Sunday, 20 April 2014

The Fourth Phase of Water



I've come across exclusion zones in water before. It's a fascinating subject, highlighting the subtle and complex properties of this apparently simple compound.

A Citroën by any other name...

When the Derbyshire Times does a puff piece for Citroën , spelling the name correctly would be a fine place to start.


Saturday, 19 April 2014

Conservative

Political language is weird.

For example, what on earth is a “conservative” supposed to be? From Wikipedia we have this as a broad definition.

Conservatism as a political and social philosophy promotes retaining traditional social institutions. A person who follows the philosophies of conservatism is referred to as a traditionalist or conservative.

Some conservatives seek to preserve things as they are, emphasizing stability and continuity, while others, called reactionaries, oppose modernism and seek a return to "the way things were"


Fair enough, but almost all of us are deeply conservative in one way or another. Some who do not count themselves as conservative appear to have extremely conservative ideals. Their means may not be conservative but their ends most certainly are.

I'm thinking of that fake middle-class radicalism which aims to overturn certain social structures as a means to an end, the end being an unchanging micro-managed utopia where nothing changes ever again. 

For instance, the belief that we must do something to avert catastrophic climate change has to be the most pathologically conservative notion ever dredged up from the murky depths of the human psyche. Even the climate must be managed and subject to legal restraint. An obviously bonkers aspiration, yet I’m sure the whole crazy mess is seen as radical by its ultra-conservative proponents.

Climate mitigation is radical, but only in a profoundly conservative sense where the end result is UN-controlled energy policies across the entire globe. I suppose one could call that radical in its means, but fanatically conservative in its desired ends.

On the other hand, some of those who claim to be conservatives often seem intent on conserving their privileges at the expense of the rest of us. I'm thinking of wealthy conservatives, so nothing new there.

Yet further down the social scale we find de facto conservatives filling the ranks of both the traditional left and right. Political colours seem to make little difference. The means vary but the ends are profoundly conservative.

It's no surprise of course. Many of us have some degree of financial security in which we have invested or intend to invest a huge chunk of our working lives. Naturally we want to conserve what we already have, including our expectations. 

So the controlling classes invent an endless stream of scare stories to maintain a permanent sense of unease in the bowels of those of us without the security of wealth.

They are happy for us to remain deeply and irredeemably conservative and for our radicalism to be even more conservative. The political brand we favour, the cross we make in the ballot box, none of that matters to them.  

Modern political games are bankrolled by conservatism - ours.

Google humour


I haven't seen this example of Google humour before. Does it always appear?

Friday, 18 April 2014

The Bureau of Sabotage

From Wikipedia

As older science fiction readers will know, the Bureau of Sabotage was a fictional government entity invented by science fiction writer Frank Herbert. It came into being as a means of slowing down the pace of government lawmaking, allowing people time to reflect on what was being enacted. 

From Wikipedia

In Herbert's fiction, sometime in the far future, government becomes terrifyingly efficient. Red tape no longer exists: laws are conceived of, passed, funded, and executed within hours, rather than months. The bureaucratic machinery becomes a juggernaut, rolling over human concerns and welfare with terrible speed, jerking the universe of sentients one way, then another, threatening to destroy everything in a fit of spastic reactions.

Founded by the mysterious "Five Ears" of unknown species, BuSab began as a terrorist organization whose sole purpose was to frustrate the workings of government in order to give sentients a chance to reflect upon changes and deal with them. 

First a corps, then a bureau, BuSab gained legally recognized powers to interfere in the workings of any world, of any species, of any government or corporation, answerable only to themselves. Their motto is, "In Lieu of Red Tape."

Threatening to destroy everything in a fit of spastic reactions?

Hmm...

Thursday, 17 April 2014

Class war


Maybe we need a new definition of class if we are to have a proper class war. Political class rather than social class. Social class has become outmoded and confusing, which may be deliberate but that’s another story.

So maybe we should keep things simple and begin with the political upper class and the political lower class.

Upper class denotes the franchised, those who vote directly or exercise direct influence on matters of policy, lawmaking, regulation etc.

Lower class denotes the disenfranchised, those who are allowed to vote at elections, but exercise no direct or even indirect influence on matters of policy, lawmaking, regulation etc.

The two classes may as well include everyone. Highly artificial I know, but these are inclusive times and anyway ideas are merely tools, not laws of physics. So a doctor and an unemployed layabout may be in a different social class, but politically they are both lower class.

The class war still feels real enough but has become bogged down by the middle class mess we still tend to refer to as politics. The old narratives have been kept on because the upper class finds them politically useful, not because they are still relevant.

Who is lower class in this new political dichotomy, apart from doctors and unemployed layabouts? Well I certainly am and so are you because members of the upper class do not read blogs. Not mine anyhow.

Who is upper class? It’s a varied and diffuse mix from senior EU and UN bureaucrats, senior celebrities, senior executives of global companies and so on. Even Dave, Nick and Ed are upper class, although they only just make it and that may change. The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge are lower class of course - and destined to remain so.

Names eh? Good ones are never around when you need them.

Beautiful woman

And yet a spirit still and bright
Walked the length of our street,
A golden, shining, superior type
Of person with whom to meet

I crossed the road, nodded to her,
Gave a friendly little smile,
But she scarcely noted my overture,
Made me feel quite small for a while

I saw her again on Thursday night
As EastEnders neared its close,
So I knew she wasn't a TV fan,
More cultured I supposed.

What was her name I asked myself,
Was it cool romantic and rare?
A golden name of soft delight
A name to go with her hair?

I later heard she was Kylie Brown
From a street just off Park Road,
She had two kids by a married man
Whose name was Barry Snoad.

What's in a name, I mused when I knew,
And a couple of kids on the side?
What's inside matters far more,
Such as warmth and beauty and pride.

But Barry Snoad was a bit of a prat,
So what did that make Kylie Brown?
I simply had to talk to her,
I’d begun to feel let down.

One evening as darkness began to fall
I stopped her in the street,
To ask what kind of life she led
But she turned as white as a sheet

"Piss off" was all I heard her say
As she ran off in a bit of a lather.
After that she changed her route,
So what did she see in old Bazza?