Over here (he is in favour).
Archive for September, 2008
Everywhere I look I see discussions of British politics cast in terms of “narratives”. Has anyone written anything interesting about this? And do people think this language is at all useful, or is it just the current buzzword that functions as a substitute for thinking about things but which allows commentators to signal that they’re keeping up with the crowd? Does anyone know when it started, or why? And is it mostly a British thing, or are the Americans, French, Canadians, Belgians and Poles banging on about narratives in their politics, too?
Ted Vallance has a piece up at the New Statesman website. You can tell he’s a man of sound judgment, as he labels Liam Byrne’s recent pamphlet, “An atrociously written piece of invidious nonsense.”
“Plans for a railway line linking Oxford and Cambridge have moved a step closer after Â£2m of government funding was allocated to the project.” Excellent news. [Over here.]
I need to ask you to support an urgent secret business relationship with a transfer of funds of great magnitude.
I am Ministry of the Treasury of the Republic of America. My country has had crisis that has caused the need for large transfer of funds of 800 billion dollars US. If you would assist me in this transfer, it would be most profitable to you.
I am working with Mr. Phil Gram, lobbyist for UBS, who will be my replacement as Ministry of the Treasury in January. You may know him as the leader of the American banking deregulation movement in the 1990s. This transaction is 100% safe.
This is a matter of great urgency. We need a blank check. We need the funds as quickly as possible. We cannot directly transfer these funds in the names of our close friends because we are constantly under surveillance. My family lawyer advised me that I should look for a reliable and trustworthy person who will act as a next of kin so the funds can be transferred.
Please reply with all of your bank account, IRA and college fund account numbers and those of your children and grandchildren to firstname.lastname@example.org so that we may transfer your commission for this transaction. After I receive that information, I will respond with detailed information about safeguards that will be used to protect the funds.
Minister of Treasury Paulson
I managed to get as far as the bit (about one minute in) when he started banging on about how in Fife twenty five years ago he stood for parliament because he loved his country so much, and then felt sick and switched off. (To clarify: I felt sick and switched off, not the Prime Minister.)
How long did you last? And, for those of you who did last, what, if anything, did I miss?
Do note, by the way, that today is the French Republican Calendrical equivalent of 29 February — it’s the leap-day that comes round in order to complete the quadrennial cycle, hence its magnificently appropriate name.
I’ve long thought that the EU got things the wrong way around when it mandated use of the (French Revolutionary) metric system and stuck to the old Gregorian Calendar. My offer to Mr Brown’s Government is that if they legislate to implement the French Republican Calendar in this country, I shall drop my opposition to the creation of British Values Day — especially if it gets held on the Jour de la révolution, which would mean not only that it’ll only come around every four years, but also that it’ll tacitly, or not-so-tacitly, identify British Values with French Republican Values, which would be a significant improvement on what’s otherwise likely to be on offer.
Year CCXVII kicks off tomorrow…
As everyone should know by now, today is International Talk Like A Pirate Day, so please feel free to Talk Like A Pirate in the comments box here, or, indeed, elsewhere. Suggestions over here. Ah, Jim lad.
It’s also the Jour de la raison, according to the version of the French Republican Calendar installed at this site, one of the holidays that brings the old year to a close — and it is appropriate, I think, that a day celebrating human reason should fall on International Talk Like A Pirate Day.
The “debate” rumbles on, and now we have one of the more unpleasant government ministers, Liam Byrne, publishing a Demos pamphlet on the subject.
Highlights include his attempt to write the history of immigration legislation in this country without using the word “racist” (apparently the “debates were difficult”, p.48) and the vox pop who entered into the spirit of things by suggesting, p.61, that we might deal with the proposed “Britain Day” “by making more of an existing day e.g. Pancake Day”.
The person who suggested (p.64) that such a day involve the participation of “celebrities with the right values (eg David Beckham, Kate Moss)” may have been onto something, too.
WHONIVERSAL APPEAL: A Postgraduate Interdisciplinary Conference on Doctor Who and all its Spin-offs, Cardiff University, 14-16 November 2008
Over the fold for further details and the provisional programme…
It’s always tricky to be the first to stick your head above the parapet, so full marks to Siobhain McDonagh, Joan Ryan, George Howarth, Graham Stringer and Fiona Mactaggart for going public, and let’s hope they make it easier for everyone else to follow.
I’m also seeing names like Frank Field, Kate Hoey, Jim Dowd and Janet Anderson kicking around in these discussions, too, so good for them.
UPDATE [4pm]: Gordon Prentice, too, apparently, so we may be into double figures. [6pm]: Iain Dale, the little scrote, thinks Mike Hall and Shona McIsaac may be joining the merry throng, which would give us a dozen.[6:30pm] John McDonnell, also, now there’s a surprise. [Sunday 10:30am] The Observer has Greg Pope and Peter Kilfoyle. The Sunday Times has Barry Gardiner.
There’s a lot wrong with Sarah Palin, who continues to make me laugh, but if President McCain snuffed it and President Palin took over, I’d reckon that the world would, on balance, be a safer place, so I’m struggling to see why everyone’s quite so anxious about whether she’s competent to govern. However much “experience”, etc., John McCain has, it’d be a bit of a surprise if he manages to get through a presidential term without recklessly starting at least one needless war, given his fondness for advocating the use of military force to solve foreign policy problems. Is there any good reason to think that President Palin’s likely to want to drop bombs on people? I’m not sure that there is, though I might be missing something. The great American republic of theirs survived J. Danforth Quayle as V-P, and I think it’s going to cope with Sarah Palin — and if she does succeed to the top job, it’s hard to see how she could be less fit for high office than either of her two predecessors.
Over here [thanks, SM]
More Sarah Palin-themed joy, and not even AIP- or baby-related. (I think she’s marvellous.) This, from 2006:
Q: Are you offended by the phrase “Under God” in the Pledge of Allegiance? Why or why not?
PALIN: Not on your life. If it was good enough for the founding fathers, it’s good enough for me and Iâ€™ll fight in defense of our Pledge of Allegiance
The Pledge of Allegiance was composed — is that the right word? — in 1892, and the words “under God” added in the 1950s. [via]