Humans are more than money

Humans are worth more than the contents of their bank accounts.  That should not be the only criteria we judge them on. Humans are part of society. Humans are activists, speakers, community members, idea incubators, balls of potential that given the right prompting can transform into something new.

Humans are somehow more than their relationships to each other. Humans can make art that creates inexplicable feelings. Humans can imagine new infrastructures. Humans can devise new experiments to test new hypotheses.  Humans can transform their landscapes, for better or worse.

When governments are looking for scapegoats, they will often point to groups of strangers and decide their value based on monetary contributions. This is not representative of humans any more than a single cell is representative of the body.

Obituaries are more than just a list of names and total numbers. Societies are made up of more than bank accounts and taxpayers. Humans’ total contribution cannot easily be measured on spreadsheets. When we decide on the rules for admittance to our society, we would do well to remember all this.

Brace brace brace

-and the clouds gather above your head, darker than you thought possible, bringing sudden night and you are now aware this field is too exposed and how you stick out like an antenna over the-

-and the airhostesses are telling passengers to sit down and adopt the position, hands behind the neck, back bent forward and they are trying to remain professional but two of them have tears running down their faces even as they try to-

-and they are gathering in the streets, emboldened by political events you only have the dimmest understanding of, some new leader maybe, and they are laughing and joking, all wearing shirts and buzzcuts, and you are glad you wore contacts and not glasses or else you could have been singled out and for now you hold your breath and walk past, when one says-

-and this the hottest day on record but you are sure it’s fine, the government has a plan or maybe the scientists or someone will come up with steps to be taken and you will listen and shade offers no relief but-

-and no one is shouting now, everyone is in their seats and everyone has adopted the position and it’s very quiet now-

-and the air crackles around you.

2018 in Review: A Poem

In previous years I’ve written rambly, angry blog posts that tried to make sense of the world around me and mostly failed. This year I’ve given up trying to understand the world and in stead have written a poem to sum up the year:

2018 in Review

This year was a bullet fired from a shaking hand,
screaming as it ripped the air in half
then burying itself deep into an essential organ.
Or maybe two. It was hard to tell with all the viscera.

This year we all turned to stone.
In many ways, it was a relief to be immobile
until we had an urge to scratch ourselves.

I did not spend enough time this year listening
to the whispers of the wind and the waves.

This year was full of half finished questions
none of which had anything resembling an answer.
We never stopped screaming them at each other.
At half-past three in the morning we would bellow
What now? Have you heard-? Can you believe-?

This year we noticed how fast the water was rising
but we were frozen in granite and marble
so we justified a fluid grave to ourselves
saying it was what we wanted all along.

All my goals this year were scrawled onto receipts
which I then tossed behind my shoulder,
carried on walking and never looked at again.

This year was a train derailing in slow motion,
a thousand frames a second so we could see
all the gory detail right there on the big screen.
There was no pause button. We just had to watch.

Thanks to the lovely audience at Lines of the Mind for listening to this one when I read it out a couple of weeks ago.

In the next couple of weeks I’ll look at my favourite pop culture I encountered this year which is frankly more important than all this political nonsense. In the meantime, here’s my picks from 2017 and from 2016.

2017 in Review: Laughing at the Naked Emperor

So the year isn’t technically over yet. There’s still a good couple of weeks for things to go completely south. I’m travelling first thing next year so I thought I’d get my year in review in early.

In many ways, I feel this has been the year where those in power have revealed their true nature: incompetent, greedy and self-interested. It feels like many more people are waking up to the fact that the power structures do not serve them. There are no excuses left for the behaviour of the ruling representatives. The emperor has no clothes and everyone is laughing at him. Everyone knows he is naked and dangerous. It is a shame that we had to push the situation to the extreme to recognise the inherent problems in the system.

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Battle of the Ages in the Election

So there’s an election on Thursday. You might have heard of it. You probably have your own opinions one way or another. Maybe you don’t care. But either way, you have to admit, it is kind of a big deal.

The story so far: professional Cruella de Ville impersonator and unconvincing robot Theresa May surprised everyone by calling a snap election in March, mostly to shore up her majority. She ran a campaign on a cult of personality, despite having none. This and her endless slogans repeated like a skipping CD meant she plummeted in the polls. Jeremy Corbyn on the other hand actually fought the election on a human level and became massively more popular than previously expected. Will it translate to a win? Who knows!

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The New Religion of Brexit

Finally, after 9 months of legal battles and back and forth in parliament, it looks like Article 50 is about to be triggered and the UK can start its negotiations with the EU. No going back from that point. It seems since the vote months ago that hard Brexit is now a religion, an unstoppable dogma that cannot be argued with. The UK is willing to sacrifice almost everything for the promised hard Brexit. Turn this island into a tax haven? Sure, why not. Public Services? Tories were getting rid of them anyway. Even the United Kingdom itself is being sacrificed on the pyre. It’s become an absolute destination and damn the consequences.

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‘Hope in the Dark’ is more relevant than ever

If you are a woolly liberal like me, someone who believes in compassion for all and the importance of civil liberties, then these are dark times. The prevalent mood, both in the UK and the USA appears to be an inward turning nationalism, a conservative rhetoric that is looking backwards to some imagined age rather than forward to the future. There’s an emphasis on military spending and reducing the state. The hard-won luxuries we enjoy, such as the NHS, are continually being eroded, while at the same time the super rich refuse to pay any more tax. The gap between the rich and poor is growing. Trump is in the White House, whereas in the UK we have the authoritarian Theresa May hell bent on sending the country over a cliff. It’s easy to despair and hard to see any hope.

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2016: The Year the Internet took over

What a year. It started with David Bowie dying and somehow went downhill from there. A rabid media stirring up hate forced the British people to shoot themselves in the foot, whilst in the USA hate and intolerance won the day- if not the popular vote.

I feel this year the internet took over political debate.Now, many people get their news from Facebook or Twitter. It was a year in which the internet became central to how information is received and shared. No longer the underdog, used by a few, it is the mainstream way we connect, publish and communicate. There’s no escaping it. I’m using it right now.
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Surveillance, the Investigatory Powers Bill and Remain Vigilant

Last week, I published a new ebook. Called Remain Vigilant, it consists of two linked one act plays set in the same fictional government agency that deals with surveillance. I actually wrote it over eighteen months ago, left it on my hard drive and forgot about it. My background is in playwriting, so this was before I got into writing short stories and other pieces.
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What does it matter?

via google
In the shock generated in the wake of the US election, one refrain I keep hearing from people was what does it matter to us? Sure, people feel bad for the USA and all, but we have our own problems to deal with. I can sympathise with this view. The UK is a scary enough place at the moment, what with Brexit, the rise of hate crimes and confusion that has followed in its wake. However, I feel like the rest of the world needs to be concerned about the election of Donald Trump.
Here’s why:
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“With us or against us”: Brexit and The Daily Mail

So I was going to write about something else entirely, but then the I stumbled on The Daily Mail on Twitter. I try to avoid it when I can because it is always a hate-filled rag, but I couldn’t avoid it. Today it published this front page:

Daily Mail front page 12/10/2016
It brings to the surface a lot of feelings that have been brewing in this country recently. It’s also widely inaccurate and scary. Everyone has accepted Brexit is going to happen, it’s just a case of how badly it is going to hurt the country. Front page spreads like this only serve to divide us when we need to be most united.
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