(no subject)



This service is no longer live. Which is a shame because I really wanted to see a few year on year comparisons of active users on the site. I think it would be funny..

At some point, this place got weird. I fondly remember a time fourteen years ago when I knew every single UK-based person on this site, if only casually. It helped that there were only 10,000 worldwide users, and UK users were a fairly small proportion, active ones even less so. There was a directory page where you could order all UK users of the site by last update date, and it was reasonably easy to keep up with all of them. Half were my friends on here anyway.

Which, given the age in which we lived, probably means I knew every person in the UK who was into social networking on the web. Hard to imagine saying that now.. Even on LiveJournal alone, there are about 1,000 people who have updated their journals in the last day from the UK, which is an unmanageable number, and that must be well down from the peaks of old.

These days, it looks like most LJ content is some form of slashfic, which may well have been the case for a good decade for all I know, as with all social networks the emphasis is on network rather than social, in that one is generally insulated from anything not immediately relevant to one's own interests.. Feels strange to even be typing something into this box, for about the fourth time in 18 months..

I don't use this thing because it never occurs to me to sit down and write about myself any more. Often I'll be out and I'll see something and still have some vestige of that impulse to write something down about it, but by the time I'm in front of the relevant input device (still can't bring myself to write anything longer than an SMS on a phone) I have absolutely no motivation to do it. How I'm writing this is a mystery really..

Sometimes I wonder if therapy (correctly) taught me to stop treating my own life as a piece of performance art, to pimp out and try to get reviewed, which is a worthwhile transition if you can manage it in the right way. But it sometimes feels like I've always been a boring person who managed, for a brief period, to translate that into the illusion of being interesting. I've probably acquired plenty of friends over the years who imagine me to be in some way fun, and sometimes I can switch that on. But fundamentally, it's not me, never was, probably never will be. It's not that I don't have fun, you understand, it's that I find it completely impossible to translate my own sense of fun, amusement, excitement, engagement, etc., into something that has any sort of contagious or relatable qualities..

There might have been a time when I used to write here about what I was doing at work, for example. It was probably never interesting, but I put the time and effort into at least trying to make it interesting. I'd translate "things that happened" into "stories", and in doing so at least provide some sort of narrative that was more engaging than a bulleted list of disparate events.

But of late (and by that I mean for several years now) it feels like that sort of thing was only ever really a means of trying to attract attention to feed my own ego, not motivated by a desire to share what's going on in my life but by the need for other people to pay attention to it. My sense of self worth is much more sustainable now and I don't need that external validation, so the motivation to dress up the mundane into a story has left me, and all I'm left with is bullet points, a "what I did on my summer holidays" list of things that nobody really cares about (and nor should they).

I'm no longer under any illusions as to whether I have something novel or exciting to contribute, which sounds awfully self-pitying, but in reality it's just a fair self-assessment. Nobody needs to hear about how my day at work went. The interesting parts involve people that "the Internet" doesn't know, the bits that I feel most passionately about relate to a subject area that nobody but me takes an interest in, and there's only so long that the remainder (generally details about my commute, things I thought of during the day, that funny thing that happened) can sustain some sort of "blog"...

Of course there are times when it makes me sad to think that I've documented with reasonable detail the end of my teens and start of my twenties, and have no equivalent record for my later life. I had hoped to keep this thing as an enduring record of my life, when as it turns out it sort of tails off towards the late twenties. If anything these last few years have been the ones that have been the least embarrassing, whilst still containing a healthy set of milestones (getting married, buying a house, selling a house, buying another house, getting a dog).. These are things I ought to have written about, but the habit of not mentally rewriting one's experiences into blog-able narratives is a tough one to get out of..

This isn't going anywhere, there's nowhere for it to go.. Of course one can never say never about these sorts of things, it's entirely possible that the urge to share stories about life will return at some point, perhaps like Christmas it's the sort of thing that finds new life if/when children come along.. But in the meantime, I expect to find that the occasions when I feel like I have something worth musing on, and the occasions where I'm in the right frame of mind to write about it, and the occasions where I'm actually sitting in front of a computer with time to write, will rarely intersect.

(no subject)

Smart move here...
We noticed that your account anonybot has less than three entries and hasn't been logged into in over two years. LiveJournal is deleting inactive empty accounts. Pursuant to our housekeeping policy, your LiveJournal account anonybot is scheduled to be deleted in 15 days.
Which would of course be entirely valid logic if not for the hundreds of posts to communities and thousands of comments attributable to the account.

If I was running the "empty account" ruleset, I might be a little more broad in the sorts of activities I would consider before declaring an account "empty"..

Serious Question

On the grounds that this site was offline for like a week just now (YMMV), just wondering - those of you who still use this thing, why?!!

I mean seriously, the site is a f'king joke these days, unreliable, full of spam, and run by people who give even less of a shit about you than Facebook (and that's saying a lot).

So seriously. What the f'k are you thinking?

(no subject)

However, in entirely other news, I have returned from South Africa with bloody hundreds of pictures.. Possibly thousands, actually..

I've been working through them, and on the basis that Facebook's timeline, location and people tagging functionality seems to fit a lot of the pictures, that's where they'll end up. Creepy data policies aside, the thing is that I had an amazing time, and it's an experience that I really want to share with people, and of course Facebook is more or less the best place for that sort of communal interaction.

But put simply, it was probably the best holiday I've ever been on, though it's difficult to form a fair comparison vs my honeymoon. In either case, South Africa occupies #1 and #2 on the list, and that's what matters. It's a beautiful country, with all kinds of awesome things to do, and a political background that I find really engaging and interesting. I think I'd take the politics of a post-apartheid South Africa over a proto-fascist UK any day.. It's not about where you are, it's about where your trajectory is taking you...

Much much more to follow, here or on Facebook..

(no subject)

Having just taken my best shot at Dale, it would be dishonest not to leave myself open to the same..
I think everyone is curious about what others think of them. It's a natural curiosity and one that we rarely get to indulge in. So, let's indulge. Comment on this post with the three words that you think best describe me. They don't have to be complimentary. They don't have to be anything but honest. Post this in your journal and find out what three words others would use to describe you.

Three Nye Bevan Quotes

"How can wealth persuade poverty to use its political freedom to keep wealth in power? Here lies the whole art of Conservative politics in the twentieth century."

"Whenever you scratch a Tory you find a Fascist."

"No attempt at ethical or social seduction can eradicate from my heart a deep burning hatred for the Tory Party... So far as I am concerned they are lower than vermin."


(no subject)

Lovely day today, feels very much like Spring has properly arrived. Though that being said, it might have happened days ago, and I just haven't noticed because I've been stuck in the office all day..

Did give rise to a slightly morbid thought though.. Much like one has a limited number of birthdays, one also has a limited number of instances of realising "ah, summer is coming again". Pretty much the same number of each.

So much in the way that a birthday reminds you that you're a year nearer to death, so too can a nice day outside. If you're predisposed to thinking odd things.

At least each year has effectively two significant seasonal transitions, so I guess you have two instances of "ah, new type of prevailing weather coming up" for every birthday.. Still, it's odd to think that the number of times you realise "summer is coming" is actually very easily countable.

Cheery thought!

Liberals are the problem

I've had it pointed out to me more than once that my politics are a bit.. "extreme"..? I dunno, I don't care for that word - I'm always open to debate on it, and can back up any ideologies I might support with logical, considered arguments. With those attributes in mind, I don't find "extreme" to be a helpful word since it also describes people with the exact opposite attributes. If anything, I would go for the word "radical", since it has a slightly more appealing history in politics.

Either way, the criticism is that I appear to adopt positions that sit well outside of the "moderate" set of ideologies. However, it hasn't always been that way. I drifted towards being a moderate in the period between leaving university and my later radicalisation by the election of a Tory government (sic). The following graphic shows my positions at different times using the Political Compass as a handy way of recording such things:

What's clear is that I started off towards the anarchist corner, drifted towards being centrist, and then swung right back to the anarchist corner again. Fortunately (for me), the amount of time I spend dwelling on political ideas means I can pinpoint exactly where that drift happened, and the point at which I realised that I had been absolutely wrong. Liberals, moderates, whatever you fancy calling them - I'm sure their hearts are in the right place, but if they think their approach will ever lead to left wing progress, they're wrong.

Liberals are basically good for signing petitions, and not a lot else.

What I've noticed in a lot of liberals, and what I felt myself for a time, is that somehow perhaps the machinery of capitalism and neoliberalism can be use to deliver progressive, humanitarian outcomes.

Nick Clegg recently said
"competition is the means to a better NHS, not the ends"
And I think for me, that says it all. He imagines that the forces that routinely create societal inequality can be harnessed for good. It's a sad delusion, which I held for a few years, and which he has seemingly made a career out of holding. What will of course happen is that competition will do what competition does - serve markets, serve itself, and do nothing to help people.

I mean, look at the railways. There's meant to be some form of competition there, right? So, say I want to travel from Guildford to London.. Competition means that I can choose between taking the direct route with Southwest Trains (33 minutes), or else with First Great Western (88 minutes - more than twice as long) or else with FGW and Southern (97 minutes - almost three times as long). Is that competition in any practical sense?

"Ah!" say the neoliberals, "that's not how it's meant to work!" Rather, they would argue that the competition element comes when companies bid for the franchises to run the railway lines, at which point they can compete on price and on the services they propose to offer. So we get the best companies, right? Wrong - what we get are the companies who have the best short term policies, with no regard to the long term. What incentive is there to invest in the infrastructure of the line if in ten years, before the investment has paid for itself, the franchise is then awarded to another company? So that doesn't really work either. This is why we're currently overwhelmed with mediocrity in our rail network.

And this is why liberalism needs to be combated at every possible opportunity. It's a mechanism by which good intentions think they can tame a bad system, and in doing so only lend legitimacy to that system, without improving it one iota.

If you think you can tame the system, the system will instead tame you. The Liberal Democrats are an obvious example of this, but there are plenty of others. Do not aspire to tame the system, aspire to smash it. It'll try to smash you back, but better that than be turned into a liberal...