Britain Is England Plus Three

“We would make a great deal with the United Kingdom because they have product that we like. I mean they have a lot of great product. They make phenomenal things, you know, and you have different names – you can say England, you can say UK, you can say United Kingdom, Great Britain. I always say, “Which one do you prefer? Great Britain?”‘
‘You know Great Britain and the United Kingdom aren’t exactly the same thing?’
‘Right, yeah. You know I know.’
– The 45th president of the United States of America in conversation with a disgraced ex-editor, in a week where people fell over themselves to correct the White House’s Twitter account

So… aye. That happened.

I didn’t attend any of the protests, because I was invited to a recording of “Any Questions” on BBCR4 (long story, more on that in a future post). I’m fiercely ambivalent on the subject of Trump protests. On the one hand, I certainly agree that humourous, peaceful, but sincere protest of the sort we saw across the nations today is good for democratic expression: it’s much better flying silly balloons, hoisting funny placards, and singing comic songs than engaging in the more unpleasant, dangerous, and counter-productive type of protest. On the other hand, I’m reminded of Cyrus Stuart Ching’s response to a particularly belligerent questioner:

A man in the audience began heckling him with a long series of nasty and irrelevant questions. For a while Ching answered patiently. Finally he held up his big paw and waggled it gently.

“My friend,” he said, “I’m not going to answer any more of your questions. I hope you won’t take this personally, but I am reminded of something my old uncle told me, long ago, back on the farm. He said. ‘What’s the sense of wrestling with a pig? You both get all over muddy… and the pig likes it.’”

The current president – or, rather, the machine which placed him there – thrives on anger and outrage and dissent. The narcissist doesn’t care what you say or think about them, only that you do talk and think about them. And the UK media are talking about them a great deal, to the point they have dominated the news for days – and believe me, the irony of me talking about them too is not lost. I’m gritting my teeth as I type this.

But here’s the thing: we aren’t being given the choice to not talk about them, because our state media won’t shut up about them. Through our state broadcaster, they are invading our people’s homes, making that connection to the disaffected, the dispossessed, the disadvantaged – and making new recruits for the supranational cause they serve. We cannot simply ignore them until they go away, because too many people are pumping the great balloon with the oxygen of publicity – supporters, neutrals, and opponents alike.

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There Is No Opting Out

Whoever you are, or want to be, you may not be interested in politics, but politics is interested in you.
Marshall Berman

Ever since I started this blog, people have decided to talk politics with me. (Imagine that, eh?) Strangers who know me by my muckle black beard, friends & acquaintances who came across the blog by accident, people I haven’t known for years who ended up on the campaign trail. It’s a great conversation starter: “What did you think of First Minister’s Questions?” “Did you see that shameful display in Parliament?” “What’s that politician talking about?” “Why are the party doing this instead of this, that, th’other?” “Did you see this poll, article, website, paper, video?” Some of the best are those people – old school friends, long lost family, famous people who knew who I was – talking about their journeys, and the journeys of their friends and families. It’s incredible. Then come the weird questions: “Are you running for council?” “Why don’t you run for council?” “Do you think I should run for council?” “When did you start getting interested in politics?”

When did you start getting interested in politics. I’m always grateful and very much appreciate all these recommendations, suggestions, and anecdotes. However, it stems from a fundamental misunderstanding of exactly what I’m trying to do. I don’t love politics. I don’t even like politics. I actually hate politics – and that, paradoxically, is why I’m doing this.

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The Young Palaeontologist’s Guide to Media Scepticism: The 2018 Taxonomic Tumult

Pretty much.

Last time, I provided a small example for how bad journalism can transform “this thing is going to happen” into “the exact opposite thing is going to happen” through scientific illiteracy at best and wilful ignorance at worst. Given the tumultous nature of science, politics, and current affairs, I’m going to find these comparisons quite useful.

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Incel Outside

Last week, another “movement” born of nihilism, misanthropy, and misery has taken lives. That this is happening 100 years after a major milestone in the ongoing global struggle for universal suffrage & equal opportunities only proves that we must constantly work hard to maintain that which we’ve fought for, or risk losing it all.

I don’t particularly want to dignify the incel (Newspeak for involuntary celibacy – note the use of celibacy, a word with a very specific religious meaning, as opposed to something like abstinence or continence) “movement” by using their term for their misogynistic ideology, because it would be disrespectful to the original creator of the term to use it in its twisted definition. Nonetheless, its obvious association with Orwell & its homonymic relationship to intel imbues it with a certain ironic power.

It’s an extremely frightening phenomenon to me, because I could imagine how so many could end up falling into its trap.

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The Young Palaeontologist’s Guide to Media Scepticism: Or, How Bad Dinosaur Journalism Destroyed My Trust in the Craft

(Still not happy with the Sunday Herald after that smear against the noble Dinosauria)

For many individuals in Scotland and across the world, their scepticism of the mainstream media may have started at a number of times. For Scottish independence supporters, many started to question the media around the time of the 2014 referendum campaign; others may have started earlier, about the time of the Iraq War; still more may have questioned the popular media narrative even before that.

For me, it’s a bit more complex: my scepticism of media, particularly newspapers, started a lot earlier – and for a rather different subject – but I’ve found that the journey I undertook is strikingly applicable to any field.

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William Blain, The Comics Wizard from Gourock

Image taken from This Was The Wizard, courtesy of Down The Tubes

Eventually Willie Blain became Managing Editor of all of the Thomson line of comics, originating their girls’ comics with Bunty (1958), their boys’ adventure comics with Victor in 1961 and such famous titles as Jackie (1964). Although he rarely gets a credit, a poll of the most important figures in the history of British comics would almost certainly have to include Willie Blain in the top five.
Steve Holland

Today would have been the 115th birthday of William Blain. You may not immediately recognise the name, but many a child who grew up in Scotland in the 20th Century will be very familiar with his works.

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