Summer is Coming

Summer is Coming. You will burn and the crops will wither in front of a merciless and ceaseless sun. The scorched shall inherit the earth and will walk amongst you. Plagues of insects shall torment you mercilessly until you seek shelter in your stifling abode. You will have no respite from these deprivations. The cycle cannot be broken. It is eternal. The tyranny of the sun will be total.

what-every-summer-is-like-for-people-who-hate-it-2-954-1402608968-6_dblbig

The above paragraph may seem slightly exaggerated but I genuinely don’t like the summer and I frequently verge on irrational hatred for my least favourite of all the seasons.

But what is there to celebrate? I always sense this air of enforced jollity just under the surface during the summer, sort of like a corporate away-day or and informal work meeting. No one is really enjoying it, but it’s socially unacceptable to just say it.

Of course very much being a product of post-industrial, post-modern society, I suffer from hay fever. This can be alleviated by medication, but not being able to go outside because the natural world is attempting to give me a severe allergic reaction has coloured my perception slightly.

I live in Britain, our natural weather is overcast and I’m just not physically and psychologically prepared for searing heat and blinding sunshine. From the number of people I see, beetroot red by late April each year, none of us are really are.

Now, this is where I will list all the reasons that I hate the summer and come across as a curmudgeonly misanthrope:

  • Cars: Men, and it is mostly men, driving cars with loud music with the windows down. These people seem to think they are cruising through downtown Los Angeles rather than driving through a provincial, rural town. I don’t want to hear your appalling taste in music either, so wind up the window. I reserve a special hatred for convertibles. A type of car that you can only drive with the top down eight and half days a year. You can almost taste the smugness in the air as these people drive by. But at least it gives their owners receding hair line some air while they drive.

  • Clothing and the lack of it: I include both men and women in this before I get accused of sexism. Men with three-quarter length trousers. Larger people trying to shoehorn themselves into clothes that are obviously too small. Men with the perennial summer favourite of socks and sandals. The proliferation of neon. Women wearing shades that look like they have been stolen off the headlights of a parked lorry. Vest tops. V-neck shirts. Being able to see tastelessly tattooed flesh. Middle-aged men with a beer belly, walking about as if the site of them is a blessing to behold. All types of sandals. Shorts.

  • Sunbathing and sunburn: By May, every single year, without fail, there are thousands of people throughout the isles that look like they should be given a permanent bed in a burns ward. Having skin that looks like you’ve draped yourself in the products of a tannery is not an attractive look. I have fair skin so I have always been quite wary of sitting out in the sun. When I have tried it, it’s just been excruciatingly boring. Just unrelentingly, mind numbingly boring. The normal human mind isn’t designed to sit in a state of nothingness for hours at a time while it slowly cooks from the outside in. I’m quite content with my milky white, pale complexion and at least when I’m older I won’t have wrinkles that you could fall into.

  • Insects. Lots and lots of insects. Wasps, bees, flies, ants, daddy long legs, all winged and/or multiple legged, disgusting creatures that appear during the summer like an insectoid Mongol horde.

  • The heat: The unrelenting and oppressive heat. No one enjoys it. The majority of people will be in an office based environment during the summer. Older buildings, in particular, don’t fare well at this time of year. At night time, what can you do once you have removed all your covers and clothes? Start to flay your skin off? In essence, you don’t get as much sleep during the summer. This brings me on to me next point.

  • Sunshine: Unless you’re lucky enough to sleep in a room with blackout curtains, at 5:30 am every morning for 4 months, sunlight will penetrate through to your retinas and wake you up from a peaceful slumber. Unless you have shades, you will spend your waking hours squinting and peering at objects throughout the day and then being blinded at random intervals. Of course, if you wear shades, they must be prescription or you can’t see.

  • The unwanted social pressure: Type in ‘Lose weight for the summer’ into google. You will get 3.2 million hits. Choice search results include: ‘How to lose weight fast for the summer’. This is from popsugar.co.uk Other advice includes ‘The Six Best Summer Foods for Weight Loss’ from webmd.com. Yahoo answers has someone looking for an answer on ‘How to lose weight by the summer fast for teens!!?’. In a similar vein, realsimple.com has a splendid checklist of ‘Fun Summer Activities’. Apparently, in order to have fulfilling summer, you need to do some of the following: ‘eat a whole lobster with your hands’, ‘make lemonade from scratch’ and ‘Eat a soft-serve vanilla ice cream cone with rainbow sprinkles’. If all this tires you out, then more sedate activities include ‘sleep in a hammock’ and ‘walk barefoot in the grass’. This is far from unique. You get 134 million results in Goggle search from ‘Amazing things to do in summer’.

    Why the pressure to have the ‘best summer ever’? This is what I mean by enforced jollity. This vague corporatisation of a season. Why put yourself under more pressure than is necessary and then feel bad because you didn’t have an amazing summer. What if you do have an ‘amazing summer’ does this mean you have to have an even more amazing one next year?

  • Increased aggression: I’ve always perceived an air of increased aggression during the summer months. People are outside more. They usually have more alcohol. Both sexes display more flesh. The heat and lack of sleep makes people more irritable and there is usually more social interaction. Public transport is usually much busier, particularly at weekends. Children and teenagers are off school. You could probably add your own anecdotal evidence to this, but you get the point.

    In this case, it’s nice to know that my own unfounded, biased prejudices are actually backed up by some data for once. A 2001 paper called ‘Heat and Violence‘ stated that there is a direct link between a rise in temperatures and the correlative increase in violence. It’s probably no coincidence that a lot of the metaphors we use to show anger involve heat (hothead, reaching boiling point, burning with anger etc)

  • I like drinking tea and warm drinks and they aren’t as comforting during the summer.

Well, there it is. My list of why the summer is one of the worst seasons, against all the perceived wisdom of the rest of society and my fellow humans. Surely I can’t be alone?

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http://darrow.org.uk/2016/10/19/never-ending-referendums/

http://darrow.org.uk/2016/08/19/naked-attraction-end-near/

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http://darrow.org.uk/2017/01/10/update-game-year-year-every-year/

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The SNP and the “Mass Man”

The SNP are coming, the SNP are coming!! Look outside, they’re probably wearing a lot of yellow. Have a funny little logo that look like an upside down fish.

Now that it’s certain that the SNP are forming another minority government for the second time since 2007, this is quite an achievement for a party that has spent decades in the political wilderness in Scotland and that was viewed by many as being confined to the “Celitc fringe” along with other smaller parties.

How has an aggressively nationalistic, left wing party with social justice overtones, that believes in a large measure of state interference and control achieved such a feat?

Partly, it is the utter collapse of the Labour and Conservative vote in Scotland and people choosing another left leaning alternative. The SNP themselves are a “broad church” organisation. Don’t like Trident and believe in “Bairns not bombs”, vote SNP. Don’t like fracking and GM crops, vote SNP. Believe in open borders and that Scotland can assimilate an unlimited number of refugees, vote SNP. Don’t believe in armed intervention or are an absolute pacifist, vote SNP. In many ways it is the political equivalent of a chameleon, able to change its colour depending on what background it’s in front of.

Nicola

My own opinion is that the SNP appeal to a new type of voter that has appeared since the end of the Cold War. The phenomenon of the “mass man” was first noticed by the Spanish philosopher Jose Ortega in the 1930s but I believe it has reached its pinnacle in the 21st century. It has been described as a person:

“Lacking individuality or social responsibility, as drawing his stereotyped ideas from the mass media, and as easily manipulated by economic, social, or cultural elites.”

This describes some of the more zealous SNP supporters. Many of them see Westminster and the London “elite” as being responsible for all Scotland ills, but yet they seem to be just as easily manipulated by Nicola Sturgeon and her cohorts. Scotland would have started its journey into independent nationhood with £15 billion of debt, no say in the European Union and no membership of all the major global financial forums. But many of the more zealous acolytes refuse to acknowledge this and would gladly march of the edge of the cliff with everyone else in tow.

Jose Ortega continues with the following description of the “mass man” and how they deal with the realm of ideas and policy:

“Why should he listen if he has within him all that is necessary? There is no reason now for listening, but rather for judging, pronouncing, deciding.”

The SNP hierarchy know what would have happened to Scotland had they won in 2014, they would do the same again in an instant, even though the economic and social price would have been vast. Alec Salmond’s adviser Alex Bell has been on record as stating that the idea of Scottish independence , as promulgated to the Scottish people by the SNP was “wishful thinking”. Despite this, Nicola Sturgeon has stated that a new push towards the own-goal of Scottish Independence will begin in Summer 2016 , whether over 2 million of her fellow citizens want to join her or not.

The few lines from Ortega pretty much sum up the SNP and their stance to indyref2 and Scottish politics in general. It used to be that people would vote for a party that would suit them best at that particular time in their life. I’m in my early 30s but I have voted for the Scottish Socialist party (Their manifesto had a picture of a pizza with how they would divide the slices up to the grateful proletariat. I was young at that the time), Labour, Green and Liberal Democrat and even for an SNP candidate at the local council elections (He was the best man for the job, despite my dislike of his parties primary policy). These have been largely based on contextual evidence at the time and sometimes, selfishly, what I thought would benefit me. I tactically voted for Labour at the 2015 General election to stop the SNP. I voted Green at the European level as I believe having a party with a more environmental outlook in a supra-national institution such as the European Parliament is the best way to modify national state policy. I voted Liberal Democrat as they believed in implementing a proportional representation system for elections to Westminster.

The SNP “mass man” has simply chose to ignore the opinion of the Conservatives, Labour, the Liberal Democrats, the 22 newspapers (Including 6 based in Scotland), BP, BAE Systems, Lloyds banking Group, Bank of Scotland, the GMB, CWU and USDAW who all actively supported the Better Together campaign or voiced concerns about Scottish independence in 2014. To this day, these organisations are still ignored, and why not, when many SNP supporters have “all that is necessary” already.

SNP rally

Here, another two lines from Ortegas’ work are pertinent to the direction of travel in Scotland under an SNP government:

“There is no question concerning public life, in which he does not intervene, blind and deaf as he is, imposing his “opinions.”

“Suppose that in the public life of a country some difficulty, conflict, or problem presents itself, the mass-man will tend to demand that the State intervene immediately and undertake a solution directly with its immense and unassailable resources.”

The SNP have a corrosive and endemic habit of “judging, pronouncing, deciding” on the affairs of others as well as a seemingly benighted need to “intervene, blind and deaf.”

Just have a look at some of their most intrusive social policies. In their 2016 manifesto they have pledged to give every new mother a “baby box”, further relegating individual responsibility and the idea that people can actually plan ahead for a child. Like most ill thought out social policies the cost will probably grow exponentially over the years and this will have to be met by future generations.

On the subject of parenthood, a pilot scheme was undertaken in Glasgow, where pregnant mothers were given £400 of vouchers to stop smoking in order to not damage their unborn child. Of course, once it’s born and starts to walk, one of the most pressing issues is detergent liquitabs. To combat this scourge of the infants, NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde distributed 16,000 cupboard catches as part of the “Not for play…keep them away” campaign in 2014. This is in a nation where people actually have real illness like cancer and asthma. My mother used to keep bleach and cleaning products in a high cupboard so I couldn’t reach them. I’m sure the vast majority of you managed to make it through childhood without ingesting bleach or soap powder. Wouldn’t it have been far easier, cost effective and better for Scotland if the parents involved were given a mild telling off and told to put cleaning products in a safe inaccessible location by a health professional?

Of course, once the unfortunate child grows up and attends school they will have to contend with the recent named person legislation. It wont get much better on their eighteenth birthday either, where the SNP are planning to introduce minimum price alcohol and have already tried to introduce alcohol only check outs a few years ago. At no point have I ever heard an SNP representative just utter the words “Stop eating and drinking so much. Exercise a modicum of self control. You have complete control over what you decide to eat and drink.”

I can see the logic in some of these SNP schemes. Scotland has crippling health issues and the “culture of excess”, rampant hedonism and the vague, male dominated, “West coast” attitude exacerbates these health issues. However, there is an arrogance in these schemes, in the notion that it only takes a few years to change an ingrained culture with a mere snap of the fingers and a new piece of legislation. It also negates that idea that people are responsible for their own actions and behaviours. In other words, that they are adults. Also, why should the responsible be punished for the actions of their irresponsible fellow citizens, but the SNP “mass man” doesn’t particularly like being told what do to and lacks the idea of “social responsibility” to their fellow citizens.

In Scotland, under the SNP, it’s now considered “right-wing” to say that people should take responsibility for their own lives and the lives of any dependents. I have heard someone being described as “such a tory” because they owned a house and a car. I was once informed by a chemist, while trying to purchase antihistamine, “what are you buying these for, you can just go to the doctor and get them for free”. Paracetamol is the 4th most prescribed drug in Scotland. Something that only costs 25p for 16 pills. Yet, despite the cost, many Scots will not countenance buying them any more, thus diverting resources away from other health care needs.

The future trajectory of Scotland is something that genuinely worries me. We have had over a decade of being told by the SNP that we cant raise our children, that all must be pay the price because a sizeable minority cant reign in their junk food and alcohol intake. Many people now lack the ideological flexibility to even consider voting for another party. The Scottish state would rather pander to individuals with gimmicky schemes rather then tell them that they are wrong. The most worrying trend is that many Scottish people are quite happy with this. The long term economic and social implications of anything are now a distant second priority to immediacy and nationalistic politics.

To finish, I’d like to give just one more quote:

“This is the new thing: the right not to be reasonable, the “reason of unreason.”

Now go and look at some pro-Independence groups on Facebook and tell me I’m wrong.