Are you after my research group’s website?

October 20, 2015

This is my personal blog with opinion, politics, and poetry. If you are after my official research group’s website, please navigate to http://blogs.kent.ac.uk/strongcorrelations.

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Para sentirse bien sobre la especie humana: secuencia de apertura de “Valerian”

January 8, 2018

Escenas de apertura de ValerianEl siguiente enlace apunta a las escenas de apertura de Valerian, la película de Luc Besson. Son los primeros 4 minutos de la película (antes, incluso, del título) y las cosidero de visionado recomendable para uno de esos momentos en los que necesitamos restablecer nuestea fe en la especie humana – aunque sea mediante una fantasía sobre nosotros mismos. 
No os perdáis a Rutger Hauer en el papel de presidente del mundo. Esa fue toda su participación en la película (la acción de desarrolla cientos de años después de ls hechos relatados en esta secuencia de apertura). Luc Besson dijo que le encantó poder darle ese papel porque le encanta Blade Runner “y en esa película le dejaron sólo”.    🙂

https://youtu.be/sD63fekvUdk


Festive greetings

December 24, 2017

Here is this year’s festive greeting card – a wish for the protective warmth of peace to shroud our precious world.

spirit_of_christmas


The European Parliament: One of the Best Ideas a Briton Ever Had

November 14, 2017
Portrait of William Penn within the EU flag

William Penn was an Englishman who, in the 17th century, advocated the creation of an European parliament as an antidote to constant war between the nations of Europe. History has proven him right so far.

For those who wonder who first came up with the idea for the European Parliament, it was an Englishman, William Penn, in

“An ESSAY towards the Present and Future Peace of Europe by the Establishment of an European Dyet, Parliament, or Estates (1693)”. 

Penn advocated European unity as an antidote to the constant state of war between major European states that he knew in his lifetime. History has proven him right: the wars continued all the way until WW II. Shortly after, the European Coal and Steel Community was set up, leading to today’s elected European Parliament and the EU. Since the start of that process of integration, there have been no wars between members of the Union. This epochal achievement was recognised in 2012 with the award of the Nobel Peace Prize to the European Union.

Now, a major European nation is leaving the Union and the European Parliament for the first time. This is especially sad given that it was the success of the English parliament that inspired Penn’s proposal (note that in Penn’s time most European nations did not have their own parliaments). I very much hope that future events will not give further support to Penn’s ideas. 

Further reading

You can read Penn’s original essay here:

http://oll.libertyfund.org/titles/penn-the-political-writings-of-william-penn#lf6418_label_735

There is an article about this in the Open Democracy website, here:

https://www.opendemocracy.net/can-europe-make-it/daniele-archibugi/william-penn-englishman-who-invented-european-parliament


Barcelona

August 23, 2017

Desatan su ira como demonios furiosos y aún así, horas más tarde, el Sol sale una vez más; un niño llora; juegan los cachorros; un pollito lucha por salir del cascarón y sus padres no serán capaces durante meses de querer hacer nada más que cuidarlo; el cielo nos regala luz, nubes, viento, granizo, arcos iris, copos de nieve; y en algún lugar un anciano cuya vida se está extinguiendo cierra los ojos pensando no en lo que le espera a él sino en lo que les queda por delante a los que deja atrás. 

Intentan destruirlo todo pero la vida sigue, florece, se desarrolla, y lo acapara todo, porque la vida, que es el amor, es la única fuerza verdaderamente avasalladora del universo. 

No son nadie, ni un mal gesto ni una puta mierda junto a un camino que seguimos todos, embarcados en una aventura de la que esas almas perdidas no han querido o no han sabido o no han podido formar parte.

En algún lugar llora una madre, llora un hijo, llora un hermano. Pero la Vida sigue, triste e inquebratable, henchida de más vida, dejando un rastro fulgente en el espacio vacío de la Muerte, su marcha inexorable a la conquista del Universo.


Merci!

May 7, 2017

To the French people:

Thank you on behalf of the many millions of tolerant Europeans for not giving in to the easy answers peddled by populist xenophobes. Once more, you have demonstrated your democratic maturity. Special thanks to those who have had the courage to choose what they judged the lesser of two evils.


Fighting on

February 24, 2017


Just finished watching Avengers: Age of Ultron (again). Caring for my sick daughter does have its compensations (though I shudder at the backlog piling up at work!) 

The powerful image in the end credits, of the main characters portrayed as classical heroes, in marble, made me reflect on Joss Whedon’s take on heroism. I think it is best captured in the closing words of Angel – with which the 12 seasons of the Buffy/Angel television saga came to an end:

SPIKE: In terms of a plan?

ANGEL: We fight.

SPIKE: Bit more specific.

ANGEL:

(steps forward)

Well, personally, I kind of want to slay the dragon. 

(the demon horde attacks)

Let’s go to work.

(swings his sword)

(Fade to black.)

Or beloved heroes do not die on screen, but we are left in doubt as to what will happen next. 

In the Whedon universe, heroes are not the guys who always win, but the ones who are always ready to put up a fight. This idea is not a Whedon invention, of course, but Whedon does come up with powerful ways to put it forward in the realm of pop culture.

As our world is increasingly crunched between the souless wills of haters and philistines it is good to remind ourselves that heroism is about fighting on, even when it feels like we’ll be crushed. 

Ultimately, heroism (or whatever lesser version of it we, mere mortals, may manage to muster) is not about winning, but just a better way of life. As in the opening lines of that other great piece of pop culture, the feature film Lorenzo’s Oil:

“Life has meaning only in the struggle. Triumph or defeat is in the hands of the Gods. So let us celebrate the struggle.” 


How we feel

February 2, 2017

A lot has happened in UK politics and society since my post on the eve of the Brexit referendum result. I suppose many Britons may be wondering how millions of EU citizens who made the UK their home are feeling right now (a subject the media have barely grazed). This is my small attempt at conveying it in a way that, I hope, most Britons will be able to understand.

​Imagine being an Englishman who has lived in Edinburgh for the past 20 years. Your kids grew up there so they feel Scottish and speak with Scottish accents. You are a fully-integrated member of your community, though of course you still feel English. But that’s all right because you also feel British and Scotland is part of Great Britain – so you have every right to be where you are and lead the life that you do.  

Now imagine that the the Scottish government decide to hold a second referendum on Scottish independence. So far, so plausible. But let me ask you to imagine one more thing – perhaps not so plausible. Imagine the Scottish government decide that, this time round, the English men and women who, like you, live in Scotland, will not be allowed to vote. Moreover, to your shock and horror, the UK government accept that. 

Now suppose that the whole referendum campaign revolves around whether Scotland should allow so many English people to settle there. There are two sides of the debate: some who say that the influx of English people into Scotland is intolerable (completely ignoring the scots who go the other way); the others, far from defending your positive contributions, grant that having too many English people around is a bad thing, but argue that it is a price worth paying in exchange for free trade with the rest of the UK and other benefits of being in a Union with England.

Pretty bad, eh? But that’s nothing. Suppose now that the pro-independence camp win. Moreover, when asked whether English people like you, who are long-term members of Scottish society and have Scottish children, will be allowed to remain they answer that they cannot rule one way or the other, because they intend to use you as “bargaining chips”. 

Have you managed to imagine such implausible sequence of events? Then you now know exactly how millions of citizens of other European countries who chose to make the UK our home feel.

I still do not regret the choices I made. But the fear that I will is there, breathing over my shoulder, every day.