Tag Archives: The Guardian

If you want my opinion, what we need are experts, not windbags | Robin Ince | Comment is free | The Observer

With so much airtime to fill, a few orange chairs and some venomous dogmatists can fill an hour. Then you can follow up the show you’ve just shown with another show where people give their opinions on the opinions they have just witnessed and then another show about how hearing those opinions on opinions has affected people who fear opinions. Everyone must be encouraged to form as many opinions as possible, phone them in, tweet them, place them under features on the internet, join forums. If you do not feel outraged or wronged, are you alive?

Opinions take over from actions.

“What did you do in the war, Daddy?”

“Well, I had many opinions, my girl, and I showed no fear in typing them.”

We can be so busy in an onanistic orgy of our own opinions that we scarcely find time to look away from our reflection in the bile to read anything or anyone else.

Everyone knows they are correct now. However crazed your idea might be, somewhere within the internet lies someone in a similar cellar who agrees with you. We are all entirely right. We are all entirely wrong. Points of views unhindered by any evidence save the scraps that suit you.

via If you want my opinion, what we need are experts, not windbags | Robin Ince | Comment is free | The Observer.

I have no opinion on this piece. Just read it—the whole thing, unlike the opinionistas that didn’t read the full text of Hilary Mantel’s speech at the London Review of Books’ Winter Lectures—and you will probably form the same opinion that you should have no opinion on this piece.


An MP calls Commons staff ‘servants’ – what a pantomime our parliament is | Ally Fogg | CiF | guardian.co.uk

The governance of our nation is conducted through a time tunnel from a rarefied ancient era. The Palace of Westminster still presents itself as one part Downton Abbey to three parts Hogwarts. We should probably be grateful that Chope didn’t refer to the house elves before deciding his place in the division lobby by donning the Sorting Hat. The physical environment was constructed in the 19th century, according to the designs of the late middle ages. Our democracy has 650 members of parliament and enough seats on the benches for 427. The oppositional arrangement cannot naturally accommodate more than two parties. In purely practical terms, the building is entirely unfit for purpose, but actually this is the least of our problems.

via An MP calls Commons staff ‘servants’ – what a pantomime our parliament is | Ally Fogg | Comment is free | guardian.co.uk.

Only the other week I forced myself not to rant about the bizarre way that MPs can be allowed to resign their seat. Essentially, they’re not allowed to resign their seat. Instead, there is some arcane system whereby they become a steward and bailiff of some non-existent manor while a bye-election is arranged. The other arcane method used is stewardship of the Chiltern Hundreds. Honestly, you couldn’t make this stuff up.

While I think tradition is a good thing, there is a time and a place. The adherence to mediaeval “traditions” in a so-called modern democracy is no longer that place. Time to look at replacing the whole thing, from monarch down, with a proper democratic republic.

Charlie Brooker: How to fix the missing British summer – and other irritations | Comment is free | The Guardian

On and on it goes. It’s got to the point where pulling back the curtains each morning feels like waking up in jail. No, worse: like waking up inside a monochrome Czechoslovakian cartoon about waking up in jail. The outdoor world is illuminated by a weak, grey, diseased form of light that has fatally exhausted itself crawling through the gloomy stratospheric miasma before perishing feebly on your retinas. Everything is a water feature. We’re on the Planet of the Snails. Cameron’s Britain.

It’s quite rare for one of Mr Brooker’s columns to elicit a full on chuckle from me, but this passage certainly did.

There’s a strange beauty to the Hoo peninsula. Is this any place for an airport? | Ian Jack | Comment is free | The Guardian

If Hoo were chosen, which isn’t unlikely, the question then becomes: what would be destroyed to make way for it? The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds has, as usual, the quickest and simplest answer – the wetland habitats of visiting species – but beyond that the losses are less definable, and not so easy to raise a fuss over. Since Dickens’s day, the creeks and marshes of Hoo have had a bleak form of celebrity as the spot where Pip first met Magwitch, and where prison hulks (Magwitch had just escaped from one of them) could be occasionally glimpsed through the mist on the Medway. In fact, the countryside is prettier and hillier than you expect. On a hot day last week, workers from Poland and Bulgaria were spreading straw across fields of strawberries while the knapped flint of Hoo’s several 13th-century churches shone in the sun. There is also a 14th-century castle owned by Jools Holland and a workaday marina, about as far from Cowes in its social atmosphere as it’s possible to get.

It’s no surprise I—as many residents in the Medway Towns and surrounding areas—oppose the plans for an airport on Hoo. I found this a thoughtful piece from last Saturday’s Guardian.

How did The Coalition, a political satire so preposterous it’s beyond parody, ever get commissioned?

Parliament returns next week. Season Two of The Coalition, the best political satire currently on TV. Most of it is scripted. Yet it has a very “real”, improvised feel. You almost believe these preposterous characters could theoretically exist.

A prime minister as sleek as a human aubergine, tetchily returning from holiday after holiday to rail against a “culture of entitlement”. This is the bloke, remember, who promised an end to Punch and Judy politics.

Does Cameron ever watch playbacks of Prime Minister’s Questions? The whole nation is subconsciously expecting a backbench question from a crocodile, or a string of sausages. Although a string of sausages actually has more spine than government backbenchers.

And Clegg. Clegg. A deputy prime minister so pompous and irrelevant he might as well be a Twitter account. Putting the word “sigh” in asterisks. Blaming his lack of followers on the haterz and the cynicz.

Has a cast of extras ever been so cruelly treated as the Lib Dems? Once-optimistic party members – students, psych-folk fans, chiropractors and so on – now hold the coats while their Bullingdon scuttler overlords kick the welfare state to death, steal all its money and glide away, cackling, on monogrammed Segways to play whiff-whaff. What’s for supper, Gids? “Panda tartare and some very expensive Colombian dessert …”

Ian Martin (Comment is free, The Guardian) gives me a rare early morning laugh.

Loved and loathed – the armoured knights of the National Grid | Art and design | The Guardian

Skeletal giants, armoured knights of the National Grid, a regiment of electricity pylons has marched across our landscapes for the past 80 years. There are those who find these many-armed steel masts daunting, brutal and even loathsome.

There are those who campaign for high-voltage electricity cables to be buried underground, at great cost, wherever possible. There are others, like Stephen Spender who went so far as to write a – dreadful – poem about them: “Pylons, those pillars/Bare like nude, giant girls that/have no secret.” Today, there is even a Pylon Appreciation Society, such is the mix of awe and fascination these divisive structures have on our collective imagination.