Antipopulism

I mentioned, last week, that Flanders now has a government. This is a three-party coalition made up of the centre-right separatists of the N-VA, the Christian Democrats and the Liberal OpenVLD. Notable is the fact that, even though the far-right Vlaams Belang did well in the election, they have been excluded from the government.

Inevitably, some people are not happy and the first of (the organisers hope) a series of demonstrations will take place this coming Sunday.

The part of the article that leapt out at me, though, was this:

The Facebook page of the event announced that banners and flags are welcome, but “slogans with forbidden signs and racism” will not be tolerated.

Anyone who feels the need to tell their supporters to keep their racism under wraps has lost the argument before they began.

Birdhouse in Your Soul

While clearing out some of the junk we still have in the basement, I discovered a box full of cassettes, among which was the They Might Be Giants album, Flood which I bought way back in the 20th Century. It’s been a long long time since I have listened to anything from this band, primarily because all of the music I have from them is on either vinyl or cassette, so my sense of nostalgia took me to the next best thing — You Tube.

It was on YouTube that I discovered that Becky Buller Band have a Bluegrass Country cover of this song that really is quite charming.

Scene Cuts: Science Fiction

Scene Cuts: Science Fiction

I can never resist an excuse to talk about films, so when I saw the Scene Cuts challenge from A Guy Called Bloke by way of Bereaved Single Dad, I knew I was going to end up spending Far too much time hunting down clips on YouTube.

The idea is simple:

Once a week, l will pick a Film Genre, post three film clips and tag three readers who in turn will post three film clips on the chosen film genre and tag 3 of their own readers.

This week the genre is the best genre: Science Fiction. So I am going to nominate myself.

The guidelines are as simple as the idea

Thank the Selector

Select three film clips from the Movies Genre of the Day

Select 3 readers to take part in Scene Cuts

Doesn’t get much simpler than that does it…

I don’t want to overthink this, so here are the first three films that came to mind.

Continue reading “Scene Cuts: Science Fiction”

Five Things #7: Better late than never

This post has taken quite a bit longer to complete than I expected, so apologies in advance if a couple of the below links feel a bit stale. They’re still worth reading, though.

“Hence gradually the onion skins have been peeled away until the fetid heart of [Brexit] is exposed: not a policy but an undeliverable fantasy composed of lies and articulated in the language of spite, contempt and hate.” — Chris Grey on the Supreme Court judgment and its aftermath.

On a related note, Nick Barlow points out that democracy is a process, not an event.

I loved Spitting Image back in the day and was delighted to hear that the satirical puppet show is making a a comeback. Adam J Smith and Jo Waugh take this opportunity to point out that there has been a problem inherent in British caricature for 300 years.

Ben Orlin explains why 1 isn’t a prime number.

And Wumo explains the stock market:

wumo5d96018cbfb3c3.67833360

Excuses

Whenever Belgium has an election, much time is spent on forming coalitions and these happen at all levels. The last set of elections were on May 26th and, while the federal government negotiations are still ongoing, the separatist, centre-right and liberal parties in the Flemish parliament have managed to agree a coalition which means that Flanders now has a government.

It’s not been the best of starts for the leader of this coalition, Jan Jambon, who was caught playing a game on his smartphone while a parliamentary session was in progress. He does, however, have an explanation:

… he was playing ‘Toy Blast’ and not ‘Angry Birds’ as had been widely reported.

So that’s alright then.

English people speaking Dutch

This is what I asked for.

This is what the nice young man behind the bar handed to me.

I’m not sure how I managed to mispronounce Chimay Blauw quite that badly but, given that I did, I should probably stick to coffee for the rest of today.

For the record, I don’t normally drink bottled water. In fact, I never drink bottled water because the very idea of putting water into bottles and then charging people for the inconvenience strikes me as being fundamentally stupid. But it’s popular in Belgium.

And sparkling bottled water tastes disgusting.

21 Kilos of pumpkin

We have more pumpkins. This is the most incredible plant. Once it’s in the ground, I do absolutely nothing apart from a (very) occasional spot of weeding and yet it keeps on growing and today we harvested two more.

IMG_20191005_152234

The big on is 21 kilos, the largest we’ve managed so far, and there are more out there still growing strongly.

I’m ready for Halloween now.

Brexit facts worth repeating: There is no such thing as a clean break

Whenever I look at the UK press’ reporting of Brexit (which is probably more often than I should), I am repeatedly astonished by the extent to which clearly nonsensical claims are treated seriously. So kudos must go to Simon Wren-Lewis for pointing out (yet again) that the Brexit hardliner’s obsession with a so-called Clean Break is utter nonsense:

A clean break Brexit inevitably leads to 10 years at least of negotiation with the EU, negotiations in which the UK side will eventually be forced to accept the terms the ERG now despise. The longer our government holds out in those negotiations the longer it takes. In reality the so called clean break Brexit is a promise to continue Brexit negotiations but from an even weaker position.

Wren-Lewis also notes that the reason Brexit hasn’t happened yet is that Brexiters keep voting against it.

The reality is that the only way for Brexit to be done or over with is for Parliament to revoke Article 50 and bring this whole sorry pretence to an end.

Five things #6

“But who’s the real freak – the activist whose determination has single-handedly started a powerful global movement for change, or the middle-aged man taunting a child with Asperger syndrome from behind the safety of their computer screens?” Jennifer O’Connell asks why Greta Thunberg is so triggering for certain men.

Jesse Singal discusses Dave Chappelle, political correctness and cancel culture and argues that we should recognise the elitism of the Super-Woke.

David Spiegelhalter discusses the importance of statistical literacy, and plugs his book a couple of times. The book is The Art of Statistics and I do plan on reading it once the paperback edition is published.

As Rambo: Last Blood arrives on the big screen, Mark Harrison looks back at Son Of Rambow and the joys of DIY filmmaking.

And finally: Happy birthday COBOL. 60 years old this month and still surprisingly popular. There’s hope for me yet.

The Hendersons are coming!

The Far Side trails ‘new online era’ for Gary Larson’s beloved cartoons

Fans of the surreal, the bizarre and sardonic anthropomorphic cows are in a fervour after The Far Side cartoonist Gary Larson’s website was updated this weekend with promises of “a new online era”, 24 years after the reclusive creator retired at the age of 44.

This was published at the start of last week, so I’m a bit late here, but no matter. The Far Side is coming back and, having been a huge fan of Gary Larson’s offbeat view of the world back in the day, I am really looking forward to seeing what comes next.

It’s not clear whether this will be new content or re-issues of existing cartoons. Obviously new cartoons would be much preferred but, as long as the new site has an RSS feed, I will be more than happy to start enjoying a digital dose of absurdist surrealism.