Grrr, I have a wailing and gnashing of teeth underway as I am missing the opportunity to meet and work with this amazing Engineer in a few weeks in San Francisco. I am not part of our team travelling to be there.
My elder daughter and I have started watching all sort of cool geeky stuff on YouTube at night. It was Chris Hadfield* this evening. Tomorrow I think it needs to be Simone.
* She was fascinated by the whole life on the space station thing. And I have been asked three times to explain why everything floats in space. Its great when you can stimulate curiosity like that**
** The one complaint – she was amazed when she saw a female astronaut. I need to beat that submissive attitude out of her.
For over thirty years politicians in the UK were happy to blame the EU for every unpopular decision whether it had anything to do with Europe or not (a common problem in the rest of Europe, the UK ones just tended to do if more often and louder) . The result is that when Cameron made the mistake of offering a referendum the voters voted out – why wouldn’t they. They had been told for 30 years the EU was the problem.
When they are outside they will discover that things are not that simple – Farage has even started rolling back on one of his biggest lies (the £350m extra for the NHS one) within hours.
There are two big learnings.
1) Politicians need to actually be honest with voters. Offering easy, simplistic answers leads to people getting cynical about everything that comes from their mouths. The result is the rise of damaging populism across the democratic west.
2) Complex political problems can not and should not be reduced to simple yes-no questions. I am all for direct democracy, where it is right. But for big difficult questions, voters have shown repeatedly they struggle to take in all the information needed to make informed decisions. And instead, they decide based on unrelated issues (the Irish farmers voting down referendums because grant cheques are late), or with their gut. It is Politicians who are supposed to be the ones that bring in the experts, debate the issues and then make the decisions. That is why we have parliaments in the first place and don’t put every piece of legislation to the vote.
If only where an easy answer to this. I like to demand realism and honest of my politicians. But the ones that give it are few and far between. Because in the short term, the easy “we didn’t want to do that, but the EU made us” gets them votes, and allows them to deflect blame.
Note on the image: I am living in my 3rd European country. I have an Irish passport, Austrian drivers licence, and Swedish ID card. I consider myself a proud European. I would be devastated if my country had made the decision that the UK has. Fortunately it looks like everyone in Ireland, including the “ourselves alone” brigade are 100% clear that staying in the EU is a vital national interest.
In the run up to the Austrian presidential election the Economist ran an article on the country. Despite living there for about 4 years, much of it was news to me (Austrians really don’t mix with foreigners).
This quote did send a shiver down my spine:
“Under Austria’s Proporz system, jobs, housing and business licences were doled out on the basis of party membership. Laws are written by party-affiliated labour or business groups and handed to parliament to rubber-stamp. Even now two motoring associations and two mountain-trekking clubs exist, to ensure that Austrians need never dally with another political tribe when their cars break down or when on an Alpine stroll.”
Dear God, in the time I was there, I could have unwittingly been a member of the Fianna Fail Hiking Club!
About once a month I post a blog post for work*. This week I had one posted on cloud business models. You can read the post if you want. It has been moderately successful, gaining views and conversions.
Personally I am chuffed though that I managed to get them to include a photo of Churchill as part of the post. Who would have thought we could get a perspective from the man in Cloud Computing?
I’ll have to see what I can manage for the next one. I do take requests as well. Stick something in the comments if you have an idea.
* The demands of writing for work are part of the reason why I can be erratic posting here.
Avatar may have been the highest grossing film ever (until you adjust for inflation, and then it falls to #15), but no one feels deeply for it. I am no fan of Star Wars, but I’ll concede it has millions of fans who love every aspect of it. They dress up as the characters, they speculate endlessly about the next installments, and they buy bucket loads of merchandise.
Does anyone buy anything related to Avatar, other than porn parodies?
* Funny that he is adding sequels, when he has yet to even make a second one.
In Stockholm’s Gamla Stan today I finally managed to track down the Axel Oxenstierna palace. Unless you are a history geek (like me) you wouldn’t know he was “Lord High Chancellor” of Sweden in the 1600s. With King Gustavus Adolphus he led Sweden into the 30 years war. Without their intervention it probably would only have been the 12 years war.
I have been looking for the house for a while. In amongst the old narrow twisting streets of the old town it was difficult to find, and surprisingly hard to to find the actual address. Some googling last night eventually gave me the address. And as I was in town yesterday I had to get there.
I love finding places like this. Small connections to the past, that are just a little obscure. And it is always more fun to go out specifically to find something with a particular link, than to just read about it on a plaque as you are passing by chance.