Saturday, January 27, 2007

The Titanic Chapter and Verses

OK, I nicked that from our site section, but it was too good not to.

I happened on this The Government is no more. All that’s left to do is laugh, and could not resist this:

'I'd laugh too, but then ponder the rather worrying notion that the ship being steered so resolutely into every iceberg possible by its inept crew, also happens to be the one I am on. But they have all made sure they have comfy places in the lifeboats.

So it's really only funny to those who get paid well to write about them, and hence will get invited to share the fun of next ride the rest of us who survive get taken on.'

I really am getting a tad fed up of the 'I'm all right, Jack' tone that we get from the London-based chattering classes when sharing with the rest of us their wisdom on matters such as their drinking buddies in Westminster's travails.

Which is why, like my last post to the Telegraph, I suspect it will be 'moderated'.

One hung low

I am just listening to last night's Newsnight, and in getting to the piece I'm interested in, happened across a bit on the Prison's crisis.

One telling point made by a newly-resigned official, unchallenged by the BBC interviewer and hence I presume accurate, was that the police get credited as much for a quick ASBO collar as a 3-month fraud investigation. These are called 'low-hanging fruit'.

I am trying to reconcile this following yesterday morning's speech and Q&A that I attended with the Herefordshire Chief Superintendent. A charming, erudite and confidence-inspiring chap, he clearly stated that his officers were measured only by dispensing justice fairly and appropriately, and not by target.

Another example of the problem we the people are having getting clear information upon which to decide on how we vote. Maybe that is their intention, to try and maintain the status quo?


No daft pun headline today. Just a word.

I learned of it via a Newsnight promo posting: "A new word entered the lexicon this week. The BBC was attacked by the Editor of the Daily Mail, Paul Dacre, as being part of the "subsidariat" that needs to be cut down to size. He said it's too big, its journalism starts from the premise of left wing ideology, and it's a monolith distorting Britain's media market. Mr Dacre has said no to an interview tonight. But we'll be discussing whether his criticisms of the BBC are justified. "

Needless to say it worked, and I will now be watching on the excellent back-up online download.

Whatever one may think of the Daily Mail, its editor, the BBC and its position as the most dominant force in our country's media firmament, I must say I find it an interesting word, and on balance, a worthy new one.

Because it does rather neatly sum up, and in a subtly pejorative KGB-allusional way a bunch over over-funded, monopolistic and way-too-unaccountable entities who use a lot of our money in ways that are hard to justify.

See, I can usually get it back to the environment.

ADDENDUM - Just watched, and had to comment:

I just watched last night's edition on the PC-feed, and must repeat my commendation for this facility.

However, it did allow me to witness a truly awful QED on the spot I wanted to catch, namely the Subsidiariat story.

I can see how absolute objectivity is nigh on impossible when reporting and/or discussing just about anything, but especially a criticism that is directed so close to home.

But, heavens above, the intro piece was as nasty a piece of sneering, unsubtle 'Yeah... right' (as opposed to 'Yes. Right’ - denuded of contradicting tone as a stenographer's typescript) as I have ever seen.

And hence it blew any chance of me assessing all brought up subsequently in anything but the view that this was indeed going to be addressed by a monolithic, monopolistic, massively-funded, unaccountable, trendy-liberal, never-left-privileged-uni, London-centric, in-crowd, overly-defensive medium. I have to contribute to this!!!!

Oh, and can we try and think beyond popping two extremes (or choosing one feisty and one duffer to suit the agenda in case its live and editing can't do the trick?) into the cockfight ring and feel that has adequately addressed the nuances of any reasonable debate.

Otherwise, loved the show.

ps: to those who read my blog, we’ll soon see how the moderators handle the slight dilemma this contribution may throw up. To be fair, they are a lot better here than the piece's lauded print media in this regard.

The Fast and the Loose. Play On!

It's a biggie: What's black and white and green all over? Another dodgy dossier

I await with some dread the moderator’s approved selection of rabid deniers and righteous believers knocking spots off each other as the rest of us cower below the artillery exchange. It seems like it has been ever thus.
In my pleas that we do something (I accept debate is required while evidence of practical ROIs on worthwhile proposals, across all measures, from money to planetary benefit, is established beyond doubt) whilst all the talk detracts from action, I have often also appealed for the comforting sanity of facts, for normal folk such as myself to try to arrive at some form of objective notions on what may be the best course(s).
So I was/am pleased to see that this has some, and seemingly more than worthy ones, to chew upon. I also do note that, as with any potential agenda, facts can be edited in or omitted to steer the argument to a desired conclusion. But some here seem pretty clear, incontrovertible... and damning. At least to what I care most about, because yet again I see the necessary cause (that I, personally espouse) of a reduction in waste, improvement in efficiency and an overall acceptance that ‘we’ can’t really sustain the way we are living too much longer, has been undermined by less than coherent policy and claim in the name of some other things less noble, more self-interested and short term than sorting out a future for the coming generations.
Of course the media are pretty complicit, from equal ‘tomorrow’s headline’ self interest. Striking assertions are almost all virtually unquestioned. They are good for ratings.
So it is eye-openingly honest, but rather shocking to learn that it is ‘easier for us just to repeat the claims of people such as Stern (or any other pro/con activist or big oil-funded mouthpiece – the riposte du jour to any counter these days), sexing them up as we go along.’ That’ll serve the public right then. I must thank you for the tip about ‘Investigation’ which I will track down immediately.
I don’t know if this piece is attempting a mea culpa, but I’ll take what ever I can get.
Some doubts I must confess I have arrived at myself. I have to say any projection beyond 2100 has to be "particularly unreliable" short of engaging Hitchhikers Guide’s Deep Thought, which ironically I believe turned out to be our planet. But making and feeding off such projections has turned into a very lucrative industry for some. And the best part is... if you turn out be wrong, who cares? You’re already nowhere to be found to offer a refund!
I don’t claim to understand a fraction of the economic debate, but to the point that the rich today need not make sacrifices for the poor tomorrow, they may or may not on average be 12 times better-off than we are now but, like Midas, gold is not much good if there is no green to eat. Surely a more appropriate point is that a few quite eminent people are making pretty firm, dire noises, and it seems a tad overconfident, not to say foolhardy, to simply say ‘carry on smoking’ and wait and see if there is indeed a gas leak as time progresses.
It is a shame I get to the end to find out that, yet again, there is no suggested best approach to climate change. And I must look elsewhere. I will.

But meantime, to try and improve an uncertain future, I will pay a fair bit now, so long as it is managed by those who I can trust to do it fairly, and without organisational agenda, targets or career gain, ahead of doing what’s right, practical and effective.

ADDENDUM: I have just read a coincidentally complementary set of pieces to this, as a totally Kismetic consequence of a posting by the ever-excellent Dr. Ben Goldacre of Bad Science, who has just, and justly, won an award (with the bonus of another relevant piece, for another place and time on the site) for an article on the manipulation of stats.