24 December 2009



and a happy new year to all (or decade)

23 December 2009

When marriage is at all time low, is it a good idea to insult everyone who isn't married?

The Tory marriage plan really irks at me - first and foremost it's based on flawed analysis and shallow reasoning - and secondly, it's just insulting to all those from 'broken homes' (like me!)

The Tories say marriage will become exclusively middle-class, and that will be detrimental to lower-income people, right... Forgive me if I find that a little bit patronising

I'm middle-class (perhaps upper-lower-middle-class) and my mother never married, on principle - she may just be being bloody-minded but we seem to have done quite well, and I'm telling you I know of few people who agree with this 'marriage is great' rubbish - the younger ones who do want to get married have no issue with co-habiters and blended families, they're so common it's impossible not to accept them

The only people likely to go for it are the Tory hardcore - the sort of people who believe Peter Hitchens is real, perhaps it's to shore up the core vote as the Tories drift increasingly to the middle, much like Labour ramp up benefits and protect public sector jobs for their core

This is the one socially conservative policy the Tories have - but I question it, traditional old ladies may agree with it, but I would say a lot of people dislike it and it's probably doing more harm than good by annoying those swing voters who tend to sit in the middle and could see this as old fashioned bigotry

It may be that other issues take precedence in the election, but it does nothing for me but turn me off Cameron - I find it to be judgemental, another minus point for the Tories - not that I'm the sort of voter they want, of course

*Apologies for the lazy entry - it's Christmas, I'm busy and can only devote so much of my time to being angry

21 December 2009

I'm either stupid, or a genius!

According to the British Journal of Cancer, having early sex explains why cervical cancer is more common in poor women

It could be that the infection (as this cancer is basically an STD) has more effect on younger women - fair assumption I guess

Now, the number of sexual partners has no impact apparently, so that knocks my theory a bit - but could it not be that poorer girls from deprived areas are more likely to be hooking up with infected young males (or 'chavs') from council estates?

This is what the sources on wikipedia (from the American Cancer Council in the US) suggest, and considering this is effectively an STD does that not explain the rich/poor divide quite well also? If it's caused primarily by an STD, how can the number of partners not make any difference to risk? This is how all STDs tend to go - 'deprived' people from council estates tend to be somewhat less cautious than their middle-class counterparts, it's well documented

Me smells a rat:

"Importantly, the results back up the need for the HPV vaccination to be given in schools at an age before they start having sex, especially among girls in deprived areas."

20 December 2009

A good old Tory smokescreen

After that gross miscarriage of justice where a man beat the living snot out of a pinned-down burglar with a cricket bat, metal bar and hockey stick used reasonable force to defend his home, the Tories have pledged to review householder rights

Mr Grayling said: "Conservatives argue that the defence that the law offers a householder should be much clearer, and that prosecutions and convictions should only happen in cases where courts judge the actions involved to be 'grossly disproportionate'."

Only can you see the problem with referring to this case to appeal to the masses who want to be able to defend their home?

Namely, this was 'grossly disproportionate' - any change in the law would have seen Mr. Hussain still guilty of a crime and sent to jail

Hussain was not convicted for defending himself or his home, he wasn't done for breaking the guy's leg y chucking a table at him - as the judge made patently obvious, he was convicted for pinning the fleeing burglar down and giving him brain damage as he and his brother beat him weapons

I am all for defending property, and the judge made it clear he had the right to defend his property - that doesn't extend to executing your own form of malicious revenge, that's why we have the police and the courts

Any Tory proposal wouldn't change this case, this is just smoke and mirrors to appeal to the Daily Mail crowd

17 December 2009


Ah, good old sir Liam, he was the one who warned us all about swine flu deaths...remember?

Now he's saying parents (specifically middle class ones) who let their teenage kids 'taste' booze will make them more likely to be heavy drinkers as adults

Any stats for that?

I'm not saying he's wrong...but if you've been wrong before you can be wrong again, right?

Far be for me to use anecdotal evidence - but I was tasting booze from about 14, drinking possibly too much at 17 and 18, but nowadays I barely drink at all - I got bored of it once I got away from the first-year student culture, and I'd have to blame my friends and the culture of binge-drinking far more than my parents for my occasional excesses back then, I was a teenager - teenagers are quite stupid

Yet, here I am, faculties in order, with a proper academic degree and writing in prose - we all know alcohol is harmful, worse than a lot of illegal drugs in many ways - but it's not a substantial risk to drink it, particularly in moderation, we have a life expectancy of what? 78? And we've been drinking the stuff for millenia, while kids all over the world do fine after drinking, the stats do show that more liberal countries in Europe don't get nearly as much alcohol-related-violence so there's some balance to this debate, Liam

But don't take my uninformed opinion on it, thankfully the BBC love a good counter-argument

here's Jeremy Todd of Parentline Plus

He said: "Parents can have a huge influence on their child's drinking choices.
"Rates of teenage drunkenness are higher amongst both the children of parents who drink to excess and the children of parents who abstain completely.
So irresponsible and draconian approaches don't work - meaning being responsible does work, unfortunately no amount of government interference can make people responsible - stop trying, Liam

"Whilst parents have a greater influence on their children's drinking patterns early on, as they grow older their friends have a greater influence.
"It is therefore crucial for parents to talk to their children about alcohol and its effects."

Quite right, and banning stuff = not talking, I'm not sure if Sir Liam has ever met a teenager

I particularly liked Professor Ian Gilmore:

"We know that adults who drink sensibly tend to pass these habits on and that some families choose to introduce alcohol to their children younger than 15 in a supportive environment."
He stressed that not drinking alcohol at all remained the "healthiest option" for children.

Spot on - why isn't this man Chief Medical Officer? (He's already president of the Royal College of Physicians)

What we do not need is more bloody preachy adverts:

"He announced a major publicity campaign on the subject in England, which will get under way in January 2010."

 Stop wasting our bloody money on 'don't drink' adverts! Unless they actually return a profit through less cost to the NHS then they are a frivolous drain on our ever-growing deficit - don't they know there's a recession on?

16 December 2009

It's her again

Last week, Allison Pearson got on my tits a bit with her claims of how great marriage is for society

On that entry I received a comment (anon) that pointed out she herself is divorced, and has children with a man she isn't married to

Wikipedia confirms this, as much as it can confirm anything (it also states she is my near-neighbour - so many annoying media types seem to take up refuge in my dear city)

So while I cannot claim certainty on the matter, I do have to question this article

My husband would kill to defend our family... so why has Munir Hussain been jailed for protecting his? [italics mine, of course]
Far be it for me to suggest she is lying, I have no proof of that, but I do have to question the headline, and would ask her to confirm her status, perhaps on her wikipedia entry - considering how she slammed unmarried mothers last week I would hate to think she is a hypocrite, or indeed, misleading the public on this issue

15 December 2009

A Rotten Speaker?

The Mail report that speaker Bercow wants to create a new 'seat' for the speaker that would only have MPs as its constituents

A barmy idea, yes, and the Mail's implication about this existing at the next election is complete nonsense, but it opens up the debate

Bercow has brought this up solely because he faces a real, if slight, threat from UKIP at the next election, but this really should go beyond this

The real crux of the issue is that a constituency goes unrepresented for several years - that's 70,000 people (Buckingham) without an MP

Bercow may say

‘It is both possible and necessary for the Speaker to continue to be a highly active constituency MP. '

But he's talking nonsense - while they can act as an MP and talk to constituents, they do not vote, table motions, debate etc etc - those constituents are disenfranchised, even if they can go and whinge to their MP...who can't vote

And of course, they get no choice in the matter - for some reason you aren't supposed to oppose a speaker, so a constituency gets lumbered with an MP (who remember, can be a "highly active constituency MP") who they have no say over, and the poor people of Buckingham lost their MP this year without even a say

Isn't that a tad paradoxical? A neutral, uninvolved person in the commons, who is also an elected MP who can deal with constituents, but isn't opposed...

Of course, this situation is helped by the use of safe seats, but as safe seats are already an insult to democracy as it is, I don't feel this improves the situation, just makes it tolerable

So yes, we should look at changing the situation, but not to protect your own arse, Mr. Bercow, but to give 70,000 people a member of Parliament who can actually talk and vote

I refer you to this uttering:

If the tradition [of unopposed speakers] ended, said Mr Bercow, it could be hard for any Speaker to survive for more than one parliamentary term.
and the problem is? Why exactly should we return the speaker at an election? If every Parliament is sovereign then surely they should pick their own speaker each session - this is particularly obvious now as we are facing an election that will see over a hundred current MPs resign, let alone be booted out by the electorate, there will probably be several hundred brand new MPs chosen within the next 6 months, and they have to put up with the decision a disgraced Parliament made less than a year before why exactly?

Anne Widdecombe had it right - the speaker should be going with the rest of them, a clean break - I don't see why this shouldn't be repeated at every election, in all likelihood the speaker will be returned easily - if they aren't, then the public have spoken - they have a right to kick out their own MP, and indeed pass judgement on the speaker, who is a well known figure nowadays

Of course, perhaps one little constituency shouldn't decide the fate of the speaker for the whole house, so he should be removed from the election process all together

That's where Bercow's idea of a special constituency for MPs comes in - except I see a slight logistical problem with that - if only MPs are eligible does that mean they have to be elected as an MP, and then elected as Speaker, and then trigger a by-election immediately after the GE? And when do they vote? Can't be during the general election as there are no MPs after a dissolution, you can't give special precedence to them if they aren't technically MPs, and then what happens when the speaker seeks re-election? He wouldn't be an MP, so he would have no legitimacy over 'normal' people, and would only be a former MP/speaker - giving any former MP legitimacy in the election

The idea is a complete muddle

However, he's got the jist of it right - it's just the bit where he wants to gerrymander the situation so he can keep the job for a decade that's off - all you need to do is create a ceremonial office that allows the holder to speak in the house, the house elects an MP to the role, there's a by-election for the seat, then at the new session MPs vote to keep the chair, if not he's out, then they elect a new one

This is very similar to Bercow's idea - but without the rotten borough and technical flaws and with a bit more fairness

All Parliaments should get the chance to choose their own speaker - the time when it was honourable, non-partisan position for chairing debates is over, as the past two selections have shown, there's no reason to tie down a future Parliament with the petty, childish decision of a former Parliament, that's a fundamental basic of Parliamentary sovereignty

Get a sense of humour

A card has been removed from a Tesco store's shelves because a redhead found it offensive

'The card shows a child with ginger hair sitting on the lap of Santa Claus, and the words: "Santa loves all kids. Even ginger ones."

Davinia Philips, of York was 'disgusted'

Right, first things first - this is not specifically a Tesco issue - this wasn't marketing or an advert, it was just one of the thousand Christmas cards they happen to stock, the company 'Quitting Hollywood' made the card

So essentially she has picked out one of those funny cards, and had a right strop about it - had it actually been marketing I'd agree with her, but it was just a silly card, have you never seen a humourous card that was 'offensive' before? They take the mick out of all sorts - women, men, fat people, old age and a lot are laden with innuendo

What this effectively means that if a card makes a blonde joke, or a fat joke, or a birthday card implies something negative about ageing, then it's offensive to someone and should be banned - great

2/1 it was written by a carrot-top

11 December 2009

Put a sock in it, Simon, preferably a smelly one

You may or may not have heard that there is a 'campaign' to get Rage against the Machine to Christmas no.1 over whatever bilge comes out of X Factor this year

Simon Cowell has branded it as 'stupid' and 'cynical' and aimed at him

There's that ego again - actually it's not aimed at you personally, Simon - but is a reflection of our annoyance at having a major tv show produce an unmemorable album by some nobody at Christmas every year

"It does however change these guys' lives and we put this opportunity there so that the winner of the X Factor gets the chance of having a big hit record.

So we should ruin the race for Xmas no.1 because some karaoke singer wants a big hit? - Well here's some news for you, Cowell, there are 52 weeks in the year, and only one is vaguely interesting to the mainstream

Cowell also played down the impact of the trend for the X Factor's winner to take the No 1 spot.
He said: "Everyone has this slightly distorted view of Christmas numbers one being incredible. There was that ghastly Cliff Richard song a few years ago, Bob The Builder. So we haven't exactly taken away anything special, it just so happens that our record, to coincide with the show, goes out at Christmas."
If Christmas no.1 isn't so important then why don't you wait til January? These shows have always focused on the Christmas spot - seems strange, if it's not important, that every year since 2005 the X Factor song has been released specifically for the Sunday directly before Christmas, (as was Girls Aloud in 2002, in a specific two-horse race for Xmas No.1 orchestrated by the show)

You undermine the race and then say it's unimportant - so you've basically hijacked a bit of fun for the hell of it? Personally I think that's even worse than the commercialisation angle, at least admit this is exploitation - then it's good business sense rather than just pure humbug

It doesn't matter that crap songs have been Christmas no.1 (and bear in mind they are often for charity, unlike a certain someone's own crap songs) - the point is it's a bit of fun, it's supposed to be a race, not an automatic slot for the latest wannabe singer who'll be forgotten within 12 months - it has become the 'X Factor no.1' instead of the Christmas no.1

It's been hijacked by Cowell and his show, and we have every right to campaign against it - every year there is a campaign to get certain songs to no.1, long before you were even vaguely important, Simon, so don't take it personally, I know you think everything is about you, but it really isn't

And I must ask - why is it any worse to try and get Rage the no.1 spot when you, via manipulation of your viewers, do exactly the same thing? It's like Tesco complaining that Sainsbury's is competing with it

Why do people watch this irritating w**ker?

Raahh! Rant over!

edit: The only decidedly dodgy song since 1993 (Mr. Blobby) was the aforementioned 'Bob the Builder' song in 2000 - and guess what, that was a campaign which defeated Cowell's old band Westlife from claiming a second consecutive Christmas no.1

Go out and purchase "Killing in the Name" from Monday (13th)

10 December 2009

Last minute equaliser

So, I've finally got round to watching the mid-season finale of Stargate Universe - no idea when it'll be back

But I have to say, 'Justice' wasn't that bad (spoilers)

It's essentially a whodunit, as the deranged Sergeant Spencer is found shot dead from an apparent suicide, but the weapon has been removed - surprise, surprise it turns up in Col. Young's room, and he is blatantly being set up

What happens next is a very slow march towards the finale as we endure a rather dull trial, and are left guessing as to who planted it - chief suspects are the politician - Wray, and Rush, which was the main reason I kept watching, hoping Rush was being a true Machiavellian presence

I wasn't disappointed, as the finale was actually worth watching as Young confronts Rush on a barren planet where they have conveniently discovered an old alien ship, and then leaves him stranded - now that was a tasty finish

Unfortunately I wouldn't be surprised if many turned over before the final scenes, I found myself buggering about during the lengthy dialogue, which means subconsciously I wasn't enthralled, and I tend to agree with the IGN review that it was a particularly slow episode but led to an excellent finish

But it does mean I will be wanting to see the conclusion - as this is actually interesting, will Rush work out how to fly the ship? My other theory is that Franklin (I forgot to mention he got his brain fried) will work out how to control the Destiny

This is of course what they want me to do, TV networks always stick their best storyline into a break, which is somewhat disheartening if the best they can do is a small part of one episode out of ten - that's not how you captivate an audience (the episode received record low ratings in the states, which is all that matters), but in the short term it's piqued my interest, and I hear the second half is set to be much faster-paced - but again, ten episodes (or half a season) is too long to be setting the stage, I fear they've already driven off fans and will need to work hard to get some credibility back

I really wish those writers would learn - make something happen and people will actually be interested! Introduce a mysterious alien spaceship, strand someone on a rock - excellent stuff, mindless drivel about how someone feels is not quite so good, you can't attract sci-fi fans with a soap opera because it's on a spaceship, and it's sheer arrogance to think that fans should just like it because the writers say they should, some of the drama and characterisation is good - the conflict involving Eli, Wray, Rush and Young worked well, but little else did here, and most of the episode was just wasted, drama does work in sci-fi, if it is done right - but most of what they are writing is not drama, it's dull narrative more suited to the Bold and the Beautiful

They've managed to get a late equaliser here and compel me to watch the conclusion - but thin ice, very thin ice indeed

(and I want to know something - why does the ship only provide a limited list of 'nearby' addresses - conventional Stargate wisdom is that anything within a galaxy is accessible from anywhere)

Badge of Honour

Allison Pearson has written a lovely load of Daily Mail bilge about how marriage is better and will save society, I've said it plenty of times that this marriage thing is just a false correlation and complete bollocks, but still they appeal to lowest common denominator thinking...sells papers I guess

So I therefore take great pride in having my comment in the worst rated section, where you will always find the best comments on the Mail site

I'm only on a mere -22, nothing compared to this eloquent delivery from Cindy, Essex on -68:

I am no fan of Harriet Harman, but I agree with her on marriage. I am 42, single and have worked and paid taxes since I was 18. I feel as if I have paid my debts to society, but still David Cameron would have me treated as a second class citizen?
The top rated meanwhile, cover such insights as:

Batty Hatty must be trying to get in favour with the masses of single, uneducated, one night stand mums who are scared that their subsidised life of idleness may be stamped on by Cameron.
I am not saying that all single parents are like this, but an astounding number are, and those are the most dangerous to society as a whole....

Thankyou, Sandra ...in Spain (+83)

and this from JN in Wiltshire on +55:

Well, of course, Sarah Brown would admire anyone who hurls the odd mobile 'phone, doesn't her "hero" hubby indulge in this activity !!!

Is the Mail rating system supposed to be some sort of in-joke?

09 December 2009

Too bloody right

On a day in which we're being subjected to the PBR I felt we should have some good news

Firstly, that stupid religious hatred case has been dismissed - how could it not be? It was someone's word against another's, and was in blatant contradiction of free speech laws

It's good news for justice and common law, but what's scary is the legislation and its use by the police and the CPS - they spent eight months following up this nonsense, the legislation itself is just a ticking timebomb waiting to go off until someone brings in a real free speech clause (fat chance)

Other good news is that a large group of people are lobbying for the government to change the archaic English libel laws - if he actually did it I might be able to forgive Brown one day, but there's not a chance Labour will get it through, if they even want to - the only party I'd trust on this would be the Lib Dems (fat chance)

08 December 2009

Still here

Still having net problems (hopefully sorted next week) and now I'm behind and don't know what to blog about

The only really big news has been of Copenhagen and dear god am I bored of this rubbish

Most of the blogosphere has been raging against 'the lie', while the press have been indulging in it, the politicians are in their element away from their constituents, eating fine dinners and having cosy chats away from all accountability, and bloody annoying activists are...well, bloody annoying

So where do I sit? Am I a 'sceptic' or 'denier'?

Not in the proper noun sense - I am a proper sceptic about pretty much everything, which means I view everything. particularly politics, with one eyebrow raised, much like the Roger Moore-era Bond - I am a very sceptical and cynical person

So I would be a hypocrite to totally and unequivocally accept the assertions of some incredibly preachy people and politicians, in all fairness I probably would accept the science if there weren't such a lot of idiots going around screaming 'we're all going to die'

I'm not sure if I've been reading too many right-wing blogs, and the old saying, 'repeat a lie often enough and you start to believe it', has come true and made me question something quite widely accepted

But as I say, I am not a 'denier' - I can't say I know either way, and I honestly don't believe most of those activists and politicians know a thing about the science either, I don't like blind faith

It's a bit sad that I can't believe scientists, one group I would usually always back - but from what I can tell their science is based on guesswork - what will happen, why this has happened etc - it's certainly not totally conclusive, and that means I can't come to a rock-solid conclusion either

There are a couple of points against it, but generally the 'scientists' quoted by 'deniers' are discredited, and/or in the pay of big oil (e.g Plimer) - it doesn't exactly help the case, I base my view on the evidence that I can see myself, or at least get a grasp of - while I can easily spot a flaw in someone's analysis, I still can't in all certainty agree or disagree that in 50 years Fiji will be underwater

Regardless of the science debate, I have always felt that pumping tonnes of black clouds into the sky is probably not a good thing, regardless of whether it's melting the icecaps, burning dirty things that we have a finite resource of is not the wisest idea, nor is chucking plastic into landfills and the ocean - so I have always wanted to move to clean, renewable energy and sustainable living anyway, the issue of global warming and why it's happening are by-the-by for me

All I have ever wanted the politicians to do is work towards supporting renewable energy with funding, but instead they talk about a few percentage points of emissions, and then tax the consumer to the hilt

This is probably the biggest reason I dislike Copenhagen - I have a similar end to the eco-loons, whether or not we agree on rising sea levels, so I don't hugely have a problem with a big climate meeting

No, my problem is my usual one - politicians, they aren't going to do anything

Their aim is for a 20% cut in emissions - that'll come down for a start, and presumably 20% won't halt anything, merely delay it a few years, if they were really serious, felt it was really urgent and about saving the world then they would actually do something serious

If the threat is real, like a giant asteroid hurtling towards us, as many activists see it, then they don't really fear it, perhaps because it's not visible, perhaps because they'll all be dead by then, as some woman who claimed to represent my generation put it (god, I hate those bloody activists)

Either way, this meeting is about as pointless as the Munich Agreement - there will be no drastic action to save us from the asteroid - no rocket sent up to destroy it, just more taxes to 'combat' the asteroid while we continue living normally

If they were really serious, they'd be wanting rid of all fossil fuels, funding research in more efficient renewable sources - but they won't, it'll be a bit of posturing and a 'pledge' to cut emissions, while the average person is fleeced of more and more money in the name of 'green'

So it doesn't actually matter if it's real or not - Copenhagen is a crock, the politicians involved would have more dignity if they didn't believe in it, rather than just going along with it and then doing nothing but taxing us

and I guess that's a blog - about global warming! Don't expect another one of those for a while

04 December 2009

England get off lightly, but aren't French

England were drawn against the US, Algeria and Slovenia

The US were certainly not the easiest pick from pot 2, but we'll have that, we destroyed them a few years ago, and they haven't beaten us since the abysmal Taylor era - the weakest African nation and arguably the weakest European team too - the word describing Capello is currently 'delighted'

England will play their first match on day 2 against the yanks in Rustenburg - exactly where Capello has been looking - it would seem the gods are on our side

Full draw here

Other groups of note

Group A features France getting a right let-off by facing probably the weakest team in the whole thing, but they got Mexico to hopefully present a challenge, unfortunately the opening game will be a rather uninspiring S.Africa vs Mexico, but that was always likely

Group D is not nice for the Ozzies, facing Germany, Serbia and the Ghana - all four good sides, I think all three non-seeds have a chance

Group D would've been the 'group of death' but for group G - featuring Brazil, Portugal and Ivory Coast - last time they got the Argies and the Dutch, now they get the Portuguese axis - North Korea make up the numbers, a toss-up between the Portuguese and Ivorians who meet in their first match is likely I think - my money's on the Africans

I'm not flushed for time so I'll be brief

Most groups went pretty well apart from D and G - Argentina have the chance to throw it away with Korea, Italy and the Netherlands have it easy, Spain will be happy and France are honourary seeds who've probably got it better than us...

Lt. Boobs...heh

Stargate: Universe: update

Well, we’re nearly halfway through the first season of Stargate: Universe and I thought I’d do an update before the mid-season cliff-hanger, which frankly will probably make or break this show for me

The latest episode, Life, has salvaged it somewhat for me – I’ve seen a bit of negativity out there about it, but I found it to be a decent filler episode, focusing mainly on the everyday lives of the ‘crew’ while advancing some character plots at the same time

But that’s just it – filler, this is the sort of episode that should’ve been in Atlantis to keep it a bit more interesting, but you can’t drive a whole show with an episode that’s little more than vaguely interesting, this is a sci-fi show about being lost in space, not a soap opera set in space – there’s supposed to be some sense of purpose here, and if they don’t have one then people are going to get bored

I shouldn’t really badmouth the episode itself, like I said, it’s reasonable, but ultimately a filler – there’s a nice catchy soundtrack which sets the mood nicely and some good scenes showcasing life on board the ship, albeit they are a bit twee, so what we should focus on is everything else before that

Take the much-hyped episode beforehand, Time, or as it’s colloquially known: ‘the jungle one’ – it was in fact quite good, there were even aliens and lots of mystery, and the kino-filmed opening was pretty decent too, people started dying and the acting was pretty good - but then the whole thing was ruined when the audience realised about ten minutes from the end that it’s going to be a Deus ex Machina – seriously, didn’t your English teacher tell you never to end a story with ‘I woke up and it was all just a dream’? – It completely nullifies the whole story and is very infuriating

Then, in the aforementioned Life, they kill the plot off right at the end – it is discovered during the sub-plot (or is it ‘co-plot’) that Rush has found a planet capable of dialling Earth, it’ll take a mere year to get there – everybody goes ‘yay’ and finally there’s some sort of purpose to this whole show, but oh no right at the end we find out that Rush faked the whole thing to motivate the crew – naughty Rush, while I admit it was a nice piece of scheming, it really did feel like we were being dicked around – they could have at least left it a few episodes (part of me thinks they fear viewer backlash if they string us along too much)

To me it felt like the writers were trying to say ‘ha ha, we’re not doing what you expected!’ – yeah, well it’s true that you’re not; you’re just making a fairly boring soap opera instead and toying with us

Listen, I know you think you’re being edgy and a bit out there, but you’re really not – this latest episode felt a lot like it could’ve been the crew on Battlestar Galactica, and could’ve been one of their many filler episodes – but the difference between that show and this is that THERE WAS A DRIVING PURPOSE in BSG, there were bad guys, a logistical aim, it wasn’t just ‘we’re stuck, me sad’

This is sci-fi, not drama, particularly when the drama isn’t *that* good, the fans come expecting a degree of adventure and you cannot blame them for that and say they just ‘don’t get it’ – they do get it, Lost is sci-fi, it’s also high-end drama and very character-focused with little actual science-fiction, that works, we like it – Joseph Mallozzi wrote a very unhelpful rant back in October that basically said' you all just want a rehash of SG-1'

No we don’t – I’ll take anything I can get that’s good quite frankly, do what you want with the actual stargate, but don’t just stick the Stargate name onto a show that really has very little to do with the series or science-fiction in general, and then don’t tell me it’s completely different while trying to tie in links to the original show by giving RDA a guest spot…

And don’t act all offended when viewers start calling Lt. James ‘Lt. Boobs’ when her whole exposure has been a crudely-introduced sex scene in the premiere, and a very obvious close up of her gigantic chest – yes, I’m sure that was accidental, if you’re only going to use her as a prop and make us focus on those aspects then what do you expect – it’s not the viewer who’s sexist for noticing what the producers have focused on in what is a very one-dimensional character (well...maybe not one dimensional)

The fact is, when I go to watch this show, it’s more like I’m thinking ‘what will the characters do today?’ – this is what we call a ‘soap opera’, only set in space, you can keep the character development, and unpredictable plots, we don’t want big nasty aliens to shoot at us from their spaceships, but we do want something to happen!

Quite frankly, this spin-off is pretty boring and doesn’t seem to be going anywhere, they seem to have completely neglected the action/adventure of the show – and that does not mean I want SG-1 back, it means that when there has been action like in ‘Water’, or ‘Air’, it’s been cumbersome and boring – I have in fact praised the drama bits more than the action – but you simply cannot take a show aimed at sci-fi fans and take out everything – it’d be like a star trek movie without spaceships, and it’s just patronising to suggest it’s the audience’s fault for not embracing what you’ve made because you reckon it’s good – I like to watch many different things, good drama included, what entertains me stays, what doesn’t – goes

If anything the Stargate name is making me stay rather than give up…

(apologies for formatting - it's a stupid Word thing)

03 December 2009

Noughtie TV shows

I recently stumbled across the Telegraph's top 100 TV shows that defined the decade (what with it being in its last month) - it's a bit of a hodge podge that includes some big american TV shows with worldwide appeal that didn't actually air terrestrially here, while being mostly Brit-centric and including some very minor British shows

So I thought I'd do my own version according to the same lax rules and try to improve it a bit by doing it in sections, because what's the point ranking genres against each other? We shall see how it turns out...

(hat tip to From the North.. blog for pointing me to it)

I shall start with...Comedy and I think then I'll do Animation separately after, so I don't get cries of 'where's South Park/Family Guy etc' so, onward - sections are of no particular length, so I'm hoping 'reality TV' can be brief, if intense


20. The Kumars at no.42 (BBC 2001-6) The successor to Goodness Gracious Me was as important for its cultural impact as much as its critical success, even if the comedy was fairly benign

19. Trigger Happy TV (Channel 4 2000-1) HELLO!? YES, I'M IN THE CINEMA!...You had to be there, red fox

18. Malcolm in the Middle (Fox 2000-6) There aren't many decent Fox comedies out there, but Malcolm in the Middle was a classic that went global and won various awards

17. Scrubs (NBC 2001-8) Not much point counting the butchered ABC version after this classic - Scrubs was the Friends of the noughties - countlessly repeated on daytime and digital TV, couldn't really miss it, oh and it was a good laugh

16. Outnumbered (BBC 2007-) A surprising entry for a show that's only produced 13 episodes (and isn't Fawlty Towers) and spent its first season on late at night, but its obvious quality shone through and got everyone watching this brilliant improv-comedy by the second series (and buying the first en masse)

15. Marion and Geoff (BBC 2000-3) Although a bit forgotten now, this Rob Brydon monologue-fest was a big hit in the early part of the decade

14. Da Ali G Show (Channel 4 2000) ah, is it because I am black? Hard to ignore this ridiculous send-up that appealed to both the intelligent and the illiterate, and of course, gave the world Borat

13. Peep Show (Channel 4 2003-) Excruciatingly painful comedy about two pathetic losers, its sheer brilliance could have you in tears, but its 'alternative' appeal has kept it restrained to younger people and late nights, reducing its impact (and 13 just felt right for Mark, you know...)

12. My Family (BBC 2000-) This mild sitcom is not particularly edgy, and lost it's appeal many years ago but spending a decade as the BBC's mainstream family comedy is no mean feat

11. QI (BBC 2003-) This intelligent game show made a nice change from the usual dumbed-down rubbish, without being elitist, and became a quick hit with anyone who considered themselves to have a brain

10. Mock the Week (BBC 2005-) The satirical stand-up show is one of BBC two's biggest successes and has done a good job in taking over from the aging HIGNFY as well as launching several stand-ups

9. Extras (BBC 2005-7) - Gervais' second big hit was a more usual sitcom, I didn't realise it was so long ago already...

8. Gavin and Stacey (BBC 2007-) This quaint, off-the-cuff little comedy about Essex and Welsh people that started life on BBC 3 somehow became a household staple that we all watch at Christmas

7. Brass Eye - paedophile special (Channel 4 2001) - Few single episodes can cause such an impact as Chris Morris' send up of tabloid hysteria

6. The Daily Show/The Colbert Report (Comedy Central 1999-) Both shows made their name as the major American voices of satire during the Bush years, lampooning the ridiculous right-wingers of Fox

5. Bremner, Bird and Fortune (Channel 4 1999-) The major British voice of satire during Bush/Blair years

4. Curb your Enthusiasm (HBO 2000-) Yet another masterpiece from HBO, so painfully funny it could almost be British

3. Little Britain (BBC 2003-6) This at-times vulgar and repetitive sketch show somehow became a mainstream staple on the BBC, and a worldwide hit, thanks to its many catchy catchphrases

2. The Thick of It (BBC 2005) The incredibly produced replica of the New Labour spin machine won't have you laughing out loud, but rather terrified, a worthy successor to Yes, Minister

1. The Office (BBC 2001-3) Need I say more? Gervais' and Merchant's mockumentary was not only brilliant, but groundbreaking

Animations (I felt this deserved a separate section seeing as how many there have been)

7. The Simpsons (Fox 1989-2126) I had to include it, didn't I? While the show has arguably not produced anything of worth in the whole decade, it was still there! Making a 2007 movie blockbuster at the same time, which was equally as rubbish

6. Robot Chicken (Cartoon Network 2005-) Certainly not the most mainstream of shows, but it's developed into a worldwide cult hit

5. American Dad (Fox 2005-) Seth MacFarlane's second big hit is arguably better, considering it has actual plots, but is also still very, very silly

4. Family Guy (Fox 1999-) Dumped by Fox, but saved by fans and DVD sales, this thoroughly annoying show featuring random surreal clips seems to have been wildly popular

3. King of the Hill (Fox 1997-2009) This well-observed comedy about a mild-mannered conservative family from Texas is deceptively brilliant

2. Futurama (Fox 1999-?) Another show Fox tried to dump, but the comedy prospered and lived on to provide a show much better than the contemporary Simpsons episodes, as well as some legendary characters and catchphrases

1. South Park (Comedy Central 1997-) It was big in the late 90s, with its major film coming out in 1999 - but the fact remains that several of its best episodes came out this decade and even after the mainstream success waned it's remained very popular , and arguably better now that parents have stopped whingeing (since that generation of precious children are now probably the adults who watch it)

(Overall I would rank the animations as fairly low as important for the decade however)


8. Traffic Cops (BBC 2003-) I'll be honest, I have no idea which one this is, I stole it off the Torygraph as a representative of those many inane police shows that are really propaganda

7. Monarchy (BBC 2007) Typical royalist bilge turned into a national scandal when the production company misrepresented our dear queenie in a trailer, had the tabloids salivating like Pavlov's dogs

6. The Power of Nightmares (BBC 2004) Ah remember this? Exposing Blair's lies about terrorism after the Iraq invasion, the irony of course, is that Labour used this exact title for its own sodding advert about global warming (which was banned)

5. The Blue Planet (BBC 2001) Let's face it, any Attenborough documentary, made in any decade, makes it in

4. Living with Michael Jackson (ITV 2003) 'That's ignorant'....This is that one with Martin Bashir, caused a bit of a stir if I remember correctly

3. Pedigree Dogs Exposed (BBC 2008) This was one of the most memorable BBC investigations in many years, it was strange considering the common knowledge that pedigree animals are more inbred than your average royal, but it certainly had an impact on people and resulted in Crufts getting a very bad press and being dumped by the Beeb

2. Coast (BBC 2005-) Quite impressive how much material you can get out of one little island's craggy coastline, one of those BBC two programmes that most intelligent people quite like

1. Planet Earth (BBC 2006) David Attenborough is still going - and about the only thing worth watching in HD


This is very tough, what 'defines' a decade - popularity, or quality?

15. Shameless (Channel 4 2004-) Comedy or drama? This show set in a Manchester council estate is delightfully funny, while being well-observed and realistic (apparently)

14. Cranmer (BBC 2007, 2009) It seems odd to include such a minor drama (compared with CSI, House etc) but this is a British list and it was pretty defining

13. CSI (CBS 2000-) Like it or not, this pretty crappy cop show about forensics is the most popular franchise in the world, the modern day general interest cop show

12. The Trial of Tony Blair (More4 2007) This imagined future of Tony Blair expressed a lot of the nation's outrage at the run-up to the controversial Iraq war, and seems to be a little too fondly remembered by a lot of people

11. Bleak House (BBC 2005) Another critically acclaimed costume drama, if there's one thing we can do, it's dress-ups!

10. 24 (Fox 2001-) More Fox...and it just keeps going, this initially ground-breaking series made waves all over the world, it labours a bit now, and there's little to take from what is effectively die hard for your tv screen, but it works...

9. Battlestar Galactica (SciFi 2003-9) Not many sci-fi shows can boast such an impact on wider culture - this re-imagining of the cheesy 70s show, whilst not a massive ratings winner by any means, inspired debates about humanity, religion and human rights, as well as winning truckloads of accolades for its storytelling and acting (and making sci-fi credible)

8. Band of Brothers (HBO 2001) Effectively Saving Private Ryan for the small screen, had a similar effect on the audience and is on many DVD shelves and often repeated on TV channels around the world

7. The Wire (HBO 2002-8) Praised as the best show in the world by people cleverer than you or I, but it's lack of mainstream interest kept it off most people's radar, hence it's lower position (commence egg throwing...)

6. Spooks (BBC 2002-) One of the few top-notch dramas to come out of Britain recently, this modern spy thriller was our saving grace

5. Desperate Housewives (ABC 2004-) Surprisingly the Torygraph left out one of the most popular shows in the world, featuring an ensemble cast of women and a dead narrator, in what is a very witty comedy-drama about suburban life - surely it's very influential?

4. House (Fox 2004-) Hugh Laurie puts on an accent and suddenly Blackadder will never be the same again as we watch this limping, drug-addicted, cynical, medical genius work his magic

3. Lost (ABC 2004-2010) The happenings on the mysterious island have enticed millions around the world, as well as pissed off quite a few, but nonetheless it remains a truly global show and has sparked it's own sub-genre

2. The West Wing (NBC 1999-2006) The Torygraph put this as its top drama, it's just a matter of taste I guess

1. The Sopranos (HBO 1999-2007) - I went for the mafia family for the fact that it's the most watched cable show ever, and had the most reach


Big group, this

17. Bargain Hunt (BBC 2000-) Who would've known rubbishy daytime TV about flea markets could be so defining, this show gave the world David Dickinson and was pretty popular for a few years, inspiring other nonsense such as Flog It and Cash in the Attic, as clearly people were a bit too obsessed with quick money back then

16. Location, Location, Location (Channel 4 2001-) Sigh, such drivel, but it was indicative of our fascination with house prices, late 2007 put an end to all of that

15. Jeremy Kyle (ITV 2005-) ITV finally gets a show in, and it's the British version of Jerry Springer, exposing the very worst of our society while Kyle behaves like a complete tosser - it's surprisingly watchable

14. Harry Hill's TV Burp (ITV 2001-) Another ITV show that became surprisingly popular - this rehash of Tarrant on TV became a family staple, winning Baftas and being exported globally

13. 100 Greatest Britons (BBC 2002) It was big back in the day and is the pinnacle of all those public-voting shows (although I personally preferred the greatest comedy - Blackadder all the way!), the public weren't even that bad - the BBC deliberately giving prominence to people like Brunel and Darwin prevented the list becoming too much of a joke, Churchill won in the most surprising upset since England went out of the world cup

12. Soccer Saturday (Sky 1994-) Technically started way back, but didn't become big until the vast majority of people could get Sky Sports News with the rise of digital TV, Jeff Stelling and friends' comical banter drew millions away from the BBC's ancient football focus show

11. Spongebob Squarepants (Nickolodeon 1999-) Any show which has the lines 'Who lives in a pineapple under the sea...' and 'absorbent and yellow and porous is he' deserves a spot as the defining kid's cartoon of the decade

10. SM:TV (ITV 1998-2003) Although Ant and Dec left in 2001, virtually destroying the show at that point, (and ITV Saturday morning kids' shows) it has a recognised golden age from 2000-2001, which really felt like it was a lot longer back then, it was easily the best kids' show in decades, and of course, gave us Ant and Dec, who were that show

9. Grand Designs (Channel 4 1999-) More on our fascination with property and having a good nose around other people's homes

8. Who do you think you are (BBC 2004-) This 'genealogy show' proved to be a highly popular franchise which has been taken up across the pond and in various other countries, more of that nosey-parker stuff that seemed to dominate us

7. Deal or No Deal (Channel 4 (+ various worldwide) 2005-) Oh god, no! Sorry, but it's impact was phenomenal for a gameshow, and it brought Noel Edmonds back from the grave...fortunately only a few such shows can claim to be important

6. The Weakest Link (BBC 2000-) - Who would've thought dressing up Anne Robinson as some sort of dominatrix would work so well on daytime tv, this show epitomised our strange fascination for being cruel in the early noughties

5. Jamie's School Dinners (Channel 4 2005) - Already a well-known celebrity chef, but this show catapulted Jamie Oliver into politics and saw him meeting world leaders and become a champion for childhood obesity and food ethics

4. Life on Mars (BBC 2006-7) Yet another renewal to define this decade (as the one that couldn't think for itself, perhaps) this time it was the seventies - the public lapped up the nostalgia...and political incorrectness

3. Doctor Who (BBC 2005-) Technically a drama, but it's really light entertainment for the family - the resurrection of the longest running sci-fi show in history proved surprisingly successful and a Saturday night staple

2. Strictly Come Dancing (BBC 2004-) The return of ballroom dancing on tv proved remarkably popular, the show became a worldwide hit as dancing with the stars (I've decided it's not 'reality' tv as it's celebrities doing an act)

1. Top Gear (BBC 2002) - Biggest entertainment show..............in the world, this re-invented motoring show made Jeremy Clarkson Britain's number one choice for PM, and is watched by an estimated 350 million (men)

Reality TV

This is the biggie, truly the concept of reality TV itself defines this phenomenally lazy decade more than any other, and of course, launched pretty much in 2000

10. Castaway 2000 (BBC 2000-1) God, this was an awful show that was the BBC trying doing its own version of reality TV in a non-tacky way, it bombed, and yet - Ben Fogle...why??

9. Survivor (ITV 2001-2) Considered to be the 'original' reality show coming out of the US, this show was actually a massive flop in the UK, despite the media hype - clearly we did have some taste, but it remains pretty definitive because of said hype back in 2001, and the fact that it still running in the US, and various other places, after 20 seasons...

8. Britain's Got Talent (ITV 2007-) Another Cowell creation, you could argue it wasn't that defining, more minor than the other talent shows, but it's gone global, and of course gave us Susan Boyle...because ugly people shouldn't be able to sing, or something

7. The Osbournes (MTV 2002-5) So this is why Sharon Osbourne was a judge on one of those pop shows...

6. I'm a Celebrity...put me down get me out of here! (ITV 2002-) How is this stuff still going? Basically Big Brother but with minor celebrities and nastier challenges in the jungle, people apparently still watch it

5. Wife Swap (Channel 4 2003-9) Yet another one that falls firmly in the category of 'getting off on other people's misery', mixing families with completely opposite lifestyles resulted in the best type of car-crash TV - the fights at the end were especially beloved

4. Masterchef (BBC 2005-) The reinvented version of the drab cookery programme from the 90s proved remarkably successful as people seemed to gain an interest in reality cooking shows over the ones where we watch a load of people sleep, it went global and became ridiculously popular in Australia, among others

3. The Apprentice (BBC 2005- US: NBC 2004-) Something we imported from them for once, but improved by actually having an entrepreneur as the boss rather than some wealthy landowner, anyway, this show went from minor BBC2 reality show to full-on household favourite about a bunch of shallow, backstabbing whingers being fired...we still love the cruelty

2. Pop Idol / Popstars / X Factor (ITV 2000-) Let's face it, they're all the same, and X Factor remains popular for some reason, despite the shows only ever giving us one major musical act, millions vote via premium rate phone numbers and fill ITV's coffers, also see American Idol and various other exported versions

1. Big Brother (Channel 4 2000-2010) You know it, and absolutely perfect dates as well - this show may be utter dross, and barely watched by anyone any more, but the first couple of series had the nation hooked, we grew tired of it years ago, but it was defining, no doubt about it (and it gave us Jade bloody Goody)


That's only 77 - I wanted 90 and to leave the last ten blank for your own entries, but I don't see the point filling it in with stupid shows like Two pints of Lager... - how is that late night rubbish 'definitive' anyway?

One hundred is such a pointless number to aim for, but I have no doubt missed some (many) so please feel free to offer suggestions, and of course disagree...it's only opinion after all

02 December 2009

Seeds...always controversial

So, who's your money on for the World Cup seeds?

South Africa are guaranteed, and it's almost certain we'll see Brazil, Spain, Germany and Italy, and probably Argentina

The others are of course us, and the Dutch - that's the top seven ranked teams as at October

Personally I think we should be fine, previously FIFA used the past two world cup performances and ranking - which means we'll be fine, if it's ranking alone then again, we'll be fine, if last

They shouldn't use Euro 2008, which is our black mark, as it's too complicated to use regional tournaments, so on balance, we are quite likely to be a group leader

The Dutch, 3rd in the world, are in fact the most precariously placed team - should FIFA choose to use the previous world cups then they will almost certainly miss out, as they didn't qualify in 2002 and were knocked out in the second round in 2006 (remember that Portugal game?)

And so this is why conventional wisdom leads me to believe this years seeds will be heavily based on rank - you can't have your third best team replaced by France simply because they got to the 2006 final and have since been utter rubbish - people won't be happy (especially the Irish, who were already stung by some dodgy French seeding)

Of course, were this England, I wouldn't be half as optimistic and would naturally assume FIFA favoured les bleus over us, but the position of the Dutch gives us some nice high ground to watch from - I do think in this case FIFA will manipulate the system to include the Dutch, who are a far superior side to the French at the moment - there's nothing to gain from not using the rankings, as there's nobody worth excluding (like, say, the US)

But what it will prove is that there's absolutely no fair play when it comes to the seedings, FIFA regularly change the system, just like they do for hosting choices, to suit their own desired outcome, just because I happen to agree with the agenda this time doesn't make it right

So if we are in the seeds, we are still going to have to be careful of France or the Netherlands (and Portugal) regardless, although I'd rather avoid Spain the most, and France don't have Zidane to save them this time

In incredibly fanciful news - we want group B on Friday, as we will play group A in the second round, which should be the weakest group as it's headed by South Africa - although of course, if we come second and get someone like Portugal then maybe not...

Just hurry up and do it, too many permutations!

edit: what I neglected to mention was that FIFA may also use an average of rank since the 2006 world cup - which would see us miss out by one place

I will save my anger at this potential decision until it actually happens (ie. suddenly deciding that rank is important means friendlies are important, hardly fair after you've played (lost) them)

30 November 2009

Democracy/mob rule

Sorry I've been a little quiet lately - nets been playing up for one, and I've been busy, kind of lost my impetus to write, hopefully I'll get it back soon

One thing that interested me though, was the Swiss vote to ban minarets (or muslim towers)

There's been a fair bit of praise in the blogosphere for 'democracy' - the right to stop islamification and what-not, and of course the issue of sovereignty

Now if a country does want to stop islamification by such measures, and even if that includes extreme measures such as repatriation, then that's their choice, I'm all for sovereignty

But I personally do not see how Switzerland can call itself a liberal democracy (or direct democracy) if it's going to attack one religion over all others, this is against the idea of freedom of religion, simple as that

That is my issue, it's nothing to do with Islam per se, could've been Jewish or Hindu temples for all I care, but I just can't see how you can say you believe in freedom of conscience and tolerance and then pick on one religion because you dislike it

Many people dislike Islam, fair enough - but to ban certain aspects of it? Some have said that non-muslim practices aren't welcome in the Middle East so why should we be accommodating, but that really doesn't matter to me - the fact is we are the liberals with a long history of freedom, we shouldn't be engaging in a tit-for-tat battle with religious dictatorships any more than we should deny Chinese immigrants economic rights for coming from a communist country

I honestly couldn't marry this with Britain - we have allowed all religions to exist here for several centuries and the principle remains, simple fear of a certain religion is hardly a rational reason to deny a certain group the right to practice their religion

What I see this as coming down to is the age old question of when democracy becomes rule of the mob

I ask - would it be right to ban gays simply because a 60% majority disagreed with their practices? Or how about if 60% wanted to ban free speech (e.g. through the BNP, blasphemous literature etc)? Any minority viewpoint could be crushed in this system, that's why we have fundamental, inalienable rights

25 November 2009

He kissed a boy!...Get the shotgun

Some bloke called Adam Lambert, who may or may not have won American Idol, I really don't care, has caused outrage in the US after kissing *a man* on stage

Shock horror!

Pity it's only 1500 complaints - I was sure there would be more prudes in the US, the Mail could whip up those numbers easily - the yanks got half a million for a nipple!!

Of course women would be fine - hardly a show goes by without a lesbian kiss these days (Heroes, Stargate Universe) - seriously, it's not shocking anymore, if it ever was

The queen is dead, long live...this bloke

I really did try to avoid blogging about this, but alas, I can't anymore, I just really hate monarchism

And I really shouldn't be blogging about anything Peter Hitchens' blogs because I find him to be a bigot who just hides behind a veneer of respectability and politeness, I used to think he was a reasonable exponent of the hard-right who could actually articulate a decent argument, but alas, I was naive

To be blunt, it's the sheer arrogance of belief that the monarchy has authority that gets my goat

We can't abuse the supreme leader of the commonwealth or her husband because...she didn't ask for it?

While I can accept that there's little need to personally attack them, because it is the institution that's wrong, Hitchens is way off the mark by avoiding the real issue and sinking to the same personal level by saying we should leave the 'little old lady' alone, because effectively she has 'behaved herself'

No arguments here, in my view if it wasn't for her behaviour we would've got rid of it by now - but defending the position of monarch by saying she's a nice person is hardly a valid argument

He defends the Queen's extravagant lifestyle by saying she eats out of tupperware, while Air Force One costs however many millions

...your point? For one, I couldn't really care less how much a democracy pays for its elected officials to conduct state business, hardly a fair comparison is it?

Secondly, it's grossly misleading - I have no idea if the queen does eat out of plastic boxes, but I do know that she has breakfast cooked for her and actually brought up to her on a special tray (in the archive somewhere) - ironically, I pinched that story out of the very same paper Hitchens writes for, and considering his previous decision of conscience to quit the Express because the owner owned some porn outlets it's surprising he puts up with an employed that happily lampoons his cherished monarchy

The queen extravagant? Never!

She may not play it up like a footballer, but she is funded by millions of state funds every year, as well as having a vast personal fortune, while most state-dependent people get a few thousand a year and aren't supposed to have savings or income (and while we're quibbling - who has the more opulent palace? The White House is minuscule as a residence of a head of state)

So that's that one dealt with

"They pretend she is powerful, when the seat of absolute power in this country is Downing Street."

I don't think she's remotely powerful, in fact that's why there are barely any committed republicans (and I'm not) any more - why fight something so pointless? Setting up a false argument - check

"They seem to think that a republic is automatically more free than a monarchy. Tripe.
North Korea is a republic and East Germany and apartheid South Africa were republics. Yet of the seven longest-lasting law-governed free nations in the world, five are constitutional monarchies."

Very true - but neither is it true that a monarchy is automatically more free than a republic, only fair that you should balance that out with a few African kings, the failed constitutional monarchies of France and Germany etc.. Hardly seems fair to only mention North Korea and East Germany when republics are working pretty well in say...the US, Switzerland, France, unified Germany etc, and not give appropriate counter-arguments

And if anything North Korea is a monarchy more than a republic - it's now had two hereditary leaders who are unelected and worshipped like demi-gods, it may be communist and republican in name but I don't see much distinction between an absolute monarchy and a dictatorship, the only distinction a monarchy seems to have is that we deem it to be one

Where exactly is the sound logical argument in this? It seems to imply that all constitutional monarchies are perfect, and republics are for the most part going to result in communist dictatorships - tell that to the yanks, or the Swiss for that matter

The argument that other republics have failed so we can't do it is pathetic frankly, it's baseless, it doesn't even make sense! West Germany was a thriving democracy (still is), so is South Korea...it's a ridiculous comment, and of course why choose the seven oldest nations? Why not six, eight, or ten? Seems a rather odd number to pick, and I'm not even going to delve into the specifics of that one, if he wants to assert that a republic has a 2/7 chance of success then let him...

Here's my ridiculous correlations -

Of the UN security council, only one is a constitutional monarchy, two are republics, and the other two...well, they're not monarchies

Of the G8, four are republics, three are constitutional monarchies - woohoo!! Any more random number arguments?

And here's the kicker

Republicans are ignorant, stupid, thoughtless and malign - and it is time they were subjected to the mockery they mete out to the blameless couple in Buckingham Palace.

Yes, some nice infantile abuse, which 'Mr' Hitchens so denigrates week-in week-out

Let's not forget he titled this to 'Mr. Clever Dick' referring to Ben Elton, now if I'm not allowed to use 'paranoid' unless I have a psychology degree then he can't use 'clever' unless he's some sort of intelligence monitor, or 'dick' unless he's a practitioner of medicine who could properly identify such an appendage, or indeed if Mr. Elton's name involves a 'Richard' somewhere

I do find that comments such as those really take the edge off the anger he causes - maybe it's deliberately done so that we can just dismiss him as a nut and won't properly scrutinise him (and in truth it's more the ridiculous comments beneath it that pushed me into a monarchy blog)

Here is the follow-up comment (selected parts)

But the main point is that the monarch is like the King on a chessboard, his or her main power exercised by occupying a square that politicians would otherwise occupy, and in a damaging way.

Not a bad argument, the one I am most used to however, and one that has been dealt with in a much fairer way than in Britain

For starters - he's already admitted the monarch has no power, and that she shouldn't intervene even in the few cases where she has - in a realistic sense, she cannot do anything in modern Britain - if she won't do anything about Brown or the EU then she's already a lame duck who just reads out a speech, there is no power to exercise

So if we need this figure solely to prevent say, a certain Blair getting it, why do we need to have a hereditary figure, who as it is pointed out, is forced into it for a life of imprisonment? There are much fairer ways of doing it - randomly select someone who wants to do it, they are after all, only a figurehead who occupies the square

I hear the next argument coming - what about authority? 

Then there is the need for a personal figure to whom the armed forces, the Church, the civil service and the judiciary should be able to owe non-partisan loyalty. Where the head of government and the head of state are combined, his servants (see especially the Nixon episode) are in effect above the law in actions they take on his orders, and have no alternative loyalty to which they can appeal.

Well, I ask - why is there authority already? Why does a person, or a family even, who have no discernible talents, intelligence or right to be there, save from a deal done nearly four hundred years ago with a German, have any authority over us? We do not accept hereditary privilege anywhere in our daily lives, why is it so important here? The Queen does have an air of respect about her, but that's based on her long-service, for me at least - will people really swear an oath to Charles, or William, who we all can see have no different authority to any of us? When Elizabeth was crowned people actually respected that stuff - now, these people are a silly joke to most of us, either that or people really are that stupid (sorry, he started it) - I mean does Hitchens actually think future-king William, over thirty years his junior, has authority over him? It's easy using the queen herself as a defence, it gets a bit trickier when you look ahead, knowing the people behind the crown

My point rather, is that if the armed forces, civil service and judiciary need a non-partisan personal figure to owe loyalty to what makes Charles any different to any other 60-year-old? What he is effectively saying is that people need the royal family for legitimacy, that they are special and no-one else could do it - people wouldn't respect a randomly selected person

but of course would respect a randomly selected womb...

It's probably the most important point here - if it's actually true then there's a case, but personally I'd like to take the risk - there's a hundred different republics full of people to observe, and quite frankly if we do need this strange ritual of legitimacy then people are quite stupid, and most stupid people I know do not care for the royals - would the army collapse if soldiers couldn't respect the constitution unless it was based on hereditary privilege? It says quite a lot about a person if they need to have a hereditary monarch to respect their own law, but if that is the case then I am willing to go back to Bagehot's view that we do in fact need them - but like I say, based on the evidence I'm up for the risk

The Americans handle it quite well - Hitchens does point out Nixon and partisanship, but again there's no reason to have a figure with any power, or even elect them - and you might as well pick on George IV being obstinate if you're going to pick on one very rare case where the commander-in-chief compromised loyalty - what the argument effectively boils down to is ensuring that the head of state is a complete dud

Why not just make a document like the Bill of Rights? It's probably what kept the yanks in line, as it's principles are more revered than any president - like I said, it's about respect for the constitution of your country - seriously, just stick a document that says 'free speech' and what-not outside parliament, get everyone to swear an oath to uphold it, job done, keep Parliamentary sovereignty and the Prime Minister (and I'm not going to go into this here - but considering the PM has more real power than an American president and conducts all foreign business as well, does the oath really make a difference?)

Most Republican arguments are puerile and ignorant recitations of false points - cost, luxury, authority. Those who object to inheritance as a way of choosing an essentially powerless person (who would be hugely powerful if elected) should be asked if they object to inheritance in all cases (such as property from their parents).

Ooh, pulling out the reasoned argument here - puerile? Perhaps he does not see a difference between wealth and political power - it is true that who you are born to certainly affects your position in life...but is that really a defence of the cosseted position of the royals and the lords? It's lying down and taking a massive slap of inequality in the face (that's a wishy-washy liberal term, like you know, gay rights)

Basically, say a boy is born fit and strong (hereditary advantage), so he will be football captain at school versus the same boy being born to be football captain regardless of ability - same result, eh? So what's the difference? It is of course an ethical question, certainly not governed by pure logic (and how can a man of such faith ask for pure utilitarian logic anyway?) but I wonder what most people think of such a situation, personally I'd take out the blatant unfairness for a bit more subtle social unfairness

And again - false arguments, why does an elected position have to be powerful? Check out Germany, I'm sure he's been there, and who said it has to be an elected position?

I might add that any serious constitution is restrained by tradition and hierarchy from wild demagogic and short-term acts, and needs an embodiment of the rule of law and the national religion. Elected politicians cannot provide this.
Bit spurious - especially religion, considering Britain is fairly unique in its 'national religion' - not even the commonwealth (or Wales!) has an established church, and as for tradition - Scandinavian countries have removed religions and reduced monarchs (Sweden) without much problem, France remains a stable country despite regular constitutional upheaval, Australia's constitution is barely a century old - that was a fairly 'demagogic' constitutional change, and yet there they are

Are we seriously saying that removing one part of the constitution would doom us and completely negate our long standing rule-of-law? The Germans seemed to take quite well to the new arrangement after the war, they failed first time round obviously - but are we really going to compare Britain with the end of imperial Germany? Are we saying that the US doesn't count because it produced a modified version of our own constitution so long ago - you know, you''ll never change anything if you think everything old works and can't be changed, we have been slowly reforming this country for three centuries - why should we stop now?

A few years ago, we were being told by republicans that the Speaker could take over the role of head of state. Does anyone argue this now?
A good deal of the discussion is about not being diverted by conventional wisdom - as over the Houseof Lords which - precisely because it is not elected - is much the more independent and questioning of the two chambers of Parliament.  

 Another false argument at the top there

The Lords, as I have said, is the better chamber, far better than the sycophants and weasels that inhabit the Commons, but...go ahead and look at the 'best' lords, the ones who actually do things like block bills, then look up a few hereditary peers - see who actually attends, because there are 700 lords and yet most votes come down to around a total of 300... more often than not it's the appointed life peers that are doing the best work, and remember the remaining 'hereditaries' were elected to remain there in the first place, so they've already been whittled down

That is not an argument for hereditary peers, it's an argument for an unelected upper chamber, somewhat different

"My point about North Korea and East Germany (or Iran and China) is that a Republican constitution is not an automatic guarantor of liberty in itself, and should not be offered as such. It is an invitation to knee-jerk fashionable republicans to go back to first principles and think about what they are saying.
Few of them have. Those that have are generally radical and atheistical socialists who grasp that a constitutional monarchy is a major obstacle to their aims."

Already dealt with that, why exactly should I have to 'think about what I'm saying' because of a couple of bad examples, when he refuses to do the same? It's diversion

Then of course, the finale - I'm a radical socialist! With the exception of one recent post which was in jest, do I sound like a bloody socialist? What a lovely smear 

So remember, when Peter Hitchens calls you rude for calling him a raving mad, right-wing tosspot - ignore him, because he'll just call you names too (and he'll probably have started it...)

phew how long was that?? To anyone who read this - my apologies  

....Next I'm off to argue with Martin off B-BBC, but the important thing is I enjoyed it

22 November 2009

That's 182 *kilograms*

For some reason the BBC have decided to describe the bomb found in Belfast as 400lb

This I am afraid, is jibberish to me - I know it's heavy, but I have no point of reference for pounds except knowing that babies weigh about seven of them

Forgive me for sounding like an anti-Peter Hitchens-type fogey, but seriously, every person educated in the past forty years has learnt metric to the point where imperial measures are pretty much dead to the under-50s - at least provide a conversion

Did they let the oldest guy in the office run copy or something?

Can you blame them?

I rarely defend politicians, particularly Messrs Brown and Cameron, and I hardly condone using armistice day as a photo-op

(Slightly more moderate article from the BBC here)

But I am in reflective mood, and when I think about it - it's hardly their fault is it?

They do it because they know we want it - Brown is a clumsy fool and always comes off insincere when he talks to real people, Cameron is a smarmy PR man, but they both play the game, our game

But much like how football's lax rules allow the Henrys, Maradonas and Ronaldos to get away with it while we watch, so too does the political game allow Brown and Cameron to perform these stunts

In reality I want a thoughtful, rational government that doesn't resort to appealing to the lowest common denominator - but if that happened what would we get? They'd be ripped to shreds, they'd be seen as ditherers, weak, boring and so on - because image is king

And we ask for it, we let the media peddle their stories - had Brown and Cameron not showed some heartfelt compassion they would've been seen as ingrates, this time they misjudged it, but for the most part people want them to do completely pointless gesture politics, such as visiting flood victims... or talking to Mumsnet

What the hell can Brown do about floods? Nothing could've prevented a month of rain within a day, this was basically a morale booster - and faced with the choice between our two unelected leaders, I'd prefer the unused, neutral one was put to some use (and while I remember, Peter Hitchens really shows his true colours in this week's column)

But we want our leaders to be 'human', to show compassion - and that ultimately is going to come down to who is the best actor (or not in Brown's case)

I doubt that Brown could ever be an effective leader, but who knows, either way we get useless politicians who can't make a decision for fear of the media and its various agendas, and this is only compounded by the fact that the nature of the game drives away the best sort of people for the job

So I don't blame Brown and Cameron for being shameless media manipulators - we get the politicians we deserve

19 November 2009

I'm not turning into a socialist am I?

The Times Money Central has a list of the top ten millionaires on the Tory front bench (out of a staggering 19)

Is it wrong to feel a slight bit worried about being run by millionaires?

I have no objection to people earning this amount of money, or indeed inheriting it, but it's the influence of money on power that I have a problem with - nineteen millionaires, it's about two thirds of the shadow cabinet, and includes all the big guns - is it not somewhat unrepresentative to have a country run by people in the top 0-point-something percentile?

Equality aside, it's more the fact that it's clear that we are still being run by money and the landowning classes, people like Hague and Philip Hammond were successful in business, but most, like Cameron, Osbourne and Strathclyde (a surviving hereditary peer, great) are merely 'from money' - how does this serve the people?

Fortunately Labour lost their working credibility decades ago so I have no need to consider them, and this certainly isn't a tory-specific problem, but it really is galling to see how we are still being run by the landed interests, as it were

I feel very strangely socialist writing this, but I don't want to be run by a bunch of privileged politicos who've never done a days work in their lives


A.N Wilson, the Mail's most sensible (non-MP) commentator, says we really should stop being offended so much, in the Daily Mail

Anyone seeing any irony here?


The Mail also have a comedic list of funny exam answers - but they just can't help getting a kick in at today's 'dumbed down' questions, it must therefore be a proven fact, of course (because they're still not dumbed down enough!!)

Some things: firstly, it's belittling each successive generation's efforts, so if I say I'm smart and probably have more qualifications than them, and used to write silly things in either R.E. exams or questions I had the foggiest in (who didn't?) they can say everything is 'dumbed down' and I'm stupid too

and secondly, can you answer these questions:

'What did Gandhi and Genghis Khan have in common?' (aside from unusual names, of course)

'What is the highest frequency noise that a human can register?'

Some seriously useful questions there, good old standardised testing - and one day I'll find a use for algebra...

And I do wonder if smarty-pants writers at the Mail know what a nitrate is

Looks like a chicken again

Seriously, he does!

Clegg looks sad....awww, bet he hates the whole thing

18 November 2009


...shoot me when I start sounding like an old fogey like Dominic Lawson

Here's a summary of what he says: 'comedy I like: good, comedy I don't like: evil'

I did post a comment, but knowing the Indie's hideous posting system I thought I'd leave something for posterity here

It's the same old routine - 'everyone is out to shock these days', 'nothing is pleasant like Morecambe and Wise, or Dad's Army, or intelligent like Monty Python' etc etc

Save for Michael McIntyre - who talks about everyday life, without swearing, and he's openly posh! I must admit I like McIntyre, not many men can do a 15 minute skit on how great their hair is, but that doesn't mean I disparage everything else - Lawson admits he doesn't actually watch comedy (and so is presumably informed by the Mail and the ridiculous 'Sachsgate') he knows of Little Britain and that's about it - he even foolishly describes Mock the Week as a show unsuitable for him (his kids clearly know he's a bore), apparently not realising that's the very show that launched McIntyre (on television at least)

It may feature the controversial-because-we-say-he-is Frankie Boyle, who does like to swear, but most of the comedians are quite moderate such as Russell Howard, McIntyre, Dara O'Briain and Andy Parsons - Boyle was very funny though

That's MY OPINION, of course - the difference is I don't complain about the stuff I don't like, I just don't watch it, I don't claim that 'mainstream' non-sweary comedy should be taken off the air for not being edgy enough and that all should be provided with what Lawson comically refers to as 'alternative comedy' (setting up a false dichotomy as well, eh?)

So it's hypocrisy - railing against people forcing certain types of comedy on us....by wanting to force certain types of comedy on us, but it's also based on complete myth

This is called 'fogeyism', Dominic - when you grow old new generations come in with new ideas and values that you can't get your head around, exactly like I'm sure your daddy did in the 1980s - it is at this point, when I'm old, and young people start changing society and I want to restrict their ideas with some silly ideas about my ways 'being better', that you should shoot me

Who knows, I may not become such a person, not being as privileged or true-blooded conservative as Dominic, but I will grow old, I hope

It is also based on ignorance - the idea that someone who is deliberately shielded from such 'alternative comedy' should bemoan it is rather ridiculous, Daily Mail ridiculous, he doesn't even know what he's criticising - as I've said, Mock the Week is hardly edgy and is generally quite mild

All Lawson can think of is Little Britain, Jonathan Ross (not even a comedian), and presumably Jimmy Carr

Completely ignoring the long-running Have I got news for you (which I'm sure he's been on), or a decent sketch show like Armstrong and Miller, or even the recent Harry Enfield show (though I didn't find it that great), there's also family sitcoms like Gavin and Stacey, Outnumbered or even the rubbish My Family

So what if Little Britain is in it for shock value? Some people like it...some people like Big Brother - i's called 'taste' (or lack of) - as much as I'd love to ban stupid people from voting, I know it's wrong

Then of course Lawson completely misses other comedians in his assumption that all comedians are vulgar for the sake of it, having not seen them, this isn't surprising...

Such as Peter Kay - he may not be posh and southern, but he's just as soft and family-friendly as McIntyre, and he's been around since, what - 2000?

There's also Jack Dee, who's given people like McIntyre a national audience on his Live at the Apollo show, as well as the family-friendly, somewhat intelligent Lead Balloon sitcom

Go back to the nineties and the Vicar of Dibley was the most successful of the more recent things  Dawn French has done, most of which is now family-friendly, unlike her older stuff (yes that's right, Dom - the older French and Saunders stuff was more vulgar)

Other shows that Dominic might have missed in his younger days might be the popular the Young Ones? That was really offensive to some, and yet on at the same time as the delightfully witty Yes, Minister and Blackadder

Or what about Benny Hill? Love thy Neighbour (1972)? Til Death Us Do Part (1965)? (Both satirical, and a point missed in both by millions) - or Jim Davidson jokes? Dave Allen was supposedly offensive...need I go on?

Even the much hailed Monty Python had its critics - surprisingly enough from the older generations, I know we may think that all people loved Python, because now it's hard to find an older person who doesn't like it, but back then it's strange surrealism had its critics (remember it had frontal nudity...in its opening sequence...), it was like all good comedies, for the young - surely anybody who loves Python while badmouthing modern comedy as offensive sees the rather delicious irony? The Life of Brian was completely uncontroversial of course - does Dominic want that blasphemous filth removed from existence?

He has become the very thing that shows like Python existed to mock - I admit the intellectualism of Python is hard to find nowadays, but let's face it, it's always been comedy for the more educated classes, but the best comedy always is - the Thick Of It is genius, but not as popular as Little Britain once was, and it never will be

I do miss Mary Whitehouse....

*As a side-note, it must be great being Lawson's kids, whenever they get annoyed with his 'dad' views they can just go to his column to see the flak he gets