It is that time of year when we make belated wishes of happiness to all those celebrating.
It is also the time of year when it is a convention to look back on the year past from the present and look forward to the year ahead. With that in mind, this post will examine aspects of the past year from the global to the blog level. And briefly look to the future….
Nothing got a lot better in the last year. But nothing got a LOT worse. Migration continued and grew. A spike in Europe has driven a response. Although some of that response is a xenophobic anti-immigrant opposition. But the migration is pushed by poverty, failed states and war. And pulled by prosperity and the opportunity for education.
The continued collapse of nation-states in N.W. Africa and the Middle East has driven that spike. along with the continued emergence of DAESH. Although that is a consequence of the salafist, or puritan, reform movement that periodically arises in Islam. It can be traced back to the power vacuum in the 1920 when the fall of the Ottoman empire removed an Islamic theocracy from power. The West’s habit of ruling by proxy with puppet dictators did nothing to satisfy the desire for the form of government that those nations had enjoyed in the past.
The extreme intolerance that justifies the atrocities of beheading, burning and slavery is part of and validates the self-righteous sense of moral superiority that drives such ideological/theocratic movements. But it is a philosophy that rejects any conventional form of trade with any outside community. It may bend its own rules to keep a foot in the global economy. But it is enabled financially by political interests who think it can be used as a tool against another strategic enemy. (Saudi Arabia and Turkey) And there are always entrepreneurs who are willing to make a profit by buying oil, trading arms and selling the rope that hangs them.
On the local UK front there has been a surface appearance of stasis. But as ‘austerity’ continues the attempt to shrink the state has started to erode the underlying communal infrastructure. Visitors and tourists sometime comment on the state of the roads or the amount of rubbish and un-maintained public land. Health and welfare have been areas where the reduction in services has been most noticed, even if little reported or analysed.
As hospitals become understaffed and in debt, the discussion has not been about the lower government investment in a National healthcare system compared to many other advanced nations. It has been scapegoating foreign tourists who get ill and use the service.
Despite the fact they represent less than 1% of the patients admitted to hospital, and as tourists contribute more to the economy than most residents, per day spent in the country. After all thats why we welcome tourists.
There is one study that claims that visitors may exceed 1% of health service use. But it does this by assuming that all patients with missing addresses are foreign, not homeless, and that holiday visitors are equally likely to get ill as the resident population. Ignoring that those travelling on holiday are a self selected healthy group. people with health problems are less likely to vacation for obvious reasons.
It is the warmest year since the Holocene maximum around 6000 years ago. Somewhat to the surprise of cynics and pessimists the COP21 climate talks actually produced a significant statement of… intent? Okay, it was scientifically vapid, but never underestimate the power of political gestures.
Arguing about weather it is happening, or if we need to act has been relegated to a fringe outlier group. Although that does seem to include much of the GOP in the US. But the issue now becomes; what are we going to do about it? The politicians having made a gesture about intent will ask advisors. If they are honest they will tell the politicians that the problem can be solved, well, quickly and/or cheaply. But the policy decision is choose which two of those three options; – well, quickly and cheaply – they would pick. As all three are not possible.
I have tried to avoid posting about every passing event in the climate wars. I have followed it rather more than intended, and done my share of ClimateBall(TM) at ATTP’s blog. Taminio and Eli have also had some interesting posts. This one the approach of two Nations to the same global event is particularly revealing.
I have tried to post on the larger overview of the issue. The way in which we see the past and imagine the future are strong influences on how and why we respond to potential threats like AGW. Or immigration and terrorism. I haven’t entirely resisted the temptation for a topical post on the climate circus when a graphic element could be introduced. But as explained below time constraints have also reduced my posts on this and other subjects.
There is a cliche’ that Blogs get started with a burst of enthusiasm and creativity… which runs out before the year ends. I would admit that this Blog has probably tended to appear to be following that pattern. But not all is what it seems. The Blog was started at the beginning of 2015 in part because of the increased time available, having significantly reduced my work commitments.
However an unexpected event made further days at work unavoidable in the middle of the summer. That cut into the time available to spend on the Blog, animation and music that I had planned. There are several uncompleted drafts of various sorts residing in the Blog editor. The future WILL contain many more posts reviewing films and books. I still plan on making tutorial videos about the animation and video FX I have learnt. Climate, politics and epistemology will also make further appearances, along with any animated visual jokes I can invent.
Here is a taster, a preview – prequel to a long-term project to animate as a sort of graphic story a Lovecraftian quantum horror tale set on the London tube.
Warning; it contains quantum woo as a plot device which may not be an entirely accurate description of real Quantum Theory.