Perfidious Albion II

Was a little rushed this morning, and skipped over a few things.

The direction of travel suggests to me that the question of triggering Article 50 is going to be the major issue of the 2020 election.

There is a little more to this statement than the perpetually pushed back triggering of Article 50. The largest of which is the future of the currently dysfunctional United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

One of Mrs. May’s first official visits was to Holyrood Palace for an audience with the Queen of the North, the Great Nicola of Dreghorn. The reported content of their conversation was that there would be no invocation of Article 50 until there was agreement on a negotiating position within the Union.

Right. That’s going to happen in short order. Or, more likely, never.

It’s another one of those “evil genius, purely evil, or extremely shrewd” moments for the press to consider. Is the Queen of the North now on the hook to absorb the heaped opprobrium of little england as she valiantly saves them from their idiotic impulses?

Is it an excuse to moan, “If it wasn’t for that stubborn Scot we’d have taken back our country by now!” Or, more of a “Oh please Brer Fox, whatever you do, please don’t throw me into the briar patch”?

It’s pretty obvious that it puts another checkpoint in front of any call from the swivel eyed brigade – “we must respect the view of our partners in the Union… or are you prepared to be responsible for it’s destruction?!”

We may never know for sure one way or the other, but it’s very hard to see it as anything other than a delaying tactic.

Following on from Scotland is a report today that:

there will be no return to border checks for people entering the UK from the Republic of Ireland despite Britain’s vote to leave the EU.

That’s generations worth of clusterfuckery to be resolved! It’s not clear to me how it’s possible to have an open border between Ireland and Northern Ireland when one is part of the EU, with freedom of movement, and the other is fortress england. The obvious solution would be to introduce a hard border between Northern Ireland and little england… you can imagine how well that would be received in the Union.

In a lot of ways the unknown fate of Northern Ireland is one of the hardest parts of the referendum result to accept. It seems impossible to me that Cameron could ever gambled with the fragile peace in that region. The Good Friday agreement relies on Ireland and the UK being members of the EU to facilitate freedom of movement over the border. Is the potential resumption of The Troubles a reasonable outcome of internal Tory party spats really a price worth paying? Earlier when i referred to Cameron as “a political midget” i meant no offence to midgets…

And Wales? Well, Wales is fucked. As the song goes, “if you go to bed with the pigs, you wake up with the pigs”.

Perfidious Albion

A few people have asked how the recent “brexit” (oh, how i’ve come to loathe that portmanteau…) will effect me here in Europe. Now that a little time has passed, and given my generally inability to organise my thoughts verbally, it seems reasonable to attempt to put a few things down.

Things that we know:

  • the uk as a whole voted to leave the EU by a majority of 52%
  • Scotland and Northern voted not to leave, England <spit> and Wales … yes, well.
  • the referendum is non-binding – that is to say, there is no constitutional requirement for the government of the day to act, and obviously the actions of any future government are not restricted
  • until Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty is triggered the UK is still part of the EU, and must act within that legal framework
  • David Cameron is an idiot, a political midget

Everything that we thought we knew about the Tories under Cameron is now up for re-assessment. While there is no doubt that they will continue to pander to their constituents, and sell the general population down the river at the earliest opportunity, the means by which this will be accomplished will be different. That is to say, the formula for the sugar-coating on the bitter pill of english public life is being revised.

We don’t know much about Mrs. May. Her cabinet appointments are played up in the press as being of create significance. They are either the work of an evil genius, purely evil, or extremely shrewd. The only conclusion i’d draw is that they are more relevant to the Tory Party than the general public.

Anyway. Here we are, a month after the vote, and nothing has changed.

Before the vote the notification required by Article 50 was to be sent immediately.

The day after the vote Article 50 was to be the responsibility of the next (un-elected) prime minister, and all bets were off until some time in September.

When May was appointed, “Brexit means Brexit” (yes, very gnomic..), Article 50 would be triggered by the end of year.

Two weeks ago, when legal challenges made it to the courts, the government announced it had no intention to trigger Article 50 before the end of the year.

Last week Article 50 would be triggered early in 2017.

This week the deadline seems to have stretch out to Article 50 definitely being triggered by the time of the General Election in 2020.

The direction of travel suggests to me that the question of triggering Article 50 is going to be the major issue of the 2020 election. No, that is not what anyone is currently saying, but if there was an appetite for getting this process underway i very much doubt we’d be seeing the degree of back-peddling that is obviously happening.

What does all this mean for me? Well, delay is good – the residency requirement for applying for german citizenship is 8 years. The longer the decision to put off Article 50, the easier it becomes for me to make that application. There are other requirements (such as language ability) which i’d currently fail to meet, but they are not insurmountable. If it is possible to apply for German citizenship, and not have to give up my UK passport, that would be nice… but at this point i’m hardly tied to anything english.

In the worse case, where the UK turns around and triggers Article 50, without parliamentary approval, without waiting for the process in the courts to play out, etc. the two year negotiating period gets me close enough that it probably wouldn’t matter. Honestly, it’s hard for me to imagine a scenario where the EU, let alone Germany, implements forced repatriation – even if the UK acts irresponsibly and denies residency rights to existing EU citizens.

As John Lanchester’s brilliant London Review of Books essay ‘Brexit Blues‘ makes clear, the most likely outcome is an arrangement that maintains access to the EU markets, especially ‘passporting’ for the banks, and compromises on the demands to end free movement of people. This is “obvious” as the white working class voter is the constituency of least concern to the Tories:

So the likeliest outcome, I’d have thought, is a betrayal of the white working class. They should be used to it by now.

Yes, indeed they should.

In summary: Tory party politics spills over into reality, causing much chaos, confusion, and distress, but ultimately not changing very much. In many ways a fitting metaphor for england’s inability to comprehend it’s diminished role in the world. Post imperial decline’s a bitch!

Light Boxes

No idea why these advertising light boxes are the way that they are, but they are each end of the S-Bahn platforms at Hamburg Airport. Having walked past them, and occasionally taken the odd digicrap of them, here they are on film. In this case Kodak Portra 800 in the Natura Black.

It turns out that blue lights in a dimly lit underground station are about at close to a torture test as you can get for fast colour negative film. The obviously different light levels really didn’t help with a point and shoot. All of which made them an adventure to process – the white balance still isn’t consistent, but i give up!

Mystery why there are they and never contain any advertising… all other slots are always occupied, with these left open. Maybe they are a token gesture towards making the airport more relaxing / less commercial… or art? Ha!

Parting Shot

Umberto Eco died today. Over the years he’d entertained and bemused me in unequal measures. It always felt as though he was on a perpetual search in his works of fictions for the appropriate follow up to Name of the Rose. A case of ‘peaking too early’ perhaps?

His more scholarly, but entertaining nonetheless, writings existed in a tradition of european intellectualism that was not always accessible to me – the layers of meaning, playful exploration of ideas across languages, epochs, civilisations… i’ll miss the erudition he so obviously enjoyed displaying.

Today is a good day to remind small-minded england of the great european tradition of intellectualism, of thinking, and of the “european experiment” which has sought to bring peace to so many people. Here is an extract from Eco’s essay on Ur, or eternal, Fascism:

7. To people who feel deprived of a clear social identity, Ur-Fascism says that their only privilege is the most common one, to be born in the same country. This is the origin of nationalism. Besides, the only ones who can provide an identity to the nation are its enemies. Thus at the root of the Ur-Fascist psychology there is the obsession with a plot, possibly an international one. The followers must feel besieged. The easiest way to solve the plot is the appeal to xenophobia. But the plot must also come from the inside: Jews are usually the best target because they have the advantage of being at the same time inside and outside. In the U.S., a prominent instance of the plot obsession is to be found in Pat Robertson’s The New World Order, but, as we have recently seen, there are many others.

Fuck your special pleading. Fuck your culture of entitlement and greed. Fuck your appeals to xenophobic instincts. Fuck your attempts to enshrine diminished empathy in law. And most obviously: fuck you dishface.

What is Twitter Doing?

Don’t think twitter and i are going to stay friends for much longer… which is a real shame because up until recently it has been a really useful tool for keeping up / reconnecting with friends around the world.

To me twitter is a fairly private place* – i have a private account and have had since day one, only follow people that i know or are posting things that will be relevant, automatically prune my tweets with a month long moving window, am cautious about accepting new follow requests. Consequently my interactions with celebrities, brands, clickbaiters and other assorted scum of the earth is greatly limited.

Having curated my set of follows over time it has become a reliable means to keep up with what friends are doing (many of which live far far away), a feed of research happenings (mostly security and climate change related), and an “important” events feed (earthquakes, prime ministers fucking pigs, that sort of thing…)

That has all worked really well for a while. And then recently it stopped being so frictionless. At first it was just the website, but that was alright because the iPad client was still nice and simple. Then promoted tweets started coming up in the iPad feed… first i blocked all of them, then i started reporting them as spam. That was followed by ‘who to follow’ (otherwise known as, “fuck off! stop being creepy!”) and ‘while you were away’ (are there people too stupid to manage a timeline?). And, then i deleted it.

Which left me with the Mac client. When the App Store update for that one came i made a backup of the current client, and have been steadfastly refusing to be tricked into getting rid of the “1 update to apply” flash on the icon.

Eventually that client is going to stop working, and the only way forward from that point is deleting my account!

Obviously there are plenty of twitter replacements, but i know from past experience that it’s pretty much impossible to get any level of engagement on those platforms. Something new will come along, catch the zeitgeist, and we’ll do this whole rollercoaster ride again.

Which brings me back to the original question: what is twitter doing?!

Well, in the grand traditional of silicon valley startups, obviously they are attempting ‘monetise their user-base’. The people running the company now are not the same as those who put the original idea out there – they are long gone, and busy frittering away more money than they can ever reasonably be expected to spend in a lifetime on coming up with the “next big thing”. Which leaves us, the user-base, to deal with a wave of vultures all attempt to cash in before the collapse. Short-term profit over all.


 

*  this is probably an oddly considered use of twitter, or any SNS for that matter, but to me the wide open dash for followers / following is far more bizarre. In what social situation would you make connections and express your thoughts to almost complete strangers. What is normal about having hundreds / thousands of “friends” that you don’t know?

The situation is obviously different if your engagement with twitter is for promotion, information dissemination, performance, art, etc. but purely personal accounts? Odd.