The Ex-Communicator

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July 5th, 2013


08:05 pm - Phew what a scorcher
I see Gove has backed down on climate change and it's back in the curriculum again.

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June 16th, 2013


08:28 am - GCSE Computer Science
My book is now for sale

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07:44 am - LJ Settings
At the moment I have set up this journal so that only friends can comment. I hate doing this, but I was just getting too much Russian spam.

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07:41 am - Evo Psych and menstruation
I've done a few posts on this blog about Evolutionary Psychology, which I despise. I don't disagree that evolution has had an impact on our psychology, but the way that EvoPsych describes that impact is quite wrong in my opinion. And, like economics and philosophy, it is tainted by modern politics.

I've wanted to write this post for ages but the best example I can think of to illustrate my point is the social example of a menstrual taboo. And I have been inhibited because it feels too, I don't know, in-your-face feminist or something. Nevertheless, I want to post more on lj, I want to stop being so inhibited. So, below the cut, is my discussion of Evo Psych, with menstruation as an example.
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January 6th, 2013


09:56 am - What happened in 2012
I was just thinking that the biggest change I saw in 2012 is a kind of waking up about misogyny and sexual exploitation. Up until recently you just could not say that something (say a joke) was sexist or misogynist without being jeered at just for saying it. Suddenly it is something you can at least say sexism is bad in general conversation, even if people disagree with you. And I think - am I being optimistic - that some of the strategies misogynists use to shut down discussion are being recognised and named.

I have seen a similar change happen in my lifetime. Sometime about 1978 our whole culture woke up to racism in some way. What was acceptable in humour and drama just changed. I don't mean it suddenly all became lovely and harmonious and we all lived happily ever after but making 'Irish jokes' or 'Paki jokes' ceased to be respectable and normal almost overnight. Including one or two non-white faces in drama became expected (Blakes 7 is an example).

Also in the late 70s sexual exploitation of children became something that could be discussed. Actually, now I think about it, Blakes 7 is an example again. Again, a change in what was counted as 'funny' was a big part of it.

There have been serious issues raised in India and in the West about rape culture this year. I think an improvement can happen because it has happened before. That change in what can and can't be spoken, so that it is OK to complain, and not OK to condone.

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December 24th, 2012


12:54 pm - That Locus list
I have stolen from nwhyte his list of the Locus poll of 'best' SF and fantasy novels of the 20th and 21st centuries. Bold means I have read it, italic means I didn't finish it.

Conclusion: I have read more SF than fantasy. Something has alienated me from mainstream SF over the past few years.
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12:02 pm - Oxfam Christmas present
Dear livejournal friends, I have bought you a Christmas present in lieu of sending cards. I donated to Oxfam 'train a teacher'. I could only send the e-card to one person so I have sent it to altariel because she introduced me to livejournal and Twitter.

But I think better than an e-card, here is the Oxfam video about the work they do under the train a teacher programme:
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December 21st, 2012


10:04 pm - Gylfinir
gylfinir has died. We spent one day together once and I have a scarf she made. I think about her quite often but I did not do enough to let her know.

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December 8th, 2012


12:12 pm - Seven Psychopaths
This is why I have kept off livejournal, because once I start I can't stop posting. Damn. I haven't written one economically productive word this morning.

I went to see Seven Psychopaths, which is a film by the same guy who wrote and directed In Bruges. It is a great film. It's a comedy, but with quite a lot of violence in it, including against women. I feel I need to say that upfront, because some people might not want to see it for that reason.

It is a writerly film, with Colin Farrell as the writer's idealised alter ego, who is struggling to write the script to 'Seven Psychopaths'. I know self-referential films like that can be shit, but this one is good. It is clever and charismatic enough to carry through that dodgy premise. As well as Farrell it has Christopher Walken, Sam Rockwell and Woody Harrelson who are all funny and compelling.

I think the reduction of women to victimhood is a significant flaw in the film, and the authorial character being told off by Christopher Walken about it does not get him off the hook IMHO. Nevertheless I think it is one of the best films I have seen this year.

Films I would compare it to, apart from In Bruges of course, are Pulp Fiction and Big Lebowski and Repo Man. I wouldn't say it was as good as any of those, which are among my all-time best films, but it is good and within that intelligent dark comedy genre.

ETA Pete Bradshaw in the Guardian: wrong again about a genre film. He's a good critic but I think he lacks instinct in spotting the gold in mainstream films.

And back in September's Guardian Catherine Shoard gave it four stars:
Witty and inventive, cracklingly obscene and sheep-dunk bracing. And it suffers some of the same short-burn as a Tarantino flick, vividly impressive at the time, but all fireworks and no Aga, a film whose parts might be more than its sum. There are scenes of complete brilliance, Walken is better than he's been in years, cute plot loops and grace notes. Yet it doesn't quite cohere.

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11:37 am - The brutal experiment
Here's an article in the New York Times expressing pity for the UK as the subject of a 'brutal' experiment to prove that austerity does not work. Anyone with any claim to economic savvy who said it might ever work should hang their head in shame.

It's ugly of me to say 'I told you so'. But it was very hard two years ago, being abused and condescended to by Lib Dems. One Lib Dem (the only person I have ever defriended on livejournal*) called me a 'Nazi' to my face. To my virtual face I mean. I do consider the evidence of the past two years shows that people like me who said it was a disaster coming, were right. We were bloody right. It is no consolation. It is literally no consolation at all.

I don't think what happened two years ago was merely a widespread intellectual error, like the geologists who disbelieved in continental drift. I think it shows that reason is a figleaf hiding murky emotional reaction. I actually think this disjunct between overt reason and hidden motive can be worst among atheist/ rationalist/ SF-Lovin'/ computer nerdy types. I know I am part of that group. I don't exclude myself.

Irrational and cruel and destructive impulses slobber around in the subconscious and all the time we talk louder and louder about intellectual matters and books and university courses. Cleverness is being used to think up pretend reasons for actions which are rooted in unexamined impulses.

In this case I think the powerful desire to be brutal was much more significant than the flimsy theoretical idea that brutality would work.

* I should say, apart from two people who unfriended me first for saying rude things about the Bible and Science. That's not bad is it, three fallings-out in ten years.

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