Europe


A letter to my MP

I should have sent a letter (well, email, using writetothem.com/) to my MP about Brexit sooner. It was going to be much longer, going on about why we should be running away from any deals or association with Trump, but I felt that might get incoherent, given how appalling his first week and a bit has been.

Dear Rebecca Long-Bailey,

I urge you to vote against the Bill to trigger article 50. Leaving the EU would be disastrous for the country.

A slim majority of voters wanted to leave the EU. I doubt they wanted to destroy the country’s economy to do so, or put us at risk of rushing to do deals with the vile Trump administration. If our relationship with our neighbours must be renegotiated, it must be done by more competent and braver people than our current Government.

Yours sincerely,

Ian Pattinson

There will likely be more letters, and on many diverse subjects, to follow.


Leavers don’t like irony, or equality

There’s a petition to Parliament to re-run the referendum, but with higher requirements for a decision (60% in favour, 75% turnout). As I write this, just under 3.1 million people have signed it. It’s unlikely we’ll get another referendum (and who wants to go through that again?), but it’s an gauge of the dissatisfaction with the way it all turned out.

And, if this Facebook post is genuine, it’s hilarious that it was set up by a Leave supporter, who thinks Remainers are behaving appallingly by agreeing with the sentiments he would have been screaming out if the tables were turned.

In case the post mysteriously disappears, here’s the text of it-

Oliver Healey – English Democrats

***CAN I HAVE YOUR ATTENTION PLEASE!!!***

Dear All

Re: EU Referendum Rules triggering a 2nd EU Referendum petition

This petition was created at a time (over a month ago) when it was looking unlikely that ‘leave’ were going to win, with the intention of making it harder for ‘remain’ to further shackle us to the EU. Due to the result, the petition has been hijacked by the remain campaign. Admittedly, my actions were premature however, my intentions were as stated above. THERE WAS NO GUARANTEE OF A LEAVE VICTORY AT THAT TIME!!! Having said that, if it had not been mine, it would have been orchestrated by someone on the remain campaign. However, since I am associated with the petition and before the press further associate me with it I felt the need to better clarify my position on the issue even if it looks bad. I am it’s creator, nothing more! The logistical probability of getting a turnout to be a minimum of 75% and of that, 60% of the vote must be one or the other (leave or remain) is in my opinion next to impossible without a compulsory element to the voting system.

I have been opposed to the bureaucratic and undemocratic nature of the European Union as an institution privately for many years and for all of my political career. I have openly and actively lent my support to both Vote Leave and Grassroots Out campaigns – why would I do this if I wanted to remain in the EU? I am genuinely appalled by the behaviour of some of the remain campaign, how they are conducting themselves post-referendum not just with this petition but generally. The referendum was fairly funded; democratically endorsed, every vote was weighted equally and I believe this was a true reflection of the mood of the country. To my fellow leavers, now doubting their decision please keep the faith, we will be fine just stick with it. I believe what we need to do now for the good of the country; is get behind the will of the British people, unite, issue Article 50 of the Treaty of Lisbon and move forward, with the process of leaving the European Union.

William Oliver Healey

Creator of EU Referendum Rules triggering a 2nd EU Referendum petition

Leave would have been truly awful and obnoxious losers. You can tell by the way they’re truly awful and obnoxious winners.

(Whilst I wrote this post, the petition went from 3.09 million signatures to 3.114 million.)


The Berlin Job

I did a bit of a Spring clean recently, and came across this. On six postcards, I had done layouts for a comic idea. It dates back several years, and was going to be called The Berlin Job.

Set in an alternative fifties, where Berlin was the first city to have an atomic bomb dropped on it, it was going to be a heist story that turned into a conspiracy tale. As a team of crooks and ex-servicemen broke into the abandoned city of Berlin- looking to find the vaults full of looted treasure etc.- they would stumble across a terrible secret. Hitler was assassinated by others in German high command, and they had offered up surrender terms to the Brits and Americans, afraid of what would happen should the Russians overrun their capital. This was ignored, and the atom bomb was dropped as a show of force, taking out some of the Russians already in the city.

Now, several years later, tensions are building again, and the city is still sealed off, waiting for someone to come in and dig up its secrets.

The Berlin Job

Obviously, I never started this project properly, though I think there may be a larger, more polished version of the first page somewhere.

If it’s not obvious, the first three pages are side by side narratives from the end of the story and the point in 1946 (I had a set of backstories that would have explained why the war went on a year longer, if necessary) when the bomb was dropped. Page 6 is messy and cluttered. I’d like to think I’d have turned it into a double page spread, framed by either end of the building/block, if I’d gone ahead.

I’m always thinking about doing some comics again. Finding stuff like this just makes me ponder what story I’d like to tell that way.


Do you really want to be trapped on an island with these people?

So, we’re halfway into the second week of what’s going to be a tedious and depressing EU referendum campaign. I wouldn’t be surprised if half the country has already become bored and irritated by it all.

I’ll come straight out and say that I’ll be voting to stay in. There’s a lot wrong with the EU, and the only way to fix the problems is by staying in and arguing more effectively for reform*. Also, it’s naive to think we won’t be affected by EU policies if we leave. We’ll still have to meet the standards they set if we want to trade with them, and there’ll be a load of new restrictions on travelling, living and working on the continent.

My stance puts me in the unsavoury position of being on the same side as David Cameron, George Osborne and Tony Blair. I’ll live with that. Not least because of the incredibly low quality of so many of the Brexit supporters. A short list, off the top of my head-

Nigel Farage A caricature of the worst stereotypes of England made flesh. The only good thing I can say about Farage is that, whichever way the vote goes, he’s going to be even more irrelevant after June.

Boris Johnson A man who plays the buffoon in the hope that we’ll not notice all his cheap political game playing. And the fact that he is a bit of an incompetent. It’s hard to take seriously any claims that Boris’ stance is for anything other than the chance to be leader of the Tory party and possibly PM.

Michael Gove Gormless, useless little man, who has only got as far as he has by taking advantage of the friendship he has now betrayed with the Prime Minister.

Iain Duncan-Smith Let’s face it, Duncan-Smith wants out of Europe to save his own skin. He’s scared that a European court might one day hold him to account for introducing policies that have driven thousands of the most vulnerable to early deaths and pushed people to suicide.

Nigel Lawson Walnut faced former Chancellor who now makes millions of pounds conjuring up weak arguments for gullible climate change deniers to keep spouting, thus slowing down progress on fixing the greatest imminent threat to everyone’s way of life.

John Redwood Supposedly hyper-intelligent former minister, who was once known as the Vulcan, but now looks more like Dobby the house elf. Redwood’s highly intelligent and deeply considered opinion on matters of climate change and energy policy somehow always sounds like the sort of thing Nigel Lawson’s group has dreamt up for gullible climate change deniers to repeat endlessly.

David Icke Really. David Icke supporting something is the equivalent of having it stamped “100% guaranteed bullshit”.

These are the people who will be running this country if the referendum results in us leaving (well, apart from Icke, he’ll probably say something incoherent about lizards, then disappear back to wherever it is he hides). They are scum, and they’ll be even harder to escape from, because they’ll trash your chances of going to live and work in Europe.

A vote to stay could be the first part of a double whammy. First, do serious damage to the careers of the would-be leavers by rejecting their campaign. This will have a knock-on effect of destabilising, maybe even splitting, the Conservative party**, offering an opportunity for more sensible parties to sweep in and kick them out at the next election.

It might not happen, but I’m an optimist.

*And kicking out all the UKIP MEPs. Really, is there anything less useful than a UKIP MEP? They’ve been elected to something they want the country to leave, and their constant refrain is how terrible the EU is for Britain. They could use their positions to fix those problems, and make things better for thr UK. But then, that would show that the EU is capable of doing good things for Britain, making the case for staying in. So UKIP MEPs must just sit on their hands and make things worse, because it’s the only way they can achieve what they want. They’re actively making things worse for us, under the pretence that they’re working to make things, somehow, better.

**Actually, either result could have this effect. But In is the best for the majority of us.


How Europe Played Greece

Here’s an alternative view of the Greek financial crisis. In Britain, the poor and vulnerable are suffering the most for the failures of the rich and greedy in power. In Greece, it’s the whole country that’s being punished.

The people of Europe need to realise that they were all played, too. Taxpayers’ money was pumped, not into Greece, but into failing banks, like everywhere else. Profit has been privatised and risk nationalised. They need to stop blaming the canary for coming up from the mine half dead.

Source: How Europe Played Greece


Are you Charlie?

o-OVERWHELMED-570

I can’t honestly say that I’ve ever read Charlie Hebdo. I always bought a few bandes dessinee magazines, but I had a preference for lushly rendered ligne claire tales full of hard SF and occasional naked people.

Since the magazine’s offices were attacked, there has been an amount of self important commentary suggesting the cartoonists brought the violence upon themselves. It’s not just been from the sort of right wingers who would like to have the power to threaten and censor for themselves, either. People who would normally, and rightly, rail against victim blaming, have been saying, “Well, if they would go out in those covers, they were asking to be shot.”

They’re wrong, of course, and many people have explained why, so I’ll not go into that. But what’s bothered me is their inability to read a cartoon, or do some basic maths. Everyone’s been concentrating on the covers depicting Mohammed and the blame brigade are pointing at them and implying that the magazine was a non-stop anti Islam hate fest. There’s a pool of a dozen or so cover images from the period since 2006 (date of the image above), that are being concentrated on. But Charlie Hebdo was weekly. There were 52 issues a year (maybe 50 if they took a break for Christmas and New Year), which kind of makes the charge of concentrated Islamaphobia a little weaker. Of course, I can’t speak for the content of CH, and just how nasty it was to whom and in what ratio, but none of the magazine’s sudden critics can either, judging by their concentration on the most repeated cover images.

The left-leaning victim blamers are all determined to see racism aimed at France’s muslim population, and have decided that cartoons about the prophet are an example of that. A favourite argument has been that, with drawings of Mohammed, Charlie was “punching down when it should have been punching up”. But they’ve only come to that conclusion because they can’t do something as simple as decode a cartoon. They see that the image is supposed to depict the prophet and decide that it’s nothing more than a simplistic attack on Islam and, by extension, an attempt to demean muslims. There’s a snobbery in their refusal to actually look at the cartoons and work out what they’re really saying. Cartoons are a juvenile art form, they’ve decided, crude scribbles meant for the young and the simple-minded, so they can’t possibly be loaded with nuance.

Let’s look at that cartoon up above again. I’ve seen a few, slightly different, translations of the caption and speech bubble, but the gist of it is- ‘Mohammed despairs of the extremists, “It’s hard to be loved by arseholes!”‘ Ignore the edict against depictions of the prophet and this is a very sympathetic depiction of him. Here’s an entity with the empathy to be apalled by the actions some are claiming to do in his name. The only people who should be offended by this cartoon are the very arseholes whose behaviour has driven the one they claim to revere to tears. Similarly, another image, of a returned Mohammed about to be beheaded by a masked ISIS type, is showing, in a suitably brutal way, how the terrorists have diverged so far from the religion they claim to represent that they wouldn’t recognise it’s creator.

In those two cartoons, CH attacked the people who would go on to attack them. They also stood with the thousands of muslims who have been killed in Syria and Iraq by arseholes who think praying in a slightly different way merits the death sentence. But some people are too busy trying to read shallow intentions into the images to look deep enough to see that.

I’m not in possession of large reserves of physical or moral courage, I leave that sort of thing to my protagonists. Only once has anyone demanded that I shelve something I was planning to write. But he was an obnoxious, bullying little shit, so I carried on with it, only putting it aside when it became obvious that my drawing skills weren’t good enough to produce the sort of art it deserved. I have written, and will write in the future, stuff that offends people, but I couldn’t say that I’d carry on with it when faced with constant death threats. It’s galling to think that, if I were attacked, there’d be some self-righteous pricks who’d turn around and say, “Yes, but just look at the tacky genres he was writing in, and such short books, lacking any pretentious prose. It’s not like he was creating worthy, literary novels, is it.”

Fuck those idiots.

Je suis Charlie.


Germany Sets New Record, Generating 74 Percent Of Power Needs From Renewable Energy | ThinkProgress

On Sunday, Germany’s impressive streak of renewable energy milestones continued, with renewable energy generation surging to a record portion — nearly 75 percent — of the country’s overall electricity demand by midday. With wind and solar in particular filling such a huge portion of the country’s power demand, electricity prices actually dipped into the negative for much of the afternoon, according to Renewables International.

In the first quarter of 2014, renewable energy sources met a record 27 percent of the country’s electricity demand, thanks to additional installations and favorable weather. “Renewable generators produced 40.2 billion kilowatt-hours of electricity, up from 35.7 billion kilowatt-hours in the same period last year,” Bloomberg reported. Much of the country’s renewable energy growth has occurred in the past decade and, as a point of comparison, Germany’s 27 percent is double the approximately 13 percent of U.S. electricity supply powered by renewables as of November 2013.

Observers say the records will keep coming as Germany continues its Energiewende, or energy transformation, which aims to power the country almost entirely on renewable sources by 2050.

Germany Sets New Record, Generating 74 Percent Of Power Needs From Renewable Energy | ThinkProgress.


Germany says hundreds of unsolved killings may be linked to neo-Nazi group – Telegraph

As many as 746 murders and attempted murders, over a 21 year period, may be linked to a German neo-Nazi group.

The investigation stretches back to 1990, the year of German reunification. A surge of racist violence followed, particularly in the formerly communist east and poorer parts of the west.

It ends with cases from 2011. Late that year, the self-styled National Socialist Underground emerged as alleged suspects behind the murder of eight Turkish men, a Greek and a policewoman between 2000 and 2007. The group, whose sole surviving alleged member is currently on trial, also is suspected of carrying out two bombings in which dozens of people were injured.

Germany says hundreds of unsolved killings may be linked to neo-Nazi group – Telegraph.


Your foreskin belongs to God! 1

The Cologne district court has ruled that non-medical circumcision is a “serious and irreversible interference in the integrity of the human body”. Thus religious circumcision is illegal and German Jews and Muslims are up in arms about it.

Well done to Germany, and the Cologne court in particular, for making a decision based upon child welfare despite the inevitable chorus of claims that it’s anti-semitic. Commenters were straight in with the other obvious non-argument- bringing abortion into the mix despite the two issues being unrelated. British blogger Cranmer waffled around the subject but basically said that laws made up in the desert thousands of years ago should be more important than the ones passed in a modern courtroom, and suggested some sort of circumcision tourism.

Let’s leave decisions about the integrity of the prepuce to its owner and let them choose at the age of eighteen plus whether it stays or goes.


Bierwelt

I am, eventually, going to Interrail around Europe. I’ve been promising myself this for the last few years. It’s already looking like this isn’t the year I’ll do it, though it should be the one where I start putting aside the money to fund it.

In the mean time, I’ll keep adding places to the list of locations to visit. Such as Bierwelt, profiled today on BoingBoing, a Bavarian beer-centric theme park. The park is 90 kilometres from Munich and can be reached by train. The fact that it involves beer automatically puts it near the top of the (as yet unstarted if I’m honest) list.

Bierwelt website.


Strange conversion

It was the sight of peach juice dripping from the chin of a teenage French female nudist that led a Cambridgeshire public schoolboy to convert to Islam.

Really? That’s the sort of thing that would have made me want to convert to being French. But I never went to a public school, who knows how that could upend your priorities.

The moment is given a little more context later in the article

“In my teens I was sent off by my parents to a cottage in Corsica on an exchange with a very vigorous French Jewish family with four daughters,” Winter recalls. “They turned out to be enthusiastic nudists.

“I remember being on the beach and seeing conjured up before my adolescent eyes every 15-year-old boy’s most fervent fantasy. There was a moment when I saw peach juice running off the chin of one of these bathing beauties and I had a moment of realisation: the world is not just the consequence of material forces. Beauty is not something that can be explained away just as an aspect of brain function.”

It had quite an effect on him: “That was the first time I became remotely interested in anything beyond the material world. It was an unpromising beginning, you might say.

“In a Christian context, sexuality is traditionally seen as a consequence of the Fall, but for Muslims, it is an anticipation of paradise. So I can say, I think, that I was validly converted to Islam by a teenage French Jewish nudist.”

Nope. I’d still rather be French than religious. (And that’s not being snide. I’m fond of our Gallic neighbours. If I ever manage to finish a comic project it will be more suited to the French than US market. They make some very good films. Their pop music is awful, but their hip-hop is quite interesting. They also do interesting tax breaks for artists. Admittedly the Belgians make better beer, but nowhere’s perfect.)


Bandes Dessinee en Anglais? S’il vous plait!

For all the American, and Japanese, comics I’ve read over the years I can’t help thinking that anything I produce will be much more European in tone, subject and style. Cinebook publish translated European comics for the English market. It seems wrong that it takes a foreign publisher to give us so English a character as Biggles. There my be some purchases in the near future.

via the Forbidden Planet blog


The Virtual Forest

The Virtual Forest is a Spanish endeavour to get people cutting their greenhouse gas emissions by appealing to their wallets. The energy saving questionnaire it offers stresses the financial benefits of saving energy as much as the environmental. They also promise to plant trees for you, in Second Life and real life.

The site is bilingual and there are phrases that seem imperfectly translated, but not as badly as I’ve seen elsewhere. The questions on your energy consumption are also formed from a Spanish perspective. For example, here in Manchester I find I never have need for any form of sun shade to keep the house cool. The cultural differences don’t minimise the message however, and I’d really like a Second Life tree.

This review was paid for through ReviewMe.

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Environmental news round up

Trees absorb less carbon dioxide as the world warms up.

The ability of forests to soak up man-made carbon dioxide is weakening, according to an analysis of two decades of data from more than 30 sites in the frozen north.

Oil price hits $100 per barrel for the first time.

German cities ban the most polluting cars.

Solar school in Trafford.

A School in Trafford is about to become one of the country’s ‘greenest’ when solar panels are installed on its roof as part of a renewable energy drive.

Sale Grammar School is being given the panels, which are worth about £20,000, by the Co-operative Group.

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