Jor-Dan, King of the Lobester Men – Chapter 2

Good morning dear readers. It is I, your humble cat of letters, Timothy. When last we spoke I was recounting my fraught conversation with the librarian at Bortsworth Library. I say “librarian” but he was wearing a US Marine general’s uniform and carrying a fire-axe, neither of which compy with the Bortsworth City Council’s dress code for employees which specifically forbids dressing in the military uniform of foreign countries – I should know, it was because of my brief stint as a park ranger where I appointed my self Generalissmo Tim and adopted the 1979 sartorial style of Flight Lieutenant Jerry Rawlings, former President of Ghana in a bid to wrest control of Bortsworth Village Green from the rampant chaos and corruption of an entrenched cadre of squirrels, that the council had passed that specific clause in the dress code. My actions in the park did not proceed as well as Flight Lieutenant Jerry Rawlings’s coup but like Rawlings, I eventually stepped aside and let democratic control of the park become the norm, in a display of magnanimity that I do not believe was fully appreciated by the Human Resources department of the Council. I pointed out to them quite sternly at the time, that as a cat their remit clearly did not apply to me but with that, they threatened to refer my case to animal control and let me tell you “due process” is a not term those guys understand.

Where was I?

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The Grinch that Stole Football

I don’t like mean spirited posts but I have mean spirited side. I was glad (and remain glad) when Margaret Thatcher died and I’m happy when England gets knocked out of the World Cup.

In the first case, I’d rather not be happy that somebody is dead as a general principle. The second case is more complex. The national excitement and happiness when England is doing well internationally in football is infectious and it can create an apparently positive coming together of people across the nation (in so far as England is a nation). But I watch Grinch like from a distance at the happiness, knowing that it is not just short-lived but it is a borrowed euphoria as if drug induced. The crash that follows is deep and miserable.

I hate football.

Now, you might have already observed that I’m not much enamoured of any sport, whether of a participatory nature or a spectatory one. Certainly, my general disinterest in sport is part of my mean-spiritedness towards all things soccer*. Certainly sport was a hated aspect of school and childhood but it wasn’t the playing of football that was the issue there (we mainly played Rugby League – or bad approximation of it – in PE) nor the way sport took over the TV (cricket was a bigger intrusion – consuming TV time during summer). However, the issue I have did start in childhood.

What I hate about football in England is the mandatory nature of it. That began in childhood where everyone in the playground was expected to have some sort of affiliation with a football team. Liverpool, Everton, Manchester City or Manchester United. Different sets of allegiances to different reds or blues. I picked, essentially at random, Liverpool.

Football then was very rife with violent fan culture, a fact that alienated many people from the sport. It was (and remains) a fandom (so to speak) where the far-right recruited and around which factional loyalties were expected. However, over the years, the sport managed to rehabilitate its image, brining in more middle-class fans and broadening the fan base beyond male fans. By the 1990s, more women followed football in the UK and there was a renewed and wider interest.

That broadening only made things worse for me. Football was everywhere (or so it seemed) and conversation would turn more frequently to football and basic social glue required knowing who David Beckham was and what was happening in the Premier League and so on and so on.

Weirdly, this is less of an issue in Australia, a nation far more sports obsessed and far more caught up in confusing sporting achievement with patriotism. The difference antipodally is no one sport is king. In England, football has a special place and it is why I think I have a deeper and better reason to hate football.

As far as England or the wider UK competing for things, I’m normally happy when it wins. Eurovision Song Contest? I think the country is poorly treated by the votes. England wins the Ashes? Good for them (although I may say that quietly around Australians). Rugby Union? Hoorah, well done and all the rest. But football and the World Cup in particular? No, England as a nation, has a problem.

The problem is not just that it England’s fortune in the World Cup are too tied to perceived national pride but also a deep seated belief that the game itself *belongs* to England. It’s riven through the talk of English football on a world stage – almost absurdly as cricket and Rugby are in many ways more closely tied to Englishness – the Anglosphere countries are not great soccer nations *aside* from England. English colonialism spread cricket more than it spread football.

But somehow English patriotism and football have become entwined in a particular way and it is an association that seems incapable of escaping the nastier side of English patriotism. Amid the happiness at doing well is that notion that England is not just trying to win something but trying to win BACK something. That idea always carries with it a sense that the something was unjustly taken (because if it is ours and somebody else has it then it must have been stolen). If it was unjustly taken then it must have been because of a national failure of will or spirit or something, as well as the nefarious actions of the foreigners.

England as a nation still doesn’t know how to just be.

I get why many on the left love football. I get the urge to take back the culture of the sport from the right. I get its deep roots as an expression of English working class city culture (although, the smaller industrial towns of the North where historically more enclaves of Rugby League than football, hence the transported obsession with Rugby League in New South Wales also). Yet, the emotional highs and lows of English football on the world stage are never healthy, precisely because it can’t escape the problem that England doesn’t have a way to be positive in its nationalism.

So, I’m sad that people are sad but in the end that happiness that was lost will serve Croatia better than it will England.

I’ll continue to scowl from my mountain top.

*[“Soccer” is a perfectly reasonable thing to call the sport and don’t let English people tell you otherwise. It is itself an Englishism to distinguish association football from other codes of football such as the various Rugbies.]

Cattimothy House Presents…Jor-Dan, King of the Lobster Men

Timothy the Talking Cat’s Thrilling Undersea Adventure!

jordanofthelobsterpeopleRumours tell a tale of hearsay and word of mouth and of misbegotten words of unclear provenance. Tall tales of stories part-forgotten and half-remembered. Aye, aye and shiver my timbers, it is I, Timothy the Talking Cat, bringing you a story of deep-sea adventure!

Who can say what lurks in the hidden depths of the ocean? Not I! I can’t swim. But I assume there are lots of fish and what cat can resist the idea of an endless supply of fishy treats. To satisfy my proverbially fatal curiosity, some months ago I set off on a quest to learn more of what was under the ocean depths.

 

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Still Tracking Dragon Award Numbers

I’m still tracking announcements and slates that I find for the Dragon Awards. The same purpose still applies: track in advance of nominations to see what impact campaigning by various groups has on the final set of nominations. The aim isn’t prediction because the situation is too fluid and the mechanics aren’t known.

The most notable addition to the list is the Rabid Puppy Dragon Award slate has arrived: http://voxday.blogspot.com/2018/07/dragon-awards-2018.html I say “Rabid Puppy” but the post doesn’t use the term. It is mainly a Castalia House (aka Vox Day’s vanity publishing scheme) eligibility list.

The only novels not from Vox Day’s stable (or associates) is Nate Crowley’s The Death and Life of Schneider Wrack in Best Horror (https://www.amazon.com/Death-Life-Schneider-Wrack/dp/1781085560 ) and a World of Warcraft novel in Bets Tie-In.

June temperatures

Another occasional reminder of the other major political problem of our era.

uah_lt_1979_thru_june_2018_v6-550x317

The post- El Niño cooler period continues and it remains comparable with many high points earlier this century. It’s not just that it is warm now, it is that the cooler periods are now warm.

Meanwhile expect more anamlous weather and weather impacts.

[Graph from here http://www.drroyspencer.com/2018/07/uah-global-temperature-update-for-june-2018-0-21-deg-c/ , as always not because this is neccesarily the best data set but because it is the one the denialist should believe if thy believed their own rhetoric.]

Vox Day is still dancing the anti-science two-step shuffle

I visit the self-styled dark lord’s blog less often these days. He’s still saying mostly the same things in the same way. One predictable pattern is if he writes a post about the poor quality of scientific research papers on a given day, then within a short period, he will be breathlessly quoting some particularly dodgy paper as if it holy writ — indeed he’s likely to assert stronger conclusions than the paper.

Case in point this post (*) he asserts that:

“Never forget that science cannot be considered reliable until it is called “engineering”. Until then, the most that one can accurately assume is that it has about a fifty percent chance of actually being correct.”

Is followed on the same day by a post pushing more anti-vaccine nonsense. This time his target is anti-HPV vaccines and a paper that claims reduced birth rates. The paper is here and it is bad in multiple ways: https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/15287394.2018.1477640?scroll=top&needAccess=true

There is a thorough take-down of quite how bad the paper is by the indefatigable Orac at the Respectful Insolence blog: https://respectfulinsolence.com/2018/06/13/antivaccine-pseudoscience-about-hpv-vaccination-gayle-delong/

Suffice to say it is a bad piece of very speculative epidemiologist by an economist with a bias against vaccines. The study ignores factors such as contraception or other behavioural differences between people who have or haven’t had the HPV vaccine to draw a fallacious conclusion.

Orac points out:

“After all, existing evidence largely contradicts Delong’s findings, with HPV vaccination having no effect on fertility except in one group. The group? In females with a history of sexually transmitted infections or pelvic inflammatory disease (i.e. a group at high risk of exposure to HPV infection), HPV vaccination made pregnancy more likely.”

Earlier in his essay Orac speculates on why vaccines against HPV get such pushback:

“For some reason, HPV vaccines seem to have an uncanny ability to turn such people into raging antivaccinationists almost as loony as the merry band of antivaccine loons over at Age of Autism. At the very least, they seem to make seemingly reasonable people susceptible to blandishments and tropes for which they’d normally otherwise never fall. Truly, Gardasil and Cervarix seem to be vaccines that make reasonable people lose their minds. I tend to think it’s about the sex. After all, HPV is largely a sexually-transmitted virus, hence the tendency for fundamentalist Christians to find it particularly objectionable.”

I’d add to say that it isn’t just the anti-sex attitude but also misogyny or both in tandem. The idea that sexually transmitted diseases are a punishment for sex and in particular a punishment for women, is one that is prevalent in right-wing circles. There really are people out there who would rather women died of cervical cancer than eliminate a virus.

At least with the apparent pro-cancer stance of the cigarette lobby, you could see how the money trail worked. In this case, we have Vox acting like he is being paid by the pro-virus lobby**.

*[I’m not bothering with archive links in this case – the links are here for completeness but there’s little to be gained by reading them:

http://voxday.blogspot.com/2018/07/the-unreliability-of-science.html

http://voxday.blogspot.com/2018/07/vaccinated-sterility.html

I don’t particularly want to archive this nonsense.]

**[That is a joke. Viruses don’t have a lobby as such and this is pro-bono lobbying work by Vox for viruses.]