Lev Parnas Slideshow FUNNY!

Not quite a buddy movie, but almost. Starring all the people who don’t know Parnas: Donald Trump, Rudy Giuliani, Kellyanne Conway, et al.

The pose with Jeff Sessions wins the award for most Shreklike. And there’s one with Giuliani that might have been filmed by Francis Ford Coppola. All that’s missing is the cat. 😉

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Donald Trump – A date which will live in infamy!

Flanked by the co-CEOs of Tex & Tex Inc., Donald Trump complains about his enemies, including “Bob Mueller and his group of 18 killers” (Wot???). But the new IG report out today shows that Trump’s cries of treason and infamy are merely manifestations of his rampant paranoia. Et tu, Horowitz? Cameo appearances by Kenneth Williams as Julius Caesar, and Sophie Aldred as the wot girl.

And yet, unhindered by facts, the Deep State plot to turn Trump’s brains to plutonium rages on!

Michael Howard

The views expressed are my own, and do not represent any other person or organization.

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The Speech That Got Boris Johnson Elected

Could a computer create the ultimate campaign speech?

Let’s face it: What diesel is to trucking, speeches are to… er, politics. Those tender words of love whispered in the voter’s ear are not unlike the lavish displays put on by the peacock during mating season. With election season gripping the UK (along with the odd cold front and blizzard), we set out to monitor the speechifying exploits of that most colourful of political birds, the blue-lipped bojo.

More than that, we wanted to give Cambridge Analytica a run for its money by designing the ultimate campaign speech with the aid of computer technology. Such a speech would hit all the ideological high points, while also delivering key psychological triggers that would send Tory voters flocking to the polls in support of the former mayor of London.

We rolled up our sleeves, maxed out the ram on our Commodore Amiga, put the kettle on, and engaged in a furious spate of uber geekdom, feeding hundreds of Boris Johnson speeches into the gaping maw of the fully armed Amiga. We then pushed the Cuisinart button (located just beneath the printer port), and waited for what seemed an inordinate period. Finally, after much coughing and spluttering, the computer churned out this. A bit raw, definitely NSFW, but a new landmark in CBJ (or Cyber Boris Johnson). Surely such a speech must, in the immortal words of Cambridge Analytica, create an impactful marketing experience.

The Speech That Got Boris Johnson Elected

[Applause] Good evening, everybody. My friends, good evening. Thank you very much. All I can say is that I think most Conservatives that I’ve spoken to are passionate believers in making hay, uh, north and south of the border, whether it’s at Calais, or Rotterdam, or wherever, by extending the behind, ah, far more than people thought was possible. It’s a very, very simple idea. We asked the people what they thought, they gave us their answer: Ball the man, not the bus.

Is that not a good thing to do? If we ever had to do it again, we would need a bigger bus. Because in Spain, in the pueblos of Andalucia, they have massive Mars bars. More than thirteen hundred brilliant Conservative counselors went down instantly. I don’t think people in this country realise quite how bad the position is. Around the world we have a huge number of really tragic cases. We, in this government, will work flat out, to give this country the extra lubrication it deserves. And that is the work that begins immediately behind that black door.

It’s vital that we do that, so that our EU friends and partners look us deep in the eye and they think: Dude! Friggit, this goes to character and this goes to whether you stick by what you promise. Our mojo has, I’m afraid, become too soft, completely invertebrate. It’s dead and needs to be junked. The public have spotted it, and we need to do something about it, without necessarily getting our heads bitten off. If I’m lucky enough to be elected, I will of course be leading an immediate program of British-made battery technology.

I’m a passionate believer in rubbish-powered pumping pistons out on the streets, with their lovely traditional contours — burly, bulging, faintly reminiscent of a black bowler hat. If they can do it in Spain, why can’t we do it here in the UK? I think actually, plastic butts can be a good thing, a wonderful thing to entrench and intensify the union. Let’s make them in Britain!

A huge amount of work has already been done. Brilliant Scottish kids are growing up to make some badly-designed undergarment that discourages women from getting into politics — that we are selling, that we are using to help to defend and protect our friends and allies around the world. And Australia has bought them. The Canadians, uh, have followed suit, they’ve already done it.

It’s because of the hole, stretching out for years and years every part of the anatomy. Fantastic scheme! And that is what modern conservatism is all about. That is our moral case to the country. It’s true. On the other hand, a feminist is somebody who believes fundamentally in the equality of human beings and kippers.

And I think, to get back to my central point, my first priority is obviously feeding saprophytically on the sense of decay in trust in politics. I’ve made it very clear that we will have abundant murders on the London Underground, to say nothing of serious sexual offences of all kinds, throughout the summer, that actually stimulate economic growth! I hope you will not mind.

Question: Do we worry that you’re a bit of a loony?

It’s so interesting how often this question has come up. When you look at what I’ve done in politics — as the former useless Mayor of London — and what I’ve promised to do to any electorate that is, ah, that has, ah, hired me, I’ve always exceeded superhuman incompetence. ‘Pathetico’ I think is the word I want in Spanish. We can sell it again to the people of this country, cheaply and conveniently. And now’s the time.

Let’s prick the twin puff balls of Jeremy Corbyn, deep fried or otherwise, for a fantastic agenda of modern conservatism. And we can beat him, my friends! And this is what we, this is what we need to do to win: We should be accelerating basic hygiene for Conservatives with their various, their various piscine names. That is the right thing to do, and it will be a huge relief to every girl within reach of the central activity zone of London when we do it. Each Conservative MP must be accompanied by a plastic ice pillow. Doesn’t that make sense? Yes, it certainly does. That is the way forward. I have every confidence that in ninety-nine days time, we will have cracked it.

I’ve got to say I believe firmly in a woman’s right to choose suicide in some African countries. In a feminocracy, that’s the way it should be. We Conservatives believe in a collection of unsavory views about all sorts of subjects. We lead the world! We lead the world! By coming out, finally, we will be able to establish an identity as a kipper smoker in the Isle of Man — or olives or something — and by so doing, we will get our mojo back as a party.

We’re most of the way there. Every Conservative surely believes that all the young women in this country should have the same basic access to our fantastic mojo, both in primary school and in secondary school. There are things that we will be able to do when we come out of the EU, that we weren’t able to do before, using fudge technology. That’s why I made such an emphasis in my speech earlier on, about what I want to do with fudge. It is the great liberator and equaliser of society. I want to encourage millions of women around the world to get into my transport, lose their shirts, and receive twelve years of quality education. We start recruiting forthwith.

However, the President of the United States used fudge that was unacceptable. It is far, far worse than that. The President of the United States is full of codswallop. His economic program would be absolutely catastrophic for this country. So what we should do, is we should immediately get rid of him. I think I’ve made my position clear on that. And of course, having taken that decision, everybody is afraid of the twitstorm that will happen.

I feel I should say something about Theresa May, stamping her foot and clucking her tongue. This bird has now become too tight in some places, and dangerously loose in other places. Fantastic maidenhead! Absolutely colossal! And it is growing the whole time, in a supererogatory way. Popular with taxi drivers themselves, and believe me they’re pretty demanding clients, I happen to remember.

20% bigger than it was in 2010. Lovingly rubbed with British rhubarb. Waiting to be unleashed. It’s ready to go — just add water! And it will be a huge relief to those poor people in Salisbury. It shows what an amazing magnet we are for talent. British cauliflowers do it with confidence. Let’s make them electric! A glorious rebuttal to those sceptics who said it couldn’t be done…

And what I want to do in a nutshell can be summed up as selling the Tories’ brand of unpasteurised minestrone to boys and girls around the world. We did it in London, and we can do it again. That’s why we’re the Conservative Party! Insofar as all subatomic particles survive, we can be very, very proud of what we have achieved!

We must get Brexit done, level up English corporal punishment for the people of Scotland, and unleash the power of tampons. Here’s one I made earlier. Slam it in the oven, and no more VAT on Schrödinger’s Cat. The institution of the monarchy is beyond ridiculous.

We can win, we must win, and with your help we will win! I hope I can count on your support. Thank you very much. [Applause]

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The views expressed are my own, and do not represent any other person or organization. No cyborgs were harmed in the making of this post.

Ask Dr Johnson!

Readers send in their questions to Dr Boris Johnson, and he answers them in true Tory fashion.

Dear Dr Johnson,

My husband and I vacationed in Swaziland in the summer of 2018. We went for the glass, but stayed for the sorghum! Since then, I discovered I have a large, cauliflower-shaped rash on my left elbow. What is this rash, and do you know of a cure?

Matilda Heath-Mullins

Dear Matilda,

I’m sorry to hear of your ‘rash’ vacation exploits. If it truly is cauliflower-shaped, then perhaps some form of pesticide would avail you. What I always say is British cauliflowers are the best cauliflowers! But under EU regulations, our fantastic British cauliflowers are forbidden to be sold on U.S. Army bases or cooked in U.S. Army kitchens. So we need to get Brexit done, leave the EU, and forge ahead with an amazing new trade deal. Then I’m sure we will experience a veritable renaissance in British cauliflower-growing and consumption. Speaking of consumption, your unusual rash could be a symptom of the latter. I’d have that looked at if I were you.

I happen to be a Swaziland trivia buff. Did you know that the King of Swaziland has 15 wives and 23 children? This hardly compares with the English aristocracy, but they are good people and they are trying.

Swaziland is, of course, a member of the Commonwealth and an area where we’ve already negotiated a fantastic post-Brexit free trade deal. They will be sending us goat meat, and we will be sending them videos of Downton Abbey. Cheers!

Boris Johnson
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Dear Dr Johnson,

My little Timmy was playing in the lanes when seemingly out of the blue a lorry carrying elderberries bore down and ran over his tail. We rushed him to A&E at Shrewsbury and Telford, but the wait was horrific. During the 11 hours before Timmy was seen, he lost a lot of blood. It was gushing out all over the waiting room floor, putting us rather in mind of the Hammer Horror era. Finally, a very nice but tired-looking Indian doctor examined him and confirmed that he had, indeed, lost a lot of blood. He said there was a shortage of hemoglobin due to Tory austerity measures, and there was nothing he could do. We buried Timmy in the back yard the next day, and since then our marriage has hit the rocks. My husband’s been made a dundancy and now collects alarm clocks. What do you advise, and how is it the Tories have instituted such drastic cuts that everyone’s tail is on the chopping block?

Melody Rundquist

Dear Melody,

I’m afraid I cannot agree with the premise of your question. Under this Conservative government, hemoglobin production is up 53%, and the production of other bodily fluids has vastly increased. The previous Labour government left us with no bodily fluids whatsoever, and a crudely scribbled note saying ‘Ham in fridge’. Well, that’s the Labour Party for you! Since taking office, this Conservative government has been proactive in increasing bodily fluids across the board. We are directly responsible for upping bile production by 36%, and vomitus by 43%. But we are not ones for resting on our collective laurels. My simple campaign pledge to the people of Shropshire is this: Return me as Prime Minister, and I will level up semen production to hitherto undreamt of levels, and produce a race of British Supermen ready to fight the Third World War! (‘Hear, hear!’)

Coming back to your original question: You fail to state categorically (but strongly imply) that little Timmy was of the, ah, canine persuasion (hence the tail). If Timmy was what we Etonians call Canis lupus familiaris, I must regretfully inform you that, unfair as it may seem, home sapiens receive priority treatment at most A&Es. I am neither a veterinarian, funeral director, nor marriage counselor, so am unable to advise you further.

Boris Johnson

P.S. Under this Conservative government, elderberry production has seen an increase of 26.3%, far greater than any other EU country. The alarm clocks are harmless, unless taken internally.
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Dear Dr Johnson,

My wife and I live in West Mersea and are both consummate fish freaks — though as I might prudently add, very conventional in other respects. In our garden pond, we have everything from bass to herring to octopi, and have managed to get them to live harmoniously together by singing to them regularly. They mostly prefer folk tunes, but do not complain too loudly if we slip in a bit of Cole Porter, or the odd aria from Pagliacci. (My wife likes to dress up as Cher and sing ‘Believe’.) Anyway, just last week our prize orangutan Pepe began exhibiting listlessness and shortness of breath. He refused to swim with the other fish, and began whistling ‘Show Me The Way To Go Home’ on an almost nonstop basis. My wife says it sounds more like the love theme from Romeo and Juliet (the film version with Olivia Hussey), but that is neither here nor there. Pepe also seems to compulsively report the latest news headlines every half hour. What can we do?

Frank and Mildred Wylkes

Dear Frank and Mildred,

Take it from one who knows: You and your wife are not just freaks, but (with apologies to Rick James), superfreaks. Keeping an orangutan in with the fish is bound to dampen their spirits (as well as the orangutan), and Cher impressions are quite déclassé. It all sounds rather hopeless. Orangutans are not good swimmers, and the shortness of breath you describe is entirely to be expected when a tree-dwelling mammal remains in aquatic conditions for extended periods.

Even I sometimes experience shortness of breath in my renowned role as a cunning linguist. And while I regularly pose with fish and fishmongers (see photo below), I am not, strictly speaking, an ichthyologist — nor is Pepe even a fish.

Boris Johnson demonstrates his fish snoggery technique while being coached by a past master

I am therefore unable to answer your question definitively, but have a sneaking suspicion your orangutan has swallowed a small transistor radio. (The news headlines every half hour are more or less a giveaway.) The tune he whistles may be a manifestation of homesickness (as orangutans are not native to West Mersea), but it could also be a mating call. If the Romeo and Juliet theme gets on your nerves, try teaching him something from Porgy and Bess, or any love song that you find more agreeable. Orangutans are talented mimics, and he’s bound to pick it up in no time.

However, I fear that as with certain other letter-writers, your query is rife with superfluous detail and strays rather far from my core area of expertise. I hope future correspondents will stick more to the point, and not take unfair advantage of what is (after all) a free service provided by the Crown.

Boris Johnson
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Dear Dr Johnson,

We have a yellow-fronted Amazonian parrot which we love dearly. We think it’s a male, so we named it Romulus. But lately, it has developed a discolouration in the region of the beak. This used to be greyish-brown, but now shows a large white rectangular area. Romulus is very fond of marshmallows, and we worry that feeding ‘him’ too many marshmallows has caused the discolouration. Do you recommend a change of diet?

Edna and Edith Farthingworth

Dear Edna and Edith,

Firstly, I must protest the proliferation of pet complaints among these letters! I state (and repeat for emphasis) that I am not a veterinarian. I did once sleep with a veterinarian, but it was a one-night stand, and she later voted for the Liberal Democrats. I wish her well… As for your Amazonian parrot, I’m afraid it’s suffering from a condition which we Tories call ‘surrender bill’. The large white rectangular area is a classic symptom.

I advise you to prorogue your parrot for at least five weeks, or as long as the Supreme Court will allow. After that, treat it as you would any mushroom, writer, or parliamentarian: Keep it in the dark, and feed it lots of sh-t.

Marshmallows are right out, at least until ‘his’ beak returns to normal. If you have an excess supply of marshmallows, you can send them to my honourable friend the MP for Rayleigh and Wickford, who has a peculiar yen for marshmallows. (He puts them in a pudding.)

Boris Johnson
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Dear Dr Johnson,

Help! I’m trapped on a fishing boat with a curved cucumber and no condoms. Am I in violation of EU law?

Signed,

Distressed

Dear Distressed,

While your question is not a medical one, it does relate to Brexit, so I feel qualified to answer. EU regulations concerning curvature of vegetables only apply to rutabagas, and even then only on oddly-numbered days. As for condoms… EU law requires that all fishing boats be equipped with condiments. I’m afraid this is a rare case where the Sun did cause needless panic due to inaccurate reporting. We must get Brexit done and dusted so that we can finally be free of all these draconian regulations which no one rightly understands. I myself have fallen foul of EU regs regarding serial liars and pompous windbags. Apparently I need some sort of license, or a jab with some foul, froggy concoction that will make me sound like Jacques Cousteau.

Boris Johnson
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Send in your letters to Ask Dr Johnson!, but please do keep questions on-topic.

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Disclaimer: All names of letter-writers and pets are fictional. Any resemblance to real parrots, living or dead, is purely coincidental.

Update: Sadly, life sometimes imitates art. I posted this parody on November 5. Then on December 9, a story hit the media about a four-year-old boy who was forced to sleep on a pile of coats on the floor at Leeds General Infirmary, for lack of a bed. I want readers to know that the parody predates the story by a month. I would not have made light of this real world incident. The parody stands on its own as a comment on the state of the NHS and Tory austerity measures.

Boris Johnson’s Tom Bombadil Problem

Beginning with a few Boris Johnson jokes, and morphing into a discussion of his candidacy for PM.

I sometimes wonder if I shouldn’t leave political humour to the pros. But a rich target like Boris invites pros and amateurs alike to have a go, and from both sides of the pond:

One incident which caught my eye was Johnson’s penning of a limerick deriding the President of Turkey. Johnson wrote:

There was a young fellow from Ankara,
Who was a terrific wankerer.
Till he sowed his wild oats, with the help of a goat,
But he didn’t even stop to thankera.

President Erdogan’s reply was less well-publicised, perhaps because originally in Turkish. My Turkish is a little rusty (verging on the non-existent), but with the help of a Turkish-English dictionary I was able to cobble together this modest translation:

There once was a Mayor of London,
Who wanked till it gave him a bunion;
He would venture a fling with any young thing,
Be it animal, mineral or onion.

(The accompanying graphic is best left to the reader’s imagination.)

In his present phase as a Brexiter, Johnson famously suggests that since every attempt throughout history to unite Europe has eventually ended in failure, we might as well blow up the current effort. He’s like Ace, the cheerful dynamiter with can-do spirit played by Sophie Aldred in the waning days of Doctor Who Classic. Johnson’s enthusiasm for Brexit is very much the dynamiter’s enthusiasm for blowing up something that’s well nigh irreplaceable. “Oh well, nothing lasts forever,” he muses with schoolboy abandon while lighting the fuse. By his logic, there’s no point in eradicating polio and smallpox, because cancer will get us in the end. And all crockery eventually breaks, so we might as well use it in a game of whiff-whaff.

If we had Mr Wells’s time machine, we might fast forward to an epoch in which the EU no longer exists, true. But today, in spite of its limitations and flaws the EU remains a magnificent Nobel Prize-winning peace project. That peace which it has helped to preserve for over 70 years is its crowning achievement. As long as it remains viable we should do everything possible to preserve it rather than detonate it. To preserve it also means to try and change it for the better from within.

Like other Brexiters, Mr Johnson advances the straw man argument that just because the UK leaves the EU today doesn’t mean war will break out in Europe tomorrow. Of course not. But the creation of the EU was a product of enlightened post World War II thinking in which leaders clearly saw that cooperation in economic matters would lead to greater interdependence between the nations of Europe, and away from the type of hyper-nationalism which leads to warfare. Likewise, over the long arc of history a weaker EU from which the UK is notably absent is an EU with less power to de-escalate conflicts between historical rivals like France and Germany.

Johnson has been described as a man who believes in nothing — a chameleon or weather-vane taking on whatever appearance or direction will benefit his political career. Why then do we like him? Because there’s some merit to the school of thought which says that life is one big absurdist joke. It’s easy to picture Johnson as a character in a Pirandello or Ionesco play, charging rhinoceros-like at an innocent schoolboy for a lark, or penning limericks about the President of Turkey. We need characters like that — just not in high office.

As the colourful Mayor of London Johnson did alright — allegedly with the help of a staff which formed and implemented policy. True, he did order a fleet of buses which doubled as steam baths. In the lower echelons of government, he’s gotten good at blundering his way through, but he’s no tightrope walker or diplomat. As Foreign Secretary he was a disaster whose most serious gaff was making inaccurate remarks about Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, a dual citizen of Iran and the UK who was arrested while visiting family in Iran in April 2016. Johnson’s remarks were treated as a publicity coup by the Iranian government, who used them as a further excuse to unjustly imprison her. This highlights the criticism that Johnson is often unprepared, acts irresponsibly, shoots from the hip, and covers up his unpreparedness with bluster.

Then too, Johnson’s checkered history as a journalist is not sufficiently understood within the UK. He spent years on the Brussels circuit figuratively throwing rotten tomatoes at EU officials, writing articles for domestic consumption which arguably helped groom the British public to hate the EU and falsely blame it for all that goes agley in Britain, culminating in the current Brexit insanity (which Johnson helped urge on). If getting out of this Brexit mess will require diplomacy, tightrope-walking, and a reservoir of good will, Johnson is absolutely the wrong man for the job.

This brings me to what I call Johnson’s “Tom Bombadil problem.” Tolkien fans will surely know a pivotal chapter in The Fellowship of the Ring called “The Council of Elrond.” There, folk of many different races and species hold council in order to determine what to do with the Great Ring of Power which would spell doom were it to fall into the hands of Sauron — an evil specter or dictator. One of many options explored is to give the ring to Tom Bombadil, an outlandish, bombastic, likeable, but nutty character who epitomizes Amber Rudd’s famous shade-throwing line about Boris Johnson: “He’s the life and soul of the party, but he’s not the man you want driving you home at the end of the evening.”

Incidentally, in the Harvard Lampoon parody Bored of the Rings, Tom Bombadil becomes Tim Benzedrine (a consummate druggie), and his hippyish girlfriend becomes Hashberry, of whom he sings:

O slender as a speeding freak! Spaced-out groovy tripper!
O mush-brained maid whose mind decays with every pill I slip her!
O mind-blown fair farina-head, friend of birds and beetles!
O skinny wraith whose fingernails are hypodermic needles!
O tangled locks and painted bod! Pupils big as eggs!
O flower-maid who never bathes or even shaves her legs!
O softened mind that wanders wherever moon above leads!
O how I dig thee, Hashberry, from nose to sleazy lovebeads!

Anyway, attendees at the Council of Elrond decide against giving the Ring to Tom Bombadil for safekeeping, on the grounds that “he would not understand the need. And if he were given the Ring, he would soon forget it, or most likely throw it away. Such things have no hold on his mind. He would be a most unsafe guardian; and that alone is answer enough.”

Johnson’s ascension to PM may ignite a “Chameleonic War” in the Tory party — a war whose battle lines are already drawn between the old guard of Little Englanders, and more liberal One Nation conservatives. Johnson could end up being a figurehead who runs interference with his public buffoonery, while behind the scenes one faction or another pushes through its favoured policies. But if so, which faction? In his current incarnation of non-beliefs, Johnson is a Brexiter, but occasionally gives out grunts suggesting One Nationism. Some Remainers cling to hopes of a so-called “Nixon in China” scenario in which Johnson, being an arch Brexiter, can turn on a dime and support a second referendum. He is nothing if not unpredictable; still, the latter seems unlikely. Moreover, as PM he may find himself in the same pickle as Mrs May: saddled with a hung parliament, unable to move left or right without fracturing the fragile coalition keeping him in power.

Johnson is a genuinely likeable character — or would be, if only he weren’t in politics, and only he weren’t so ambitious. Deep down, he does believe that life is a joke, and that one might therefore ape any belief for the moment, like a comic actor playing a role. He often appears to be doing a slightly personalized Churchill impression while laughing on the inside. There’s a rumour that in order to ingratiate himself with Tories, he had jowl enlargement surgery. (Okay, so I made that one up!)

He may believe life is a joke, but he will go to Eton, he will scramble to the top of the pile of codswallop, he will fiercely pursue his hunger for the golden chalice (or Ring of Power). That ruthlessness adds a chilling knife-edge to his buffoonery.

Parallels with Donald Trump

Simplistic comparisons between Boris Johnson and Donald Trump abound (the mad hair thing being all but irresistible). Each of them may be better at playing Master of Ceremonies on telly than they are at actually governing. Both of them seem unconcerned about details at crucial moments, and more inclined to improvise — often contradicting their own prior statements, as well as experts in the relevant fields. Both are known to lie outright when it suits them; both enjoy the benefits of Teflon with their respective bases; and both are so-called “Marmite figures” — either loved or hated. Both men are examples of charisma as a substitute for leadership, and entertainment value as a substitute for character value; and both seem to suffer from entitlement-itis: a core conviction that they can grab who or what they want simply because they are who they are.

There may be deeper structural similarities in that each is not just a populist, but a particular kind of populist. Both men are elitists who use the techniques of populism to try and put elitist policies over on working class folk who would actually be harmed by such policies.

If and when Boris Johnson takes over the government, it will be crucial to watch what they do, as opposed to what they say. This is always true, but especially so when you have a populist figure trying to sell elitist policies like Brexit.

With his great jowly enthusiasm, Johnson tries to persuade us that the best way to avoid no-deal is to plan for it, and the best way to come closer to Europe is to leave the EU. If politics ever fails him, he has a bright future flogging pyjamas to dead cats.

Michael Howard

The views expressed are my own, and do not represent any other person or organization.

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Theresa May and Jean-Claude Juncker: Last Tango The Video

What if Theresa May and Jean-Claude Juncker were characters from a scandalous 1970s movie? What sorts of things might they say to each other as they exchange knowing glances? This parody answers that question… Later, we discuss Theresa May’s approach to Brexit, and whether there’s a scientific explanation for why Brexit seems to have caused the political process to break down.

Having advertised the video in a “coming attractions” post, I’m glad to have completed it. Maybe not everyone shares my “out” sense of humour or will take the film references, but once I got the idea and made some preliminary sketches, I had to see it through.

What was most interesting was working on the graphics, spending a lot of time in Dynamic Auto Painter and Photoshop to come up with things that worked. The main image visible for most of the video is a composite of several versions done in DAP, then combined on layers in Photoshop, painting with white or black paint on the layer masks to bring out the best features of each. This is a good way to use tools like Dynamic Auto Painter. Keep experimenting until you have a few different versions that you like, then work on combining them into a composition that reflects careful aesthetic judgement, and is not merely a pushbutton exercise.

The final (abstract) image in the video is based on customising the “Sunflowers” preset in DAP, then adding more texture in Photoshop, running the Texturizer filter with different channels loaded, and combining the results using layers and modes.

When trying to create a more 3D paint texture in Photoshop, you usually want to inspect the different channels and choose the one which shows the most variation and contrast. In this case, even though the underlying image was RGB, I ended up converting it to CYMK and saving the yellow channel as a texturizing source.

Sidebar: Theresa May, Brexit, and Gödel’s Incompleteness Theorem

I heard an interesting discussion on LBC regarding whether Theresa May could have handled Brexit differently, or whether she was compelled by political circumstances to follow the course that she did:

This is the episode of James O’Brien’s call-in show where the now famous “Dino The Doctor” made an appearance (toward the end), and was subsequently written up in the Grimsby Telegraph. There are other good callers from diverse backgrounds who help round out the discussion. O’Brien’s riffing is in top form. (Do the Brexit Okey Cokey!)

In theory, in a universe in which we each have absolute free will, Theresa May could have done things quite differently. But most of us tend to be bound by our past choices and the institutions to which we’ve hitched our fate. In practice, we are more like the man caught in a net who has only limited freedom of movement, which he might use to try and free himself.

One can find many things to admire about Theresa May; yet, she did not have the degree of insight or strength of character that would allow her to break free from her assigned role as deliverer of Brexit. Indeed, that was a role she volunteered to play for the Tory party. She may genuinely believe that Brexit was the product of a praiseworthy democratic process, and therefore must be delivered “for the people.” But to what extent does this view reflect institutional blinders, and the blinders that come from personal ambition? Once she saw herself as the hero-bureaucrat who would deliver Brexit, how could she bear to face the truth that Brexit is bad policy, and that lies and corruption played a considerable role in winning the vote for Leave?

I’ve also been pondering the myth that the day after the referendum, the 48% who voted Remain were supposed to roll over and play dead. Brexit is not the kind of issue that can be settled by a one-time referendum. The UK has been involved in a relationship with the EU for over forty years. Many individuals and businesses are deeply invested personally, emotionally, financially, even spiritually in that relationship. They care. It was never reasonable to think they would meekly consent to having that relationship ripped away from them. Contrary to claims by Nigel Farage, that’s not how democracy is supposed to work. The rights of a significant minority need to be respected. Difficult issues require nuanced solutions in order build consensus, and Brexit was anything but nuanced. Changes which are fundamentally destructive of an existing long-standing relationship should be difficult to enact, and should require a confirmatory vote.

Granted that the initial referendum was a terrible idea; still, I find myself wondering in hindsight if it would have been fairer had it been subject to the following conditions:

– Three fifths majority in the popular vote
– Majority of nations must vote Leave

I do think that would have been fairer, and obviously would have been a win for Remain. Where we are now, with Leave winning by a slender 4% majority in the popular vote, and two out of the four nations voting Remain, it’s a hopeless muddle that will take years to resolve, and a great many people who are barely surviving today may go under in the interim.

Now, is there any scientific reason why Brexit might cause the system to break down? The answer is yes. A parliamentary system of government is a type of formal system, and Gödel’s Incompleteness Theorem tells us that every formal system is incomplete. A corollary to Gödel’s Incompleteness Theorem is that it’s always possible to introduce a formula into any formal system which will cause it to break down.

I learned about this stuff by reading Douglas Hofstadter’s excellent book Gödel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid back in the day. He manages to be entertaining and funny while dealing with some profound concepts. He constructed a wonderful dialogue to illustrate exactly the point I’m making about formal systems and how you can feed them a proposition that will cause them to break down. Read it here. He uses the metaphor of a record player, i.e. phonograph (you know, like vinyl… what your grandparents still have.)

His dialogues often feature Achilles, the Tortoise, and the Crab. Here, a smooth-talking salesman has persuaded the gullible Crab to purchase a phonograph alleged to be Perfect — able to reproduce any sounds whatsoever. However, the shrewd Tortoise quickly dashes the Crab’s unrealistic expectations by bringing over a record entitled “I Cannot Be Played on Record Player I.” Sure enough, when the Crab attempts to play the record, the sounds produced create vibrations which cause the phonograph to self-destruct into a gajillion pieces!

Now, a democratic government is not a formal system in the precise way that Principia Mathematica is a formal system. Still, many people believe their system of government is Perfect and can withstand any shock, when the truth is that it’s possible to seriously foul up the system by feeding it garbage like the Brexit referendum or Donald Trump.

While no formal system is perfect, democratic political systems can be beefed up so that they’re more resistant to certain types of attacks. Democracy is more likely to flourish where you have:

– A well-educated public that doesn’t easily fall for racist propaganda or other appeals to base sentiment.

– Strictly enforced campaign finance laws which prevent dark or foreign money from influencing elections, and nullify the results if violations are uncovered.

– A free press which takes its responsibilities seriously and actively “truth-squads” claims by politicians, not permitting blatant lies to gain equal footing with established facts (a problem sometimes known as “false balance”).

Arguably, the way the Brexit referendum caused the system to break down is that it attempted to take a complex, multi-dimensional and highly technical issue about which people also feel passionately, and reduce it to a one-time binary choice — based, furthermore, on often misleading information. There is an element of falsity to doing this which is similar to introducing wrong figures into an equation, or attempting to divide by zero. Hence the breakdown.

It’s not easy to put Humpty Dumpty back together again after a rupture of this magnitude. Somewhat paradoxically or non-intuitively, a second referendum may actually help. The thinking is that a second referendum held three years later would be based on more accurate information, a more realistic assessment of what leaving the EU would actually mean, and a recognition that it would be a process which would take years to complete, and would involve “reinventing the wheel” in many areas of daily life where the UK already enjoys good solutions based on EU membership.

Then too, Brexit has been called “a solution in search of a problem.” One of the problems invented by politicians selling Brexit door-to-door was the notion that the UK had somehow lost its sovereignty and needed to get it back by leaving the EU. Such claims may have lost their lustre in the face of increasing factory closures and job losses due to Brexit.

Immigration was portrayed as nothing but a bother (or even a danger); but now that restaurants are closing because they can’t find sufficient wait staff, and the NHS is challenged to fulfill its social care mission due to lack of nurses, some Leavers are realising that European immigrants were performing vital functions in jobs that native-born Britons don’t want and won’t take.

Admittedly, there’s still the “fact vs. feeling” hurdle to get over. As I discuss elsewhere, the real world data flowing in mostly favours Remain, while Leave sentiment is still being aggressively stoked by Nigel Farage et al. If that’s not a breakdown, I don’t know what is.

Another concern about a second referendum is that Leavers will trot out the same bag of dirty tricks which (let’s face it!) worked so well for them during the first referendum. Would we see a Breaking Point II poster, and would another MP be assassinated by a crazed right-winger? Or has the general public become less gullible, less excitable in the intervening years, and would campaign finance violations be monitored more closely second time ’round?

I remain optimistic that truth will gradually out, and real world data will eventually overtake the type of faux patriotism (read jingoism) which Farage is peddling. If Brexit cannot be stopped today, then delay, delay, delay! Perhaps it can be stopped tomorrow through democratic means. Democracy includes a rich palette of tools, and it’s absolutely wrong when Leavers claim that a one-time referendum is the only tool in the kit that’s relevant to deciding the issue of Brexit. The UK’s relationship with the EU is something living, vibrant, and essential in the lives of millions of people. It will take more than a one-time binary referendum to kill it off. When MPs take a firm stand by voting against Brexit, that’s just as much a part of the democratic process as was the original referendum. They are not being undemocratic (nor are they “traitors”) for trying to protect against a bad policy that would actually harm their constituents. Indeed, under a parliamentary system it is their obligation to do so. If anyone can be accurately described as traitorous, it’s those who give in to the tide of populism and support Brexit in spite of privately admitting that it’s bad policy.

Michael Howard

The views expressed are my own, and do not represent any other person or organization.

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Coming Attractions: Last Tango In Strasbourg

Like Bogart & Bacall or Tracy & Hepburn, Jean-Claude Juncker & Theresa May are better together. Now they explode across the screen as you’ve never seen them before!

(right-click to enlarge)

Two bored escapists find themselves thrown together in a room, as reality recedes around them, and only their fantasies are real. They meet, and part forever… only to begin the cycle again with renewed passion. The film’s raw portrayal of hard line negotiations resulted in varying degrees of censorship around the world. Now this newly restored version reveals the shocking relationship between two lost souls — as different as night and day, yet somehow drawn together — from every possible angle.

“A landmark in movie history” — The New Yorker

“One of the most important cinematic achievements” — Le Journal Du Dimanche

“This movie is more vile than Doctor Who, if such a thing were possible” — Mary Whitehouse

“We applaud the innovative use of dairy products” — Dairy Association of America

If there’s one movie you see this year, it must be Last Tango In Strasbourg.

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The Brexit Unicorn – Doctor Who vs. Boris Johnson

That pesky Brexit Unicorn has been sighted again! Is it real or a legend? Should we believe in it? Who would think up a crazy notion like this? And in a contest of wits, who will win: Doctor Who or Boris Johnson?

BREAKING: The Bear & Staff changes its name to The Brexit Unicorn:

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A humourous look at latest Brexit developments

The impasse Mrs May has reached in Brexit negotiations suggests that thinking outside the box is now required — perhaps even thinking from beyond the pond (echo effect here).

In between the extremes of Remain and a No-Deal Brexit, there are Brexits of various tensile strength: from the hopelessly flaccid Norway variants to the heroic Cox’s Codpiece (battery powered, and comes with attachments to Hoover your draperies).

If Mr Cox should ever fail utterly at diplomacy, I’m sure his services would be in high demand with a barbershop quartet!

I am no expert in UK politics, but here in the States I know the best way to sidestep a political disaster is to appoint a committee to study the problem. If the committee is permanent, this guarantees a permanent non-solution. The problem will simply be studied endlessly. A side benefit is that the more useless among elected officials can be relegated to the committee in question, where they will languish in well-earned obscurity.

Lest you complain that this doesn’t actually solve the problem, I will chirpily reply: That’s a feature! (not a bug). Some problems can’t actually be solved, but politicians stick out their chests (or whatever body part is most readily at hand) and proclaim they will solve said problem directly after next election. Of course, they can’t — but setting up a committee at least makes it look like they’re doing something.

I propose the creation of Permanent Brexit Committee to meet annually until the year 2120. If at that time they have reached no clear consensus on how Brexit can be most favourably and auspiciously achieved on behalf of the British people, then their mandate may be extended to the year 2220.

This solution is perfectly geared to the problem of Brexit, it being like a cat that thinks it wants to go out — only when the door is opened, it sits there by the doorstep realising all the benefits of staying in, including safety, security, regular meals, and a dog that it’s gotten used to circumnavigating.


Sidebar: More on the Irish Backstop

Brexit junkies would know that one of the sticking points in negotiations has been the so-called “Irish backstop” — not to be confused with an Irish backrest, i.e., a barstool. The Irish backstop is so incomprehensible to neophytes that (Photoshoplike) it’s spawned a series of “for dummies” books and videos — or, as the French say, “pour les Nuls“:

Unfortunately, these books and videos are either unavailable in Westminster, or else (like Brexit itself) they’re a few sandwiches short of a picnic.

The Irish backstop has nothing to do with Alpha Channels (the perennial bane of Photoshop n00bs). Rather, the essence of the problem comes down to this: How do you have a Customs border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland without it being a hard border that people will shoot at? (as they did quite often during the “Troubles,” before the Good Friday Agreement declared that there would no longer be any such hard border with checkpoints).

The answer, for politicians, was childishly simple: use AA! (Alternative Arrangements). But what exactly are these Alternative Arrangements? Mental telepathy was considered, but rejected as requiring too much discipline. Black light and fog machines were likewise nixed as being too showy. The current fad is for an “apps” solution involving mobile phones, as explained by the Beeb here (scroll down). Integral to this technical solution is the mobile inspection unit or MIU, cheerily described by drivewyze.com as a “trucker’s surprise.” (“Darling, you shouldn’t have.”)

Unfortunately, the MIU acronym is alread taken, as illustrated by this charitably brief dialogue:

“Have you seen Pat lately?”
“No, he’s gone MIU.” [missing in Ulster]

Lots of people went MIU during the Troubles, and Brexit seems in a fair way to duplicate that phenomenon.

There are other potential problems with the acronym. For example, Wikipedia helpfully points out that Miu is the surname of a famous Romanian virtuoso cimbalom player, while the fashion conscious would surely know that Miu Miu is an Italian clothing and accessory line (a subsidiary of Prada). Devotees of the high art of French cinema would likewise know that Miou-Miou is one of its most beloved icons. (How I enjoyed her performance in Montparnasse-Pondichéry!)

Nor can one escape the dilemma by adding more repetitions of the acronym, for if one cries out MIU, MIU, MIU! one is apt to be mistaken for a cat and given a saucer of milk, or else taken for a Zen Buddhist and granted enlightenment. Either way, if you’re hauling a load of widgets from Northern Ireland to the Republic of Ireland, you still risk getting your brains blown out when crossing the border-which-isn’t-really-a-border-because-we-say-it-isn’t.


The Beach Boys’ recording of “Winds of Change” from their M.I.U. album, named after Maharishi International University

Michael Howard

The views expressed are my own, and do not represent any other person or organization.

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EU’s Juncker hasn’t read his George Lakoff

Today’s topics: Brexit, poindexters, I am not a nerd, and yes we have no bananas. Oh, and Donald Tusk’s “special place in hell” comment.

In an impassioned (for him) but possibly counterproductive speech, European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker said he had a message “for those who are saying that the Commission is composed by blind, stupid, stubborn technocrats…” What was his message? No one knows, because the audience quickly drowned him out with cries of “They’re right!”

Okay, maybe they didn’t, but the point is: This is a prime example of what George Lakoff might call “negative framing,” e.g. Richard Nixon’s “I am not a crook” speech, or Monty Python’s “There is no cannibalism in the British Navy.”

Once you plant the image in the mind of your audience that the EC might at least possibly consist of blind, stupid, stubborn technocrats, you then have to fight to overcome that image. I like President Juncker well enough, but this is a gaff which invites parody:

What Juncker should have done is open with a couple of jokes about bendy bananas, or perhaps a musical number entitled “Yes, We Have No Bendy Bananas.” Then, once the crowd was warmed up, he could have continued on a positive note: “I come to you today with good news! EC members have excellent eyesight and fare well on intelligence tests. They’re super flexible. They include sports jocks and passionate lovers. No, there are absolutely no poindexters in the EC. Oops! I did it again…”

Monty Python served up a prime example of intentional negative framing in “POLITICIANS – An Apology”:

We would like to apologize for the way in which politicians are represented in this programme. It was never our intention to imply that politicians are weak-kneed, political time-servers who are concerned more with their personal vendettas and private power struggles than the problems of government, nor to suggest at any point that they sacrifice their credibility by denying free debate on vital matters in the mistaken impression that party unity comes before the well-being of the people they supposedly represent. Nor to imply at any stage that they are squabbling little toadies without an ounce of concern for the vital social problems of today. Nor indeed do we intend that viewers should consider them as crabby ulcerous little self-seeking vermin with furry legs and an excessive addiction to alcohol and certain explicit sexual practices which some people might find offensive.

We are sorry if this impression has come across.

— Monty Python’s Flying Circus, s03e06

As for poindexters (a.k.a. nerds), this YouTube attempts to explain the derivation:

Props to Simon Whistler! (I’ve seen a lovely portrait of his mother.) But the video fails to note that the term “poindexter” was further popularized by The Simpsons TV show, which emerged in the late 1980s — the same period in which Admiral John Poindexter gave testimony to Congress about the Contragate scandal:

Note memorable examples of framing in the clip. There can be a cascade effect to memes. This one may include the Poindexter from Felix The Cat, the Poindexter from Revege of the Nerds, but also the Poindexter brought to you by the U.S. Navy — which like the British Navy, has no history of cannibalism. Or at least, very little.

Poindexter from Felix The Cat

Poindexter from Revenge of the Nerds

The King of Poindexters: Admiral John

Was there really an outbreak of “Poindex-teria” in 1987? The author of this Chicago Tribune piece seems to have tongue (rather than pipe) firmly planted in cheek:

The country loved it. Young men flocked to barber shops to get “Dexter-dome” haircuts. Young women made passes at men who wore glasses. There were T-shirts: “Poindexter: What a Way with Words!” There were buttons: “We Luv Ya, Dex!” There were even bumper stickers: “Pipesmokers Do It With Their Teeth.”

At Navy recruiting stations, the lines stretched into the street. And things were even better at tobacco shops.

“It’s been unbelievable,” exclaimed one happy pipe salesman, whose store had a life-size cardboard Poindexter propped in the window. “It was the way the TV showed every puff rising to the ceiling–just mesmerizing. People come in here–they’ve been listening to this guy’s testimony for days–and all they want to know is, ‘What’s he been smoking?'”

— Rick Horowitz, “I Wish I Could Hold A Pipe The Way He Does”

Anyway, there are limits to George Lakoff’s theories on framing. But in the most trivial case, it’s easy to see how we can communicate better by creating our own positive frame, rather than trying to rebut someone else’s negative frame (Juncker’s fatal and risible mistake). As Lakeoff says in “The Power of Positive Persistence”:

Framing is about reclaiming our power to decide what’s important. Framing is about making sure WE set the terms of the debate, using our language and our ideas. … There’s a place for angry response and outrage. That’s only human. But we also need strategic action to make sure every passing day fuels positive action towards progress.

Sadly, Brexiteers did a better job of framing the issue than Remainers: a big red bus with a baldfaced lie about giving £350 million a week to the NHS, plus appeals to World War II nationalism and fears of Turkish hordes invading Britain. Deceptive framing obscures the real issues, arousing people’s passions about non-issues, leading them to make bad decisions.

What are the spoils of Brexit victory? Bendy bananas and faux sovereignty:

Brexiteers will poo-poo the prospect of a bananaless Britain as Project Fear. Meanwhile, unemployment is expected to rise, and The Guardian cites a new study claiming that Brexit is already costing the UK £500 million a week.

Jean-Claude Juncker seems like a good enough fellow, and the EU is an essential organisation for maintaining peace in Europe, as well as planning for economic prosperity and environmental responsibility. It does have its nerdish, technocratic aspects, but that’s no reason for the UK to up and leave it. A recent (fairly rude) comedy sketch on the German heute-show had a brilliant sugggestion, which was for Britain to stay in the EU while blowing off its rules whenever it suits them, just as Germany does. Quoting mock correspondent Birte Schneider, “English people, you can still stay in the EU and be an egotistical a-hole.”


Sidebar: Tusk comment spurs row in House of Commons – Bercow in top form

While quite funny, this clip is an example of dueling frames: The first MP (Peter Bone) frames Tusk’s comment more or less as “To hell with Brexiteers!” while the second MP (Joanna Cherry, who quotes Tusk more accurately) frames it as “Those who promoted Brexit with no plan for safely implementing it are deserving of blame.” Speaker John Bercow adds a note of levity by referring to Bone as a “delicate flower” easily wounded. The clip is a mini insight into UK politics, with Tory Brexiteers trash-talking the EU, and rebel Scots defending it. The trash talk got more toxic on Twitter, accompanied by the ritual burning of the EU flag:

Two of the more over-the-top responses to Donald Tusk’s (understandable) expression of exasperation at some who promoted #Brexit

What was it Monty Python said in their apology? “…never our intention to imply that politicians are weak-kneed, political time-servers who are concerned more with their personal vendettas and private power struggles than the problems of government, nor to suggest at any point that they sacrifice their credibility by denying free debate on vital matters in the mistaken impression that party unity comes before the well-being of the people they supposedly represent.”

Oh well. Maybe some right-wingers can do without fruit, veg, and jobs. They can live on hate alone.

Let’s go out on a cheery note with Bananarama singing “Cruel Summer” and throwing bits of ‘nanas at police:

Michael Howard

The views expressed are my own, and do not represent any other person or organization.

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‘Twas The Night Before Brexit – GROUP READING! (YouTube)

I really like making things. After all, life can be so routine and boring. But when you make something, you never quite know how it’ll turn out. With any luck, the result may surprise you.

I had written a poem parody called ‘Twas The Night Before Brexit, and encouraged by the kind response from fellow bloggers (thank you!), I decided to turn it into a video:

I have a love-hate relationship with technology. I know technology can be incredibly useful, and I do use it; but I also hate the way our society is becoming so digitised. If you have a problem with a company, good luck reaching a human! And I hate getting calls from sooper friendly chat bots who are apparently programmed to sound like 18-year old girls, so happy they finally reached you, trying to keep you on the line until a real salesperson can take over and scam you with a credit card deal or Microsoft Support nonsense. Is that not the pits?

In the 80s, I was heavily into making music with synthesisers, and even eked out a minor living creating “patches” that other musicians could use. I still remember when synthesisers first emerged as expressive musical instruments with Switched-On-Bach, the Beatles’ Abbey Road album, and Chick Corea’s blazing synth leads on Where Have I Known You Before. But gradually, synthesisers became a cheap substitute for real musicians, and no low-budget production was complete without a fakey-sounding ensemble — a canned, frozen orchestra playing lifeless, soulless music.

I also used to write pop songs, which was fun even though I never really got anywhere. Back in the 80s I penned this lyric:

Computer bars where
Machines go to dance
Flashing their software
They pivot and prance

Time was humans
Could congregate too
I think of days…
Me and Susie Q would boogaloo

CHORUS:
Now it’s early to bed
And likewise early to rise
We serve the circuitry
We’ve gown to despise
We’re turning over
In graves we have dug
Machine is ruler
We can’t pull the plug.

Won’t someone save us
From this terrible fate?
Calling all aliens,
Please don’t get here too late.

Please send advisers
Who are licensed to kill
Destroy all silicon
And send us the bill.

CHORUS:
Now it’s early to bed
And early to rise
We serve the circuitry
We’ve gown to despise
We’re turning over
In graves we have dug
Machine is ruler
We can’t pull the plug.

We’ve heard that Mercury
Has creatures for hire
We’ll give them anything
They need or desire.

Please send advisers
Who are licensed to kill
Destroy all silicon
And send us the bill.

CHORUS:
Now it’s early to bed
And early to rise
We serve the circuitry
We’ve gown to despise
We’re turning over
In graves we have dug
Machine is ruler
We can’t pull the plug.

Today, I like how some people use technology in a knowing, ironic way — sometimes even to counteract or engage in open warfare with tech’s dehumanizing aspects, going up against the people who send armies of chat bots and sales bots to invade our lives. There’s even one fellow, Roger Anderson, who creates chat bots to interact with telemarketers and waste their time — with hilarious results. His theory, in essence, is that the more time scammers spend interacting with bots, the less time they’ll spend bilking seniors out of their life savings.

So, given how much I hate things that are fakey, the challenge in creating the “Night Before Brexit” video was to try and use technology in a knowing, ironic, and humourous way. Yes, I used synthetic voices, but I tried to make them as expressive as possible. I hope I succeeded, but that’s up to viewers/listeners to judge.

There were innumerable technical challenges. The Scottish lass has oodles of personality, so I gave her some of the best lines. But she tends to speak much faster than the others, so I sometimes had to slow her down by as much as 15%, which does produce artifacts. Still, I was very happy with her performance!

As for the poem itself, it’s only one of many Brexit parodies based on Clark Clement Moore’s “A Visit From St Nick”. Some are quite funny, and some have gone viral. In my version, I wanted to do things a little differently. My two main criticisms of other versions making the rounds are that the authors don’t bother to make the lines scan properly as poetry, and often the language is too steeped in political rhetoric and doesn’t create a proper tableau, or pictures in the mind.

Now, if you write poetry, you might have had the experience that some verses are workmanlike and help establish the setting, but there’s a particular verse you like because of the pictures it creates:

As I blinked in the moonlight, there appeared a fine elf
Playing ‘Scotland The Brave’ — it was Nicola herself!
Her colours were grand, and crocheted on her nightie
Was “Bollocks to Brexit, and a new vote for Blighty”.

Call me vain (and I am), but I like that verse so much! I admire Nicola Sturgeon’s rebel stance, and the way the Scottish National Party holds mini-insurrections during debates in the House of Commons (usually beginning with “It’s an insult to Scotland…”). The poem as a whole takes easy shots at right-wingers like Nigel Farage and Boris Johnson, portraying them as drunken, lecherous, toffee-nosed windbags who exploit Santa’s helpers (who are likeable SNP elves). Not the most nuanced take on UK politics, but in a parody you go for stark contrasts.

As a satirist, I insist on being politically incorrect in a variety of ways, so no need to tally them up. I intend no offence whatsoever, and am simply going for cheap laughs wherever I can get them. The views expressed by the (fictitious) Duchess of Ducks and Duke of North Prickly are not my views, and Santa’s (shall we say unique?) way of dispatching the Johnson is not meant to encourage any enterprising kidnappers at large in the Kingdom.

I’ve always been an odd duck. What interests, amuses, or enlightens me may not have the same effect on others. But I can say with gratitude that the way the video turned out has managed to surprise me.

I’m good at creating things, but not so good at promoting them. So if you find this video a helpful bit of agitprop in the anti-Brexit campaign, please reblog it, tweet a link to it, add it to your Facebook, or otherwise publicise it. The music is from YouTube’s royalty-free Audio Library. Thank you.

Michael Howard

The views expressed are my own, and do not represent any other person or organization.

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