Monday, 28th September, 2020

[Day 196]

The start of another week and I have a few things to deal with, as usual. Firstly, I sent off an email to the secretary of our newfound church to book our place for Saturday morning and this I did before I forgot about it. Then I got onto one of our good local hotels whose restaurant we use for special ‘birthday’ and ‘anniversary’ meals and got a booking for next Saturday as it is Meg’s 74th birthday actually on that day so we thought we would have a bit of French cuisine. All around me, there seems to be building work going one – our immediate next-door neighbour is having bathrooms and the like installed and the last of a garden make-over, our neighbour across the communal green area is having a wall built down the side of her house, the house just round the garden is having a radical make-over which has involved mini-diggers and the erection of new fences and so on. I suppose a lot of work that would have been done ‘normally’ was delayed during the lockdown and now people are making up for lost time. We enjoyed our normal walk to the park today but attendance was quite down – the normal supply of toddlers and dogs seems to have diminished somewhat. However, there are still groups of ‘oldies’ who seem to congregate in circles of six complete with light aluminium camping chairs.

After we got home, our son was giving himself a coffee-break so I played him the ‘speech’ version of the blog which I discovered how to activate yesterday. However, either false memory syndrome or senility seems to have overcome me because in my account of long shadows on an aerodrome tarmac, the aircraft we had gone to see was not a Vulcan bomber but the last of the English Electric Lightenings and the aerodrome was actually Bruntingthorpe in Leicestershire. The other details were correct though! Here is the URL of a photo which my son took at the time and has in his collection:

English Electric Lightning

I am reliably informed that these could actually outpace the American U2 spyplanes which the Americans thought invincible but the Brits wanted to go one better – however, given the height at which it could travel and the thinness of the air it became somewhat difficult to manouvre.

I thought I could not be shocked by political news any more but the Channel 4 evening News at 7.0 pm this evening was jaw-dropping. At least half the programme was devoted to showing how in the 2016 Americal Presidental campaign, black voters were disproprtionately targeted to persuade them not to vote (‘voter suppression’) and hence give a victory to Trump. Here is the link to the whole story

Black Voter Suppression

Basically, Channel 4 news had obtained 5,000 files (some 5 terabytes) that had data on 200 million Americans and 3.5 million Black Americans. The latter group had social media messages, primarily from FaceBook targeted at them – many of these messages were ‘dark’ i.e. could not be traced after the sponsors (right wing money) had stopped funding the adverts. FaceBook refuses to release the historic data that they held saying ‘it could not happen now’ which was a tacit admission that it happened then. The black vote turnout seemed to have dropped by some 20% points which was enough to give Donald Trump victory in several key ‘swing’ states. Perhaps I ought not to mention that the same gang (Cambridge Analytica) used similar techniques in the Brexit referendum campaign but it has proved incredibly difficult to inestigate their full involvement as of now – and too late anyway.

Meg and I did have in mind whether or not it was sensible or foolhardy to go to Southampton to look up some old friends in the narrow ‘window of opportunity’ that we have before the winter sets in, the COVID-19 epidemic worsens, future lockdowns re activated etc. I got into contact with an old and trusted friend to work things how things are down in that neck of the woods and after we had had an exchange of emails, it seemed sensible not to engage in this little venture. But in the meantime, we have a lunch-time dinner date which has just been arranged to see the Pitt-Rivers (anthropological) Museum in Oxford where the collection of shrunken heads has just been removed from public display (are they stored away somewhere, I ask myself?)