Monthly Archives: June 2016

European Union

Last week the United Kingdom voted to leave the European Union. I would be remiss if I didn’t talk a little about this.

Politics is a subject that it is often best to avoid. It can lead to heated debates and even ruin friendships. Nevertheless I’m going to stick my neck out and talk about this. Firstly I’m going to let C.G.P Grey explain what the EU is…

It is rather disturbing that people were googling ‘What is the EU?’ – after the vote – I hope that those people didn’t vote.

In an article in the Guardian David Mitchel states: ‘The EU is a matter for Parliament’ And Richard Dawkins, mentioned in the same article, says:

“It is an outrage that people as ignorant as me are being asked to vote. This is a complicated matter of economics, politics, history, and we live in a representative democracy not a plebiscite democracy. You could make a case for having plebiscites on certain issues – I could imagine somebody arguing for one on fox hunting, for example – but not on something as involved as the European Union. This should be a matter for parliament.”

I think that this is quite right. Part of the idea of Parliamentary representation is that we give others permission to act on our behalf. To understand all the details of the EU would take hours – in short the average citizen is not qualified to make such a decision.

I voted remain. I feel I have a good understanding of the issues, or at least good enough, and that that choice was the right one. According to the statistics most people around my age agree with that choice. It was the older generation that wanted us to leave and it looks like that is what will happen. It doesn’t have to happen as the referendum was only advisory and it still has to go through Parliament. Parliament could decide to ignore it – this is highly unlikely as it would be political suicide for them. Nevertheless the margin was so small I think we need continued discussion – even Farage agrees with that – at least he did when it looked like he was going to loose.

One wonderfully ironic side of this is Nigel Farage. He is calling this the UK’s independence day but the UK may not be the UK for much longer. Scotland overwhelming voted to remain and there is now talk of another Independence referendum. So it seems that Farage may face the situation of being out of the EU, which he wants, but us no longer being the UK.

I am deeply troubled by us leaving the EU. Mostly because of the way the Brexit campaign was handled. I recognise that many good people voted to leave and had good reason for doing so. Nevertheless it does seem to have opened the door to racism and xenophobia.

This continued fear regarding immigration and foreigners in general is very worrying. I may be overreacting but the general idea of putting Britain first has some disturbing historical parallels. It feels to me like the first baby steps to a very bad situation. I am just a little frighted.

…the road from legitimate suspicion to rampant paranoia is very much shorter than we think…I don’t like what we have become.

[Captain Picard (Star Trek: The Next Generation – The Drumhead)]

I have never been exactly proud to be British. It is just a fact. Since the referendum though I am ashamed to be British. We seem to becoming a nation that is scared to work with others and cannot see beyond our own borders.

If this does go ahead and Trump becomes US President I think I might see if that flight to Mars has any seats left.

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I just wanted to say that I have checked this post. I really have. Unfortunately my particular combination of dyslexia and dyspraxia makes it really hard for me to spot typos. Please enjoy and I’ll try not to make too many errors.

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Happy Father’s Day

Happy father’s day to all.

Here’s a completely unrelated story…

I’ve never quite got this living alone malarkey down. It always feels like things become untidy, and messy, all by themselves. The washing up was particularly vexing. It seemed to go from just a plate or two – to a stack that nearly shattered to the floor – in very short order. Then there is mold at the bottom of some glasses and I have fruit flies… [Click to continue.]

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Rising Above the Clouds

2007-06-29_130138_29062007027 Have you ever got stuck on a computer game?

Have you been writing and had trouble visualising a scene?

When I’m in these situations I stop. In the case of the former a pen and paper can be invaluable. You can write down the riddle of the magic monkey, or whatever it may be, and work it through. Doing this with pen and paper can help a solution to form in the mind.

In the case of the latter I use action figures. Positioning them helps to get a feel for a scene – then all you have to do is write it. It also gives you a good reason to still have action figures at 28.

Sometimes though I want to do this pausing in real life. It’s like I want to have an hour or two in one moment. I want to freeze time – so that nothing is happening except for my thoughts trying to work things out.

I get stressed very easily. (Listening to Stomp (Steps) isn’t helping – Slide (Dido) much better) And basically I just want to be able to take a while to organise my life. Obviously I can do that but life is going on while doing it… then you become that person who spends all their revision time making a beautiful revision timetable – And that leads to…

I also operate under the delusion that everything will fall into place. And that when I’m old I will grab a flag pole, hear a fanfare, and will have completed life.

I must leave you now. The to-do list has more stuff. And I think gremlins, tribbles, or elves keep adding to it.

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I just wanted to say that I have checked this post. I really have. Unfortunately my particular combination of dyslexia and dyspraxia makes it really hard for me to spot typos. Please enjoy and I’ll try not to make too many errors.

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Seven Things: Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban is the third book in the series. I read it back in December. So lets get on with it shall we?

Seven things about Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban.

One

Time Travel

Let’s start with the big one. Time Travel is complicated. I’ll let an expert explain.

I’ve let the whole clip play because it’s brilliant.

Time travel exists in many different universes. Each film, book, or TV show uses it in slightly different ways. Unfortunately the presence of time travel, in the Harry Potter universe, is rather problematic. In Doctor Who there is at least something of an explanation in that the Doctor has a sense of time and knows what he can and cannot do. That is not the same here.

Spoilers here for all of Harry Potter.

To me the introduction of time travel is a big mistake as it leads to too many questions. If McGonagall can get clearance for a time turner to give to Hermione then why aren’t they used more often? In this book they travel back to save Buckbeak – couldn’t it have been done to save Harry’s parents?

This sort of question is always there once you establish the existence of time travel. In Star Trek IV Kirk is able to travel back in time in a Klingon Bird of pray. A bird of pray is the space equivalent of a <inset name of car that isn’t very good>. So if this is possible why isn’t time travel used in a top of the line ship?

The same problem exists here. In my opinion the introduction of time travel, into the Harry Potter universe, was the biggest misstep of the series.

Two

The Telephone

Ron’s inability to use the telephone is a funny scene. Nevertheless I have to wonder why the magical community doesn’t seem to have some equivalent.

As explained here texting, or writing a letter, has definite disadvantages. In fact the only advantage of an owl is that it can tell you when your letter has been delivered.

In later books we do get to see long-ranged communication. In the films, and I think in the books as well, this is shown in the form of a face in the fire. Is Sirius the only one who knows how to do this?

Three

The Sapience of Paintings

We all know that the paintings move in the Wizarding World. This isn’t really a nitpick, just an observation, but when does this occur?

There was an episode of TNG, Ship in a Bottle, which discusses the creation of artificial life. It links back with the episode ‘Elementary, Dear Data.’ – Geordi and Data inadvertently create a new life form and the moral implications are discussed.

In the Harry Potter universe it seems that paintings are also sapient. They, for lack of a better way to phrase it, have souls. Since any one can draw does that mean that a small child can create life?

This is something I’ve only really thought about while writing this. If I was at Hogwarts and I drew a few stick figures could I make them come alive? What about action figures? Is The Indian in the Cupboard happening everyday in the Wizerding world?

Four

Azkaban

Obviously I’ve got to talk about Azkaban itself. The way it is talked about throughout the series makes it sound like a hell hole.

Crime and punishment is an extremely difficult subject to talk about. The world over there are so many different opinions as to what is and isn’t justice.The death penalty exists in some countries and in Norway prisons have been compared to holiday camps. Yet the results speak for themselves as Norway also has a very low rate of re-offenders.

In the Wizarding World though it seems like crime and punishment is rather twisted. From what we learn about Azkaban it is quite clear that prisoners are being abused and mistreated.

There is never any claim made that the Wizerding world is ‘good’ – but it seems amazing to me that the practices at Azkaban are generally accepted by the population at large. The Dementors are terrifying and if we imagine a technological way of doing what they do it would certainly be banned by the Geneva Convention.

Personally I’m against the death penalty. I believe that it’s not really justice and there is always the possibility of a mistake being made. If someone is wrongfully imprisoned you can compensate them, it doesn’t give them back the years obviously, but at least there is something. If you kill them there is nothing you can do. Similarly, in the Wizarding World, a wrongful conviction could lead to unreversable mental damage. This to me is almost worse than a wrongful execution. At least that would be a painless end.

The Dementor’s kiss is basically a from of torture. I would hope that most people would agree that torture is unacceptable. Even if it’s called ‘enhanced interrogation‘ or performed by ‘pain technicians‘ – yet to Witches and Wizards it seems to be acceptable.

Five

The Marauder’s Map

I can’t not talk about the Marauder’s Map. This is, essentially, like the most sophisticated security system ever devised. It can show every person in Hogwarts. It knows where everyone is and maybe even what they are doing. (Let those who know those those who don’t.)

This is another example of the rather strange way magic is sometimes applied in these books. In other parts of the series the inadvisability cloak is used to sneak around the castle – but it seems you’re only invisible to people in the vicinity. You can be seen on the map even with the cloak.

So if four students can create a map like this why hasn’t the faculty? In our world there are CCTV cameras almost everywhere surely in the Wizarding world they’d use a system like this for security purposes?

I suppose though it’s not entirely unbelievable. The Ancient Greeks could’ve invented the steam engine but didn’t.

Six

Care of Magical Creatures

This book sees Hagrid’s debut as a new teacher of Hogwarts. For this he requires all students to have a copy of: The Monster Book of Monsters.

This book attacks anyone who attempts to read it. We see the proprietor of Flourish and Blotts having to reach into a cage to retrieve these nasty biting books.

Now obviously this idea is there for a bit of fun. And in rereading these books I’ve come to realise there is a lot of silliness.

Nevertheless I do wonder why a biting book would be seen as a good idea. Surely they should at least come with a pamphlet to explain how to care for the book.

Then of course we have the rather questionable judgement of having a Hippogriff for a first lesson.  This however isn’t really a nitpick as it’s perfectly in keeping with Hagrid’s personality.

Seven

Peter Pettigrew

This one is related to number five. Perhaps it should be with number 5 but this post has been in draft for so long I want to finish it.

Okay…

In Chapter 18 we get this…

‘I believed it myself – until I saw the map tonight. Because the Marauder’s Map never lies … Peter’s alive.’ [Lupin – Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban]

The long and short of it is that Peter, even in rat form, shows up on the map. So again we are faced with the question of why more maps don’t exist.

The entire plot of this novel is based around a false accusation of murder. We learn of the fight in which Pettigrew was supposedly killed. We know few details about the case against Sirius but we do know that he knew he hadn’t killed Peter.

I wonder what investigation was done to validate his claim of innocence. As discussed above there is a lot to be desired from the Wizard criminal justice system. However I don’t think that it’s too much of a stretch to suggest that Sirius would’ve had a defense.

As always in science fiction and fantasy its always difficult to know what is possible in each universe.

In Charmed there may be a spell for something that is considered impossible in another magical universe. In Star Trek a stranded person can just be beamed up – in another work the rescue might be a whole episode.

Nevertheless in this novel a finger, Pettigrew’s finger, is found. Couldn’t that be used to find the rest of him? It does seem like the type of thing that a wizard or witch could do.

I just reckon that something of that type might have been done, by a defense lawyer, in the process of proving Sirius innocence.

With this last point I know I’m clutching at straws. However it does seem to be a symptom of how magic is applied in these books. Magic seems to be ahead of us in many respects. It can do many things that technology can’t and then there are other things that we can do that they can’t.

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I just wanted to say that I have checked this post. I really have. Unfortunately my particular combination of dyslexia and dyspraxia makes it really hard for me to spot typos. Please enjoy and I’ll try not to make too many errors.

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Eurovison 2016 – Oversight

Eurovison was three weeks ago. As you can see I’m really on top of things! This was the winner.

At Eurovison we have a great variety of acts:

The good…

The bad…

And the ugly…

I now feel like I need to wash this blog with a very strong detergent. Sorry for inflicting Teenage Life on you.

Just listen to Lordi or Lena Meyer-Landrut instead – or literally anything else!

This year’s Eurovison can be summed up in one word: meh.

That is to say I don’t think it was a good year, like 2006 or 2008, but nor was it a bad year. None of the songs stuck with me and I’m still thinking about this entry from a few years back.

My winner is very rarely the one that actually won, Lordi and Lena Meyer-Landrut were the exceptions, so maybe I know nothing about music.

Okay I certainly know nothing.

The new voting system was very effective as it meant the winner wasn’t known till then end. Also if Australia are going to continue to be there we may need a new name for the contest.

Nevertheless, in spite of what I say, I believe I’ll be watching Eurovison for a long time yet.

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I just wanted to say that I have checked this post. I really have. Unfortunately my particular combination of dyslexia and dyspraxia makes it really hard for me to spot typos. Please enjoy and I’ll try not to make too many errors.

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Long Time No See

It’s been nearly three weeks since I last posted here. I’ve only just realized how long it’s been. When I last posted it was about Eurovision. I never did a follow up. That is coming as is a long post that has been in draft for too long.

In any event this was the Eurovison winner:

I will post something more about Eurovison 2016 in the fullness of time. Which is basically me speaking like a politician. I’m just posting this in case any of you thought I was dead or something.

More posts coming soon…

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