Wednesday, May 14, 2014


I have a postal vote for the European elections coming up this Thursday. The ballot paper had something like eight parties: Out of Europe; English Independence;  British National Party; Conservatives;  Lib-Dems; Labour;  Green. I might have missed one.

In the spirit of Gregory Clarke's "The Son Also Rises" I did a bit of surname analysis. The small right-wing parties had bluff,  artisan names and were overwhelmingly male. The Greens were the most aristo and treble-barrelled. The Tories had the most women (4/6) and the soggiest tag-line ("for change in Europe"). The BNP had the compelling slogan "for a better Britain". Labour had the only non-Anglo but the other names were pure Hampstead - and there was no slogan.

Naturally I voted for the party which in my view was most likely to deliver a better Britain.

I'm reading "Anathem" by Neal Stephenson. It's a big book situated in a variant universe where intellectuals are locked away in "concents" as a secularised variant of monks. There are strong similarities with our own history,  and history of ideas (Immanuel Kant makes a disguised appearance). There's something rather secret and not quite right in orbit. Reviewers have criticised a slow first 100 pages and an excess of invented vocabulary. Neither is actually a problem: Stephenson's writing is designed to be immersive and the strange new words are easily guessable (when the author isn't explicitly providing definitions) and are needed to lock-in the essential otherness of this reality.

Oh, and we bought some new sleeping bags for our summer travels.