Next Monday (18 March 2013) might see a decisive moment in Britain, both in the relationship of the parties that form the current coalition government, and in the relationship between parliament and the press.
I say that it “might” see this, because experience suggests that in relation to the issue of regulation of the press, there have been an incredible number of false dawns, and an equal number of solutions which proved to be not quite as permanent or successful as they had at first been thought to be.
It’s been a little while since my last update. I had been hoping to finish writing my novel by around Easter and although it ended up being a few weeks later than that, I did finally get it done.
As expected, however, the editing process after that was hard. Really hard. I ended up putting the book away for a month or so, and wasn’t quite sure how I was going to start in the process of re-drafting all of the work that I had spent so many hours slaving over.
Not much progress to report on the novel – I am up to 72,000 but restructuring the internal layout means that I am writing without making forward progress on my overall word-count. Still, I am aiming to be done with my first draft by Easter, work and other commitments permitting.
There was a curiously muted international reaction to the allegations of widespread voting irregularities in the recent Russian presidential elections. Numbers were significantly lower in post-election protests within Russia, and most international powers have accepted the result with only superficial negative comment.
But in a continent of profoundly and increasingly undemocratic change, is the lack of reaction so surprising? I wrote in November (here) about the unelected technocrats taking power in Greece and Italy with no democratic mandate for the sweeping economic reforms that they were subsequently to seek to push through. Even these ground-breaking developments have rapidly come to be accepted as uncontroversial, so perhaps the sense is that Russia, where at least lip-service was paid to the idea of democratic elections, should count itself lucky.
I wish I could say that the silence of the last couple of months has been down to my single-minded focus on getting the second half of my book written. It would not be completely untrue – I have managed to get over 65,000 words of the first draft complete now, and am into the final sections. These are the parts which I have thought about the most and which ought therefore to be flowing more smoothly – but somehow now that I come to write them there are a hundred little ways in which the story I thought I was going to be telling by this point has changed. This is making things complicated.
As tweeted last week, I have now crossed the 40,000 word mark in the first draft of my fantasy novel. For a while that has been looming large in my mind as a land-mark: I am hoping to have a finished first draft of something slightly over 80,000 words on the basis that I will probably edit down, rather than adding more material.
Anne McCaffrey sadly passed away earlier this week at the age of 85.
It was having Tolkein’s Hobbit read to me as a child that first interested me in fantasy stories, and it was writers like Ursula LeGuin and C S Lewis that represented the first fantasy authors that I read for myself. But it was Anne McCaffrey who inspired me to write.
Her Pern novels represented the first time that I felt I was engaging with a fully realised world. One of her great skills was to blur the line between fantasy and science fiction, so that even when you were reading something wholly incredible and otherworldly, there was never a sense of implausibility within the context of the universe she had created. I aspire to that.
I have just completed an online “morality test” which is run by the BBC’s LabUK science site.
I am not going to talk, for now, about the detailed methodology of the test, although anyone else who wants to take part might get a truer result if they click on the link above now, before continuing to read this post. I might come back to this when those results are published next year. I am also not going to deal in this post with the theory which the test is investigating – Human Superorganism Theory – which deserves rather more time than I have available in this post, but which I do want to look into in more detail.
This is a preview of
Morality – what’s disgust/anger got to do with it?
. Read the full post (565 words, estimated 2:16 mins reading time)
So – in the space of a few days Greece and Italy have both acquired new, albeit interim, governments.
In Greece, the new prime minister is Lucas Papademos – not a member of parliament and not, therefore, elected by the Greek people, but apparently qualified for the task of implementing austerity measures in the country by virtue of his former vice-presidency of the European Central Bank. It is reported (here, for example) that “The Greek stock market jumped sharply when Mr Papademos arrived at the presidential palace to join the negotiations on Thursday morning.”
Let us imagine a world in which certain economic and political doctrines are regarded as indisputably superior. In this world it is beyond question that a decrease in regulation creates an increase in competition. In turn, an increase in competition is regarded as inevitably leading to products and services being provided more efficiently and cheaply.
For the inhabitants of that world, taking the above arguments to their (for them) logical conclusion means decreasing regulation and increasing competition in all areas of life. What might the consequences of this approach be in such a world?