Brexit

What is a country, exactly? A group of like-minded individuals living together? I think this is increasingly untrue. Part of my own definition would involve a recognized border the inhabitants control. After all, if the people living in the country can’t control who leaves, and especially who enters, it’s not a sovereign country at all.

To me, this is exactly why the European Union’s unimpeded flow of goods and people sounds great until you really think about it. Goods can come and go within the Union, which is terrific for trade. People can come and go within the Union, but they can also stay, and you have no control over who chooses to exercise this option. That may not be so good.

It’s got nothing at all to do with racism, or xenophobia. Does locking your door any only allowing the people you choose inside make you a xenophobe? I should hope not, and the same goes for your country. It is for this reason alone that I would have likely voted leave if I were living in the UK.

Last Sunday on The National, Jonathan Kay was a part of the panel discussion regarding the Brexit and he described how proud he was that Canada has no significant movement that is so racist and xenophobic as some other countries. That’s so easy to say since we do have control of our borders and our country. I’d heartily suggest the situation would be very different if all of the borders were open within North America and the rules over much of what goes on in our country were handed down to us from an unelected group outside of Canada.

The more I think about it, the less I can conceive how the countries that comprise the European Union ever sold the loss of their sovereignty to their citizens to join the Union in the first place. If you agree to give up jurisdiction on trade, agriculture, fisheries, regional development, environment, treaties and international agreements, defense and security, and monetary policy (for those countries that have adopted the Euro), why not just agree to become a single pan-European country and be done with it? At least citizens could then elect the people making these policies…which they currently cannot.

Entitlement is alive and well. I saw a young English man interviewed regarding the Brexit results and he stated that the exit is the fault of the older folks and pensioners and they need to figure some way around it. Translation: we don’t care for democracy when it doesn’t go our way so we need to get around this vote somehow. Pesky democracy!

In the same spirit, we have this petition that showed up on the UK Parliamentary web site:

We the undersigned call upon HM Government to implement a rule that if the remain or leave vote is less than 60% based a turnout less than 75% there should be another referendum.

This would conveniently force another referendum…so as long as the two conditions are not met, the population would be facing referendum after referendum. That also makes staying or leaving more difficult than the simple majority required to become part of the E.U. in the first place, and that’s supposed to be fair?

Even worse are all the demonstrations. Tens of thousands of young people are out wanting their voices to be heard. This is laughable because only 28% of young people voted. The ballot box was the place to voice their opinion, but almost three-quarters of them couldn’t be bothered. Now that things didn’t go their way, they’re not happy. Even worse, some blame the older folks. You know what? The older folks were smart enough to get off their asses and vote!

Life imitates art with error 451

You’ve seen it many times times in your travels around the World Wide Web: error 404, file not found. This is but one of many HTTP errors.

There’s a new one that I hope we don’t see very often but it’s a win for transparency. I’m talking about error 451: Unavailable For Legal Reasons1. The idea was hatched when ISPs in the UK were ordered to block the Pirate Bay website in 20122. When users attempted to visit the site, their ISP offered up error 403: forbidden. This seems appropriate, but the reasons for the restriction are not a part of the error. Also, a 403 is typically the result of a lack of privileges, resulting in the server denying the request. In the case of a government ordered block, the client request never makes it to the server.

Granted many oppressive governments will never allow the 451 error because they don’t want the transparency it provides. Still, even the possibility of having censorship be labeled as such, and not as a technical problem, is a win.

And in case you recognize the error number itself, it was indeed taken from the title of Ray Bradbury’s 1953 novel Fahrenheit 451. The novel presents a future American society where books are outlawed and “firemen” burn any that are found.3


  1. Tim Bray, “An HTTP Status Code to Report Legal Obstacles,” IETF Datatracker, November 10, 2015.
  2. Michael Byrne, “The HTTP 451 Error Code for Censorship Is Now an Internet Standard,” Motherboard, December 21, 2015.
  3. Fahrenheit 451,” Wikipedia, retrieved December 21, 2015.

People be crazy!

Last month, Fox News contributor Katherine Timpf ripped on Star Wars fans. She said,

I have never had any interest in watching space nerds poke each other with their little space nerd sticks, and I’m not going to start now1

Katherine Timpf2

She says it was a joke. To me, it sounds like a heady mix of being mean and dismissive. And why? Who knows. She must be a few decades behind the times and still thinks not liking Star Wars is an indicator of one’s cool-cred.

I’m not exactly clear on the timeline events, but she tweeted something else a few days ago and the Internet apparently exploded. She started receiving death threats. And that is an entirely disproportionate response for simply being an ass. But the anger? I understand it. She goes out of her way to insult people and what they enjoy, and of course they’re not going to send her love notes and ask for more insults! Strike out at people, and some of them will <ahem> strike back.

Yesterday she wrote an article on why she wasn’t going to apologize. Basically, she said that her first amendment rights allow her to say anything she pleases. Of course she’s right, but has she not yet figured out that the first amendment says nothing about consequences? Those can sometimes be awkward. Poke the wasp’s nest and what do you expect?

In particular, this beauty was included in the article:

Yesterday I tweeted something, and all I said was that I wasn’t familiar with Star Wars because I’ve been too busy liking cool things and being attractive.3

If I may paraphrase Prudence Glynn, ‘Attractiveness is something other people have. The merest inkling that you yourself may be in possession of the commodity is enough to ensure that you are not.’4 Simple physical beauty is easy to see. All-around attractiveness is another matter.

The most curious thing is that Timpf said she was astonished at the reaction. Remember she contributes to Fox News, for goodness sakes!

I certainly echo her thoughts about those who have gone too far in their reactions, but she’s otherwise being entirely disingenuous in her ham-fisted attempt to portray the victim.


  1. Fox News contributor gets death threats for mocking Star Wars fans,” by Andrea Towers, posted on Entertainment Weekly, November 25 2015
  2. Photo by Barry Morgenstein, from katherinetimpf.com
  3. I Will Not Apologize for Making a Joke About Star Wars,” by Katherine Timpf, posted on National Review, November 24, 2015
  4. “Style is something other people have. The merest inkling that you yourself may be in possession of the commodity is enough to ensure that you are not, for style, like the Victoria Cross, is an accolade which must be bestowed by the recognition of a third party” >Prudence Glynn (1980)(1935-1986)

Bad blood

It’s not exactly breaking news, but Miley Cyrus is feeling that she hasn’t been treated fairly. You see, she frequently performs half-nude and is criticized for it. Then Taylor Swift came out with her Bad Blood video and nobody batted an eye. Swift isn’t in any state of undress, but rather Cyrus criticizes her for promoting violence, which say claims is far worse that nudity.

In a nutshell, Swift’s video is about betrayal. She and her crew are in the midst of a robbery. Swift gets her hands on the briefcase that’s the object of the heist just to have her fellow robber, Selena Gomez, betray her by grabbing the briefcase and pushing her out a window. The bulk of the video is then about Swift assembling a force of women to go against Gomez’s gang and settle things. We’re introduced to Swift’s group one or two at a time as they train for the confrontation. Then at the end, the two groups meet up, and the video fades to black just before things get started.

There’s no gunplay in the video and the only violence we see is a number of sparring sessions, and some fighting involving punching and kicking very reminiscent of what you might see in a Xena: Warrior Princess battle. About this, Cyrus says, “And I’m a bad role model because I’m running around with my titties out? I’m not sure how titties are worse than guns.”†

Even ignoring that no gun violence appears in Swift’s video, Cyrus’s issues are not correctly directed at Swift. Rather her problem is with her society in general. It’s not Swift who determines what upsets people.

And I’d further suggest to Cyrus that if she wants to be taken seriously, she use adult language. Titties? That’s ridiculous, not edgy.


†”Miley Cyrus blasts Taylor Swift” posted August 8, 2015 on contactmusic.com