In Support of Brexit

Brexit is a fantastic opportunity for the European Union, they just don’t realise it yet.

Of all the countries in the EU, the UK has been holding it back. It didn’t join the Euro currency, and it didn’t join the Schengen area. It’s only still a member because it got in on the ground floor. It has vetoed progress and talked down the EU for 40 years. It has a high proportion of MEPs compared to other countries, based on population.

The UK has sent nationalistic euro-sceptics and principled obstructionists to represent the British people who voted for them to the European Parliament. Think about that – British people are represented in the European Parliament by MEPs that they vote for, and they choose people who will not consider the issues but will, on virtue of it being talked about in the EU, reject everything. If they even bother to turn up to vote. No wonder many British people feel like the EU isn’t working for them. They chose it not to work for them.

Individual European countries will benefit too. Pan-European companies that want to keep the WTO rules of origin will have to choose between moving all of their manufacturing to the UK or from the UK into Europe. Given the EU has a bigger market and trade deals (the UK will have none) it’s not hard to imagine which they would choose.

Seeing how the UK handles Brexit, and the lack of sensible handling, will be a blow to any other European anti-EU movements. At the very least they’ll have to do more careful research to convince people that they won’t end up in the same boat as the UK. The pro-EU feelings will get stronger as the UK gets weaker.

So the EU will be able to make decisions easier, European Parliament will get a bit smarter, and individual countries in the EU will get manufacturing and services companies looking to set up new bases as they flee the inwards-looking islands. The EU will have more support from it’s citizens. On the downside, they will lose one of the trade partners. Under a no-deal Brexit, their citizens will lose freedom of movement in the UK. Their businesses will lose a market of 60 million people.

So Brexit is a fantastic opportunity for the EU and European countries, and the future looks bright however badly the UK decides to do things.

Hobby Progress February 2018

Necromunda: I’ve assembled and undercoated all of the gangers now, and I’ve kept some of the bulkier Goliath guns off to help me paint them later. I’ve even pre-shaded some of the gangers to see if that is useful for painting them; I’m working on a sample Goliath and Escher to test. Then I went and screwed up the pre-shading by not thinning the paint enough, and ended up with splatters. Boo.

I also basecoated most of the doors with Thunderhawk Blue, ready to have the detail added.

Dreadball: I’ve finished cleaning and undercoating all of the new models, and started painting the Yndij and Matsudan. I’ve also jumped back to the Hobgoblins to finish them off, just a few more details to go.

I’ve almost finished the Eye in the Sky, adding more little bits to the lenses and working out whether to paint some big screen displays on the outside of the hover-thing, and then finishing off the screens and details on the inside of the console.

Hobby Progress January 2018

At the beginning of 2018, I got both Necromunda: Underhive and Dreadball 2.0 – with loads of miniatures each to paint. I also got a fancy airbrush after trying one out at a Siege Studios painting course. I really need to make good progress on some of the piles of unpainted toys I have in the house, and fill up the display cabinets I bought at the end of last year!

First off, I have cleaned almost all of the new DB2 models – only a few Yndij to go.

I’ve cleaned and primed all of the Necromunda doors and control boxes, as well as the priority marker. My plan is to pre-shade them (when I get some new white, as I’ve discovered both of my pots have dried up) and use Thunderhawk Blue (and heavy weathering) to make it look a bit like the old-fashioned cardboard terrain.WP_20180114_16_32_02_Pro

I’ve also primed the DB2 Matsudan and Cyborg teams, the refbot and ‘Eye in the Sky’ – as well as a few Captains for the earlier seasons, and cleaned up a couple more. I want to be able to get all of my painted teams at least updated to include their Captain.

Real painting, I finished off Reek Rolat to be a Captain for the Sordus Silage Scroungers and started painting the burly human fan and Xtreme Cheerleaders for DB.

Books I’ve Read in 2017

This year, I’ve made it a personal goal to read only new (to me) books. I haven’t been good at finding new things to read and I’ve spent a lot of time (possibly a whole year) re-reading Discworld books, with occasional dips into my comic shelf.

So that was a simple challenge – only read books I’ve never read before. Not even a long time ago.

Successes

  • David Copperfield
    I read Nicholas Nickelby last year and enjoyed it, this was a little bleaker but still very interesting. You learn a lot about everyday Victorian life from Dickens.
  • The View From the Cheap Seats
    A little disappointing, it feels a lot like a reminder to read things and listen to people I wanted to anyway. The other things in there would probably be more interesting to me if I had already read them, kind of like a covers album is better if you already know and love the originals.
  • Singing From the Well
    Trippy as hell. Reminds me of the film Cat Soup, and to a lesser extent My Neighbour Totoro. An easy read, I got through it in a couple of weeks.
  • The Un-discovered Islands
    An interesting book about places that we thought exist, but don’t. I think I might look for the Phantom Atlas for more, it’s an interesting alternative to real history/geography.
  • Star Trek: Destiny
    Recommended to me as the best continuation of Star Trek after Voyager, after I looked out on my own and found The Lives of Dax. I would have preferred a less epic, more DS9 focussed story but this was still good.
  • The Prince
    Very difficult to read, as it contained so many run-on sentences and I like to read just before sleeping. Not my most alert. Slightly interesting, but not nearly as diabolical as Macchiavelli’s reputation has come to be.
  • The Better Angels of our Nature
    Since I heard Penn Jillette talk about this book all the time on his podcast (Penn’s Sunday School), I picked it up. I even got it signed by Penn and Teller when we went to their London show! They said it was a great book, and it’ll change my life.

Failures

  • World’s End
    I was having a slow, tired week and wanted to read something but wanted something easy. I love World’s End as a story about stories (and one of those stories is about stories…) in a strange place – like a lot of good sci-fi, it’s not about what’s going on, it’s about the stories that happen before and after the episode. It fires the imagination.
  • Drive, Act One
    I think this counts mostly as a failure, because I’ve already read the story as a webcomic.

Films I’ve Watched in 2017

Some years, I don’t get to the cinema. A couple of times now I’ve actually trekked out on my own in order to catch a film that I want to watch. In one of the Planet of the Apes reboot series, I was the only person in the whole screen. You can pretend you’re a billionaire! Anyway, here’s what I managed to see.

Lego Batman Movie

It wouldn’t have worked as a Batman film without Lego, but didn’t really need the Lego too much (one key point notwithstanding). I wouldn’t have been tempted to watch this without the kids, but really enjoyed it with them.

Ghost in the Shell

I’ve heard mixed opinions, but I really liked this. It told a different story, in a different way, but is still a valid story for the world. It’s more of a personal story of the overall “who am I” question of the original film. I liked that it didn’t dumb things down, and the camouflage cloaks were not even mentioned – just taken for granted that that’s what people have.

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2

Not as fun as the first film, but still a pretty good show.

Spider-Man: Homecoming

Better than I thought it would be. Some excellent moments of tension, like the car journey, as the characters start to realise what the audience knows. I really liked how it fit into the rest of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and used Peter Parker as a real teenager. The only complaint I could make about it is the spider suit suffers from the Tony Stark patented ‘magic technology’, while still looking like lycra.

Baby Driver

WOW. This film is absolutely incredible. The music, the acting, the direction… Edgar Wright is a genius, no question. Some of the Easter eggs in it I’m pleased I caught (I got the Halloween stuff near the end), I’m sure there were more that I missed though. Wright is a real cinephile, and would have seen opportunities to put little bonuses in everywhere. It’s a rare film that I want to go out and see again straight away, this is one of them. One thing I noticed that I wasn’t sure about, I’d like someone to confirm… It seemed to me that Buddy’s gunshots were timed so much closer to the music beats than the other characters, and Bats was way off with timing. Since a lot of that could be faked or fixed in editing anyway, it felt like a deliberate choice and it would make sense since Buddy understood Baby more than Bats did. Definitely worth another watch, just to look out for that sort of thing.

Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets

Very, very disappointing. The effects were good, the world and setting were incredible but the film was a total let-down. The acting was… inconsistent. Some scenes were well done, others not – and I don’t think it was restricted to the CG-heavy scenes, where actors would be expected to have a hard time. The story was passable but the dialogue was atrocious.
Laureline as a character just didn’t make sense. She starts the film professional and focussed, ends it as a loose cannon who ignores the rules, and no-one seems to notice the change. Maybe she was always as much of a maverick as Valerian, but the first half don’t set that up at all. On top of which (spoiler alert), in a station of millions of people and human agents like Laureline and Valerian, Laureline assaults two officers and escapes arrest and yet no-one is sent out looking for her. “Oh dear, she got away. Guess we’ll see her when she comes into work tomorrow.” The worst part of the film was how much potential it had, and wasted. Big Market, the history and structure of Alpha… there was so much there that was explained for a minute and then used for a split-second in an action scene. There felt like so much more that could be done, that there was a good film in there somewhere, but the direction they took just didn’t work.

War for the Planet of the Apes

Fantastic. Amazing. Visually stunning, great story, some great nods to the original series and a far better film than Conquest of the Planet of the Apes. This new trilogy feels like a reboot of the last two films of the original series rather than the first two. Dawn felt like the original Battle for the Planet of the Apes as the Apes are uplifted and escape human society, Rise happens off-screen and War matches up with Conquest of the Planet of the Apes as humankind is shown to be a waning species.
I really enjoyed what the whole series has had to say about leadership, ambition, and xenophobia. In both Rise and War, Caesar doesn’t want to fight. He even manages to avoid going to war and still defends his people for the most part, in both films. Rise was particularly good in that leaders on both sides don’t want war, but are forced into it by radicals in their own camps setting events in motion that can’t be stopped. It actually makes me want to go back and watch Conquest again, as bad as that was, and look out for other little nuggets that were left behind.

Thor Ragnarok

This was so much fun. It was silly, and funny, and colourful, and just fun. One of the best Marvel films, and definitely the best Thor film. The others were fairly dull and serious – this one really played it up a bit, and being away from Earth meant it could be as big and outrageous with the ‘God’ thing as it wanted.

Bright

I’d heard terrible things about this from critics, and great things from friends. I’d say there’s a bit of truth in both. It’s certainly not going to win awards, but it’s a really good film regardless. The dialogue is very natural – people talk over each other and get interrupted properly. I like how the Orc is not dumb, but without spending a lot of time with him people wouldn’t know that. He’s not stupid, but inexperienced. His intelligence is not appreciated – like the two years of Elvish he took in high school that he can remember enough to hold conversations, or the attention to self-care that he has, or the insights that his senses give him. The human character too is a great portrayal of “I’m not a racist but” – he’ll work with the Orc (but try not to), he’ll be talked into killing the Orc (he wouldn’t get as close to that with a human), he hates Elves when they’re not around… and the wonderful display that spending time with people softens ill-feelings towards those people.