Tuesday, May 15, 2012

London In The The Spring

Staring at the ceiling in my hotel in Nottingham so let me tell you about my time in England. My time is not over, so I may tell you again.
The ceiling. Riveting.
I guess because people who fly business class might want to do business as soon as they arrive, flights into London all seem to arrive at around about dawn. I am not a dawn person. Conveniently I also couldn't check into the hotel because it was too early, so I did what I always do when at a loose end and went to a museum. First I went to the Natural History Museum, but it was full of school kids, which managed to make even inside out animals kind of annoying. So off I went to the V&A. After 24 hours of travel, no appreciable sleep, and a high sugar breakfast I would like to let you know that life sized faceless lolita fashion dolls are not a good thing to walk around the corner into.

from 'The Kitty and the Bulldog'
Screw segues, here's another weird museum piece. I don't know if it was the stoned expressions, the imminent mother-son high five, the two old dudes who seem to be trying to look down Mary's dress, or the aforementioned sleep deprivation, but I could not stop laughing at this picture.
Baby Jesus don't care none.
Somehow I managed to subsequently catch up with Jono, go to the wedding rehearsal and be that extra guy at a family dinner all in the same day without collapsing from exhaustion. I saved that for the next day, of which I remember little but waking up at 21:21 before going back to sleep five minutes later.

Saturday was the big day. Oh, did I mention the reason I'm in the UK is for a friend's wedding? And that friend is Jono? If not, take that into account when reading the previous paragraph. The wedding was very nice, with many a touching moment and a hearty congratulations. I took a few photos at the reception which was in a pub in the City which used to be a bank. However, I had apparently disabled the flash, so it's basically a bunch of grainy black images.

England seems to be a country routinely blanketed in cloud, which happens to some countries, it's not their fault. However it also seems to be resigned to its fate. There are so many houses built from dark brick with tiny little windows and roofs made of dark tile all huddled and hunched together like old ladies at the bus stop muttering about the rain. Cheer up, English architecture.

Anyway, now I'm in Nottingham for a couple of days, then off to Edinburgh. I am a bit worried about Scotland, because if I don't love it with every fibre of my being, I may get disowned by my family.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Please Try to Pay Attention

This post is not about SOPA. I am against it but as a non-American all I can do is be angry. What this post is about is the people complaining about SOPA. My twitter feed, RSS reader and regular news sites have been full to breaking point with blackouts and rallying cries from gaming press, tech blogs and general internet types trying to get everyone to kick up enough of a stink to get the bill quashed. This is political activism and democracy at its finest, the common man making his voice heard to change public policy.

Only it's not, is it? It's the common man making his voice heard to prevent a change to public policy that no one in the public seems to want. Which leads us to ask why the change is being made. If no individual thinks that the specific measures or even general principles of the bill are a good idea, how did somebody get the idea to draft it in the first place and then garner enough support that there is some chance of it passing? That's easy: big corporate groups like the RIAA have spent a pile of cash that would make small countries envious on buying enough politicians to get their bill introduced. There is maybe, maybe one guy in the senate or congress who knows about the extent of online piracy and thinks that a bill like SOPA is the best solution available. Everybody else took the money they were offered by lobbyists and promised to vote accordingly. For some reason this isn't called bribery, it's called the political process. I'm only passingly familiar with the Jack Abramoff case, but what's truly scandalous about it (to someone outside of America at least) is not the illegal things he did but all the unethical and corrupt things he did that were legal. Things that are still legal.

And now all the people who blank out when they hear people shouting and complaining about the role of lobbyists and the disproportionate voice money has are suddenly political activists. People who shrugged and said "yeah, that's politics" if someone mentioned Super PACs or Supreme Court decisions are outraged that their favourite sites might get shut down. Maybe, just maybe, the time to pay attention was when somebody was carefully changing the system so that buying votes became not only standard procedure but also somehow regarded as the way things should be.

SOPA is not some rogue piece of legislation in a system that otherwise work tirelessly for the betterment of society, it is just the first piece of exploitative, corrupt, cynical legislation to impact people who didn't think they needed to care about how the country they live in is being run. I can understand if your attitude to the political system is if it ain't broke don't fix it; on the other hand you should probably have checked occasionally to see if someone was trying to break it, because now it's going to be a right bastard to fix. And I don't think a dubstep remix of The Macarena is going to get the job done.