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Oh dear, another one

Country got its Woody
And blues got old John Lee
But if you like ose, try Leonard Cohen
He's a master of misery
He's tall and glum as a man can come
And he writes about pain and loss
And when the ose filkers all get together at night
Well they all call Leonard the boss, just because (sorry Bruce)
And they say

You don't tug on Superman's cape
You don't spit in a public phone
You don't pull the mask off that old Lone Ranger
And you don't filk Leonard Cohen.

I'm stopping this one right there, just in case.

Song

So my FB wanderings today led me to the West Wing tribute to John Spencer, which you may or may not know features a performance of that much misunderstood song, "Hallelujah." I've been feeling a bit fragile and tearful about politics in general lately, and harking back to that initially so idealistic vision was just too much. So, I'm sorry, but I have to do this.

Well, I know that there's a secret road
That you can find, if you know the code,
But sadly my decoder ring no worky.
It goes like this, the twist, the bend,
The sudden turn at the twilight's end,
I should have made a left at Albuquerque.
Albuquerque,
Albuquerque,
Albuquerque,
Albuquerque.

Well, your maps are good but they're out of date,
They've redesigned the interstate
And now the route through town is kind of quirky.
They'll send you down a one way street
To where a dozen highways meet
And none of them have signs for Albuquerque.
Albuquerque,
Albuquerque,
Albuquerque,
Albuquerque.

You'll swear that you've been here before
You've seen that bar and the grocery store
Although with time your memory has grown murky.
And you've seen that flag on the City Hall
But now they've dumped a shopping mall
Slap bang across the road to Albuquerque.
Albuquerque,
Albuquerque,
Albuquerque,
Albuquerque.

There was a time you used to know
The way to where you had to go
But now you sit here feeling like a turkey.
Your progress was so free and light
And you know it still could be all right
If you could just get back to Albuquerque.
Albuquerque,
Albuquerque,
Albuquerque,
Albuquerque.

Now maybe there's a judgement day
But all I learned along the way
Was how to live on Gatorade and jerky.
So now I'll end this final song
And join the lost and broken throng
Of weary pilgrims seeking Albuquerque.
Albuquerque,
Albuquerque,
Albuquerque,
Albuquerque. (and repeat out)

Two Magicians and a Boat is FINISHED!

Which is to say that I have got to the end of the story. I have wrote down all what happened. There must now be keen-eyed goings-through to make sure that the door that was on the left in chapter five is not on the right in chapter nineteen, and so on.

I will continue putting up episodes, just in case anyone is reading.

I never thought I'd get this far, honestly. I thought this story was bogged down for ever. So, whee. *waves hands feebly* Story finished. Whee.

Next, something else. :)

Chapter 17 of Two Magicians and a Boat!

CHAPTER SEVENTEEN

Driskil was in a really poor way.
The other students stood around his bunk and gazed down at him. The vomiting had stopped, but his skin was clammy and his breathing spasmodic and irregular. He no longer seemed to be aware of his surroundings.
“Poor old Driskil,” Burlox said.
“We've got to tell Old Stick,” Gorol said.
Thavaar raised an elegant eyebrow. “Do you think so?” he said nonchalantly.
“Driskil's sick,” Gorol insisted.
“Nonsense. Indeed, I dare say tush,” Thavaar said. “This, brother Gorol, is but a temporary indisposition, induced by a touch too much enthusiasm in his potations. He'll be all right by tomorrow.”
“You said that yesterday,” Burlox pointed out.
“No, Thavaar, he's really ill,” Gorol said. “I'm going to get Old Stick.”
“Are you quite sure, dear fellow, that you wish to involve the illustrious pedagogue at this point?” Thavaar inquired. “Would this not involve us all in somewhat delicate interrogations as to our extra-mural activities?”
“Involve you, you mean,” Burlox said rudely.
“I?” Thavaar was a picture of wounded innocence.
“You're the one who's been feeding us all that rot about being men and drinking beer,” Burlox continued. “If Driskil's drunk too much, it's your fault.”
“Brother Driskil is surely possessed of as much free will as any of us,” Thavaar countered smoothly. “If he chose to imbibe to excess, it was nobody's fault but his own. Still, brother Gorol, if you are determined—”
“No,” Gorol said. “I mean, yes I am, but it wasn't you. I know who it was made him like this.”
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Sunday Sinfests

I would love to see a large format art book, printed in full colour on good paper, containing all the wonderful Sinfest Sunday strips. Just for the beauty of them.

Sadly, I probably wouldn't be able to afford it. :)
CHAPTER SIXTEEN

The Pride of Tamland eased away from the mooring and moved sedately down the river. The banks on either side still presented a stark contrast; though the land on the Briom side was poorer now, the soil tending to clay and the wild growth along the bank looking rank and dismal, on the Tsenesh side the ground was even more barren-looking, the occasional bare rocks showing streaks of odd colours and scintillations in the watery midmorning sunshine.
And in the boatmaster’s office, Aldro Stychel turned on the two amateur investigators a smile as open and frank and uninformative as a child’s.
“I really don’t know what I can tell you, Lord Ildras,” he said, “that you don’t already know.”
“Why don’t you start by telling us a little about yourself,” Varnak suggested.
“Myself?” Stychel’s smile drooped a little. “Is that germane?”
“Why don’t you let us determine what’s germane and what isn’t?” Varnak countered pleasantly.
Stychel shrugged. “Very well,” he said. “My name is Aldro Stychel. I’m forty-three years old. I was born in Hyrcassos, in the capital city. I studied at the Royal College of Arts in Kyriopolis, in Briom, and then returned to my own country to take up a position as a teacher, where I have remained ever since. As you see,” he said, smiling again, “not much to tell. It’s a dull life, but I find it rewarding.”
“Is that all there is to it?” Mordecai said, on an impulse.
Stychel looked genuinely dismayed. “You’ve been talking to the boys, of course,” he said. “Gentlemen, I beg you to discount anything they may have told you. Wild stories—”
“They did not tell us anything,” Mordecai said. “Apart, that is, from a general air of ‘we could an if we would.’ They were very loyal and as discreet as such hardened topers can be. It was, however, enough.”
The teacher hesitated. Then he sagged.
“May I rely on your confidence, gentlemen?” he said, in a low voice.
“Absolutely,” Varnak said, looking curiously at Mordecai.
Cut to spare your friends page...Collapse )
Chapter sixteen of Two Magicians and a Boat is now complete, and I will be posting it over the weekend, one way or another. Watch for the announcement!

In the mean time, if you'd like to remind yourselves of what was going on, or if you're new to the story and want to start from scratch, you can find parts one to fifteen here:

http://www.avevale.org/index.php/episodes-plays/10-epsodes-plays/26-two-magicians-and-a-boat

They come in PDF, EPUB or MOBI formats, and they're actually not bad. Do have a look.
...no being has been led to Nirvana.

A conservative talk show host, whose name escapes me because I didn't save the link, has had the courage and the honesty to come out and say what has been increasingly obvious for some time; that it is now impossible, in this Disinformation Age, to say to anyone "These are the facts" and be believed. For every source, there is a counter-source; for every fact-checking site, a conspiracy theory discrediting it. You pays your money and you takes your choice, and there has never been so much wonderful choice when it comes to information.

One commenter's response: "These people do not live in Factland."

I have news for this commenter. Everybody lives in Factland. And nobody lives in Factland.

Factland is the real world, the one that hurts, the one in which people get sick and lose their jobs and their homes and their loved ones. We arrive in it when we are born, we leave it when we die, and there is no other way to leave it. That's on the one hand.

On the other hand, where we all actually live is inside our heads, behind our eyes, between our ears, and Factland can never truly penetrate those barriers. All knowledge is predicated on belief, belief in the reliability of our senses, the validity of our reason, the credibility of the authorities we choose to trust. Where we truly live--whether we are conservative, liberal, socialist, libertarian, green, purple, or whatever--is in a reconstruction of Factland that we create inside our heads, from the information we take in, and in which we believe.

Aaaaaand that, my lovelies, is where it all starts to go horribly wrong.

Because, whereas in earlier times our sources of information were few and trusted, now we have the internet with its wonderful freedom, and desktop publishing software that can make any load of old rubbish look sleek and authoritative, and everybody's doing it. Call yourself the Institute of Confirmation Bias, or ICB for short, knock up a few graphs to prove that employment in southwestern Montana has declined 63.26% since old Missus Henryburke started up her home-made lemonade business, and someone will believe it and quote you on Facebook.

Left-wing journalist Paul Mason has written a book called Postcapitalism, and the Guardian has published what may be an extract, or a summary, or an article on related themes, by the author, here: https://www.theguardian.com/books/2015/jul/17/postcapitalism-end-of-capitalism-begun

The article is full of studenty handwaving of the kind I deplore ("a new kind of human being" is emerging, according to Mr. Mason. As sf readers, we all know what happens when "a new kind of human being" emerges. We saw it in Midwich.). Apparently the information revolution is going to lead to the abolition of intellectual property (!!!) and a new age of "free time and free stuff." He doesn't go into any details as to how this will work; presumably the book (which, by the way, is not free) will be more enlightening. As it is, there's a good deal of "the left must reshape its policies" and "the left must reinvent itself" and so on, without any hints as to what this process might actually involve. I remember the last time the left reinvented itself. It reinvented itself as the right. I do not want that to happen again.

But Mr Mason makes the same omission as everyone else whose writings in this vein I have read; he seems to be assuming that information is of a consistent value. Information in Factland comes in all colours and shapes, and there is no hallmark, no way to tell from the information itself whether it is true, inaccurate or a pack of utter lies. If information were the currency of this new world (to be fair, he doesn't actually say that it is) then we would have a huge counterfeiting problem before we've even got started. Information, in itself, will not make any positive difference, till we have a touchstone to sort the gold from the dross.

But it's not all waffle. He does say many of the same things I have been saying in my posts about work and democracy, which of course are quite true because I believe them. :) If free market capitalism is truly ending, and if to see the end of it we have to give up the idea that when we write songs or stories people might give us money to hear or read them, then maybe that's a price worth paying for the death of wage slavery and work-or-die ideologies.

Mmmmaybe.

In other news, I am broke till Monday again, and would be grateful for any possible assistance. (EDIT: okay, Worldcon weekend was a stupid time to ask. Sorry. Never mind.)

Writing again!

Two Magicians And A Boat is rolling once more! I have managed to push her off the sandbanks and patch the holes in the hull, and we have a fair wind at the moment.

I'm not sure where I will upload the next bit. I really need to work out why I couldn't upload to Avevale before. (And remember how I did it when I could...) If I can't, it will probably be here.

I'm really happy about this. Unlike real writers, who famously only like having written, I actually enjoy writing. So (in among other things) I'm having fun at the moment.
Copied, pasted and expanded from FB:

"Our assumptions were right all along, study finds."

I do irony sometimes. It's among the tools in my tool box and I use it. And when I've used it, I put it back. It can be a useful coping mechanism, used sparingly. If you need it on all the time, there's something else that needs addressing.

I don't do "ironic viewing." This is totally my personal choice and YMMV, but I find that when I step back out of a story, written or acted, to comment on it ironically, I'm not enjoying the story any more, I'm enjoying my own supposed cleverness. The story isn't really a part of the process any more; it's not necessary. I could just marvel at the superior way I see everything, all the time, every day.

I do not want to set my foot on that road.

I do not want to waste stories.

I do not want to fall into the deadly trap of thinking myself superior.

But when I see that a study has concluded that people who do "ironic viewing" are indeed more intelligent than those who do not, that's when I definitely feel like stepping back and making an ironic comment, as I did above. And that is yet another superiority trap, of course.

I'm not better than people who view ironically. I have many friends who do it, and they certainly are intelligent. I've been at video sessions where the irony was on so loud I couldn't hear the actual dialogue, and that was okay.

I am not more intelligent than anyone else.

I just don't like to waste stories.

The other problem arising from the prevalence of "ironic viewing" is that you start to see things coming out that were clearly made ironically. They were created, written, directed, by people who felt superior to their material, for people to watch who feel superior too. Fake B-movies, all gimmick and no plot, to be claimed as a "guilty pleasure" with a modest, self-deprecating smile that screams "I am so far above all this." It's all a rarefied game for a self-styled elite, fake stories mocking the real, everyone on both sides of the camera standing so far back, so detached, as to be practically floating in space. No engagement. No love.

Ed Wood made some bad films, for various reasons, but as far as I know he never, ever did it deliberately, and he loved what he did. And if his work stands as proof that sometimes love is not enough, it doesn't disprove my belief that love is where you have to start. Love is the foundation.

Irony is the true opposite of love.

Again, just my opinion.

Back to this now

I hate to have to ask, especially as my problems are so trivial compared to those of others among my friends, but I'm back in the broke-till-Monday trap. I've held it off for quite a while, but I have nothing left in the kitty and will need to buy food and other provisions tomorrow.

If you can spare anything to send via Paypal, every little will help.

Thank you.

EDIT: Thank you so much to those who helped. The crisis is resolved now. I'm sorry I had to ask.

Was I oppressed?

Binge-reading Assigned Male is very good for focusing on transy stuff...

Was I oppressed by cisnormativity when I was a kid? No, I don't think so. Neither my parents nor I had the slightest idea that anything was amiss. I had good days and bad days. I didn't even have the vocabulary to frame the concepts I would have needed to recognise oppression. I didn't have unquenchable longings to wear my mum's dresses (well, our colour senses were totally different...). When my height got me the lead role in "Santa Claus Gets Busy" at primary school, I don't remember an overwhelming sadness at not being able to play a fairy instead (though I do remember liking their costumes).

I do know that you don't have to be aware of oppression to be oppressed...but I also feel that for there to be active oppression there must be an active oppressor. Passive oppression is just like this weather; nobody is doing it, nobody is willing it, quite possibly nobody is even aware it's happening. There were no villains in my young life, no sneering patriarchs wielding the whip. The kyriarchy was there, as it had been for thousands of years, and it was actively oppressing people outside my awareness, in other places, but me, no. Which, of course, is also a measure of my privilege.

I think there's been a sea-change since then. I think that now it's no longer easy for anyone to pretend that the kyriarchy doesn't exist. I think that now there is a lot more active oppression than there was back in the fifties, because a, people everywhere are more aware of their own marginalisation and that they have a choice as to how they deal with it, and b, people who have not suffered under the kyriarchy, or have even benefited from it, are feeling defensive and threatened as awareness spreads, and a natural human response in that situation is to double down and defend the unfairness on whatever grounds suggest themselves. I escape active oppression now because I'm only out online and only my friends know or care, but sooner or later, I think, that restriction's going to start to chafe just the way my boy name did, and then I'll have some choices to make. But that's down the line.

So...what about the parents I know, all of whom as far as I'm aware have allowed their children to be assigned genders at birth? No, they're not oppressing either. It's not oppression to make a best guess at or before the moment of birth, while the brain is still booting up and finding out what all the levers and buttons do. "WAAAAAAA" is not helpful as a guide to orientation. A new child needs something to hang an identity on; there have to be certainties at that point, solid facts, even if later on they turn out to be less than solid. I know that if any of their children starts to find their assigned gender problematic, the parents I know will be understanding, gentle, and absolutely open to whatever path the child wishes to follow. Because I have the very best friends, that's how I know.

Not coping

There now follows a self-pitying whinge on behalf of me.

A kind friend sent me money so I could sign up to support Jeremy Corbyn, but we need food and electricity more, so the deadline passed and I didn't sign up. And now I hear he's let us down on an important vote, and I'm just waiting to be told he's been working for Murdoch all this time. Even if he isn't, it's entirely possible, as someone was kind enough to explain to me, that the 120,000 people who joined Labour after he was elected leader were only joining to throw him out, because people really want an opposition that agrees with the ruling party ninety per cent of the time, and the idea of a government that supports and represents the ordinary people, the desperately in need, the marginalised and the oppressed, really revolts them. So he'll lose the vote, and we'll be back to a one-party, all Tory all the time state, and May will start another stupid war because Saint Tony said wars make prime ministers popular and let's face it nothing else she does is ever going to do that. And now we've agreed to spend all that money on Trident it'd be a shame not to use it, wouldn't it?

And over in America, the Hillary supporters will all relax and not bother because she's got it in the bag, and the millions of people who don't like her will all stay home or vote for Ernie Dinkelfwat or Bugs Bunny or someone, and everyone will be SO FUCKING SURPRISED when Trump gets elected and the whole fucking world goes to hell. One of the strongest, brightest, most determined people I know is finding it hard not to despair, so how the fuck am I supposed to do it? I'm not strong. I've been being a stupid weak man for sixty years. I never got to develop the strength I should have had if I'd been able to be my proper gender all this time. My growth got stunted. I can't make up for decades of spiritual malformation in a few weeks.

And--tiny, trivial, perfectly innocent and harmless--I just got through explaining how important it is to me that I be able to express my gender through the conventions we have now, and someone explains to me that they were different in the seventeenth century. Um, yes, know that actually. And right now I'm trying hard not to cry because I can't even explain MYSELF properly, and there's so much that needs saying and either I'm talking Martian or nobody's listening, and the world's going to hell and I can't stop it and I do not want to live in the world we're going to have and I don't know if I even can.

I've got to go to bed. I hope I'll sleep. I hope I'll feel stronger in the morning. I hope there will be better news.

This has been a self-pitying whinge on behalf of me. Sorry, and if you read it, thank you for your patience.

Jul. 15th, 2016

Copied and pasted from FB, where it got two reactions and two comments...

I'm sorry, this is another political post, but I cannot be silent. (Edited for clarification. Never write angry.)

If anyone is in any doubt that Theresa May means this country, or this planet, nothing but harm...if anyone was for one second taken in by the pack of blatant and unrepentant lies she offered in her speech...let that doubt be laid to rest, let the truth drive out deceit. Among the very first decisions she has made is this, the decision to stifle and destroy all the work we had just begun to do to heal our desperately wounded biosphere.

She is not an evil person. There are no evil people. There are evil ideologies, and the ideology that she serves is evil from the rotten core out to the suppurating rind. There are evil actions, and this is the first of many.

THIS. MUST. BE. STOPPED.

We cannot afford to despair. We cannot afford to shrug our shoulders and say "that's just the way it is." We cannot afford not to do whatever we can. They will tell us that we are just a few people, liking and sharing and clicking buttons on the internet, that that never achieves anything. Are they right?

We have global reach here, theoretically. Our words can travel across the country, across the planet. We, those of you reading this and I, we have skills, we have talents, that could be put to use. We have what has long been touted as the ultimate means of communication here. They call us the "twitterati," a demeaning term for permanently outraged middle-class uselessness. Are they right?

We have real cause for outrage here. For decades our political system has been hijacked by a new kind of bourgeoisie, a political class in the pockets of the super-rich and working for them against us. We have known all this time that successive Conservative and "New" Labour governments have accepted donations from the owners of global megacorporations and directed government policy according to their wishes and to our detriment. They openly admit it. Rupert Murdoch made a joke about it. "When I go to Downing Street they do what I say." They think we are powerless against them. Are they right?

I could go out and walk the streets of my home town passing out leaflets and yelling at people in the High Street and achieve nothing. This town will never forsake the Tories. Here, at my keyboard, I can be useful. I can talk to people who are in doubt, whose minds are open. I only need to be aimed in the right direction. I am not alone. *We* are not alone.

I have little to offer, but I have words at my command. Let me do something. If you know of any place where my words can be effective, where they can reach people who need to be reached, tell me where to look.

Can we achieve anything? I don't know. Are we merely twitterati? I don't know. Are we powerless? I don't know. LET'S FIND OUT.

Rules

It is not the breaking of rules that causes damage.

It is the idea that when a rule is broken, it is gone.

Suppose there's a speed limit of 30mph on a certain road. One day, someone drives along it at 35mph. The next day, everyone is driving at 35mph, and the authorities put up a new sign saying the limit is 40mph. The next day, someone drives along it at 43mph...

It wouldn't happen, right? The rules are there for a good reason and are enforced by people employed for the purpose. If someone breaks them, that's bad for that person (and for anyone they hit) but the rule still applies to everyone else.

In 1917, Marcel Duchamp took an ordinary urinal, signed it, called it "Fountain" and submitted it to an art gallery. This was a Dadaist joke. By calling it art, he said, the artist made it into art. He broke the rules; the rule that says art has to be something you create, something you work at, something into which you put your soul; the rule that says art has to convey something, an emotion, an image, a story, an atmosphere.

And from that point on, those rules were gone. It didn't matter if the art was incomprehensible to anyone but the artist, or required two closely typed pages of explanation which rendered the art itself superfluous; it didn't matter that the art piece itself involved little or no creativity or craftsmanship. Jokes could be art. Anything could be art. A pile of bricks could be art, an unmade bed could be art, a dismembered corpse could be art. The rules were gone.

And that's what does the damage. Because when the rules are gone, you have to find other rules to break if you want to be known as a rules-breaker...and when you've broken them, they're gone too. You end up running out of rules. And in art, rules help.

The country of gender

This is where I live now.

It's an island, or maybe more of a continent, roughly square but quite big, with some lovely scenery. I spent most of my life in one of the two major cities, the one in the south-west corner, but I was never happy there. I never knew why, though. It was a shame really, because the people were quite diverse and there was always a lot going on, but so much of it seemed rough and abrasive and loud. I felt I wanted to live somewhere quieter, somewhere with a more interesting cultural life, somewhere I could feel more comfortable. But nobody was allowed to leave. Or so I thought. Actually, for a long time I thought the city was all there was...for me at least.

There was the pen pal scheme, of course. When you grew up, you could have a pen pal in another city, way over across the country on the north-east coast, and you could write letters to each other. You were only allowed one, for all your life--at least that was the theory--but you were allowed to choose from a big thick directory. It was sort of expected of you. Writing letters to other people in the city was strictly forbidden.

As time went on, I learned that there were other large towns. I didn't know much about them, but there was a road leading straight north out of the city, and from what I heard it went to a town up in the north-west where you could write letters to people in the same town as you, who all came from the city. That seemed like a nice idea, but I never had any urge to write letters to anyone from my city. Besides, I heard that the north road was dangerous. You could get beaten up, robbed, even killed. People from the city did not like anyone taking that road.

When I got older, I heard about the underground railway. If you knew where to go, and you knew the right people, you could apply to go on it. There were lots of tests, and some of them sounded really awful, and even sort of arbitrary, but if you managed to pass them all, you'd be called for one night, and hustled into a doorway, and down some steps, and then you'd be on the train hurtling through the dark tunnel for a while, and then you'd be let out in the other city, and you'd have to spend the rest of your life there. That seemed a bit absolute to me, a bit final, you know? And you had to spend, ooh, I think it was two years, still living in this city but pretending you were living in the other one, and didn't know what living in this city was all about. That just sounded silly.

But I wasn't happy. I had a pen pal by now, and she was lovely, but something was pulling at me all the time, making life in my city uncomfortable. I really didn't want to stay there, but I had nowhere else to go. I'd learned that in the other city, the one my pen pal lived in, there was a road that went south. It was just as mischancy as the north road, but it led to a town where people from that city could live and write letters to each other. That seemed like the place I was born to live in, but how could I? Even if I took the underground railway, there were rigid rules against anyone who did that ever leaving the other city again. The one option that felt right was barred to me. So I just made the best of it. I moved to a new house, high up on a hill where people weren't so brash and noisy, and I wrote to my pen pal, and I just got on with living.

And then--this is the important part--I began to hear about people who didn't live in any of the towns or cities. They lived where they wanted. They. Lived. Where. They. Wanted. Some of them lived on high hills right in the middle of the country and didn't wear the colours of either city or have pen pals at all. Some of them lived in the towns and wrote to people all over the place. Some of them just struck out from their home cities and went north, or south, or west, or east, as far as they wanted to do and then built themselves houses. Some people even had caravans and wandered. Outside the cities, you see, there were no rules. You could live where you wanted, write to whomever you wanted, be whoever you wanted. There was a whole land out there, hardly inhabited at all.

I had to find out what it was like. I had to find somewhere I could truly live.

So, one dark night, I packed a suitcase, crept out of my house on the high hill, walked quietly down through the noise and the crowds and the smells to the city wall, which really wasn't that high or well guarded, and climbed over. I walked till I was tired, always heading east, and slept under a hedge, and when I woke up next morning, I was free.

Well, not entirely free. My house is still in the city, and I have to sneak back in and spend time there so nobody notices I've gone, but it's not where I live any more. I haven't found my place yet. I don't think I'd be welcomed in the southeastern town, not now. I've spent too much time in that city; the colours are worn into my skin, and besides there's no road between those two places, hardly even a track, though I've seen some footprints. My pen pal knows I wasn't happy, living in that city, but she expects me to keep writing to her from there and I can do that. But oh, oh, it's such a relief to get away from those frowning walls and that incessant noise and lose myself in the country. Or find myself, rather. Because I think in a way I've been out here all the time, just waiting for myself.

And I'm so very, very happy to be here now.

A flight of fancy

From the Protocols of the Grocer of Grantham, chapter 7 (a paranoid conspiracy theory with absolutely no foundation in reality):

"By now, with your people safely entrenched in both the other major parties (and I do hope you have not neglected the Liberal Democrats; they may seem like a spent force, but could still cause trouble unless properly domesticated), you should be in a position to pursue our agenda without further disruption. However, it is important to be vigilant. At any point, such are the vagaries of politics, Labour may throw up a leader who refuses to toe the line. This will be a man of principle, determined, unwavering, and possibly possessed of sufficient charisma to inspire the plebs with hope. IT IS VITAL THAT THIS MAN BE GOT RID OF WITHOUT DELAY. I have listed some possible candidates from among the young firebrands of the Left in Appendix VI (and remember my advice in chapter 3 about the importance of keeping these lists updated. It will be no good consulting them in 2050 or 2100 if you have not added to them regularly. Go and do it now!).

"There are a number of possible methods of achieving the erasure of this threat. If you still have a list of useful contacts in the intelligence community, they will be able to suggest ways in which he can be discredited, brought under control, or in the last resort eliminated; however, this is a dangerous course and should only be undertaken if no other means presents itself. If you were to take my advice, and if the political climate is conducive to such a thing, I should suggest what I call the "SDP strategy."

1. Get one of your people in Labour to declare that he can no longer serve under this leader. Have him resign from the party and form a new one, which all your people will promptly join (though I suggest leaving one or two behind for purposes of intelligence gathering). A few of the genuine parliamentary Labour types will also join, so it is important that the pretence is maintained at all times. The point must always seem to be "to provide a credible opposition to the Conservatives."

2. Call a general election as soon as your breakaway party is established.

3. Watch half the enemy plebs vote for your breakaway party, half for the remnant of Labour. Collect a comfortable majority from the rest.

4. In the unlikely event that you still do not manage to achieve an overall majority, form a coalition with the breakaway party and continue the agenda as planned. The plebs will soon forget that the other party were supposed to be opposing you, especially if you stress the "good of the country" angle and make a few cosmetic compromises.

5. When the post-election fuss has died down (and the troublemaking leader has been ejected) let the members of your breakaway party quietly merge back into Labour, or perhaps join the Liberal Democrats and make them change their name again.

Follow this simple strategy and you may expect no more trouble from Labour.

In Chapter 8 I will outline some suggestions as to what to do when Europe starts to become objectionable..."

A question I have.

And I'm going to ask it here, in the tranquil glades and sun-dappled pastures of LiveJournal. Have some lemonade and follow me closely.

Suppose it happened. Suppose millions of p.o.'d Democrats got their way, the FBI changed their mind, and Hillary Rodham Clinton was arrested and hauled away to the federable pokey to await trial on charges of Forgetting To Switch Off Her Computer While Being Upsettingly Rich, or whatever. I know it won't happen, don't bother telling me why it won't happen, just work with me here and suppose it did.

What would happen next?

The US political process isn't, I gather, super keen on do-overs. Otherwise we might never have had to put up with Bush 2 at all. But say the duly nominated Democratic candidate has just been escorted into a police car with a coat over her head and is even now being fitted for a fetching orange jumpsuit. Is there an understudy waiting in the wings? Do the Dems have a duly nominated stand-in? Or does the whole business of primaries and delegates and Super Tuesday have to clunk into motion again, and really, is there time? Would it not be quicker to hand the keys to Trump right now and save everyone bother?

Of one thing I am fairly sure, though open to correction as always; it would not be a case of Bernie Sanders stepping smoothly into the breach to save the day. He wasn't running as a Democrat. Presumably the party would have to find an alternative candidate, one for whom all those millions of disenchanted voters would consider voting. I don't know how difficult that would be; condemnation of the party for being insufficiently progressive has been a bit on the general side.

What I'm trying to understand, you see, is the motivation of people who, even now, continue to go ON and ON and ON about how evil she is and how she should be indicted and arrested and probably executed, when it's practically certain that she is the only candidate who can possibly--and even that may be in doubt--get enough votes to prevent the civilised world falling into the hands of Trump. As an occupant of the civilised world, I'm against that last, and while I would not say "whatever it takes"--I would not kill babies to prevent it, or eat dog poo, or watch every episode of Coronation Street from start to finish even with loo breaks--I would gladly vote for Hillary to prevent it, on the basis even of what I've heard that she may have done. I've heard that Obama's done far worse, after all, and yet I know he has also done genuine good. So may Hillary. So will not Trump.

I don't doubt the sincerity of the anti-Hillarians, nor their intelligence, nor their sanity, nor their genuineness, nor their good intentions. I don't think they want Trump in any more than I do. But I honestly don't know what they're trying to achieve, which is why I want to know what their best possible outcome from this could be.

Well, that was quick.

Ch-ch-ch-ch-changes...

I was finding the Nyrond identity didn't really fit me any more, so I made some adjustments. The last name is pronounced with the stress on the second syllable, and the final E is silent. It's still a bit jingly and drag-queen-like, but I wanted something as close to the original as possible. Zander is still in here, in several incarnations, and I'm not faffing about changing email addresses at this point, so not that much has really changed.

Except that for me, pretty much everything has.

Love to all,
Zanda

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