November 2010

Wikileaks, wicked or what?

Are our secrets safe in their hands?

Assange, does this man threaten the world? Assange, does this man threaten the world?
Wikileaks, what have we learnt? Some say nothing useful, for example to compare the Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to Hitler, as one US diplomat has done, is that going to cause the sky to fall in? We learn that Gordon Brown was thought of as being 'unstable', did the US need a diplomat to tell them that? I challenge anyone to find a single revelation as opposed to confirmation here. On the other hand we have learnt a great deal about the reporting of this. Some reporters are playing it straight and simply relaying the more memorable tit-bits. For others this is a heaven-sent opportunity to get on their high-horse. This is so hypocritical-going-on-funny it's hard to know where to start.

A good reason to protest?

We are awash with underperforming institutions

So much to protest about!So much to protest about!
More student demonstrations; in a previous post we wrote about some aspects of the background to this, including the ridiculous, and possibly unsustainable, increase in higher education. While it's hard to see a justification for throwing fire extinguishers off the roof of the Tory HQ the fact is the students were lied to. Other people may say "so what, so were we", and then go on to explain about the promise of a referendum on the Lisbon Treaty. It's a fact it was the same government, the coalition, who lied to both students and other voters alike. Perhaps lying is what governments and their servants do; the default state? At the last demonstrations the police were made to look foolish. They claimed they were not ready or prepared for this. Are they telling the truth?

Confused? We all are!

Ireland, who's telling the truth?

The gombeen man The gombeen man
There's still so much to learn about the financial crisis in Ireland. Just days ago some people were saying that Ireland was doing well and did not need a loan. All this while others would have you believe that it was all over for Ireland and there were only tears and shame ahead. The crisis has brought us words like 'gombeen' and 'jackeen'. And this before most of us have had the chance to work out which is what in Irish political parties. This is made awkward as most of the lookers-on, the non-Irish, don't know their Fáil from their Gael. But take heart as most of the British resident Irish are also confused though not entirely surprised the sky has fallen in on the land of their birth.

Be careful what you say

It's not what you say but who says it that counts

One man and his bossOne man and his boss
Lord Young, the Prime Minister’s enterprise advisor and Brian Cowen, Taoiseach of Ireland, one goes and one stays. The good Lord was, just before his departure, made Peer of the Year at The Spectator’s annual parliamentary awards. This would have followed a good lunch with journalists, hmmm, was there drink involved? Brian Cowen, now he likes a drink and says what he thinks too. The point of the Young case is that he was an advisor, that's all. The PM could ignore his advice if he wished, that is he could ignore his advice on enterprise, however, it would seem his after dinner remarks cannot be ignored on any subject. Is that odd or what? Also, Young has never, in 40 years of being part of government, taken a salary; in his shorter time in politics Cowen has cost his country dear. There is evidence that what Young said was not so wide of the mark either. Again this contrasts with Cowen who has clearly failed to understand the economic problems of Ireland.

The whole concept of an 'off hand remark' is interesting.


The new London bus

Taking the public for a ride, and other stories

New London bus New London bus
Nearly there, the new London bus takes another step closer to production and the streets of the capital. When Boris Johnson started on the campaign trail to be Mayor of London he made a lot of comments about bendy buses. As a well known cyclist Johnson came out with phrases like "being scraped to paste", this had a meaning understood by fellow cyclists' who have feared the things since their introduction.

Other people may have thought his comments had an ideological element to them as it was his predecessor, Ken Livingstone who had introduced the continental styled, and built, 'bendies' to London. Initial fears were that this would be too much of a good thing and a flop were routinely expressed. On this blog the bus, its design and manufacture were discussed HERE.

All could be well as the bus will be built in Ballemena, Northern Ireland by Wrightbus. This is a family run business and a success few people will have heard about. It currently employs about 1,000 staff and could expand to meet the London order. Ironically Wrightbus is a manufacturer and exporter of bendy buses! The company is privately run and warrants comparison with the DeLorean sports car project.

The history of higher education?

Students, some people never learn

Learning to solve problems?Learning to solve problems?
Can you remember history lessons at school? I remember a history teacher at my all boys' school by virtue of the fact she was a woman. "Gosh!", I thought. I can't say for sure if this was an experiment in teaching method run by a modern and forward looking local authority, or if she was filling in for an absent master. I would imagine the latter. The usual history master had a thick northern accent, his birthplace and the fact he was teaching in the South of England gave him, so he thought, the right to bellow on and on about the deficiencies of the south in general and us boys in particular. This man did not have a chip on his shoulder, no, he had an entire timber yard on each shoulder. He was also a rugby fanatic. More often than not a point in history would be explained in terms of this game. He gave the impression of being brilliant at it. This I suggest was a lie as, more often than not, he would be limping, have an arm in a sling or a gash on his forehead. It's my opinion that far from being pathetic southerners, the opponents he met on the pitch were actually very good. That is they were good at kicking the crap out of him. Much as he did not learn how to keep out of trouble neither did I learn any history from him.

What is the role of government?

Other than to make an arse of itself!

Sacha Baron Cohen,  seems a nice sort of chap. But is he a Staines  resident?Sacha Baron Cohen, seems a nice sort of chap. But is he a Staines resident?
Just now the role of our government seems in doubt. The UK will now have to give the right to vote to prisoners in UK jails. Opinion polls, (for what they are worth!) suggest this is not popular. Thus, had this been in a manifesto it would have been a vote loser. It has come to pass due, initially, to the campaign of a single person being given a wider and more sympathetic hearing. The UK government has neither debated or voted on this matter. So government has been ignored. But then our government often ignores the public.

The Anglo French agreement to share aircraft carriers is not popular either. Likewise the 'victory' that David Cameron has credited himself with regarding the EU budget is seen by the public as nothing of the sort. All three of these things have roots in either the EU or European/EU related areas and will sap the coalition's approval rating in time. But then there are some things that government should ignore and local government, in the form of the Surrey borough of Spelthorne, should ignore Sacha Baron Cohen.