On History and Perspective

I enjoy and am rather good at tasks requiring precision and problem solving.

I particularly enjoy precision of language; strict definition, objective and legally enforceable meanings. Moreover, I enjoy analysis that uses precise language, but has a scope that is able to holistically link seemingly disparate subjects. Economics and politics seem to do this a lot of the time.

I like being able to delve into the context of a case study in order to understand it better.

Take, for instance, the planned Queen’s speech for the state opening of parliament tomorrow, the 22nd of June. There are many angles one can approach the event from;

  • You can talk about the history of the relationship between the monarchy and Parliament,  Bad King John, the English Civil War, and the fact that the Prime Minster’s party technically derives its power from the Queen, asking her to form a Government on her behalf if they have a majority in the House of Commons.
  • You can examine the direct political context – the snap elections which shrunk Theresa May’s small majority down to a plurality of 317 (compared to Labour’s 262), just shy of a majority of seats in the House of Commons, which is of course, 650 and how this has forced her to tread much merely carefully
  • You can frame the event as in contrast to former state openings of Parliament, and how much of the Pomp and Ceremony has been suspended, officially because of clashes with other Royal commitments and the suddenness of this event, caused by May’s snap election decision
  • You can talk about the larger political context – how it was David Cameron’s Conservative Government took the gamble of a decision to hold the IN/OUT referendum, partially to put the issue to bed after decades of, mostly, Tory backbench grumblings, and how he expected an easy victory that would embolden his party and him personally as having A) given the people the chance to decide directly and B) he personally having campaigned for the winning Remain side, but in reality it shook the political tectonic plates and created new and deep fault lines
  • You can talk about Northern Irish politics, devolution, the Good Friday Agreement as the culmination of a difficult and drawn out peace process, and the power sharing that has occurred since, etched into the operation of the Northern Irish assembly. Crucially, you can also talk about how Northern Irish MPs from Sinn Fein are elected time and time again, but do not take up their seats in Westminster out of Protest and how this time, this left the DUP, ideologically closes to May’s Conservative party, very much in the driver’s seat and with disproportionate power as any rebellion may cause Government Policy to fail, votes of No Confidence, and perhaps, a fresh election.

It is not vital to have a deep understanding of each of these angles, but it is importance to have a broad understanding – as each allow you to understand the event in a slightly different way, and the culmination is a in-depth understanding underpinned by perspective.

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A Scientific Approach

So I work in the Learning Zone at Central Saint Martins, which accommodates a staggeringly disproportionate amount of student printing, especially so towards deadlines.

Frustrations run high as the pressure mounts. When a student has spend the last 4 or 5 hours staring at a monitor often making minute changes to their work, and then when the send it to print and it doesn’t reproduce on paper how it showed up on screen nor how they were expecting, they can be understandingly devastated.

Beyond the basic logistical issues people come up against – which printer to send to, accidentally setting double sided or mono when it should have been colour, there is a lack of appreciation into the work that must go in to a successful print.

 

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERABut there is a fault shared by the majority in their approach to printing. One should not simply think of all the work as done in the software, and then printing simply as a case of hitting the button and being done – a thoughtful, considered and approach that can adapt will necessarily produce a better print, that looks closer to how you wanted it to look.

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You must learn about colour, and ink, and colour spaces.

 

 

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A Prairie Home Companion has been on seemingly forever. I first came across it when it used to be played on Radio 4 at odd times, usually late into the night (perhaps it’s still on).

His voice, that of Garrison Keillor is hypnotic, soothing, and iconic.

What’s wonderful about it is how lasting it has been, created and hosted by the same man since 1974, no doubt thanks to it’s formula; inoffensive yet compelling cockamamie tid bits within a reliable and quickly familiar setting – that is Lake Wobegon. Any mention of the show conjures instantly the words in that familiar deep voice “the news from Lake Wobegon”.

What I take most from this though is that it’s okay to just keep on producing seemingly stodgy content, especially on the radio. It has it’s place. It can be noble work.

Not everything has to be cynical or bold or ruthless. Sometimes, you can just make familiar.