Monthly Archives: April 2011

Submarine Kitchenaid

muteboy posted a photo:

Submarine Kitchenaid

As seen on WW2 sub

Over 50 political accounts deleted in Facebook purge | UCL Occupation

…it is a scandalous abuse of power by Facebook to arbitrarily destroy online communities built up over many months and years. Ultimately, the anti-cuts movement in the UK will need to start organising through self-hosted, open source platforms to avoid reliance upon the very corporate power structures we are aiming to challenge.

via Over 50 political accounts deleted in Facebook purge | UCL Occupation.

Precisely. Don’t use privately held social media sites to host campaigns. Link to them, use them to gain support, but don’t trust them and don’t be surprised when the rug is pulled.

Of course, ISPs and hosting providers may be forced to shut pages down as well, but at least you control the content that way.

Facebook is not the open web. Facebook is a shiny enclave, brightly lit with advertising banners, overlooked by guard towers containing snipers. They have no obligation to support you or your campaigns. They just want your data.

What I Think About The Monarchy

Big discussion in the office about the wedding. Mine, obviously.

Also lots of talk about the wedding that took place today.

I’m English (by birth, I guess I should now write), and I find the idea of the monarchy sickening. While the huge majority of people in the UK support it, there is a growing belief that it should be abolished.

There are many arguments for why the monarchy is a good thing, but most of these can be easily debunked, and all of them are overshadowed by the simple archaic injustice of having a person given wealth, privilege and power just because they are born into a particular family. To me, it’s wrong, and should be changed. And in a lot of cases, the argument really just comes down to that.

My Mum was a big royal-watcher. I was waving a plastic flag in the crowd when I was five and the Silver Jubilee procession came through town. Since then the thought has been growing that this isn’t right.

Here are some of the arguments, and my responses. I’m no political scholar, or experienced debater, and this list is not complete. You could say, “Ah yes but…” to most of these points. It’s just my take, as has evolved over the past few years.

They help tourism.

People do come to the UK to visit the famous Royal sites – but how much of that is to see a particular person or family? France has no Royal Family, but it still has amazing palaces and sites. There is a long list of royal tourist attractions that do not depend on having a functioning monarchy. Not to mention the endless list of attractions and institutions which have never depended on the monarchy.

They don’t have any real power.

Oh yes they do. It’s vague, and rarely used, but there are various ways in which the unelected monarch can exercise power.

It’s tradition.

Tradition is rarely the best reason to do anything. A civilization progresses, a lot of traditional things are being left by the wayside, and rightly so. I hope that in the future, we can look back and say of the UK monarchy, “That was wrong, glad we stopped it.”

They help trade.

Andrew Windsor supposedly helps with trade delegations, except that recently leaked documents show that he is more of a liability, and he has a bit of a dodgy reputation which could damage UK interests. So no. And don’t get Prince Philip started on foreigners.

They work hard.

So do nurses, soldiers, engineers and everyone else. Working hard is not a reason to be given extraordinary privilege, or to avoid having that privilege taken away. William Windsor is a search-and-rescue pilot – good for him. His grandmother does a lot of visiting and public appearances – but this is only useful because she is the monarch. Her mother visited a bomb site in the 1940’s – woop-te-do. Ditto charity work – it’s almost like they should be applauded for selflessly doing stuff they’re expected to do.

A colleague told me that William and Kate asked that wedding gifts be in the form of charitable donations. That’s good, but I think this was the only reasonable way to do it. If they hadn’t, there would have been an outcry (albeit one that was drowned out by cheering).

What’s the alternative?

The exact alternative? To be decided. But the current situation is wrong, and should be changed. That’s what it comes down to.

Would you want President Cameron or Premier Blair?

Some people might. That’s democracy for you. It would help if AV went through. I don’t want charismatic figureheads running things – I want an efficient government that uses evidence to decide policy. Perhaps we could keep a figurehead, but remove any trace of power from them.

But you’d get a politician in charge.

What the hell does that even mean? Rather a politician with experience of the system and making deals than someone who was born into the right family and is used to getting their way in everything.

Change would cause chaos.

There would certainly be a lot of change that would take some time getting used to, and it would have to be done in stages. It need not be “chaos”, and anyway, the current situation is wrong, and should be changed. I can’t imagine people running through the streets screaming, “But who’s in charge?!”

Don’t like it? Leave.

Irrelevant. The current situation is wrong, and should be changed. There are many people in the UK who think the Monarchy is a relic which should be shut down. Should they all leave? Should this political movement be ignored, or worse, stamped out?

Yes, I now live in the US. My view is now the common “outside view” that people get when they leave their country of birth. The nauseating sugar-coated coverage of the Royal Wedding that’s everywhere in the US puts one fact into sharp relief – if someone tried to establish a Monarchy in the US, it would never be accepted. People would simply not stand for constitutional hereditary privilege. Yes, there is a class gap, and there are wealthy dynasties with power and money, but that is also the case in the UK.

Put it another way – if there were no Royal Family in the UK, and one family with money and influence tried to step forward and claim that they were in charge, and the political system had to be changed to make them the top dogs, they would be laughed down.

Another colleague put it well. Americans love the UK monarchy, and all its history and glamor, but they would hate to live with the consequences.

I wish the couple well, and hope their marriage is a long and happy one – not because of their position or status, but because they are people too. But no matter how magical the occasion, and how true and pure their love, the fact remains that they are part of an institution which is based on hereditary privilege, religious discrimination, sexism and racism. No amount of pomp and circumstance, or cheap soap-opera dramatics will make up for that.

Cassie is Getting Married

Cassie and her Daddy. She loves her Daddy.

JosephNils: Cassie is Getting Married.

Another lovely shot from my favourite Swedish photographer, Patrick Jackson of Elektrik Zoo.

The Old School Tie

The Put This On tie

The Put This On tie features our signature colors, red and white, in a tasteful design which is suitable for almost any outfit.

via Put This On • The Put This On Club Tie Returns! Our initial run….

Amusingly similar to my Old (Middle) School Tie:

Parkwood School Photo

Your author in 1981

OK, mine had the black in as well. Still pretty cool though. I had this tie for a long time, and wore it to a couple of those amusing “School Disco” things (albeit not the “official” one) but it was very short – almost too short to tie around my head as the evening wore on.

JosephNils: The Balcony

The strip...

JosephNils: The Balcony.

Some great photos by Friend Patrick from our suite after the wedding. Many more to come!

sarahb: Check out my friend Megan’s print Heaven for sale at…


Check out my friend Megan’s print Heaven for sale at Recession Art

P.S. WHOA the second I hit publish the song “Heaven” by Talking Heads came on my iTunes

Studio or live version? Close call, but it’s the studio for me because of the soaring synth in the chorus near the end.

Also, beautiful print!

putthison: Controversy is brewing in the UK over outfits. Prime…


Controversy is brewing in the UK over outfits. Prime Minister David Cameron has issued a press release, announcing that he won’t be wearing morning dress to the impending wedding between Prince William and Kate Middleton. Instead, he’ll wear business dress – a suit and tie. He will be the first Prime Minister to shirk the traditional dress code, and will perhaps be the only man so dressed. (Above, by the way, are Prince Charles and Camilla Parker-Bowles at their wedding.)

Many speculate that Cameron is dressing this way to avoid the stigma of his upper-class past. Cameron was a member of Bullingdon, an Oxford club notorious for its exclusivity and its destructive binges. He’s shunned formal dress since his past became an issue when he rose to national prominence, and this is in keeping with that pattern.

It’s tough for an American to judge a choice like this, since class plays so differently here, in a land where we at least pretend that it is a fluid status that comes with hard work and seized opportunities and so forth. Besides which, we have no monarchy, and essentially think of the British royals as amusing anachronisms. So I write from the perspective of a bemused outsider. That said, Cameron’s decision does strike me as both disingenuous and self-centered.

It is disingenuous in that it is an attempt to obscure his past. When Prince Charles dons Highland Dress, it is not because he is trying to pretend to be a Scottish warrior, or lead people to think that he anything other than an English Prince. Instead, it is an act of fellowship and a gesture of respect. Part of dressing, particularly for men, is to humble yourself, even if you are a Prince, by asserting that the custom of the whole is as important as your personal choices. This is why we wear business dress, as well – it is an assertion that we’re all in the same boat, all respect the importance of the situation, and we’ve chosen ceremonial clothing to reflect that fact.

Perhaps if Cameron were a representative of the proletariat he could genuinely claim that breaking this tradition was a revolutionary act. One could then quibble with whether he was leading a just revolution, of course, and the answer would depend on how one felt about the monarchy and so forth, but he would at least have some ground to stand on. Instead, it seems transparent that this is an act of obfuscation in the service of self-interest.

Indeed, it is that self-interest that is the most annoying here. The reason that we all dress the same way for a wedding is respect for the occasion. For those of us in the pews it is a joyous day. For those on the dais it is the most important day of their lives. This is true for Kings and Queens just as it is for street sweepers. We wear clothes that reflect that celebration, but we also wear clothes that indicate ceremonially that we understand how important that day is, clothes that reflect that we are the community that binds together the couple being wed.

If given the opportunity to chat with the PM, my message would be simple, and it wouldn’t have anything to do with the fact that these people getting married are royalty.

I’d just tell him this: it’s not about you, man.

(Thanks, Ari, for emailing about this.)

My two favourite things! The Conservative Prime Minister and the Royal Wedding!

I remember the hat CPB is wearing in the above photo – whenever she waved at the crowds she’d knock the feathers. Totally awkward.

Flying Boat Over San Francisco Bay

Boeing 314 over San Francisco

Picture of the Day: The Boeing 314 Flying Boat – Nicholas Jackson – Technology – The Atlantic.

Beautiful picture and plane. The SF-Oakland Bay Bridge is obvious, with Yerba Buena/Treasure Island right below. But is that red tower on the north shore to the left the start of the building of the Golden Gate bridge, or is it out of frame? The bridge was started in 1931 and completed in 1937, and the Boeing 314 was built in 1936. I think the former. Cool.

Either way, beautiful shot, beautiful plane, beautiful city.

EFF to San Francisco Entertainment Commission: Don’t Turn SF into a Police State | Electronic Frontier Foundation

EFF Logo

The Electronic Frontier Foundation joined civil liberties and privacy groups in criticizing a proposal from the San Francisco Entertainment Commission that would require all venues with an occupancy of over 100 people to record the faces of all patrons and employees and scan their ID’s for storage in a database which they must hand over to law enforcement on request. If adopted, these rules would pose a grave threat to the rights of freedom of association, due process, and privacy in San Francisco.

via EFF to San Francisco Entertainment Commission: Don’t Turn SF into a Police State | Electronic Frontier Foundation.

Public meeting tonight – I would definitely go if I wasn’t flying off to get married tomorrow. What is it with these government entities suggesting new sets of laws which are shown to be unworkable if given the slightest bit of analysis? And don’t say “straw man” to me.