Monday, December 12, 2011



Thursday, September 01, 2011

The British and queuing

I saw something odd this morning during the rush hour, just outside Gunnersbury station in west London. At the bus stop there was a queue of people, a genuine queue, maybe thirty or forty feet long.
I confess I found it an arresting sight, having realised around a decade ago that somehow or other, at least in London, imperceptibly, the British practice of queueing at the bus stop had evaporated and had been replaced by nebulous groups of people who would wait until the arrival of the bus before converging on the entrance door like bees around a hive. I recall, those many years back, realising that things had changed, trying for a bit to hold out against it, resentful of it, then caving in at the futility of my lone protest.
So what was different this morning at this bus stop outside Gunnersbury station? Well, the answer seems to be that the queuers were waiting for a company bus to take them to one of the nearby mega-offices. I say "seems to be", because my bus arrived before I saw this, but it was because no one, not a soul, stirred from the queue to get onto my red double-decker that I remembered having seen these company buses - there's one I think for Sky, which has offices or studios close by - stop there before, although never with sufficient numbers of customers waiting to warrant a queue. Maybe I'm wrong, maybe these people were waiting for another red double-decker, in which case my working hypothesis falls flat.
And that working hypothesis? It is that a necessary and perhaps sufficient condition for queueing is the prior existence of potential queuers who recognise something common in each other, even if they don't actually recognise each other.
In other words, queueing as good behaviour (which I take it to be) only matters where bad behaviour - jostling - would be noticed by peers.
Thinking about it, this can be no more than a necessary condition. Were it a sufficient condition then denizens of small Italian villages would also queue.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Ken Clarke should go, but let's be clear about why

So Ken Clarke is in the firing line for offending a weird modern piety, the one that says "rape is rape" and there is no distinction for sentencing purposes to be drawn between one rape and another. So, no distinction between a forcible rape committed by a 15 year old sibling on his ten year-old brother, on the one hand, and, on the other, a rape of a woman too drunk to know what is happening by a man who, because she's so drunk, needs use no force. No distinction, then, between the rapist who beats a woman senseless, drags her into a darkened alleyway in the dead of night and forces himself on her dimly cognisant, perhaps feebly struggling body and the husband who tires of his wife's headaches, or who learns of her adultery, and finally loses his self-possession. None? Golly, who knew it was that simple?

Meanwhile, in sentencing any other offence, judges assess the gravity of the offence for an offence of its type. Murder may be murder, but a premeditated hit, planned and paid for is treated more seriously than a crime of passion. Just for example. Theft from an employer is treated more seriously, as a breach of trust, than "dipping" from a stranger's handbag in a cafe. Of course we can differ as to the merits of these varying assessments, but it's surely clear that the commission of a nominally identical offence is capable of being sentenced for a variety of differing aggravating and mitigating features.

As I understand Ken Clarke's gaffe, he was explaining that if the average sentence for rapists is five years then that average, as is the way with averages, hides a wide variation of actual sentences for more or less serious rapes ... just as is the case with any other offence. I'm not here expressing any sentiment as to the rectitude of the sentences handed in this country for rape, or for any other offence, much less am I considering Clarke's proposal - and this was why he was being interviewed this morning - to discount sentences by half for early pleas, and I certainly don't mean to defend Clarke, for reasons which will become apparent. I'm simply noting 1) the plain construction of his words, 2) the drearily predictable response to them with its attendant illustration of the bounds of political discourse as determined by the High Priests of What May Be Thought and Said and, finally, 3) Clarke's own increasingly, as today has progressed, craven response - which is the real reason why he should go.

As to 1), enough said...for those governed by rationality.

So far as concerns 2), this is closely related to 3): the cravenness of most of the political class when confronted by icky, sticky altercations of the type witnessed this morning in Clarke's interview, tells us all we need to know about the real quality of such "big beasts" as Clarke. Granted he is not a pigmy in the Jacqui Smith mould but he is a very good example of the principal reason for the triumph of those odd people who, among other things, demand that they be recognised as victims of greater moral standing than others, and the militant feminists are of course foremost among this unedifying, enervated crowd. "Rape is rape", they cry. Well, yes. And? Murder is murder and theft is theft and robbery is robbery and so on. Assuming these people are not completely stupid - which may be a big assumption - what they really mean when they demand obeisance to this catechism is not, "there is no distinction to be drawn between one rape and another", it is, "do not argue with my suffering, which is above all others or I'll scream and scream until I'm sick". And this is only slightly more pathetic and tedious than the collective rolling over of the political elite whenever the catechism is repeated, whether or not, as in this case, by a news media Tribune of the People on behalf of the High Priests, or by the rape victim to whom Clarke was speaking. And if it is only slightly more pathetic and tedious, it is infinitely more sinister. Which is why a serious parliamentarian would stand up to it, or damn yer eyes. Clarke didn't. He never was made of the material that would. That's why he should go, and that's why he shouldn't never have returned.

And by they way, if there are any sob sisters reading this then swivel on the following: three and-a-half years ago I was stabbed and almost killed. The attack has left me with, in all likelihood, permanent parasthesia, in other words a disability from which I will never recover rather than a few minutes of profound unpleasantness and fear (which I also experienced). Some months after the attack, the culprit having been identified and sentenced to "seven" years (ie three-and-a-half) on a guilty plea, I was contacted by email by a genius at the Probation Service who wished to know whether I wanted any conditions attached to the licence of my attacker when he was eventually released. In his email, this genius referred to my assailant as "the victim". Doubtless this was the result of carelessness, and perhaps a man ill-suited to his exact job within the Probation Service. So seriously, girls, get a grip.

Al Murray is a genius, but...

I am currently reading Think Yourself British, a spoof self-help book by the Pub Landlord, aka Al Murray. I'm a bit late coming to his comedy, never having got into it before but on TV a couple of months back I saw a replay of what I imagine was his breakthrough performance from about ten years ago. What really impressed me what the extent to which the performance was improvised and it was clear to me as a result of this that he'd really developed the character of the Pub Landlord to make improvisation as apparently effortless (I'm sure it wasn't in reality) as he did. But it was also a performance brimfull of learning, albeit eclectic surface learning and I recall thinking to myself that, like Sacha Baron Cohen, he must be a product of Oxbridge rather than a run-of-the-mill university ... and indeed I gather that he was indeed at Oxford; Murray's crass alter ego is a product of strong intellect and a good education.

In short, he is IMHO a genius. The essence of his comedy is having us laugh gently at a certain type of Britishness and the pill is further sweetened by jokes, mostly about foreigners and especially the French and Germans, which would be dull or only slightly funny in the hands of a real saloon bar bore but which are riotous in the hands of the satiric Landlord; we're laughing at ourselves for laughing at others, and everso slightly enjoying laughing at others in the process ... it's not a guilty pleasure but a self-conscious riff and the audience is in on the joke.

And it's in this vein that I'm reading Think Yourself British, with its constant footnoted reminders against any mention of the phrase (copyrighted to Murray, natch) "Help Yourself" of the scores of MPs found last year with their hands in the till. In short, like his comedy, there is seriousness here as well as larkiness. But although in these footnotes he allows himself a prod at these MPs by naming them and their misdeeds in conjunction with his copywrited (sic?) phrase, there is for the most part no use in asking what Murray's own opinions are, his comedy is too deft and gentle for that. He may be a clever and well-educated man poking fun at Little Britishness but, as I say, it's never shrill and it's always leavened with enough insight and learning for the coin of his jokes to have another side. Take this for example:

"Thumping Somebody

"I'm not allowed to actually advocate this as a coping strategy for legal reasons, but we all know, don't we, that there are times when only thumping somebody will do...Whatever the trigger is, you know that belting the living daylights out of him is the only thing that will make you feel better.

"But the there's the whole business of explaing yourself to the police, or to the wife...and the thing is, I actually have a really good strategy for coping with this bit. I do! It's to start weeping and banging on and on about how you have unresolved issues, and how what you really need is therapy, and a shoulder to cry on. Try it - it's absolutely amazing what you can get away with. This country's fucked."

It starts out brutish, somewhat sinister, amusing only because it's the Pub Landlord talking, but then raises the thorny question of what the thug does when he meets reality. Boorishness confronts the law. And then wins again! But also, no matter how in on the joke we are, who seriously maintains that weeping and talking about unresolved "issues" and what you really need is therapy doesn't get you anywhere? He may be an oaf (that is his character), but he speaks sooth.

Then there's this, on Darwin and Evolution:

"Charles Darwin's big idea was called Evolution...It depends on a process he described as Survival of the Fittest, whereby the Fittest would be the ones who ensured that their extremely fit DNA was passed on to future generations, whilst the feebler and stupider specimens...would not succeed...thus gradually weeding themselves out.

"Charles lived in the nineteenth century, before the invention of the housing estate, which was to knock his precious theory into a cocked hat. Nowadays your average housing estate inhabitant has maybe nine children by ten different fathers (there's always one she's not a hundred per cent sure about), and what's more she has begun this process at the age of about sixteen. This means she's more than likely a grandmother by about thirty-three or thirty four, and a great-grandmother by about fifty. As a result the DNA (and of course the DSS) has been spread across four generations inside half a century, to a pool of maybe eighty individuals, all of whom are hell bent on carrying on the same process as hard and as fast as possible. After all, there'll all want council flats too."

Now you could argue that this is funny purely because it's classic saloon bar bore material and we all know that saloon bar bores, when we don't have to listen to them, are amusing because they're pitiable. Right? And yet.... factually what's wrong with this saloon bar bore's analysis or description? Looks pretty accurate to me.

Now maybe Murray had no particular ambition when he wrote this. Maybe he was just riffing on his character. Or maybe he's a fully paid-up Guardianista who finds this funny only because he thinks it's appalling that some people think like this, and the amusment is one of contempt. I don't know. I'm aware in writing all of the above that I've attempted to analyse comedy and jokes, which is rarely wise. But I ask again: what, factually, is wrong with his criticism of council estate denizens and the extent to which they turn the theory of evolution on its head? Indeed one might argue that the whole point of the welfare safety net is to turn Evolution on its head, to ensure that people do not survive "merely" because they are the fittest.

Al Murray's a genius, and I've no idea what he truly thinks. But no matter how essential it is to his comedy that we the audience are on board with its basic assumptions and frames of reference, there is - irrespective of his intentions, and he may as I say be horrified by what I've written - something deeper in his meaning and I suspect we're not supposed to recognise it, because then it might not be funny. Or, perhaps more accurately, to do so would leave us less sure of what we are laughing at and about.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Recycling insanity

I often think that everything in this country is upside down, that what ought to be the natural and desirable state of affairs has been turned on its head. Celebrity chefs and footballers earn fortunes, surgeons earn a pittance; the honest and hard-working are penalised by redistributive taxation that both rewards fecklessness and (therefore) encourages it; institutions of higher learning - indeed institutions generally - are neutered in what should be their avowed goals in favour of abstract ideological ambitions usually manifested in quotas; the omnipresent application of the precautionary principle whose costs, financial or otherwise, are never measured and which usually ends up causing more harm than good, people supposedly living in poverty are routinely fat* ... these are broad brush examples but they can be illustrated by thousands of examples from daily life, thousands of instances with which we're all familiar from the newspapers ... the sexually incontinent jihadi claiming hundreds of thousands in benefits to support his massive family (...ies), the free NHS breast enhancement for transsexual soldiers, the foreign criminals who cannot be deported, the politicians who claim taxpayers' money for things the rest of us must pay for ourselves, the university turning a blind eye to academic underachievement in favour of quota fulfilment and on and on ... and on and on

... and then there is recycling.

The photograph above was taken recently in my kitchen. Mrs Lud takes seriously the threats of the local council to criminalise us for failing to sort our rubbish as it sees fit, hence the pile of detritus next to the bin which makes this very expensive (at least as far as I was concerned when we bought it) kitchen resemble a student squat or the corner of a shanty town. And like so many others thus threatened, she is either not persuaded or not open to persuasion on the argument that landfill is a NIMBY political problem not a problem of lack of space, or that if one is concerned about scarce resources and hence the need to recycle then any cost-benefit anaylsis of recycling must consider the efficient allocation of those resources that go into recycling**, that is: can this effort - the rinsing of the cans and bottles, the paper towels to dry them,the separate trips to the separate collection bins, the manufacture of those (plastic) separate collection bins, the deployment of separate collection trucks - be better deployed in some other way? For that matter, perhaps we should buy another bin or two to accommodate this irrational overflow and if so should it be plastic (oh, the environmental horror!) or more of the sleek Brabantia variety, all of which will itself ultimately have to be recycled and would in any event require those ghastly carbon emissions to be conveyed from the source of manufacture to our door...?

But to return to my original point: everything in this country seems to me to be upside down, and in that photo we see a very good example, for compliance with the law requires us to make a rubbish tip of our kitchen thereby reversing centuries of domestic sanitary progress.

* Murderers get "life", which means 15 years, or whatever. Every other offender sentenced to custody serves half, except the very many who serve less even than that. Oh, and importers of recreational pharmaceuticals for retail to voluntarily consenting adults can expect more bird than anyone who hasn't committed a double murder.

**It's worth remembering the bleeding obvious that prices reflect supply and demand thus, if there is a concern that the world will run out of glass, or the raw materials that make glass, then the price of glass will increase and demand for a secondary market in the supply of second-hand glass likewise will increase. In other words, those empty wine bottles we're required to recycle would have commercial value to us once the wine has been drunk and there would be no need for them compulsorily to be recycled. Similarly, the fact there is little or no commercial value in old wine bottles tells us something important about the need (in fact, lack thereof) to prioritise recycling glass.

Thursday, March 03, 2011

Yes, but the kid WAS fat

Jamie's Dream School, a new TV series in which Sir Oliver has gathered luminaries together to teach delinquents, the hope being that the best in their respective fields can do something with these adolescent reprobates that ordinary teachers cannot.

He's assisted in this by an ordinary headmaster.

One of the luminaries is Dr David Starkey, whom I know from from first hand academic experience to be both a brilliant lecturer and scholar. Not that that is a terribly original insight. It also assumes that you actually have an interest in history and want to be there listening to him.

So Starkey's trying to teach these borstal rejects and, to be fair, he's obviously not used to that kind of audience, a fact which, again to be fair, Sir Oliver subsequently appreciated. Anyway, one of the kids baits the said Starkey, who rises to it in short order and (not for nothing was he once known as the rudest man in Britain) tells the said sprog that he's fat. It's all on camera.

Oh, and the kid is fat.

And there, to all intents and purposes, ended the lesson. The kid had been disrepected. The matter's taken up. And here we get to the nub or gist of things. The headmaster, drafted in to assist, takes the kid's side. He'd rather lose the teacher than the kid. Starkey is apparently unrepentant.

My own view is that he showed poor kid management skills, although that is scarcely surprising. But the real point, it seems to me, is this: the clash of wills and educational cultures exemplified on the one hand by the disrespected fatty and his headteacher and, on the other, by David Starkey. The headteacher says that Starkey's verbal putdown embodies all that's wrong with education in this country.

Eh? Starkey is a product of what was once one of the world's finest educational systems, and of teaching which emphasised deference to the teacher (in the sense at least of deferring to him), obedience by the child, rules and so forth.

The fatty is a product of a contemporary system which this headmaster has presumably played a role in creating.

So in backing the kid not the teacher the head sustains the current system, the system that created the delinquent chubster.

And if Starkey exemplifies the educational system of which he is a product, what is the worst that can be said of it by reference to him? He is one of the world's foremost authorities on English courts and monarchs in the sixteenth and early seventeenth century, has been at the top of this game for a good 25 years (to my knowledge), has taught in some of the finest academic institutions and tutored countless spotty undergraduates. But he's no good with truculent, misbehaving teenagers.

So which do we choose, the system producing delinquent chubsters or the one producing brilliant historians? Granted, it may not be a zero sum question. but school is pointless for children like these unless discipline rules. There might be better ways of doing it than weak jokes at the expense of fatties, but in seeking to govern the class Starkey grasped the basic point that such as the headmaster deliberately refuse to consider. It seemed to me that Starkey understood these children very well he remarked early on, their problem is not low self-esteem, it's that they have too high an opinion of themselves. Theodore Dalrymple, I think, said as much some years back.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

December 12th


Wednesday, November 24, 2010

On PJ O'Rourke

Ian Dunt broadly approves.$21385811.htm

But given the quality of his reasoning, I wonder whether O'Rourke is glad of this.

For example, Dunt writes:

'Ultimately "entitlements" [why the scare quotes?] like free [now 'free' deserves inverted commas] healthcare for all maximise freedom because health is the prerequisite for all other freedoms'.


Not only does this circular little rejoinder sidestep rather than, as intended, confront O'Rourke's distinction between 'gimme' rights and 'get out of here rights', it begs questions which make a mockery of it.

For starters, is health the prerequisite for freedoms or does it maximise freedom? For they are not the same thing at all: freedom is an absolute value. It is incapable of being maximised. On the other hand, if I have no access to a car, my ability (which is what Dunt calls 'freedoms') to participate in the Paris-Dakar rally is non-existant.

Second, does having a cold limit my freedom? Obviously not. Having Alzheimer's might diminish my abilities, but there's little contemporary medical science can do about that anyway, and healthcare free at the point of demand, such as the NHS, tends only to say, 'Sorry, the best drugs are too expensive'. So much for healthcare entitlements maximising freedom. Or abilities.

Third, excessive drinking will damage my health. Is excessive drinking an enemy of freedom? Seriously? Is it not in fact an exercise of freedom, albeit a poor choice, which may ultimately diminish me?

In short, Dunt seems incapable of distinguishing the absence of others' coercion (ie freedom) from factors inhering to us as individuals which may prevent us reaching our full potential (ie disabilities). 'Free' healthcare may assist us in overcoming disabilities, but only at the expense of our freedom.

He goes on:

'Similarly universal free education allows people to assess choices. There is no real freedom under ignorance'.

Put aside the deplorable quality of universal 'free' [my scare quotes, as before, because of course someone has to pay for it] education, particularly by comparison with its voluntary predecessors, is he really suggesting no one ever made good choices before universal free education was introduced in the 1870s? Is the philosophers' State of Nature, then, a tyranny? The logical reductio of this claim is just this: the absence of coercion (ie liberty) is tyranny when combined with an absence of reading and writing! At the very least, Dunt's conception of tyranny would surprise a free-thinker in present-day North Korea.

And then there's this:

'There is also, I would have thought, a strict minimal benchmark of material possession, under which political freedoms become irrelevant. After all, what use is the right to privacy if you have to sleep on the streets?'

In point of fact I should think rough sleepers would welcome a bit of privacy on their chosen doorsteps, but I'm no expert on the matter. In any case, is Dunt saying that mediaeval peasants should not in principle have been freed from serfdom? Jaysus! On that analysis, a man living in what passes for poverty in 2010 Britain should be indentured to, what...? the state?

If he's on welfare, one might say he already is.

Dunt's case, then, is that if you are poor you have no wish to be free. How odiously condescending.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Some looters are more explicit than others..., these being students protesting about getting less free stuff, London 10th November 2010.

Friday, August 13, 2010

The Old Bailey

The Old Bailey has a matron.

And not just any matron. I am told by a colleague who recently spent some time there on a trial that other members of staff treat her with the deference due to an old-fashioned matron. "Good morning, matron", they say.

This pleases me enormously.

In the Bailey's lifts, on the wall, is a sign telling you what to find on which floor. Next to the floor marked 'matron', I had forcibly to restrain myself from scrawling the word 'Realllly'.

But what I want to know is this: how did such a venerable institution as an old-fashioned matron at the country's principal criminal court escape the levelling tendencies of Harperson, Blair, Brown and the gang?

How did they miss abolishing the Bailey's matron, in their great reinvention of the nation, when so much else was swept aside and bulldozed as outdated, sexist, racist, colonialist and all that other gay stuff (quoting freely from South Park)?

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Why do politicians continue to talk to the news media?

Imagine you're an elected pol., and you want to communicate with the proles, tell them what a wonderful job you're doing, apply a little of the old oil with a view to enhancing your electability. What do you do about it?

The problem is, sort of, a logistical one: if you're a British MP for example, you've probably got somewhere between 50,000 and 100,000 voters in your constituency. Assume a turn-out of 60% in any given election, that is 30,000 to 60,000 voters you need to be able to communicate with, clearly more than can be spoken to in person or even, in all likelihood, at mass rallies if such were the vogue. If you're a politician with a national portfolio, like a party leader for instance, or even an MEP with a constituency of a half million voters, the problem is compounded.

Until recently, the answer to this problem appeared to be: use the news media, talk to journalists directly and issue press releases widely to any news agency with a distribution network, get them to do your dirty work for you.

There was just one small problem with this. Journalists started, I think probably sometime in the early sixties after satires like That Was The Week That Was, to become less deferential towards politicians, less willing to report them obligingly in their own terms, and readier, it followed, to look behind and between their words for hidden meanings, to analyse, compare and contrast. There developed, as a result, a very uneasy relationship between pols. and hacks. The pols. needed the hacks for the reasons already stated, the hacks needed the pols. as an easy source of news (even when nothing had actually happened, so much as one pol. would, for example, issue a press release attacking an opponent; in such cases there was often no literal exchange of words between the attacker and attackee, just a dispute by proxy carried out over the newswires).

In time, the pols. started to adapt to the changed environment, charming some hacks into compliance (I think it was Stephen Glover at The Spectator who used to call The Guardian's Roy Greenslade 'Roy Campbell Greenslade' because of his suspected proximity to chief Blair spin doctor Alistair Campbell), feeding others stories at the expense of their rivals and freezing out other unfavoured hacks altogether. Not that the hacks took this lying down, their methods evolved, too, as did their sophistication in understanding how they were being used. Even sections of the public developed media savvy, and learned to look behind the heat in a news story to try and understand whether there was any light to be perceived.

That, I think, was the point at which the internet age came in; pols. and hacks co-exisitng in an uneasy dance of dependance, helping each other and, increasingly often, ruining each other.

Well, not quite. By the mid-1990s journalists were routinely ruining politicians, whether through sordid revelations or - as in the cases of Archer and Aitken - court cases. But the shoe was rarely on the other foot. George Galloway, several years back won a libel action against The Daily Telegraph's allegations that he had been on Saddam Hussain's payroll (although I think he won on the rather rarefied grounds that they hadn't given him a chance to comment before printing the allegations), but certainly my unscientific perception is that his win was unusual; it's the news media that usually claims pols.' scalps, not the other way around.

But even if I am wrong about that, why would any elected politician in the age of the internet and digital camera uploads to computers wish to talk to these hacks? You can buy a cheap computer with a built-in camera for a couple of hundred pounds. I assume most pols.' allowances pay for internet connectivity. For a little more they could buy themselves slightly better cameras, with improved picture capability. Then download via myriad web-based sharing sites whatever talking head op-eds. they wish to share with their target audiences. Why would the pols. not do this? Why continue to use the traditional news media, with all its ability to disrupt, distort and filter the pols.' message?

'Dave' Cameron, of course, has used his online 'webcameron' in just the way I am suggesting, but this sort of usage by pols. is still unusual. Why? Given that pols. can, for the first time in history, and for almost no cost set up a telecommunications system that enables them to communicate directly , if they so wish, to the whole of humanity (or at least that sizeable section of it which has internet connectivity - 70% of British households in 2009, according to the ONS), why continue to bother with newspaper and TV journalists?

I can think of several answers to this.

First, an intellectual failure by pols. to perceive that they no longer need journalists in the way that, historically, they did.

Second, the persistence of the niaive belief held by pols. that they can ride the news media tiger without ultimately being consumed by it.

Third, the fact that many pols. are inveterate gossips and like dishing the dirt on colleagues, policies, who's up, who's down, and so on.

Fourth, closely related, vanity: pols. like talking to journos because it makes them think someone is listening to what they are saying. And talking off the record to hacks, that is, unattributably, gives them power without responsibility.

Fifth, fear. And this is the biggy. My guess - and it is no more than that - is that pols. fear that if they plugged themselves and their prognostications into an online forum, let's call it, IvorGestyynogg-BigginMP.blogspot, where voters could log on an see what their eponymous MP thought on a given subject, hardly anybody would pay them any attention. Come to that, what point is there in the citizenry going to the trouble of trooping up to London to watch a debate in parliament, or switching on the telly to the same end, if, were said citizenry sufficiently interested, they could simply log on and find out at their convenience what select politicians were saying. What would be the point in a deliberative, legislative body like parliament?

In other words, if the citizenry is sufficiently interested all it needs do is log on to find out what its respective MPs, MEPs, etc. are saying and doing. As a building, at least, there is little or no need for parliament.

On the other hand, if the citizenry is uninterested, what is the point of the MPs, or at least, what is the point of those currently in place?

The internet is, as is often noted, a remarkable tool for transparency in the market place of human dealings. I daresay that at some point we will, most of us, realise that this applies equally to what politicians think they have to offer us. What then?

Saturday, December 12, 2009


December 12th. 35.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

A lamentable ignorance of human nature

I did not used to mind registering to vote. Every year I got a form asking me to confirm my details and address. For practical voting purposes that seemed reasonable.
But this year for the first time, Barnet LBC, my local authority, has seen fit to headline the usual form with a veiled threat (see above). Now, I mind very much indeed.
For 20 years I have told anyone unlucky enough to be within earshot that my 'line in the sand' on Big Government, the point at which I was willing to go to prison for disobedience to nanny's petty-tyrannous diktats, was identity cards. It still is. But now I am obliged to add compulsory voting which, bearing in mind the above, is surely now realistically on the cards.
Why can't these bastards leave us alone? The answer, I suppose, is that they do not wish to face the possibility that we can get aling just fine without them.

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Debtors' Prison

I love the way Reuters locates this under the "Oddly Enough" section.

Of course debtors' prisons were, ahem, abolished over here in Blighty as a result of the work of the great reforming novelist Charles Dickens.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

This is very well put

"The function of a university (as explained by Gramsci and Marcuse) is to produce minds indoctrinated with 'progressive' thought - so indoctrinated that any ideas that are hostile to the cause will be rejected by them (without consideration), and reject them with great hatred.

"Universities are not totally successful - in that most students are just given a vague mind set of support for 'progressive' ideas and a built in hostility to 'reactionary' ideas, but only in a very loose way, enough to, say, vote for Obama - but not enough to kill for him. They become the sort of people who think the Economist is free market, laugh at the "humour" of the Communist comics on Radio 4 without actually sharing their ideology and do not see anything odd in the selection of books in British bookshops."

- Paul Marks