I see a lot of Remainers complaining on social media about susceptible, low information voters. But absent voters are as surely as culpable.
As people try to make sense of, and come to terms with the result of the EU Referendum, it’s become fashionable to complain about old people. For example, the Independent has a piece entitled ‘How old people have screwed over the younger generation’ demonstrating how younger people voted in greater numbers for Remain over Leave, while older folk did the opposite.
Yes, the senior generations did impose their views upon the junior generations… but that’s only because they showed up to vote. Since the result was announced on Friday I’ve been looking for figures on turn-out, and found these numbers from Sky Data. Continue reading “Are Young People To Blame For Brexit?”
We should hope that we were wrong, and that Leave were right
OK, so the United Kingdom as a whole has voted for Brexit. I am profoundly disappointed.
For those of us who voted Remain, here are some things that we should do and some things that we should not do. Continue reading “Here’s What We Need To Do Now”
The country-as-household metaphor is particularly difficult for Cameron and Osborne to argue against, because they have been deploying exactly the same argument in order to justify their austerity policies
Ever since the EU Referendum campaign kicked off in earnest, everyone—Brexiters, Bremainers and Bragnostics—have been complaining that they can’t get the straight facts out of anyone. “If only we had the facts” they cry, “then we’d all be able to make a sober, rational choice about whether to vote in or out”.
That’s a noble idea but it’s also delusional. Most people aren’t going to do sums. They’re going to vote on gut instinct, emotions, and, if they are trying really hard to be civic minded, then they’ll vote on whose arguments seem most credible.
We don’t need more facts. The facts are out there for those who care to look and who have been educated in macroeconomics.
What we need are better metaphors. Continue reading “The EU is Not A Household Expense—It’s A Trade Fair”
It is part of our political and social history and should loom large in our collective consciousness.
I posted this yesterday evening on Facebook.
The TV news reports about the death of Jo Cox have actually been quite sober. Reporters have refrained from speculating on the motives of the alleged killer. It’s very easy to find a picture of a suspect from friends or family, but the media have declined to grant this man notoriety. Instead they have focus on the life and achievements of someone who was by all accounts remarkable.
During the obituaries, two almost irrelevant facts jumped out at me. She was 41 and only 5 feet tall. These incidental traits are also shared by the person I woke up next to today, just as Brendan Cox must have woken up next to his wife this morning. A rush to get the kids ready, a piece of toast grabbed out the door, and an expectation that we will all see each other again in a few hours. We all did that this morning: me and my family; Jo and Brendan Cox and their kid; You and yours.
And now she is gone, and he is having to tell his kids why.
This is not like getting cancer. This is not like a car accident. This is not like the unexpected death of a pop star, however influential. We do not know whether the killer is mentally ill or whether there are deeper and more sinister reasons for his actions. But this is an act that has emerged from our society. It is part of our political and social history and should loom large in our collective consciousness.
In a blog post that is being wildly shared on social media tonight, Alex Massie says he does not remember feeling as bad about the country as he does tonight. I think 7/7 comes close.
It is indeed a terrible day but I am bizarrely confident that we will regain some optimism. And the reason I think that is because of how quickly we have seen an outpouring of solidarity, and affirmation of ideas of love. Led by none other than Brendan Cox, who put love for family and the human dignity at the centre of his astonishing statement this afternoon.
Led by none other than Jo Cox, who spent her life seeking to make the human experience better for others.
If publishers are spending money on libel, they’re not spending on new stuff
The Scottish Law Commission’s consultation on the law of defamation closes this week. If you want take a stand for free speech in Scotland, then an easy but important thing you can do is co-sign the Libel Reform Campaign’s letter to Lord Pentland, the chair of the commission.
Last month I spoke to the Bookseller about defamation reform, after the incoming president of the Publishers’ Association, Simon Barr, said that it was important that it was important to close the “loophole” caused by the different defamation regimes in England & Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland. Long-time readers of this blog will recall that while the Westminster parliament has legislated, the parliaments at Holyrood and Stormont have not yet done so.
There are many reasons to reform defamation, but to my mind the one that should motivate publishers in particular is this:
Another consequence is the possibility legal costs will dent budgets for breaking new authors. “If publishers are spending money on libel, they’re not spending on new stuff,” Sharp said. And the books that get binned, it won’t be the mainstream commercial titles, it’s going to be the experimental stuff – the first time authors, the challenging and the quirky things that are a bit of a risk.”
You can read Katherine Cowdrey’s full report on the Bookseller website.
“My nephew Luke has no memory of a white male president” says Melissa Ryan. “Hillary Clinton just made history but for millions of children she won’t be the first woman president. She’ll just be the president.”
This is exactly right, I responded.
I was born right before Margaret Thatcher became the British Prime Minister and she remained so until I was nearly 11 years old. In my head, the word ‘Prime Minister’ was inherently gendered female and whenever, in fiction or historical context, the Prime Minister was referred to with the male pronouns he/him, it felt odd. Continue reading “How Margaret Thatcher Hacked My Brain And Made Me Slightly Less Sexist”
The report should be made available in HTML but the Inquiry Team aren’t going to bother with that.
Earlier this week I wrote to the Iraq Inquiry team about the forthcoming report.
I note that the Inquiry report will be published in July. May I ask in what format the report will be published? I assume that physical paper copies will be available, and also a PDF.
However, neither of these are optimal for public discussion and citation. May I recommend that the report is also published in an HTML format?
I draw your attention to my project The Leveson Report (As It Should Be) at leveson.robertsharp.co.uk.
This is not a rewriting of Lord Justice Leveson’s report but instead a re-setting of the report in HMTL, a format that is far more convenient for students, journalists, policy makers and the public. Each paragraph and chapter carries its own anchor link for easy citation.
It is imperative that Sir John Chilcot’s report is published in a similar format. Ideally, transcripts of and written evidence that the Inquiry makes public should be presented in that format too.
An organisation that has has done significant work in this area is MySociety. I urge the Inquiry team consult with MySociety and other organisations who work in this area ahead of (not after) the report publication, to ensure that modern web design and coding/markup techniques and ‘best practice’ are applied.
The report of the Inquiry is of huge historical, constitutional and political significance and the actual formats in which the report is made available should reflect that. The medium is part of the message of transparency and clarity that is at the heart of the Inquiry.
Continue reading “I Felt The Need To Write to the Chilcot Inquiry”
The theology of the cartoon is clearly homophobic. On social media people are calling it disturbing, bigoted, creepy and hateful. But I think the parenting depicted in the video is to be applauded and encouraged, for several reasons.
First published on the Huffington Post. After this was published I received some challenging, passionate and extremely useful discussions about it on Facebook. I will add some more thoughts about the video and my article in a separate post.
The Jehovah’s Witnesses are going viral. Social media users have discovered ‘One Man One Woman‘, a short animation about same-sex marriage.
In the clip, a mother tells her daughter, Sophia, that only straight marriage is in Jehovah’s ‘plan’ and that people should abide by those rules if they want to reach paradise. The sequence ends with the little girl revising bible quotes so she can explain to Carrie, her school-friend with two Moms, the true path to paradise. Continue reading “The Homophobic Jehovah’s Witness Video Teaches Us Lessons in Parenting and Pluralism”
This is the exact technology that I imagined and described in ‘The Good Shabti’
But what if we could restart the body after it shuts down?
The ReAnima Project, a project to assess the possibility of regenerating the brains of dead people, has just received approval from an Institutional Review Board at the National Institutes of Health in the US and in India.
Bioquark Inc., the brains behind ReAnima (sorry, bad pun), was given the go-ahead to work with 20 patients already declared clinically dead from traumatic brain injury to test whether parts of their central nervous system can be brought back to life.
Through the use of different therapies, the company will try to revive patients who are only kept alive through life support. These therapies include injecting the brain with stem cells and a cocktail of peptides, as well as deploying lasers and nerve stimulation techniques that have been shown to bring patients out of comas.
Continue reading “(My) Fiction Becomes Reality?”
There’s a video of Zac Goldsmith doing the rounds, where he claims to be ‘a Bollywood fan’ and then fails to name a single Bollywood film or actor that he likes. As I remarked on Twitter yesterday, his floundering interview was evocative of the Sarah Palin calamity in 2008 when she could not think of a single newspaper or magazine that she read regularly. Thanks to Sunny Hundal for providing this illustration. Continue reading “Zac Goldsmith: Unprepared Even to Pander”