sometimes, either lack of confidence or I just give up too easily. Even if I just prefer the random stream-of-consciousness, don’t-take-this remotely-seriously travesty/farce sort of thing (like Insanity Claus, Princess Lucidity to the Rescue and the like to the somewhat more serious ones like, say, Grangefield Park or the still as yet unfinished A Not-So-Brief Encounter) I find it hard to really finish them. Even if I do, I suppose most of these will be for fun than ever meant as the basis for commercial publication. That seems to be a very difficult gig to get into and make anything out of even for those whose capability for work is much greater than mine. Who knows what the future holds, though. So hopefully, expect at least some of these stories maybe to get finished sometime over the course of this year. I don’t know what other ideas I have in store, yet.

Nevertheless, I think if I have to make any “New Year’s Resolution”, it will have to be to try and focus and overcome my fears, habits and excuses which prevent me from doing this blog and a lot else in life. It won’t be easy, but, I suppose, what is?

Another possible New Year’s Resolution pertinent to this blog is reading. In order to talk about any remotely serious topics, I think reading around the issues in order to gain a better understanding of things is always a good idea, especially since I have been accused on occasion of not understanding what I am talking about with certain issues. And in terms of fiction writing, reading other fiction (and factual works, too) to gain inspiration and perhaps pointers on how to write a good story is needful.

There are, of course, many more, but they probably aren’t relevant to this blog, and I would rather keep a few things still private!

Anyway, watch this space over the New Year. Hopefully, more posts will be on their way soon!

Welcome to The New Twenties

Now I was going to say that it must have been another year since I managed to actually get a blog post put up, but in the meantime another new year has come and, due to particularly superlative procrastination on my part, gone. Not just another year, of course, but another decade. Once upon a time it was thought that this would be a perfect time to revive the Old Twenties and all don our flapper dresses [1] and dance the Lindy Hop[2], but as someone, somewhere joked, what we actually got by way of a revival was, in fact, the stock market crash and pandemic aspects. [3] As if Australia being literally on fire and Britain being flooded out again wasn’t bad enough.

Of course the one thing that has been forgotten in the COVID-19 (coronavirus) madness is probably Brexit, which finally “got done” at the end of January, calling for some… very zealous and common-sense-challenged people to be asking if local councils were holding official celebrations despite the fact that there were (and remain) so many who were still opposed to the idea of Brexit and no doubt many more, the silent majority I’ll bet, who simply didn’t care. Following this, was to be the entry into a somewhat confusing transition period where we would technically be out of the EU but still subject to some of its rules, in order to have time for a trade deal to be hashed out. The whole thing felt like they were two sides insistent upon having all their demands met no matter what, with such irreconcilable differences unable to be overcome in a mere year and no deal inevitable. After all that some sort of vague deal managed to be hashed out with very little time for business, it seems, to really prepare, and causing all manner of problems with supplying goods, first to Northern Ireland then, it seems, Britain itself. And a skills shortage, possibly. Whatever, it doesn’t look like being the perfect thing some Brexiteers imagined it would be, but neither the total clusterf**k some zealous Remainers thought would be the case, yet.

Another thing which, whilst not having lost its prominence entirely, was somewhat less of an issue in UK politics was the resignation of Jeremy Corbyn from the Labour Party and the election of his replacement following a particularly disastrous (for the party) win for the Conservatives. It might not go without mentioning the possibilities as to why last year’s General Election went so well for the Conservatives and so badly for Labour. Whilst I will leave the analysis to those who have the ability and patience to do so, I think that Brexit, the public perception of Corbyn and his close associates (if not the man himself), and a manifesto which seemed to be an unachievable, jam-pakced wish list (even if it is not quite as bad as its detractors make out), would seem to be among the key reasons. Now I neither want to pretend that more people than I would like are so pro-Brexit to the point of thinking that the Labour Party has somehow betrayed them or democracy, and were so desparate to “get Brexit done” that they will vote in any government that can promise it but I do think more people than they would like to admit were probably just sick of the process dragging on endlessly an Parliamentary gridlock turning into a farce, when there were other issues they actually cared about. That plus the fact that some people, for any number of reasons, simply felt that the Labour Party and its representatives had lost touch with them. People who identified as working class were supposed to be who the Labour Party were supposed to represent, but seemingly, a lot of them felt it wasn’t. Perhaps these might have been older people, some of whom are still clinging to the “working class” identity out of upbringing even if they are no longer quite that, some might be doing so without paying heed to such bizarrely Marxist deliniations such as “proletariat” and “petit-bourgoisie”[4], which perhaps unsurprisingly is seen by some[5] as just the preserve of some university educated metropolitan elite or what-have-you. It could be to do with over-zealous Corbynistas and over-zealous EU-philes[6]. It could be simply that they feel that their local council or local MP doesn’t seem to be respecting their wishes. It could even go back to the Blair era. If you look at the stats, it’s quite clear that it’s not just Corbyn and not just Brexit[7]. (Not exactly as if Brown or the “wrong” Miliband were winning elections, or Blair did so without a much-reduced turnout post-1997.) Whatever it is, somehow a contingent of people seem to think the Tories, or whatever Nigel Farage is doing these days, is the lesser evil. Even if I think they’re daft, they obviously don’t.

On the other side of the Pond, US-Americans had their own polls. Given the Great Orange Swamp Monster’s performance in the current crises and the kind of person he generally is, I’m surprised people support the man at all, but it is fair to say that Biden is no great shakes either due in part to being the establishment man, some of his past record on things involving race relations, and seeming a little on the senile side. He is, ultimately, same old same old. And yes, Kamala Harris is black and a woman, which is ground-breaking in its way, but apart from that…? As a leftie I might have preferred Bernie Sanders, but then, in some respects he is the American Jeremy Corbyn. Either way, I think Biden is in, and Trump is out. That the latter was trying to resist every effort by dubious claims of fraud on the former’s part looks like an act of desperation, either to try and nudge the Electoral College in his favour or simply because it would look bad to his supporters (and his ego) to admit defeat lightly, was a ridiculous waste of time. Some of his supporters alas took that to illogical extremes, in their sick-joke storming of Congress dressed like comedy Vikings and, sadly, getting people killed. Lest I look like a Trump-hater, yes, I’m sure the man has done some good things his opponents are not prepared to admit, but then a proverbial broken clock is right twice a day, and generally a man with zero political experience who doesn’t even seem to be all that good a businessman, whose morals are if not better than a lot of career politicians at least openly awful and (as the post election fraud claims and that phone call seem to be proving) a tenuous grip on reality (which, admittedly, many people seem to have these days) is not in any way qualified to be president. But ultimately, that is for America to decide. Britain has its own political craziness to contend with.

And then there is that damned pesky virus. I don’t want to go into it more than is necessary as people are mostly sick of it by now, including myself. Suffice to say I think those people who think this whole business is a hoax, or that people should not take it seriously and follow guidelines where reasonable, are not really being sensible. I want to take it perhaps a little too seriously, like “Yes, it’s real. [8] Yes, it’s nasty. [9] Wear a damned mask (if you can). [10] Take a damned vaccine. [11] And whatever you do, stay well more than 2 metres away from me if I don’t know you.” [12] But I can get a little paranoid about the whole situation. And at the same time, the economic costs, the impact on civil liberties should not be underestimated. And the way some Western governments including my own have failed to react all that adequately and the corruption involved in procuring PPE is reprehensible. Any competant government should have at minimum been able to do what Boris and co. have done. And no, I can’t see Corbyn would have done it any worse. Moreover, there are those, suffice to day, who have reason enough to distrust the whole system, who would much rather pretend the whole thing is a hoax and the vaccine is a greater potential risk than the virus. Talking about “misinformation” or taking any approach which gives the mainstream the benefit of the doubt, and engaging in anything that so much as looks like censorship and depravation of civil liberties is, I think, only counterproductive. As is, I have learned the hard way, trying to pretend towards rational argument when you neither know enough about things or, more important, how to be sensitive to people’s particular situations, only makes things worse. Ultimately, people should be able as much as possible to make their own decisions, but certain emergency measures I am prepared to tolerate, even if they are very difficult to endure.

And then we have had racial tensions, statues coming down, the American West on fire, Siberia on fire, the climate crisis in general, Extinction Rebellion and more. Fun times. I may address Black Lives Matter or XR in a future post [13], but really tackling so many difficult topics in one post, much like everything about the 2020, is getting wearisome. I could go on. And QAnon. And on.

And now we come to 2021. We have a vaccine, a rather thin Brexit deal, no more Trump (I hope)… but more lockdowns and no quick end in sight. Oh yeah, and the whole Afghanistan clusterf**k. And seemingly everywhere else on fire. Or flooded. Or otherwise plagued by maybe-not-as-natural-as-we’d-prefer-to-think disasters.

So to cheer us all up, here’s a video of people in the 1920s dancing the Lindy Hop to round off this post. I hope the New Twenties will itself have something worth remembering.


[1] Or suitable male equivalent, whatever that is. Unlike the Old Twenties, of course, it’s probably slightly more acceptable to don a flapper dress if you are not exactly a young lady, and there’s no accounting for taste.

[2] Perhaps the Charleston might be a better pick since the Lindy Hop seems to have been more popular later, but it sounded better.

[3] Likely referring to the Spanish Flu of 1918-20 and the Great Crash of 1929, both at different ends of the decade. Seems like we’re less lucky than they were in that respect to have both coming along at once, even in spite of higher standards of living, no major wars to recover from, or prohibition, or bigotry…

[4] Which is to say, between wage labourers and the self-employed with their own businesses.

[5] Mostly, though, those on the populist and far right. But it’s easy to convince others thus.

[6] Who are not necessarily the same thing, though there may be some overlap. Tratitionally, leftists such as Corbyn were very anti-EU as being just another pro-capitalist enterprise.

[7] Though on that score, if you promise in your manifesto to “respect the result of the referendum”, and people take that to mean leaving the EU one means or another come what may, then people will take that to mean that not only can’t you be trusted, they can be forgiven for thinking you are undermining democracy itself. You probably aren’t, on account of the fact there probably isn’t all that much democracy in a meaningful sense to undermine in the first place, but I’ll address that in a future post.

[8] Which it is.

[9] Which it can be.

[10] Which is probably a good idea up to a point, but not all masks are as effective as others, it only works if you wear them properly, and the things re damn hard to breath in and unpleasant to wear.

[11] Which probably isn’t a bad idea either, but some people can have some nasty reactions and side effects.

[12] Which is probably overkill.

[13] Which means I almost certainly won’t.


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:

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.)