Categories
Politics and Economics

In My Name

While I understand the sentiment behind the “Not In My Name” statement with regard to the War in Iraq, I don’t think it’s a banner I want to use myself. I worry that it’s just another way to not think about what is really going on in Iraq. “Oh well, the war is not happening in my name, so I don’t need to take my share of the collective blame and guilt it.”

No. Our government has sent British troops into Iraq on behalf of all of Britain. That’s one of the consequences of the parliamentary democracy we live in: no matter how vocal the minority is, the majority holds the trump card. Saying that the war is “not in my name” is about as true as saying that I don’t intend to pay increased duty on beer, because I didn’t vote Labour at the last election. It’s a statement of desire, not a statement of reality.

Besides, doesn’t it make you more angry that the government is going to war in your name? Won’t it make you more cautious about the candidate you’ll vote for at the next local, regional, or general election? Doesn’t it provide you with more of a spur to take an interest in what your elected representatives are actually doing with the power you have given them?

Regardless of whether you voted for them yourself, they are answerable to you, for the entire time they are in office. An individual’s interest in, and influence over, politics and politicians shouldn’t start and end with elections. Research your MP. Write them a letter or an email. Visit a constituency clinic. Ask questions. And keep on asking them until you get an answer.

Because this is what “fire and forget” politics looks like: a government that feels it has a mandate to go ahead and do whatever the hell if feels like for four or five years, regardless of the scale of popular opposition during that time.

That’s not democracy. That’s an elected tyranny.

Categories
Games

Gamecube so far

We’ve had our Gamecube for just over two weeks now. The games we have for it are Super Mario Sunshine, Super Monkey Ball 2, and Metroid Prime. Mario is currently seeing the most use, partly because Alex loves it, and partly because it’s just a great game. The puzzles are better signposted than in Mario 64, and the game leads you through the plot a bit more linearly. It also seems to have a better “reward” structure than Mario 64. You have to collect fewer shines (stars) before you get to a plot-advancing cut-scene, or a new area opens up. We like.

Metroid Prime is pretty damn good, too. Once I’d got used to the controls (no strafing! Well, there is, but you can’t strafe and run forward at the same time) the game opened up, and showed just how grand it is. The scenery is beautiful and atmospheric, the action is well paced, and–just as with Mario–the reward structure is exceedingly well judged. It keeps you hooked with the tantalising possibilities afforded by new power-ups, which open up more areas for you to explore, which in turn lead to more power-ups…. Very addictive.

The only one of the three that has been a bit of a disappointment is Super Monkey Ball 2. It’s got the “easy to learn, but hard to master” thing down pat, and it’s very easy to pick up for a quick game just before bedtime, but at times it’s just that little bit too frustrating. Also, the party games aren’t very entertaining if you’re playing it on your own. And the time I did have other people to play with, they didn’t turn out to be all that entertaining, either. (On the other hand, they were competing for our attention against 8-way Halo on 2 projector screens.) I suspect that this one may be up for the chop when Zelda comes around in May.

And a final note (for now) on controllers. The original Nintendo GameCube controller is a marvellous piece of functional and tactile design. Even more than the PS2’s DualShock controller, it feels like it is sculpted to your hands. And the octagonal bevels surrounding the joysticks, which allow you to easily lock on to a particular direction, and a stroke of genius. So if you have a choice between buying an original Ninendo controller and a MadCatz MicroCon, go with the Nintendo. Please. The MicroCon is horrid. The joysticks don’t have a decent rubberised surface, so your fingers keep slipping off them, and the buttons feel all clicky and loose–not at all like the finely judged springy resistance of the Nintendo pad. I’m note even sure if its shrunk-down size makes it better suited for smaller hands, because Alex (who is 2) can wrap his hands around the plain Nintendo controller just fine.

Categories
Holiday

Rome!

Yay–we’ve booked our holiday to Rome for this year! We’re only going for five days this year (Wednesday to Sunday, at the end of May), but we don’t really go to Rome to sight-see any more–we just go to soak up the atmosphere and relax. We plan to spend a lot of time just wandering around the Centro Storico, hanging out in cafés, and locating playparks for Alex. There’s a few we know about from last year, but I’m sure we’ll be able to find many more this time round.

We’ll be staying at the marvellous Hotel Panda again. We know it well now, and we just love its combination of price, location (practically right on top of the Piazza di Spagna) and quality. We had a double room last year, and Alex slept on a mattress on the floor, but we’ve got a triple room this time. Alex is so much bigger now, and we’re going to need all the extra space we can get….

Needless to say, we’re very excited about going!

Categories
Blogging

Blogshares

Thank you, Lisa, for introducing me to Blogshares. Not. Just as I’d managed to kick the RSS habit, along comes another reason to maniacally check on my favourite blogs, and to update my own more regularly in the hope of getting noticed. Well, I’m not falling for it, you hear me? I’m not!

Actually, Blogshares is a pretty cool idea. It’s another tool like Technorati, and the Blogging Ecosystem that illustrates the interconnectedness of weblogs, and helps people to find more stuff that might interest them. Only Blogshares turns this mess of crosslinks and mutual admiration into a game as well.

(I got hooked on Popex a couple of years ago. It’s a similar idea, but you buy shares in pop artists instead of blogs, and your portfolio rises or falls with their fortune in the charts (and other factors, of course). Blogshares sounds more interesting to me, though, because you’re buying shares in people that you know, and who may know you.)

But I’m not going to get hooked on this one. Oh no. I have too many other things on the go right now to get sucked into another addiction.