Open Thinkering


Weeknote 50/2023

One of the penalties of refusing to participate in politics is that you end up being governed by your inferiors.

Sunset over Morpeth

Yesterday was my last working day of the year. Compared to the last few, 2023 has been a good one, so it was a shame that we had to cancel the WAO online Christmas party due to a couple of people having Covid. My sister’s got it as well, so there must be plenty of it about.

Yesterday and today I’ve had interactions with men about my age who are obviously Covid skeptics. I have no time for pussy-footing around their stupid beliefs, so I look them straight in the eye and say “oh, I didn’t have you down for a conspiracy theorist”. That usually shuts them up.

This was very much a winding-down week on the work front, especially after being in Vienna for ePIC last week. I did a bit of work on DCC and Participate projects, and some internal stuff. That gave me plenty of time to do some MSc work, for which I posted:

The module doesn’t actually stop over Christmas, so I need to keep on going. The weeks also, somewhat weirdly, start on a Wednesday. So we’re currently in the middle of Week 7, with Christmas Day coming during Week 8 and New Year’s Day during Week 9. I’m pretty conscientious, so I’m sure I’ll be fine.

After finishing listening to the audiobook version of Politics On the Edge by Rory Stewart recently, I’ve started But What Can I Do? by his podcast co-host Alastair Campbell. It’s not a coincidence, therefore, that I got in touch with the prospective Green Party candidate for the North of Tyne mayoral elections this week. He got back to me, which was surprising given that I was suggesting he come in behind Jamie Driscoll (who is running as an independent after being deselected by Labour).

My wife, Hannah, has always very much discouraged me from going into politics, but it’s something I’ve been interested in from a young age. In fact, I did enough modules in my first year at university to have switched to Philosophy and Politics. Apart from the disdain of my life partner, the other thing that has always put me off is that famous Nietzsche quotation about dragons and the abyss. But maybe it’s time to move on from the fiery caution mixed with crusading inertia* I’ve exhibited for most of my life.

We’ll see. Perhaps once the kids have left home.

Next week, I’m walking a route that involves The Cheviot with Aaron Hirtenstein. Then Bryan Mathers and I are planning to retrace the steps of Ian Cylkowski who shared his experience of Dovedale back in October. I haven’t been there for years, and it’ll be an enjoyable walk — especially if we can find the limestone arch Ian mentions in the post!

I had planned to have dinner with my sister and family, who live nearby, as it’s my niece’s 18th birthday. However, I feel like I very much dodged a bullet by not getting Covid in Vienna, and I don’t want it for Christmas! So I may have have to rethink that one.

I’ll have circled the sun for the 43rd time next Friday, which is also the day the schools break up. As it’s so late, our two kids won’t end up going back until January 8th. So we looked at going away, but as we didn’t start doing so until after we moved, everything is now super-expensive. We still might find somewhere, but whereas I’d like to go back to Iceland, the rest of the family fancies some sun. I guess that wouldn’t be so bad.

* In Joseph Heller’s otherwise-forgettable novel Good as Gold this is how one of the characters describes the main protagonist, Dr. Bruce Gold.

Photo: sunset over Morpeth, taken by me yesterday

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