Sunday, 26 July 2009

A change is as good as a rest, or so they say.

As promised, The Beautiful Hypothesis has undergone a redesign. New colour scheme, new logo (it's new by default, I suppose, given that I didn't use a logo at all before), slightly cleaner design, and fewer gadgets cluttering up the sidebar. Oh, and the post expansion function works again, although it isn't running on my own code (that turned out to involve rather more complicated Javascript than I'm capable of managing).

It is entirely possible that I've broken some of the old posts, or made them look weird. If you happen to notice anything going wrong (or more wrong than before), would you be so good as to drop me a note, either in the comments or to the email address in the sidebar? General comments are also welcome — for instance, I'm not sure whether I've hit that sweet spot colour-wise between "so vivid it burns our eyes, preciousss" and "so gloomy it makes me want to cry".

Normal posting service should resume shortly. Thanks for your patience!

Continue Reading...

Thursday, 23 July 2009

Thank you for calling The Beautiful Hypothesis Technical Support. All our operators are currently busy. Please hold...

You may have noticed if you've been here recently that the "Continue Reading..." links, which function in much the same way as a LiveJournal cut (ie. they hide the particularly long and/or boring bits of the post and let you just read a few paragraphs if you so wish), have suddenly stopped working. This is because of rather poor design on my part, I'm afraid — you'd have thought that even two and a half years ago, I might have been technically savvy enough to realise that making your entire blog dependent on code that was hosted on some complete stranger's server was a really bad idea, for quite a number of reasons — but there we go.

The upshot of this is that any post with a "Continue Reading..." link will continue not to work until I replace the missing code that used to do the expansion with some of my own. It may take me a few days to get round to doing that, so I may as well fold it into a full redesign that I was planning to do anyway. (Various shades of brown are so mid-2007.)

With any luck, I should manage to do that this weekend, so the problems should be fixed by then. In the meantime, if you want to read any post which does have a broken "Continue Reading...", just click on the post title. That should load the entire post, including the content from behind the cut, in a new page. Or alternatively, use the RSS feed, which doesn't include cuts at all.

Thanks, and sorry for the inconvenience!

Continue Reading...

Saturday, 18 July 2009

How come it's never the Communists doing this? We do still have a Communist Party, right?

Blimey, it's been a long time since I posted anything here. Consider it an extended summer recess. In the time since the last post...

  • I've moved house
  • I've spent two weeks in Wales (which has sparked some interesting ideas — couple of posts in the pipeline for that one)
  • Swine flu returned to the news, despite being largely ignored by most people
  • Norway won the Eurovision Song Contest with a record-breaking score that it really didn't deserve. Come on, people, it was hardly Hard Rock Hallelujah.
  • Michael Jackson died and had the most bizarre funeral ever seen
  • Sarah Palin quit politics, at least until she decides to announce her 2012 candidacy and makes the Internet a horrible place to be once again
  • Roger Federer surprised absolutely nobody by winning Wimbledon again, and Andy Murray also surprised nobody by not winning Wimbledon (one day, day...)
And amongst all these other occurrences, the UK elected two far-right racists to the European Parliament. Nick Griffin and Andrew Brons of the British National Party are now being paid around 84,000 Euros a year (currently about £72,500) to sit in what has been called one of the most powerful legislatures in the world.

If you get the impression that I'm not overly thrilled with this development, you're entirely correct. The BNP (no, I'm not going to link to their website — Google it if you really want to) is a horrendous organisation, committed to the idea that non-white people are inherently inferior to whites. Their policies include bringing back corporal and capital punishment, "voluntary repatriation" of immigrants (and you can imagine just how "voluntary" that would really be), criminalising mixed-race relationships, and barring the provision of any public money to "non-British" (for which read non-white) organisations. Nick Griffin has done his very best to hide the party's ugliest attributes under a veneer of respectability, but quotations like "power is the product of force and will, not of rational debate" and a call to support its policies with "well directed boots and fists" show you where his sympathies really lie.

It is very important that we prevent the BNP from ever getting any real kind of power. However, I have to say, I'm not that worried about them, for two main reasons. The first is that Britain is not actually populated by a jack-booted horde of thugs. The vast majority of people vote for parties that advocate policies in line with basic human decency. You'll notice that the BNP is the only far-right party that even gets any attention in the media, for the simple reason that none of the others ever get enough support to even mount candidacies, and they've managed that precisely because Griffin has been actively trying to hide their racism.

The second reason is that the BNP do, in fact, provide a useful function in British politics. So long as we can keep them from gaining any real power, but keep their supporters thinking that they might, the BNP will act as a filter, funneling all the foaming Nazi lunatics off into itself and keeping them out of the major parties that might actually stand a chance of getting power.

To see what happens when the far-right parties get marginalised almost out of existence, you only have to look at the USA. There, the racist morons and rabid far-right have all ended up going into the Republican party, where the voice of sensible small-c conservatism (advocating small government, reduced taxes, personal responsibility for finances — things that are incredibly valuable to public discourse, even if I don't think they're always the right way to go) can all too often be drowned out by "they're taking all our jobs! Kill everyone who doesn't look like us!"

You don't have to look too far to see this happening. It reached fever pitch during the recent Presidential election (this is the kind of thing I'm talking about - not safe for those who get angry easily), but elements of the same craziness are present right up to the top. See, for example, Sarah Palin trying to paint Barack Obama's supporters as not part of "real America", or Minnesota Congressional Representative Michele Bachmann making a terrifyingly McCarthyist call for Congress to be investigated to see which of its members were anti-American. And if you've got some time on your hands, read this illuminating article to see what the American right gets up to when it thinks the journalists aren't around.

So should we be opposing the BNP? Oh, yes. Any power they do manage to get is undoubtedly too much, and any of their influence is most unwelcome. But at the same time, they're a useful safety valve. We're always going to have right-wing racist nutjobs in this country — we have a long record of breeding them (hi, Oswald Mosley!) But we have a record just as long of not electing them, and that's the key. In the meantime, those on the left should be concentrating their efforts against the slightly more moderate right. UKIP made huge gains in the European elections, for example, and a party that decides it has to put "non-racist" in its search engine result summary (see result #1) doesn't exactly fill me with confidence. Neither do their rather worrying manifestos, which seem to promote deregulation of practically everything.

Not that it matters too much right now, anyway. We're some way off the next election — Gordon Brown is almost certain to hang on until the last possible moment. And, while crazy racist nutjobs are undoubtedly a problem...

...they're a problem that can easily be handled with eggs.

Continue Reading...