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16 January 2019 @ 09:56 pm
[This post was going to be a post about my triumph at having sorted out VPN so I can watch the skiing on Sunday, with a short additional note on Brexit. It has not ended up this way. We begin at paragraph not-originally-one.]

I ought to be writing a post about Brexit, but honestly I am so furious about so many things that I scarcely know where to start. I was never going to be happy at the prospect of the UK leaving the EU, but I might have been reconciled to it by a responsible government that took a cross-party approach and negotiated with parliament and the EU alike in a good faith manner in the actual interests of the country and maintaining strong relationships with trading partners and allies. Instead we get Jacob Rees Mogg and David Davis drinking champagne, while May refuses to say that she won't go for no deal. Theresa May is utterly mad, and only one question remains: since a no deal exit would utterly destroy the Conservative Party, about which Brexit has always really been, why is this apparently a price worth paying for Brexit? And the answer* appears to be "because it keeps the Tories superficially together for just a little bit longer." Because Brexit is, and always has been, not a national affair but one of internal Conservative party politics, the latest manifestation of a long line of failures to contain the Eurosceptics. There is no deal for exactly the same reason that Cameron promised a referendum.

For May herself, I think that her total inability to ever admit she is wrong, or change her mind, is a powerful factor. "Brexit means Brexit", she says, continuing to fail to define the undefinable. Meanwhile the rest of us watch someone trying to do the same thing again and again expecting different results. There are no different results, not if you keep bringing back the same crap and going "What about this time? Do you like it this time? I made you wait a month, so you like it now?" May will not be prepared to budge on anything that might make the Tory Remainers or the opposition parties vote for it, even though that has been the obvious way to get a bill through the Commons for 18 months. She has to gain 116 extra votes without losing any (or at least gain one extra for each lost), and she has no strategy to do it because she is fundamentally incapable of compromise, as demonstrated by the fact that even though at this point a customs union might well fly, she has preemptively ruled out discussing it. The red lines** are apparently immovable. Apparently, the Brexiters would vote for her deal if she got rid of the Irish border backstop: except that the EU will of course refuse that, as has always been obvious, on account of their (1) supporting their continuing member, Ireland, and (2) having a slightly greater aversion to re-starting a civil war than the Conservative MPs apparently did***. The ERG will not budge on anything short of no deal, and even then they'll say you did it wrong because you can never appease a bunch of people who will only be satisfied with (1) making money for themselves and their mates out of chaos, and (2) bombing Brussels with a Lancaster pulling a banner reading "Up yours Delors!" And meanwhile they lie, lie, lie about the sunny uplands full of unicorn farms.

May's goal, I assume, is to preserve herself in power, the Tories in government as a single party in name however divided in practice, and to "Deliver Brexit." Every hour she achieves remaining witlessly in charge of the sinking ship is a success equal to actually patching the hole, because success is measured simply by the fact of having that power even if you can't exercise it. But ultimately she will fall, and she doesn't care that in doing this she is liable to pull down herself, the country, and the bloody Tories with her. No one votes for the party that leaves them without food on the supermarket shelves. No one.

I mean, it isn't everyday I find myself 100% in agreement with the head of the British Chamber of Commerce, but when he says "There are no more words to describe the frustration, impatience and growing anger among business after two and a half years on a high-stakes political roller coaster ride that shows no sign of stopping" I am absolutely with him.

And so, I bring you my solution: the PM will not resign. The Tories will not (yet?) force her out. Therefore we need something that would really shame the Tory donors into action: Theresa May/Boris Johnson/Jacob Rees Mogg deepfake porn. Normally I would be strongly against such things, but in a time of crisis all things must be considered.

*Well, one of them. The other is that people want to make money out of it and this is their vehicle.

**Surely a deliberate reference to the language of empire, mired as the whole project is in such poisonous nostalgia.

*** You would think that having your conference hotel bombed and the then PM nearly assassinated would help MPs to grasp that the Good Friday Agreement is a necessary thing to preserve, but apparently not. I suppose they don't take public transport and thus do not measure civil safety through the presence or otherwise of bins in railway stations, which inconveniences even the people not getting shot.

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14 January 2019 @ 06:59 pm
It turns out that Canadian snowshoe hares* are in fact not vegetarian, but cannibalistic meat-eaters.

National Geographic has the shocking expose.

*For Julian May readers, these are the ones that Teresa makes a blanket out of in Jack the Bodiless.

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28 December 2018 @ 05:52 pm
They haven't read/watched The Day of the Triffids. Seriously, I know that I am not alone in that if a mysterious blue/green flash in the sky were to occur the last thing I would do would be run out to look at it and take a photo. I thought everyone knew that the result of that was that the next day you woke up blind and hunted by carnivorous alien plants.

It has been confirmed that it is not triffids, the following video is therefore confirmed safe to watch. Probably.

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25 December 2018 @ 09:12 am
My family are all earwormed by Sleigh Ride, so I would like to share the opportunity.

May you all enjoy whatever you are doing today.

This entry was originally posted at https://nineveh-uk.dreamwidth.org/263157.html. Please comment there using OpenID.
18 December 2018 @ 06:25 pm
Two things occurring a lunchtime massively improved an otherwise wet, dark, and exhausting day at work.

(1) The impulse purchase in Tesco of a bottle of Parma Violet Gin. It was cunningly positioned between the escalator from where I had been buying chocolate (not in this case for me) and the tills. I like gin, I love violet flavoured things, how could I resist?

(2) On returning to the office I found that we were about to be visited by a nine week old Cockapoo puppy. It was beyond a doubt the most adorable dog I have every met*, ridiculously cute, sweet natured, bouncy*, and yet very, very happy to be held and curl up. I want one. I'm not going to get one because I don't want to look after a dog all the time, but my God if I knew someone with one I would dog-sit! I have to admit that I am reevaluating the character of Cabin Pressure's Carolyn Knapp-Shappey, having never quite realised what a cut and ridiculous dog she did indeed possess. I do however understand how useful they would be to get you out and talking to people, no-one could resist!

*It looked pretty much like this.

**Apparently they are extremely bouncy. A colleague has looked after one for a close relative and found it exhausting.

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Friends, Romans, Countrymen, lend me your ears
I come to rec this programme, and to praise it.

I need to make an important announcement: Netflix TV programme, now also just started on E4, The Good Place is a sitcom. I repeat, The Good Place is a sitcom, a series of 22 minute comic episodes about a bunch of people in an amusing situation. Starring Ted Danson (you'd think that would give it away).

Those of you who have seen it may think this is obvious, but no! Over the last year or so quite a few places/people have tried to rec The Good Place to me, but did any one of them do so by saying "It's a light-hearted sitcom that will raise a smile on a December evening?" They did not. No. It got recced to me as a thought-provoking programme about philosophy and ethics, possibly the most off-putting thing that you could tell me about a mainstream US drama beyond "a heart-warming tale of Mormon family life."* I know what US TV does with philosophy and ethics: I've seen House, and again and again thought "There's definitely standard clinical practice for that conundrum."** Give the babies one potential cure each and observe, FFS! Also the Faculty of Philosophy are downstairs in my office building and the last people I'd take philosophical and ethical advice from.***

Finally my sister asked me why I wasn't watching it. It's funny! she told me. It has Ted Danson in it and he's really good. It's a sitcom!

Reader, I watched it and I recommend it. It is a sitcom, it's well-put together, and it's very funny. Contrary to this (impressively spoiler-free) article you won't learn a thing from it to improve you as a human being. But hopefully you'll have 22 minutes of enjoyment.

*I tell a lie, I'd watch that for the cultural interest, at least if it were really well-acted.

**Not to mention "And just let House and Wilson get together." Now I want a House/The Good Place crossover.

***I was going to elaborate, but then I'd have to lock the post.

NB I'm up to episode 3 of series 2. No spoilers, please!

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15 December 2018 @ 01:42 pm
Sometimes a thought comes along that makes you think that you have taken a wrong turn in life. In this case that thing is "why don't I own a cat of this immense fluffy adorability?" Forget the fact that if I lived in Norway I could be skiing today, I want a Norwegian Forest Cat/Maine Coon* cat cross!

Her Instagram, and YouTube.

*Really? Are you sure? But she is certainly immensely fluffy.

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12 December 2018 @ 12:33 pm
In my programme of continuing to be an idiot I went into work and had to come home again... It turns out there's a flu-like bug going around. I really wish I'd known this, it would have helped me make better decisions. Although frankly going in because you want to be present for Christmas dinner when you haven't eaten anything other than toast and muesli since Saturday night was always going to be a stupid decision.

Meanwhile since this time yesterday:

- We have a vote of no confidence in the leader of the Conservative party (who is the Prime Minister, but this is a vote of no confidence in her as party leader). Watching Prime Minister's Questions is making me absolutely furious. We are the laughing stock of Europe and May is standing like a swivel-eyed loon yelling at MPs for their failure to vote in a vote she cancelled.

- Sky have announced they're stopping sponsoring the Team Sky cycle team after 2019. I'm sure it's nothing to do with the publicity turning sour, oh not at all.

- Petter Northug has retired from skiing.

Oh yes, and to cap my rubbish day yesterday my birthday present from my parents (a vase) arrived and I have to send it back because it looks absolutely nothing like the website photo. I knew that I should not have revised my opinions on LSA glass. [ETA: In fairness to LSA they have now offered a refund. But they ain't no Holmengaard.]

I no longer know where I am. I am going to sit down, turn off the politics, and read something extremely easy. And at some point I am going to attempt to gird my loins to write to some politicians.

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11 December 2018 @ 07:24 pm
I recently went to see the cinema broadcast of The King and I from the London Palladium, New York's Lincoln Center production that toured to London in the summer. It had won Tony awards and had fantastic reviews and indeed as far as the leads' performances were concerned they were well deserved, because Kelli O'Hara was absolutely fantastic with a gorgeous voice, and Ken Watanabe having the time of his life - not a great singer but such a good actor - and both have terrific stage presence, as did Naoko Mori's Lady Thiang. The cast were drilled to perfection, the staging was good, the children adorable.

There's just one problem: it's racist. I spent the entire evening cringing. This had been heralded as the culturally sensitive production, to which I can only say that I'd hate to see the insensitive one! So none of the cast were in yellowface, well that's a start. But my God, did the book need an overhaul. And that's the other problem, that it would have been relatively easy to do a production that was genuinely nuanced and, most importantly, not racist, and they didn't.

I don't think that The King and I should drop out of the musical repertoire as irredeemable*. It isn't. It is a really good musical with some great tunes, dancing, good characters, and great roles for singers to play. You don't need to overhaul the entire plot and make it "colonialism is bad" because that's already the explicit theme and the overarching plot would need relatively little tweaking. But you do need a production team to whom it occurs that perhaps lets not have a script in which the Thai characters speak in broken English throughout the whole sodding thing, but that has five seconds of establishing that most of our cast are not native English speakers and let theatrical convention do the rest. It's not as if musical as a genre is known for its realism. A production team that had grasped that the issue was more than one of "is this cast member plausibly south-east Asian" could easily have resolved every problem I had with it. I hope that one day one will do so.

In the meantime, I leave you with these further observations.

- I would love to see Kelli O'Hara again in something else. I see she's also sung Despina in Cosi, which doesn't surprise me. Any chance of her heading an English-language production of Elisabeth das Musical? She could carry off the wig.

- Clearly The King and the Skater from Yuri on Ice is a Thai film intended as a cash in on and satirical riposte to the original musical, inspired when a washed-up British figure skater was on holiday in Thailand and got talking to a man who turned out to be a holidaying director. And if you haven't read the plot of TKatS, you really should. It is batshit in the best way.

- Oh well, here's the dance bit of Shall We Dance.

*I don't think this of Carousel, either, which some people say. It is entirely possible to do a production that doesn't give a pass to domestic violence if he loves her enough, because I've seen it.

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I don't want to live in Alaska, but for the view from this house and the prospect of a visit from a mother lynx and SEVEN LYNX KITTENS I could be tempted!

I am off sick with a stomach bug/mild food poisoning. Not that bad really and much better now than in an fortnight's time, but not ideal. Yesterday's grand achievement was doing Christmas decorations in the sitting room and the washing up from Saturday, which was not exactly the birthday I intended. On the other hand, it could be worse - as I remember from my 9th birthday when I had a much nastier stomach bug and my birthday party had to be cancelled. I blamed an orange yoghurt and didn't eat another orange for 7 years. I have never eaten orange yoghurt again.

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