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Mechanical Mirrors

Little fluffy clouds. Greenland just lost a trillion tons of ice. Sections of the Great Barrier Reef are suffering “complete ecosystem collapse”. Planned obsolescence is coming to LED bulbs. For the cost of an iPhone, you can now buy a wind turbine that can power an entire house for lifetime.

The rise of Theresa May and the decline of British politics. Brexit minister David Davis seems to think the Republic of Ireland is part of the UK. UK scientists speak about Brexit pain. The UK economy is shrinking at its fastest rate since 2009. If only everyone in Britain had watched this before the referendum.

The haters and losers who drove Donald Trump to the nomination. Hillary Clinton is running against Vladimir Putin. Trump’s convention speech rings terrifying historical alarm bells.

The nationalism that’s been unleashed in Turkey. 15,000 education workers purged. We cannot ignore the purge that is now under way.

The man who killed TTIP.

Daniel Rozin’s mechanical mirrors.

24 July 2016 · Comment · Weblog

The Unspeakable Underwaist

One of the best pieces on Hillary Clinton I’ve read in 24 years of reading about her.

Researching video games puts academics at risk.

How studying Shakespeare helped shape Germaine Greer’s masterpiece.

The unexpected effects of masking gender in technical interviews.

An impressive Somme tribute.

All mangroves must die.

Famous landmarks photographed from the wrong direction.

Lost animations.

ClickHole nails US regional dialects with one simple question.

12 July 2016 · Comment · Weblog

May Week Was in July

My gift from Open Rights Group for supporting their campaign against the Snoopers’ Charter now has even more ominous overtones. The eyes really follow you around the chatroom...

Mona Theresa mousemat

Theresa May: unpredictable, moralistic and heading to No 10.

May often demands the scientifically impossible.

David Cameron’s premiership is a tragedy for which we will all pay.

Composers have a field day with Cameron’s resignation song.

12 July 2016 · Comment · Politics

Brexit Case

Comments on Brexit from A. C. Grayling, Ian McEwan, Nick Clegg and many more.

From before the vote: England’s post-imperial stress disorder. Brexit will end in English self-rule.

How immigration came to haunt Labour. The rejection of migration from Eastern Europe is personal. Did the referendum spark a surge in hate crimes? The police say so.

The inside story of a doomed campaign. A coup by one set of public schoolboys against another.

The prospect of Brexit Britain turning into a post-global disaster zone is real.

Whatever you do, don’t become us, Swiss academics warned. Whoops.

12 July 2016 · Comment · Politics

My Eyes Like Nothing in the Sun

A poetic reflection on the man who’s done more than anyone to set back progress in my home and adopted countries, written post-EU-referendum. More than I would ever actually advocate, but it sure was cathartic to write.

Read More · 12 July 2016 · Comment · Politics

Other Links Are Available

Why don’t we stand with Turkey, like we did with Paris and Orlando?

Trauma expert lifts the lid on Australia’s detention regime.

African migrants are returning from China and telling their compatriots not to go.

How turn-taking and short gaps in conversation are universal.

Artificial sound effects have entered the Uncanny Valley.

Of Oz the Wizard.

1 July 2016 · Comment · Weblog

Eight Days a Week

I walked from Liverpool to London. Brexit was no surprise. This man voted Leave to spread the pain. Brexit was a con. The great betrayal. Brexit is only the latest proof of the insularity and failure of Western establishment institutions. A disaster decades in the making.

Referendums are supposed to make people happy. Why are even Leave voters upset? Research suggests 2.3 million Leave voters regret their choice.

Brexit will not mean greater catches. Of course the Brexiters didn’t plan. Arsonists never carry water. Brexit is a revolution, and like all revolutions, it will eat its own.

Police log fivefold rise in race-hate complaints since the Brexit result. No rise in Scotland.

Scottish MEP’s pro-EU speech was made up on the spot. Nigel Farage made me facepalm. I couldn’t hide my despair.

1 July 2016 · Comment · Politics

Reliable Results

A threaded comment on Twitter highlights another nightmarish aspect of the prospect of being left out in the WTO cold for several years post-Brexit. Not only would WTO tariffs on UK exports kill our markets within the EU (which take almost half of UK exports), but:

In order to enter the EU, goods must conform with EU regulations. As you’d expect. At the moment, this isn’t a problem because the bodies which regulate conformity in this country are recognised by the EU. Upon ejection from the EU, this recognition would cease. Which means that UK goods entering the EU would be held up at every border point, while their conformity to regulations was tested. This would make selling to the EU virtually impossible unless our regulatory bodies could be certified by the EU. And they’ll be in no hurry to do that.

Read More · 1 July 2016 · 1 Comment · Politics

Bogged Down

BBC Newsnight staffer Mark Urban is tweeting some terrifying stuff on the prospect of a Brexit Britain striking a trade deal with the EU:

@MalmstromEU tells me EU/UK trade talks won’t start until Art50 exit complete then UK will trade on WTO terms until a deal is done

That’s Cecilia Malmström, EU Commissioner in charge of trade policy.

Read More · 30 June 2016 · Comment · Politics

Sunset at Gullane Bents, 27 June 2016.
Sunset at Gullane Bents, June 2016. Mouseover for more sea.

I’m in Gullane for the week on a writing retreat with colleagues. This was the view a few minutes’ walk from the house we’re staying in.

29 June 2016 · Comment · Journal

The Omnishambles

Four working days into life in Thethickofitstan, I can’t shake off the fear that all parties need to proceed extremely cautiously or risk Britain becoming a quasi-fascist state; not the full Third Reich, perhaps, but potentially Pinochet’s Chile. The fact that polls are suggesting that Regrexit is a statistical blip suggests that a large population in England and Wales would be perfectly happy if a strongman (or woman) emerged from the political chaos to enact Brexit in Full come hell or high water. And not any soft Brexit that keeps freedom of movement intact: something that closes the borders and sets the timer ticking on when EU citizens who are already here must leave.

Read More · 29 June 2016 · Comment · Politics

Three Working Days

If I read the phrase “pour encourager les autres” one more time, I’ll... I’ll... briser mon ordinateur in impotent rage.

The only hope now is that Parliament votes immediately to reject the referendum result as having been secured under false pretenses and ban any PM from triggering Article 50, to take us back to the status quo ante-February. Yes, the UK would never be seen the same way in Europe again, which is true either way. Yes, the UK would have drastically weaker influence over the development of future EU regulations, as opposed to none if we’re in the EEA. Yes, we would lose some businesses to Europe, which is already happening. None of that is worse than what we face if we stay on this path. We’re three working days into this mess, and look at where we are already. Britain’s latent racism has already been unleashed. At least we’ll be fighting it out in the open.

Read More · 28 June 2016 · 1 Comment · Politics

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