This blog is an attempt to shine a torch into the dark corners. Defying the second law of thermodynamics, it started out with maximum disorder and therefore cannot succumb to entropy. It's equal parts dead serious and dead silly. Sometimes, when the hosting server goes down, it's just plain dead. If you decide to join me in my parallel universe, prepare to travel at the speed of dark...
Disseminated by social media and platforms such as Google (as well as more traditional media outlets), disinformation (or black propaganda or ‘fake news’) has become a significant feature in the complex landscape of modern international politics in recent years. With the modernisation of media and mass communication, covert online techniques have been used to influence all kinds of democratic processes, including elections. But disinformation campaigns have been around for some time, well before the era of bots and trolls and algorithmically curated news feeds.
The rationale of disinformation is simple – it’s false information that is spread deliberately to deceive and sow discord among particular communities or sections of communities.
Back in the 1980s, before the paradigm shift of computer-related technology, Operation INFEKTION was a notorious disinformation campaign run by the KGB. Aimed at fostering anti-American feeling around the globe, the Russian secret service agency placed articles in newspapers suggesting that HIV had been created as a bioweapon in the US Army’s biological weapons research facility at Fort Detrick in Maryland. The articles focused on the research of Jakob Segal, implicating the US government’s role in the AIDS crisis.
In some ways, you could say the story foreshadows the current debate surrounding the origin of COVID-19.
“A wonderfully eclectic set of poetry written by a very talented poet. A RED RIBBON WINNER and highly recommended.” The Wishing Shelf Book Awards
If you were a clownfish, swimming languidly and contentedly amongst the anemones on a coral reef, you would assume that the charming ecosystem you inhabit is the entire universe. But suppose a diver with a net appears and lifts you out of the sea. You see creatures you’ve never seen before. You see boats and a coastline and the sky above. Suddenly it dawns on you that your world is just a small part of a much larger and weirder macrocosm than you could have ever imagined in your wildest dreams. And what if there is a universe in which clownfish are keen on tennis and frequently speak in rhyme? And what if this isn’t a hypothetical question?
A deadly virus sweeps the world, forcing many into lockdown. The lives of ordinary people are changed forever. At times irreverent, at times absurd, at times sombre, but at all times Coronaverse is an honest (okay, harebrained) attempt to find some rhyme and rhythm in all the dizzying and disorientating manifestations of life in a pandemic.
At the end of 2020, StrikeUp Theatre was awarded an Arts Council England grant to grow the company and build new projects. We’re now proud to present this – a beautiful, heartwarming film entitled ‘Exchange’, created in collaboration with Reading Mencap and supported by Reading Culture Live.
This short video was produced during a StrikeUp Theatre comedy workshop for the over 70s using Zoom. The premise is as follows:
The BBC plans to devote a special night of programming to Christmas nostalgia, including a remake of ‘Fanny Cradock Cooks for Christmas’. Fanny herself is indisposed. The beleaguered Executive Committee decides to throw open the role of her replacement to the public by means of a series of auditions and screen tests. Unfortunately, only 5 contestants apply and the only audition to take place is therefore effectively the final. The 5 women are great fans of Fanny Cradock, but have no idea about auditions or producers or how to conduct themselves in that context. The big day of the live televised audition arrives…
With the UK on course to borrow around £400bn in 2020 and with the cost of financing our burgeoning national debt threatening to make tax rises more likely, the Chancellor, Rishi Sunak, proposed a controversial cut in overseas aid.
Actually, the national debt has existed for centuries and is by and large sustainable. We should consider it as capital invested in the country and we should have a debate about how best to invest that capital. Investing some of it in other countries might bring benefits to the UK.
If it’s important to strive to be a better person and inspire other people to do likewise, why not apply that principle to nations too?
Dear Rishi, please put up the taxes
On those of us who can pay.
Please don’t renege on overseas aid –
Let’s keep starvation at bay.
And while you’re going about it,
Take an extra little bit,
So the NHS is provided
With adequate PPE kit.
If we consider nations as people,
I’d like us to be the best.
I’d like us to always do the right thing
Each time we’re put to the test.
As Christmas 2020 approached, France shut its UK border amid fears of a new coronavirus variant, causing mayhem for supply chains across Europe. Nearly 4000 vehicles were held at a temporary lorry park at Manston Airport, while around 800 were stuck on the M20 into Dover. Downing Street believed the border blockade had been timed to put pressure on the UK Government in ongoing post-Brexit trade negotiations, which were floundering over fish.
In the bleak mid-lockdown
Lorry men made moan;
All supplies for Christmas
Into chaos thrown;
Queues got longer, hour by hour,
Hour by hour,
In the bleak mid-lockdown
A new strain of Covid
Just would not relent;
Sadly for the UK,
It started here in Kent.
All the EU members
Gave vent to their hate –
Brexit made them angry,
The trucks just had to wait.
So, what could we give him,
The French president?
The public purse was empty,
All our money spent;
If Boris were a Wise Man,
He could grant their wish,
Yet what could he give them?…
Give them fish!
Presented with the example of high-profile leaders (such as Donald Trump for example), how do we define good leadership qualities? What we see with Trump is conviction, perseverance and decisiveness. And, on the face of it, these are all admirable attributes for a good leader. But are they really? What if they tip over into stubborn bull-headedness and inflexibility? If someone refuses to acknowledge the possibility that they’re wrong, is that a good thing? Where exactly is that tipping point?
If you persist with an idea or an opinion, and you insist on making your point, even when you know that others have valid objections, you’re probably teetering on the edge. If you feel frustration and impatience, possibly even anger, when others try to persuade you of something you don’t agree with, you’re in serious danger of losing your balance. If you shut down debates and conversations without making any attempt to process other people’s opinions because you believe there is only one viable course of action, make no mistake – you’re spiralling out of control. And if you’re digging your heels in when you know that you’re wrong, that’s inexcusable… and, frankly, you deserve a bumpy landing.
Obviously, we don’t want leadership that is paralysed by equivocation and indecision, but good leaders should always welcome a challenge to their convictions and assumptions. They should be prepared to entertain other possibilities that weren’t initially in their purview. They should be persuadable. They should be capable of surrendering a dearly-cherished belief if the situation warrants.
In short, I firmly believe good leadership entails holding your ground in a stoic and no-nonsense way whilst remaining open to the possibility that there might be a better rationale out there….
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A sincere and unequivocal attempt to make nonsense of a range of topical issues of the day...
Here is a catalogue of my prose writings, including children's fiction, short stories, non-sequiturs and odd scraps of surrealism with or without a straightforward narrative. Don't believe me? Well, to prove it, here's a picture of a man being fired from a cannon:
The downloads on this site (e.g. pdf versions of Earthwatch and Shackleton's Shed) are free. If you would like to donate a small sum of money to be invested in the upkeep of the site then please scroll down to the bottom of this page and click on the 'Donate' button. Somebody sometime has got to make money from the internet. Let it be me.
This intergalactically recognised award was presented to The Speed Of Dark Blog by The Speed Of Dark Awards Commission.
I am delighted to have been nominated for the 2012 Tony Blair Ducking Under The Bar Award for boldly raising the bar and diving under it. I knew I had the potential to be a great underachiever.
I've racked up another prestigious award - the Eric Morecambe 'Mister Preview' Prize. According to the award citation, The Speed Of Dark Blog contains material that ranks with the finest literary works in history. All the right letters are there, but not necessarily in the right order.
This is just to draw your attention to a totally awesome feature of this blog. A random aphorism/one-liner/quote now appears at the top of the page AND, if you click on it, you get another one!! Too much of a good thing can be truly wonderful!
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Website author: David Winship
The downloads on this site (e.g. pdf versions of material like Shackleton's Shed) are free.
If you would like to donate a small sum of money to be invested in the upkeep of the site then please click on the 'Donate' button.
Disclaimer: This website is written for entertainment purposes only and no offence is intended.