1981 photos of Boris Johnson as a teen magazine model

Yep. Exactly that.

There are some of the images that DALL E:

An artificial intelligence tool that’s stunned people with its ability to render text into realistic images

has come up with. This via the excellent r/weirddalle subreddit. And yes, it looks just like he’s in Just Seventeen (although that only started in 1983, so…) or some such:

or:

But check out the hands here (and in several others of the set here). AI might be able to pull out that 1981 stuff, get the teen model look and nail the fuzzy magazine imagery, but it still can’t do hands!

Or maybe necks in that second picture.

That’s the thing about democracy…

…it’s all well and good until actually, not enough people agree with your point of view.

If you’d have looked at social media for the last few weeks, you’d have seen a near non-stop barrage of anti-Boris, anti-Conservative, Pro-Corbyn rhetoric. If social media was the way in which new governments were elected, there would surely be no doubt as to who the winner would have been.

But – shock, horror – that’s not the way things work. And suddenly, reality has hit home and Boris has been elected with a massive majority.

There are a few different ways that you can deal with this sort of disappointment. You can wail, gnash your teeth and stamp on a newspaper picture of a triumphant Mr Johnson, like a toddler who didn’t get its way:

Nah then, Mardy Bum!

But it really won’t make any difference. And then a cleaner will have to clean up after you. Well done, Uzair.

You could accept that maybe your party didn’t have a clear policy on Brexit, didn’t work hard enough get rid of its massive anti-semitism problem, didn’t approach the election and the electorate well.
Or maybe your party did have a clear Brexit policy, but not the one that people wanted. Maybe your party also had a clear leader until last night in Dunbartonshire East.

But no. Surely the best way is just to keep telling yourself – and everyone else – that those people who voted Conservative are just stupid. Maybe throw in a Turkish proverb (and I’ve seen this three times already, so it must be true):

‘The forest was shrinking, but the trees kept voting for the Axe, for the Axe was clever and convinced the trees that because his handle was made of wood he was one of them.’

or just let people know that you know what’s going on, and the 14 million individuals who voted the other way, simply don’t:

Honestly, voters are just sleepwalking our country into a worsening services crisis.

or combine the Turkey thing and the festive season and tell those 14 million Conservative voters that they’re clearly idiots and you know better than them; you know better than all of them.

If the exit polls are correct, the turkeys haven’t just voted for Christmas, they’ve helped hang the decorations and buy the stuffing!!!

After all, choosing to belittle Leave voters after the Brexit referendum worked really well and got that one reversed, so why not?

And then, the final option: your plan to move abroad. Apparently, Ireland always looked great (although it rains a lot). Portugal: shit economy, difficult language, but an EU passport. Or now – suddenly – Scotland. You’ve always liked Scotland. Oh, The Drama of it all. I did lol.

#notmygoverrnment?

Mmm. Yeah. Actually, it is. That’s just how it works.

Look, I’m not saying that Boris Johnson is going to be the greatest leader that the UK has ever had. I’m not saying that Brexit is going to be easy – albeit that this is clearly a mandate for it to finally go ahead now.

But what I am saying that life really isn’t over just because “your guys” didn’t win. I’ve often been a bit sad when Sheffield United didn’t get the result I wanted, but hey, we’re all still here, aren’t we?

Hello?

UPDATE:

Oh right. That’ll be what it is then. [rolleyes emoji]

Dead cat

You either love him or you hate him: the current marmite of UK politics is PM-contender Boris Johnson. But this isn’t supposed to be the preamble to a post which will divide my readership, it’s merely a means to share this quote he made in 2013, and which is back in the news:

When you are in trouble, diversionary tactics can be a useful way of escaping immediate censure. In politics is almost routine, because all you need is a suitably foolish audience (and god knows that the voting public are pretty much that).

Recent (just before the general election) local case in point:

JOHANNESBURG – The South African National Editors’ Forum (Sanef) has weighed in on Tuesday afternoon’s altercation between eNCA journalist Samkele Maseko and African National Congress (ANC) deputy secretary-general Jessie Duarte.

The ANC’s integrity committee is set to look at the processes around candidate lists.

Duarte revealed this in a post-NEC meeting briefing earlier on Tuesday.

The move follows reports that the ANC’s candidate lists have been tampered with.

Serious stuff. This is basically who gets to sit in Parliament for the next 5 years if the ANC get enough votes (which they were obviously always going to). And it seems like the process may have been interfered with?

Not good.

Remember this line?

Let us suppose you are losing an argument. The facts are overwhelmingly against you, and the more people focus on the reality, the worse it is for you and your case.

Jessie remembered.

What happened next was that poison dwarf Duarte flung a dead cat onto the table – and the eager reporters present were… well… perfectly outraged, alarmed, disgusted.

But the rest of the briefing on what the ANC’s top decision-making body had discussed was overshadowed by Duarte’s public altercation with a journalist.

During a briefing with reporters at Luthuli House, Duarte described Maseko as arrogant, saying he thought of himself as “lord of the media” instead of the mere journalist that he is.

And the newspapers were full of that instead of whether or not the candidate lists of the ruling party had been compromised.

Thing is, anyone with half a brain will see directly through your flimsy tactic and completely ignore it, so Duarte was clever with her perceived “attack” on Maseko: playing for a defensive, emotional response from his colleagues present. And getting it. Because was the ANC candidate list unduly influenced from within the party? Well, we’ll never know, because the rest of the briefing (and consequently the rest of the reports about the briefing) was only about what Jessie said to Samkele.

Canny woman. Clever move. Brilliant politics.

Boris would be very proud.

BoJo on Taylor

Boris Johnson’s Telegraph column on the so-called “#shirtstorm” episode is spot on. It’s also full of those fantastic soundbites we’ve come to know and love from BoJo :

I watched that clip of Dr Taylor’s apology – at the moment of his supreme professional triumph – and I felt the red mist come down. It was like something from the show trials of Stalin, or from the sobbing testimony of the enemies of Kim Il-sung, before they were taken away and shot. It was like a scene from Mao’s cultural revolution when weeping intellectuals were forced to confess their crimes against the people.

Why was he forced into this humiliation? Because he was subjected to an unrelenting tweetstorm of abuse. He was bombarded across the internet with a hurtling dustcloud of hate, orchestrated by lobby groups and politically correct media organisations.

I’m quite willing to accept that all too often in everyday life, we see examples of misogyny. I’m also quite willing to accept that the scientific workplace is male-dominated. But neither of these things are the fault of Dr Taylor. Or his shirt. He was just a guy who landed a spacecraft on a comet half a billion kilometres away. Anyone thinking that he has time for anything else – especially attempting to make wimmin angry – simply doesn’t understand. And this tweet, from a person who works in “communications”, summed it all up:

I have no idea how Dr Taylor dresses usually, but that was a very strange choice when he knew he’d be seen around the world.

Yes. That might seem a bit of a no-brainer to you as a communications strategist, but I can assure you, it was something which Dr Taylor gave absolutely no thought to whatsoever. His thoughts were 300 million miles away, they weren’t worrying about the design of his shirt. If he was in any way concerned with daily trivia like that, he wouldn’t just have landed a probe on a comet.

This is one of the greatest scientific achievements of man… er… “personkind”… and people are more bothered about the guy’s shirt.
Something is wrong here.

It seems that we have come to the point in society – fuelled by the ‘speak now, think later’ culture of social media – where people are actively looking for things to be offended by. If you’re going to do that, you’re surely going to find them: but the outrage over Dr Taylor’s shirt is a good example of taking offence for offence’s sake.
Not only does that irritate people like Boris and me, it also devalues the genuine disgust at the truly unacceptable actions or words that deserve to be called out. But stick your (privileged, cis, white, hetero, male) head above the parapet and you’re going to get it shot off.

This is the 21st century, for goodness’ sake. And if you ask yourself why so few have come to the defence of the scientist, the answer is that no one dares.

No one wants to take on the rage of the web – by which people use social media to externalise their own resentments and anxieties, often anonymously and with far more vehemence than they really intend. No one wants to dissent – and no wonder our politics sometimes feels so sterilised and homogenised.

Like I said: spot on.

justboristhings

I love Boris.

Boris Johnson is the incumbent mayor of London and he’s a polarising figure. I think he’s great, and I’m not alone in that – he was recently revealed as (easily) Britain’s most popular politician, albeit that the competition wasn’t up to much, consisting, as it did, exclusively of British politicians.

Boris is undoubtedly a star attraction in British politics and the Conservative Party will be pleased to have him onside in 2015. A Tory that can win in London is a rare thing and what makes Boris so attractive within the Party.

Some of the stuff he does and some of the soundbites he comes out with make me cringe, others make me wish that Cape Town’s mayor, Patricia de Lille, had a bit more personality and a bit more gees about her. But her attitude is more to toe the party line. Boris’ attitude is not to give a flying toss about the party line. He’s a law unto himself, but if you believe that there’s nothing behind the apparent buffoonery of his outward image, I think you’re mistaken. You don’t get where Boris is by being a buffoon. Acting one, perhaps – being one, no.

Here’s his latest offering, regarding the recent defections from the Conservatives to UKIP:

Speaking to Conservative Party members, he suggested UKIP should throw its weight behind the Tories in order to defeat Labour and secure an in/out referendum on Britain’s EU membership in next year’s general election.

He told the rally: “The EU commission wants to ban vacuum cleaners on the grounds that they are too powerful. If you do not handle your vacuum cleaner correctly, you may end up inhaling the hamster – the budgerigar through the bars of the cage.
And I have read that there are some people – probably the type who are thinking of defecting to UKIP – who present themselves at A&E with barely credible injuries sustained through vacuum cleaner abuse.”

Yes. He’s basically saying that his political opponents have intimate relations with electric cleaning equipment.

Next. Level. Stuff.

Spectacular. It’s weirdly similar to (a classier version of) Julius Malema’s immaturity (and without the charges of racketeering and 52 other allegations, including fraud). Whether it will work any better than the EFF’s very vocal, but wholly ineffective shouty parliamentary behaviour remains to be seen.

Either way, I love Boris.

 

P.S. Incidentally, for the record, I don’t think you get where Julius Malema is without being fairly clever, either.