Lanzerote day one

I’m sitting by the sea watching the sun set in a clear blue sky. Were my memories of Australia not still so strong, I would find it hard to believe that it is still only January. We got here late last night, and only had time for a quick bit of dinner before crawling into bed. However, a new day has brought with it a chance to assess my surroundings, and I must say I’m quite taken with what I’ve seen of Lanzerote so far. Admittedly, this is not much more than the inside of a hotel full of my fellow Brits, but nonetheless the signs are very encouraging. For one thing, we have already managed to get hold of a charger for Lyn’s powerchair. Mid flight yesterday she suddenly realised she had forgotten to pack it.

Now, chair all charged and back online, I’m eager to get going. We want to explore the whole island, and see the mountains of the north. I’ve read about an observatory up there I really want to go see. All being well, we should have an awesome few days ahead of us. Expect more reports to come.

Heading for some fun

Sitting in a departure lounge, heading for some sun.

Life in London was getting dull,it was time for some fun.

A few days before Christmas, Lyn proposed the idea:

I’m bored, she said, let’s get outta here.

Before I knew it, everything was all booked.

I didn’t help much, but instead just looked.

And now I find myself about to board a plane

Soon to find myself amid the islands of Spain.

God, democracy and Trump

To the Jacobeans, a monarch was appointed by, and thus got their power directly from, God. A king’s authority derived directly from religion; to the Jacobean mind, a king sat directly below God. Yet the idea of a leader being elected by the people negates any need for god. Democracy is therefore atheistic: a leader gets power from the people, not god. Why is America so religious, then? And why is the role of president apparently becoming more and more kingly? The american revolutionaries thought that a country should be ruled for the people, by the people; yet the president seems to currently be worshipped like a monarch, by some at least. Trump especially seems to think he has been created king, regularly refers to God in his speeches, and seems to think he should be venerated.

It strikes me as odd that a country which was apparently created to escape the rule of a monarch should now effectively have created it’s own. And a country which has religious freedom written into it’s constitution should now be so insanely christian that some of it’s citizens have began to dispute the fact that the world is spherical. Americans prise their democracy, yet the notion of democracy is fundamentally atheistic. Would that not contradict America’s increasing – and increasingly worrying – religiosity? To me, this seems a fundamental paradox at the heart of the modern american state: it seems to yearn for a king, a central autocrat in charge of everything and capable of putting everything right.

Of course, this only applies to certain americans. Others see trump for the joke he is. Reading Michael Wolff’s book it is becoming clear just how fucked up the situation is over there: the nation is being lead by a man who is essentially a child, capable of only the most simplistic thought processes and driven by basic gut reactions. Most educated americans, including many Republicans, realise how farcical the situation is; yet Trump is being presented to working class americans as a kind of everyman ruler – someone outside of the university-educated bourgeois currently branded as a type of elite. Thus Trump is simultaneously a king and an everyman, an once an ‘ordinary Joe’ and an all powerful executive, citing God and deriving power from him. Through this charade he is becoming increasingly worshipped by ultra-conservative fundamentalists, whose numbers and influence are rising. It has reached the point where Trump supporters believe his word over any other source of information, even when faced with undeniable evidence. Anyone who criticises Trump is automatically viewed as an enemy; the president’s word taken by his supporters as sacrosanct. Mainstream Media is thus ‘fake news’, unfairly criticising a great president.

What worries me is where all this is headed. Others have noted the increasing parallels between trump and the European fascist movements of the thirties. There too we saw men purporting to represent ordinary, working class people gradually taking more and more power until they became dictators. While I doubt Trump personally has the intellect to achieve such a status, as I wrote yesterday, there are powers behind his throne whom I suspect would love to get their hands on such an all-powerful puppet. Reactionary conservatism combined with religious fanaticism is a heady mix which leaves the door open to strong authoritarian figures, eager to grab – or be used to grab – more and more power until, before you know it, it’s too late. Either way, I very much doubt this was what the American founding fathers had in mind.

Trump’s clean bill of health

I saw yesterday that Trump had been given a clean bill of health by his doctors, and that his mental state and intelligence were apparently normal. It would seem that I was wrong, then, when I speculated that he might have learning difficulties. To be fair, I was far from alone in thinking that, and still think there is a good deal of evidence to suggest that Trump does not process information as well as the rest of us. Everything I have seen and read of his behaviour suggests he has some kind of learning difficulties. Indeed, I just read that, online, people are refusing to accept the doctors’ verdict, and are smelling some kind of cover-up: ”[T]the results of Donald Trump’s recent medical check-up have sparked an online conspiracy theory – the girther movement….But the girther movement, propelled mainly by critics of the president, posits that Mr Trump is shorter and heavier than the report suggests.”

I suppose it’s just a sign of the times in which we live, where people even refuse to believe a medical report; yet I agree that something about that report does not ring true. I still think that something is gravely amiss with the present occupant of the White House: Trump has no idea what he is doing or what is expected of him, and doesn’t even realise. He is a pawn being manipulated, but if that is true, who is controlling the pieces?

The erosion of our human rights begins

Anyone who still thinks Brexit was not about the erosion of our human and consumer rights should just go here. ”MPs have voted against including the European Charter of Fundamental Rights in UK law after Brexit.” It is becoming clearer and clearer that, away from European safeguards, this country will be turned into a capitalist hell. That was their plan all along: they want neoliberalism to rule, and for the rich to be free to lord it over the rest of us, a la the USA. Those who say that we’ll come up with our own human rights safeguards are frankly either lying, or they don’t know what they’re talking about. This is what Brexit is all about. Anyone can see through tory claims that such safeguards will be retained; this is what the Brexit project was all about from it’s inception. Our human rights are now set to be drained away one by one, and we must do something to reverse the folly of 2016 before we lose them all.

The trouble with old sitcoms

I never watched Friends when it first aired. It just struck me as irritating, and I didn’t see the point. I think I’ll flag this beeb article up, though, about how badly Friends has aged. Time has not been kind to the nineties sitcom, with many contemporary viewers finding it homophobic and sexist. What interests me is how revealing the article is about how much our views have changed in the quarter of a century since Friends first aired: what was once one of the most popular comedy programs on the box now seems flawed and fairly repugnant. Might this mean our culture is maturing about issues like homophobia and sexism, given that we no longer find such things funny? I certainly hope so, although we still clearly have a long, long way to go. Indeed, as it says at the end of the piece, no doubt in forty or fifty years, people will be finding programs made today just as antiquated.

Idea for a book

I think I’ll just pop this here to invite feedback and suggestions. Idea for book: chronicle of my time at university (2004-2010) as a disabled man. How it changed me, how I got on, how I interacted with others. Mix of autobiography and exposition. 40,000 words or so. Possibly fictionalised. Deal with my semi outsider position. Slowly finding my place and gradually making friends. Incorporate my position as a blogger?

It’s only a rough idea for now, but pretty much my only writerly output these days is here on my blog, and while I’m enormously proud of my work on here, I’m beginning to think that perhaps it’s high time I got something longer and more sustained going too.

Carly Fleischmann Gives Stephen Colbert a Run for his Money

I wasn’t going to post an entry today, as I’ve blogged daily for ages and want to start taking the occasional break again, but I think it’s absolutely essential that I direct you all here. Carly Fleischmann is an autistic VOCA user who has a show on Youtube. She became so well known that she was invited onto the Stephen Colbert show to do an interview. This is the truly awesome result. Fleischmann goes toe-too-toe with Colbert, and I think comes across as eloquent and witty. I think this truly is groundbreaking stuff for us communication aid users, and Fleischmann is someone to keep an eye on from now on. Given that Colbert is the current era’s equivalent of Jay Leno or David Letterman, it really is a positive, encouraging sign to see a VOCA user on his show.

I have no interest in selling socks

I just came across one of those nauseating, saccharine news stories about a chap with Downs Syndrome starting up his own business selling socks, albeit with his father’s help. Stories like this are, presumably, supposed to inspire and uplift us, but I can’t help suspecting that they are part of an agenda to press people with disabilities off benefits and into work. After reading reports like this, a guy in the street might look at guys like me and think ”why hasn’t he got a job?” As great as they might seem, there is an insidious dimension to news stories like this; they are about forcing capitalist dogma upon us, demonstrating that we cripples can in fact work as much as anyone else, so we don’t actually need state benefits. Hell, the fact that it’s something as twee and cliche as a sock shop says it all. Sorry to be so negative about this, but stories like this really get on my nerves.

How Russia influenced the referendum

If anyone is looking for something rather weighty to read on a Saturday morning, then I would direct you here, to a report by US congress detailing how much the Brexit referendum was influenced by Russia. It is truly shocking: as this Guardian article on it explains, Putin tried to sway the vote directly, with a view to destabilising Europe and increasing russian influence. Long though it may be – and I’m still trying to get through Fire And Fury – I thought it well worth flagging up, if only to illustrate just how utterly fucked up what happened in 2016, and is still happening, was.