The minimalism of verse, existentialism with anthropomorphism…
Mushrooms grown in the dark are best served as appetisers.
THE WRITER’S LIFE
If you’re ever frustrated with life, and how it seems to be ruled by forces beyond your control, there’s always the 1980s. Hacking was a much simpler game then.
In that golden age, teenagers like me (as I was then) would watch films like WarGames and wonder when we might get our hands on the technology those American kids had in their bedrooms. In the 21st Century, some of us in the UK have acquired laptops and worked out how to connect them to the outside world.
While wandering around outside tonight, I found a place where you can mess around with app code and change the settings in various smart device apps. It struck me as a good way to tell a story: I could make a cannibalised version of a Space Invaders clone.
MentalFloss on WarGames
I just changed the text, the sounds and the sprites, including the player’s missiles, which are me in my 1970 birthday shirt. The enemies are the same as they’ve always been, but I’ve updated the graphics to better reflect the contemporary. It’s somehow cathartic to shoot oneself at personifications of 8-bit caricatures, but frustrating that there are so many.
There’s a story in the game. See if you can beat my hi-score. See if you can get past the boss. I think I have a strategy which my current best doesn’t reflect. It’s only a simulation, of personal-space invaders. Click to play, in The Game where you’re IT.
THE WRITER’S LIFE | POETRY
I prefer doorways to doors, things which hold others, yet with no equal reason for being there. I favour skirting boards to taking the floor; and here I am, foot in hand, talking to my door about why I don’t like it. Talking to myself and feeling old:
I find doors difficult to walk through, like Patrick Swayze did in Ghost
People knock on doors
Many doors are closed when I’m awake
People don’t hold doors open much now
Apart from garage doors, all are ‘Push’ or ‘Pull’. None say ‘Lift from the bottom’
If you leave a door open, anyone can get in. If the door’s not there, you’re equal
Doors with locks are a human construct
I fear the next shit sandwich through the letterbox. If I only had a dog. It’s a frame of mind I’m in…
Image: Lawrence Manning, from OzTypewriter, The Wonderfull World of Typewriters (blog)
Cats scratch, carpenters carve. I wasn’t going to be so short-sighted as to wish them a slow and painful death in return, so I let them have the last word. Better to knit rope than go fishing. While the fishermen of ancient Britain gained the family name of Fisher, Lakers sat on the banks and made nets. Possibly.
Rebuilding this planet will require not just carpenters but many trades, or possibly occupants of interplanetary craft
THE WRITER’S LIFE | POLITICS
As a Labour Party member disaffected by the leadership, and with The Greens not fielding a candidate in my local election, I voted Lib Dem. Just putting that out there.
Despite the general apathy I witnessed at the booths (I voted by post), no vote is wasted, especially when it’s not for one of the two main parties. We need to change the political landscape if we’re to have any hope of a future.
As it turned out, if the results were replicated in a general election, the Lib Dems would poll around 19%. Now all they need to do is join up with the Greens (who would poll 12%) and you’ve got a workable coalition which could land an overall majority.
Meanwhile we’re in the midst of the Third World War and we’re blind to it. It’s a war engineered by politicians in the UK, the US, Russia, and worldwide. It’s designed to fracture society, left vs. right to realise their social cleansing agenda. They under-estimate our intelligence at their peril, when we could unite against a common foe.
I’ve not written much over the last few months, least of all about UK politics. The fascist social cleansing agenda of the Tory dictatorship is a machine I’m consumed within myself, as the ruling party commit economic murder on a nation they’ve divided. The United Kingdom is an international joke, and the government is our shame. It’s difficult to write about one of the antagonists making you ill when their aim is prevention, but I’ll only be heard if I write, even if not all the words are mine.
I read an online post recently, which saves me several months of updating this blog with my opinion on the UK government, and of Brexit, which was always about internal divisions within the Conservative Party. Instead of sorting out their own differences, like long-term thinkers and responsible government do, they decided to destroy a country and its democracy. Deliberately. This by Attila the Stockbroker on Facebook:
This unprecedented period of division and chaos in our country is entirely the Tories’ doing. No-one else’s – it is literally entirely theirs. If you are in any way unconvinced I think it’s time for a recap.
Firstly, Cameron decided to foist a referendum on us in the mistaken belief that it would settle the Tories’ split on Europe once and for all by showing the ‘Eurosceptics’ that the majority wanted to stay in the EU. He never dreamed for an instant that the slavering bigots of the tabloid press, dark money and the likes of Cambridge Analytica would prove cleverer and more influential than his countless corporate backers when it came to influencing voters. A ghastly coalition of liars won the referendum in a welter of fake news and appalling xenophobia.
Then May called a snap general election in the mistaken belief (re-enforced, let us remember, by 99% of all known mainstream media) that she would trounce the ‘unelectable’ Jeremy Corbyn and gain the huge majority to complete Brexit in the way she wanted to. Instead she lost her slim majority and could only cling on to power by bribing the unspeakable 17th century boggle eyed rednecks of the DUP.
(An aside here: if you are going to inveigh against ‘terrorist sympathisers’ then the DUP are as much in that category as Sinn Fein. Of course, one person’s ‘terrorist sympathisers’ are another woman’s route to power in a country with a tame right wing press and cowed BBC. Imagine the utter furore if the situation had been reversed, Labour were the largest party and Corbyn then persuaded Sinn Fein to take their seats to give him a majority….)
And then May made the most appalling and yes, disloyal, unpatriotic decision of all the festering, diarrhoea sodden, burst colostomy bag in a leaking bucket of unspeakably crap decisions she has come up with in the past three years….
Instead of recognising the severity of the situation and reaching out to other parties, she put the interests of the Conservative Party above those of the country and allowed her Brexit strategy to be dictated by the appalling Lord Snooty Rees Mogg and the aforementioned DUP.
And that brings us on to the backstop issue. Let us not forget that the DUP are supposed to be representing a province which voted 63% to stay in the EU. Although a huge obstacle which needed to be high on the agenda in any Brexit negotiations, the Irish border issue had no real traction during what was (surprise, surprise) a thoroughly Anglocentric referendum campaign. So when it came up in Brussels the DUP, holding the balance of power in Parliament, could hold the country to ransom on the backstop issue to appease their ghastly followers with no problem at all – in no way reflecting the views of the vast majority of the people of Northern Ireland.
If May had reached out to other parties during negotiations and sidelined the slavering bigots on the Tory Right the DUP would have turned against her, binning her majority, and the Conservative Party would have split. As a literally lifelong Tory loyalist apparatchik devoid of empathy, humanity or imagination (those being self evidently the qualities required for that role) she was determined to avoid those eventualities at all costs.
Like Cameron who foisted the filthy referendum on us in the first place, she deliberately chose to split the country in two to avoid the Tory Party falling apart. Families and friendships torn asunder and British citizens literally fighting in streets and pubs is preferable to her than the end of the disgusting organisation to which she has dedicated her life.
I hope the Tory Party self-destructs anyway. I think it will. To coin a phrase, Parliament has to take back control now and save us from the abyss. There will be cross party co-operation and Lord Snooty won’t like that. Rot in hell, Rees Mogg. Rot in hell.
And the rest of us? Weep, Britain, weep. And if you care about this country, as I most certainly do, remember what the Tories – no one else, just the selfish, self-obsessed, navel gazing Tory Party – have done to us and never, ever, ever vote for them again.
I couldn’t have put it any better.
While we’re lied to by those in power, and their media friends who perpetuate those lies, the future of UK politics requires us to have faith rather than conviction. Democracy in the UK is broken, and Parliament is being exposed as what Guy Fawkes had a righteous objection to. We need to get rid of the current government, and consign them to history. What next for our once proud nation, where patriotism has been reclaimed by nationalists? Where do we go now?
The Prime Minister has kicked the Brexit can so far down the road, there’s hardly time left before the UK is obliged to leave the EU under current UK law (made by parliament). Leaving the EU with no deal was voted down, so now the MayBot has to ask the other 27 member states for an extension. Having already told the UK government they’ve done all they can, the EU will tell the PM to fuck off. So on March 29, Brexit doesn’t happen and the UK remains in the EU, or the Tories keep kicking the can? Again, the EU is running out of patience. This has taken two years, and what’s held the process up all that time (and cost billions) is internal UK parliamentary divisions. Just like it’s always been then.
The Tories’ opposition in Parliament has hardly been fit for purpose, caught up in their own internal battles and with a leader seemingly unable to offer a way out: a simple matter of a second referendum, where the working class who read the right-wing press which perpetuated the mess might be allowed another vote, now that they know what they were voting for. Perhaps even they can see now that ‘Taking back control’ means giving more control to the Tories and their fascist agenda.
We need a new government, but who’s fit to govern? The rest of the EU might be able to negotiate with a new PM, but who might that be? If there were a general election soon, no single party would manage a majority, and with Parliament shattered into so many pieces – opposing within parties, and agreeing across party divides – what might emerge?
If we’re given a vote we hope might mean something, who do we vote for? Not Labour, whose leader has various fences up his arse. Certainly not the so-called “Indies,” whose independence is only their own interests. My vote in any general election would go to The Greens, if they can only field enough local candidates. But that’s a massive hope, just as it is to wish for enough people to do the same. UK politics is broken, and so are the electorate.
Where’s the party which could be formed, when the voting public are starved and hungry for something new? When politicians are so keen to form alliances and coalitions, where’s the party which would at least unify enough people to make all the quiet voices of reason audible? Where are the centrist and remainer Labour MPs, The Greens, and the Lib Dems, who could form such an allegiance? Where’s the new party who can say they’ll get us through this, then because of their various political standings, they’re intelligent enough to know that progress comes from thesis, antithesis and synthesis; the ones who know that the long-term thinkers will prevail, because we can sort all the other stuff out once we’re less distracted?
Where’s the green socialist democratic movement, making the best of democracy as it’s become, even subverting it? Where’s the party which could disrupt the right-wing media read by the working classes? What if they levied a tax on personal data to finance a Universal Basic Income?
Where’s a New World Order Party when we need one? Where’s the redistribution of wealth our species needs? Where’s radicalism when we need it? Where are our elected representatives when we need them to do their jobs?
With what remains of a hacked democracy, we should seize what might be our last chance to take our country back. Us, the people, should re-take the country we once knew, back from fascist occupation. Back to a time before la folie of the last two years, before the United Kingdom ceased to be.
Now is the time to admit we got it wrong, all of us. But however convinced anyone is of leave or remain, it was all a big con. To prevent it happening again, we need to change politics. We need to stop this, then maybe we can all sit down afterwards and sort the rest out over a cup of tea or a warm beer.
Ultimately, we need to disrupt the politics of division. We need to think of the future we can only make for ourselves. The only one we might have. Britannia no longer rules the waves, but we can still lead the world by example.
I can’t help but think that might be aided by the Lib Dems and Greens joining up. When differences are small, it’s far easier to find common ground and form lasting coalitions (possibly even the ‘Strong and stable’ which has become farcical under the current fascist dictatorship).
Usually politics moves slowly, but this is a fast change. With European elections coming up in a couple of weeks, it could be the start of a monumental shift. It’s not radical, just rational.
See you around. Vive la Révolution.
THE WAY I SEE IT
The second worst thing that ever happened to America was the invasion of the (mainly white, British) ‘Pilgrim Fathers’, who trampled (figuratively and literally) over millennia of history and the spiritual beliefs of native Americans. The worst that ever happened to America was Trump. And he’s more than a man (although not in the way he imagines): He’s a happening.
The science fiction writer will look at possible near-future and more distant time frames, ideal, apocalyptic and everywhere in between. Some visions come true, and others we hope never will. But while they remain possibilities, we might also look for a different way, a means of changing things. In Trump’s United States, I see what many others do looking in from the outside, but which those inside the glass dome are oblivious to.
I only visited America once, on a business trip in 2001, and we were in Chicago when the world changed on 9/11. We were due to fly home that day, and I switched on the news just after the first plane had hit the World Trade Centre. It was surreal, but when the second plane hit, it became almost unbelievable, but for being there.
As a sci-fi aside, it’s why I find the film Cloverfield so effective: It was that moment of not knowing; fear of the unknown, the unseen and the unprecedented. It was confusion, panic, and a creeping blanket of terror, placing a transparent stone cover on the USA as all planes were grounded and human life in the skies was placed on hold. We were trapped beneath that cathedral dome, our home only seven hours away but the only means of transport had been swatted from the sky.
We ended up spending an extra week in the USA and apart from the global event which had just unfolded, what struck me most was how insular the country had either become or always been. It was incredibly difficult to find much news from home or anywhere else outside the US, it’s national resolve and self-reflected image of strength and pride.
A lot has happened since then (including the oasis of Obama) and now we have a caricature occupying the most powerful political office on the planet, like a lobotomised sack of Cheetos as the hero in a pulp fiction graphic novel. Like a cross between Richard Branson and Stelios Haji-Ioannou painted in the latter’s livery, Trump is an advert (and infomercial) for himself. He’s the self-aware star of his own Truman Show and the film set is America: Infana Kolonia (infant colony in Esperanto), filmed by Fox, of course.
A man who lives in his own biopic will have both fans and critics watching, and like many a stage queen, he’ll grow impatient with anything which holds him back. On his recent trip to Singapore, The Donald was reported to have tried to move everything forward, itching as he was to develop melanoma in his own orange glow. He apparently backed down when made aware of the time difference with the US, and how that might affect audience size.
The summit went ahead, the two leaders of the world’s most precarious nuclear powers swapped details of hairdressers, and not much else, according to more in-depth analysis than Fox. “The summit statement is big on hyperbole and short on substance,” said Suzanne DiMaggio – a senior fellow at the New America think tank who has led back-channel contacts with North Korean officials – in a Guardian article, “it reads like it was written by the North Korean negotiating team.”
Back in the day, if Barack Obama had attempted something so bold, Trump would have been among the leading voices (on Fox) denouncing the president for being ridden roughshod over by a dictator. But now Trump is both president and dictator, glorified on America’s TV screens by the national approved broadcaster (like Korean Central Television, and RT in Russia).
The Donald previously said he wanted to be treated like Kim Jong-un: “He speaks and his people sit up at attention. I want my people to do the same.” (HuffPost). He was referring to ‘his people’ in The White House. His captive home audience beneath the dome already do this, like disciples in a monumental cathedral of worship. Trump has already done what Hitler planned in Europe with New Order Nazism. The great architect will leave their mark on the landscape.
Back home in Infana Kolonia, Trump is separating children from their parents with his zero-tolerance (insular, frightened, paranoid, protectionist, ignorant) immigration policy. On a recent visit to a detention centre, NBC and MSNBC correspondent Jacob Soboroff noted that the walls are covered in murals of President Trump, bearing down on his subjects like a supreme leader.
Despite being immoral and inhumane, Trump’s government claim that separating parents from their children is in accordance with the bible. Religion has become law in Trump’s America (which has an irony all of its own, given America’s ‘War on terror’, actually a war with opposing religions). I’m an atheist (based on science), but if this is “In God’s name”, then those who believe in that God should question their faith: That God: their God, and how that has been twisted into a faith system, only so far removed from extremism, by fear. From where I’m sitting, that’s terrorism by any other name.
The Great Dictator has brainwashed his followers to believe anything he says, while everything he doesn’t agree with is fake news (climate change), and anyone who challenges him an enemy of the state. His subjects are beholden in suffrage, blinkered, blinded and unaware of how they’re being manipulated. Those of us on the outside looking in can see this, but that microcosm experiment – an infant colony beneath a glass dome – can’t see beyond their world which needs no other. Swingeing import taxes mean foreign goods find it as difficult to get in as asylum seekers and refugees, while Trump withdrew from the Paris Climate Accord to protect America’s oil and gas industries. The fewer monitoring bodies the US is a member of, the greater the opacity (and secrecy).
Trump’s United States knows little of its American history, pre-1776 and the signing of the Declaration of Independence (from British rule). The preamble to that new constitution bears little resemblance to what America has become:
“We the people of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty for ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.”
Now a fascist regime, manipulating its subjects with terror. In his fantasy biopic, the psychopathic, sociopath star of the show always has a way out, no matter how the rest of the story goes: He can nuke the rest of the world to make his problems go away, and gain his own world peace.
As a science fiction writer, at the moment a happy ending is too great a stretch of my imagination. The real terror is that Trump is so deluded, and his followers so smitten, that they can’t see what I can.
It’s all a fairy tale: The emperor’s new clothes. “God” save the queen. He ain’t no human being.
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