Pandemics, timequakes, free will, and what comes next

Timequake, Kurt Vonnegut’s final novel, is a tricky beast. His work had always trampled over the borders between fiction and non-fiction (“That was I. That was me. That was the author of this book.”) and Timequake lives almost solely in those borderlands. It’s a combination of the shattered remnants of his first attempt to write the book and Vonnegut’s musings on the problems of writing, his life, his family and other matters. …


A walk into the countryside with big skies and mythical beasts

The Bures Dragon

It’s hard to tell the age of a dragon, but we know the one you can see in the Essex/Suffolk border village of Bures is somewhere between nine and six hundred years old. There are plenty of ways to get to Bures to see it, and here’s one route you can take to walk there from central Colchester.

This route is about twelve miles long and mostly on countryside paths and rights of way, though with some sections on roads. It starts from High Woods Country Park just outside the centre of Colchester and finishes at St Stephen’s Chapel just…


A century on, the party again faces the same questions about its role that the Liberals failed to answer


The fist book I finished in 2021 was Matthew Hongoltz-Hetling’s A Libertarian Walks Into A Bear. It’s an account of two seemingly disparate issues — the dream of the Free Town Project to turn one town into a libertarian utopia and the management and control of the bear population of New Hampshire — and how they both came together in Grafton, New Hampshire.

The Free Town Project spun off from the much more ambitious Free State Project, but had the same aim: move enough libertarians to an area to create a voting bloc that would be large enough to dismantle…


When he takes office on January 20th, Joe Biden will become the oldest ever US President. And, assuming Donald Trump doesn’t rage quit the Oval Office before then, it’ll also mark the second time in a row a US President has handed over to a successor who’s older than them after Trump replaced the younger Obama in 2017.

That got me wondering about how different Presidents and their successors have been in age over the years. Because time remains stubbornly linear, and no one has yet lived to be the 289 years old they’d need to be older than George…


A map of the route of the Langdale Half Marathon, including an elevation profile.
A map of the route of the Langdale Half Marathon, including an elevation profile.
You can see the map on the event website

In my memories of doing cross-country in school PE, it’s always raining. I’d trudge round the fields, woods and boggy lanes getting progressively wetter and then be one of the last ones to get back and try to get warm in two minutes in the showers.

Thirty years later, I was sitting in my car in a muddy field at Dungeon Ghyll watching rain that was heavier than any of my cross-country memories and wondering just what I was about to do.


Photo by Elliott Stallion on Unsplash

With voting having started in the US Presidential elections, scenes of people waiting in line for several hours to vote have been circulating around the world. This prompted me to ask Twitter a question:

I was interested in other people’s experience, because in my time as a voter, candidate, election agent and campaign manager, I’ve never experienced people having to wait a significant time to be able to cast their vote. I’ve seen queues at polling stations, most recently during the 2017 general election which gave me the first clue that something unexpected might be about to happen, but…


Photo by Marko Horvat on Unsplash

It’s my turn to tell a story, is it?

Then I shall have to share one of my uncle’s tales, for I have no new stories this night. I have talked before of my uncle, haven’t I? The one who wandered the world in the times before, and brought back to us wonderful tales of places we would never see. We would all be gathered around the fire –

What’s that? Yes, we would sit around a fire in the dark, for the nights were still cold back then. You young ones, you will never feel cold in your bones.


Yesterday, I delivered my first speech at a federal Liberal Democrat conference, so I thought I’d share it here for posterity. This was part of the debate on the “Save the BBC” motion. The video of yesterday isn’t yet up on the Party Conference YouTube channel, but I’ll add a link when it is available.

Conference,

I should start with a declaration of interest — I used to work for the BBC.

Yes, if you were listening to Five Live in the middle of the night around the early 2000s, you would have heard me present the Travel News.

And…


This is a follow-up to my previous story on Liberal Democrats and factions, as there were some comments and questions about it that got me thinking and it felt worthwhile to expand on them in a linked post rather than letting them disappear into the Twitter ether.

One of the main objections and challenges people had to the previous post is that they’ve seen how bad factionalism has been in the Labour Party, and so because of that they don’t want to see any factions in the Liberal Democrats. …

Nick Barlow

Many, many things. PhD student at QMUL. Councillor. Ran the 2019 London Marathon for Brain Research UK. @nickjbarlow on Twitter.

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