Monthly Archives: June 2006

What is it with the pensioners?

They’re just queuing up to do porridge. I’m not unsympathetic to their various causes but I do think it’s funny the way someone keeps paying their fines and thus preventing them from actually serving any time. I’m pretty sure it’s not a millionaire benefactor nor even a Government saboteur but just someone who can’t stand the sanctimonious posturing of people who can afford a couple of months in prison because they don’t have jobs

Complete Cant

Cameron’s Bill of Rights may be meaningless, even mendacious and certainly legally incoherent but it is outstanding politics. Proper agenda-grabbing spin. A policy so insubstantial as to be practically invisible married to a clever expression of middle-British distrust of soft European ‘human rights’ nonsense. I can almost see the roomful of rosy-faced twenty-somethings who came up with it now, having their Gillette moment, back slapping and high-fiving their way round to the pub. Still, it might backfire yet. Cameron obviously can’t enact this wafer-thin pseudo-policy. He can’t even turn it into a manifesto committment. There’s nothing there – a rhetorical vacuum. It’ll just hang there until, hopefully, it’s forgotten and quietly dropped.

While I’ve been away…

I’m sorry, I’ve not been concentrating properly lately. Also, I’m not 100% sure you can even see these entries since I got Robin to upgrade me to MT 3.2 the other day. From my house I can’t see anything more recent than the Eurovision Song Contest. Anyway, here are some great things: Elvis Costello’s collaboration with Allen Toussaint. Juliet hates Costello so I’m winding her up something rotten by leaving the album playing in the car whenever I switch off. It’s quite awesome. About ten absolutely brilliant songs that I can’t stop singing (the kids shout at me to shut up on the school run – I have become an embarrassing Dad). Toussaint and Costello are men in their prime: driving, soulful, humane, er… tromboney (also, this year’s best lyric: “What happened to that Liberty Bell I heard so much about?/Did it really ding dong?/It must have dinged wrong/It didn’t ding long.”).

Obviously I’m a regular listener to ‘On Your Farm’, the BBC’s weekly farming show that goes out at the crack of dawn on a Sunday. Last week it came from a dairy farm in Somerset run by a friendly sounding geezer called Michael Eavis (of course, no one at the Beeb thinks it worthwhile keeping stuff like this available for longer than a week so here’s an MP3).

It’s sort of rambling and not, perhaps, the toughest critique the author will see but I am an absolute junkie for Freeman Dyson in any context and his review of Daniel Dennett’s anti-religion book in the NYRB is readable and clever and full of good anecdotes (my own view is that scientists don’t serve the scientific cause as well as they think they do when they wade in to demolish religion. In fact, I think they almost always wind up making a series of category errors that make them look obsessive and pedantic and not lofty and disinterested as they no doubt intend).

Gonzo risk assessment

We, by which I suppose I really mean ‘the media’ are famously bad at assessing risk. Case study: is it just me or is there something scarily dim-witted about the apparently widespread idea that all of London’s emergency services ought to be issued with radios that work in narrow tunnels in the clay hundreds of feet beneath the streets of the city?

I know that London Underground’s staff have radios that work down there but I’m assuming they achieved this by lining the network’s tunnels with transceivers at vast expense and over many years. I suppose that it might be reasonable for the Underground to permit others access to this network but is it also reasonable to require the police, the firefighters and the ambulance crews to re-equip with radios that combine old-fashioned, routine, above-the-ground use with exotic below-the-ground access?

How will it all work? Will above-the-ground radios hand over smoothly to underground networks or will there be a big knob on the handset? Will the underground network just retransmit the overground stuff? Does anyone know? More important: since absolutely no one (not even the critical GLA committee reporting yesterday) thinks that a single life would have been saved by such an exotic system, why are we wasting our time worrying about it?

Knife amnesty be damned

Obviously I’ve been buying Kitkats like mad so I can get in the house and wreak terrible, bloody havoc among the terrible bloody people they’ve got in there. I’ve marked about half of them for immediate, no-questions-asked assassination and about half of the rest for some kind of humiliation (I’ll probably call it a ‘task’). My name shall be vengeance. Or at least annoyance. Anyway, the amazing Sezer‘s getting my vote for eviction this time round – both hateful and stupid. Perfect.