I posted a picture on the weekend from Steve Bell, the satirical cartoonist in The Guardian. In it he describes the relationship of the British Prime Minister Theresa May and Donald J Trumpton of the United Statues of Umerica, and the erm...positional stance of both. A South African friend messaged asking me to elaborate, so I've tried.
Come What May
Most of the people I know in Britain are pro-Europe. Theresa May herself can see the merits, but has been dealt a Brexit hand and believes that's what the public wants - 51% voted to leave and, in my opinion, that was largely based on the premise that they can stop immigration and a huge sum of money (namely 350 million pounds a week) given to the EU will instead be provided to the beloved NHS. Neither of these is true and was quickly denounced by the Leave Campaign once the votes were counted.
Before the Brexit vote May stated that the economic arguments were clear and that being part of a 500-million population trading bloc is significant for us (UK). We know this because she chimed "I think the economic arguments are clear ...being part of a 500-million population trading bloc is significant for us." She added "a lot of people will invest here in the UK because it is the UK in Europe". Seems astute. Since Brexit the EU leaders have effectively said va te faire foutre. Worth looking up if you wanted to impress your French boss.
Membership Fees and Costco
The whole point of having an EU was to get better trading deals through collaboration (and to try to stop war between the countries through joint industry). Naturally those not part of that block would welcome the change if it gained them an economic advantage in dealing with a smaller community. The way I envisage this (God help us - Ed) is going to something like Costco where you can get everything in one store. If those prices aren't to your liking, you can oust Costco and go straight to the supplier, but then you're doing Costco out of their % and sourcing control. Now that may not be a bad thing for you as a buyer and it's a minor loss to Costco - it's a big unit and can probably survive. However, if more and more people do that, Costco loses its market share and collapses, meaning you have a free for all where you contact the suppliers directly as Costco no longer exists. Now being a supplier, things have got infinitely more difficult. I have to source all my buyers once again, enact trading deals with everyone and may not have the steady stream of income and protection that Costco once afforded me. All Buyers have a membership card and pay for use of Costco, as too perhaps would the suppliers. It's an exclusive club: no fee then no access to the best stuff. What Britain want to do is not pay the Membership Fee, have the ability to change the rules of the club, but still use the facilities.
Economically USA will, I think, get stronger under Trump as he is very America First. If a country is America First vs Harmony, then you wonder what we (UK, Aus, Anyone) will get out the relationship. Not that every country doesn't look after their own but having such a forthright 'America First' policy whilst cutting basic medical care and funding for NGOs that support abortions does ring hollow, denouncing media and facts like something from 1984, banning some reporters and free speech, and whilst building walls the likes no one has seen since Berlin. And that wasn't widely seen as a positive step. As for announcing a National Day of Patriotic Devotion, I've seen things like that before, but mostly in North Korea. What's the next step - if you don't celebrate today you're un-American and therefore un-patriotic? It's a dystopian view, and to quote Radiohead "when I am King you will be first against the wall, with your opinion which is of no consequence at all"
The America First policy comes at a price of alienating what most left-leaning people believe in. I don't need to tell you about Trumps first week (the erudite Waleed Aly does that very well below) but any affiliation or association to something you ethically and morally disagree with is widely perceived as bad news. Trump has said that 'Brexit is going to be a wonderful thing for your country' yet that entirely depends on perspective (Scotland, North Ireland, London, 50% of Wales and immigrants don't think so) and the economic deals struck. If May cannot secure good deals with Europe and other countries, then Brexit will be a fu**ing disaster. Oh also throwing people out of your country etc isn't that awesome.
As for Trump and his media strategy of denouncing anything he disagrees with, it's baffling. Anyone can say the media are lying: Rolf Harris did it, for example, and that turned out...oh yeah. If I believe that the media are one-sided, bias and don't report the facts, I'm entitled to that opinion. If the media then report that I believe everything they print is utter lies, does that make my belief untrue because they printed the truth of my belief that everything they report is lies? Quite simple it's a slippery path of utter bullshit. I think the term 'alternative facts' probably coins it nicely. The whole point of a fact is...ayyyeee!! (Everyone knows what a fact is, Reed - Ed)
As for May's immense feet, she wore (once? often? no idea) leopard print pointy shoes and these have been elongated more and more ever since to that of a witch or a court jester. It seems that although clowns were topical in 2016, they'll be front line in 2017.
24th of January...I don't think anything happened this week. Can't think of anything important anyway...oh there was that spider eating a foot long snake. That was pretty crazy. Other than that, I think newspapermen (and women, don't forget the women - Ed) pretty much had a dead rubber of a week. Oh there was that Presidential transition of power from a famous black leader, with all sorts of issues with disputed elections, cheering and jeering supporters, soldiers on hand in case anything got tasty. That entire fiasco has caused quite a stir! In finally deciding in good conscience to relinquish his mantle of leadership, the great leader said "I have decided today in good conscience to relinquish my mantle of leadership" to a crowd of yawns, before adding "of this great nation with infinite gratitude to all Gambians". That Yahya Jammeh is a card, eh?
It feels like something else happened...like a rupture in The Force. Am sure it'll come to me.
In Sad! news from the less bigly side of the Pacific, Melbourne experienced a grievous start to their weekend on Friday after a local moron killed five people (including two children) with another 20 injured by ploughing through a pedestrianised area in a stolen car. What he was thinking yet hasn't come to light, but with his diminutive brain addled with drugs and stupidity I imagine there may not have been much of a thought process. This has caused, quite naturally, not only an outpouring of grief but calls for reformation of the law that currently enables criminals with previous convictions out on bail. I am not in any way an advocate of capital punishment: it won't serve as a deterrent; the risk of getting it wrong and murdering an innocent person is horrifying; and I believe wherever possible rehabilitation and help should be sought. In saying that, the financial burden on the taxpayer for housing, clothing, food, health-checks, rehabilitation coaching, psychiatric assessments, prison guards, police reports, judges, juries and witnesses, you could save an incredible burden on the taxpayer just by killing the perpetrator right there and then. There are of course over-riding problems with someone effectively being a Judge Dredd "I Am the Law!" type character and the overwhelming feeling that at the end there is a root cause and as a society we have failed the perpetrator in the first place. This does align perfectly with today's view though that no one person is accountable for anything and that blame pretty much rests on every other person's shoulders than that of the perpetrator. And I'll be honest, that grates.
Foreigners Keep Out
On the other hand, I have had Muslim friends approach me and say "thank God it wasn't a Muslim!" The problem wasn't helped by Pauline Hanson (I apologise for even writing her name or giving her airplay) labelling it a terror attack and blaming refugees and all things foreign, including Muslims. Unfortunately this was a wholly home grown fuckwit, not something we can easily blame on those outsiders. Outsiders like me and her, really. This was epitomised by one of the best adverts in Australia's rich history for this Thursdays Australia Day - available below. Still, whether you're a wanna-be leader or an ex-leader of a small African country that vows to stay in power for a billion years, you have to allow for a few 'do-overs'.
Which brings me lastly to Him. God help us. America First! Well not exactly. Trump First, Cronies & Billionaires Second, America Third, The World Fourth. Problem is, America and the rest of us Goddamms that aren't living in America, we all live on the World. So do snakes and spiders, and lots of other things that kind of rely on us not fucking the entire World up. We should probably try to take of it.
Foldable Sexy Drone - Global Drone Union
As Brexit nears and Trump rears, it's heartening to think there is room left in the world for catastrophe of the epic proportions that can be felt as keenly and heartfelt as a kitten cuddling a duckling in a field of feathers made from its slaughtered parents. I crashed my drone.
It was my third flight, I was just trying to (the opening words of the damned) connect my GoPro with my iPad Mini or Samsung's S6 so I can get the First Point of View (FPV). My intention was to hover the drone 3 to 4 metres from the ground, perhaps circling it around me if I could, then place the drone back down. Sounds pretty simple? Fly it far away? No sir. Fly it 20 metres? No sir. Fly it 20 metres diagonally into a building without me touching the controls? Well...
About the ProDrone/Global Drone Union
First off there are 3 versions of the drone – Standard that comes with a 1080p camera, the GoPro version with a gimbal that is in the Advanced Model which also has Follow Me Functionality, and finally the Professional with a built in 4k camera and Follow Me. I set my sights on the Advanced as I thought GoPro will always be improving their cameras, Hero 5 was about to be released etc.
I’ve been talking with this company for over a year as they were the first company to release a foldable drone. Why this hadn’t occurred to any other companies before I had no idea – you had all this portability but had to carry it around in a case the size of small television. ProDrone saw it was coming, built this fantastic foldable drone, then got locked in naming disputes which put back the release about 6 to 9 months, and I assume they lost as they had to change it to Global Drone Union. But it ticks all the boxes for me: robust; powerful; 29 minutes flying time; foldable; compatible with GoPro. A full on write-up of the drone will follow soon once I get it all fixed up!
Here's a pic when I did eventually get my drone working although it was created by not exactly ideal means...which I'll get to in my next write up!
Reactions to not drinking
The pause is unnerving. The inquisitor either then wishes they could follow suit, or clutches at their chosen inebriant, whispering ’I’d never leave you, my love’. But the pause and often confusion after I tell someone that I do not drink hasn't changed in over 6 years.
UK Drinking Culture
In my mid 20’s a break with exercise quickly betrayed my subservient devotion in the form of a small beer belly. Entering a typical London pub after a football game, I had practiced, rather ridiculously, asking for a soft drink instead of beer. Simple, one would have thought. I repeated my mantra twice more as I walked up to the bar. None of your lovely cold beer for me barkeep, I am having a soft drink! However, in between my mutterings and the barman’s proffering of the moon, sun and stars if I’d only ask (‘what can I get you?’ he charmed, the bastard), I walked away with not only a pint of lager, but with an overwhelming desire to punch myself in the face repeatedly for my lack of control. Why was not drinking alcohol so hard? It’s almost like it’s an addictive drug! As a passing note it's probably not coincidental that you have hard liquor and soft drinks, all drive at the man's ego.
Reasons for Drinking
Years later, returning to Melbourne after a rare warm British summer, I realised that I’d barely drank when visiting friends in the last few weeks. Not only that, but when I had gone out to socialise, I had stopped drinking after only two or three pints. Why? So that I could do things the next day – such as ride my motorbike safely or play tennis without needing to the throw up, the racquet being used as a sieve type instrument.
It wasn’t that, approaching 30, I felt I had wasted too many days and then nights with hangovers, which I most definitely had. It wasn’t that I had spent vast amounts of money for no real tangible benefit, which I’d also achieved with some aplomb. It was that I began to reason why I drank in the first place. I surmised that people drink for 3 very logical reasons: as a celebratory relaxant to relieve stress; to become more socially engaging or confident; to savour and enjoy the taste. As for the latter, the easiest one to tackle, I know no man alive that eulogises on the scintillating aromas of an Australian Carlton Draught. Not being much of a foodie, taste for me is not that important (I know right, what a fruitloop!)
In terms of needing a relaxant, I have the good fortune to live in one of the most habitable cities on the planet with freedom to express religion, sex, art, music and fashion, coupled with great food and high living standards. I have a loving family, friends that support me and I don’t even have a real job. To me, real jobs are policemen having to quell a fight or riot, social workers helping people of abuse, doctors making life saving operations, and firemen rescuing people from a burning building. I do none of that. What possible claims have I to stress?
Alcohol is a Dependent
As for social engagements, I was at a stage that I had enough self-confidence to talk on any subject with as much ignorance as the next, coupled with a girlfriend that could testify to it. In addition, if I was socially inhibited, then alcohol was purely a crutch that didn’t fix the underlying issue. For me, in the 6 years I’ve stopped drinking, that’s what compels me most: to recognise my flaws and correct them. Our society has developed almost a Pavlovian response to drinking: when drinking, you enjoy yourself; to enjoy yourself you must drink. For me, the realisation that I did not need alcohol to talk rubbish, to laugh, make a fool of myself and make bad jokes was life affirming, and social interaction, confidence and how I handle stress was something that’s within me, that I alone control, not a liquid substance.
Writing and writing...