Thursday, July 28, 2016

Registered to Vote

These are strange days indeed, that we find ourselves living through.  The sort of days when I find myself receiving e-mails from Jeremy Corbyn, for instance.  The latter, of course, is a direct consequence of my having become a Labour Party registered supporter, in order that I can vote in the forthcoming leadership election.  Obviously, it's just a form letter, sent out to welcome all new registered supporters.  Its arrival does mean that I pass muster as a registered supporter - as I should, as I've never been a member of any other party, nor have I been involved in any of those far left organisations which are now banned from involvement with the Labour party.  Pity their checks weren't so strenuous last Summer, when all those Corbyn-supporting entryists from the likes of the SWP were allowed to join up - if they had been, we wouldn't be in the disastrous position we currently find ourselves in.  I mean, really, how can the Corbynites keep deluding themselves that his leadership is good for the party when its support amongst the electorate continues to tumble?

But to get back to that e-mail, interestingly, it gives you a choice of links to click on depending upon whether you intend voting for Corbyn, for Owen Smith or you are still undecided.  I'm assuming they take to you to the relevant pages on the party website for the candidates, but I haven't clicked on any of them.  I can't help but suspect they are simply a covert way for the Corbyn camp to gauge support for their man among us newly signed up registered supporters.  A suspicion reinforced by the fact that the corresponding e-mail from Owen Smith (yes, I've had a form letter from him, too) lacks any such options.  So, I've decided to keep Corbyn guessing as to who I'm giving my support to, hoping to give him and his cohorts a nasty surprise when I don't pledge my vote to them after allowing them to think that I might. (Obviously, if he ever reads this blog, then he'll know that I'm voting for Smith on the basis that he isn't Corbyn).  God, what a Machiavellian bastard I am!

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Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Bad Recommendations

I'm still battling those 'recommendations' You Tube keeps making me.  There's less porn, baby and breast feeding videos, (I think my continued dismissal of such suggestions might finally be convincing them that I'm really not interested in watching You Tube videos about such things), but now the weird suggestions go beyond the 'Recently Uploaded and Recommended for You' videos.  Now I get row after row of recommended channels full of weird and esoteric shit.  Right now, I'm about to dismiss Fox News as a recommended channel, (that's one suggestion which is truly offensive).  Previously, I've dismissed all manner of channels about crackpot conspiracy theories, right wing paranoia and  reactionary 'news'.  Trust me, You Tube, I don't want to watch videos of Nigel Farage, Alex Jones and sundry other fruit-loops.  I don't want to watch bile-filled pro Donald Trump bollocks, denouncing Hillary Clinton as the anti-Christ.  Surely my viewing history makes this clear?

The problem, of course, lies with the algorithm which You Tube is using to make these recommendations - it is clearly far too crude to be able to 'read' your viewing history correctly.  It rather reminds me of those relatives you rarely see who give you birthday and Christmas presents based upon some vague memory of what they thought you liked twenty years ago.  Or, worse, based on what your mother has told them she thinks you are interested in.  You know what I mean - they vaguely recall that you like films, so you end up with a Julie Andrews Box Set, including The Sound of Music and Mary Poppins, when what you'd rather have is the complete Russ Meyer collection.  (I hasten to add that this scenario has never actually happened to me).  Similarly, You Tube's algorithm seems to make the most cursory examination of your viewing history and makes the most simplistic of connections with its library of uploaded videos: if you've watched a clip of, say, Paul Robeson singing 'Old Man River' in Showboat, then you must be interested in musicals, so you get served up lots of clips from random musicals as viewing recommendations. 

Which is why, having watched a couple of episodes of Hancock's Half Hour on You Tube, I now have channel after channel of vintage British TV sitcoms recommended to me.  It seems obsessed with the the fact, presumably because I've watched quite a lot of vintage movie trailers, that I want to watch channels devoted to movie trailers.  Which I might, if they weren't all current and upcoming films, rather than the fifties, sixties and seventies movie trailers I actually watch.  Similarly, because I've watched episodes of various news satire series on You Tube, I get recommendations for lots of stuff the algorithm 'thinks' are similar.  Unfortunately, it seems to conflate news satire with crackpot conspiracies and right wing propaganda.  Right now, because I've been watching some 1960s British newsreels, often concerning stuff like the then new road-building programme, I'm suddenly being recommended all manner of transport-related channels, full of videos about buses in Birmingham.  As I said, the algorithm is just not sophisticated enough to provide any kind of useful recommendations.  Not that this bothers You Tube - they just want the clicks and the advertising revenue they generate. Still, at least the breast-feeding videos seem to have stoped at last.

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Monday, July 25, 2016

Going Japanese

The question right now is: why has this blog suddenly become popular in Japan?  I say 'popular', it's a matter of a number of hits from Japan over the past week or so, but it's so unusual to see traffic from that part of the world, when I start receiving traffic from multiple sources in Japan, it is very noticeable.  Now, you might well be wondering how I can be sure that they are from Japan when, as I've noted previously here, the location of a visitor indicated by some of the most popular stats tracking services isn't always their true location, (I'm still in El Segundo, for instance, according to one of my tracking services, although my back up service is now giving my location as London, still incorrect but at least in the right country)?   Well, in the case of these recent visitors, as well as their given location, the ISPs indicated for them are all Japanese-based, indicating that they really are in Japan.  But what's bringing them here?  The main referrer seems to be Google.  Unfortunately, as Google nowadays withholds search terms, (unless you use Google Analytics, of course), it has so far been impossible to ascertain what I might have written here recently which has attracted the attention of a handful of people in Japan.  That said, the fact that they show a referrer at all would seem to rule out the possibility that they are bots of some kind.  Mind you, the do all seem to use the Pale Moon browser, a Firefox derivative which, generally speaking, I rarely see.  Maybe it's popular in Japan.  Who knows?

These sudden clusters of hits from a specific location occur from time to time and have always fascinated me.  For many years I was mystified by the popularity amongst Turkish visitors of the 'Doctor Sex' story over on The Sleaze.  It was the only page they visited.  Eventually the traffic petered out as they obviously realised it wasn't what they were looking for.  (I eventually concluded that there must be some kind of porn performer called 'Doctor Sex' in Turkey).  Then there's the Portuguese mystery.  Every so often I get a visitor from Portugal who, over a period of several days, clicks through, quite literally, every page on The Sleaze. Their exact location in Portugal and their ISP varies, implying there might be more than one person involved.  The visits aren't frequent, with up to a year between them, but when they do visit, the pattern is always the same.  Who are they?  What are they looking for?  Again, who knows?  Then there are the regular visitors from the UK who, often on a daily basis, click on the home page, but then go no further, even when new stories have been posted.  They don't seen to be bots, so, what are they doing?  Really, I'm curious.  Of course, before wrapping things up, I feel I should mention the 'West Country Stalker' who haunted The Sleaze some years ago.  Again, they always visited the same pages, often daily.  Although I'm sure it was one person, day-by-day their given location would shift around the West of England: sometimes from Devon, sometimes Somerset, sometimes Dorset and so on.  I had my suspicions as to their identity, but could never prove anything.  If only Arthur C Clarke and his Mysterious World were still around - I'm sure they could have got to the bottom of it all.


Friday, July 22, 2016

Leading to Oblivion

I was reading the other day that some 180,000 people signed up as Labour Party 'registered supporters', in order to be eligible to vote in the forthcoming leadership election, during the two day sign up window earlier this week.  I've also seen various political pundits and members of the Corbyn camp assuming that the majority of these new sign ups are Corbynites. Really? They could be in for a rude awakening - I'm one of that 180,000 who forked out twenty five quid for the privilege of participating in the contest and I certainly have no intention of of voting for the bearded bastard.  Despite all the sycophantic Momentum cronies continually trying to 'big up' his supposed leadership, I've still neither seen nor heard anything to convince me that he's leading the Labour Party to anywhere other than oblivion. If they honestly believe that Labour could possibly win a general election under Corbyn, then they are even more delusional than I thought.

Then again, as I mentioned in an earlier post, they do seem to fall back on the kind of conspiracy theories, ('false flag' attacks and the like), which are usually the preserve of the extreme right.  Today, they seemed to be moving further into such territory, with claims that Corbyn was a victim of 'dirty tricks' co-ordinated by MI5.  Aside from the fact that the Security Service (to give them their proper name),  would be hard-pressed to organise the proverbial bum rape at a barracks, the truth is that Corbyn is a victim of his own incompetence and lack of leadership skills.  He preaches only to the 'converted', makes no attempt to reach out to Labour's broader electoral base, (indeed, he seems to have no understanding of the fact that average Labour voters aren't left wing firebrands who want radical change and who certainly don't favour unilateral nuclear disarmament - although they might be persuaded to such policies if Corbyn and his acolytes could be bothered to articulate convincing arguments for them to an audience outside of Momentum),  and seems to have gone out of his way to alienate his own MPs.  But what do I know?  I'm just one of those 'Blairites' hell bent on derailing Corbyn's march toward a socialist utopia. (A march, incidentally, which seems to involve treading all over long-held Labour traditions and campaigns of intimidation against those who dare to differ from his line).

But the fact is that I'm a long-term Labour voter, somewhat to the left to boot, and, right now, I fear for the Party's long-term future as a credible political force in the UK.  Which is why I became a 'regisetred supporter'  - as long as Corbyn and his cult retain control of the leadership, the Party can only fail to do its job of representing and helping the less privileged in society.  The fact is that I was prepared to give Corbyn a chance - I thought that, so long as he could achieve some kind of consensus within the party, there might be a long-term chance of at least increasing its presence in Parliament, even if that wasn't an out right majority. I was prepared to dismiss his critics among Labour MPs as embittered and out-of-touch right-wingers.  But the fact is that he has made no attempt to build consensus, nor has he made any serious attempt to reach out to those in the party who disagree with him.  His leadership has been woeful, reaching a nadir with his non-performance in the EU Remain campaign.  I also cannot ignore the fact his critics among Labour MPS now encompass the full spectrum of opinion, from left to right.  And if we can't dislodge him from the leadership this time, then we have to try again next year.  After all, I seem to recall Corbyn, in his days as a leftie back bencher who spent his time defying the Party whip and trying to undermine the leadership, demanding annual leadership contests.  It looks like his wish has come true...

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Thursday, July 21, 2016

Work Life Imbalance

You know, right now I'm feeling bloody exhausted.  On top of my own job, I now seem to also be doing half of someone else's.  Plus, I've just come off of two weeks of covering for yet another colleague, whilst they were on holiday, (all the time still trying to do my pre-existing one and a half jobs).  Oh, and on top of that, last Friday, just when I thought I had a working day when I could catch up with some of the back log building up in what is actually meant to be my job, I got lumbered with providing orientation and initial training for the person who is about to take over as my manager.  I've just endured two consecutive days of having to work late (with a third in prospect tomorrow - so much for finishing early on a Friday) and wasted a large chunk of today fighting with my work mobile, a godawful HTC which keeps going berserk and sending gibberish texts to random recipients, ignoring any number I dial and instead dialling numbers at random from my phone book and opening irrelevant and unwanted apps by itself.  I keep getting told that it is the heat.  Which is odd, as my own Nokia Lumia usually endures the same conditions during the working day and always functions perfectly.

Talking of the heat, spending large parts of my day in a sweltering hot car after a largely sleepless night courtesy of the current heat wave, isn't helping - it leaves me tired and irritable.  Which isn't a good combination when it comes to the scumbags and idiots I have to deal with: twice this week I've had to stop myself from hitting a couple of them.  Of course, management like to talk about the 'work-life balance', although I'm not sure how I'm meant to achieve such a thing when I don't even know when my working day is going to end these days.  It's now a regular occurrence to get a call just as the originally planned end of my working day is in sight, expecting to go to the back of beyond to deal an urgent situation which has just come up.  The end result of this is that, increasingly, when I finally get home of an evening, I'm too tired to actually do something.  Weekends are blighted,too.  These days I'm usually so tired by the week's end that I fetch up spending a large part of my Saturdays sleeping.Not that anyone in management seems to give a toss - I keep getting asked about my 'work-life balance' and I keep telling them that it is non-existent.  Yet I still get more work heaped on me.  It's getting to the stage where the only solution is going to be to tell them to 'fuck off' and walk.  Something I was hoping to delay until my mortgage was paid off next April, but, needs must when the devil vomits in your kettle, as they say.  


Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Worse Things Than Terrorism?

You'd think that deliberately running over and killing scores of people with a lorry in a busy city centre would, in itself, be heinous enough crime.  I certainly do.  Apparently though, the British tabloids seem to be claiming that he committed an even worse offence: using his mobile phone whilst behind the wheel.  Among the ghoulish details which the press like to spread across their front pages in the wake of any given tragedy, were sensational claims about how they were going to reveal te selfies and tweets the driver of the truck involved in the recent terror incident in Nice made from behind the wheel.  Now, as I didn't bother reading the actual stories themselves, I'm not clear whether he was doing this before or during his murderous rampage.  But the implication seemed to be that it was during.  No wonder he ran over so many people if he was texting or tweeting on his phone while engaged in a terror attack!

Now, I agree that people who use their mobile phones whilst driving are criminals of the worst kind -  utterly irresponsible morons with no regard for the safety of others who are arrogant enough to believe they have sufficient intelligence to multi-task - but I'm not sure that their actions are actually worse than a terrorist attack.  But Hell, I'm not a tabloid journalist, so what do I know?  Of course, if he was using his phone at wheel, it raises the possibility that what happened in Nice was less a terror attack than reckless driving.  Or, bearing in mind the various reports that the driver was on medication for, amongst other things, depression and a drinker, it could be a case of driving whilst hopped up and inebriated/  But he was a Muslim, so we all have to jump to the terror conclusion.  Plus, of course, we had ISIS claiming, some time after the event, that he was one of their 'soldiers'.  Mind you, ISIS will claim responsibility for just about anything these days: if a vaguely Arabic man farted in a crowded lift, they'd claim it as a chemical attack in the name of the 'Caliphate'.  I suppose that it's a reflection of the time we live in that the immediate reaction to any violent ibcident is to label it a 'terror attack'.  

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Monday, July 18, 2016

From Left to Right

To return to politics  (and I keep trying to write about other things as it really isn't good for my blood pressure), I'm amused to see that the pressure is clearly getting to the Corbynite hordes.  Faced with growing unease at the tactics of intimidation that some of their ilk have been employing against anyone else in the Labour Party dares to criticise Corbyn or has the audacity to simply disagree with them, they've launched a counter offensive.  In essence, this involves questioning whether any of their opponents actually have suffered intimidation.  Even where physical evidence of such intimidation exists - the brick put through the window of Angela Eagle's constituency office, for instance - it still didn't happen.  (That brick was apparently thrown by a drunk as that sort of thing is common on that street after closing time - the timing, just as Eagle challenged Corbyn for the leadership - was purely coincidental).  The trouble is that there are multiple documented instances of Momentum's bullying tactics - which can be as simple as denouncing anyone who questions Corbyn's leadership as a 'Blairite' (I've been on the receiving end of that one myself). So, if, as they claim, there is no intimidation going on, yet their opponents keep documenting these incidents, what are the Corbynites saying?  That these are 'false flag' operations?  That the so-called victims are actually staging attacks on themselves to discredit the Corbynites?

It's clear that Momentum is rattled by the Labour leadership challenge.  They are beginning to realise that there is a possibility that their man could lose.  So they react by descending into paranoid conspiracy theories.  Which is fascinating, as such things as belief in 'false flag' attacks are generally the preserve of right wing conspiracy theorists.  According to them, everything from 9/11 to the recent terror incident in Nice are 'false flag' attacks, orchestrated by 'the establishment' to spread fear among their own citizens, thereby justifying ever more repressive measures in the name of protecting their population from terrorists - and to discredit Islam, ('the establishment' being part oh a global Zionist conspiracy, of course).  Even the alleged Zionist conspiracy is echoed in the alleged increase in anti-Semitism among Corbyn supporters.  Of course, as far as they are concerned, Momentum's members are victims of a huge conspiracy involving the media, supposedly right wing Labour MPs, and Uncle Tom Cobbley and all, designed to prevent the British working classes from seeing that their way is the only true way.  The fact that their brand of confused far left ramblings have been consistently rejected at the polls by working class voters is down to the fact that the latter have been brainwashed by this conspiracy, rather than the fact they see through them and recognise their impracticality.  The sad thing is that I am seeing people I previously considered rational, intelligent human beings buying into this paranoid fantasy.  For some reason they've latched nto the idea that Corbyn somehow represents the true 'soul' of the Labour Party and is returning it to its 'traditional values' - a belief which demonstrates a fundamental ignorance of the party's history.  They are buying into some fantasy version of the Labour Party that has never existed and never will.  They really need to give up on these fantasies and face the realities of politics. That principles and ideologies alone aren't enough, compromise and pragmatism are essential to trying to implement any part of the former.

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Friday, July 15, 2016

Attempting Re-Entry

So, we limp to the end of another working week.  In the case of my overworked car the limping is literal, not figurative.  The clutch is going and the earliest I can get it booked in for a replacement (at an exorbitant price) is the week after next.  So I'll be nursing it through the next nine days or so, struggling with the change down through second into first, (I sometimes  have to force the shifter through the gate for the lower gears) and contending with the occasional slipping.  For my part, I've had a lousy and exhausting three weeks or so at work - I genuinely came close to jacking it in at least twice during this period.  I really feel at the end of my tether.  As I keep saying, my mortgage will be paid off in less than a year, giving me more options financially, but I'm not sure I can wait even that long.  The only light at the end of tunnel currently is the fact that I've got quite a bit of time off coming up in August and early September.  Hopefully the prospect of an extended period of time to myself can sustain me through the next few weeks.

But here I am on a Friday night after an exhausting week, eating a toasted cheese and bacon sandwich and, for some reason, watching Moonraker yet again.  What can I say?  It was on and. despite flicking through the other channels, nothing else held my attention.  Nostalgia probably has a lot to do with it - it was made in the days when Roger Moore, armed only with a safari suit and a public school accent, could save the world from some nefarious foreigner.  Moreover, Anglo-American relations were, for the purposes of the US box office, at an all time high, with the Americans launching space shuttles full of laser gun armed marines to help Britain's top secret agent out at the climax.  The special relationship is sealed by 007 shagging a female American scientist in zero gravity against the background of possibly the series' crudest double entendre up to that point: 'I think he's attempting re-entry'.  (On a sadder note, the film marked an ill-looking Bernard Lee's last appearance as M - he died before the next Bond film went into production).  I miss those days - everything seemed so much simpler.

It's interesting how quickly films can become dated, not just by their subject matter, but also their style.  I remember when Moonraker was released - to mediocre reviews but big box office - it seemed the pinnacle of the Bond series, with everything about it seemingly even bigger and more spectacular than its predecessor The Spy Who Loved Me.  Seen now, it seems so typically late seventies, with its glossy looking visuals, jokey script, campy performances and plethora of gadgets.  It seems a million miles from the grittier Bond movies of recent years  (to be fair, stylistically, it seems a million miles from the next Roger Moore film, the back-to-basics and quite gritty in places For Your Eyes Only).  But give it a few years and the Daniel Craig Bonds will undoubtedly seem as dated and as much of their era as the earlier Connery movies do now.  Even the Brosnan and Dalton Bonds which, in their day seemed much 'harder' and 'realistic' than the Roger Moore films nowadays look incredibly campy and dated.

 I always find it fascinating to ponder how future audiences will view any recent movie I'm watching - will it still seem as intelligent or well made in ten years time as it does now?  Several times in the past few years I've watched again, on TV, films I'd paid to see at the cinema on their release, several years earlier.  I'm usually left pondering why I'd parted with money to see them in the first place - all their flaws and implausibilities suddenly seemed obvious.  (Most recently, I watched again The Last Boy Scout, a Bruce Willis action movie I'd last seen twenty years ago at the cinema - it was a ghastly experience. What I'd vaguely remembered as a fairly entertaining and stylishly made action thriller seemed to have turned into an unbearably campy, poorly constructed and confusingly directed waste of time).  Nevertheless, despite all of the above observations, the fact is that, increasingly, I find myself watching films made before 1980 - it all comes back to the nostalgia thing, reminding me of a time that seems much simpler than today.  Even if it wasn't really. 


Thursday, July 14, 2016

He Just Won't Lie Down...

It's like a slasher movie, isn't it?  Specifically, that bit near the end when everyone thinks that Jason or Michael Myers or whoever is under the mask this time around, is dead - but just as the heroes are walking away, we get a close up on his face and his eyes flick open, just as the closing credits start to roll.   I refer, of course to Boris Johnson's appointment as Foreign Secretary.  Just two weeks ago we were rejoicing at what seemed to be the derailing of his political career for the foreseeable future, when he unexpectedly dropped out of of the Tory leadership contest.  But here is - back again in a senior political post. Just what do we have to do to get rid of this utter cock end?  His appointment seemed to blind side everyone.  Certainly, at least one TV channel seemed to be busy trawling the web for dirt on Johnson - they were clicking on various anti-Boris pieces I've written both here and over at The Sleaze.  For a while I was expecting news exclusives about how Boris was about to be unmasked as the Balham Buggerer, or that he had once blacked up and run through the streets of London, dressed as a Zulu warrior, singing 'Umbongo, Umbongo, they drink it in the Congo'.  But, sadly, it wasn't to be. 

After the initial negative reactions to the prospect of having a dangerous right-wing clown representing the UK abroad, I noticed that tonight the news programmes wheeling out various boris apologists, to tell us how great  he was going to be as Foreign Secretary and telling us how, under the buffoonish exterior, he was really a 'brilliant intellect'.  I'm afraid that I've yet to see any evidence of the latter.  I think people confuse ambition and a sense of entitlement with intelligence.  Indeed, there are too many people out there who still think that going to Eton and being an Oxbridge graduate makes someone intelligent.  It doesn't.  Money gets you through the former and helps with the latter.  Moreover, Boris studied Classics, the quintessential bluffer's degree.  But really, Boris Johnson as Foreign Secretary?  Didn't the Brexit vote make us enough of a global laughing stock that Theresa May thought it was worth destroying her credibility as Prime Minister less than a day into the job with this appointment?  It seems we're determined to completely undermine our credibility overseas.  I ask you, what next?  Sam Allardyce as England manager just because he's English?  I mean, that would be ludicrous, wouldn't it?  A return to the dark ages of international football for England.  Oh, hang on - apparently the FA are talking to him now...

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Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Future Past

I was watching a TV documentary about the Bristol Brabazon the other day and it occurred to me how perfectly the ill-fated airliner symbolised everything that seems to me to be wrong with the UK.   Before going on, I'm probably going to have to give a brief explanation of what the Brabazon was, aren't I?  Basically, it was a huge transatlantic airliner developed in the late 1940s - it was supposed to push Britain's aircraft industries to the fore of civil aircraft production post war.  It was a truly massive aircraft - if you've ever seen the giant hangar at Filton airfield in Bristol, you'll have some idea of its size, as this was orginally built to house the Brabazon.  Unfortunately, despite being a magnificent looking aircraft, the Brabazon was backward-looking, both in some of its vital technology and in the basic premises about air travel that it embodied.  Despite the fact that the UK had developed the jet engine during the war, resulting in the deployment of the Gloster Meteor fighter in 1944, the designers of the Brabazon felt that it was still too risky a new technology to use in a civil aircraft.  Consequently, the Brabazon used piston engines.  But it wasn't just this use of yesterday's engine technology which hamstrung the Brabazon - despite its massive size, it carried surprisingly few passangers.  But they would have traveled in relative luxury.  It was a distinctly pre war vision of air travel, available only to a privileged minority.

Not surprisingly, the Brabazon never went into production - there was one flying prototype and another incomplete aircraft intended to use the new-fangled turbo-prop engines, (basically a jet engine driving a propellor, which, among other things, reduces fuel consumption).  But it was typically British: it looked to the past for its vision of the future.  It wasn't the only British aviation project of the era plagued by this backwardness: at a time when the Empire was shrinking, Saunders Roe was busily developing the Princess flying boat. That's right, a flying boat, just at the time when the world's airlines were starting to abandon such technology.  Almost as massive as the Brabazon and, likewise, powered by piston engines, it was an equally beautiful aircraft.  But like the Brabazon, a folly.  But some things never change.  Nowadays, egged on by politicians and the media, Britain seems to be looking to its past like never before.  The whole 'Leave' campaign in the EU referendum seemed to centre upon appeals to our 'glorious' pre-EU imperial past.  A time when we didn't need those pesky Europeans - we could just trade (or exploit, if you like) imperial possessions.  (Apparently there's a future where we can do that again - they've all been patiently waiting for us to end this EU nonsense and start buying New Zealand lamb again, or something like that).  An era when Britain was still a world power, thanks to its oppression of various other countries and cultures.  And it isn't just with respect to the whole EU debate - much of the current Tory party's ideology seems to be based around the idea of returning Britain domestically to some kind of fantasy past, when we had a manufacturing industry, wealth was respected and the lower classes knew their place.

Such futures have about as much chance of long term success as the Bristol Brabazon and the Saunders Roe Princess.  We need to look forward, not back and learn to let go of the past.  To be fair, we aren't always entirely backward looking.  Following the demise of the Brabazon, the UK succeeded in developing a truly technologically advanced airliner - the Comet.  The world's first jet powered airliner, the De Havilland Comet was a true world beater and, initially, enjoyed huge success. Unfortunately, in true British fashion, it suffered huge set backs due to poor project management.  It went into production with under powered engines, due to delays in the development of its planned power plants, which, in turn, meant that the early aircraft had to be built with lighter skins, contributing to the metal fatigue which resulted in several fatal crashes.  Whilst the problems were rectified and the Comet 4 could be found in passenger service as late as 1981, it was too late - the lead in civil jet liner design had been taken by US manufacturers, with the DC8 and Boeing 707.  That's the trouble, even when we have a potential world beater, we still manage to fumble it somehow, often by sitting on our laurels and congratulating ourselves instead of building on our success and pushing on with the next development, thereby allowing others to pass us by.