Borders

The BBC News article on an Irish/UK border today is interesting for its comment section. There are quite a few people saying that neither Ireland nor Northern Ireland wants a hard border so there won’t be one, it’s just the BBC being unpatriotic and unbrexity, total non-story, etc…

So now we’ve gone full circle. Some people live in a bizarre world where they want to close the borders to stop the EU fiddling with our affairs, but then decide to leave the borders open because they think closing them is some kind of EU conspiracy. They apparently haven’t realised that if we don’t have a hard border with Ireland then we don’t have a hard border with the EU.

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Creativity

Buzzfeed published some EU polling data today which has gained a bit of attention.

The data itself is completely uninteresting. It asks for opinions on a set of related questions then gives answers as if they are independent. This means it equates to “1. Have cake, 2. Eat it”. It mostly shows exactly what you’d expect; remainers distribute around the most pro-EU options, leavers distribute around the most anti-EU options. In the middle of the spectrum, remainers and leavers were most likely to answer similarly, but never in unified support of any issue. According to this data, there is literally no course of action, achievable or otherwise, which unites voters in any way. You might get to around 55% support on some issues, if you’re lucky, but that’s your ceiling.

But instead of “British voters as conflicted as ever”, the Telegraph chose to run the story as MOST REMAINERS BACK HARD BREXIT.

In some ways it still surprises me that people are happy to buy supposedly serious newspapers which report such incorrect stories. I can understand the mentality that the Sun or the Express is so hyperbolic and ridiculous that it’s basically entertainment and it’s taken with a pinch of salt. The Telegraph, however, is incredibly boring and if you are reading it it’s because you want to maintain a fictional view of the world, which in many ways is far worse.

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Reflections

There is some political reflection filtering out from CCHQ at the moment about what caused them to perform so poorly in the general election.

Something the Conservatives aren’t really getting is that the reason Corbyn’s support surged is that people have had enough of the current incarnation of capitalism. The age divide is telling. Corbyn didn’t just convince idealistic students, he won the majority of under 50s. It’s a pretty devastating blow to your economic credibility as a capitalist when a majority of working aged people would rather support a man routinely described by the media as a communist.

The Conservatives’ problem can be stated simply: You can’t expect ordinary people to be capitalists when capitalism is not allowing ordinary people to gain capital.

Self proclaimed free market advocates will argue that Corbyn’s brand of economics would be a punishment for being rich. This is a very emotional interpretation of what could also be described as a correction. I think the difference between the free marketers in the Lib Dems and the free marketers in the Conservatives is that the Lib Dems tend to understand that the market has to distribute its gains fairly and reward work put in for everyone for the free market as a whole to be sustainable, whereas Conservatives (and libertarians) generally don’t foresee that the market’s freedom is jeopardised by allowing it to fail to serve the people funding it.

The idea that Theresa May will do anything to address this is pretty far fetched, though. She’s left herself virtually powerless and her government is myopically focused on brexit. The longer the problem goes on, the more likely a bold left wing government becomes.

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Stats

Some notable stats from YouGov today:

61% of leave voters think that significant damage to the economy is a price worth paying for brexit as long as it doesn’t affect them much.
39% of leave voters think that themselves of a family member losing their job is a price worth paying for brexit
19% of remain voters want to see brexit damage the economy so they are proved right, which might be a bit of a pyrrhic victory given the stats above.

For leavers, there is a strong correlation between age and being content with economic damage. At age 65+, 71% of leavers are happy with the prospect of inflicting significant economic damage upon their relatives.

This highlights an ironic failure in David Cameron’s strategy. He insulated pensioners from the economy such that even as wages fell, pension household income grew. He based his EU remain campaign on the economy and was surprised to find that pensioners didn’t care about it.

These stats go further than simply not caring about the economy and are surprising, no, astonishing, in that the large majority of pensioners are happy to see their children and grandchildren lose their jobs in the name of brexit. You could simply say this is incredibly selfish and leave it at that. I’m discontent with this explanation because I think that people in general are a bit selfish, but not incredibly selfish. I also don’t think they’d happily admit to being incredibly selfish in an opinion poll. Therefore I propose that instead of actual malice, this is more likely to be widespread delusional and cult-like thinking brought about by sustained exposure to tabloids and little interaction with the working-aged world.

With the triple lock in place and wages suppressed by brexit we will likely see the difference between pensioner income and worker income grow quickly over the next few years. Note that the average pension-age household already earns more than the average working age household in the UK. This isn’t particularly good news for pensioners as it increases the chance of them suffering a very sharp correction when public resentment bubbles over a critical threshold.

Or, as Margaret Thatcher said, the problem with socialists is they eventually run out of other people’s money.

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July

I’ve been running twice a week for the last four weeks with fairly low mileage and the neuroma update is…

It’s clearly still here as it twinges fairly often but I’m not really getting much actual pain or weird sensations in general. On the other hand, it’s still very sensitive to pressure, sometimes just dorsi-flexing my toes will make twinge and every so often it starts twinging in pulses. The twinge itself is sharp but very low intensity, so more of an irritation than a pain. So it’s a mixed picture. The sensitivity worries me as it seems like it will make it more prone to irritation in future, but we’ll see…

In the past month or so I’ve made the following changes:

I’ve greatly improved my balance, stability and symmetry
I’ve increased my running cadence (steps per minute) to around 180 in an effort to reduce the impact force and range of motion necessary to support my weight over the course of a footstep.
I bought some zero-drop (but not minimalist) running shoes, which encourage a more natural foot strike
I’ve been spending a lot of time wearing toe separators, often overnight

I think this has all helped, except that I am having trouble with pacing while keeping a high cadence and am often going too fast as a result. To start with, the higher cadence exhausted me out so fast I couldn’t keep the pace high if I wanted to, but my legs have adapted now. I might find the sensitivity reduces if I could slow things down a bit, while also keeping the cadence high. The problem is that I used to use cadence as a way of controlling my pace. 180 steps per minute was virtually a sprint. I haven’t yet fully figured out varying my pace while keeping the cadence constant. It’s all about the stride length. I know it’s possible to do it and look natural doing it because I’ve put metronomes to training videos on YouTube of people who look like they’re on a leisurely jog…

Plan for the next month: Stick to twice a week, maybe increase mileage slightly, learn to run slower.

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Honesty

If you read much internet discussion on brexit you will either be a staunch brexiter, or you will know that many brexiters should be held in violation of the geneva convention for their torture of logic. Rewriting history has become the norm. It is easy to forget now, but the main arguments for leaving the EU were £350m a week to the NHS and that we’ll continue to experience all benefits of the EU with none of the costs because they need us more than we need them. Now, hardcore leavers are quick to scrub any reference to the “£350m to the NHS” line, and they are eager to explain that we all knew there’d be a period of economic uncertainty and we might end up being worse off but it’s OK because we’ll regain soveregnity and that’s more important than the economy.

The dishonesty is so outright and persistent that it almost constitutes a form of gaslighting.

It’s fine to prioritise other things over the economy as long as you are up front with voters that this is actually what you are doing, but this was certainy not a pervasive view at the time. It’s less fine to pretend the £350m wasn’t a central promise, because it was literally the slogan of the leave campaign.

Polling shows there is no large difference in opinion, even now. It’s roughly 50/50 and if there was another referendum tomorrow it is a coin toss as to which way it would go, and could easily be decided by things like the weather.

Polling also shows that until around the start of 2016, euroscepticism was not regarded as an important issue in the UK. The referendum itself drove people to care about the EU. It’s possible that had remain won, the euroscepticism would have dropped off back to normal levels, but I suspect it wouldn’t, because plenty of previously apathetic people are now vocal remainers.

So had ‘remain’ narrowly won instead we’d be in the brexiters’ position of either having to concede that there was no real mandate for either leaving or staying and that if action is taken it should be a comprimise, or trying to defend pretending that there was a decisive and stable outcome. Brexiters currently argue until they are blue in the face that 50/50 polls show a stable mandate for leaving and that it would be undemocratic to ask the electorate for more clarity on what they think with the benefit of hindsight and further information.

All things considered, I’m much more comfortable knowing that such poor quality thinking is overwhelmingly in the territory of the opposing side.

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Student loans and Corbyn

Jeremy Corbyn is currently getting slated over not committing to write off student loans.

Let’s reflect for a moment on how crazy it is that Corbyn is being criticised for breaking a policy promise he didn’t make in the aftermath of a general election he didn’t win.

There is something about Corbyn that makes people on both sides put their underpants on their heads.

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