Author Archives: Simon

About Simon

Work out what you want, then get on with it.

“Once you know, it has to be done”

The above is a wonderfully resonant quote from a model railway forum post.

It refers to the fact that the builder had made an assumption about a feature on his chosen prototype, but when he got around to checking up at his local club’s library, he found he needed to make some corrections. (This is a very minor example of the disruption caused by COVID-19, as he didn’t want to put the project on hold pending all the information.) Not everyone would have bothered, but that, perhaps, is the most succinct and compelling difference between a genuine “finescale” model-maker and someone who doesn’t want to get it right. I might add that wanting to find out these details is also a key part of the finescale approach.

There is also the point that pending full knowledge of prototype practice, a reasonable interpolation of the design was made – no hanging around waiting to “know everything”, just an acceptance that a correction would be made if necessary later. This applies to most things within our hobby, although once the track is laid, it can be difficult to change certain fundamentals of its design and construction without wholesale destruction!

BLM

To a picture of the Dukes of Hazzard, with Daisy sprawled over the car roof, a friend recently said:
“Back in 1979, the most shocking thing about this programme was how short those shorts were … “

This is my reply.

No, the most shocking thing was how unaware we all were about the offensive meaning of that flag.
The fact that we weren’t shocked back then doesn’t alter the fact that it was actually shockingly crass to large parts of American society. 

BLM is a movement aimed at getting American Society to the point where all lives matter equally, and to address the systemic racism that the majority of us simply don’t understand – witness some of the discussion points on this thread.

I am 100% against people making everything they can into an issue, particularly when it leads to a whitewashing of history (I chose those words deliberately, as it is the whites who are washing racially-based slavery out of history), and I am all for recognising the simple truth that for most of human history slavery has been the norm, but that doesn’t mean we can simply dismiss it out of hand: we need equity (the same fair chance at success, with help to compensate a little via things like free healthcare, free education), not direct equivalence (we are all different, and we start from different places: diversity and variation are surely to be celebrated?) No, we have to work at being better, and not hiding the past, but showing that we are continually improving on it.



For the record, my forebears are working/peasant class as far back as history records them. Almost certainly some were slaves, their descendants serfs, and later generations were hard working and poorly paid. Greater social mobility and educational equity meant my parents were the first in either of their families not to rent, I.e. to have a mortgage and eventually to own a house outright, and I was the very first to toddle off to higher education and get a degree. None of that is because I am white and (now) “middle class”, just the result of greater equity in our society. The same is also true for many of my BAME friends (most of whom shudder at being labelled that way) but they have had to overcome obstacles – including from amongst their peers at school – because of their skin colour.

That’s what BLM is trying to achieve: not the re-writing of history (see Nelson Mandela’s comments about things like Rhodes Scholarships) but greater sensitivity and the opening of doors rather than the closing of them.

I got off my soapbox, and gave it to the short kid. Unfortunately he fell off, and now I am being pursued by lawyers for an injury claim… 😉

Dealing with reality

Mike Cougill has made a more than usually thought-provoking post on his blog, on the need to persevere through the learning process.

Finding something not as easy as you thought it would be? Finding that you need to improve your skill as they are not as good as you thought they were? Don’t give up or lower your standards: keep going.

We learn through repetition. We get more skilled by regular practice.

Festina lente!