Coming to you in 2022…?

[I original

[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.

Footnotes:

[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.

 

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…