Springingtiger's Blog


Post Brexit Xenophobia (It isn’t really as prevalent as you may think!)

I know many decent ‘Leave’ voters who are opposed to racism and voted to leave the EU because they feel that it will restore to Britain control of her political decision making. They will argue that the ‘Vote Leave’ campaign was not xenophobic, nor were its calls for immigration controls, they may be right. However ‘Vote Leave’ was not the only campaign calling for Brexit and some of the campaigns were openly xenophobic even using pictures of non white refugees from Syria to attack the unrelated issue of free movement within the EU. In interview after interview we saw the ‘man (or woman) in the street railing against foreigners and again in the right wing press we were treated to unremitting scare tactics and the suggestion that remaining in the EU would cause us to be flooded with foreigners and make us prey to ‘Muslim terrorists’. Obviously the sensationalising of the issue of immigration by the media is to a great extent responsible for the perception that the ‘Leave campaign’ was racist. Unfair, but that is the impression given and decent ‘Leave’ voters find themselves unjustly tarred with the same brush.

Sadly I am seeing comments on social media from minority ethnic people who have lived here for many years sometimes all their lives who no longer feel secure in Britain. “…So my nationality, my ethnicity, and my place of birth are different. Home is here, and has been for over 50 years. For the first time in 20 odd years I’m not sure again whether ‘I belong to Glasgow and Glasgow belongs to me.’” If this is in comparatively welcoming Scotland you can imagine how people of ethnic minority feel further south. In Huntingdon Polish families have had cards reading ‘Leave the EU No more Polish Vermin’ put through their letter boxes. In Newcastle today demonstrators are out with a banner reading ‘Stop Immigration Start Repatriation’. Someone on Twitter remarked “I’m Indian/English who voted remain. Haven’t felt less British than I do now. Haven’t felt more like an ethnic minority.” In the Bristol Post we see ‘ Bristol UKIP politician tells Muslim “We don’t want you in our civilised country.”’ And as usual the anti Scottish racism found in tweets like ‘Really want to knock #Scotland out right now. Ugly fat spiteful ginger braveheart f*ckers Just go, nobody likes you! #EURefResults’.

It has been quite depressing researching this to see just how strong the perception of xenophobia is. People are scared. What is worse is the amount of evidence to support their fears. However I think it must be emphasised that while I found some horrible examples of English racism, there was a lot more commentary in the media suggesting xenophobia than the number of examples I found merited. I also think that if you compare the number of racists posting in social media with the number of ordinary citizens who are saying nothing and just going about their business it is a small minority. However it is a very vocal minority and people are justifiably anxious. Not all Brexiteers are racists, but enough are to have made racism a real issue again. Now that the English have won their Leave vote perhaps they should address the problem of racism before it becomes the problem it was in the eighties and before.



The World Is Too Much With Us
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Society of St. Francis Friary, Alnmouth

Sometimes it is difficult to make sense of this world. Within the space of a week we have seen a homo0phobic mass shooting in a Gay nightclub in Orlando and an English Member of Parliament murdered, it would seem for her support for refugees, but as yet we can’t be entirely sure of the killer’s motivation except that he is a supporter of Britain First. We have seen English football fans attacking people on the streets of France, but to be fair, thuggery seems to be the distinguishing feature of football fans of several nations. I must admit my mood is not improved by this being the season of Orange Walks and the inconvenience and disruption they cause, even when orderly. The media and social media are full of people spouting xenophobia and hatred to try and secure Britain’s departure from the European Union while many who spouted the same hatred a little while ago are now are arguing with similar language to keep Britain in the EU. What is astonishing and depressing is the sheer amount of vitriol from both sides and the incessant negativity. No one is making any sort of case for why a vote in either direction will make the world better or even, Britain. The inescapable conclusion looking at both camps is, that in the words of Private Fraser “We’re a’ doomed, Doomed I tell ye!”

Regardless of the violence of the last few days there is little to celebrate elsewhere in the news. The Chancellor can say what he likes, but I can see the empty shops and closed businesses in our streets. Sometimes the government seems to forget there is a Britain outside London.

It is impossible to escape the information onslaught. Every pub and every bank and office seems to have television screens either feeding us football or news. Nearly every shop and restaurant insists on playing music, often of dubious merit. On social media I find friends being unpleasant to each other merely because they express divergent opinions. It seems that the inevitable consequence of free speech is hatred and ruptured relationships

Sometimes this world is just too demanding, the amount of information too overwhelming, the lack of clarity and validated fact too confusing, and the incessant sensory stimuli too omnipresent. It is time to escape. Turn off the television, stop reading newspapers, ignore Facebook and Twitter except perhaps the Steampunk and Cosplay sites where participants are interested in more important things than politics…okay fluffy kittens are fairly safe too.

Sometimes it is necessary just to shut down. It is a couple of years since I last made a silent retreat, but I feel the urge to escape building. A break in the country with no phone signal nor wifi would be very acceptable too, just a pile of books and my wife to keep me company, that would be good.

I had a friend who used to swear by flotation tanks. I am too suspicious of shared water, although I don’t suppose it’s any worse than a swimming pool, indeed given recent articles about ‘floaters’ (another reason to avoid newspapers), probably cleaner than a swimming pool. Even a walk by the river, or digging the garden can help. We all need sometimes to stop and let go. To pause. To relax and just breathe.

At the moment Britain is awash with emotion, with anger and hatred, xenophobia and sectarianism. We need to cool ourselves and release the pressure now. If we do not something will have to give, and an uncontrolled explosion of violence in the streets of our cities is something none of us need. I almost said ‘none of us want’, but unfortunately the death of Jo Cox shows that is not so. There is a very real danger of hatred and resentment leading to violence and the levels we have reached, I believe, make that imminent. I hope our television screens are not going to be filled with images of violence, I think perhaps I shall leave mine turned off a little longer.



Four Word Poems
December 30, 2014, 08:37
Filed under: Writing | Tags: , , ,

The Four Word Poem.

I am experimenting with four word poems like:

Bed,
Book,
Cat,
Bliss.

I call them ‘impressionist poems’ because the goal is to convey a feeling, an impression, in just four words; the blanks being filled in by the associations the reader makes with the words, and the weaving of those associations into one whole. I suppose they might as easily be called ‘pointillist poems’ because of their dependence on interaction with the reader. The poetry takes place, not on paper, but in the mind of the reader. However because of our archetypical associative inclinations the reader should experience the same state as the writer, when it works it’s almost telepathy! It’s also Twitter friendly which was a consideration.

Childhood,
Innocence,
Love,
Lost.

Bath,
Warm,
Book,
Happy!



And I Bid You Goodnight
August 15, 2014, 16:48
Filed under: social media, Writing | Tags: , , , ,

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I like, when I can, to post a goodnight poem on Twitter. Needless to say, having only one hundred and forty characters enforces conciseness. Today’s blog is a selection of goodnight verses, but I shall preface them with Twitterverses about Twitterverses.

1. Sometimes I feel that I should put
    My poems into Google +
    I prefer to write in Twitter, but
   140 characters constricts me thus

2. Social media differs
     In the way one works upon it
     Twitter can bear but a quatrain
     Whereas Facebook can take a sonnet                        

3. Twitter used well
     As some people do
     Comes as close as I can tell
     To an internet Haiku

The following goodnight Twitterverses are punctuated and their abbreviations converted, they are in no particular chronological order.

So much I’d like to do and say,
but I’m too tired, here ends today.
However tomorrow I’ll be revived and bright,
I’ll say more tomorrow night.

                               *

Shattered, looking into the abyss;
There must, surely, be more to life than this.
The abyss is awfy deep,
It is time I went to sleep!

                                *

Please excuse me if I do not post
I’ve had four lovely days of the most
Enjoyable fun with my grandweans
Now I must rest, I’m all aches and pains

                                *

Today I have studiously rested,
Although my patience has been tested
In not doing all the things I need,
So that I can recover with speed.

                                 *

I walked by the masts of Morrigan
Into the land of dreams.
Death may seem inevitable,
But nought is as it seems.
                   
                                 *

I go to bed, tears in my eyes,
My thoughts where Robin Williams lies.
Would that he could have carried on,
The night is darker now he’s gone.

                                  *

Grandweans can run one ragged,
But I’ve had three days of fun
And now my nerves are jagged;
In, I am well and truly done!

                                  *

With soft mattress and bouncy pillows
I set sail on nights dark billows,
Certain when I close my eyes,
I shall, into dreams, capsize.

                                    *

As I lay me down to sleep
For Gaza’s children I shall weep,
And for the Israelis too
And the evil that they do.

                                    *

In my ears the music rings
Elvis sings inside my head.
Rock and Roll has but one King
And Elvis is not dead.
Me, I’m away to bed!

                                    *

Now I bid you goodnight,
And a very goodnight;
If today you felt sorrow,
May you feel joy tomorrow
In the new day’s light.

                                   *
I’ve had a happy day,
Joyful thoughts fill my head
From a weekend of play,
And now it’s time for bed.

                                   *

The best weekends
Are full of friends
Both old and new
With lots to do
Sharing fun
In the sun
My world’s alright
And so goodnight.

                                 *

It’s hard to find, Mon Dieu,
A rhyme for Andre Rieu,
But now that’s out of my head
I can, at last, go to bed.

                                 *

Today we did some walking
And quite a lot of talking.
It was a good day for us
We went sightseeing by bus.

                                  *

Today was a day for the flicks
I saw an interesting mix,
Films and TV from all the world,
But best of all, The Glasgow Girls.

                                  *

At last my day is done,
A day without the Sun;
There’s no cause for sorrow
Tomorrow will be fun,
A great day tomorrow.

                                   *

I may, today,
Not have done
All I desired.
What can I say?
I did some,
And now I’m tired!

                                   *

TV and politics,
Brit Nats and dirty tricks;
Enough to make one weep,
I’m better off asleep!

                                    *

My body aches
So too my head;
I think that makes
It time for bed!

                                    *

Today I have studiously rested
Although my patience has been tested
In not doing the things I need,
So I can recover with speed.

                                   
And in conclusion:
Pithiness is the order of the day
When you have only 140 characters
With which to play.
Distill well what you would say
And make every syllable pay.
(Needs editing to fit a tweet
Else it were complete)

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Gallifrey Falls No More!

I have been traveling in time back to dark winter’s nights when I was ten years old. After tea on a Saturday all the boys of Caterall Hall would gather in front of the television to watch Doctor Who. On that television we watched the funeral of Sir Winston Churchill with Richard Burton’s voice over; the birth of Top Of The Pops, but the event that has accompanied me through the years was the advent of Doctor Who. Communal television viewing was very much a feature of my schooldays; we watched little television, but some programs stand out as communal events like The Champions and Adam West’s Batman watched and enjoyed in Shute Common Room. As a student, Doctor Who was one of very few programs powerful enough to draw me to the Glasgow University Union television room, otherwise I was quite content without a television of my own. I suppose many people identified with the Companions, but for the aliens among us it was with the Doctor; Doctor Who was one of the things we had in common with our human school mates.

I have been on Twitter perusing the various Doctor Who Fiftieth Anniversary hash tags.  It would seem that watching Doctor Who is still very much a communal activity; we may watch separately,  but we still share our pleasure and excitement. Of course, for many,  yesterday’s screening of the Day Of The Doctor was literally a communal event with thousands flocking to cinemas to watch in 3D. We stayed at home to enjoy the program and its accompanying coverage. I have had a wonderful weekend; from “An Adventure In Space And Time” through to “Day Of The Doctor”, it has been sheer joy.  I loved “An Adventure In Space And Time” because the First Doctor is my Doctor.

I am one of those who has reservations about Stephen Moffat so I looked forward to “Day Of The Doctor” with a degree of foreboding. I have now forgiven Moffat his past transgressions, I need not have worried,  I loved “Day Of The Doctor”. This program has opened up so many new possibilities for the program. I look forward, or is it back,  to the future of the Doctor and Who knows what other Time Lords.

I don’t know how many also caught Georgia Tennant and Peter Davidson’s little gem, “The Five ish Doctors” with Colin Baker, Sylvester McCoy, Peter Davidson, Paul McGann, David Tennant and a host of well known faces, but I loved it.



Time? What Time?!

I really do need to get to work on my schedule, there are so many things I want to do and too many ways to lose time. One of the advantages of my paid employment is that it does allow me quite a lot of reading time, this won’t help for my online course, but it may free up non-work time for activities other than reading. I once calculated that I have a thirty six hour day based on the activities that I can do simultaneously. I travel by public transport which means I can read or watch DVDs without the need to concentrate on the road. I can listen to mp3s and music while gardening.

Because of the way I process information there are many activities I cannot do in tandem with others, I cannot listen to factual radio programs while reading, I cannot do anything while watching television. This is the area upon which I shall focus as it is here that there is the greatest danger of losing time. I don’t intend to give up television, but I shall be somewhat more discriminating, it is too easy to lose an evening watching things that are not really important. The computer is another potential time waster, especially Facebook and Twitter. I find that having Yoono running at the side of my screen allows me the occasional catch up on my feeds,. The most useful thing I have done with my networks is to link them to my Google Mail so that at the start of a session I can quickly scan for notifications that demand a response.

Of course what I really do need to do is actually organise my schedule so that the activities that matter have sufficient time allocated to them and that requires a little more planning than hitherto. I don’t have to use the time rigidly as allocated, but it is important that there is sufficient and, to me, that I have an advance awareness of how my time will be spent.



Is Twitter a Marketing Tool?

I was having discussion on Twitter with the novelist Annalisse Mayer on Twitter @AnnalisseMayer about certain aspects of Social networking. The conversation reminded me that it is some time since I wrote anything on the subject.

I personally do not use the internet as a marketing tool, but some do, and of those some use it effectively, my concern here is primarily on whether Twitter is a marketing tool. Much has been written on the subject, but here are a few observations of my own.

On Twitter I have over 1400 followers and I follow slightly more. I have never needed to use any service to build followers, to some extent because I have no need to market, but also I have allowed my Twitter account to grow organically. Were I to use Twitter as a marketing tool then I might feel a need to “grow my list” as they say. There is a point in this, the more people who see your message the better, however if that’s all they see they will not follow for long, so you need to give them a reason to follow. Twitter is basically two things a source of information and an opportunity for self expression, in which I include sharing information that interests you. A good Twitter output will include personal stuff that show you to be a real person to whom others can relate. Your tweets should share information related to your topic of interest from various sources, share links to articles and blogs you have found, and especially retweet other people’s posts. When someone retweets you or comments on one of your tweets always reply. In amongst all this it is quite legitimate to share links to your own product as a service to your readers. If you only have 140 characters you can’t afford too long lings so use URL shorteners, Bitly is popular and has a useful sidebar. Twitter has its own shortener as do several Twitter clients some of which like Yoono, HootSuite and TweetDeck which is owned by Twitter have in built tools to make sharing easier. It is obvious you can’t say a lot about your product in 140 characters, but you can link to a blog which promotes it as well as to the product itself.

If you have a blog promoting your product a good way to promote it is to comment on other people’s blogs comments readers will then see your link and some will take a look. On WordPress whenever you like someones blog they will get a message linking to yours. You can also use pingbacks a sort of automatic comment.

I mentioned above having a topic of interest, do not be too diverse in your interests (nor too narrow) people need to see you as a reliable source of information on just a couple of things. My primary interest is Asperger’s syndrome so my posts tend to relate to that, I also post on other things such as technology, social networking, cinema and politics but to some extent they are connected to my main interest so it is likely that they may be of interest to my primary readership. When I post about Scotland I am directly posting about where I live, it is personal to me. If you have several interests you may want to open separate Twitter accounts for them as you will notice, has Dom Sagolla, I have three accounts (I had four, but one became moribund so I dropped it).

People who want to use Twitter as a marketing tool really do need to develop a plan before they start my first recommendation is read “The Twitter Book” by Tim O’Reilly (@timoreilly) & Sarah Milstein (@SarahM) – both of whom maintain a friendly and helpful presence on Twitter. The other book I recommend is 140 Characters: A Style Guide for the Short Form by Dom Sagolla one of the creators of Twitter.
A useful source of tools to use with Twitter is the article: 99 Essential Twitter Tools And Applications.

On Twitter I have over 1400 followers and I follow slightly more. That is a lot of information on which to keep an eye, and obviously it is impossible to do so, people who have deliberately built up big lists are faced with an even bigger challenge. There are two tools within Twitter itself that make your feed more manageable. The first is lists add the people you follow to lists that reflect the content for which you follow them, just open lists click on “create list” name the list then whenever you follow someone add them. I have several lists including “technology”, “autism”, “current affairs” and “Scotland”, but I do need to weed them a little. The other useful tool is the #hashtag search which you can use to follow particular topics like the Gary McKinnon extradition fight #freegary. If you want to read one person’s tweets you can do a person search either under their name or, better if you know it, their @twittername.

I would suggest to those interested in using Twitter as a marketing tool that they keep an eye on and tweet about subjects that are trending, but from their own point of interest. Your Twitter page has a display of what is trending, there used to be several dedicated search engines like CrowdEye, Trendex, and Kosmix, but they have gone. If someone is searching for “Sir Bobby Charlton”, for example, you could use that to point them towards another olympic torch carrier, or a blog that references him in a totally different context.

Recommending others is a good way to build your own list because not only will people return the favour, but every time they retweet a #followfriday, or whatever, recommendation your name goes out to their followers who may well check you out.

My final recommendation is to manage your time, social media can be time consuming so use agents like Yoono, HootSuite, and TweetDeck to enable you to post to multiple accounts at once, not only your Twitter, but also Facebook, YouTube, LinkedIn etc. Also use agents to post tweets when you are not at the PC. SocialOomph and TweetDeck allow you to schedule tweets in advance this means you can maintain a constant internet presence while getting on with your life. However it is important to check back and respond to people’s reactions to your remote tweets, that’s what your smartphone’s for, but that’s a story for another day.




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