Saturday 21 November 2020

Feeding the Dragon: Guards! Guards! and Brexit

For a book published 31 years ago, "Guards! Guards!" by Sir Terry Pratchett has a lot to tell us about Brexit. I started reading it for light relief from the news; it didn't entirely work, but did give me a new perspective.

(Minor spoilers follow, but as noted, it's been 31 years.)

I hadn't reread GG for at least a decade, and what struck me this time is how angry it is. I don't mean that as a bad thing. Beneath all the daft puns and jokes (which are extremely funny), is a deep and righteous anger at the petty evil of humanity.

Ltoinel, CC BY 3.0 <>, via Wikimedia Commons

Monday 2 November 2020

Election 2020: No Longer Worthy

The 2020 US Presidential election is tomorrow. I almost wish I believed in gods, so I could pray to them to have mercy on us all. I don't; and if I'm wrong and the gods are real, they would seem to have a twisted sense of humour.

I hope Biden wins. I truly do. He would at least slow the American republic's descent into the abyss. He would give America a chance. That's worth hoping for. For American citizens, it's worth fighting for. But no matter what happens in the next few days, the rotting heart of America has been exposed for all to see. 

Trump and Biden with former President Obama, in 2017 as this nightmare got underway.
(U.S. Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Cristian L. Ricardo, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons)

I'm back

I'm breaking a blog silence of nearly a year.

In a theme from before I broke off, I have lacked the stomach to write long posts about politics. It's too fucking horrible. But the US Presidential election is upon us, and I find myself with things to say.

So there I was, in my new home in Toronto. I was watching the first snow of the season fall, and trying to get some election thoughts out of my head and onto the screen, where I could only hope they will trouble me less.

Here is my post on the election. See everyone on the other side.

Wednesday 11 December 2019

Top 5 Canadian Beers

One of the fun things about moving to Toronto is exploring a whole new craft beer scene.

I say "Canadian beers", but beer distribution is pretty regionalised, and all but one of the following five are from Ontario. That said, Ontario has a diverse and delicious array of beers on offer.

The emphasis on styles is very different from the UK. Maybe it's something to do with the climate. Compared to the UK, summers here are boiling hot, and winters freezing cold. It does not favour subtle beers. An aggressively hopped IPA, like an oddly refreshing smack across the face with a plank of wood; or a potent and tar-black imperial stout, maybe flavoured with chocolate or coffee; may be just what the doctor ordered.

I sometimes miss an English bitter or Scottish 80 shilling. There's a reasonable selection of imported British beers, but even the big shops don't carry Black Sheep or Caledonian 80. The local brews are tasty though; all of the following are firm favourites and regular denizens of my fridge.

Tuesday 26 November 2019


British politics is a steaming heap of rubbish. Every time I look, the pile is higher and smellier. It's leaking some kind of fluid. There are things moving around in there. It's making disturbing organic noises. Why would I want to poke it with a stick?

Metaphorically speaking, this is why I haven't written much on this blog lately. I've followed British politics for a long time. If anything I do so more closely now, because it has the fascination of all truly awful disasters. But I just haven't had it in me to write about it. I salute commentators like @IanDunt, @ChrisGrey, and @SteveBullock who have the fortitude to cover it week in and week out; and I have the highest respect for people like Professor Tanja Bueltmann, who has suffered relentless personal abuse for championing the rights of EU immigrants to the UK.

That said, an election is upon us, and I have words to say about it. The hard part is using words, not just incoherent wails of despair; but here we go.

Image source: Getty Images via BBC

Thursday 13 June 2019

In Which I Select The Least Awful Conservative Leadership Candidate

The British Conservative Party is having the leadership contest for which it has long yearned.

Inspired by John Scalzi's posts on the 2016 and 2012 US Republican candidates, I am ranking the contenders from most to least terrible.

Rogues' gallery. Image source: BBC

Tuesday 20 November 2018

Jumping The Queue And Other Lies

Theresa May, who brought us the hostile environment, the "citizens of nowhere" speech, and the Windrush deportations, has struck again. This time, trying to sell her embattled Brexit deal to the public, she has said it will stop EU citizens from "jumping the queue" ahead of "engineers from Sydney or software developers from Delhi".

This is offensive nonsense. There is no queue; EU citizens have exercised a right of free movement guaranteed by international treaty. But it's revealing of the aims and likely outcome of Brexit.

Theresa May. Source: The Independent/Reuters

What does May mean by this phrase? Of course, some of it is tribal signalling, almost beneath the level of spoken language. "Britain good, Europe bad" is the crude subtext. For this purpose, she might as well be flinging her own feces at a European flag. But there's something more interesting going on here.