the brilliantly leaping gazelle

So, farewell then…

In order to welcome in the New Year, I thought I’d post a blog all about 20/20 vision and I’ll admit it’s not in the fist rank of original ideas. Quite possibly you’ll read other, better-written things using 20/20 vision as a way of interpreting the events of 2020. Or not, depending on whose eyes the writer is seeing those events through.

Anyway I thought it incumbent upon me to first discover what is meant by 20/20 vision, because like most people I’m familiar with the term, yet have only a vague idea of what it actually means. So I did some googling. It’s to do with visual acuity.

No, me neither.

According to the font of all human knowledge for the lazy, Wikipedia,

Visual acuity (VA) commonly refers to the clarity of vision. Visual acuity is dependent on optical and neural factors, i.e., (i) the sharpness of the retinal focus within the eye, (ii) the health and functioning of the retina, and (iii) the sensitivity of the interpretative faculty of the brain.

There’s loads more, detailed and quite frankly time consuming more to read. Not that my time is so precious, you understand, but it was the last five words of the opening paragraph that resonated. ‘Interpretative faculty of the brain’ neatly sums up one of the challenges I face following my brain injury; for if the way one correctly sees the world is in part dependant on a healthy brain, then it follows that a damaged brain is not best equipped to do this.

I’ve been considering this for nearly a week now, looking at some of my decisions after the brain injury through the prism of this new information. Following the brain injury, the doctors were, in all fairness to them, remarkably honest about their lack of knowledge about how exactly my brain injury would affect me. But one thing no-one ever even mentioned was my its effect on my mood, and if the way I interpret events is flawed, then might this not have consequences on my mood? Might they both create and reinforce the other in a circle of negativity. By no stretch of the imagination have I been Mr. Jolly since the brain injury, but equally I wasn’t always before it either.

It was just never this long lasting, seemingly continuous and all pervasive before. I know that it seems odd when its written down, but I can’t remember what it feels like to feel calm, relaxed or at ease with oneself. I mean I know I must have felt that, I just don’t know how it felt, and worse still, being resigned to never feeling that way again. I hasten to add that I’m not in a state of perpetual anxiety all the time, but more that….okay, here goes. You know the feeling you have when you’ve said to yourself you need to remember to do something but you forget what it was, but know you’ve forgotten what it was? It’s a bit like that. All the time.

So if my interpretive faculty is flawed, and I know it, it seems wholly sensible that I factor this in from now on, and so for 2020 I’ve resolved to try and be less previous me about things and more, well, more.

Well it makes sense to me and that’s the main thing, but how long it lasts for is another. But thankfully, if you’re reading this on New Years Day morning that is, I’ll be paying the price for being champagne-tastic last night so my resolve once I’m awake and had some tea…

A Christmas miracle?

I am a misanthrope and the longer I live, the more deeply entrenched it becomes and the greater my conviction that my misanthropy is not just correct, but a wholly inevitable response to the ceaseless bedevilment that other people cause me.

But any reader of my blog knows this. So it is seems entirely fitting that as Christmas is all about miracles, I’d treat you all to an unjaundiced, non-cynical and not critical of anyone or anything post.

What has caused this sudden volte-face? Have I suffered a sudden blow to the head, been kidnapped by aliens and replaced by a doppelganger or is there something in the water?

No.

The reason is this.

IMG_0170

 

A Christmas card made specially for me by my favourite person in the whole world, my favourite person possibly because I’ve known her all her life, possibly because of her relentless capacity for mucking about, possibly for lots of other things, but unquestionably because of her wonderful effect on my extremely moody outlook. All the medication I could swallow would be nowhere near mood enhancing as a four year old delight banging insistently on my bedroom door and shouting “Get up, get up, I want to play”, until I did. And because I did, I still do.

Because I don’t have to undertake the more onerous responsibilities of her parents, such as getting her ready for school or making her go to bed to name but two, being free of these constraints means that I can regress somewhat and become a man-child. I don’t have to pretend that broccoli ice-ice-cream is a good idea or that carrot cake is a cake or that farting is anything other than hugely entertaining. It’s her unshakeable belief that I could want nothing more than to play with her, that whatever I’m doing is merely a stop-gap until she rescues me from that particular tedium.

A Christmas card, it has to be written, the receipt of which was in no way commensurate to its utter wonderfulness or indeed, the effort required to make it so. I am reliably informed that plans for a Christmas shopping jaunt were changed so this magnificence could be created. I am not, outwardly at least, a very emotionally demonstrative person, eschewing what I consider to be rather American effusiveness, in favour of something altogether more composed. But although my face didn’t betray it, I was both thrilled and impressed by it.

To write that she has massively improved the quality of my life would be textbook understatement. Aside from the ‘Peppa Pig’ and ‘Holly and Ben’ phases of her life, I could’ve quite happily done without those. But she’s almost nine now, and as we all are wont to do, looks back with disdain on the follies of her youth, her youth being something she still has lots of. In fact, when her parents saw all her presents under the Christmas tree and comparing her haul to theirs, asked what she had that they hadn’t, I said simply ‘Youth’

 

Well, that and being adorable.

My Election Notes 2019; E-Day + 9 (pt.2)

‘The Queen’ is on shITV3, which purports to show how Tony Blair saved the monarchy from itself after the death on Diana. Whenever I think of it, I think of the Queens reaction when she found out who was going to play her.

Some old hag who looked as if she’d been perpetually sucking a lemon?

No.

Helen Mirren! She must’ve thanked her lucky stars! If anyone could make the toot the queen wears look in the least bit not dowdy, it was her.

 

My Election Notes 2019: E-Day + 9

As if to underline how radically different our society is since the election result, yesterday the BBC reported that,

The Duke of Edinburgh has spent the night in hospital after being admitted as a “precautionary measure”.

Can you imagine any other pensioner being able to rock up at hospital and being admitted as a “precautionary measure”?

Mind you, I suppose it does help if that hospital is the private King Edward VII one and not a chronically under-funded N.H.S one. One where as long as you can pay, you can stay; except in this case, it’s you, me and every other taxpayer who’re paying. I wonder if ‘precautionary measure’ is some kind of euphemism or else a coded message, because I can’t think of what possible precaution the ageing Greek gigolo might need?

Anyway, according to today’s Guardian

 The Duke of Edinburgh is expected to stay in hospital for a few more days while receiving treatment relating to a “pre-existing condition”.

According to reports, the move follows a spell of ill-health. The Sun quoted a royal source as saying that the 98-year-old duke had had a fall recently, while the Mail reported he had been battling a flu-like condition.

How exactly is this news? An old man has some of the same problems many other old people do. But rest assured,

The duke’s condition is not considered serious enough for the Queen to change her schedule. She left Buckingham Palace for Norfolk by train on Friday, to begin her traditional festive break on the Sandringham estate, where the duke has spent much of his time since retiring from public duties in 2017.

So clearly the problem being all alone in a cold house for Christmas like so many other old people on benefits isn’t one of them.

Hang on, I’ve just that last quote again, about him ‘retiring from public duties in 2017’ and I can’t help but wonder what on earth were these public duties? Did he help out as a hospital porter when he wasn’t being a fireman? Or work as a teaching assistant at an inner city primary school and then do a quick change,  don a hi-vis jacket to be their lollipop man? Going on holiday and opening civic centre’s isn’t a public duty, people aren’t depending on him to do it, unless of course the definition of what duty means has changed?

My Election Notes 2019: E-Day + 7

One of the many things the election has clarified is the relative importance of one issue against another to the electorate. So,  despite being told many times that this election was about climate change, that the time to act was now, that doing nothing meant an accelerated worsening of extreme weather events, despite all of that and more, enough of the electorate prioritized short-term gain at a cost of long term pain.

I actually don’t care if the human race becomes extinct, I mean we’ve let other species become extinct, so why should I? Has our existence really been a good thing for the planet?

Our hypocrisy concerning the importance we give to helping to save the planet is best summed up by Christmas.

Not by the amount and what kind of food we consume, how it’s produced or how it reaches us. Although that’s bad enough. Nor is it the elaborate light displays which illuminate the outsides of houses. At least they’re not as bad as the ones in public spaces. Neither is it the rampant consumerism, all wrapped in wrapping paper which, if it has glitter on it, can’t be re-cycled. Whilst that might possibly be a strong contender, it has far too many different aspects to it, such as it’s this and that – c’mon, you know what the this’s and that’s are – to be a simple and instantly understandable illustration of our hypocrisy.

Christmas tree’s. Whilst we know how important tree’s are to absorbing CO2, so much so that the amount of tree’s each party pledged to plant if elected became a thing, regardless of that we still cut down tree’s as long as they look pretty when we dress them.

We know all this, but we do it anyway. We’re not so much sleep-walking into disaster as running towards it.

 

My Election 2019 Notes: E_Day + 6

 

Of course I’m aware of the inherent logical contradiction in yesterdays blog, in fact the same one contained in all my posts that lambast people for not exercising their right to vote. Namely, that a in a democratic society having the right to vote also means having the right not to vote. It’s like democratic ying and yang.

Except not.

Voting carries with it consequences that affect more than just the individual. They also have a social responsibility, an obligation if you will, to the society of which they are a member. They have expectation of what services of the state will provide. We may not like everything the state does for us, but there’s also a lot we do like. What if the state decided that the reward for voting was continues access to the services the state funds, but that the reward for not voting was a termination of the social contract. It doesn’t happen but it should.

Imagine if a child turned up on her first day of school and the head said ‘Sorry and all that, but your Mum saw fit to exercise her democratic right not to vote so the state is freed from all obligations it was previously legally mandated to provide..”

And imagine that scenario being played out in hospital A&E departments, ‘I can see you’re having a heart attack, but sadly you didn’t vote and we’re underfunded as it is, so we have to priories our resources on those who did.’ Or when calling 999 you got a message saying ‘Your call isn’t important to us as we can see that your calling from a ‘phone registered to someone who didn’t think voting was important. Good luck with that. Bye.’

If access to government services was contingent on people voting I think it would have a beneficial effect democracy. I can’t see any downsides.

My Election Notes 2019: E-Day+5

Because these things bother me, earlier on today I was wondering what would the election result looked like of instead of our current system -first past the post (FPTP) – we’d used the form of proportional representation used in the last European elections. The answer can be summed up in five words; very different, no Conservative majority.

And because I’m a lazy bastard, thankfully those nice people atThe Electoral Reform Society did all the heavy lifting, as the method used at European elections is a tiny bit complicated. But just because something is complicated, it doesn’t mean it isn’t fair, just that to properly understand it requires some effort is all.

Anyway, here’s what we could have had,

The Conservatives would’ve lost 77seats, leaving them with 288 whilst Labour would’ve gained 14 meaning 216 The really big winners wouldn’t have been the Lib Dems up 59 from 11 to 70 , nor the Greens jumping from 1 to 11! Neither would it have been the Brexit party who would gained 10 seats, bringing their total to, er, 10!

No, the real winner in all of this would be us, the electorate. It would’ve seen another hung parliament and probably another election, but why is that such a bad thing. If the electorate realize that their vote has consequence might it not focus the mind?

Indeed, as I pointed out only a few weeks ago,

If the Liberal Democrats were in the least bit serious about being democrats, they would’ve demonstrated their commitment to the ideals of democracy by having vigorously campaigned for a change the present electoral system with the Brexit party. Had this bizarre sounding but eminently sensible alliance been effective, democracy could have been the winner on December 13th. If, the morning after the 2015 election, the Lib Dem leader, Vince Unable had launched the campaign for reform by highlighting the discrepancy between share of the votes versus number of seats in parliament of all main parties.

He could’ve made the point that voting reform was well overdue because whilst the Liberal Democrats had won of 7.9% of the vote, that this had translated into 8 MP’s, whereas the S.N.P had got of the 4.7% of the vote but 56 MP’s. The S.N.P., like democracy when it works to their advantage, but here’s the thing – democracy doesn’t have options, you can’t chose which bits you like or don’t like of the democratic process, either your in or your out. Yes, it’s all well and good wanting another referendum on independence, but when they had one, they chose to stay part of the UK. If you choose not to fight in English, Northern Ireland or Welsh constituency’s, fine. It’s your choice. You chose to be here. Suck it up like everyone else has to.

After the 2017 election, this would have even greater consequences, as we know only too well. The Liberal Democrats had won of 7.4% of the vote in that one that this had resulted in only 12 MP’s, whereas the S.N.P ‘s 3% became 36 MP’s. Had the made this an issue one of fundamental importance of democracy that the method of electing a government had to be if so it was to have any legitimacy in the eyes of the governed. Had they done so, there is every possibility that a vote on reforming the voting system to make it truly democratic could have taken place in the recent European elections which, if successful, would have had a far more beneficial effect on our democracy than overturning the referendum result and ignoring 17.4 million people.

Of course such an alliance would require the support of Nigel’s Farrago. if it was to truly cross the political divide, and not simply be a case of centre-left complainers complaining, they’d need his support to have any chance of success. Now leader of the Brexit party, but in 2015, he was leader of UKIP, remember them? With him, well, they’d be pushing at an open door. In 2015 UKIP won 12.6% of the vote which got them all of er….1 MP. Had the Liberal Democrats and the Brexit Party together campaigned for a fairer voting system then possibly. If Vince Unable had said in 2014, in 2017, or her election as Liberal Democrat Leader Jo Swindle had said, upon being elected Lib Dem leader, ‘I may disagree with the Brexit Party – in fact, I vehemently oppose everything they stand for – but being Liberal Democrat, I believe that if you voted for the Brexit Party, your vote should count for something. As a Liberal Democrat, but a democrat first and foremost I don’t believe that any vote should be a wasted vote. ’

 

But they didn’t with the result we are where we are because of it. Mind you, her plan to unilaterally revoke Article 50 was a vote winner, wasn’t it?

And what chance a change to the voting system, doing away with FPTP, a method used in one other European country, that textbook example of democratic excellence, Azerbaijan? As much chance as I have of winning gold at the next Olympics in the 100 meters. Why would any party that has consistently benefitted to from FPTP want to change it?

Just keep reminding yourself that ultimately it’s the 27.3% of the electorate who fucked us over, granted the voting system didn’t help matters, but a voting system first and foremost needs people to vote in it.

Unless you’re in Russia.

My Election Notes 2019: E-Day + 4

One of the most blatantly misleading falsehoods is the oft-repeated Conservative assertion that the last Labour government was somehow responsible for financial crisis. And that only due to the good offices of successive Conservative governments and the policies they implemented has this country returned to prosperity.

What, you mean the GLOBAL financial crisis, that affected most developed countires? That one? The one that because of the inter-connectedness of global money markets had a profoundly cataclysmic effect here in Britain. Those effects that were as unavoidable as they were inevitable, that one?

The one that was caused in part by highly speculative and risky financial transactions, the kind of things the chancellor and Mekon lookalike, former senior executive at Deutsche BankSajid David was flogging. That one?

The one that was helped in part by successive UK governments pursing ‘light-touch regulation’, essentially allowing the financial industry free reign from any government interference. That is, until, the collapse of the British banking system that years of ‘light-touch regulation’ had facilitated and suddenly the industry realized that actually, yes, they did favour government interface and the government – the taxpayer – bailed them out. That one.

It makes me mad that no-one calls them out on this, or if they do, it doesn’t make headlines in the same way a working parent eking out a few more quid by doing some cash in hand work is. Whets the difference? One is for survival, the other is greed. And Britain voted for five more years of it. Wonderful.

My Election Notes 2019: D-Day + 3

As the regular reader of this blog knows only too well, it’s not the people who voted in ways inimical to my beliefs and values I find worthy of the vilest of contempt, although they’re bad enough. But living as we do in a democracy, at least they played their part and participated.

It’s the people who never vote, they’re the fuckers who’ve fucked us. And it isn’t only at this election only! Fuck no, the fuckers have been busy – well not busy busy exactly – fucking us over since the 1950’s. That was the last time the turnout at a UK general election was more than 80%. How they measure this I don’t know, but presumably it’s the people registered to vote. I doubt very much that anyone examines the latest UK Census data and measures the discrepancy between adults of voting age there and on the electoral roll. But my point is that everyone who could’ve voted, didn’t

At this election Conservatives got 43. % share of the vote, on a turnout of 67.3%. Which means that less than ¾ of the adult population voted and of those, less than half voted Conservative. In what possible universe does this mean they’re ‘A people’s government’ as Boris’s Johnsons podium outside No.10 boasted on Friday? OK, yes, the people who bothered enough to vote Conservative, but given more people voted against them than for them, its not exactly what you’d call decisive, is it?

In fact turnout at every UK general election this century has never reached over 70%. One might be forgiven for thinking that disillusionment with the existing political system, its inability to carry out the referendum result, together with the oft-repeated claim that this was the most important election in generations, might have changed things.

But no! The fuckers would’ve appeared to have reared more fuckers to fuck us all. The result is that they’ve helped Boris’s Johnson put the con into Conservative.

My Election Notes 2019: E-Day + 2

Now that the initial shock of both the scale of Boris’s Johnsons victory and some of the places he was victorious has weaned off a bit I am struck by the following.

I know this is going to seem juvenile, mainly because it is, but I’m amazed that Jo Swindle has resigned as leader of the illiberal unDemocrats after not being re-elected as an MP. Who saw that coming? Based on the her core message throughout the campaign, I’d have expected her to refuse to accept the democratic will of the people in her constituency but instead say that they knew what her principles were and whilst they might not agree with her about them, she was going to stand by them. Her principles, that is.

She was also forever banging on about her values, as if by sticking to them, that was in and of itself a good thing. I’m sure Aileen Wournos had values she stuck to as well, but was that such a good thing ?

That was essentially her message to the whole UK electorate. I’m basically a bad loser and I’m appealing to all the other bad losers out there, to stop knitting their lentils and vote for me. She was the political equivalent of a child putting it’s hand over it’s ears and screaming,” I can’t hear you!” when it’s Mum tells her to eat their vegetables.

But now I’ve got to schlep all the way across London to Battersea to collect my car that’s been in for repairs. So bye