Tuesday, 28 June 2016

Brexit and social media

1. The social media bubble:

"I am actively searching through Facebook for people celebrating the Brexit leave victory, but the filter bubble is SO strong, and extends SO far into things like Facebook’s custom search that I can’t find anyone who is happy despite the fact that over half the country is clearly jubilant today and despite the fact that I’m *actively* looking to hear what they are saying."

So says Tom Steinberg (who was at school with at least one of my Facebook friends and at university with a whole slew of them. Bubble? what bubble?).

2. This, by a young Londoner, is also well worth reading:

"Meanwhile, a petition is doing the rounds on Facebook, which so far has over one million signatures on it. It asks parliament for a second referendum. People are already getting excited about it, because they think it can change things. // Yet this petition seems to suggest that 17 million Leave votes should be disregarded precisely because they have changed things." And did you know the turnout in Glasgow was only 56%?

3. Slightly lighter stuff here, at the impromptu F*** Brexit rally. It starts:

"As the nation awoke to Nigel Farage welcoming "our independence day" on Friday, the feelings that built up inside the Remain-ers soon exploded like a Mentos-n-Coke experiment of the soul on social media. In one sense, the campaign was definitely over, so beyond furiously retweeting Jonathan Freedland, no one really knew what they should be doing."

So they had a little rally - photos at the link.

4. The Evening Standard's guide to overcoming the social media wars. And just think, you could be Rohan Silva with Steve Hilton kipping (geddit?!) on your sofa: "I’m not going to lie — it got extremely awkward at times. I was worried about the impact that Brexit might have on small businesses such as mine, so it was horribly weird to have a good friend staying in my flat who was playing a massive role in getting Britain to leave the EU. Our staunchly pro-Remain neighbours started referring to Steve as “the enemy within”, which neatly summed up the bizarre situation."

5. Not really social media, but comments from young and youngish people across (the rest of) Europe. Except for the person overly concerned about where they will film Game of Thrones after Brexit, a series of sane and measured comments.

(I have given a couple of links from Vice above. Both of those are what you might think of as less weighty bits of journalism than one finds in mainstream newspapers. But I'm findings Vice a better and better source of proper commentary too. E.g., here's something on Corbyn that is more perceptive and more interesting than, picked at random, this from Tristram Hunt in the Guardian: what about having more council housing? What impact would that have had on the Brexit referendum?)

Saturday, 25 June 2016

First post-Brexit vote thoughts

Well, that was a surprise. We should more faith in polls than bookies, it seems. But I want to address the emotional fallout first. I never spotted any great emotional attachment to the EU in the UK (see Mark Mardell's well-judged piece here) but some nerve has been touched. What nerve? And why?

Personally, I am sad (a) that a lot of EU nationals that I know might feel rejected or hurt by the vote and (b) that the campaign, the vote and the aftermath have revealed a lot of division in this country. I understand (a), but what about (b)? We should have been warned by Scotland that a referendum uncovers a lot of bad feeling, turning family members against each other and so on. But all that means is that I am sad that other people are sad - why are they sad? (More below.)

Wednesday, 22 June 2016

Nothing to do with Brexit

Time for something completely different.

1. In Conversation with Armando Iannucci About ‘The Armando Iannucci Shows’ and Nothing Else. Exactly what it says on the tin. Includes the complete Hugh and worth it for that alone. Plus Hale and Pace working in a shoe shop.

2. Women-run hedge funds. You need some money in them.

3.  Some videos: JapanKorean breakdancers and how much everyone earns on a blockbuster.

4. Chess. It's quite pretty to watch the computer 'thinking' but it's hard to see what your pieces are.

5. Well-timed photographs. (Not a clickbait-y selection, but proper photos.)

6. An interesting article about China and what has happened to its physical history.

7. An exhaustively-done parody of the New Yorker. Worth a flick-through. It includes adverts, e.g.
Considering how self-aware the New Yorker is, the line between the original and the parody can be pretty thin. This is evident in the cartoons. Two men on a desert island and the caption is “If I were you I’d be very careful before I said something I thought was funny.” Original? Parody? You decide.

Monday, 20 June 2016

Yet more on Brexit

You want Brexit articles? We got 'em.

1. France's plan for Bloody Brexit. But note that Michel Houellebecq is pro-Brexit (and not out of spite).

2. More on left-wing Brexiteers, or Lexiters: have they lost their nerve? Of the ones who haven't, here's the long version of the Lexit argument (also good on the history of the Left's loathing turned to love of the EU): "the British left risks throwing away the one institution which it has, historically, been able to use effectively—the democratic state"; also, why do you love the EU so much if you hate TTIP? (Good question.) And here's Kate Hoey with the short version: "The middle-classes who have colonised the Left support the EU not because they are the Left, but because they aren’t. They support it because they are middle class. No wonder they support it – it’s a middle class autocracy." (A form of government that I don't recall being discussed in Plato's Republic.) And here's a summary of where both sides of the Brexit debate stand on the left.

3. Meanwhile, the TLS has been warming our hearts. It has a rather sweet letter to the TLS asking the UK to stay in. I was struck by seeing Bjorn from ABBA, Serge Betsen and Alfred Brendel all listed as signatories. I'm not sure it's right to take political/constitutional advice from Raymond Blanc and Luděk “Ludo” Mikloško (the "West Ham FC legend"), but I found the whole thing touching nonetheless. And there is more TLS mood affiliation here, a symposium (not just a collection of little comments, but a symposium!) on the question "What in your view have been the main implications of the UK’s membership of the EU for its cultural life and/or your own work?"Ah, the arts! Axel Scheffler! Charlotte Gainsbourg! Consider my heart well and truly warmed, but I think Simon Jenkins' head has the measure of it: "Remain or leave will make no difference, and thank goodness."

4. The UK as superhero: "our involvement in the European project is “mission accomplished”", our work here is done. This is the nub of the argument: "The UK has retarded political union for too long. As a fan of the Single European State I say quite candidly that one reason I believe the UK should leave now is so as to get out of the way and allow destiny to proceed." Hmm. It's a view. But I'm not sure it's a killer 'we have to leave now' argument. Or maybe, as Lord Saatchi suggests, the UK is on its way to leading Europe. Hmm. Again, I doubt it.

5. By the way, the EU referendum is going to make Tony Blair Prime Minister again. You heard it here first.

6. Meanwhile, here is the Economist, making some really rather good pro-Remain points, illustrated with this chart - the Venn diagram of your nightmares. (For an A* you have to re-draw the chart with NATO membership shown as a box, not just italics. Use only one side of the paper.)

7.  Paul Krugman is a reluctant remainer. Also sane, and perhaps a little more emotional, here's John Kay: "A European elite sees “more Europe” as the answer to every question. But European citizens will not allow that elite to create the institution it seeks. As Philip Bobbitt has written: “It is a failure of imagination to assume that the only thing that will replace the nation-state is another structure with nation-state-like characteristics.”" OK, I see that. But how are the European citizens to do that? Maybe if they had a referendum they could vote 'no' or 'non' or ''nee' or whatever it is whenever they got the chance - surely that would make it clear? Oh. (Here's a Dutchman reminding us about that Dutch referendum that was roundly ignored.)

8. The constitutional/democratic/sovereignty arguments in favour of Brexit are perhaps clear and unanswerable. Equally, the economic arguments in favour of Remain are clear and unanswerable. If you're wavering, you're not alone (focus groups discussing Brexit).