For my American friends and neighbors, my brief summary of this whole “brexit” mess. What happened Nigel Farage, a stockbroker’s son educated at an expensive private school, managed to portray himself in the media as a man of the people. His party, UKIP, engaged in racist campaigning, along with the usual far-right homophobia and rants about women. The BBC gave disproportionate coverage to UKIP, and initially they were treated as a joke.
Michael Heseltine is apparently shocked to discover that the Tory party is engaging in racist fearmongering about immigration: The Brexit case relies on fanning fears about immigration. I am amazed that someone like you now marches to the drum of Farage, Trump and Le Pen – a generation of demagogues spawned by a global recession and the fallout from internecine conflict among Muslims. Maybe he’s getting forgetful in his old age.
“I think that what happens to people is that if you are out of the country long enough, your native country ceases to exist. When things change sufficiently, the country that you are truly a native of is gone.” — William Gibson
I’ve written before about my perception that the UK took a drastic turn in the wrong direction during the 1970s, and that it has been deteriorating ever since. My perception is that the UK now has political and economic problems worse even than the USA. This is not a popular opinion, particularly among those who still live in the UK. Some accused me of callousness, but I have friends and family in the UK.
As you may have seen on the news, the UK has been experiencing some freakishly cold weather. The weekend before Christmas was marked by a sudden record breaking cold snap. Chesham in Buckinghamshire hit -26 Celsius, a temperature I don’t think I ever experienced during the years I lived in the area. Heathrow airport was engulfed in snow and ice, thousands of passengers were stranded at the airport for days, and it started to look as if our Christmas trip to see my family was going to be canceled at the last minute.
It’s July 23. I’m in Austin-Bergstrom International Airport. It’s a relatively small airport, rarely crowded, and with an open and airy feeling. The queue to get to security screening was short, as usual. I gave my best performance of Security Theater; my liquids and gels were pre-packaged in a ziplock bag, which I dumped into a plastic tray along with my shoes. I’ve made a habit of removing all metal from my person before I even get to the airport.
From the Daily Telegraph: Gordon Brown should levy a tax on violent video games to help tackle knife crime, according to the Richard Taylor, the father of murdered schoolboy Damilola Taylor. […] The Tackling Knives Action Plan is a £2million programme aimed at reducing deaths and serious violence among teenagers due to knives. Violent games are “too cheap” and taxes on them should be “very high”, Mr Taylor told MPs.
A US court has ruled that authorities cannot force people to incriminate themselves by divulging their encryption passwords. This is in marked contrast to the UK, where the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act (RIPA) makes it a crime to decline to hand over all your incriminating files if the police demand it. If the case doesn’t involve national security, you can be put in jail for two years. If it does, five years.
While we were in England, we got the train from Bournemouth to visit London. London was an important part of my life as soon as I was old enough to be allowed to travel there without adult supervision. Some people are naturally country folk, some people are city people; even though I grew up in small villages and quaint towns, that was never where I really wanted to be. I was curious to see how London had changed since I last saw it, nearly 10 years ago.
I woke up on board a 747. Once I’d remembered why, I looked at my watch, and estimated we were an hour or two from landing. I took a drink of water. Soon the BA flight attendants started bringing in breakfast, and I gently prodded the spouse awake. Against all probability, I had managed to get 2 or 3 hours of pretty decent sleep onboard an airplane. Soon we landed at Heathrow Terminal 4.