Obsessed With Brexit

Image Credit: ChiralJon.
Published under a cc-by-2.0 Creative Commons license.
Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

The United Kingdom looks like it’s tearing itself apart. I’ve been watching reports from the BBC, CNN, The Guardian, and some YouTube channels in an attempt to grasp what’s happening with this thing called “Brexit.” As someone from the U.S., I’m equal parts fascinated and disturbed by the United Kingdom leaving the European Union. My hope is that everyone over there will be okay – no matter what happens. My fears are that all of this drama is happening for no good reason.

One of the side effects of all this attention is that many people on my side of the Atlantic are more aware of what’s going on abroad. Personally, I’m a fan of John Bercow’s style of Speaker of the House of Commons. The man is every good British stereotype, although I don’t know much about him outside of his penchant for yelling “Ord-a! Oordaaa!” If the whole fiasco was just about the antics of him and Parliament, Brexit would be something resembling an okay comedy show.

Behind it all, this is about the removal of a large member of an organization which – at least nominally – has stabilized Europe over the past half-century. This isn’t some minor thing. The last two times Europeans went to war, they were World Wars. Body counts were in the hundreds of millions. If such a thing were to happen now, the results would be just as disastrous. With this in mind, I wonder how the United Kingdom is comfortable being an outsider to something which governs its neighbors.

Of course, I don’t live in the UK. I’m not familiar with what’s going on there. All I see are different news reports. The situation changes depending upon who is talking. Everyone claims to want to conduct the will of the British people. If they are to be believed – and the recent votes are any indication – the British people don’t want to do anything. Naturally, I find that difficult to believe.

Something I find lacking is perspective from the European side of things. From what I’ve seen, it appears that people on the continent of Europe are just watching a train wreck unfold before their eyes. There’s nothing they can do to stop it or help. I can’t imagine what it must be like for them to hear people in the UK say they don’t want anything to do with them. My worry is that it will negatively affect them and their relationship with the UK.

In the end, the only thing I can do is watch. But I’m concerned for everyone in the EU and UK. After all is said and done, I hope everyone’s going to have enough time to recover from this.

Food Chain

Image courtesy of Stockvault.

There are no civilized animals left in the broken corpse of the city. Ants scurry across concrete rubble, illiterate to faded signs and oblivious to rotted furniture. They do as they have done for eons, stealing plant matter that grew over asphalt roads.

Rodents – mice and rats – dart underneath the charred wreckage of a supermarket. They fight over disintegrated boxes of cereal. Plastic linings still kept the food fresh. It lasts longer than the printed expiration date.

Past behemoth towers of glass and re-bar twisted from explosives and melted by heat, through brackish water collecting in a crumbled hot tub, snakes chase their mammalian prey without fear. Fangs and unhinged jaws. The feel of a heartbeat fading as it moves towards a reptilian belly. A leathery eyelid wipes the black pearls of its eyes. They reflect an interloper. The snake disappears into the dusty remnants of what used to be a sewer.

This interloper has two eyes and long, thin limbs. Hands and feet have opposable thumbs. Head to toe, the interloper is covered in fur. Genitals dangle from between its legs. It pulls over a metal sign giving directions to a place that doesn’t exist. Underneath is treasure. A metal can. Food.

Picking up the can, the visiting primate takes it and finds a sturdy enough rock. Crumbled concrete won’t do. There’s a jagged, rusty blade with its wooden handle halfway rotted off. The creature sets the can on the ground and holds the knife over it. Stab, stab, and there’s a hiss of air escaping. Nothing foul. Edible food.

If the creature had a bigger brain cavity like its ancestors, it might have appreciated the tile floor littered with broken backsplash tile. There was a sink, but that had been melted by intense heat long ago. The plumbing wouldn’t have worked even if it had been there. Only half of a stainless steel refrigerator door marked where the butcher block island used to sit. Here was this creature, sucking food from a can in a place that saw much more food than it could imagine.

A flicker of movement off to the primate’s right, stones shifting. It stops eating long enough to sniff the air with a wet nose. Nothing. The interloper goes back to its meal.

There’s an explosion and debris flies everywhere. This new arrival as scales wrapped over corded muscle. Its arms end in sharp claws. Its feet keep it balanced and upright during the attack. On its head are two larger black pearls which mirror the world, darkly. Claws sink into the primate’s hide. The predator’s mouth opens with purple gums and two front fangs. These sink into the primate’s cheek and neck. Lower fangs come up and pin the prey in place.

Muscles in the upper jaw squeeze taut, pumping venom and engorging the primate’s soft tissue. While the two animals hold each other, the predator feels the primate’s blood pumping. Leathery eyelids wipe the predator’s eyes.

Now the predator releases its victim. Claws and fangs retract. Now all it has to do is wait for the poison to break down tissue. That process takes about an hour.

The primate might not be dead when it begins to feed.

Little Vampires

“Sleep tight, don’t let the bedbugs bite” has taken on a whole new meaning. I’ve learned a lot of new things in the last 24 hours. For example, the origin of “sleep tight” isn’t a reference to beds made with ropes. Rather, it’s just that the word “tight” was used differently back in time.

The second part of the phrase hasn’t lost its meaning. Yesterday, I discovered the coven of a group of little vampires living under my bed. According to Wikipedia, these insect bloodsuckers are proliferating like crazy. They’re pretty clever, too. Which makes them hard to kill.

That’s pretty much what I’ve been up to today. I’ve sprayed so much insecticide that I have to keep the window open. Even four hours after spraying, hanging out in here is giving me a headache and my lungs hurt. I won’t be able to sleep in my bed tonight.

My hope is that it’s not for nothing. A phrase that I used to just repeat without question now has tangible meaning. I don’t think I’ll ever use it again.

What’s Happening To Star Trek?

Image courtesy of Stockvault.

I have to say this first: I’m a fan of Star Trek. Although I’ve been working on a Dystopian project and don’t always have a sunny disposition, the optimism of the science fiction franchise is something that warms my heart. Back in law school, I managed to get my hands on the entire series of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine on DVD. I try to watch Star Trek: The Next Generation whenever it comes on BBC America or elsewhere.

This post by Wyrd Smythe got me thinking about the franchise again. Yeah, it was about another show (NCIS), but there was a short aside for my beloved science fiction alma mater. My comment was getting long-winded, so I decided I needed to post something here instead.

To be fair, I haven’t seen Star Trek: Discovery, so I can’t comment on the good or the bad parts of it. However, I have seen most everything else. The original series is something I used to watch in reruns, and I was in the States for the first few seasons of TNG. DS9 is something I had to catch up on, since the local network kept changing when it aired. I gave up on the later series, though I have re-watched most of Voyager and Star Trek: Enterprise.

I realize that the main thing in common that I don’t like about the later series is that they tended to rehash stories and plots from the previous series. The shows felt empty, devoid of whatever spark that made them something I was interested in when I was younger. The newer movies were fine on their own. What I didn’t appreciate there was their use of old characters. To me, it got in the way of the story rather than helping it along.

For whatever reason, it feels like the entire franchise is scared to rely on entirely new exploration. Case in point, Discovery hasn’t been interesting to me when they announced one of the characters in the show was related to Spock. Why was that even necessary?

Maybe it’s because of the world-building in TOS, TNG, and DS9. A lot of stuff happened in those shows. Some of it would be a nightmare to fully keep up with in shows that might draw on it.

I don’t go to conventions, but I do try to keep current with new stuff. If I wasn’t on such a limited budget, I might even have gotten CBS’s downloading service to try out Discovery. In short, I’m not categorically against new Star Trek offerings. I am, however, disappointed in what’s come out since Voyager.

I understand not every fan is going to love every part of every new show that’s out there. But really, I do miss having a Star Trek show on TV that I can watch. Discovery feels like a gimmick to buy digital service for one thing. I feel like if they were really putting an investment into it, it should have made its way onto the network proper. Considering they have shows like Bull (a show which I really don’t like for many reasons), it would have been better than what they’re currently offering.

It is my hope that Star Trek will have a new show on cable or network TV or a streaming service that I use. Maybe Netflix could get rights to something (they generally do good work over there). Hell, I’d even watch something on Amazon. But what I’d really like is just an attempt to do a new show. Nothing related to Kirk, Picard, Sisko, or Janeway. Just something new.