Friday, 12 December 2014

A Few Thoughts on Brand, Farage & Question Time

About the only thing I managed to do yesterday was catch Question Time on the BBC iPlayer. It wasn't bad, though fairly predictable. Brand clearly hadn't read my open letter to him and, as a consequence, he dropped back down in my estimation simply because he couldn't stop using 'mate' and 'love' when addressing people. He should ditch the celebrity persona of the Cockney charmer if he wants to be taken seriously. That much said, he climbed back up in my estimation once a fellow panellist patronisingly told him off for talking over a female MP. She said, and I have to paraphrase, 'this is what people hate about politics in this country: when a male voice shouts down a woman'. Hmm... Wasn't quite the same half an hour later when Douglas Murray couldn't make his point heard on This Week With Andrew Neil without being shouted down by Diane Abbott. Whatever Douglas Murray's point was, I think it was possibly intelligent, articulate and interesting. I'd looked up to listen to what he was saying because it seemed nuanced. However, he barely had chance to speak. Abbott was sitting on the edge of her seat, full of slack jawed liberal indignation, gasping and spluttering her objections whenever he even opened his mouth.

It's the problem I find myself having more often with liberals, though I'd say that I'd also consider myself to be pretty liberal. Places like The Guardian have very little true debate, with almost no cut and thrust. It's all thrust, thrust, thrust as far as I can see. They tend to be platforms where people shout the same thing, over and over again until the masses cheer. Nobody ever questions the prevailing ethos, whether that's about legalizing drugs (for which they all shout 'yay!') or going to war (for which they'll always shout 'never!'). Yet I suppose it's a perennial problem with any form of balance. They say that all systems tend towards a point of equilibrium but it's also true that any deviation from the centre is bound to result in a subsequent swing the other way. Men have had too much power so the women's movement fought for equality until we reach the current situation in the media when it's pretty difficult to express the male point of view without being called a sexist pig.

Speaking of sexist pigs: Nigel Farage was simply Nigel Farage and if you like the man, his performance would have made you like him more. If you hate the man, you'd still hate him this morning. All I can say is that both he and Brand have mastered (to varying degrees) the very thing that politics needs right now and that's the ability to speak fairly plainly about the issues. The machine-age of steam-driven politics has hopefully passed. That was synonymous with Tony Blair's time in government when people like Peter Mandelson and Alastair Campbell controlled the media machine with such authority that MPs learned not to stray from the party line. Hopefully the success of men like Brand and Farage will help loosen things up a little and make politicians realise that we vote for people, not ciphers representing some abstract party ideal. The Tories will survive in this new age, probably by voting for Boris Johnson who has a similar loose style. Labour, I expect, will find their own relaxed leader. Possibly not Alan Johnson, though he has a little of that style but doesn't seem to want the job. As for the Lib Dems, I really don't think it matters who they vote for. They've ten years of rebuilding ahead of them.

For all their faults, Brand and Farage made last night's debate interesting because they brought passion to the table. I suppose, despite what I said, the same is true of Diane Abbot. I'd rather have a few people shouting over each other than a calm mannered debate that simply sends the constituents to sleep.


On the subject of sleep: I've not had much sleep because I've spent the past 48 hours trying to make a three minute video on this hopeless computer of mine which was never built for video editing. It's been driving me crazy but it's a job I have to do that's part of my other life where I have to do things when people tell me and I end up just wanting to take a long walk off a short pier. I like to get on with jobs, not to sit here waiting 10, 20, sometimes over 60 minutes waiting for a task to complete. It baffles me why I'm have such trouble and I'm not entirely sure where I'm experiencing a bottleneck, except the PC is now a few years old and things have probably moved on. I don't think it's a memory issue since I have 16gb but the machine is running an AMD Phenom II X6 1055T, which has slowly been falling down the CPUBenchmark list of performance CPUs. It gets a score of 5.061 which used to be impressive but now the chart is topped by insanely expensive Xeon CPUs with scores over 20. For the first mainstream CPU that you'd have in a desktop, the score is a slightly less staggering 12.9 for an Intel Core i7. That's still twice as fast (plus a little more) than this CPU but whether that would translate into faster rendering speeds, I'm not entirely sure.

This work also means that I've not had time to draw or time to write. I've hardly had time to think how miserable it leaves me. Despite being something of a techhead, computers can utterly annoy me when they're too slow. Momentum is important to my workflow. Getting things working spur me on to get other things working. When I have to keep stopping like this, I get surly and feel like sticking my boot through everything electrical.

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