Saturday, January 8, 2011

The eloquence of non-analysis

Last spring, Derrick Bird killed twelve people in Cumbria with guns.  In spite of the fact that the weapons were entirely legally owned, the instant reaction of the American gun enthusiasts I had 'debated' with the previous year was to triumphantly insist that this constituted proof that a UK-style gun ban is counter-productive.  "I wonder what James Kelly will have to say about this," Kevin Baker crowed, before working through his standard repertoire of "Do it again, only HARDER!!!" (ie. if gun control 'isn't working', do it some more), and "when there are seconds to spare, the police are only minutes away" (ie. the deaths somehow wouldn't have occurred if only the British public were legally entitled to carry guns for 'self-defence').

Today, Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords was shot in the head at a public meeting in Arizona and is now in a critical condition, while five others were killed.  Kevin Baker lives in Arizona.  The state not only has extremely permissive gun ownership laws, but also allows citizens to carry guns for self-defence.

Naturally, given that this is almost an exact reversal of the Bird scenario, one of my first thoughts was to wonder what Baker would have to say about the incident.  Strikingly, this time he doesn't seem to have much to offer beyond a simple summary of the facts, with a number of his commenters briefly noting that it is "sad" and "unfortunate".

Little wonder.

No change with Angus Reid

Yet another example of the almost uncanny stability exhibited by Angus Reid's Scottish subsamples, in comparison to those produced by other pollsters - the latest figures show no change at all for three of the four main parties...

Labour 42% (-)
SNP 34% (-)
Conservatives 13% (+2)
Liberal Democrats 6%(-)
Others 4% (-3)

As these are Westminster voting intention numbers, the SNP steady at 34% and just eight points behind Labour ought to be very encouraging news, but who knows how much credence can be given to it?

'The narcissism of minor differences'

I mentioned a certain Cornish sex memoirist in my previous post, and it just so happens that Mr Sean Thomas randomly namechecked me earlier this evening in a comment that rehearsed a very familiar Brit Nat delusion...

"...more importantly, the phrase “narcissism of minor differences” is entirely Freud’s, not mine.
He used it, IIRC, to describe the piffling disagreements and differences between small, middle European statelets which got blown up into massive nationalistic struggles, and led to World War 1 etc.

It is brilliantly descriptive, I feel, of the attitudes of Scot Nats to England. 

Note how Nits always go on about how Scotland (genetically, linguistically and culturally almost identical to England) is always so much better because of some tiny alleged superiority in the Scottish legal system, or the special way they teach maths in Fife as compared to Surrey, or the uniquely humane size of shepherds crooks in the Highlands, or whatever.

The narcissism of minor differences. James Kelly and Stuart Dickson are living examples. Another reason to reinstate Stuart: comedy value."

I'm not sure this is hugely relevant to my nationalist views, but I can recall as a teenager travelling to the south of England for only the second or third time in my life, and being struck by just how startlingly alien it all felt.  Not in any sense in a bad way - I walked around the town centre of High Wycombe and suddenly became aware that I felt ten times more relaxed than I normally would at home, or indeed anywhere in the northernmost two-thirds of the UK.  There wasn't the familiar sense of people keeping a semi-suspicious eye on everyone around them - young men were strutting about like peacocks, and shoppers were shouting their personal affairs at the top of their voices as if no-one else existed.  The sense of humour was utterly unrecognisable as well.

Perhaps the reason it came as such a shock was the fiction of British cultural homogeneity that the 'national' media constantly peddle - the expectation must have crept into my subconscious at some stage.  I now tend to think that the logic for Britain as a 'natural country' crumbles if you simply visit London, then visit Dublin, and subsequently ask yourself a few quick questions.  Which felt culturally closer to home?  And yet which is supposedly 'our' capital, and which is the 'foreign' city?

For the avoidance of doubt, though, I think it may just about be possible for us to be aware of these differences from other countries without it actually triggering World War Three.  Tricky, but Sweden, Peru and New Zealand all seem to manage it somehow...

Monday, January 3, 2011

The Facebook 'electronic tagging' experience

In spite of the fact that I hardly ever use Facebook, it's just managed to get right on my nerves.  Last night I received a friend suggestion from someone, and without thinking too much about it I pressed 'confirm', as I've done many times before.  But I then received a stern message informing me that I was no longer allowed to send friend requests, because too many of the ones I'd sent before hadn't been accepted.  I was also piously reminded that Facebook is a place for networking with people you already know, not for pestering strangers (or words to that effect).

Now, it's quite true that two or three months back I sent out a reasonably large batch of friend requests, many to people I'm only vaguely connected to - so unsurprisingly only a minority accepted.  (Not one of them was a total stranger, though.)  Why would I do a thing like that?  Well, I think it might just have something to do with Facebook constantly haranguing me to hand over my email details so they could find friends for me.  So it seems that if you simply do what you're endlessly prompted to do, you get the online equivalent of an 'electronic tagging' for your troubles.  More bizarre still, they then continue nagging you with friend suggestions by email, even though you're banned from agreeing to them!

One thing that has really irritated me about Facebook from the start is the stubborn adherence to the fiction that it's strictly for real-life friends only, when everyone knows perfectly well that the majority of users probably have at least one or two friends (and maybe a great many) that they've never actually met.  A website whose rules are totally at odds with the way most people want to use it must be going wrong somewhere.


Thanks to anyone who voted for me in Political Betting's Poster of the Year poll for 2010 - the voting closed yesterday, and I finished 17th, up from 27th last year (not that I'm keeping track or anything).  Incidentally, if Ezio's around, you might be interested to know that Seth O Logue is labouring under the misapprehension that you're a Cornish sex memoirist in disguise!