the corner office

a blog, by Colin Pretorius

John Wick: A review in one line

They killed his dog and stole his car, so he shot them all in the face. Entertaining.

{2017.08.26 22:03} : Comments (0)


Trump is something the nation did not know it needed:

Fastidious people who worry that the president's West Virginia and Ohio performances - the alpha male as crybaby - diminished the presidency are missing the point, which is: For now, worse is better. Diminution drains this office of the sacerdotal pomposities that have encrusted it. There will be 42 more months of this president's increasingly hilarious-beyond-satire apotheosis of himself, leavened by his incessant whining about his tribulations...

People forget that all the power they want their team to have to get things done, doesn't stay with their team forever.

{2017.07.29 22:49} : Comments (0)

Fly Tipping

This was all over the papers today: Travellers leave bath tubs, fridges and mattresses behind among 250 tonnes of waste after being evicted from field .

We've been following the story for the past few weeks. The field is just down the road from where we used to live, and my cycle route to and from work still takes me past it. With the recent heat, the area is starting to smell decidedly fruity, and I can't imagine the people in the expensive houses across the road are enjoying life very much at the moment.

A few years ago (when we still lived close by), plans were put forward to build flats on this field, and we got letters in our post boxes and petitions trying to prevent the development. Density and traffic and character of the neighbourhood etc etc. NIMBYism must've won, because nothing happened with the field. So when we first saw mention of the rubbish, I had chuckled and thought the owners would probably be saying "serves you right, enjoy the stench".

Reading this article though, the field is apparently co-owned by a group of local owners. Perhaps they bought up the land after the last episode? Were these the owners who were trying to develop the land?

Imaginations in the M-P household are running riot. Is there more to this than meets the eye? 250 tonnes of waste in 2 weeks, including bath tubs and fridges? That's industrial scale "doing stuff", but what? Nefrarious plots and schemes to reduce the value of the land before some developer swoops in to buy it and sling up flats, with local residents saying "fine, anything but more Travellers"? I wonder.

{2017.07.24 21:38} : Comments (0)

Somerdale to Skarbimierz

A long but interesting article in the London Review of Books: Somerdale to Skarbimierz: James Meek follows Cadbury to Poland (via).

It covers the moving of one of Cadbury's factories from the UK to Poland, Cadbury's takeover by Kraft, how Poland has grown post-communism, helped by EU funding, the general migration of jobs to Eastern Europe, but without the kind of economic security which wealthy Western countries had previously enjoyed. All that, tied into Brexit and the effect on UK communities as well as Poland's current right-wing, increasingly authoritarian political landscape.

Overall I disagree with Meek's conclusions about the economics of it all, but there's enough reality in the article to challenge whichever political viewpoint one might hold. One can't ignore the social cost and injustices highlighted in the article, yet neither can one ignore the extent to which regulation and lots of state money results in perverse incentives and corporate capture.

My favourite line of the article is this:

These countries, until recently, were totally indifferent; they didn't pay attention to even more painful processes going on in Eastern Europe. The only advice they had for us back then was for us to work harder. We took it as good advice.

{2017.07.05 23:15} : Comments (0)

That Turned Out Well

UK elections are over. Can the divisions now heal, the nation asks? I think not, if my Facebook feed is anything to go by. Everybody still hates everybody else.


  • Theresa May: hubris, meet nemesis.

  • Jeremy Corbyn: meet the opposition benches. Again.

  • Everybody else: soz.

For me, I don't like May or Corbyn so I was expecting the outcome to be 50/50 no matter how it went. And despite everyone expecting a landslide, in the buildup I found myself thinking 'we thought Brexit would never happen' and 'we thought Trump would never get in,' and so when the exit polls came out on Thursday night, it wasn't an unfamiliar feeling.

But not entirely familiar either, because unlike Trump and the Leavers, Labour didn't win. But then, neither did the Tories, really. So actually it turned out to be win-win for me. With Alex Salmond losing his seat as a cherry on top. Not that like I like cherries. Or Alex Salmond, as you may guess.

This is, I admit, a purely selfish assessment. But assuming we get something akin to the status quo and who-knows-what with Brexit which was likely to be the outcome anyway, it may yet turn out to not be the end of the world.

{2017.06.13 22:09} : Comments (0)

Hard Brexit and the Hard Left

I had a little chuckle at this Guardian post from yesterday's politics live feed, about the Communist Party of Great Britain's decision to stand aside for Labour during these elections:

The Communist party's decision to stand aside is unlikely to be of much use to Labour. According to the Guardian's 2015 results charts, the party received just 275 votes across the whole of the UK in that election.

Needless to say, the statement from the CPGB has this gem (emphasis mine):

Any reverses for Labour will be used as a pretext by the right-wing pro-EU, pro-NATO faction in the Parliamentary Labour Party and its trade union allies to launch yet another bid to remove Jeremy Corbyn and take the Labour Party back to the neoliberal and pro-war policies of the past.

Thus the Communist Party says:

  • ...

  • Leave the EU Single Market and NATO!

  • No to any free trade treaty with the EU that denies workers' rights and the role of the public sector!

So, not exactly Remainers then.

Who cares, for 275 votes, one might ask? At this point I digress - the interesting bit comes down to the CPGB's history, and Jezza's ties to the party. Somewhere along the way since Corbyn won the leadership election, I've developed a slightly macabre interest in the arcane history of the British Left.

A few links so I don't forget them:

I've always joked that Corbyn thought the wrong side won the Cold War, put all of it together and I wasn't far off the mark. End of digression.

The main point goes back to a part I removed from my previous post, and immediately regretted: the way I see it, in order to win votes, Theresa May is a lukewarm Remainer masquerading as an arch-Brexiter, while Jeremy Corbyn is an arch-Brexiter masquerading as a lukewarm Remainer (*). You can quibble over details, but Jezza's gang of old-school lefties are as anti-EU as the worst of UKIP. The irony is that pro-Remain Corbynistas have to shoulder no small part of the blame for us leaving the EU.

(*) I initially said Corbyn was a lukewarm Remainer in order to lose votes. I'd argue that was the case for the referendum, it's probably not fair to say that now.

{2017.04.25 22:26} : Comments (0)

Election 2017

So we can look forward to 7 weeks of virtue signalling, hyperbole, tribalism and screeching on social media. Yay.

You might say that is my contribution to the hyperbole and screeching. If you came here earlier, you got to read my take on May and Corbyn and Farron. But I re-read it and decided I wasn't being particularly nice about any of them and it's a bit rich of me to moan about what people are going to be like online, and then do the same thing, so I've edited it away.

It's not that I don't have opinions about them all but I'd rather find a better tone with which to say it, first.

All I'll keep is this: I don't plan to vote for any of them.

{2017.04.18 22:42} : Comments (0)

Being offline

Technology is great but I don't like the idea of voice-activated personal assistance devices, thank you, especially ones with an internet connection and which connect to the mothership.

At the same time, it's a given I think that they're going to become ubiquitous.

This xkcd hits the nail on the head. How will society deal with this 'intrusion' into our privacy? Do we get to the point where you go to visit someone and have to politely ask them what devices they have, and to unplug them from the wall? What about smart mobile phones?

{2017.04.17 22:59} : Comments (0)


If there were any doubt that the UK is now a one-party state, the Tories won the by-election in Copeland. First governing party to gain in a by-election since the Thatcher era, and taking a seat that's been staunchly Labour for 80 years.

The only reasonable explanation is that Theresa May is forcing Jezza to stick around because she has some kompromat of him tucking into a Big Mac or something.

{2017.02.24 22:30} : Comments (0)

The Original Alternative Facts

Steven Landsburg:

To what extent have the churches, by training people to accept obvious nonsense without blinking, created the conditions in which Trumpism can flourish?

I was having a grumble about this just the other day. Fake news is suddenly a big issue, but human beings have been doing fake news and alternative facts for, like, ever.

(and to be fair, religious types are not the only ones guilty of it).

{2017.02.23 21:24} : Comments (0)

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