Everything You Need to Know about Brexit

Quick, before the Conservative Party announces our new Blusterer in Chief, here’s everything you need to know about Brexit and how we got tot his point:

Brexit starts in 2015, when David Cameron, as Britain’s prime minister and the leader of the Conservative Party, makes an election promise to hold a referendum on whether Britain should stay in the European Union. This is smart politics. Isn’t Davey a clever boy? After the election, he’ll be back in a coalition with the Liberal Democrats and they’ll veto the referendum and that means he won’t have to throw himself, his party, and his country, out the fifth-story window labeled Brexit. But he’ll have shut up the Leave voices in his own party, the Leave voices in the U.K. Independence Party, and the Labour voices rumbling at him from the far side of the House of Commons and saying things he doesn’t pay attention to but that get on his nerves anyway.

Irrelevant photo to give you some relief from an otherwise grim picture: a field with corn marigolds.

Then the election’s held and his party wins a majority. Who knew so many people liked him?

Wave bye-bye to the nice coalition, Davey, because it’s going away.

Davey edges close enough to that fifth-story window and looks down. It’s a long way to the ground.

What’s a clever politician to do? He schedules the referendum and tells the country that it’s safer, stronger, and much better looking in Europe, so it should vote Remain. He promises to limit immigration by widening the Channel and to make the sky a tasteful and long-lasting shade of blue using paint from Farrow and Ball, which is what people with any kind of taste at all buy.

Remain loses. Britain will be leaving the E.U.

Why does Britain vote Leave? Because leaving will make Britain great again. Because it will let Parliament take back control. Because Rupert Murdoch said it was a good idea. Because Facebook is fun.

Davey resigns the leadership of his party and with it the prime ministership, and he retreats to a shed in his backyard, which being British he calls his garden.

What he calls a shed is nicer than some people’s apartments. Which he’d call flats.

He starts writing a book. He waits for someone to ask what it’s about but no one does. They’re focused on the window he left open. Several prominent Conservatives are writhing on the floor in front of it, trying to stab each other. The winner will get to lead the party and find a way from window to ground. One that doesn’t break bones. Or that does. The referendum didn’t say that no bones could be broken.

Theresa May emerges as leader of the party, largely because no one thought she was worth stabbing.

What, the press asks her while the other contenders lie bleeding at her feet, is Brexit going to mean.

“Brexit,” she says, “means Brexit.”

Yes, but what does it mean?

It means Brexit.

Oh.

Negotiations between Britain and the E.U. begin. The E.U. negotiators spread papers and studies and printouts on the table. The British negotiators set Etch-a-Sketch pads in front of them.

Time passes. Terri May calls an election, which will prove that, um, remind me, what will it prove? That the country backs her. That’s it.

That’s probably it. Also because it will increase her majority in Parliament.

She loses her majority and is held in place (the place in question being 10 Downing Street) only by duct tape and a small Protestant party from Northern Ireland.

A lot of time passes. According to the rules of the game, only so much time can pass before Britain has to go out that window, whether the two sides have managed to build a ladder or not.

An agreement is announced.

Everyone hates the agreement. Even the people who support the agreement hate the agreement. Britain’s negotiator resigns because he hates the agreement he negotiated.

Britain’s Parliament also hates the agreement, so Theresa May goes back to Europe to change the part of the agreement that talks about the border between Northern Ireland and the Irish Republic. It’s the only part of the agreement she can let herself think about.

The E.U. says it’s tired of talking to Britain.

Britain is also tired of talking to Britain. The Conservative Party can’t agree on what it thinks Brexit should be. It can’t agree on whether Brexit should happen. A group of backbenchers ask, “Wouldn’t it be simpler if we just closed the window?”

No one listens to them.

The Labour Party also can’t agree on what Brexit should be or whether it should happen, although it does agree that Brexit shouldn’t be what Theresa May negotiated. If that sounds like it’s more united than the Conservatives, it’s not. It can’t agree on whether it’s a socialist party, whether its leader, Jeremy Corbyn, should be its leader, or whether it’s doing enough–or anything–to combat anti-Semitism in its ranks.

It also can’t agree on the definition of anti-Semitism.

It does agree that the Conservative Party is anti-Muslim, but no one wants to talk about that so it wanders around mumbling to itself that it’s not anti-Semitic, really it’s not, but no one’s listening.

The Liberal Democrats agree that Brexit’s bad. Unfortunately, after their coalition with Davey, only three of them are left in the Commons.

Or maybe that’s twelve. Or eight. Does it matter?

The Scottish National Party is united: Brexit is bad. The Green Party’s also united, but it only has one MP, which isn’t enough for a decent split.

MPs leave the Labour Party.

MPs leave the Conservative Party.

They form a group that isn’t a party and fend off arguments about what they’d stand for if they did become a party by discussing the weather. Then they do become a party, adopting the name of an online petition group that they’re not associated with. They pass a resolution about the weather.

The online petition group objects.

Theresa May promises Parliament a meaningful vote on Brexit.

She promises Parliament a later meaningful vote on Brexit. But before that can happen, she has to go to Europe to negotiate an even better deal than the existing deal even though the E.U. has said there’s nothing left to negotiate. Many people–which is to say, me and possibly one other person–suspect she goes in and out of offices asking if they have any coffee made. She’s too English to ask if they’ll make some just for her.

When they do have some on hand, she sips it slowly while reading a magazine, since no one will talk to her. She drinks it black, because no one asks if she’d like milk.

If she drinks enough coffee, time will run out. Hickory, dickory, dock, Terri May ran out the clock. Parliament will look out the window and vote for her ladder because it’s five floors down and no one else has made so much as a rope out of torn sheets.

She lets the House of Commons vote on the deal she’s negotiated and it loses. She moves all the commas three words to the right and lets it vote again. Why? Because three is an important number in fairy tales. Three wishes. Three chances. Three brothers.

Hell, it’s as good as anything else going on.

It still loses.

To see if it can’t find a rational way out of the crisis, the House of Commons asks itself a series of questions: Should we leave the EU without a deal? Should we hold a second referendum? Should we drag Britain 50 miles to the west and whenever we pass the E.U. in the Channel pretend we don’t see it?

No proposal wins a majority. TV newscasters are mandated to use the phrase no one knows how this will play out at least once in every program. They use the phrase constitutional crisis almost as often.

Why is it a constitutional crisis? Because Britain has an unwritten constitution. This means that no one really knows what’s in it. It may prevent Theresa May from making herself the country’s second Lord Protector (Oliver Cromwell was the first) but it will be years before anyone’s read through enough papers to know for sure.

Isn’t this fun? We’re watching history being made.

Terri May promises to resign and dance the rhumba the length of Downing Street if the Commons will only pass her deal. She promises to delete every comma in the agreement. By hand. In glittery green ink.

Water floods into the House of Commons during a Brexit debate. A group climate-change protesters take off most of their clothes show the MPs their backsides.

All the possible jokes about both incidents have already been made.

Theresa May goes back to Brussels and drinks the Kool-Aid.

No, sorry, that was Jonestown and an American reference, not a British one. She drinks more coffee and is granted another extension. It expires on Halloween of 2019. All the possible jokes about that have been made that too.

A person can drink so much coffee and eventually Theresa May resigns, leaving the Conservative Party to search for a new leader. Every Conservative MP announces his or her candidacy. Every third one confesses to having used drugs. The ones who haven’t used them express regret at having misread the spirit of their age.

In the interest of democracy, several of the candidates promise to suspend Parliament so they can fulfill the will of the people.

After a series of elimination votes, the two candidates are Boris Johnson and Not Boris Johnson, but they seem to have agreed that Boris will win and Not Boris will have a nice job in his cabinet.

What happens next? Nothing good, I suspect, but that’s history for you: It’s one damn thing after another.

Brexit, cats, and smart doorbells

The Brexit uproar has been hard on Britain. We have a prime minister whose idea of negotiation is to say, “I’m so glad we can talk. Let me explain why I’m right.” We have a parliament that doesn’t like her version of Brexit but can’t find a majority for any alternative. We have two main parties that not only don’t agree with each other but also don’t agree with themselves.

On a more positive note, the Green Party’s parliamentary delegation hasn’t split over the issue. It only has one member, but we take our positive notes where we can find them these days.

Irrelevant photo: Bluebells at Lanhydrock in mid-April.

In April, water flooded into the House of Commons, filling–among other things–the light fixtures. Business continued as more or less usual for some ten minutes, then was suspended for the day. All the possible jokes about the flood’s metaphorical meaning have been made, so we’ll skip my versions and move on to another incident that interrupted the endless Brexit debate.

To call attention to the danger of ecological collapse, a dozen protestors from Extinction Rebellion took off most of their clothes and stood with their backsides pressed to the glass that divides the visitors gallery from the floor of the Commons. The Independent reports that two of them were wearing elephant masks and most were wearing knickers or underpants.

Not being British, I was thrown by that. I thought knickers were underpants, so I turned (as I do so often) to Lord Google, who explained that knickers are women’s underpants.

The guidelines for naked and semi-naked protests are complicated and I’m too damn old to understand them in depth. I did all of my protesting fully dressed, thanks. Except for that time when–

Nah. We’ll skip lightly over that. It was unplanned anyway.

Moving briskly along. I gather that if you’re not wearing anything else to speak of, people will notice whatever’s left, so it’s important to wear the right kind of underpants if that’s what’s left after you take everything else off. Once we’ve agreed about that, we can have a long and spiky conversation about what right means and what its social, cultural, and political implications are. It will go on as long as the Brexit debate and come to about as decisive a conclusion. Just to let you know in advance, I’ll defend anyone’s right to wear whatever kind they want and my own right to wear only the kind that are comfortable.

Some of the protestors glued their hands to the glass. 

Ouch.

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An anti-Brexit group beamed an EU flag with an SOS message to the EU from the white cliffs of Dover. The group is called Led by Donkeys.

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A recent poll conducted by Hawley’s Small and Unscientific Survey, Inc., reports that people are on the one hand worried about shortages if we have a no-deal Brexit but on the other hand are stockpiling in a completely whimsical way. A friend bought eight cans of tomatoes. Or maybe it was seven. Another friend has cans of tomato soup and baked beans stored in the shed. I’ve checked our cat food and dog food levels.

Let it rain, let it pour. Britain is prepared.

I am in no way claiming that this is representative. Or that it’s not.

*

Earlier this spring, before the EU granted the UK a Brexit reprieve, the British government was looking down the very short barrel of a no-deal Brexit and thought it might be a good idea if 6,000 civil servants did something Brexit-related instead of whatever it was that they normally do. Since the reprieve, they’ve been moved back to their original jobs, but another 4,500 people were hired to prepare for no-deal. I have no idea what’s happened to them.

The Guardian reports that it all cost £1.5 billion, which doesn’t include the cost of preparations various local governments had to make.

In total, some 16,000 civil servants are working on Brexit.

The government has also stocked warehouses with baked beans and pet food, not to mention medicines and toilet paper, which is to say everything we’d need for life to continue normally if the country crashed out of the EU and imports froze solid.

The Brexit reprieve expires on Halloween. All the possible jokes have already been made about that as well.

*

Switzerland’s supreme court did something that caught the attention of Britain’s Remain campaigners: It overturned a referendum on the grounds that when  it was held voters didn’t have enough information. The referendum was about whether married couples should pay the same taxes as unmarried couples who live together .

The court said the “incomplete detail and a lack of transparency . . . violated the freedom of the vote.”

*

But enough about Brexit. A far more scientific survey than the Hawley’s Small and Unscientific Survey, Inc., ever manages to crank out reports that the British are more likely to take drugs before having sex than either Americans, Canadians, Australians, or Europeans.

We’re not going to get too deeply into the American / Canadian thing right now, but briefly: Canada is in the Americas–on the northern continent, if we’re going into detail–but those clever Canadians thought of a name for their country that distinguished it from the countries it shares a set of continents with. The, um, Americans didn’t, so those of us who are from the US are stuck with a name that strews confusion everywhere it goes and pisses off our neighbors every time we try to identify ourselves.  

Sorry for all that, everybody, but if there’s a genuinely workable alternative in English, the people who found it are keeping it secret.

Where were we? Ah. Sex. No wonder I forgot.

In the U.K., 13% of the people surveyed used cocaine in conjunction with sex and 20% used MDMA–a.k.a. ecstasy. The European numbers were 8% and 15%. The American, Canadian, and Australian numbers weren’t mentioned in the articles I found. The most commonly used drugs were alcohol, MDMA, and cannabis, with alcohol being by far the most common.

Among the British, the most likely people to use them were young and had high incomes. If that messes with your stereotypes, hey, I’m only the reporter. If you want to object, go glue your hands to the glass somewhere.

*

Another bit of research compared bullshit rates among teenagers. Who tops the charts? Boys, those from “privileged backgrounds,” and North Americans (translation: from the U.S. and Canada, although Mexico’s also North American).

And if that reinforces every stereotype you ever held, that’s not my fault either. We’re in blame-other-people mode here at Notes this week.

The article I’ve linked to has an April Fool’s Day date, so I thought I’d better dig deeper: The story appeared somewhere else the day before. It’s safe.

I wouldn’t bullshit you. 

The study was limited to English-speaking countries, so we can’t do any far-reaching comparisons.

How’d they catch the little scamsters? They asked how familiar they were with sixteen mathematical concepts “ranging from polygons and vectors to quadratic functions and congruent figures. Hidden among the bona fide terms are three fakes: proper numbers, subjective scaling and declarative functions.”

Those names constitute a truly impressive bit of bullshitting.

The study’s co-author, Nikki Shure, said that “bullshitters express much higher levels of self-confidence in their skills than non-bullshitters, even when they are of equal academic ability. They are also much less likely to say that they give up easily when faced with a difficult problem and claim to have particularly high levels of perseverance when faced with challenging tasks. Perhaps unsurprisingly, they are also more likely to believe they are popular at school.”

And I’m sure they go out into the world of work and make more money than their classmates. Some of them run for president. Others lead the campaign for a no-deal Brexit.

*

And now we come to the important stuff: A Japanese study claims that cats know their names but can’t necessarily be bothered to respond to them. This has nothing to do with Britain, but the British do love their cats. 

Okay, it’s irrelevant, but I like cats, so let’s talk about it anyway.

Scientists from the University of Tokyo used a habituation-dishabituation paradigm to explore this. I’m sure that rolls off the tongue just as easily in Japanese as it does in English. What it means is that they played five recorded words to the cat and the last one was its name. The first four lulled the cat into–well, boredom: The cat became used to the recording and became less likely to respond to it, but in spite of that it responded more to its name than to the words that came before it, whether the recorded voice was the owner’s or someone else’s. Ears might twitch. Eyes might open a fraction of a percentage of a millimeter.

Would the cat go looking to see if someone was calling it? It would not.

End of experiment. Now it’s time to correct some of their assumptions:

First, there’s no need to ask whether cats know their names. Of course they do. The creatures who don’t know their names are their humans, who call them things like Fluffy and Cutsie-Woo and King Captain Spaceman.

Then the humans–those same people who never thought to ask the cat its real name–wonder why their cats don’t answer.

Because it’s embarrassing, that’s why.

Not that the cats would necessarily answer to their true names. Why bother? Humans can be such pests. What a cat would do is come to the surface enough to ask itself, What’s in this for me? This is a recording, not my person. It won’t offer food. It won’t pet me. Then it would go back to sleep.

Second, what’s all this about owners? Cats have people. They offer food and catnip and adoration. They open doors. They serve as animated hot-water bottles. They pick up dead mice. Owners? What delusions of grandeur humans have.

I hope we’ve straightened that out.

*

Cambridge University just spent £1 million on a bust of Queen Victoria. Or as the BBC put it, Cambridge saved it for the nation, because it was about to leave for parts unknown, impoverishing the country’s cultural heritage.

I’ve written to the Prime Minister suggesting that we stockpile these in case of a no-deal Brexit. She just loves to hear from me.

*

You may have already read that Amazon staff listen in on a percentage of the interchanges humans have with Alexa, that automated spy in your home.

Or not in your home. I don’t listen in, so I don’t know if you’ve opened your door to her or not.

It turns out, though, that other digital magic is accomplished with the help of tiny humans embedded in the technology.

Or maybe I misunderstood that. Maybe they’re ordinary humans listening from a distance.

In 2017, Expensify admitted to using humans to copy some of the receipts its “smart scan technology” was supposed to have smartly scanned. Facebook’s personal assistant, M (I never heard of it either; it escaped from some James Bond movie and went back as soon as it found out what the real world was like), turned out to use a mix or human and programmed responses. And Amazon’s smart doorbells also involved humans.

What’s a smart doorbell? I have no idea. According to a site that evaluates them (and passes you on to sites that sell them, no doubt picking up a small fee somewhere along the way), they have “live video streaming, Wi-Fi-enabled apps, two-way communication, and home automation compatibility.”

So either that means you can stand outside your own house and watch movies on your doorbell or that you can see who just rang it. Or possibly both. Simultaneously. Which is simple because you’re already out there, watching the movie. All you have to do is turn your head.

When I was a kid, we called that a drive-in theater.

My point, though, is that Amazon’s Ring brand smart doorbells allowed its research and development team “virtually unfettered access . . . to every video created by every Ring camera around the world.”

Team members were found face-down at their desks, dead of boredom.

*

Another branch of the human evolutionary family has been found, this one on Luzon Island in the Philippines. They’ve been called Homo luzonensis, they lived 50,000 to 67,000 years ago, and they were about four feet tall (that’s 1.2 meters), with curved fingers and toes that would have allowed them to climb trees. If they’d survived, they might have made less of a mess of things than we have, but that’s highly unscientific speculation.

As Britain leaves the European Union, part 2

The bizarre news just keeps on coming.

On Wednesday, I learned that although one of the big complaints about the EU was the fishing quota, the National Federation of Fishermen’s Organisations has announced (now that the vote’s been taken) that fishing quotas aren’t likely to be any larger after a Brexit. “The reality is that most of our stocks are shared with other countries to some degree or another,” the organisation said.

I wonder if it would have made a difference if they’d said that before the vote. Quite possibly not. It’s not like a huge number of people make their living fishing anymore, but the fishing quota was a highly emotional issue that seemed to stand in for a lot of more amorphous resentments.

Also on Wednesday, Nigel Farage, the rubber-faced head of the U.K. Independence Party, which has been pushing for a way out of the EU for years, made a triumphant speech to the EU Parliament, telling them, among other things, that none of them had ever held a real job. Behind him sat Lithuania’s European Commissioner—a heart surgeon—holding his head in his hands.

And on Thursday? The Labour Party continued its self-inflicted meltdown, with MPs doing their best to publicly humiliate their elected leader. Meanwhile Boris Johnson, the leading Brexit campaigner and frontrunner for leadership of the Conservative Party, announced that he wasn’t in the race. Why? No idea. Speculation around here is that either (a) he’s trying to preserve his reputation by letting someone else figure out what to do next or (b) someone knows something juicy about him.

I’m not sure it’s relevant, but he and Michael Gove have been so close through this campaign that the shoulder seams on their suits were stitched together, and Gove’s wife accidentally sent an email that she meant for Gove to a member of the public instead.

Who forwarded it to the press. Who did what the press does and published it.

I’d like to break in here and remind everyone—and I speak as a fiction writer—that you really can’t make this stuff up. If you do, no one will read it. It’s too damned improbable.

What did she tell him? Among other things, not to sign on as a supporter of Boris’s campaign until he got a specific job offer.

Senior civil servants are worried that a new body to coordinate the Brexit strategy won’t have the expertise or the resources it needs. You’d think someone would’ve been exploring the possibilities long before the referndum, but apparently not. Instead they seem to have said, “Hey, if it happens we’ll just, you know, wing it.” Only they probably didn’t sound quite so American.

As Gary Younge points out in a long article on how this all happens, the country effectively lacks both a government and an opposition.

And finally, in a completely different country, the president of Belarus has urged citizens to “get undressed and work till you sweat.” Or maybe he told them to develop themselves and work till they sweat. According to the Guardian, in Russian develop yourselves sounds a lot like get undressed. My Russian, unfortunately, doesn’t include either get undressed or develop yourself, although I can say “hello,” “how are your grandparents?” (which might actually be great-grandparents; it’s all a little hazy), and “this is a beautiful day today” or something equally awkward involving day and beauty. None of which is even remotely helpful. It sounds massively improbable that the two phrases would sound so much alike, but take a look at what’s happening in Britain and you’ll see why I’m prepared to believe pretty much anything.

Anyway, citizens have started posting pictures of themselves naked at work with strategically placed work-related equipment. As one Instagram user said, “The president said this was necessary.”

Patriotism, my friends, takes many forms. As does protest. And satire? That’s only limited by the human imagination.

As Britain leaves the European Union

What’s going on with Brexit, you ask? It’s been strange over here, and it’s getting stranger.

First the prime minister set up a referendum on whether Britain should leave the European Union. Why? Because he wanted to shut up the anti-EU wing of his party, the Conservatives. Clever move, Dave.

Then the whole thing went wrong, the Conservative Party dissolved into an internal arm wrestling match, and the country voted to leave the EU. Clever Dave announced that he’ll resign as soon as someone in his party wins the arm-wrestling match, which is now about who gets to replace him.

Bye, Dave.

Moody and irrelevant photo: a man watching the fog roll in.

Moody and irrelevant photo: a man watching the fog roll in.

Then the MPs who belong to the Labour Party, who you’d think would be out celebrating the Conservative-on-Conservative war, called for a vote of no confidence in their own leader, Jeremy Corbyn, who they’ve hated from the time he was elected because he’s from the left wing of their party and they’re not. They blame him for not making a stronger case for staying in the EU.

Corbyn, who was elected by a large majority of the party membership, refused to resign. The Labour Party dissolved into an internal arm wrestling match. Actually, it started when Corbyn was first elected, but it’s gotten worse now.

In the meantime, the Scottish National Party announced that it will demand a second referendum on Scottish independence. Most of Scotland voted to stay in the EU and now they want to leave the UK so they can.

Then they read the small print on something or other and announced that the Scottish Parliament has the power to stop the UK’s exit.

Who knew that? Apparently no one.

A petition calling for a second referendum got so many signatures that the government web site that was hosting it broke down. In almost no time, it had several million signatures. Then a bunch of them turned out to be bogus. Still, that leaves a hell of a lot that aren’t.

It turns out that the petition was started by someone who supported the Leave campaign but didn’t expect it to win. It was hijacked, he said, by Remain supporters.

Well, yes, dear. both sides of that sword were sharpened.

Dave—who, you remember, is resigning—says he won’t make the formal moves that will trigger the British exit. He’ll leave it to his successor. But the EU is calling on the UK to get on with it and end the uncertainty. They’re not in a good mood about all this, and they’d like the UK out of the room, please. The sight of us is bringing back ugly memories. But no one can trigger the Leave process except the country that wants to leave and that country–us–is stalling.

One of the promises of the Leave campaign was that if Britain left, it would save so much money that it could spend £350 million a week on the NHS, which is seriously underfunded at the moment. A few days after the vote, however, all references to that disappeared from the campaign’s website. The top Leave campaigners have all developed amnesia and don’t seem to remember saying that.

Meanwhile, the pound’s fallen to either a 30-year low or a 31-year low, depending on when you turned on your radio. The stock markets have gotten hives.

Polish immigrants reported being handed leaflets telling them to leave now. Assorted other incidents of harassment against Muslims, Poles, and in one incident foreigners in general have been reported, although in that particular incident there may not have actually been any foreigners present. A man in the supermarket started yelling about foreigners and questioning people about where they were from.

Keep in mind that when I say harassment of Muslims and Poles and foreigners, what I really mean is people who might be Muslims or Poles or foreigners, because it’s not always easy to tell. The same thing happens when people start pushing gays around: A few extra people who aren’t gay always get swept in because someone thinks they might be.

It’s hard to tell who to hate these days, you know? This may actually be good, because it reminds people who aren’t in any of those categories what it’s like to be the target of that kind of venom. Some very ugly forces have been unleashed in this campaign.

A lot of the Leave campaign was about “taking our country back.” Who from? It was a kind of fill-in-the-blank slogan. From whoever you think took it from you. For some people, that was an urban elite, because this was a heavily anti-elitist campaign—run by an urban elite who hope to take power from a different urban elite. For other people, it was foreigners, or Muslims, or Poles, or Eastern Europeans in general, or Asians or Africans, or people whose ancestors were Asian or African. It took some of the ugliest threads of the culture and brought them out into the open. Suddenly they felt respectable. Want to yell at foreigners in the supermarket? Want to yell at a young Muslim woman on the bus? The country just told you you could.

It didn’t, but never mind. A certain number of people feel like it did.

The part of the Leave camp that I’m sympathetic to is made up of people whose lives have been bulldozed by globalization. Steady jobs disappeared, industries have moved abroad, and people are left broke and lost and angry. They want to take their country back too. Unfortunately, I don’t think they’ll get it. Not this way.

According to a Guardian article, the Bank of America and Pimco, which I never heard of before, are “warning their clients that the gulf between rich and poor could add to the anti-establishment backlash,” and they consider the Brexit vote part of that.

The queen, by the way, is due for an automatic £2.8 million raise in pay unless the formula that calculates what taxpayers owe her is changed. That’s not related to leaving the EU, but I thought I’d toss it in anyway.

Here in Cornwall, where money’s tight and the EU has invested a lot and where the vote leaned heavily toward Leave, the Cornwall Council turned to the national government asking if they’d match that investment. Part of the Leave campaign’s promise was that once the UK didn’t have to pour money into the EU, it could be spent here.

To which I can only say, don’t count on it. The NHS won’t be getting any £350 million a week. If Cornwall gets any equivalent of the EU investment, I’ll be surprised, she said in a massive display of understatement.

One of the main Leave campaigners, Boris Johnson, wrote in the Telegraph that, basically, nothing good will change and only the bad things—the British involvement with the EU’s bureaucracy—will drop away.

And no one will get colds or flu again, ever.

I’m paraphrasing heavily, but I think I’ve caught the spirit of the column.

Commentators are starting to comment that the Leave campaigners don’t have a plan. We might have been wise to ask them about that a bit earlier, although I doubt it would have changed the vote.

I haven’t written about the referendum until now because it was hard to find anything funny about it. Now, though? It’s still not funny, but the situation’s weird enough to give me something to work with.

I apologize for not giving you links. There are too many. I’m overwhelmed. And in no time they’ll be outdated. In fact, I’m publishing this before my usual Friday deadline because it’ll be out of date otherwise.

Fasten your seatbelts, kids. I don’t know if it’s going to be bumpy, but it’s going to get very, very strange. E.A. posted a photo on Facebook of a man holding a sign that says, “Perhaps it wasn’t a good idea to hold a referendum with the same people who came up with ‘Boaty McBoatface.’ “