Monday, April 24, 2017

The Dolphin Chamber

The left get accused a lot of living in an echo chamber; surrounding themselves on social media with people who agree with them. This is thrown at them as though it means they're out of touch and idiotic; preferring to feel sanctimonious instead of listening to the very real complaints and opinions of the right wing.

I consider myself pretty left wing; sort of leaning so hard on my left wing that, had I actual wings, I'd be going round in tight little circles.

The problem with the echo chamber complaint is that it ignores the very real issue for left wingers that, every time they step outside of their homes, switch off their computers or use the real world in some capacity via TV or radio - they are ejected from that echo chamber at an alarming velocity. We've had years and years of right wing government now, we have triggered article 50, one of our closest political allies has elected an incredibly right wing leader and the French seem to be on course to do the same. So, excuse me if I choose for my Twitter feed to be one of the few places I can go that doesn't cause a spontaneous nose bleed.

I have a small theory that a lot of entertainers and artists are left wing because it's easier to feel liberal about your money and about society supporting each other when you like the way you earned your money. If I spent 70 hours a week in an office, away from my loved ones slogging away for a pay cheque I'd be less inclined to want to give a proportion of that money away to people who haven't done the same. I like how I earn my money; it doesn't feel like I'm having big portions of my freedom taken away from me to get it, so I feel like it's right that some of it goes off to people without my privilege.

I like to boil society down to make it more logical in my head... if I lived in a tribe of 10 people, would I prefer to give a bit of my meat every day to someone so that, instead of hunting, they could learn what herbs and stuff would heal me if I got sick, or, would I want to wait until I was sick and then hope I had enough meat that day to persuade the person with the herb knowledge to help me out; praying that they'd had enough meat recently from other people to have been able to study. I reckon, I'd go with the first option which makes me kind of sure I'm happy with a taxation system in my tribe of more than 10. Same goes with teaching my children, putting out my fires and building my roads. Especially, as the amount of meat I get when I hunt already has the bits to give away factored in.

I firmly believe that 99% of people make their political decisions based on what they truly believe will keep them and their loved ones in houses with food and a TV. All that divides the population is the route that they believe will take them to those things. Some people believe if there is too much immigration they will lose their jobs and their homes will be in danger; so they're labelled right wing. Some people believe that without government support and intervention their houses will be controlled by shady businessmen and their wages will go down; so they're labelled left wing. At the heart of the decision, though, I don't think many people vote to hurt. They vote to keep their own safe.

My own philosophy on politics is to boil it down to something that's probably way too simplistic to be right, but it makes sense in my head... It has never been easier to be alive. It has literally never been easier to be alive; vaccinations, food production, warmth production, water transport, energy creation... it has never been easier to be alive. Therefore, whenever money is scarce and therefore services or provisions "have" to be cut for people that need them; it is a man-made scarcity.

When the economy "crashes", I'm pretty sure it doesn't mean no corn got milled and no energy got produced therefore everything had to cost more. The same vast quantities of easier life are still floating around; they're just not all still flowing in the same ways. The easy living must be with the people who are living easiest.

Meals, medicines, beds, machines and computers have all become easier and cheaper to make since the beginning of the NHS... so I fail to compute how it can be harder to run the NHS now than then. What must be happening (according to my limited head logic) is that when things get easier to make, instead of that ease being spread, that ease makes a few people richer.

I feel like I constantly see someone with a lot, telling people with a little that the reason they have a little, is people who have less.

In a way, this lie makes sense: "Hey Laura, you have a house and a TV... this guy has no house and TV. Vote for me and I'll stop this man stealing your house and TV." I don't want to lose my house and TV, maybe you'll get my vote.

But, let me just check... how many houses and TVs do you have? You have two TVs and two houses while this guy has none... and you're telling me that because it's so hard to have stuff nowadays the people with none are getting desperate? But it's literally never been easier to be alive, so... who made them desperate? Possibly the people with two of things? Now, instead of worrying the guy with none will take my house and TV to fill his void, I'm worried you'll take my house and TV so you have three and I'm the same as this guy. Maybe you won't get my vote.

In the GE in June I will vote Green; I like Lucas. She speaks sense to me and, fundamentally, I believe if environmental issues aren't moved closer to the centre of policies then all the other ones are meaningless and I want her voice loud and clear and getting bigger in politics.

I also know that, when I'm not sure and I feel under-educated in a subject, I look to experts for indication. With the EU ref I didn't know the ins and outs of the economic, geo-political or travel implications so I looked at who said what and decided that the majority of people with informed insight thought "In" and the people leading the "Out" charge were basing their big arguments on things I couldn't support, so, whatever else their motivation; I couldn't be on their holiday.

With the GE upcoming, I'm looking to doctors, the emergency services, teachers and other people who work in industries directly impacted by governmental decisions. My teacher friends are fraught, being made redundant and quitting in droves. Doctors are screaming for help with funding and other nightmares I can't begin to comprehend. Trains are a nightmare and becoming more expensive. All the people who seem to know more than me are not happy... so I will vote for change.

I don't subscribe to the view that all right-wingers are gross old selfish tweed wearers who would skin a baby rather than give money to the homeless. See my house and TV theory about all voters above. I am confused about support for the Tory party at the moment though... I don't understand how they are not being slammed for being in turmoil and chaos.

They held a referendum they didn't want, got an outcome they didn't want, a leader they didn't want who voluntarily triggered an enormous change they didn't want and has now called an election they said they didn't want. Yet, they are viewed as the stable party. It is confusing.

If you're a Conservative who didn't want a referendum and then didn't want to Leave, why would a party that served you both those things retain your loyalty? If you're a Conservative who did want to Leave, are you not angry with Cameron's refusal to see it through or May's baffling choice to not focus fully on getting us the best deal but instead spend two months fighting an unnecessary election?

I've never voted Conservative but I was shaken when Cameron stepped down; a smooth and seemingly very talented world leader leaving just after my country was put in jeopardy? It felt like a betrayal. Then, to have May sign a letter signalling a departure that was not supported by almost half the population, only to wobble the leadership again weeks later...? Even if I were a lifelong Conservative voter this feels like madness? Completely unexplained madness. Maybe that's what bites me? The way because the Conservatives are the "grown-ups" they seem to get away with the "because I said so" logic more than Labour.

It's being painted that the sensitive, conservative with a small c, choice in this election is the party who ignored all the expert advice and their own opinions to put into action a referendum they needn't have instigated, triggered leaving when they weren't ready to and didn't really have to, and then instead of leaving with full steam and energy, are throwing an election they said they wouldn't whilst facing serious legal charges from the last one... am I missing something?

I hate that we're leaving Europe; not because I hate democracy or I like a whinge or I don't believe in the strengths of my country as an individual. I hate that we're leaving Europe because I don't believe the world can get smaller. Choosing not to live within a set of rules that is best for the majority, be that county, country or continent wide, goes against every way I've been taught since rules at school were what was best for the whole school rather than just my classroom.

Each country having its own unique sense of identity and law within a framework that supported the majority seemed like sense. However, if we are leaving, and we are, I wish we could have done it with dignity and for the right reasons. I feel like that opportunity has been taken away from me.

In June I will be voting for the way I believe is the best way to get myself a house and a TV; through sustainable energy and a focus on rebalancing wealth in the country. It has literally never been easier to keep people alive, so I'll be voting for the people who aren't pretending otherwise in order to keep two of things while other people have none.

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Congratulations and Welcome

"Get tropical fish" they said, "it'll help your anxiety" they said.

What no one clarified, was that just after the word help, they were muttering very quietly "greatly increase".

We started out with 9 tropical fish... named after some of our favourite celebrities and fictional characters.

We had 3 neon tetras called Rayna James, Scarlett O'Connor and Juliette Barnes. Three glowlight tetras called Nina Garcia Fashion Editor of Marie Claire Magazine, CFDA Award Winner and top American designer Michael Kors and Heidi Klum. Three White Cloud Minnows called Jean Tannen, Father Chains and Locke Lamora.

Nina Garcia, Fashion Editor of Marie Claire magazine was the first to go... we completely inexplicably found her crispy as a spring roll in the middle of the carpet directly underneath the table the tank is on. How she got out is a total mystery: she would have needed to jump out of the top of the tank; vertically up 2 inches of air between the water level and the lid of the tank. Yes, that's right: lid. She then needed to squeeze herself through a 5mm gap out of the tank, down the 30cm fall, across 2 inches of table, down a 60cm fall, across 30cm of carpet and then died. Adventure fish. Major adventure fish.

RIP Nina.

Then we went for batch two of fish... We picked up some more neons so that the neons would shoal properly and Scarlett would stop picking on Juliette (so out of character). We grabbed Bucky, Glenn, Deacon Claybourne, Avery Barkley and Will Lexington. We needed a cleaning crew so we got some panda corys and a catfish; the two corys are Mac and Dennis - the catfish is Charlie Kelly. He has Charlie work to do. They all eat shit. We also got a pair of Rams (aggressive and passionate; Ron Swanson and Tammy 2 - interestingly, within minutes of being in the tank the markings on Ron faded showing that Tammy 2 was the dominant one) and a pair of platys; Jed and Abby Bartlett.

This is when the trouble started... The two platys were in their travel bag acclimatising to the water temperature when I noticed a weird squiggle hiding under Charlie Kelly... Abby Bartlett had had a baby! On moving day! What kind of superhero plans to move house on their due date?! This First Lady; that's who.

We quickly got Abby and Jed out of the bag and into the tank and checked what to do; the advice said put the baby in the tank too and if it can find a quiet spot to relax it will. If it won't... well, it didn't.

Baby Taramasalata hit the water and within seconds Heidi Klum swooped in and ate her. I know these  supermodels have to starve themselves to look good but surely you've never been that hungry that you can't stop yourself eating the offspring of your new housemates?

Then chaos errupted; babies started spewing forth out of Abby Bartlett and the rest of the tankmates were in their element. Jean Tannen had a fin sticking out of his mouth as he chewed up their second born; Michael Kors ate one when it was still half in/half out of the first lady. Heidi Klum ate at least 6 of them on her own.

Abby Bartlett didn't give a shit; it was like she'd asked herself how best to ingratiate herself into a new tank and thought she'd bring the freshest canapes she could drum up. The other fish (except Mac and Dennis who couldn't care less, and Charlie who is hiding out under a log coming up with a scheme) are going mad - chasing babies round the tank and eating them as quickly as Abby can bust them out. Jed is kind of following Abby around but taking an almighty dump as he does - much more reminiscent of later presidents than his own reign.

Things calmed down after about half an hour, several tears on my part and the total evisceration of all future Zoe Bartletts.

I'm considering writing to the pro-life anti-abortion lobbies to point out to them that they might be focusing on the wrong species when they get cross with humans for dealing with cell clusters they can't care for. Fish are WAY worse; full term cannibalism?! This is not relaxing.

I've had these fish for 3 weeks now and so far witnessed a nursery massacre that wouldn't look out of place on Fox News, and a suicide that only Sherlock Holmes could solve. Bring on the next 3 weeks.