Friday, 22 November 2019

Political Broadcast -- The Brexit Election

I interrupt my delightful series of posts on my sabbatical in Italy, to write a little about the upcoming UK election, on December 12th.

From my vantage point within the operatic chaos of Rome, it is perfectly obvious what is the Number One issue of this election, in fact really the only relevant issue, and equally obvious how any sensible person should vote. But word trickles through to me that it is not obvious to everyone. There are, media pundits tell me, large quantities of people confused about who to vote for. They are despairing at their options! They are throwing up their hands! They are going to -- horror of horrors! -- sit this one out!

As a pompous conceited theoretical physicist, even I cannot believe that so many people are so blisteringly stupid. That means it's hats off to the booming misinformation and obfuscation industry. Nice try, guys, but your dastardly campaign to wipe out human civilisation is at an end. I can take you down in 1200 words. Maybe less. (I did mention conceited, didn't I?)

Friday, 8 November 2019

All Roads

Traffic is one of the great spectacles in Rome. As a tourist, if you lower your eyes from the Colosseum, or St Peters, or the vast mad monstrosity of the Typewriter, your gaze will twitch and tremble at the sight of the traffic. At its best, a roaring swarm of cars and motorcycles on a four-lane road with no lane markings, veering and swerving and braking in a vulgar affront to the laws of reason, if not physics. Crossing these roads is exhilarating enough -- the sight of it would leave mere firewalkers aghast -- so how terrifying and wonderful must it be to actually get behind the wheel of a car, and accelerate directly into the maelstrom?

I have done it, and I have lived to tell the tale.

Monday, 21 October 2019

Certified Mail

Previously: A Letter from Rome


Rome is a place of untamed primal forces. Your fortunes will experience wild mood swings.

One moment I was the resplendent champion of the routine retail transaction, the next I was being flailed in a state-funded hell. The Divine Comedy, Part I, if Pasolini had taken another crack at it, for Amazon.

To recap: I needed to mail a letter.

Ho ho ho, you might chortle. No problem. Slap on some stamps and put it in a mailbox.

Tuesday, 8 October 2019

A Letter from Rome

Time for a change. I have relocated to Rome.

I know what you are thinking, but, No, I am not fleeing Brexit. Given that Brexit is a phenomenon defined above all else by incandescent uncertainty, only a fool would make life-altering decisions based purely on predictions of its outcome. In fact, the risk of missing Brexit was one of my few reservations in moving: how often do you get to witness complete social breakdown at close quarters? I could never forgive myself if I lost the chance to pimp my biography with the juicy line, "fled civil war". Ultimately I took stock of the global situation and concluded that the risk was small. The chance will come again soon enough.

This is a brief relocation, for one year. "Spent a year in Rome" is also a standard line in the best of biographies. Was my motivation merely to inject further glamour into my resumé? Surely not: its dazzle already blinds my lesser contemporaries, to the horror of my innate modesty.

Sunday, 10 February 2019

Dispatch from Brexit Britain

Brexit is exciting. The UK is slithering down a political mudslide towards a major historical catastrophe -- and I get to ride along with it! Wheee!

I realise this may not be fun for everyone. For example, the Europeans in the UK who will be either hounded to leave or hounded because they stayed. I wonder which will be worse? A more interesting grouping are the poor and unskilled, regardless of where their birth certificate was printed. Is it worse to be foreign and driven to leave, or British and unable to?

Among these unfortunates are of course the unrepentantly xenophobic and stupid who voted for Brexit. I am trying to shed myself of any sympathy for them, but even someone of my limited empathy knows perfectly well that most of them were duped into voting for their own misery by wealthy scumbags who are as certain to make a tidy profit out of this as their supporters are to suffer. If they (the poor unfortunates) have not yet understood their folly, should that drive my sympathy up, or down?

As you can see, there are many fascinating questions to ponder.