Sunday, 27 October 2019

spring forward, fall back

About a week ago I recall expressing my feeling of gratitude for not having to seasonally adjust the clocks (though mostly this is accomplished automatically and effortlessly with only our dumb and disconnected timepieces needful of our attention) not remembering properly how the change takes place so late in October, which I suppose only speaks to the disruptive and disorientating nature of the practise in the first place.

Though pleased with the outcome of the European Union referendum regarding the end of daylight savings time and leaving the seasons to the tilt and shift of the planet (albeit it was one of those non-partisan issues that everyone can support—reportage I think one might find on that new news channel spin-off that pledges to be Brexit-free), I was a bit disappointed to first be disabused and then to wake up to the confusion of the clocks, although for the last penultimate time.  For those who’ve known nothing else (despite complaints), we wonder how baked-in it is in terms of both programming and posture.

Saturday, 19 October 2019

super saturday

Convening on a weekend, which is not usually done as business and the markets cannot react to changes in government policy and not the Commons had not sat since the Falklands conflict, Parliament met to hopefully hash out Brexit once and for all—or not, after the prime minister secured a slap-dash deal to leaving the European Union that for some was less palatable than the terms his predecessor set forth that failed to pass on multiple occasions. Whether this arrangement will be ratified is far from clear as are the next steps, setting up a scenario for perpetual and Sisyphean debate.

Thursday, 3 October 2019

potut pottuina

Overshadowed by his magnificently telling tantrum, the Trump’s White House did manage to open up a second front in his ongoing trade wars with the US Trade Representative, a Trump appointee, announcing that the World Trade Organisation will grant the US the right to levy tariffs on around seven billion euro (one percent of US-EU trade) on European exports—wine and cheese, in retaliation for the EU’s privileging its domestic Airbus over international competition.
We can’t say that the US has been subsidising its native industries in the same way for the past decade and a half of this squabble or whether it’s quite a fair ruling—though it highlights the asymmetry of government support and interventions and how diverting subsidies from staid business models in transport and agriculture would help drive greener and cleaner innovations. Further implication might be the UK becoming even more willing to crash out of the Union with no deal and into an unequal partnership with the States.  The EU is expected to respond in kind—though direct countermeasures are not allowed, WTO rules have no jurisdiction on boycotts.

Monday, 16 September 2019

you wouldn’t like me when i’m angry

Whilst former Prime Minister David Cameron characterises Johnson’s faith in leaving the EU only qualified and continues on this trajectory to preserve his political career, just ahead of a Monday lunchtime meeting with European Commission president regarding the Irish border for which all and sundry have pretty lower expectations and the British Supreme Court is expected to rule on the constitutionality (prompted by accusations by the Scottish court) of proroguing Parliament, the Prime Minister, digging in, compares himself to the Incredible Hulk during an interview with the widely-circulated tabloid The Daily Mail.
“[Bruce] Banner might be bound in manacles, but when provoked he would explode out of them,” he said, channeling the immense though chaotic and destructive strength of the comic book character. “The madder Hulk gets, the stronger Hulk gets.” EU officials counter that the comparison belies a lack of maturity, even by Trumpian standards, more pitiable than intimidating. The UK will reject further Brexit delays. Hulk smash!

Tuesday, 10 September 2019

quadriga

With the Queen’s leave, after the longest session since the English Civil War, Boris Johnson suspended Parliament until just two weeks before the date that the UK is scheduled to depart the European Union.
Speaker of the House of Commons John Bercow resigned in protest, his last sentiment being that ‘we degrade this Parliament at our peril,’ a resounding rejection of Johnson’s argument for the extended recess, reasoning that the break was a time for reflection and reformulate legislative agendas and calls for a general election to break the impasse—also denied.  Like during a furlough, committees cannot convene or conduct official business without being in violation of their suspension, paralleling the law passed making Brexit contingent on a deal or otherwise risk being in contempt, which the prime minister is fully cognizant of and only serves to remind how tragic this whole squandering of time and resources and all encompassing has been.

Monday, 19 August 2019

paneuropรคisches picknick

Held on this day in 1989 the peace protest known as the Pan-European Picnic in the border town of ล opron (formerly Ödenburg), Hungary on the Austria border sponsored in part by the former Archduke of both nations is considered by many to be the final death-rattle of Communism, presaging what was to follow in Central Europe, signalling the end of accommodation for protracted situations like Romanian refugee camps in Hungary or the East German encampment at the Prague embassy. Borders were eliminated for a space of three hours during the exchange and many took advantage of this window, with border guards given orders not to interfere. Presently, few signs remain of the walls that separated east from west.

yellowhammer or backwards-planning

Though the existence of no-deal contingency plans have been suspected since April and cabinet officials are trying to downplay their significance—excusing them as an outdated draft, the recent leak (that they’d characterise as sabotage) of reports contain rather dire predictions that are really revealing and revolutionary should a fraction of them come to pass as forecasted in the event of such a departure for the UK from the European Union.
The report identifies bottle-necks and supply-chain disruption to food and medical supplies and a meltdown of logistics. Military forces (a complimentary programme called Operation Redfold to be operated out of the prosaically named Pindar citadel and bunker, so named after the poet‘s house was the only structure spared destruction after Alexander the Great had the city of Thebes razed, owing to his verses that sang the virtues of king’s dynasty) are on standby to assist civilian authorities in quelling anticipated protests and uprisings.  Potential (leaning towards inevitable) fuel scarcity is particularly pernicious for the cascading effects it will have on the overall economy.  

Wednesday, 31 July 2019

the matter of britain

Former Prime Minister Teresa May made the executive decision to rule out withdrawal from the European Union—not excusing her window-dressing a fools’ errand and Pyrrhic victory—absent an agreement on terms of future trading relationships and remained steadfastly committed to this goal knowing that forestalling negotiations could result in the dissolution of the United Kingdom.
Now with a new prime minister and no closer to reaching a deal, first ministers of Scotland and Wales are respectively calling for another independence referendum (Boris Johnson is stating that he will deny the country the chance to re-visit this once-in-a-generation vote and that the question is a settled matter) and threatening to stage crippling protests over the negative economic impact that will render domestic sheep and their agricultural industry in general unmarketable. Northern Ireland, which like its sister countries with the exception of England voted in favour of remaining a member of the EU, has raised the spectre of reunion with the Republic of Ireland over the economic impact of Brexit and the very real possibility that leaving may necessitate the unwelcome return a physical barrier on the isle—a sentiment fuelled also by the prospect that London may need to impose direct rule on the region in the interim. Closing the border in violation of the Good Friday Agreement would also threaten the trade deals with the US that the UK has banked this whole ordeal on. Winning is sometimes easy, whilst governing is the real challenge.

Tuesday, 2 July 2019

fondant

To highlight the absurdity that may follow the enforcement of Article 13, the EU mandate that hosting services monitor use-submitted content for possible copyright infringement or lack of attribution—presumably policed by algorithms and upload filters—once the sharing of memes or children’s birthday cakes decorated with proprietary characters might be outlawed—proscriptively—artist Fabian Mosele, having studied the tolerances and triggers of such systems, has created a series of contorted and abstracted frosting works. We especially liked the Captcha-style piping. Much more to explore at the links above.

Monday, 17 June 2019

corso forzoso

Though the idea of bringing back the lira has been in circulation by members of both factions of the governing coalition since at least 2005 and at earlier times of economic crisis and scarcity of specie, a sort of Notgeld, called miniasegni, were used to make change—anything from postage stamps to bus passes, Italy is now responding in a unique and novel way to European Union demands that it pass budget reforms and bring its deficit in line with members’ tolerances in suggesting that a parallel currency be introduced.
Provisionally naming the government backed bonds, IOUs to be traded as legal tender mini-BOTs, miniature bills of treasury, the government wants to issue internal financial vehicles that can be used to pay tax bills and distribute pension payments—with businesses having the option whether or not to accept payments in these terms. While in the short term, the introduction of mini-BOTs may rally public confidence in a partnership government that in part was elected on a platform of universal basic income (disappointingly winnowed down to a job-seekers’ allowance) and avoids austerity measures, such a move would result in inflation and more odious debt.

Sunday, 26 May 2019

europawahl

Though Angela Merkel’s party, the Christian Democratic Union, did lighten up on their messaging somewhat, having taken this particular poster out of circulation early on after the campaign began in mid-April, the notion that freedom is not a guaranteed matter of course and that elections have consequences still is a crucial one.  Representation is important and illiberal forces are counting on your political disillusionment and disenfranchisement to forward their agendas. If polling has not already taken place where you live, please get out there and vote.

Friday, 24 May 2019

number 10


Thursday, 23 May 2019

eunify

For a couple of weeks, I had noticed the gap in the circle of stars on the hoodie (Pulli) donned by a candidate standing for a MEP slot and figured that it was a subtle/not-so-subtle reference to Brexit, but was not aware of the provenance or how the design by Berlin-based David Mallon was trending and very much in fashion among pro-EU, anti-extremist politicians. One of the twelve golden mullets was removed and affixed to the back of the sweater, this simple broken circle symbolising something beyond the UK’s departure and conveying volumes tacitly and inviting dialogue.

Tuesday, 14 May 2019

privatsphรคre

Nearly a year after sweeping privacy and data-retention legislation went into effect in the European Union, one dominant force in shaping the architecture of the on-line world is committing to open a privacy and safety engineering hub in Mรผnchen, to demonstrate the company’s pledge to take security, integrity and demography seriously.
It’s one thing to be exposed to the same commercials ad nauseum but quite a different matter to be denied a job interview or insurance coverage or detoured away from a given destination by dint of the same inscrutable predilections. Failure to comply with current regulations could result in fees upwards of four percent of the internet giant’s global revenue. Let’s hope that this venture helps promote German and EU expectations for privacy and foster a better corporate culture that’s not enabled and entitled to monetise our consent.

Thursday, 11 April 2019

willkommen, bienvenue, welcome

Though Brexit has been deferred to a date no later than Halloween, it’s never too early to greet the partners that the UK is bidding adieu to, and this series of twenty-seven retro-style prints from Manchester-based graphic designers Dave Sedgwick and Stanley Chow called “Hello Europe” is a good primer and ice-breaker. Learn more and explore a whole gallery of the euro-centric posters at My Modern Met at the link above.

Monday, 1 April 2019

majority rule with minority protection

Though the outcome for Brexit is still very much up in the air, a working group composed of experts in ethnography and sociology from the UK top institutions has come together to explore ways to heal the rift that political polarisation has permeated in the country.  Among the initiatives suggested include a national expo and the appointment of a “healing czar” whom would be charged with promoting togetherness and reconciliation. Out of an aversion to being seen as taking sides, the Royal Family has all but recused themselves but a weekend parliamentary off-site meeting, several celebrities were nominated for consideration, including Bob Geldof (previously), Alice Nutter, the female lead singer formerly a part of Chumbawamba and personality David Van Day, formerly of the groups Dollar, Guys ‘n’ Dolls and Bucks Fizz who was also an aspiring council politician.

Friday, 29 March 2019

tickety boo


Saturday, 23 March 2019

the people's vote march


Friday, 22 March 2019

technocracy

Previously we’ve demonstrated—anecdotally—that despots and robots don’t seem to mix well, and whilst people have anxieties over being made redundant through automation and that there are definite trade-offs to be found in unfettered technological progress, tempered by the consul of the past or not, a surprisingly large portion of Europeans recently polled, a solid quarter of respondents, would favour allowing artificial intelligences to craft and execute policy over politicians.
What do you think?  We agree that there’s some share of disillusionment and political estrangement contributing to this outlook and the paternalistic bent as well as the tendency to reflect and amplify our worst inclinations to some advancements shouldn’t be ignored—which is why transparency is vitally important—but we suspect there’s also a vote of confidence to be found here as well—that perhaps in coalition with machines, governance could be a fairer and more equitable process.

Wednesday, 20 March 2019

urheberrechtsreform

In protest to European Union’s rather fraught and problematic Directive on Copyright in the Digital Single Market, to be brought before Parliament, German-speaking Wikipedia—at the consensus of its contributors and users—will shut down for twenty-four hours on March 21.
The most upsetting articles included in the language of the proposal to be debated are the so called “link tax” on news and content aggregators and the requirement that websites and hosting services employ upload filters that would screen out potentially pirated or non-attributed images and video. Media-rights holding clearinghouses initially supported the enforcement measures but have now been less enthusiastic and a consortium of journalists see it as a threat to press freedoms. We all ought to join in, in solidarity.