Friday 24 June 2016

What I woke up to this morning

The Leave Campaign won. Our economy tanked by 10% overnight with the pound falling to its lowest value since 1986 which is horrific considering that Nixon Shock in 1971, which was the effect of the US literally taking the Western world's economic model out back and shooting it, resulted in only a 3% drop.

Nigel Farage, the Pound Shop Own Brand Enoch Powell, has already tried to distance himself from his own campaign's promise that £350 million a week in savings from EU fees would be pumped into the National Health Service, claiming that he felt the promise was unwise even as it was plastered all over the Leave Campaign's buses.

Up in Scotland, Nicola Sturgeon politely points out that all Scottish authorities voted Remain, which I think is as good a reason as any to call for another independence referendum or, fuck it, just seceded right away.

Same basic result in Northern Ireland and Sinn Fein is already saying this makes a case for reunification with the Republic. I have absolutely zero time for Sinn Fein but again, fuck it, if we're pretending that direct democracy instead of representative democracy is a good thing then the Irish have voted to remain so it might finally be time to pull the plug on their relationship with a central government that has never cared about them and never will.

Senior members of the Leave campaign are already saying the government should hold off on invoking Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty (the article that begins the exit process). I wonder why?

(By the way, according to Article 50, if we invoke it and ever want to return to the EU our re-entry has to be approved unanimously by all member states.)

David Cameron just resigned as I was writing this which presumably means we'll now have a Osborne as PM, a man who has outright stated that he thinks the NHS was a mistake. We have an emboldened extreme right and precedent from when Brown succeeded Blair that they'll probably call for a repeal of the fixed term parliament act and a snap election.

This country is going to have to bend over backwards to retain any of its EU trading partners. You can bloody bet that Spain isn't going to give an inch unless we hand them Gibraltar (and won't that be a wonderful moment for he flag waving nationalists who think leaving the EU will strengthen this pathetic little country).

Hell, we can't even go crying to the US who do far more trade with mainland Europe than us so who are they going to pick?

Huge amounts of our infrastructure, public transport especially, are owned by European companies who are now staring down the barrel of additional taxation once we leave and void our free trade treaties so who knows what that means for services.

2 million UK citizens permanently living in mainland Europe might end up having to come home, uprooting actual lives they've built up over years and far outnumbering the “bloody immigrants” the Leave xenophobes masturbate nightly to fantasies of expelling (or just, you know, murdering... no, wait, that's MPs!)

Its the first morning after the result and everyone is shellshocked either from the baffling economic suicide of the decision, the catastrophic immediate result, the uncertain future, or, as in the case of that the third generation bootleg recording of Oswald Mosley that is Nigel Farage, just from orgasming more times than the human body was designed to sustain.

And you know what? I chose to believe in my country. After two disastrous general elections that returned governments that any logical person should know would not represent their interests; after months of right wing press fearmongering and outright lying about how the EU works; after the Leave campaign literally ripped off a Nazi poster to scare people about immigration...

I chose to believe. I chose to believe that my country wasn't so suicidally scared of the Other, so small-minded and blind to their own self-interest, so easily taken for a ride but, most of all, that we were capable of believing in something beyond ourselves.

I'm done. I don't have any other choice than to live here. I haven't the money or the marketable skills to emigrate (though I do have a couple of friends in Scotland...) so I'm stuck here but I'm done believing in “us”. The British people are incapable of understanding that we aren't the British Empire anymore; we aren't a special little snowflake of a nation who can get anything they want through economic dominance and military bravado. It isn't the 1950s anymore, we aren't he saviours of the world who stood up for democracy, if we ever deserved that title. We aren't a major power and the illusion that we still were was because we glommed on to larger players like the US and the EU whilst speaking a very common language that made us an easy partner to negotiate with.

I'm angry. I'm angry at my country for being taken in and voting against their own self-interest the third time in a row. I'm angry because I have to concede philosophical ground to Charles deGaulle of all fucking people, who knew we'd fuck this thing up when he spent a decade stonewalling our entry to the EEC. I'm angry that the already uncertain future just got more uncertain. I'm angry that the side that had no costed economic plan and just played on the nation's pathetic delusional saviour complex managed to beat the campaign that ran on facts and pragmatism.

I'm just angry.

Tuesday 7 June 2016

Yesterday I impersonated a police officer...

This is technically a crime but damn it was funny!
I did not look this good
going it. I wish I did.

Okay, background: for months I have been getting calls from a phone scam. An incompetent phone scam using shitty mobiles that constantly drop calls, that can't decide whether they're calling from a phone company I'm not contracted to or telling me I can claim PPI on loans I've never taken out or could claim compensation for an accident I've never had.

Frankly, I finally got tired of them. I got tired of trying to press them on how long I've been with their phone company or asking them how much the loan was for or what accident I had. Vicious sadist that I am I finally got tired of torturing these idiots.

So I solemnly informed them that I worked for Berkshire Constabulary and was referring their details to the fraud squad. The umming and spluttering on the other end of the line was delicious because they don't remember how many times they've called me, I'm just a number on a list they probably bought from some company I've done momentary business with (probably something to do with letting agency credit checks, frankly).

Its amazing how switching things up a bit can really put the joy back in causing others pain.

Monday 6 June 2016

Floi Stonehand pt.1

Every now and again I get a yin to paint an individual model. Not something for any of my armies but just something I like the look of. In this case: Floi Stonehand, Loremaster of Moria. By and large I'm not much for the Lord of the Rings range but this one miniature really speaks to me.

Anyway, Colour Tests All The Way Down time again: I want to try and perfect that bronze armour method I used on my Glade Lord before I do any rank-and-file armoured Wood Elves. I think Dwarves look great in bronze armour so I figured it was time to finally get this model.

I've put him on a Fantasy-style square base. Though I have zero plans to use him in-game I would like the option open. My group has been discussing having a mercenary allowance as part of regular games. That cloak makes me think “Ranger”, which would also be a nice excuse to buy some of those Avatars Of War Ranger minis but I'm getting ahead of myself. First stage should be deciding how to paint this fellow, or rather the parts of him that aren't bronze armour or skin.

I also want to try and dash this one off rather quickly, try to recapture that momentum that had me finish all those models a couple of weeks back so let's try this as a One Week Challenge.

Friday 3 June 2016

This Week's Comics featuring the Rebirth Roundup

What's this? DC are showing restraint? Unheard of! Its the first week after DC Universe: Rebirth and we're only getting four one-shots to flesh out the status quo of some central pillars of the newest DCU: Batman, Superman, Green Lanterns and Green Arrow (Wonder Woman once again gets left in the cold until later because this is a DC reboot we're talking about and she didn't want to come your party anyway, icky boys). You know what, though? It's good. Well, its mostly good. Its 75% good, we'll get there.

Whilst on the Marvel side of things... sweet Jesus was that a game of two halves.

Be warned, there are minor spoilers for all issues discussed but the only things I really go into specifics on are the identities of the secret Hydra agents in each and every series. On with the motley:

Batman: Rebirth

This was quite a nice mood piece. Whilst there are a few concessions to setting up a new status quo with Bruce having some meetings with Lucius Fox and Duke Thomas in the main its a done-in-one about Batman fighting Calendar Man. I've always rather liked Calendar Man and he gets a nice little update here. In all honesty, of DC's four offerings this one gives the least idea of what the series spinning off of it will be like (mainly because three titles will be spinning off of it) but its a nice little story regardless. Fond memories of the animated series always abound when a quality Batman done-in-one comes along and in a week full of nostalgia buzz this didn't feel at all out of place.

Spoiler: Duke Thomas isn't a Robin anymore, he's Hydra.

Green Lanterns: Rebirth

Now, this really takes me back: Geoff Johns, Ethan Van Sciver, an ancient secret underpinning the Green Lantern mythology, poor release schedule co-ordination so that one GL series spoilers the events of another (unless Edge of Oblivion #6 came out and I didn't notice, which is possible)... it feels like 2006 all over again.

Which isn't to say that nostalgia is all this comic has going for it. Of all the Rebirth one-shots this week this one has the most new(-ish) ideas. Yes, Simon Baz has been knocking around since the dawn on the New 52 but this is somehow the first time he's had his own ongoing series. In fact, there's a feeling here that Johns is getting to pull the trigger on a few ideas both he and other GL authors have had over the New 52 but not been able to properly expand. So we have Baz and fellow rookie Jessica Cruz (who was something to do with Forever Evil, I think) as the Green Lanterns of Earth with Hal acting as the grizzled old warhorse of a precinct captain telling them to both shape up. It seems that Hal has regained some sense of authority and gravitas with Rebirth, something he sorely lacked when he was running the Corps a while back.

I quite like Simon's FBI contact/parole officer, the man who arrested him on terrorism charges (and for a few things he actually did, too) and who now wants to make amends. Jessica Cruz I am less sold on but I'm willing to give it time, even if only for the fact that she seems to be a rather introverted soul and you don't tend to see those as superheroes.

Spoiler: Simon Baz is Hydra.

Green Arrow: Rebirth

Well, here's a no-brainer that should have occurred to someone about five years ago! The big idea for Green Arrow's Rebirth is bringing Black Canary into the series. I am genuinely surprised that no one had this idea before. Given the blank slate continuity the first New 52 writers were handed I'm shocked no one thought of trying to build this romance from the ground up. Okay, it's not Lois and Clark levels of legendary but it is one of the bigger DC romances and the chance to tell it as a coherent series of events under a single creative team sounds like a winner to me.

Which is all to the good because otherwise Benjamin Percy's angle on the character is the bog standard GA plot of “How can someone this rich consider himself a man of the people?”, ground that Green Arrow has been treading off and on since the Hard Travelling Heroes era of the 1960s.

Spoilers: Black Canary is implied to be Hydra but its actually the homeless girl.

Superman: Rebirth

And here's where the wheels come off the wagon because this issue is mostly infodump and it doesn't make an awful lot of sense. Okay, I get the idea that the New 52 Superman is dead and the pre-Flashpoint Superman has somehow been hanging around for a couple of years raising a son with pre-Flashpoint Lois Lane (are there two Loises now?) and he's going to take over. I get this because it is laboriously explained to Lana Lang over about half the comic as beardy older Clark recaps the events of The Death of Superman to explain a certain amount of graverobbing.

I say this as a man who has been reading Uncanny X-Men monthly for over two hundred issues: this is one convoluted damn reboot and I'm not sure it needs to be. Everything else DC put out this week has had a very explicit back to basics structure where a new-ish character or two get used to explain the basic premise of the series. That sort of happens here with Lana but the situation that's being introduced to us through her eyes is one that is probably going to need to be explained again and again over the next few years for the benefit of new readers in a way that, say, “Here are two rookie Green Lanterns getting on each other's nerves in classic buddy cop movie style” won't.

Frankly, the only interesting thing I read here was the revelation that (spoilers) Lana Lang is Hydra.

Spider-Women Omega

In a few paragraphs time I am going to have a massive “you done fucked up” rant at Marvel over one of their crossovers. I wanted to do this review first to reinforce the fact they can do these things right when they put their minds to it. Spider-Women has been an awesome little crossover: eight issues of tightly plotted, well thought through story that managed to be an “event” for all three participants and pushed all of their individual plotlines forward even as it remained fairly self-contained. Good story, good mutual marketing exercise for three lower-tier series, satisfying action beats, the works.

Over those eight issues we've seen Gwen's world expanded in interesting ways, Silk's family issues explored, and Jessica enduring her first extended separation from her child. There are a couple of new characters on the board who I hope to see in future and two of the three leads got status quo shifts out of the deal.

All in all, not a bad two months work and I heartily recommend it once it comes out in trade.

Spoiler: both Cindy Moons are Hydra.

Civil War II (Manchester United nil) #1

There have been a couple of WWE pay-per-views recently that have shuffled the United States Title off onto the pre-show card, squandering the hard work John Cena put in lending the belt legitimacy and making people who paid the rather large non-Network price of the PPV question their purchase if a whole title fight is going to happen practically off-camera.

Why am I bitching about wrestling booking in a comic review? Well, because this comic has a huge fight with a major villain in which a beloved character dies happen off-panel. You get to the end of the series' set-up, turn the page and BAM! Someone's dead, someone else is in a coma and the actual fight is filled in with exposition and a couple of flashback splash panels. Result: a very talky issue that could have been broken up by having a huge fight scene in the middle of it and just decided not to.

On the plus side I like that Tony takes the side of this ethical debate I didn't expect him to. I was all ready for him to be the bad guy again, or at least the authoritarian guy which largely shakes down to the same thing when geeks are your main audience. Yet he's the one who recoils at the idea of acting on precognitive visions and for pretty specific reasons. He isn't against it for broad philosophical reasons but for ones that are entirely specific to the situation, ones about it being hard to externally verify what the Inhuman precog sees or how accurate his visions might be.

Still, a huge fight in which a major character gets chopped would have been nice to actually see.

Spoiler: all the Inhumans are Hydra. The ones from Uncanny Inhumans, the one from Uncanny Avengers, Ms. Marvel and Moon Girl, all of them. Except Lockjaw, he's too cute, he failed the entrance exam. (Don't worry, I'm sure this was a one week joke. Mostly sure.)