Worth reading

This blog post fell onto my twitter yesterday, and it’s worth a read.

Public debate on highly contentious issues is now careering out of control. Tragedy is being hijacked by political agitators. Facts are being junked for ignorance, misrepresentation and misleading hearsay. A culture of hyperventilating emotion and licensed resentment means that those trying to articulate dispassionate judgment, justice and compassion are being vilified as unfeeling brutes.

It might seem – it might even be – harsh to speak out like this now, in the immediate aftermath of the Grenfell Fire and in the midst of the tremendously emotive Charlie Gard case, but there’s never going to be a easy time to bring this unpopular but necessary sort of viewpoint forward. The longer it’s left unspoken, the more accepted and acceptable it becomes. And it’s clearly already a problem.

These are faint cries in the wind. Reason, objectivity and disinterestedness are now being howled down by an angry and resentful mob. Emotion and ignorance now rule instead. Observe, and shudder.

There are some difficult truths spoken and some very good points made in this post.
Do go and read it.

20 years of OK Computer

It’s twenty years to the day since Oxford band Radiohead released OK Computer.

I lived in Oxford back then, and the local HMV on Cornmarket Street opened at midnight for Radiohead fans to buy the album before anyone else in the UK got the chance – no mp3s or downloads back in those days, remember.

And yes, I was looking forward to the release, but wasn’t a HUGE fan, so I wasn’t planning on heading into town. But then, finding myself still awake at the witching hour, thought “why not?”, jumped on a bike and hit the High Street.
I was only just in time. The crowds (such as they were) had gone (it doesn’t take long for 50 people to each buy a CD), and the staff were about to close up, but a friendly guy let me in just before locking the door, and I got my CD and my free poster (woo!).

The album was definitely one of the best releases of the 1990s and has aged really well. And yes, the CD is still somewhere safely boxed up in my loft. The poster never made it out of the damp Cowley Road flat we lived in though, and even the branch of HMV succumbed to the pressures of the modern retail environment and closed in 2014.

Favourite track? I liked all of it, but the slower stuff hit home more for me – No Surprises, Exit Music (For A Film) and of course Karma Policeas mentioned here.

Good save

Actually, not “good save”. “Good” doesn’t do it justice. Any adjectives which would do it justice would have to be conjoined with a swearword.

But then if you were doing about 150mph (241kph) between two very solid looking dry stone walls on a chunk of metal whose only contact with the ground is about a handprint’s worth of rubber, and you had a wobble like this:

…then, in my opinion, the use of any swearwords – copiously and vociferously – is entirely justified. James Hillier (for it are he) went on to finish 4th in the Senior TT (which is what this was).

I know that your time is valuable, but the whole video is only 33 seconds long, so DO keep watching for the slo-mo. Oh, my goodness.

Another attack

Another attack, more outrage, more division, more strong words.

No solutions.

There will be a vigil, prayers, candles, hashtags and a minute’s silence. But give it a week and we’ll all have moved on and forgotten about it. The only reminders will be the banners across the bottom of the profile pictures of our more dramatic Facebook friends.

I’m tired of being told that this is the new normal, tired of being policed on which adjectives I’m allowed to use when describing the individuals involved, tired now of this cycle of horror and distress followed all too quickly by acceptance.

We’re told that hundreds of terror plots have been foiled, and that’s to be congratulated. But when things like Manchester and London Bridge happen (because that’s how we describe them now – just the geographical location – we all know what we’re talking about), then whatever measures are being taken are clearly not robust enough.

Don’t ask me what to do. I’m a microbiologist. If you want to know what eight spots in the second panel of an immunological test for latent tuberculosis means, then I can tell you. It’s the politicians and the leaders who get paid the big bucks – our big bucks – to make the policies which should explicitly prevent these attacks from occurring. And you don’t need to be a rocket scientist (which I’m not either) to see that whatever policies exist right now around this area need to be strengthened. It’s not for me to say how. I’ll look at your blood test and tell you whether or not you’ve been exposed to TB. You stop the terrorists from killing innocent people on a night out.

And yes, some rights might get trodden on, some individuals might get offended, upset, angry. So be it. The needs of the many and all that. A van and some knives, a jar of homemade TATP surrounded by screws in a backpack? That’s nothing compared to what these people would like to be able to do, nothing compared to what they are aiming for. So put on your big girl panties, take a deep breath, and make those decisions which you know are going to be unpopular with some people.

Because hashtags and candles aren’t ever going to stop people being murdered.

London music tonight

If you’re in London tonight, lucky you. You get the chance to go along to this:

Baroque Remix is a new classical club night launching at the arts venue, IKLECTIK, Old Paradise Yard SE1 7LG, on June 3. The night will feature baroque DJs alongside live instrumental performances from Carla Rees (baroque flute) and Liam Byrne (viola da gamba). Combining music from across the centuries including drum loops, hip hop and R&B samples, the evening will reimagine the music of the 17th and 18th centuries. Live sets will showcase the diversity and beauty of the historic instruments, presenting a mix of old music and new.

Yes, Baroque music and hip-hop. That’s right.
I heard some of it on 6 music yesterday morning, and it’s really different, really refreshing, really GOOD. Here’s Benjamin Tassie‘s Baroque Remix:

A project to bring classical music to a new audience, to educate, to remove the ‘stuffiness’ which dissuades a lot of younger people from approaching it. And, in doing so, creating something incredibly new and unusual.

I cannot wait to hear more of this.