The alternative? Shouting at the TV. I'll be doing some of that too.
You see, the thing is, Brexiteers keep popping up on my screen. Now that they have condemned the UK to a horrible recession, they have to say that "everything is fine" and "nothing could possibly go wrong".
Good for them. But one of their main arguments has got such a HUGE hole in it, that I can't understand why interviewers fail to point it out... Maybe to do so would make them appear "unpatriotic"? To be "talking down" the economy?
Anyway, not being British, that's not a charge that can be levelled at me, so here it is.
FIFTH BIGGEST ECONOMY
Here's what the Brexiteers say:
"The UK, by itself, is the fifth biggest economy in the world. This means, when we negotiate with the rest of the EU (rEU), they will have to give us what we want."
Sound familiar? It cropped up a lot before the vote and is showing up constantly now. For the sake of the UK, I hope this claim is nonsense, because if it's not, then the following is also true...
"The EU is the largest economy in the world. Not the fifth largest. Not the sixth. The largest. Its nominal GDP is about 14.6 trillion euros. Without the UK, it would be about 12.1 trillion euros. This makes it approximately five times larger than the economy of the UK -- *if* you're counting in Scotland as part of the UK, of course. That means (by the logic above), in negotiations, the UK, will have to give five times more to the EU than vice versa."
So, our first bit of maths for the day is:
1st > 5th
Pretty mind-blowing, isn't it? I'm amazed nobody has thought of that. I mean, if any of the Tories had worked it out, they'd have run away from having to deal with it. Am I right, Boris? David?
But wait! It gets worse!
The pound has dropped drastically against the euro. Because of this, the UK is now only the 6th biggest economy. France is the new number 5. Hurray for France! The EU doesn't even need to negotiate. Why not just send France? After all, if it's the 5th biggest economy in the world by itself, then, by the logic above, the UK will have to give it what it wants.
This brings us to our next formula:
5th > 6th
And if Scotland votes for independence, why, Italy might then be a larger economy than the rUK. Why not just send Italy? Because...
6th > 7th
Wow! Who knew maths could be so simple?
Another version of the "fifth biggest economy" argument is the "8%" argument. This is where the Brexiteers say that Angela Merkel will go easy on the UK because, by itself (if we include Scotland), the UK represents 8% of German exports, and "they wouldn't want to risk that!"
The same counter-argument applies. If Germany can't bear to lose 8%, how on earth -- and I'm banging my head on the table as I write this (ouch!) -- can the UK afford to lose the 45% of their exports that go to the rEU?
I mean, seriously, doesn't anybodgy know that 45 is somewhat bigger than 8? Or, as we Math speakers say:
45 > 8
Of course, Germany, with a population of around 80 million, has more than a few mathematicians of its own. It will have worked out by now, that going too easy on the UK might protect that 8% of trade, but that the possible resulting breakup of the EU will put another 50% of its economy at risk and send, not just the UK, but the whole continent into recession.
After all, as maths would have it:
50 > 8
I can't blame the Brexiteers for doing something so momumentally stupid. After all, I'm the one sitting here with my arm in a sling while autocorrect plays havoc with a blog post written for no other reason than rage and frustration.
We've both taken a bit of a tumble recently, but I hope to have recovered from mine in six weeks or so, while they have a future to look forward to that includes a starring role in something like the Chilcot Enquiry. Worse, they'll spend years driving over pot-holed roads, through the poverty-stricken neighbourhoods of their own proud creation, while screaming at anybody using simple maths to "talk down" the economy.
Good luck with that. Actually, no, bad cess to you instead, because you've probably dragged us into recession too.
I had received an invite to a Science Fiction convention in Luxembourg. I was expecting a relaxing weekend, sitting in an empty room. You see, everybody knows Luxembourg is tiny, and since they never had a convention before this, the organisers were doomed to struggle for numbers. They might get twenty people, I thought. Thirty tops...
I've never been so wrong in my life. The place was swarming with people. In fact, it was the largest Con I had ever attended outside North America. But where the hell did they all come from?
Europe, of course.
My mistake was to think of Luxembourg as a country. Well, it is, but that's not what's important here. What's important, is that it no longer possesses any borders. People arrived from Paris and Brussels by trains that never even slowed down when they passed from one state to another. They drove by car from Germany and only realised they had crossed over from their own country when they started spotting road signs in French.
Then, they reached the Con -- thousands of them, overwhelmingly young, buying wonderful Belgian frites with the same currency they already had in their pockets.
I sat in the sunshine speaking to people, sometimes in French, but mostly in an English that many of them had honed by spending time studying or working in the UK. I admired their incredibly creative costumes, and more than one person sported a t-shirt with a Union Jack on it, because in the heart of our continent, among the youth, Britain was seen as cool; as forward looking; as open.
This was Europe as it was always meant to be. Friendly, vibrant, thriving. Made possible, not in spite of, but because of decades of regulations and the harmonisation of national laws. It's what the young see when they travel. It's their country now, the one they would "want back" if ever they were to lose it.
I get to experience a little of that here in Ireland too.
I remember the bad old days, growing up in Donegal, and having to pass over the border. I remember soldiers scarcely older than myself, armed with big guns, passing down the aisle of the bus while everybody stared at the back of the seat in front of them.
Yet now, when I attend my favourite convention -- TitanCon in Belfast -- I just hop into my car, and keep driving until I reach the hotel. Nobody says "boo" to me. I don't have to wait in a line of traffic while every fourth car is searched for contraband or terrorists. It's all so... frictionless. Sure, the road signs are in miles, rather than kilometres, but that's actually charming. The only thing I miss, really, is the Euro.
I'm heart-broken over the UK's vote to leave us. I'm terrified that the lovely European dream I experienced in Luxembourg might soon be at an end and I'm working hard to stave off bitterness and resentment. I want the future to be "brilliant" again, the way I thought it was, or at least, the way it might have been.
I rarely do videogames any more. But for some reason yesterday I started playing This War of Mine from 11 bit Studios. It's a simulation where you control a group of refugees trapped in a war torn city. They are constantly hungry and tired. They get injured and sick. Your job is simply to keep them alive and there's never a comfortable moment. Standing on guard every night. Scavenging for scraps and so on. At one point, a young boy knocks on the door of my group's shelter. His mother is sick, dying maybe. Do we have any medicine to share? We did. But my characters were sick too and I needed to keep it, so I clicked on "No". It was a moment of such genuine horror, I had to stop playing.
Well, some interesting reads came my way and I'd be a fool not to indulge...
First up, was Peter Newman's The Vagrant. You all know I'm a demon -- not literally -- for worldbuilding, and this world is pretty darn cool. It takes "grim" and "dark" to whole new depths that I didn't think were even possible. The main character too, doesn't speak, which is a pleasant change...
Then, from my friend Jeremy de Quidt, I got an ARC of The Wrong Train, his collection of YA ghost stories. I've only read the first story so far, but, by golly, if it's not the best ghost story I've read for YEARS. Both creepy and pitiful...
Tonight! Oh, tonight! I will start watching the new series of Orange is the New Black. I love that show. The characters are among the best I've ever seen.
I've also had my snout in the trough of The People Vs. OJ Simpson. I... really like it so far. Great drama, great acting and a whole palette of moods inside each episode. Can't wait for more.
And finally... Yes, episode 9 of GoT was mega. I hated one particular moment, maybe two... But overall, it had the most exciting battle scene I've witnessed for quite some time. Roll on the finale.
Watching Gomorra can be a bit like seeing somebody play Grand Theft Auto. They don't kill people, they simply dispose of them with less emotion sometimes than flicking hair out of their eyes. But what makes the story satisfying is how the characters convince themselves of their own honour and likeability. "Sure, I strangled my wife in a fit of pique, but, you know, I'm not like that most of the time..." That sort of thing.
I can't look away.
Also, bereft of likeable characters so far, is Versailles 90210, or as the BBC call it, just Versailles. It's a sumptuous French costume drama, made entirely in English and full of beautiful, beautiful people getting it on. Episode 1 felt pretty vapid. Episode 2 showed more teeth, but Wolf Hall it ain't. If they want me to keep watching -- and I know they care very deeply about that -- then they'd better crank up the character development pronto!
I'm halfway through Joe Hill's The Fireman. So far, it's OK, but I haven't stopped reading, so, that's pretty good for me these days. I swear, I'm getting more crotchety by the minute.
I've also purchased Peter Newman's The Vagrant for the TBR pile on the basis of a sample chapter. The worldbuilding and the main character both look like they might be intriguing. So, that's probably next...
MY NEW WEBSITE
After my last website bit the dust due to a mix-up with a band of fridge salesmen, I now have a new place to call my own: peadar.org. Please give it a spin! It needs to be in good condition by the time The Call hits the book shelves of the world!
Thanks for all the birthday wishes yesterday. Much appreciated! And you'll be delighted to know that I did indeed have a a good one :)
I would dance, but that would be unseemly.
wherever you lie on the political spectrum, whatever way you plan to vote on June 23rd, I'm here now, representing nobody but myself, and pleading for you to stay with the rest of us in a messy, messed up, peaceful union.
OK. I'll get up off my knees now. It's a lovely day for sitting in the sun. Why don't you join me?
So what will I get up to as I await the return of saner temperatures? Thanks for asking!
I finished up with a few good books over recent weeks. Devil's Blood, sequel to Prentice and Weil's excellent Black Arts kept the fun going, transferring the mayhem two hundred years into the story's future. There were devils, by the score, a sinister aristocrat, as well as a visit to Bedlam and other parts of 18th century London.
Right now, I'm reading the Preacher graphic novels by Garth Ennis and Steve Dillon. These stories are... extreme. Not just in terms of sex and violence, but along several other axes as well. Constant blasphemy, obscenity, racism and gore spatter the pages, but also humour, friendship, love and loyalty. If you're easily offended... No, strike that! If you *can* be offended, this might not be your cup of tea at all. Personally, I love it. The more I read of Garth Ennis's work, the more talent I think he has. I'm not really qualified to judge the quality of the art, though.
Netflix has a series of documentaries about famous chefs called, Chef's Table. Series 2 is now available and the first episode of it, is absolutely outstanding. I have never seen such a pure expression of creativity in any field as this. Seriously, just watch the first 5 minutes of it if you get the chance. Hugely rewarding, in my opinion.
As with most cookery programs, my vegan friends may be put off by some of the food on offer here, but not in the first few minutes...
I have a draft of the next novel out with my beta readers right now, so I have a few days off to do absolutely nothing. However, I expect a LOT of work to come back my way in the next few weeks.
How're you all doing? Try not to get burnt out there!
Google I/O is on right now and the keynote address yesterday left me goggle-eyed and drooling. Basically, we're on the cusp of a personal AI in every pocket. Of an honest-to-God holodeck in every home. Or field. Or wherever you want one.
The video below is nauseatingly slick, for all that it'll rob you of less than three minutes of your life. But look out for the bit where the little boy is interacting with Google Assistant -- at about 1:06. It's mind-blowing. Anybody who says this is "just Siri" or "just Amazon Echo" is badly missing the point...
Absolutely everything in this video is possible right now.
MORE REVIEW GOODNESS
I'm delighted to say that great reviews for The Call keep pouring in. Belfast's Culture Hub magazine compared my work to sources as diverse as Goya and The Manic Street Preachers. The verdict? "Highly Recommended".
Why, yes, since you ask. I am happy :)
- Current Mood: cheerful
Some time ago, I wrote a post about meeting Michael Swanwick at Boskone. I gushed a little about his novel, "The Iron Dragon's Daughter".
For some, like John O'Neill of blackgate.com, that wasn't bloated, long-winded or gassy enough. He persuaded me to write a full review.
Well, it's up right now -- on the actual INTERNET!!!
Don't be too astounded!
Hopefully tomorrow, I'll have another Reading/Watching post...