Leave have faith

This is an intelligent unpicking of BJ’s lies by @UKLabour. The problem I fear is that we’re not dealing with intelligence, or logic, or even truth. We are dealing with belief. We’re dealing with faith.

Leave have faith, despite all the evidence, that leaving the EU is the right thing to do. For me faith is just a short bus journey to Zealot Town. I have no idea how to counter their belief. They don’t listen to reason.

Despite their best efforts I have no desire to make them my enemy. But that’s what I am. I am other. A none believer. And not to believe, not to have faith, is heresy. I can live with being a heretic. But no amount of faith will put food on the table, or pay my rent.

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The Conversation: Armand D’Angour: Socrates in love: how the ideas of this woman are at the root of Western philosophy

This is just another example of the phrase that may or may not have been said by Napoleon Bonaparte.

What is history but a fable agreed upon?

QI

It’s not hard to see how or why patriarchy has marginalise Aspasia of Miletus.

Interestingly the website Quote Investigator: QI, who investigate the source of quotes, attributes it to someone else. Ironic.

Ken Clarke and Europe see though Boris Johnson. Do you?

A couple of days ago I watched Ken Clarke unpack Boris Johnson’s strategy towards the European Union. Clarke thinks Johnson wants to make no deal inevitable, while blaming the European Union, Parliament, and the Opposition. He will then fight a “flag waving” general election before anyone realises the vat of shit we’re in.

This morning I watched the interview with Philippe Lamberts on Channel 4 News. He confirmed everything and more that Ken Clarke said. Ken Clarke can see though Boris Johnson. The Europeans know what Boris Johnson is up to. Do you?

I find it interestingly that I could only find two clips of Ken Clarke’s comments on Twitter. Why is that? Ken Clarke’s analysis seems accurate. I know the news in chomping it’s way through the feast that is removing rebels, but to me that’s a distraction. It’s important but should be ignored. Why aren’t they unpacking Boris Johnson’s strategy the way Ken Clarke did?

We need a radical approach to the housing crisis

An answer prompted by a George Monbiot article in The Guardian: Poor tenants pay for landlords to have a good time.

I agree that “government policy has created heaven for landlords and hell for tenants.” I am a tenant. I always have been, and always will be. Not through choice but because I have never been rich enough to buy. As tenants my partner and I are treated like children. Constantly reminded it’s the landlord’s house, not a property we’re paying to call our home. All tenants are made to feel as though they should be grateful to the landlord for letting us rent their property. How would you feel if someone could turn up at your door whenever they choose, and just let themselves into your home? It makes you feel vulnerable. As if you have no agency.

I think we need a radical approach to the housing crisis. One that puts tenants front and centre. Yes we need rent controls. But we also need guaranteed long term leases. Terms of five or ten years should be the standard. Everyone needs that kind of stability to make a life for themselves.

There should be a register of landlords. You need a license to drive a taxi. You should have a license to rent private property. Tenants should be able to report neglect of a property, or abusive behaviour, without fear of eviction. A register of landlords would go some way to keeping both parties safe.

I think the owners of a ghosted property should be fined. Not small, slap on the wrist fines, but value of the property fines. Investors then have a choice, sell their ghosted property, or let it at rent-controlled rates. Similarly second homes, or holiday homes, should be either treated as ghosted properties, or taxed out of existence.

Mortgages should be calculated not on earnings, but on a proven ability to pay rent. I would argue paying rent is better indicator of someone’s ability to repay a mortgage than earnings. And if lenders still require a deposit they should be offered to individuals by the government, in the same way as student loans are, and similarly administered by HMRC.

The problems with the housing market were created by decades of poor political choices. For the sake of everyone, we need to make better choices.

Facebook is not a social network, it’s a data collection machine

A response prompted by a Kari Paul article in The Guardian: Facebook launches app that will pay users for their data

The Sturdy app shows anyone who wants to see that Facebook is not a social network, it’s a data collection machine.

A new Facebook app will allow users to sell the company data on how they use competitors’ apps.

How does Facebook use the data it collects? I think it’s using our data against us. When I first wrote that sentence it came out as, “using it against it’s users.” I quickly realised, even if you don’t use Facebook, you come into contact with someone who does. Facebook knows something about you through them. When it says it’s connecting people it really is connecting people, mapping the many ways we brush against each other.

Imagine you’re walking along Piccadilly at 3.30 in the afternoon. Someone takes a picture, and posts it at 3.31. Facebook knows something about the person who posted the picture, and the location of everyone captured in the photo. What if Mark Zuckerberg was walking along Piccadilly, and at 3.32 someone spat in his face. The picture taken at 3.30 might show the assailant. It makes everyone in the picture a suspect.

Facebook gets to work cross-referencing various accounts, pulling up the latest facial recognition software. Suddenly the police are at your door, making you account for your actions between 3.15 and 3.45. You were minding your own business, but now you have to prove it. You have to prove somehow you didn’t spit in Mark Zuckerberg’s face. They’re not trying to prove you did it, you’re trying to prove you didn’t.

At this point I can hear a certain section of the population repeating a mantra, throwing it in my direction like some spunk sodden flannel, “nothing to hide nothing to fear.” That’s not an argument, it’s an accusation. You assume I have something I hide because I don’t want to account for my whereabouts.

Now imagine the world taking a sudden turn towards the authoritarian? What if people below a certain income level aren’t allowed to walk along Piccadilly? The police are at your door, questioning you about the assault on Mark Zuckerberg, but arresting you for being too poor to be on Piccadilly.

Who knows how this technology is being used, or will be used in the future? Facebook aren’t mining data because it’s fun. They’re doing it because it’s worth something. The information they collect can be used for what? Changing your purchasing habits? Telling you what you know about the world? Influencing elections?

Facebook is not a benign force. It’s a data collection machine. Now ask yourself how’s it being used?

[There’s more at stake here than just blocking no deal] LabourList: Sienna Rodgers: Labour launches cross-party effort to block no deal

This motion is only needed because there have been calls to suspend parliament. The fact that there is even talk of suspending parliament should scare everyone, even those on the side of Britain exiting the European Union. Their argument was that we should wrestle back sovereignty from Europe, not give it to an elite group of self serving politicians. Suspending parliament is not acceptable under any circumstance. That’s us slipping and sliding, scrambling and scuffing, open eyed towards totalitarianism. But that’s what happens when the world gets complicated, filled with nuance, and leaders frame every argument as a binary choice. I considered exactly this “totalitarian mindset” when I was working on one of my characters for Carr-10-n. This is an extract from something I wrote in 2013.

So the question I’m really asking is; what kind of person is attracted to totalitarianism? To answer that question you first need to ask; what allows totalitarianism to flourish? The short answer is uncertainty. In his paper “How to make enemies and influence people” (2) Alfonso Montuori characterises the “totalitarian mindset” as a response to the stress of contemporary pluralism. Basically we live in complex times full of ambiguity and uncertainty. We feel threatened. And when we’re backed into a corner we have a tendency to succumb to “simplistic, black-and-white solutions.” Montuori goes on to note that “individuals all over the world have sought relief from the uncertainty of a pluralistic world in the arms of absolute belief systems of a religious fundamentalist and/or political/nationalistic nature.” 

2013/02/08

If that doesn’t describe the current mess nothing does. Jeremy Corbyn has been criticised for a “muddy” position on Britain exiting the European Union. But muddy’s what we need. We need nuance not black and white choices. Black and white choices are what got us here in the first place. There are no easy answers in any of this, but sleepwalking a totalitarian government into office is not the answer.