Monday, 27 June 2016


17 million of my fellow citizens have voted that UK should leave the EU.  They did so for a variety of reasons.

Some of the voters are vile racist thugs.  I blame them.

More have been made racist because they have grown up in a seething toxic atmosphere served up by the sewer press, and have come to believe the lies that they have been constantly fed.  I blame them a bit, but I blame the sewer press much more: publishing lies to sell papers, and to further the self-serving political ends of their owners.

Some are hankering to go back to a non-existent good old days.  I blame them.

Some are the well-off and rich elites, who put their own good before the good of the whole country.  I blame them.

Some are the have-nothing underclass who voted as they did to shaft both the government and the elites, seen as the enemy.  They felt they have nothing more to lose.  (They will discover they are wrong; some are already regretting their decision as the lies they were told are being exposed.)  It is natural for people who feel they have nothing to lose to lash out, to hurt those who have hurt them.  I don’t blame them.  I blame a succession of bad governments who have systematically failed to address inequality and poverty.  In particular, I blame them for their heartless austerity policies that punish the poor for the crimes of the rich.

But it isn’t just is the fault of the voters.

I do partly blame the EU, for not making it clear the good it does, and for not robustly tackling the problems that it surely has, thereby making it harder to run a positive campaign.

I mostly blame David Cameron, for calling the referendum in the first place.  He did it purely for temporary political expediency, believing it would quieten down the far right opposition once they had lost.  I blame him for being so out of touch with public opinion that he didn’t forsee the chance of a loss.  I blame him for running a weak, negative, fear-mongering campaign.

But most of all I blame Boris Johnson.  He fought in the Leave campaign purely for personal political gain.  He didn’t want to win: he merely wanted to be seen as someone who had tried, in order to get the backing needed for a leadership battle.  He didn’t expect to win: it took him by surprise.  And he is so incompetent that he didn’t even have a plan for what to do once he had won.

I blame them.  Between them, David Cameron and Boris Johnson have broken my country, in an act of appalling cultural vandalism.

What we need now is for the government to show courage and leadership.  To say, thank you public for giving us your opinion on membership of the EU.  We have seriously considered it, along with much other information to which you have not had access, and have decided not to invoke Article 50 in this case, as it would be bad for the country as a whole.  Oh, and then call a general election.

Will this happen?  It would need courage and leadership.  So probably not.

Sunday, 26 June 2016

film review: Mad Max Fury Road

Max [Tom Hardy] is mad, roaming the desert all hairy and wild. He is captured and taken to the Citadel for use as a universal blood donor. But when truck driver Furiosa [Charlize Theron] helps five slave-wives escape, all hell breaks loose. The War Boys, taking a bound and muzzled Max along as donor/mascot, chase after Furiosa and the oil truck she is driving away with the wives. Max escapes, and joins a suspicious Furiosa. They team up to outrace the War Boys to find the Green Place. But they find something rather different.

This is fast and furious. The first half of the film is a chase across the desert, gun blazing, cars and trucks crashing, and the second half is a chase back across the desert, gun blazing, cars and trucks crashing. There is very little let up, very little dialogue, and much very well done CGI and SFX.

Given how little dialogue there is, it might seem surprising that this film easily passes the Bechdel Test. Yet what little dialogue there is, includes several scenes of Furiosa and the wives (who do have names) talking about freedom, the past, and what they might find at the Green Place. Max himself doesn't even speak until well into the film, once he has managed to remove his muzzle.

One might even call this a feminist film. Furiosa is an excellent character: tough enough to drive the oil truck under fire, a better shot than Max (I love the scene where he shoulders the gun), compassionate enough to help the slave-wives to freedom, and definitely in charge. Of course, this is all set in a world that is a non-feminist post-apocalyptic hell-hole. There is a small gynocracy at the Green Place, which allows several older women to have strong parts, until Furiosa and Max bring the War Boys down on them, that is! In fact, there are more women characters with speaking roles than there are men.

This film also has an interesting take on disability. Furiosa is missing her left arm below the elbow, and has a mechanical prosthesis. This is never commented on by any of the characters; we just see her using her prosthetic arm and hand casually and competently, and it is woven naturally into the plot.

These features help pack a solid amount of plot in the film, which, given the continual adrenaline-packed wild chase scenes, and that lack of dialogue, is a remarkable achievement. A surprising amount gets communicated with just a grunt or a glance, to an audience who knows the context. This is an excellent addition to the series, if you like wild chases with lots of cartoon violence.

For all my film reviews, see my main website.

Friday, 24 June 2016

lovely weather for...

garden visitor who doesn’t seem to mind all the rain

Black Friday

UK votes to leave EU.

Wednesday, 22 June 2016

"Politics is about compromise"

Ben Goldacre, with his usual trenchant good sense:

For all my social networking posts, see my Google+ page

Tuesday, 21 June 2016

mic drop

For all my social networking posts, see my Google+ page