A quick word about the Glasgow School of Art fire

Glasgow’s School of Art suffered a second devastating fire in four years last weekend which has left what’s left of the historic building facing demolition. MacIntosh’s masterpiece will probably never look as it did, even with the best restoration in the worls.

There’s going to be months of investigations as to why the School of Art suffered a second fire, and indeed, the rumour mill is in overdrive but apparently Private Eye have reported on the restoration since the 2014 fire and lack of sprinklers thanks to one or more of the trustees.

This is also the second major fire to hit Sauchiehall Street this year that’s left buildings to be demolished and a large part of the street closed while demolition takes place. Today it also became clear that the fire may not have started at the School of Art, but at the ABC/O2.

Conspiracy theories are ablaze across Glasgow but considering we’ve went from wondering how a fire could start in the School of Art to how on earth it could have started at the ABC, the best word of advice to wait to hear what the investigators say in the weeks and months ahead. It might end up being more fantastic than we can all imagine which is often the way with the truth.

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Solidarity for Scotland

After Wednesday’s extraordinary events where the SNP walked out of PMQ’s, we have a situation where yet again in a matter of days everything that seemed fixed and certain is nothing of the kind. The walk-out is international news as well as the talk of buses, workplaces and every corner of Scotland and the UK, while Yes groups are reporting boosts in membership to go along with the SNP reporting a sharp increase in new members since yesterday afternoon. People now know the Tories plan to grab powers devolved to Scotland and the walk-out did more to raise the issue than anything else has so hopefully this don’t give a fuck attitude carries on.

We even have Murray Foote, the originator of the infamous ‘Vow’ in 2014 coming out now in support of independence. Not just supporting efforts to protect devolution, but actual independence.

Basically if the man who helped win it for the UK government and the establishment in 2014 goes ”fuck this, give me a Saltire, Indy now!’then we’re at the point where anything is possible.

But before we all get ahead of ourselves let’s remember that although the Tories are against the ropes, they still have the entire UK establishment (and other useful idiots) supporting them, and the Union. Then there’s Labour eternal promise of jam tomorrow which, for now, has the supposed ”radical left” (though I don’t see anything radical about Labour supporting a system designed to create poverty and inequality) still making doe eyes at it in the hope that it’ll work out. Support needs to be won but right now it does seem like the tide has turned and maybe, just maybe we may find ourselves getting out of the mess we’re in.

So caution for now, but a wee bit of positivity is allowed.

Devolution in Scotland is over

At the start of the year, Scottish Secretary David Mundell promised (in as much as one can take the word of a Tory) as debate on the EU Withdrawal BIll and the return of powers from the EU to not go to Holyrood as they should, but to Westminster.

To make devolution in Scotland simple, the settlement (contained in various Scotland acts) means that what is not reserved, is devolved and Westminster can’t ‘normally’ touch anything devolved. The EU Withdrawal Bill contains a clause where that’s ripped up and they can walk all over the devolved powers of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. There’s a whole load of powers Westminster wants control of that would, bluntly, make life in Scotland a fuckload harder for people, and in many cases people who have a fucking hard life now as it is.

Yesterday the EU Withdrawal BIll was debated and devolution was allotted a whole 15 minutes, but that was filibusted by the Tories so devolution effectively began being dismantled but a vote took place and the chance to oppose it was laid out. Sadly only all the SNP and Plaid Cymru MP’s voted against it, with a lone Lib Dem, Caroline Lucas of the Greens and one lone Labour MP in the shape of Dennis Skinner. Labour abstained and the Tories won.

This also happened last night.

During the debate SNP Westminster leader Ian Blackford asked: “Mr Speaker, what options are available to us in this house to ensure that the Government understands real concern among people in Scotland at this unprecedented power grab, and how can we make sure that our voices are heard?”

In response, an MP can be heard shouting “suicide” back at Robertson.

Today during PMQ’s, Ian Blackford, leader of the SNP in the Commons, was asked to leave by the Speaker, which prompted the entire mass of the SNP ranks to walk as one in protest, solidarity and disgust as to how they, the Scottish Government, Holyrood, the principle of devolution and indeed, the people are being held in contempt.

Yes, the walkout was a stunt but it’s a stunt that got this issue into the headlines and now more people know what’s going on, not to mention the sight of Tory MP’s (and their useful idiots on the Labour ranks) jeering and sneering at Scottish MP’s will have caused blood pressure to rise in a good number of people, and indeed, the SNP are reporting a surge in memberships today off the back of this.

I’m glad this has happened. I was getting tired of the SNP sitting around doing little, and seemingly doing little and I was getting tired of them being polite in the company of arseholes that make up the Tory benches, and although I appreciate Nicola Sturgeon’s cool head, she was in the middle of a pincer movement between Ruth Davidson’s loyalist hard right Unionism and Jeremy Corbyn’s outdated ‘socialist’ Unionism. The last few weeks there’s been positive signs of something happening to fight this power grab, and now finally we’ve got something which took bollocks but only happened after years of Scotland being repeatedly being ignored, bullied and treated like contempt.

Well, the genie is out the back now. The Tories tonight seem to be closing ranks but the question for the Lib Dems and Labour (who voted in Holyrood to fight the power grab) is where do they stand? For now this isn’t about independence (though that’s the nuclear option) but preserving the place of Scotland in the UK so does Jeremy Corbyn especially think his MP’s sitting on their hands while he pushes for a Brexit, Scotland never wanted, a good thing for a democrat and a socialist. Fact is this is the time to stick your neck out. The Scotland Act is effectively over bar the kicking and screaming, unless we all unite against the Tories but I fear this won’t happen so next up will be using the mandate for a second referendum because bluntly, the UK can go fuck itself.

Netflix’s intrusive ads

One of the great things about streaming media in the year 2018 is that it allows you to catch up with films, TV, etc you’ve always been meaning to, in some cases you’re able to watch something you’ve had on a list for decades. One of those films in the Robin Williams 1998 film, What Dreams May Come.

I’d always kind of avoided the film as it looked like one of those films Robin Williams did for the cash, but the director Vincent Ward, isn’t an ordinary director. Somehow though the film fell through cracks and up until the other day I’d never sat down to see it which is a pity as it really is a fantastic film with a very quiet, restrained, performance from Williams who isn’t allowed to go off the rails. As a film it deals mainly with death, including suicide. It’s a pretty unique Hollywood film not without faults especially in the third reel when it becomes Orpheus in the Underworld.

It ends on a pretty strong emotional note and you expect as a viewer to sit there watching the credits roll so you can digest the film at your own speed, but this is Netflix so you’re given a trailer for ‘something you may like’ the millisecond the film ends. No chance of letting the film end and rest in you head before Netflix attempts to keep you watching.

Films made in an era where streaming media wasn’t even a dream or barely thought of suffer because of this urge to keep you binging until you burst, but some films need time to let them sink in. All Netflix is doing is ruining the end of films & they need to slow down their ads.

Next time on First World Problems, why does WiFi on trains have to be such a pain to log into…

The World Cup moral dilemma

It’s less than a week til the World Cup starts. Normally I’m dripping with schoolboyish glee in anticipation but the World Cup this year is in Russia; a state deeply corrupt, racist, homophobic and is supporting multiple dodgy regimes around the world.

But it is the World Cup.

Do I want to watch something that’ll help boost Putin’s ego?

It’s the World Cup.

As a lefty type do I sit there with gritted teeth?

It’s the World Cup.

So I’m going to bite my tongue, grit my teeth and watch the events of Russia’s World Cup because there’s few countries who can claim complete innocence, and yes, I’m a weak hypocrite.

But it is the World Cup.

 

Fandom are arseholes

Rose Marie Tran is an actress who played the part of Rose in Star Wars Episode 8: The Last Jedi. Ever since the film came out she has been the subject of sustained, often aggressive, often racist, often misogynist abuse which has caused her to give up her Instagram.

This isn’t the first time Star Wars fans have abused an actor in the series, and it probably isn’t the last. This though has shades of the abuse Leslie Jones got in the wake of the Ghostbusters reboot, not to mention Gamergate, and more recently, Comicsgate.It isn’t a shock to trawl through some of the abuse Tran has received and see some of the names involved with those particular examples of targeted abuse crop here so what’s the point of all this?

Well, those abusing Tran will whine about ‘SJW’s’ and virtue-signalling’ while telling us that film-makers shouldn’t ‘pander to feminism’ while spouting nonsense ripped from the lungs of people like Jordan Peterson, The rhetoric is sometimes dressed in the cod-intellectualism of the ‘alt-right’ but to normal people, it’s just racist, sexist shite from often sad, even unstable people who’ve been groomed and weaponised.

So Tran deletes her Intsagram and the abusers get another small victory. This frankly, is tiring to see people being turned into victims because a section of fandom don’t like them because of their sex or race. There’s a line between criticism and satire with what’s been happening to Tran but what’s so depressing is that these people will move on like locusts to their next victim.

The Brief History of the British Comic Convention part three: Public Image Ltd

A small group of people are sitting in a bar in a hotel in Manchester during the last UKCAC in 1998.For 30 years in the UK there’s been at least one annual large comic convention somewhere in the country, but at this movement there’s nothing planned for 1999 and the only people who seem to care are the half dozen or so people sitting nursing their drinks on a Sunday afternoon. A comment splits the onrushing gloom…

”How about we tag onto a Babylon 5 convention?”

It is at this point the British comic convention hits its lowest point. But lets go back to part two and the end of the 1980’s. Comics are everywhere. Alan Moore and Robert Crumb get name-checked on pop songs. Channel 4, BBC Two and the broadsheet papers start taking an interest in the growing and developing medium. Books like Watchmen and Maus are compared with the best of modern traditional literature. Conventions and marts are bursting with attendees. Shops are opening up at a dramatic rate as the direct market grows to accommodate this new, excitingly engaged audience who have a thirst for every genre from superheroes to SF, to horror, indeed, anything seems the limit as 1990 comes.

The British comic convention grows too. There’s now a Glasgow Comic Art Convention to complement the London based one, and smaller conventions and marts are all over the UK.

Comic publishers start springing up with the most successful being Image Comics who arrive on the scene in 1992 publishing a dynamic, if somewhat intellectually thin, set of superhero/adventure comics that cater to the growing speculator market.

Image were a speculators wet dream.Comics that came out one week would increase in value the week later by nonsensical amounts, so potentially you could make 1000% more than you paid for a comic. So companies started making comics ‘more collectable’ with special and variant covers at the expense of any sort of quality. The ‘Imagefication’ of mainstream comics brought the speculator into comics in droves and as more and more product was pumped out to be valued instantly higher than it should be. A bubble was forming that couldn’t last.

In the meantime the British comics convention was at its peak. More and more one day events were springing up from Gloucester to Cardiff to Newcastle to Belfast and of course, UKCAC and GLASCAC were running along nicely.

Then the bubble burst.

The industry couldn’t cope with the amount of product being pumped out and in fact, the industry was in a slow decline from around 93, but by 1996 the comics industry was in an awful place. Companies were going out of business, and Marvel (who were pushing out million selling comics at the start of the decade) hit a hard decline that saw them nearly going out of existence. Comic conventions and marts also suffered as the speculators moved onto whatever else they did which meant retailers had boxes of unsold copies of comics with special/variant covers and nobody to buy them.

In 1998, UKCAC moved from London to Manchester, while the Glasgow conventions were now long gone. For those of us who were there it was a fun event, but the feeling it was a wake hung around which leads us back to a bunch of us sitting in the bar contemplating latching onto a Babylon 5 convention in order to keep the idea of a large British comic convention alive.

Other ideas did come to the fore, including one which involved organising a show in Nottingham as London was too prohibitive in terms of cost. Things looked bleak as shops closed weekly while the marts in London and elsewhere were a struggle to turn a profit if you were a retailer but some light was at the end of the tunnel for the British comic convention.

1999 wasn’t just the last year of the old millennium, it was also in many ways the beginning of where we are today with the modern comic convention and it all started in Bristol.