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Posts Tagged ‘politics’

Unfashionable Political Views

Posted by Dirck on 5 June, 2017

A funny thing happened here over the weekend, and of course, “funny” can be variously interpreted.

…as in “unusual or uncommon”:  I got about thirty times the usual amount of traffic.  The behind-the-scenes stats reveal that this is a result of sudden notice being taken by people considering fountain pens on Reddit.  More to the point, people were looking at an old entry in which I write in a fairly loose manner about my Soyuz accordion-filler, and coincidentally about western perceptions of the way things got made in the old Soviet economy.  We can put this down to a freak spasm of the internet, of course; the all-seeing eye of humanity’s collective online presence passing over something of mine in such a way that I actually noticed it.  Apart from the strange up-tick of status, no big deal in the grand scheme, although there is an odd inward twinge of pride mingled with performance anxiety.

…as in “amusing”:  Because my stats let me look at the Reddit entry… well, I looked.  And then I had a giggle.  At least one of the commenters there urges me to get over the fact that there isn’t a Soviet Union anymore, I guess because I express doubts about capitalism being substantially better than Marxist Leninism.  The giggling is that someone would think I was pining for the good ol’ days of the Cold War based on the fact that I’m not convinced that capitalism is super-awesome (on the basis of income inequality, environmental degradation, and that even the IMF isn’t enchanted with all aspects of current fiscal thinking), or even, good heavens, that I was pining for a chance to join the fellowship of the long queues for black bread and dodgy vodka.

Seriously, no thanks.  In as much as my memory stretches back that far, I also remember the sort of literally life-or-death risks people would take to get out of the Soviet Union and its satellite states.  I may not be a capitalism cheer-leader, but if what called itself communism in the USSR is the alternative, I’ll definitely stick with what I’ve got.

For the record, I think we’re in the throes of some kind of socio-economic paradigm shift brought on by corporate capitalism’s inclination towards cannibalism; I’m not much happier about that than I am with the current state of play, because paradigm shifts tend towards discomfort.  I’m also in no position to suggest what that shift is towards, since they’re inherently opaque from one side, and I just hope that when it settles it’s something a little more humane than what we’ve got currently.  If I were to express a hope, it would be utterly Utopian, something like Scandinavian socialism writ large with some of the more benign aspects of the Federation of Planets thrown in… but that’s wishful thinking.

And, no doubt, I will offer some amusement for someone else, now that I’ve written all that down.

Today’s pen: Sheaffer Stylist (a company that practiced (GASP!) profit sharing with the employees!)
Today’s ink: Montblanc Royal Blue (giving away my paradoxical inclination towards monarchy as a foundation of government!)

PS: I also have a notion that the failure of my humour to transmit properly might be down to a shift in the terrain.  In 2012, when that entry was written, post-Soviet Russia wasn’t an entity we were taking anything like as seriously as we’re taking it in 2017.

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Posted in General Blather | Tagged: , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Early Janus

Posted by Dirck on 23 October, 2015

Usually at this time of year, I’m all about looking forward to Hallowe’en, and putting creepy stuff out to enhance the seasonal mood.  Stuff like this fun little loop:

Scary-GIF-11

But this year, I’m not only dealing with my son’s strange reaction to this most festive of times, but with my own non-Hallowe’en euphoria at the politics of the national.  In Canada, we are going from a sour-pussed racist on the national seat of power to this chap:

So the actual and true film for this Friday is a blend of jolly horror and innocent merriment.

Today’s pen: Italix Parson’s Essential
Today’s ink: Diamine Evergreen

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Posted by Dirck on 22 October, 2015

Day What How Much Duration Pen Ink
  • 19 October
  • 20 October
  • 21 October
  • 22 October
  • Another fiction roll-out and worrying about the election.
  • Stress-reaction to the results of the election.
  • First draft of “Aliasing Harmonic” despite migraine.
  • Almost the last of that first draft.
  • All day.
  • 45 min.
  • 25min.
  • 35 Min.

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Getting into Trouble

Posted by Dirck on 16 October, 2015

When’s the last time I committed a little anarcho-dandyism here?  Far too long ago.

Oh, for a dramatically expanded wardrobe budget!

In point of fact, I’m going to be committing a serious act of unrest while being civil on Monday.  I’m going to leave the house early, in my best suit and wearing good matching hat, to get into the polling station for the National Election before the start of work.  Attired as spiffily (and perhaps stuffily) as I can manage, I’m going to defy the system… of expectations.  I’ll be voting profoundly progressive while wearing conservative pin-stripes.  Fight the power!

Today’s pen: Sheaffer Targa
Today’s ink: Iroshizuku Shin-Ryoku

Posted in General Blather | Tagged: , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

The Age of Ludd

Posted by Dirck on 6 August, 2014

This whole entry is, as happens occasionally, absolutely nothing to do with pens, writing (however you interpret that word), or olde-fashioned hats.  There is, possibly, a vague connection, though, so this caveat lector isn’t as pressing as I had thought when I began it.

Over the weekend, I had what I would call an argument with someone on the Facebooks.  I’ll reproduce it here, with the identities expunged to protect those involved.  Except one well-known astrophysicist:

{Not Me} shared a Link:

Neil deGrasse Tyson Annihilates Anti-GMO Argument

[in which he essentially says GMO creation and traditional husbandry arrive at the same result, so if you’re not up in arms about silkworms, Kobe beef, or Meyer lemons, you should knock it off about GMOs]

{Me}: There is, however, a difference between selective breeding and slipping a specific gene into a sequence. The problem with the latter is that these things aren’t “one gene = one quality”; they interact, and the interactions are not always readily apparent. Too glib, Neil.

{Not Me}: Ya but they aren’t selling us the prototype. Scientist know this and GMO foods go through years of testing.

{Me}: I still have hesitation because (a) the parameters of the tests are frequently rather limited, and (b) the people paying for the tests are often the ones looking to sell the thing. If we hadn’t dismantled government oversight of such things so much, I‘d be on the other side of the line. As it is, GMO seems to be be unwise tampering; you might have got there by selective breeding, but you might also have dropped it a few generations in as a bad idea.

{Not Me}: No offence, but this just sounds like the general distrust of science that I’ve noticed people of your generation has. That is just an observation, not an insult.

{Me}: Fair enough, but in my case at least it’s an informed distrust rather than knee-jerk; too many years of Magnificent Wonder Products with claims of backing from scientific studies that prove to be problematical; neonic pesticides once flew the banner of “Science sez it’s safe!”, as a current example. I’m bang alongside scientific method, and it’s less the science I’m leery of than the corporations wrapping themselves in it. Climate change, on the other hand, I’m thoroughly convinced of because of the science.

Also– in that clip, NDG, who I generally respect as an astronomer and fountain pen fancier, is being used somewhat as an Appeal to Authority. If it were a well-known and widely-respected biologist saying the same thing, I’d be less sideways over it. I’ll admit that I have extra wariness of astronomers speaking outside their fields because there are some who, despite doing good work in astronomy, support creationism vocally. There’s another area that I’m more for than agin’ science.

As you can see, I became a little heated in that last bit, mis-identifying the fellow’s profession and making an uncited claim about some other astronomers (and, if this list is to be believed, they’re in a minority as far as that goes).  However, the thing that’s got me venting steam several days on is that bit which {Not Me} said about my generation.

Because I wonder if it’s true.  {Not Me} was born 23 years after me, so we are definitely of different generations, but from that statement it sounds rather like we come from entirely different centuries.  Our experiences are not the same, but there is certainly overlap, and {Not Me} is generally speaking a pretty bright person.  So I wonder whether the fact that I’m twice {Not Me}’s age has that much of an influence on our respective notions about science.

I grew up, after all, in an era when it was still being suggested that science might cure all things, and that computers for every home were just around the corner to usher in a bright age of communication and understanding.

…and you can tell from the set-up of that sentence that I’m still a little bitter over the disappointment.  I also grew up in the era where we figured out that science was causing plenty of trouble too; freon was busily eating the ozone layer, population growth (thanks to better medicine) was getting out of hand, and home computers turned out to be rather dumb when compared to HAL or other popular media examples.  The frequent cry of “where’s my flying car?” is a result of the benefits of science not living up to the promise; I freely admit that expecting real to live up to fictional is stupid but it’s hard to resist.

I will also plump up that mention {Me} made of neonicotinoids with the idiocies of Triclosan and similar super-bug generators, the problematic effects of things like BPA… gosh, I’m running out of time, so I’ll leave off at that.  I’ll bet, with a little effort, you can supply your own examples.  The point is, science is great, but insufficiently tested science trotted out to make someone money is often a disaster.  It has proven to be cornucopia and Pandora’s box all at once, and so I’ve become deeply conservative regarding any positive claims, if not outright suspicious.  All the moreso given, as I mention in the exchange, the gradual dismantling of external oversight by what should be neutral agencies; given the way modern politics runs, those neutral agencies that haven’t been done away with by budget cuts tend to have agendas thrust upon them.

Now, here’s where my confusion lies– I’ve come to this opinion by watching how things have gone since 1975 or so (I wasn’t really paying attention before then).  However, I would expect later generations who didn’t have the opportunity to watch the whole thing develop to the current pass would still have a similar sense of that development because, thanks to the science boon of The InterWeb!!!, it’s all written down for all to see and understand.  They didn’t need to be there.  We’re told that the current face of politics is in large part a result of no one considering politicians trustworthy in the wake of Watergate, which did not happen recently.  If the collective memory is so long, how is it so selective?  Politicians are tarred with the elderly brush first dipped by Woodward and Bernstein, but science in the service of a buck demands a new Rachel Carlson every five years or so?  Can such things be?

I hope that this isn’t a generational thing.  I’d like to think that healthy skepticism is available to people of all ages (once reason sets in, of course).  Since things like GMOs amend the world, and we have but one (another disappointment– where’s the interplanetary colonies?), it seems only rational to cast the light of Murphy on them; show us, before we let you loose, just what can go wrong.  If the answer is truly “nothing”, or at least “nothing as bad as will happen if we keep it on the shelf,” then I’m fine with it.  I rather hope these kids and their loud music take a similar view.

Here endeth the rant.  I’m away tomorrow for first aid re-certification, so there won’t be an entry.

Today’s pen (which shows signs of not-quite-sufficient testing before release): TWSBI Diamond 540
Today’s ink (see placard for toxicity info): Diamine Syrah

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