Brexit Is A Disorganised Mess – But A United Ireland Would Be Even Worse

Brexit was supposed to be simple. All Britain had to do was tell the European Union they were leaving, sign a few forms and be done. It shouldn’t take more than a few weeks. Then Britain would be able to celebrate it new freedom and prosperity now that the shackles of foreign oppression have been removed. Of course, we all know that it hasn’t worked out like that. Three years after the vote and Britain is still in the EU but facing down unprecedented political instability and what economists warn could be an economic disaster. Negotiations proved to be far more complicated than anyone on the Leave side had imagined and the situation is bogged down in endless talks.

Many Irish people are delighted over the situation, seeing this as a modern example of the old nationalist slogan “Britain’s difficulty is Ireland’s opportunity”. Many hope the political instability and economic uncertainty will finally push Northern Ireland out of the UK and into the Republic. The prospect of a united Ireland is no longer being treated as a utopian dream but instead as a realistic possibility.

However, I fear a united Ireland would end up repeating the mistakes of Brexit and similarly end up as a disorganised mess. There has been no planning for a united Ireland and no one, not even Sinn Féin, knows what it would look like. There is an assumption that we will just tell the Brits to leave and then sit back and enjoy our new freedom and prosperity now that the shackles of foreign oppression have been removed. It shouldn’t take more than a few weeks, right? Continue reading “Brexit Is A Disorganised Mess – But A United Ireland Would Be Even Worse”

Describing my day as if it were a gritty Sci-Fi novel

In the darkness, the only noise was the electric alarm on my mobile phone. I dragged myself out of bed and began to get ready for day, occasionally gazing out at the building site across the street, desolate as the surface of the moon. This was supposed to be a new modern town of the future, but no one got around to finishing it. Instead it was a bleak endless row of houses with no facilities, full yet also empty. That’s right, you’re reading some gritty Sci-Fi. Bet you never thought there could be social problems in the future? Continue reading “Describing my day as if it were a gritty Sci-Fi novel”

How To Immerse Yourself In Esperanto

Have you just finished Duolingo or another Esperanto course and are now wondering what to do next? Are you trying to figure out how to further advance and develop your skills? Do you want to put the textbooks behind you and actually use the language? If so, here is a handy guide of where to go and what to do next to fully use Esperanto and dive into the community. Continue reading “How To Immerse Yourself In Esperanto”

Using An Anime Computer Game To Teach Esperanto? I Interviewed The Publishers To Find Out More

What would be a good way to get people interested in Esperanto and help them learn the language? This is a question as old as the language itself and there is no shortage of proposals. We’re all familiar with Duolingo’s “gamified” system of learning and I’ve heard people dreaming of a role-playing game set in an Esperanto speaking world where the player gradually learns vocabulary from their surroundings. I thought this was a great idea but just wishful thinking, surely it would cost too much and no developer would be interested?

Imagine my surprise when I found out that a developer was in fact interested. The Expression: Amrilato is an anime computer game where the main character gets transported to an Esperanto speaking world and players are gradually taught Esperanto as they play. Esperanto isn’t just a background feature, it is a core part of the game players must engage with to progress. Interestingly, the game is aimed at anime fans, not specifically Esperantists and all the news and discussion about the game has taken place in the wider anime community. It was originally developed in Japanese by SukeraSparo (whose name is the Esperanto words for sugar and Sparidae, a type of fish) and translated into English by MangaGamer.

As you can imagine, I am very excited about this and contacted the developers to find out more. Continue reading “Using An Anime Computer Game To Teach Esperanto? I Interviewed The Publishers To Find Out More”

Why is Esperanto more popular in some regions than in others?

Why is Esperanto more popular in some countries than in others? Why is the community vibrant in some regions yet barely active in others? Why is the movement strongest in Europe and East Asia but weakest in Africa and Central Asia? Why is it far more popular in Brazil than the rest of South America? Continue reading “Why is Esperanto more popular in some regions than in others?”

There isn’t a single good argument for keeping the electoral college

There are many political debates ongoing in America of various intensity and value. However, the most one sided and clear cut is that regarding the electoral college. This archaic and bizarre system is undemocratic and serves no useful purpose. I considered writing an article on the topic years ago, but I figured the reasons for its abolition were so obvious that there was no need.

So, imagine my surprise reading the various attempts to defend the electoral college and claims it actually serves a useful purpose. The most striking thing about these arguments is how awful and illogical they are. I know it’s not polite to insult people who disagree with you, but some arguments are so awful that there’s no point treating them seriously. Some of the defences are so bad they make it clear the speaker has no idea how politics work. Continue reading “There isn’t a single good argument for keeping the electoral college”

Why Esperanto won’t diverge into dialects

A criticism I’ve heard a few times about Esperanto is that it can’t become a universal language, because it would diverge into separate dialects. The argument goes like this: even if everyone in the world could speak Esperanto, the language wouldn’t succeed because it would inevitably split into several mutually incomprehensible languages and we would be back where we started. Some people seem to believe that all languages inevitably evolve and diverge until they become unrecognisable and the divergence of Latin into the Romance languages is usually the example given. Continue reading “Why Esperanto won’t diverge into dialects”

Heinlein Ruins ‘The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress’ By Cheating

The Moon is a Harsh Mistress by Robert Heinlein is a classic of science fiction and has been deeply influential for generations. Many of its ideas and concepts were revolutionary for its time, such as intelligent AI and it is one of the first space colonisation novels on the Moon. It was even cited to me as a plausible example of libertarian political ideas put into practice. It starts well, introducing many intriguing ideas such as alternative forms of marriage, a society without laws, how to run a revolution and life on the moon. Unfortunately, Heinlein ruins this potential by cheating to make everything as easy as possible for the heroes. Also with sexism. Continue reading “Heinlein Ruins ‘The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress’ By Cheating”

Ranking Brandon Sanderson’s Cosmere Books

Brandon Sanderson is a titan of the fantasy genre, one of the most innovative and popular writers and one of my favourite authors. I was thinking about his books lately and for fun I started comparing them and trying to rank them. On the one hand, this was easy because most of his books take place in different worlds with settings and plots that you are unlikely to confuse (unlike some authors who write books in one long series and all the books get muddled together in my head). On the other hand, Sanderson doesn’t write bad books, only books that are not as fantastic as his best. Sanderson at his worst is still one of the best fantasy writers. That’s why this list will start with the best, because there isn’t any bad. I gave the top 9 books 5/5 and the last 3 still got 4/5, so it’s all quality.

It should go without saying that this is merely my personal opinion and everyone probably has their own rankings. This is not an objective ranking of quality and there’s going to people who feel the books at the bottom should be at the top and vice versa. There was tough competition, especially at the top of the list and there is very little between some of the books. Continue reading “Ranking Brandon Sanderson’s Cosmere Books”

The Scouring of the Shire is the opposite of what people think it is

An unusual feature of the The Return of the King, the last book in the Lord of the Rings series, is the amount of time spent on the ending. The ring itself is destroyed around two thirds of the way through the narrative (or halfway if you count the appendices), leaving a huge amount of space for resolutions for characters and wrapping up loose ends. While some people enjoy the closure, others feel it unnecessarily drags on. This is how I felt the first time I read the “Scouring of the Shire”, the penultimate chapter, where the hobbits return to the Shire only to find Saruman and his minions taken it over but they are ejected after a brief battle. It seemed very anti-climactic and petty in comparison to the epic battle for the fate of the world that had just been fought.

However, I did some reading and found that many people enjoy this scene, in fact they argue it is one of the most important of the entire series and were disappointed it didn’t appear in the movies. Pretty much every article and discussion I could find on the chapter tells the same story, that the Scouring of the Shire is based on Tolkien’s experience from World War 1. The chapter is actually about the difficulties soldiers faced when they returned from war and found society had drastically changed while they were gone. It’s a bittersweet ending showing how despite the fact the hobbits fought so hard to protect their homes and preserve the Shire, they return only to find it has irreversibly changed. Some argue Tolkien is actually saying that Frodo failed.

So with this in mind, I realised that I must have missed the nuance during my original reading, so I decided to reread the chapter. Yet I was shocked by what I found, the chapter isn’t about the First World War or the changes society underwent, it is the complete opposite. Continue reading “The Scouring of the Shire is the opposite of what people think it is”