Archive for Donald Trump

The Trump Protest in Cardiff

Posted in Biographical, Politics with tags , , , , on January 31, 2017 by telescoper

Last night I joined in a protest in Cardiff against Donald Trump’s executive order curtailing the US refugee programme and suspending the right of entry to the USA to people with perfectly valid documentation who were born in Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen. In effect, it’s a Muslim Ban. Coincidentally, the Muslim countries exempted from the order include Saudi Arabia, Egypt and the United Arab Emirates are all places where Trump has business interests.

This unconscionable and unconstitutional order has led to detentions and forced deportations in clear violation of the Geneva convention. There’s a Nature piece giving some examples of scientists it has affected, to illustrate the damage done already. I find it a disgrace that our government has failed to voice its disapproval of this order, and I’m apparently not alone. Despite just a day’s notice, thousands turned out for protests across the United Kingdom, including Cardiff, where we assembled at about 6.30pm near the statue of Aneurin Bevan on Queen Street.

queen-street

Despite the pouring rain the numbers built up impressively until the street became very crowded. It wasn’t very easy to count the people there but I’m very confident that they numbered well over a thousand. That’s not as large as the demonstration in London that happened at the same time, but it’s a start.

There were some speeches and chanting and lots of witty signs and we marched up and down Queen Street making an enjoyable noise. It was all very good-humoured, but behind it all was a deep sense of alarm that the President of the United States of America has revealed himself to be nothing but a fascist. Yes, I mean a fascist -that’s precisely what he is. More and more people are going to come to that conclusion over the next few weeks and months and if and when he ever does come to the United Kingdom on a State Visit, there’ll be demonstrations against him. Our political masters may be prepared to sell this country to Trump, but I don’t think ordinary people will stand for it.

The new President of the USA

Posted in Politics with tags , on January 20, 2017 by telescoper

Well, today’s  the day of the inauguration of the new President of the the United States of America….

 

wink-putin_1291535b

God help us all.

Scientific Breakthrough of the Year 2016

Posted in The Universe and Stuff with tags , , on December 31, 2016 by telescoper

The year 2016 is almost over and there are just few hours left  until a 2017 begins. Looking back over the scientific discoveries of the last 12 months, I expect you think I would choose the discovery of gravitational waves by the LIGO consortium as my “Scientific Breakthrough of the Year”.

Wonderful achievement though that was, I have, after due reflection, decided to award the accolade to something else which has even more profound implications for the human race and its place in the Universe.

So without further ado, I hereby announce that the In The Dark award for Scientific Breakthrough Of The Year 2016 goes to Donald Trump,  for providing us at last with a definitive resolution of the Fermi Paradox.

 

I hope this clarifies the Apocalypse.

Morbid Symptoms and the Optimism of the Will

Posted in History, Politics with tags , on November 9, 2016 by telescoper

trump

So there we are then. It will soon be President Trump and I won my compensation bet, though to be honest I would have preferred to lose it. I have quite a number of friends and colleagues from the USA and all were distraught when it became clear that Trump was going to win. Perhaps not surprisingly, I don’t know any Trump supporters, either from the USA or elsewhere.

I’m not going to try to offer consoling platitudes. It must be an even scarier time for them than it is for the rest of us Citizens of the World. In the absence of anything better, all I can do is say that I’m so very sorry for the pain they’re feeling now.

I’m not going to attempt any sort of analysis of what led to Trump’s victory either. There’s a lot of twaddle already filling up the internet, much of which isn’t at all illuminating despite being written with the benefit of hindsight.

I will say, however, that the quote that sprang into my head when I checked the news on waking up this morning was the following, from Antonio Gramsci (from The Prison Notebooks, c1930):

The crisis consists precisely in the fact that the old is dying and the new cannot be born; in this interregnum a great variety of morbid symptoms appear.

Or if you prefer the original Italian:

La crisi consiste appunto nel fatto che il vecchio muore e il nuovo non può nascere: in questo interregno si verificano i fenomeni morbosi piú svariati.”

It seems to me that the old order – in the form of a broad consensus that has held in Western democracies since the end of World War 2 – is collapsing. Events like the election of Donald Trump and BrExit vote in the UK do not, however, represent the construction of a new order but are merely the death-bed convulsions of the old.

What the new world order will look like depends on what new political alignments and forms of governance can be established and whether this transformation takes place by peaceful and democratic means. I think there will be considerable social and economic upheaval in the next few years, and this will be a dangerous time if factions attempt to impose their will by violent means. It seems to me that what is vital is for people to be offered a positive vision for the future, something which today’s politicians – especially those on the left – seem unable or unwilling to do. Some of political parties may not survive, but then if they have outlived their usefulness or relevance then there’s no reason for them to.  What happens will depend entirely on who grasps the opportunities that this period of uncertainty will undoubtedly create. Clinging in despair to the wreckage of the past will put us in no position to grasp anything.

So I’ll end with another quote from Gramsci:

I’m a pessimist because of intelligence, but an optimist because of will.

 

American Psycho

Posted in Politics with tags , , , on November 8, 2016 by telescoper

trump

Well today’s the date of the election of the next President of the United States of America. Will it be Hillary Clinton? Or will it be an unstable racist misogynist, a pathological liar, and a man who has boasted of a string of sexual assaults? It remains to be seen. The polls are alarming close. Hillary Clinton is ahead by just 3 or 4 percent nationally but only a handful of states really matter and some of those are too close to call. I’ve been following Nate Silver’s 538 election forecast for a while now. It seems to me his methodology more accurately estimates the uncertainty in the opinion polls. After narrowing considerably when the FBI decided to throw a spanner into the works last week, the probability of a Clinton win is now over a little over 70%. Uncomfortable, but the odds have been below 2-1 very recently.

At the weekend I decided that I would follow my usual betting practice and place a wager on the outcome that I don’t want to happen. Hunting around, the best odds I could find were 18-5 against Donald Trump. I put a monkey on, so will walk away with £2300 if Trump wins. I plan to use the proceeds to begin work on the construction of a fallout shelter in my garden. If an unstable psychopath like Donald Trump gets his hands on the American nuclear codes I don’t hold out much hope for the future of civilization.

I followed the same strategy on Referendum Day as I felt it in my bones that Vote Leave was going to win. I ended up depressed but compensated to the tune of £1000. I’m afraid to say I feel the same way now about the likelihood of a Trump victory. Not very scientific, I know, but there you go.

I have never paid much attention to American politics in the past. It is as incomprehensible to me as British politics must be to them. Gore Vidal summed it up for me:

There is only one party in the United States, the Property Party … and it has two right wings: Republican and Democrat. Republicans are a bit stupider, more rigid, more doctrinaire in their laissez-faire capitalism than the Democrats, who are cuter, prettier, a bit more corrupt — until recently … and more willing than the Republicans to make small adjustments when the poor, the black, the anti-imperialists get out of hand. But, essentially, there is no difference between the two parties.

Things have changed this time. Although both parties still represent the moneyed classes more than anyone else, but this time the Republican contender has overtly fascist tendencies. No wonder Nigel Farage admires him so much. Americans are free to vote for whomever they wish, of course. I don’t have a say, as I’m a foreigner. All I can say is that you should be very careful what you wish for.

Although I find it deeply depressing that this race is even close, I won’t lose any sleep over the election night. I don’t have a television, and I’ll do what I did on the day of the EU referendum. Drink some wine, listen to music and then go to sleep. There’s no point in worrying about things that are out of your hands. And if Trump does win, at least it shortens the list of countries I will have to consider emigrating to if and when the UK does leave the European Union..