May 20th 2020 – The Way Its Always Been Done

Two news stories converged to get me thinking yesterday. First the confirmation of the entry requirements post-brexit that will be required for any prospective new migrants to the UK, and the requirement to secure a job of minimum salary of £25,600 (for full points). Secondly, the number of deaths from Covid-19 in care homes, and an interviewing underlining how strategies weren’t co-ordinated due to the diffuse nature of care home ownership. Both these stories spoke to me about how a certain type of Economic thinking that has been all-conquering over a number of decades had led to so many off-base assumptions in our society. As value is determined purely by profitability than by actual societal value.

The minimum salary pretty much says to a vast majority of workers in the UK, myself included, that you are of no value. Which is nonsense as the huge pay differential between the top and the rest of us, skews the national average salary which would’ve been used as a base for this policy.

The care homes speak for how the over may years, the main concern for how to organise anything at government level is pure cost. Its a way of thinking that seems counter-intuitive – surely you look at need and then look at how to fund that, not look at a problem and how we can solve it and still make profit. So much of this thinking has led to outsourcing to private sectors, who of course are going to look to make a profit to continue operating, and justify existing. Problem is market-led decisions tend to lead to low wages, and low quality, to keep costs low, to maximise profit.

This is how you end up with nothing working and a load of competing entities leading to a red tape, inefficiency and no-one getting the services they should.

I can only hope eventually a change in the way of thinking comes through, otherwise we will continue to have a country that doesn’t work – regardless of how many perceived outside influencers you rid yourselves of.

May 19th 2020 – A new blog

Just a quickie today as I’ve been working on launching my Nordic Folk music blog and FB page – North Sounds. I’m hoping to work quickly to add plenty of content to draw in traffic before I start trying to entice some artist for interviews and writing regular reviews. I’m excited to get started but aware that getting seen is a very difficult thing to achieve and I’m going to have to keep working even when shouting into the void (a familiar feeling).

May 18th 2020 – 365 Challenge Part 1

Ive joined up with some members of the Kermode Appreciation Society facebook group to take part in the 365 film challenge. Simple premise, watch 365 films in 365 days. Normally a thing to do at the start of a new year but this has been started now as it seems lockdown is going to go on for a bit and it gives a kind of meaning to the lazing about.

The rules are that each film must:

  • Be and accredited film through the BBFC
  • Each film must be one you have not previously seen
  • You can watch several in one day, you don’t have to stick to 1 a day as long as you are staying at the average of 1 a day
  • Documentary Films are acceptable
  • 5% of films may be less that 60mins long – that works out at 18 shirt films

This nicely coincides with the start of my weeks holiday from work, and signing up for the BFI player trial. So over the weekend and this morning I have made a start with the following (NB: ill do a brief list and thoughts each Monday on films watched):

    • Aniara (2018) – A spaceship carrying settlers to Mars is knocked off course, causing the consumption-obsessed passengers to consider their place in the universe. Interesting premise and treatise on the human condition, of hope, despair and hedonism – went a bit off course at time sbut a fairly gripping watch. (7.5/10)
    • Walkabout (1971) – Two city-bred siblings are stranded in the Australian Outback, where they learn to survive with the aid of an Aboriginal boy on his “walkabout”: a ritual separation from his tribe. Excellent cinematography and an interesting tale of clashing cultures. (7/10)
    • The Seventh Seal (1957) – A man seeks answers about life, death, and the existence of God as he plays chess against the Grim Reaper during the Black Plague. I can understand the acclaim, it’s well shot for the time and tackles huge themes, a little slow in places but makes you think (7/10)
    • Evolution (2015) – The only residents of young Nicholas’ sea-side town are women and boys. When he sees a corpse in the ocean one day, he begins to question his existence and surroundings. Why must he, and all the other boys, be hospitalised? A very slow watch, again beautifully filmed and intriguing to see what the big secret in the town is, big ideas but poorly executed. (5/10)
    • In The Name Of The Father (1993) – A man’s coerced confession to an I.R.A. bombing he did not commit results in the imprisonment of his father as well. An English lawyer fights to free them. Excellent film, I don’t know I didn’t watch this before being a fan of The Boxer which also stars DDL and set during the troubles, adding flesh to a story a was aware of as a youngster but knew little of the facts about. (8/10)

May17th 2020 – National Identity

Revisiting the idea of national identity today. Not something I was planning to do but got to thinking about it after watching an old Limmy video on You Tube talking about a twitter spat with Richard Herring over the latters ironic use of the phrase Scotch to talk about Scottish people. The chat was fine and seemed a genuine misunderstanding of intent, however there was a lot of chat about how Edinburgh is not Scotland. This is an argument I’ve heard of many times from those in the west, dismissive of people from Edinburgh, from up north, from Aberdeen, from Dundee etc as being different. Not sharing the same patter as the Glasgwegian and therefore not proper Scottish.

It got me to think about another aspect that renders national identity absurb. That what is defined as national traits in a country is generally portrayed by the dominant regional group – generally those in and around the capital. The part of the country where the centre’s of culture are, that show ourselves and the rest of the world what it is to be off that nation.

It seems that our belonging to a particular homogenous social group is a lot more micro than the concept of nationality. It speaks to the idea that to be Scottish isn;t necessarily to be Glasgwegian, to be English isn’t necessarily to be from London and the home counties, to be French is not necessarily Parisian.

This further makes the idea of nationality based politics all the more absurd, because unless you are part of that centralised region-as-nation identity then what you are upholding is something that is foreign to your experiences.

 

May 16th 2020 – Bundesliga’s Back

So my favourite league is the first major league to come back after lockdown, and today it was great to watch a couple of games, including watching my team Borussia Monchengladbach grab an impressive win away and Frankfurt and leapfrog Leipzig into third in the league.

It was a bit surreal having no crowd noise, and from both games I saw it seemed like it was a bit surreal for the players too. Unsure really how to deal with the concept of social distancing within a contact sport, it really took some time into both games for there to be any close tackling and the physicality you expect in the game. Perhaps that’s contributing to the teams in both games with the technically better players managed to get early convincing leads?

It’ll be interesting to see how the games pan out to the season end, while the strange atmosphere and general strangeness of being around people lead to some freak results and unexpected outcomes – can it possibly curtail Bayerns march to the title.

Most interestingly, what will happen should any players test positive between games? I think other leagues will be watching to see what happens and hoping for success as a blueprint for getting things done elsewhere.

May 15th 2020 – Holidays

Ah, so today I turned on my out of office for what while actually be 10 days of freedom – the joys of having a bank holiday Monday right after your week off. Alas the gamble that there may have been some relaxing of lockdown in time for this has not paid off, so I still won’t be able to go and visit my wife, and will though we can exercise more, there’s so little to do outside that it is pretty much a lonesome flat-bound week.

Time to find those little jobs needing doing around the place, time to try out some of the ideas in writing I’ve been coming up with. Failing that time to veg and watch some films ive been meaning to watch for years at least.

May 14th 2020 – Shrooms

Recently I’ve watched a couple of interesting documentaries about psychoactive drugs and heard Laura Marling talking about taking Mushrooms and it’s something that has interested me. The idea that it can help change the way your brain’s neural pathways work, to alter perspectives and perhaps even your personality (temporarily or longer term would be the debate).

As someone often being introspective and wondering about my own personality and how it can be improved, it is something that interests me as a concept. Especially the idea of small doses for milder effects but with tangible results which there have been limited studies about.

Of course, its not something as a 40-something I’m going to jump into doing myself, I’ve always been far too acutely aware of my addictive personality, and too aware of potential disaster to dabble in that sort of thing.

However, the idea interests me as something that could be studied more and could at some point in the future become something that is a viable treatment people can take.