A northern man
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As this story is released, the UK’s transitional deal with the EU will end, and we will step out, blinking and dazed, into a strange and unfamiliar world. For many of us, first the EEC and then the EU has been a low background thrum in our lives since childhood. The United Kingdom joined the EEC a couple of months before my third birthday, and confirmed our continued membership a little over two years later, just as I was about to start school.

All through my school life, as we learned metres alongside feet and inches, there was a sense…


Can we Stop Showbiz for the Ugly bleeding into actual Showbiz, please?

The first thing I saw when I switched the telly on this morning was Ed Balls cooking dinner. And Rachel Johnson. Thing is, it bothers me. Maybe it’s just me, but I feel a bit uncomfortable watching them capering about on cooking shows. It didn’t bother me for long because I switched over fairly quickly, but it did for the moment I lingered.

I get that there is an element of “humanising” politicians (1), and those who talk about politicians and political culture becoming increasingly distant from most people’s everyday experience may have a point when they say that this…


The Biggest shaggy dog story ever written. And then some.

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Artwork by Chad Essley. source: https://www.mondo2000.com/tag/illuminatus-trilogy/

There are books and there are books.

There are books that you love; books that you read over and over again; books that mean things to you. And then there are the books that change how you see the world forever. For me, Carl Sagan’s The Demon Haunted World is one, The Hitch-hiker’s Guide to Galaxy is another, but Illuminatus! is very definitely in that very special little group of books that has affected me in a profound way(1).

One of the key things to remember about the Illuminatus! Trilogy is that it started life as a running in-joke between…


You are not a label,
A statistic,
A category,
Or an avatar.
You are unique.

You are not a stereotype,
A class,
A case study.
Or a trope.
You are not a thing.

Labels are for others,
Who don’t much care to think.
A box to put a person in.
A convenience, a link.

You are not a template,
In someone else’s head.
You are you.
You are here.
And that is all that counts.

DS 2021


Robert Galbraith

Oh boy has this one ever turned out to be controversial. Even before launch people were queuing up to throw out opinions on its subject matter, mostly based on the strength of a second-hand reviews from less than entirely reliable sources. The dust has settled a little now, and so it’s probably a good time to to talk about JK Rowling’s fifth novel writing as Robert Galbraith.

It’s the summer of 2013, and a year has passed since the events of book 4, Lethal White. The detective agency in which Strike and Robin Cunliffe (1) are partners is doing fairly…


The thing that was supposed to set us free, has done anything but

One of the great pillars of the neo-liberal worldview that has been the dominant socio-economic driver in the UK over the last four decades is about the benefits of choice. It’s almost been a mantra since the days of Margaret Thatcher, and her political successors have gone with it, in some cases to an almost insane degree. It has affected almost every aspect of life, from education, to healthcare, to transport. …


My introduction to manga and anime

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Source: https://dubbing.fandom.com/wiki/Love_Hina

I’m not quite sure where I saw the videos of Love Hina first, probably in an idle few moments browsing youtube after work before nipping out for the bus. But very soon I’d watched the whole of the anime series, and gone browsing round to find out more. The first thing I found out was that though people liked the series, the English dubs of Love Hina sucked, according to most. This didn’t bother me, because I tend to like original language voice actors, plus subtitles. Fansubbed videos made life a bit more interesting because of the variable quality. But…


Each year, around about this time, I write a little article (like for 2019, 2018, and 2017) that points out the little disconnects in the generations between those of us working in HE, either in teaching and professional services, and the students who wander blinking into life as an undergraduate, as we did all those years ago. Except this time, it’s not quite like that. This year’s freshers will start their University career in a way that none of us in living memory has had to experience. …


Normally at this time of year I’d be sitting here talking about trivia like Left Hander’s Day (which is 13 August), as well as rolling my eyes at the pictures on social media and the websites of the Daily Mail and the Express showing nubile 18 year old girls pictured mid-leap as they celebrate their A Level results.

Not today.

Today, Gavin Williamson, The Secretary of State for Education, sat during an interview and used the words:

“…people being over-promoted into jobs beyond their competence.”

Leaving aside the clanging irony of one of the most mediocre Cabinet Ministers in living…


The Trump Campaign goes batshit rogue, yet again

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Source: David Mulder / Flickr Creative Commons

These are apparently the words of Courtney Parella, a member of the Tangerine Amin’s campaign team overnight after Facebook finally grew a pair (1) and removed a post claiming that children were “almost immune” to the coronavirus. Twitter has also blocked it, according to The Guardian overnight. The only real shock is that it’s taken this long for the social media platforms to properly respond to what, in this case especially, is pretty much criminal negligence and irresponsibility on Trump’s part. Again.

But let’s leave aside Trump’s Olympian levels of asininity aside for just a moment and concentrate on those…

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