Category Archives: Observational

The Brexit alien insurgency theory

I’m not much of a political commentator and this post is driven by a need to make sense of what’s going on in the wider world, Brexit and beyond. Plus, y’know, jetlag ‘creativity.’ I’ll also caveat this as a #firstworldproblem; I appreciate that there are other people playing in far less pleasant democracies than I. nonetheless…

…here’s my theory.

CIA incursion agents work to drive revolutions and destabilise geopolitical environments by stirring up societal dissent, often specifically anti-governmental in focus, but in some cases between separate (militant) groups.

The behaviour of our National leaders in recent months – in the UK and the US – makes MUCH more sense if you think of some of the key personalities as enemy insurgents, looking to destabilise the Western powers ahead of an impending invasion.

BREXIT: a major act of social destabilisation

Boris Johnson - Brexit theory - Alien Insurgent?

The UK is one of the most stable, tolerant societies in the western world. That said, there has been a seething undercurrent of discontent at the disparity of wealth in our society – harnessed, ironically, by a bunch of aristocratic elitists, graduates of Dulwich College and Eton College, Oxford and beyond. This has been channeled, thanks in no small part to the hateful rhetoric of Nigel Farage, into a strong anti-European (and anti-foreigner in general) sentiment. Boris Johnson, one eigth Turkish, married to a half-Indian/Pakistani barrister specialising in – of all things – discrimination law, dials into the anti-immigrant sentiment in a savvy move to deliver himself a seat of power. Which, amazingly, he somehow gets – despite what some people saw as Cameron’s killing blow of handing the Article 50 decision to a successor. In the weeks since the Brexit vote happened, Johnson has become Foreign Secretary (perhaps a savvy move by Teresa May to sidestep responsibility for the impending and inevitable failure to deliver on the Brexit promises?) and started to dial back on the Brexit rhetoric he was bandying about only weeks before. Meanwhile, tolerant Britain has seen a 57% rise in reports of hate crime and high profile people of colour have faced up against verbal abuse that sets the country back 40 years of social development.

There is no question that Britain was in many regards broken before Brexit; the disparity between the top 0.1% and the rest of society, and the continued push by recent Governments to take money from the many and give it to the few (or at least, not take responsibility for redistributing wealth better)… well, it needed fixing. But for it to be tackled via Brexit, possibly the most socially divisive event in Britain in living memory, can only be the act of alien incursion. Indeed, perhaps Corbyn’s implosion at Labour (and the Labour party’s own ham-fisted attempts to rid themselves of him) is also the result of alien meddling.

A liberal racist at the helm of the Republican party?

Despite the insanity in Britain, perhaps things are set to get even worse in the US…  Trump – perhaps best thought of as an alien incursion agent with extreme learning disabilities – is in the process of using hateful rhetoric to try to win the US presidential race. And yet – his policy platform is liberal in many regards. If he wins, the US could find itself imploding socially as the Republican party implodes politically as Trump’s political ideology runs counter to the party line. In many ways, the ultimate strategy for softening the US against a coming alien hammer blow.

The world over, this toxic sentiment is spreading

The hateful rhetoric being used as a catch-all for National economic problems seems to be spreading. It’s not the problem, but it seems much easier to blame foreigners than it is to acknowledge the limitations of capitalism and the challenges of implementing policies designed to deliver more effective social welfare and equality across citizen demographics. Ironically, this is pushing us – globally – further to the right, to people and parties traditionally worse at evening the economic odds across their citizens… and spiralling us into a worse position.  I find it hard to believe that a conservative Prime Minister will genuinely fight “burning injustice” – especially given Mrs May’s voting history (against laws for equality and human rights; for reducing housing benefit, against disability allowances, for a reduction in spend on welfare benefits; against bankers’ bonus tax, against mansion tax, etc.). Her voting history has some positive moments too, so perhaps she’s running counter to the alien insurgency theory after all, but I’m reserving judgement until I see it happen.


I’m trying to be optimistic and focussing on the positive ways I can participate in our Citizen democracy in the UK. It’s proving hard to stay optimistic (my friend Chris has compiled lots of reasons to be pessimistic!). I would love to hear actual, positive steps people have seen emerge to address the crushing social and economic divide, the impending demise of universal healthcare, the social havoc caused by the Brexit vote itself, and beyond. It’s actually slightly more plausible (and more palatable) to believe that all this stuff is a consequence of alien insurgency… but sadly I suspect the reality has a significantly larger measure of political and economic self-interest at its core.

The wrong turn, the right result

One of the things we’ve missed out in recent busy months is the random wandering across the countryside that you do in the interest of Sunday adventuring. Pick a place that sounds pretty, drive out, and have a walk! Such was the plan this Sunday, and, minor bits of Internet research complete, we headed out…

Of course, as Amanda knows the area pretty well, SatNav was kept in his box and we struck out confidently in roughly the right direction… and ended up turning off slightly too early on our route to scenic Kingsclere (our original destination), ending up in a tiny but beautiful village called Hannington. Discovering a map of local walks in the Lych-gate of the village church, we struck out on a cold and misty morning and had a lovely (short, and cold) walk, miles off the beaten path, meeting no-one other than two local villagers and their dogs out for the morning tramp around.

The pub, the Vine, is possibly one of the nicest country pubs I’ve been to in the area and the food was amazing – Emily even thought so, eating her way through a portion of pasta big enough for a 7-year-old. Wonderful.

Here’s to more countryside adventuring in the weeks to come…

House hunting

West Witterings - ChichesterIt’s important to dream. On our annual jaunt to West Wittering to stay with our infinitely patient and generous friends, we took a walk down the street ‘hunting’ for that dream property (knowing that its a pretty unattainable distance for our income bracket).

The vast differences in style – from the uber-modern to the Bilbo-Baggins-esque – was astonishing. Virtually every single house we saw could have featured on Grand Designs at some point – although some of them would have earned derisory comments from Kevin McCleod…

It’s a nice dream…

Five rules of debating

These apply to 1:1 discussions and not if you have an audience. If you have an audience, these rules can more or less reverse (depending on the audience). This list isn’t exhaustive.

  1. Confidence by itself generally loses out over evidence when all participants are equally reasonable.
  2. Not all people that seek out debate in casual conversation are equally reasonable.
  3. Don’t confuse prejudice with argument, and never make a personal comment part of your debate – you cede all authority.
  4. If you can’t resolve the debate in the cold light of sobriety it won’t suddenly make sense intoxicated.
  5. “Let’s agree to disagree” is a polite way of saying “I have no desire to pursue this conversation” and gives any participant in an argument the option to gracefully exit without giving up their perspective.

I’ve found myself in the position of defending people, products and positions I’m not particularly a fan of recently because people violate these rules in conversations with me. I’m not one to generally take a stand on random principles these days, but do find it hard to let totally unreasonable, unfair statements about anything stand. One of life’s little ironies.

What will become of the books?

My newly organized bookshelfA minor lamentation, noted as I read this on Simon Waldman’s blog; as passionate as I am about all things digital, I will miss the sheer physical presence of some of my stuff as it evolves its way off the physical plane.

Not DVDs or CDs; the convenience factor of the digital format there is just vast – but with books, the comforting, colourful, aesthetically pleasing albeit inevitably dusty presence across the room as they sit solidly in a bookshelf… well, their future absence will be noted.

I do occasionally still buy print books – for anything Amanda needs to read, or Emily (my girls are old school and the tactility of books is awesome and necessary for Em) – and occasionally for a long running series of books or novel I know I’ll end up sharing.

So Terry Pratchett, Raymond Feist et al, will continue to be bought in print. Because I’m faintly obsessive compulsive, I’ll also probably complete any series of novels I started to buy in physical form – Peter F Hamilton’s ‘Void’ trilogy was one case in point, despite the enormity of those hardbacks. Fortunately, I read my way through all of George R R Martin’s Song of Ice and Fire series in digital format, so  was spared the 1,000 page monster of the new book as a bookshelf counterweight.

But there are some shelves in our house that may end up with ornaments and niknackery on them instead of books. Which – as someone that’s spent a decade without enough shelf-space – is something I find strange in the extreme.

Winter is coming

Fresh BreathWhen I was a kid I was fascinated by the way breath misted on exhalation when the weather was cool enough. It was a frustration to me that it didn’t happen in Malaysia.

Yesterday, for the first time since the Summer proper began, my breath misted. Which doesn’t quite have the same exciting cachet it did when I was 10 and first visiting the UK, marking as it does the decline of the summer.

<sigh>. At least we have one more summer break to the seaside planned – looking forward to it, Damo!

Summer commuting

Summer commuting has been significantly more tolerable. Whether its because everyone’s on vacation or people are leaving later, the journey into work at least is less crowded, less anti-social, and comes with a guaranteed seat. The journey home is more or less the usual scramble, but when you’re travelling for 2.5 hours per day, you’ve got to count your blessings where they come…

This is why I suck at learning lyrics – study on computers and memory

Read an interesting study on Wired on memory. A small scale study has shown that if you know you have access to data, you’re far less likely to remember it:

If you think a fact is conveniently available online, then, you may be less apt to learn it.

This is amazingly true. I frequently note that people referencing articles they’ve read to me can’t remember the article title, author or where it was published, or the detail of what it said or why it was interesting or funny. But they can remember the search sequence that got them there and find it via Google. Which is a fascinating insight into human psychology, right there – the journey is more memorable than the destination.

This is one of the reasons why I’m uncertain on social search. People like the solidity of search; the only way to make sure that social search improves on regular search is to somehow confound this pattern – making sure that social search is only a marginal improvement on general, unfiltered search – otherwise people will get frustrated by not being able to find the same things when on different machines.

Talking to traffic

TrafficI’m not mad. I just find it better to vent my frustration at inconsiderate driving by talking at it – well, grumbling at it – rather than letting it work me into a frenzy of internalized stress. It is – very possibly – a trait I’ve picked up from my aunts, who pretty much all do it.

When some people hear me talking to traffic, it raises concerns about my stress levels… but I find it quietly cathartic.

Do you talk to traffic? /I’m not mad.