For Brexit is not our Trump

I don’t really want to have a go at Will Hutton in particular, but his is the most recent article I’ve seen to make the same mistake as many UK commenters I have seen. After much celebrating of Biden’s inauguration and a look forward to what this means for the US and the rest of the world, he attempts to draw parallels between Trump and Brexit, claiming:

Instead of the opposition conniving in the belief that the best that can be done is to improve the terms of the “deal” over many years ahead, the political task is to assemble a similarly broad coalition to Biden’s and oppose Brexit in the same terms.

There are two problems with this assertion. There first is the obvious one, that he is not comparing like for like. Electing a government is not the same as signing — or abandoning — an international treaty. Elections are regular occurrences, treaties… not so much.

Personally, I think Brexit is a stupid idea, implemented stupidly by a very stupid government. But it has happened. All the opposition in the world won’t change the fact that Britain left the EU in January 2020 and the transition period came to an end on December 31st and normal trade rules now apply to the UK’s dealings with the EU.

Secondly, and more significantly, is the parochial attitude of much of the British press on display here. What would successfully opposing Brexit look like at this stage? It’s all well and good convincing a majority of the electorate that Brexit is a bad idea, but then what? I presume the UK would want to re-apply to join the EU.

And after having spent four years wasting their time dealing with a belligerently incompetent UK government, does anyone really think that the EU governments will respond with anything other than hollow laughter?

Brexit is done but the trade agreement is an ongoing negotiation. The best Britain can hope for now is for the country to agree to align itself with the single market with the aim of rejoining it and the customs union at some point in the not too distant future.

There is no point in trying to flog a dead horse. If you really want to rejoin the EU, your best bet is to move to Scotland.

Street Fighter

There are people who will tell you that a film is so bad it’s good. This is not a view to which I subscribe — a bad film is a bad film.

I do have to admit, however, that there are some bad films for which a single element — be it an actor, a particularly silly plot point, or whatever — is able to redeem the overall terribleness enough to provide the film with, at least some, redemption.

Street Fighter has Raul Julia.

Julia plays the evil General M. Bison whose evil plan to be evil must be stopped. The plot, such as it is, revolves around attempting to introduce every character from every Street Fighter arcade game and maneuvering them all to Bison’s secret fortress for the final battle that you know is coming.

In narrative terms the film fails completely. As an action film, the scriptwriters have simply introduced far too many characters to the point that each character (apart from Colonel Guile, played by Jean-Claude Van Damme) is afforded no more than a single brief scene to show off their talents.

But every time Julia’s wonderfully self-aware Bison turns up to deliver yet another scene-stealing performance, he lifts the whole film from the floor. Bison is every cartoon villain you have ever seen, and he relishes in his evilness. He is, consistently, a joy to watch to the point that you even start to find yourself appreciating some of the one-liners that the other characters have been given.

I’m not going to claim that Street Fighter is a good film, it isn’t. But by embracing the silliness, Raul Julia has managed to turn this into a very funny film and one that is a lot more entertaining than it deserves to be.

Almost a Winter Wonderland

I’ve complained often enough about the lack of snow in January, so I really should acknowledge that we actually did see some yesterday. What’s more, it has survived the night and is still visible today.

Apparently, between 2 and 8cm of snow fell across the country yesterday. While we’re very much at the 2cm end of that range, any snow is better than no snow.

It’s a toasty 5°C as I type this, so the snow isn’t going to last long. But it was glistening quite nicely when I went for a walk.

Quote of the day: After the meltdown, the climbdown

Trump’s attack on Congress was an attack on America and all who hold its values dear. It was a desperate bid to cling to power by a weak, ignorant and selfish demagogue who has shown himself an enemy of democracy, a friend to tyrants and unfit to be president. When he belatedly realised, amid near-universal condemnation, that he had crossed a line, he caved and cravenly disowned his own supporters.

From The Observer view on Donald Trump’s assault on US democracy.

Also worth a read is John Scalzi’s post, But What If We Didn’t, which looks at the way that the Republican party’s deliberate and consistent abuse of the country’s constitution has led directly to the rise of Trump and the events of last week.

Much has been said about what happens next but, for me, I don’t think the US will be able to seriously describe itself as a functioning democracy until the Republican party finally collapses. Once that happens, the Democratic party would be able to split into the centre-right and centre-left parties it clearly want’s to be, rather than the uneasy coalition of the sane that it currently is.

But let’s not pretend that these authoritarian impulses are a particularly American thing. In Britain, Johnson, Gove and the rest of the Conservative party have spent the past four years fawning over Trump. They are trying to back away now, but it shouldn’t be forgotten just how much they embraced Trump and what he stood for.

Elsewhere, there’s Viktor Orbán in Hungary, Matteo Salvini in Italy, Andrzej Duda in Poland and others.

Democracy only works when those in power are willing to embrace democratic norms. This is something we should never forget.

January

The weather forecast keeps promising snow, and the snow keeps on refusing to turn up. So, this morning, I took the photo at the top of this post with the intention of saying that it almost felt like spring.

And then it started to hail.

Synchronize Your Dogmas #6

After a bit of a hiatus, the weekly link dump is back, with a collection of posts and articles that are all worth a look.

As yet another third world country struggles with its experiment in democracy, David Allen Green looks at the contest between violent populism and constitutionalism – and why it was not inevitable that yesterday’s attempted coup in the United States would fail.

Alex Woodie looks at The Benefits Of Endless Modernization. I was surprised to see that replacing a software application and starting from scratch had a 26 percent success rate — I expected it to be much lower.

Yvette d’Entremont explains Herd Immunity and why it isn’t a viable approach to beating an active pandemic with a large swath of at risk people.

“It might be no accident that our worst PMs disproportionately attended private school”. Chris Dillow on bad government.

And finally. If you’re a WhatsApp user, you’ll have to share your personal data with Facebook’s empire from next month – or stop using the chat app.

Mageia

Back in the mists of time we acquired a second-hand laptop and I installed DouDouLinux on it.This is a Linux distribution aimed at young children and it does achieve its aim of enabling young children to find their way around a PC without needing constant parental supervision. But time moves on and the boys are older, all have their own laptops now and the old laptop hasn’t been looked at for a couple of years.

So, over the holiday period, I started looking around for a distribution that still supported 32 bit architectures and discovered that Mageia still has a 32 bit edition which I immediately downloaded. It’s rather nice.

As with many — probably most — Linux distributions these days, the installer is graphical and takes you through the installation process quite painlessly. The only choice I really had to make was for the desktop environment, which was easy for me because I always go for Gnome. Once everything is installed, you are led through a configuration process which involves setting a root password and a main user profile, and then clicking through and accepting all of the defaults.

The installer is a little different to ones I am more used to, but it all proved to be a very painless process and one that worked well.

Many distributions now are providing a welcome screen when you boot your PC and Mageia is no exception. In this case, it’s reasonably nicely done and provides an easy way to quickly find your way around the operating system. Of course, once you have finished looking around this screen, it’s easy to disable by simply unchecking a box.

Mageia comes with a wide selection of applications that cover all of the obvious uses, and then some. While I can see that having everything available as soon as you start is useful, I have picked up my own preferences which I keep falling back to. So, helpful as all this software is, I know that I will end up replacing it with the applications I’m already used to.

And then there’s the Mageia Control Centre. This handily brings all of your administration tools together into a single application and is something about which I am still a bit ambivalent. One one hand, I can see that having everything managed by a single application is convenient. On the other hand, I have gotten used to doing things differently and, for me, the control centre feels a bit like reinventing the wheel. This is all down to personal preference, though, and I strongly suspect that, if Mageia had been the first distribution I had used, I would think it’s wonderful.

In fact, the only real gripe I have is that I had to tell the control centre not to look for CDs when doing updates. And this took all of one click.

Overall, Mageia strikes me as a solid, if unspectacular, operating system with several helpful touches. More importantly, it has helped me to revive a very old laptop.

Now all I need to do is figure out what I want to do with it.