When gambling can be the best option

Imagine a roulette wheel with a million numbers on it. Spin the wheel and if you get double zero you will die of a terminal disease. Sounds like a stupid game doesn’t it, why would you play?

Now imagine that instead of betting on one number coming up, you bet on every number, and everyone bets on every number. The wheel is spun and someone’s version of double zero pops up.

Luckily for that person all the bets placed on every number went into a pot to pay for the treatment of those who are unwell, so now the unlucky soul will either be saved or at least be treated.

Everyone plays the game because in this way everyone is covered.

Now imagine that the wheel has 300,000,000 slots, one for every citizen in the USA, and imagine there are lots of people’s numbers that will come up every day. So long as there is enough cash in the pot, those who get sick can get covered.

But if some people choose not to play the game for whatever reasons, then the pot gets smaller, and it can become too small to pay for those who are sick.

And imagine if the croupier starts to charge a fee to allow you to place a bet, a really big fee. Suddenly it gets a lot harder to take care of everyone.

Some people decide to stop playing roulette and instead create a series of smaller games of craps, with very few people playing each game. Each game really doesn’t have enough cash to deal with those who lose. But more games means more croupiers, which is great if you happen to be a croupier. And each game can decide who can play, keeping those most likely to lose out of their games, or place really high limits on how much they can win.

As a casino, this is not a place worth going to play. As a healthcare system, it looks like a scam.

Well that’s what we have.

(4)

The real lesson to take away from the US Presidential Election and the UK Brexit Vote.

I’ve worked in the marketing “industry” for several decades, and have been on the “buy-side” all that time. To those not in the industry that means I buy marketing services (creative and media) from companies who sell it. Those companies use very similar techniques as are used in politics to advise on the right message and mix of media, and I’ve found that the accuracy of those “techniques” has always been biased towards the exact services that those “sell-side” marketers are pushing.

During the election cycle we saw every single media outlet doing whatever they could to keep their revenue streams happy. On TV and radio this means keeping consumers watching/listening across ad-breaks, while in print and online it was to maximize their viewership by offering views that would be attractive to as wide an audience as possible.

So every issue was represented from both sides, every fact was questioned without facts and every bullshit idea was presented as equal to any fact. There was absolutely no interest in what any candidate actually was going to do, what was important was presenting every position as equal, allowing every party to just talk and talk.

Stolen information from emails, and candidly recorded audio was presented without any interest in its integrity and was presented as being as valid as formally recorded statements, creating a level of uncertainty around every piece of knowledge, facts and non-facts were melded, and it became hard to distinguish rumor from fact, so hard that most people gave up even trying to, “her lies” and “his misogyny, bigotry and bluster” was seen as equal, which I suspect in the cold hard light of history will be seen to not be so.

And then to support all of this, highly nuanced surveys and polls were continually captured and presented. I say highly nuanced, because polls and surveys always end up speaking to a small group of people who actually are willing to spend the time to answer questions. And when you pay someone to run a survey they quickly learn who they can rely on, and will go to the same people again and again, despite the clear data issue this generated, because that’s how they get paid.

The goal is to create content in support of revenue. Cheap content, presented as valuable beyond it’s true value. Low cost product generating high profit revenue is the dream of any business, including the media.

Polls, surveys, snippets of information then discussed by talking heads and bloggers, who then become the news source for more talking heads to discuss (just look at Foxnews, MSNBC, CNN, NBC, BBC News, Huffington post etc). The actual validity of the core data quickly gets lost in the process of generating “content”

In business the sell-side marketers are always pushing “facts” in support of the “buy-side” marketers case to spend more money. “buy-side” marketers are always under pressure to justify their budgets, and once they start to rely on the “sell-side facts” they are hooked into an addictive cycle that requires them to just double down on their committed plan, spending more and more.

This is exactly what the media do in every election cycle. The biggest measure of a campaign is seen as how much are they spending on ad’s. When in fact these adverts have almost no impact on the election, and yet every campaign buys into the bullshit. Every talking head, newspaper and blogger is writing about who has a bigger war chest, and who is spending more in this month’s cycle of ad’s. Every Ad is presented as a powerful new tool to swing the result, a tool that never produced the promised results, EVER!

The pain that businesses feel when they cannot see a direct relationship between their marketing investment and their business performance is EXACTLY the same as the pain that the electorate feel when the polls prove to be entirely devoid of reality.

The people who are marching up and down outside Trump buildings, should maybe think about marching up and down outside the “free presses” offices.

(27)

Who Is Better at Making Mountains Out Of Molehills (Or Molehills Out Of Mountains)?

Politics is obviously a very dirty sport, the idea seems to be that the one covered in the biggest pile of crap loses. And so politicians of every affiliation do whatever they can to dig up and throw as much shit as they can, hoping some of it sticks.

Sometimes they dig up stuff that is factual, and sometimes they just make stuff up, with little or no basis in reality. And sometimes the stories are relevant to the role they are aiming to fill and other times it’s irrelevant and just personal or humorous.

The hope is that with so much shit being thrown around, it will be possible to make the other person look unelectable. Truth, relevance and the issues at hand actually get lost.

If you like your candidate you want to believe everything they are saying, and if you hate the other candidate(s) you want to disbelieve everything they are saying.

The roll of an independent press is supposed to be to weigh the merits of all this, check the facts and present a simpler and cleaner view of the positions taken. But that ideal has disappeared in a cloud of money. Today’s press is poor, and will do anything to increase their revenue. The simplest way to get people to read/watch/listen is to use every technique possible to keep their audience long enough to increase the ad revenue. They do this my replacing journalists with opinion editorial. The stories today are nearly all interviews with pundits talking about their views on the latest view of another pundit.

There are some notable exceptions to this normal, but in world of millions of news sources, the few that actually investigate just seem slower and are often overwhelmed by opinion. And when they try and compete by moving faster they risk giving away their advantage of credibility.

A candidate (or their team) will say something directly (or indirectly) about their opponent, and all the pundits will report it, and then talk about it. They don’t go and check it, just “report” that it was said, and then ask as many people as they can find about their opinion. These people will be a mix, it’s possible one or two may actually have facts, but it’s impossible to spot facts in a fog of disparate opinions.

According to Hillary Clinton, Donald Trump is an entitled, misogynist, racist, fraudster and a bigot with fascist tendencies. And according to Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton is terminally ill, a liar and a murderer and should be in prison or hanged for treason.

If you support Hillary Clinton, you will be able to point to hundreds of comments that “The Donald” has said, that support your position about him, and if you are a Donald Trump supporter you can point to many articles written by publications and pundits you like that support his position. Neither group is likely to change their position, irrespective of any further stories about your opponent.

There are (in theory) a small group of people who have not made up their minds, and it is these people that can be swayed. I’m not sure if these people actually exist or are postulated by the poor media as a way of ensuring maximum spend takes place until the very last moment in the election cycle.

And while all this goes on there are issues that need to be solved, and each candidate has positions on each of these issues. Many of these positions are not going to be enacted whoever wins, due to the layers of checks and controls, money and influence designed to stop significant change. But each of these is terribly important.

I’ve read the proposals from each of the candidates (and filtered out what I believe to be hyperbole), and I have an opinion on which one makes most sense, and I will be voting based on that. Like most people I have a visceral dislike for one candidate and find the other candidate capable and acceptable and even likable.

I hope my candidate wins, and I will be unhappy if the other one wins. But whoever wins and whoever loses, the world will keep turning and I will live with and support the result. That’s the responsibility I have, in living in a democracy.

They say in a democracy you don’t get the government you need; you get the government you deserve.

 

(13)

Anti-Science Is Incredibly Dangerous

The GOP nominee for president has been talking about the burden of regulations on business, and screamed about the four thousand plus drugs that are currently undergoing the regulatory mandated clinical trial process. He has a simplistic view that if these drugs were sped through a simpler process this would in some way save lives. How does he know?

How does he know that these drugs are going to do what is hoped? How can he know that a new cancer drug won’t actually have some dramatic unexpected effect that could make the situation worse? How does he know that fixing one symptom won’t create other deadly symptoms for the patient, or worse for other people?

Does he understand the historical record of drugs that created unexpected (unintended) consequences, some of which were horrific?

Does he understand the historical record of drugs that had absolutely no effect, but were marketed as cures for everything, causing people to die earlier or less comfortably than they otherwise would have?

The answer (of course) is that he doesn’t know these things, but does know that people desperate for new drugs to help terminal or painful conditions may vote for a candidate who creates fear of regulations.

He also knows that drug companies looking to reduce their costs of development (and their costs of indemnification) would in some cases love to see the time required to meet regulations reduced.

Reducing costs is a good idea, but not by removing scientific rigor.

There are no simple answers to complex questions, history has shown that people who promote simple one dimensional answers are always dangerously wrong.

The science being done today in the fields of medicine and food creation are incredible. The knowledge that scientists have curated on how the mechanisms of life work has opened up entirely new avenues of research that is leading to incredibly complex solutions to previously untreatable conditions. But there is always a “but”. How do we know for sure that one change, or a series of changes that a treatment makes won’t create a situation that will be dangerous in other ways. The answer is we need to be very careful. Being careful means agreeing on a rigorous scientific process to confirm the validity of an idea through careful peer reviewable testing that always errs on the side of doubt. That is exactly what todays regulations aim to do.

The regulatory bodies in existence are always looking to improve their processes, but improving the rigor, efficiency or effectiveness of a scientific process, does not mean reducing regulations.

The scientific process may seem frustrating, but a non-scientific process is not just dangerous it’s would also be vastly less effective.

(1)

Jumping The Chasm Between Creating Empires and Creating Equality.

History has shown that it is incredibly difficult to move from empire creation to creating a society that is fair for everyone. I am at a loss to find an example of any major society that has made the leap in a way that is seen as acceptable from everyone’s perspective.

The Greeks, Romans, Dutch, Scandinavian, French, English, Portuguese and Spanish all had well documented empires that were built using a mixture of genocide, slavery, brutality, and a clearly defined delineation of those in charge and those who were to be dominated. Slavery, servitude, and extreme poverty for those who were dominated and wealth, education and all the luxuries for those in charge.

And then at some point, in every case there was a recognition of the unfairness of these systems and efforts were undertaken to create every increasing (if slowly implemented) levels of equality, and with this equality came an end to many aspects of their empires. These are still amazingly advanced societies, but with the rules changing, their goals changed, and the lives of everyone involved changed.

Empires at their founding take blood and gold to turn what existed before into something new. But in every case there is a point reached where the advancement of society demands that the underclasses become more educated (to take on more advanced work) and with this comes the knowledge and power of how to negotiate greater levels of equality. But it is very hard for the rich to continue to become richer at the same rate when the previously free labor now requires a lot more of the wealth themselves. For some period of time there is always another even lower level of worker to bring into the endeavor, but at some point you run out of poor groups, and the wealth of society has to start to be spread out further.

Are we seeing the same thing today in the USA?

Are we at that same inflection point, where to provide increasing equality, we need to recognize that the power delivered to a few by inequity needs to be replaced with a desire for a better future for all?

There is still a very real level of inequity between those who come from families that have garnered the benefits of many generations of material wealth, cultural wealth and the interactive effect of many generations of education versus those whose parents and grandparents could barely read, write, did not have a consistent cultural background and had no material assets to pass down the generations.

If you listen to the two main political parties in the US, you would think that the choice is simple and clear, but I don’t think it is in any way obvious which pathway will lead to a better place. Obviously I (like most people) dream of a post sexist, post racial world, where it truly doesn’t matter what someone’s biology, skin tone or life choices are, it just matters what they do. But humanity is probably generations away from that ideal.

Today we have institutions that capitalize on the segregation implicitly created generations ago, and in doing so we continue them. Culturally nurtured mannerisms, fashions, accents and beliefs systems separate groups of people often into neighborhoods and this leads to the furthering of any negative stereotype. Racism is a ridiculous (but very human) way of treating anyone, and often the efforts to deal with negative racism create a “one step forward, two steps back” level of change, where those who benefit from negative racism have the power to use the short term detrimental impact (on them) of positive racism to double down on any negative stereotype. Examples such as Jim Crow after the repeal of slavery, and targeted drug laws after the implementation of the civil rights act had just these types of effect.

Making a fundamental change across society to resolve racism (or any other “ism”) takes an immense intellectual leap supported by immense and rapid investment. And this has to happen at exactly the same point when costs rise (due to everyone wanting and getting a fairer share). This is an almost impossible leap for any society to make and history has shown it to be incredibly hard to do.

But there has never been a United States of America before, and it is very possible that the USA can be the first empire (yes a federation of states with THIS must natural resource and THIS much power is an empire) to achieve this.

So much of the USA’s power and wealth is actually wrapped up in so few people, that it wouldn’t take that many of them to agree on putting society above themselves for real change to be possible.

What other country can name billionaires who actively want to help this change? Capitalism may well be the very best method of creating the very best society that is possible.

There are (of course) some who would look at the past and think that a class system derived from race and sex should be continued, but I believe the majority want a capitalist based system where race and sex are irrelevant, and where every citizen can learn to live a comfortable, long and healthy life in exchange for their work and support of society.  When I read the US constitution (actually I keep a copy in the bathroom), I see these ideas promoted quite aggressively.

I believe the choice the USA will make on November 8th 2016 will be very instructive in seeing if the USA will be the one empire ever to aim for a post-racist/sexist future or (like many before us) will give up the dream and go backwards.

Whatever decision is made in this election won’t set our course irrevocably, but it will be very instructive as to our democratic desire.

(7)

Dealing with Terrorism

 

There is a well-known (and over used) UK saying that was (I believe) first used in the Second World War. A time when Great Britain stood alone against the might of a conquering army consuming the continent of Europe. It was quite uncertain what the future would hold, and yet the saying was:

kcaco

Today the world continues to be threatened by angry psychopaths, some of which use terror to try and warp the world. A free world is much easier to attack, than it is to identify and capture or kill those who attack. Quite simply the best answer to terrorism is to carry on living our lives as if they didn’t exist, and use the darker side of special forces and covert techniques to destroy the terrorist factions.

The moment we respond to their cowardly and murderous intentions with fear, we give up something critical to freedom, and frankly we get nothing in return. A very small number of crazy loons with a death wish and a belief in some warped version of a fictional world in which killing, raping, slavery, bigotry and overall cruelty are normalized can only move forward if their mad world view is given form by being accepted by the vast majority.

We cannot ignore acts of terror, but the correct response is to band together as civilized countries and using the rule of law and the weight of technologically superior intelligence and surgical might to identify and destroy the perpetrators. This is not the political arena, but the covert world of offence is the best defense.

Politicians who try and scare the population into giving up their freedom and civilized democratic rights are cowards or worse traitors to the rule of law.

Religion is not an identifier of terrorists, because quite simply anyone can choose to adopt or deny any religious beliefs as they see fit.

Buildings will get blown up, people will die and be maimed, it is terrible and must be stopped. But stopping it does not mean tanks on the streets or soldiers in schools, it means using intelligence, technology and stealth to identify and destroy those who would do harm.

 

KEEP CALM AND CARRY ON

(4)

It’s Complex

It seems like there are just a few big issues that need to be solved. And solving those issues should be simple, binary things, they are either fixed or they are not. At least that’s how it sounds when you listen to the talking heads, the flag waving, pin wearing politicians and their supporters. It doesn’t seem to matter which political party you listen to, the answer always seems to be simple and directly contrary to their opponent.

Gun advocates won’t consider any change in the law or funding model that doesn’t entirely resolve every gun related issue in a single sweep, while retaining every level of their hard fought for rights both written and interpreted. According to that group we don’t need new laws, we just need to be better as using the laws we already have, and do it with the same or less money every year. While their opponents to guns seem to say that we don’t just need new laws, we also need to dramatically change our whole approach to weapons. The views are so diametrically opposed, that in effect they feed off of each other to ensure that nothing can ever change.

The “issue” of race parity is treated the same way. We have laws and a culture that favors those of fair skin, and European descent. The process of creating an even playing field cannot be solved in days or weeks, but has to be measured in generations. If your great-grandparents owned a house and went to school then your grandparents had an advantage and were much more likely to support financially and socially the chance of your parents going to school or university, which would have dramatically improved your childhood and your chance of a solid and supportive upbringing. It takes generations before a complete extended family is in the position to fully embrace and support the social and economic needs to help a complete generation of children.

The school system in the US today is probably more segregated than at any point in any countries history. Why would a well-educated family want their children to be in the same class or even the same school of children who grow up in broken households, or have parents who are poorly educated and don’t value education? The answer is that a cycle has to be broken, and that means investing very heavily in providing accelerated high quality support to any group of people who are below a socially acceptable level. Today that often means people of color (every variety). Yes, it means actually spending more on those who need more, as opposed to spending more on those who already have most. And of course those who have most are in the best position to fight for ensuring they continue to get the most.

The US through a complex mix of drug laws, social and economic segregation, and a draconian legal and penal system have created an underclass in society that is demonstrably color-coded. An underclass that is identifiable partly by skin color, but also by a dramatic difference in clothing, wealth and accent. This underclass then gets treated poorly by employers, the government and its legal proxies, which ensures that it continues to be an underclass.

I don’t believe the police are institutionally racist, but I do believe that the markers of the aforementioned underclass are always going to be a specific target for the police.

As an officer of the law, if you were to see a youth dressed as a 1970’s punk with torn clothing, a disheveled look and a bag, you would be interested in the contents of that bag. In today’s world, a large proportion of the societally created underclass are of color, and I would expect that that means that like everyone else, the police have learned to spot these as potential trouble spots. Is this institutional racism or is this a human response to the effects of hundreds of years of race based culture and laws?

It takes incredible effort, and professionalism to change society, and that does not come easily or cheaply. But it does need to happen.

Better schools and a fairer penal system designed to rehabilitate and not institutionalize, are long term requirements.

Policing that takes into consideration the currently economic and socially disparities is a shorter term tactic. The idea that everyone stopped by the police should be treated with military level aggression seems counter-productive to me, but with so many illegal guns, and so much at stake for anyone arrested due to the draconian legal and penal system, what choice is there?

There can be no tolerance for violence, either people protesting against the government or the government exceeding its power. In fact the best place for people and officials to unite is in stopping violence.

This country needs to fix social disparity, it is possibly the most expensive , resource intensive and time consuming activity a country can undertake, but it has to happen.

Yes it is complex, but that doesn’t make it impossible.

(10)

RSBX people have rights as well.

RSBX

I have a working hypothesis that about 20% of any population are xenophobic, racist, sexist, bigots.

1 in 5 doesn’t seem that many at times, but when you consider the power of 20% of people who think alike to sway an election it can be quite important.

In the USA about 20% (rough number, probably a bit less in reality) of the entire voting population voted for Donald Trump in the presidential primaries, and now Trump is the presumptive nominee for the Republican Party, and this is clearly causing some flag waving by his supporters and some gagging by his detractors.

In the UK, the Brexit vote was clearly influenced by “the 20%”, and while I don’t believe that anywhere near all the people who voted in either the US or UK are racist, I do expect that every racist who voted, did vote the same way.

The funny thing is that in a democracy, especially one with free speech expectations, being a racist is not illegal, and their particular form of antisocial feeling (like all), must actually be listened to. Sometimes through education some of them may soften their views, but the power of democracy is that everyone counts.

I find racism, sexism, bigotry and Xenophobia in any form abhorrent. It is the feature of humanity I admire the absolute least. And yet it exists, people who vote have these views and as a democrat I am bound to support the winning group in any election.

Maybe we should refer to racist, sexist, bigoted xenophobes as RSBX people, and recognize that they have a right to their lifestyle, even though I personally find it disgusting.

Despite the views of RSBX people, whoever wins a vote gets to lead the charge. Right now that means the UK is leaving the EU, and I now fully support the efforts to make the future as good as possible for all (again this is how a democracy works, you don’t have to like the crowd sourced result, but you have to support making it work as well as possible).

Personally I don’t approve of the RSBX lifestyle, I find their views to be contrary to natural law. But I support their rights to live their lives as they see fit, just as long as what they do doesn’t impact anyone else.

(15)

Why is everyone so upset about Brexit?

Listening to the conversation on the radio, TV, newspapers etc. you would think that the UK decision to exit the European Union is a form of country wide suicide, which has the potential of becoming a global Armageddon. Frankly I don’t see it.

uj4

There are arguments for both the UK staying in the EU and for leaving, the country voted, and the democratic decision is to leave. But it seems those who were hell bent on remaining are a little upset. I get it, but it really isn’t the end of anything.

Being in the EU had some value of course, and being out also has some value. There are different strategies that is all.

I’ve heard people opining that now they won’t be able to travel to Europe, and their kids dreams of living all over the world have been dashed. This is just not true. Before the UK joined the EU, large numbers of people chose to live in other countries including Europe and beyond, and nothing has changed. Let’s face it every English bank robber from the 1940’s, 50’s and 60’s moved to Spain, and there was a lot of work for the Police and courts to deal with finding and extraditing them. Now I believe the ex-crooks choice of destination is a large estate just outside of the M25. Thousands of Brits live in the United States of America, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Asia and everywhere else. Thousands more live in France, Germany, Spain, Italy etc. and from my experience I can confirm that moving to a country in the EU is no less bureaucratic than moving to one outside the EU. I’ve done both and frankly it’s just down to the friendliness of the people in the town you move to, and many European destinations are known for making life hard for foreigners. Try moving to France and you will see what I mean, some towns are wonderful, some are not.

There is this fear that businesses will move their jobs to Europe, now that the UK is out of the EU. Again this is just not true. Businesses will place their jobs where the business environment is friendliest to them, with the most beneficial taxation and employment laws. Having hired people in Italy, Germany and France, my experience is that the climate is not business friendly and the UK already has a massive advantage in its employment laws, and this is likely to get even better now that the UK government can make decisions that are UK economy focused. It’s one thing for companies to say they will move to be in Europe, but another to actually do it. Today many US and European companies have moved their European HQ’s to Switzerland, now they may choose the UK. There are some great places to do business in Europe, places with superb work forces with highly technical skill sets and language skills, and the UK is one of them, and can compete quite nicely.

There is this fear that the UK will become a closed country with no immigration. ARE YOU KIDDING ME. The UK has the strongest history of immigration from its empire days, and the incredible people that moved to the UK from India, Pakistan, Africa and the Caribbean are a testament to the power of immigration. The question will just be (like it is for the USA, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, China, etc), what are you going to contribute to the UK? People in need have always been able to come to the UK, and that will clearly continue, and people who bring value to the UK have always been able to come to the UK and that will also clearly continue. The only change will be that the UK will set the rules. I remember taking the train from Paris to London and having to go through 2 immigration checks at the Paris end, firstly by the France immigration and then again by the British Immigration at a desk no more that 10 feet behind the French. Why, because the French were allowing (pushing?) immigrants who they didn’t want to keep in France to go to the UK. It was a French way of not following the immigration rules that were setup by the EU. The UK of course always followed those rules. Now the UK can set the rules, and being British I believe they will be fair. So I don’t expect there will be any problems with NHS doctors or nurses, as they will still be encouraged to come to the UK. And I expect that the Polish plumbers (who may well be the best in the world and clearly have an amazing work ethic) will not be pushed out of the UK. Conversely, if you happen to have a skip in your garden while you renovate your house, you may now find it fills up a bit quicker, as I expect there will be less people rummaging through it for metal (this will only make sense to a UK resident).

The fact is that about a quarter of a TRILLION dollars of gold is stored in vaults under London. And London is in the best position of any country to continue to be the conduit for money transactions between continents. Actually being outside of the EU may well provide the UK with an even bigger advantage in this regard if the UK government and its regulatory authorities are smart.

The UK has some of the best universities in the world, some of the most innovative engineers, and some of the best employment laws anywhere for industry and businesses to grow. Since the 1980’s though the UK has focused on moving from building things to selling things, and this has had a terrible effect on manufacturing and raw material production. It’s quite possible for a UK outside of the EU to turn this trend around, and make the UK the leader in new industries that are only just emerging now. What is needed are leaders who truly can inspire the population, and I believe they do exist and the climate is ready for them to take the lead.

The UK is well known as being a green and pleasant land, and that means it’s a wonderful environment for agriculture, animals, fishing etc. Again government policies designed to stimulate agriculture and focused on the UK’s specific interests would be wonderful to see.

Rather than being depressed about leaving the EU, the UK should see this as a chance to lead.

Being in the EU was hard, and being out of the EU will be hard, it’s not the EU, hard is just a fact of life. A choice has been made, and now it’s everyone’s job to make it work.

 

(287)

People of America, Your Attention Please

BRICKINTHEWALL

 

When you look at the UK decision to exit the European Union, please look very carefully; This is not the same as voting for Trump.

The UK has a democratically elected parliamentary system (A little bit like the president, house and senate, just a bit more pomp and ceremony, but about as dysfunctional), and it is currently also part of the European Union (a complex series of interconnections between 28 countries with a sometimes stated goal of becoming the United States of Europe, with some amazingly good social ideas and some really scary social and political ideas that seem to harken back to times of people with funny mustaches and no knees).

Having two overlapping political systems should seem very normal to every US Citizen, what with state and federal organizations.

But then the UK also is a United Kingdom consisting of England, Wales, Scotland and (a chunk of the Northern part of an island mostly made up of the country of Eire), called Northern Ireland, along with a smattering of other islands around it’s coasts and a couple of places that are just there for sport (yes Gibraltar I’m thinking of you). Some of these areas also have their own parliaments, which may seem confusing to you (because it is).

Scotland is really poor most of the time, well it’s not actually poor, but it costs more to run than the gross domestic product it produces. This means it needs a sugar daddy to buy it a nice apartment in exchange for a few castles and access to its ample supply of sheep and whiskey. It seems that under the auspices of the EU, Scotland was just one of many areas in this situation, and so a good supply of readies was always available with more always promised (but never quite delivered), and the Europeans were more interested in using it for holidays than f&*ing the sheep, which made them easier to deal with than the politicians in Westminster (England).

Wales on the other hand is really full of sheep, and men with good singing voices, and generally they like to be left alone (to sing to their sheep we all assume), so being part of Europe was not generally seen as anything of value, but it’s very expensive, so with a few exceptions most of Wales wanted to be left out of Europe and left alone as usual.

Northern Island on the other hand is full of people who shout all the time, and really like drinking. This is exactly the same as the people in Eire (Ireland to you), and they can walk there for a pint and a good argument and then walk home again. While going to drink in the rest of the UK requires a boat, which is actually harder than walking. So the Northern Ireland folks mostly want to be part of Europe, specifically with those in Ireland. Except some don’t and they have in the past made that really clear, by fighting amongst themselves in quite serious ways and blowing lots of things and people up. Since those who want to be part of Europe mostly don’t use contraceptives while those who want to be part of the UK do, time will be the great decider, as one group has massive families (of voters) while the other doesn’t. At some point in the next couple of generations the vote will go to those who want to become part of Eire, and the hope is the shouting and drinking will be enough until that happens.

The English on the other hand are more complex, anyone old enough to have a parent or grandparent who fought in WWII wants to leave Europe (remember what we fought for in the war etc.), while everyone who is younger wants to move to Spain and party while collecting government handouts. In fact, it seems most of the largest city (London) wanted to remain in Europe, but it rained quite hard in London on the day of the election so a lot of younger people it seems stayed at home. I wonder if this lack of a focus on actually winning comes from their schooling where sports are not about winning but about spending an afternoon in the sun in a Lacoste shirt and shiny new white trainers and receiving a medal for just being alive.

Anyway now that the UK (Britain is its other name) has voted to exit Europe (Brexit, get it now), and everyones heads have exploded, because up to now no one really thought this would happen, it was supposed to be a moaning vote (a way of expressing a complaint that could be ignored) and like all moaning votes was never supposed to lead anywhere. But it has and now everyone is realizing they really should have worked out a plan of what to do next.

But being British means that they are used to making stupid mistakes and then turning each mistake into something unexpected and brilliant.

Anyway people of America please look very carefully at the Brexit vote, it is not like voting for Trump, the UK still has a democratically elected parliament not run by a raving sexist, bigoted, xenophobic bull-shitter (of course that also could happen in the UK, there is one or two waiting for their chance, but it has not happened yet).

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