devi: (tension)
I wasn't really planning to go to a protest on Wednesday. I knew there was something happening at Goldsmiths but I didn't have the details; I thought they might be occupying the library or something. If I'd known what was going to happen I'd have brought food and water and a flask of tea and worn more jumpers. All the jumpers. But whatever was happening, I wanted to be there for it. I've spent all this time thinking and planning and getting up the nerve to try and get back into academia, then being almost unbearably excited that I was going to Goldsmiths, and now it seems they're having all their funding cut. My plans for the next bit of my life are going up in smoke - but whatever, I don't want to make it about me. Every time I see anything about education on the news I get a sick falling sensation in my stomach. In any case, I got there at 11 to find people gathering in front of the main doors. Only a few hundred to start with. I had stuff to be getting on with, but when they set off for New Cross station I couldn't not join them.

In the kettle. This is long. )

For a while, in late '08-early '09, I was actually quite enthused about politics. Sometimes, though I was wary of the feeling, I had a sense of being part of a great wave; of the system itself changing. Then, of course, the long slow fall of disillusionment. I got enthusiastic again for the election here. I took it all terribly seriously, and it all went horribly wrong. My faith in doing things through the proper channels is dwindling by the minute. But whatever was left shrank still more on Wednesday evening, as I walked back and forth like a bear in the zoo, looking at hordes of teenagers imprisoned for eight hours outside in November for having walked down a street. Seriously, in what universe is that fair?

EDIT: Photos on Flickr here.
devi: (bookish)
Thing One: Who else watched Margaret, the feature-length drama about the last days of Margaret Thatcher with flashbacks from her career, last week? It was great - if very slow - but the focus was weird. It was all on the pecking-order upheavals and the personalities of the people involved. Every so often someone would make an oblique reference to some policy or other - congratulating her on her economic programme or saying "you're tearing the country apart for a theory!" - or there'd be two seconds of poll tax protesters on a TV in the background, but that was it. And I was like, wot no miners' strike? Wot no Falklands? Etc.

Someone who didn't know any recent history would have been at a loss to say anything she stood for, on the basis of the drama. The zoom was always tight on her - the brilliant Lindsay Duncan, swinging from chilly to neurotic to vulnerable to sometimes actually kind of awesome. But I wanted to wrestle the camera away from the crew and swing it around, zoom it out, to point at all the stuff going on off-screen, and I was left confused as to how we were meant to feel. Scared or sympathetic? I wondered if it was part of a rehabilitation - a swing back towards thinking she was all right really, in preparation for the next election. (Which seems weird to me, that we should be looking more positively at her right now. Didn't her free market policies do a lot to get us in this current mess?) Dan and I mused that it felt as if there had been more about her policies which had been edited out.

And look! We were right! The script did have more specific, critical stuff, including an anti-war speech by hubby Denis, and it was defanged in the final draft. Hmmmm.

Thing Two is Three Worlds Collide, a thought experiment in the guise of an old-fashioned SF story about first contact between future humans and two different alien species (thanks [livejournal.com profile] amuchmoreexotic). It's not very well written - hackwork at best - but it's full of interesting concepts and moral dilemmas. One of the species has based their whole system of goodness and morality around eating their own babies. The others are telepathic, regard the happiness of all as the most important thing (because what hurts one hurts them all, through the freaky and squishy communal psychic sex thing they refer to as untranslatable 2), and thus think not doing one's utmost to eliminate unhappiness is evil. It has a lot of thought-provoking stuff about how difficult it is to conceive of things outside of our evolutionary and cultural worldview. I liked that the baby-eating aliens had science fiction in which all their imaginary other races, however bizarre, also ate their own babies.

(Edit: hey [livejournal.com profile] gothwalk, you might enjoy it, given that economics is one of your Fannish Things. The ship uses a model economic system, with things and ideas constantly rising and falling in value, to help make decisions.)

So that's the good kind of hmmmmm, with one exception. The writer says in the comments that he wanted to include some shocking things in his future human society, since the future will almost certainly include things which are normal for the future people but would be appalling and disgusting to us. Fair enough. Unfortunately, his example of this is that in the future, rape is legal.

warning: icky future-society rape stuff )

This is occupying my mind because it's something I've been wondering about in general for years. When you come up against people of former generations who seem to be closed-minded and set in their ways and suspicious of anything new, it's easy to declare that will never happen to you. You'll always keep up with the new stuff and move with the times. But I suspect everyone thinks that when they're young, then encounters new things they can't cope with. I had been trying to come up with changes that would make me uncomfortable, make me want to huddle up with people my age and complain about the young folks. But "rape is the new socially acceptable fun thing!" isn't the sort of thing I mean. It wouldn't be the shock of the new and inconceivable, it would be the gloom of same-shit-different-century.

I bet between us we can come up with some genuinely shocking possible future developments. Ones that, if they came about when we were all old fogeys, would make us feel the ground had melted away under our feet and we no longer had any place in this crazy new world. Ones which were unknown in recent history and challenged things we had always taken for granted as part of the basic rules of being human.

Just off the top of my head, perhaps medical technology advances - to the point where you can regenerate from almost any damage like Claire in Heroes - have made grievous bodily harm a normal way of expressing annoyance at someone the way swearing at them would be today. Lovers and friends routinely stab and mutilate each other for fun, because internal organs are just so interesting to examine, and it's a different kind of intimacy. Duels to the death, person-hunts and jumping out of planes without parachutes are popular extreme sports.

Or perhaps plastic surgery is standard for all. Or the written word disappears and only the most dedicated scholars learn to read. Or (like in The Meme Machine and the end of The Invisibles) the very idea of the individual self disappears. That sort of thing.

Not, y'know, a 'shocking future development' which reverses something which only changed relatively recently and which is still the case in many parts of the world.

What would you be shocked and horrified to find had changed if you woke up in the future?
devi: (Default)
Ahahaha. In 2012, as the Mayan Long Count comes to an end, the Prez leads America into The Singularity. Wearing bunny slippers. A little comic by Dan Goldman.

(Ancient, powerful witch Thessaly in the Sandman comic wore bunny slippers for a whole story arc as well, so for me they've come to symbolise being so damn competent that it becomes irrelevant whether or not you're wearing the right clothes to project an image of power. Which kind of works here as well.)

As is typical of me, I started a slightly more considered post about the inauguration but didn't finish it. Perhaps I'll get a chance later on.


Blue Monday hit us hard. It's been a bit grim around these parts. But here are some more things found on the web - mostly science-flavoured if not actually scientific - which have brightened things up:

Science Tattoos. Some of these are really beautiful - I love the carbon atom, and this diagram of the spread of an epidemic, and subatomic doodling. I wanted a tattoo for ages and never settled on a design, but these make me think I want one of a stylised, ambiguous image poised halfway between a diagram of an atom and a map of a solar system. Zoom in, zoom out.

An animated video on how to imagine ten dimensions. I saw this ages ago after [livejournal.com profile] squiddity told me about it, one night after Planet Angel (that was an interesting night during which I also heard about surreal numbers, but sadly when I looked them up I understood them not at all. I'm glad surreal numbers exist, though). But it just popped up again on my twitter feed. I don't know how well-founded it is but it's certainly fun.

Via [livejournal.com profile] undyingking, a graph showing which language people around the world refer to when they don't understand something, along the lines of "it's all Greek to me". Apparently lots of languages express incomprehension by saying "sounds like Chinese", but the Chinese say it sounds like "the Heavenly Script".

The discussion on the post is full of interesting comments too. Some Germans say "it's all Bohemian villages to me", which I can relate to - Czech is such a crazy pile-up of consonants. People wade in to wave the Esperanto flag and get told off. It's fun, in a quite geeky way.


And something not web-ephemera, though you can see pages from it at the author's website (I recommend you do. They are gorgeous): last night I got lost for hours in a graphic novel called The Arrival, by Shaun Tan, which Dan found in the library. It's a wordless story about an immigrant leaving his oppressive homeland to come to a strange new culture full of bizarre animals, peculiar mechanical devices and beautiful, incomprehensible script. It's full of fantastical invented things, and sometimes putting fantasy elements in a story about real-world issues can undermine it and make it seem like the author is making light of said issues, but in this story it really works because by creating an imaginary culture he makes us experience the immigrant's culture shock. I read it while listening to Ulrich Schnauss's dreamlike shoegaze electronica, which was just perfect. I wanted it to go on forever, and also to be able to draw better myself, and choked up a bit thinking about taking risks and new beginnings and such idealistic stuff. It is, in summary, Rather Good.


Hey, the sun's out and it's nearly the weekend. I'm coming down to London for Black Plastic tomorrow, rah! Rather looking forward to dancing to discrete songs with words, like I always used to. See you there?
devi: (thegap)
Well, this quiz by [livejournal.com profile] hatmandu and friends has certainly fulfilled its stated goal of making me want to find out more. I don't know nearly enough about Kucinich, or indeed Gravel.

Who should you vote for?
Dennis Kucinich120
Mike Gravel108
Barack Obama101
John Edwards91
Hillary Clinton87
Rudy Giuliani-15
Ron Paul-27
John McCain-36
Fred Thompson-72
Mitt Romney-117
Duncan Hunter-132
Mike Huckabee-138
You expected: Barack Obama
Your recommendation: Dennis Kucinich

Party: Democratic


Born: 1946, Cleveland, Ohio


Family: Married three times; one daughter


Career: Radio talk-show host, lecturer, consultant


Political career: Cleveland City Council (1969); Mayor of Cleveland (1977-79); Incumbent Member of the US House of Representatives from Ohio's 10th district


Hot topic: Federally funded healthcare to all citizens


Did you know? When Kucinich refused to sell Muni Light, Cleveland's publicly owned electric utility, the Cleveland mafia put a hit on him. A hitman from Maryland planned to shoot him in the head during the Columbus Day Parade, but the plot fell apart when Kucinich was hospitalized and missed the event.


Supported by: Viggo Mortensen, Sean Penn


***

There are Obama posters popping up in Oxford already and it isn't even our election. Last night Dan and I found ourselves watching The Manchurian Candidate - the remake, that is - which I'd somehow thought was a running-and-shouting-and-exploding standard thriller. Instead it was a paranoia-filled conspiracy theory drama happening around a US election, clearly scripted by people who'd watched an awful lot of The West Wing. All the fake news footage with its clunky graphic design took me back to our all-night election party of 2004. Hey, party round mine this November! With donuts! And hopefully this one won't end in despair!

devi: (Default)
Who Should You Vote For?

Who should I vote for?

Your expected outcome:

Liberal Democrat


Your actual outcome:



Labour -12
Conservative -33
Liberal Democrat 56
UK Independence Party 1
Green 36


You should vote: Liberal Democrat

The LibDems take a strong stand against tax cuts and a strong one in favour of public services: they would make long-term residential care for the elderly free across the UK, and scrap university tuition fees. They are in favour of a ban on smoking in public places, but would relax laws on cannabis. They propose to change vehicle taxation to be based on usage rather than ownership.

Take the test at Who Should You Vote For

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