Sunday, October 25, 2009

Should the Scots have their own Tundra Time Zone?

As summer kicks in in the Antipodes the combination of grimmer oop north weather and the changing of the clocks has Pub Philosopher grumpy. Does it make sense for the UK to align with the rest of Europe in time zone?

Pitch dark by 5 o'clock today.
I've said all I'm going to say about the annual stupidity of putting the clocks back to daylight wasting time. The case for keeping our clocks one hour ahead of the sun in winter is overwhelming. Our lives are different from those of our ancestors. We get up later and go to bed later.
As Sir Alistair Horne said, if the Scots want to have their own Tundra Time, let them go ahead. Just don't drag the rest of us into the dark too.

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Saturday, October 17, 2009

The Last Ditch: Tom's day of heavenly peace

Tom has an interesting account of his first trip to Beijing and a chance to see some of the city.

I walked around the city for five hours. At several points, I paused to reflect how lucky I am to have such a life; to have the chance to visit the far-off places I dreamed of as a boy. My whole family has lived in one square mile of what is now Wales, probably, since prehistory. It seems to be my destiny to improve our averages when it comes to travel.

The Forbidden City was not quite what I expected. Yes, it's huge and impressive and oozes history. Yet it also feels rather sad. It's as if the Emperor had just walked away and no-one had quite decided what to do with it. Renovation of such a complex must be a huge burden. It covers 7.8 million square feet and comprises 980 buildings. It is a city within a city. A city that feels, in parts, abandoned and neglected. Some structures are quite dilapidated, although crews were working on others. The task of maintenance is eternal. While it's a "World Heritage Site" and rightly so, I can't help feeling it would be better put to use. Such wonderful spaces should be occupied and enjoyed, not just gawped at by the likes of me. The occupants would also pick up on minor repairs that would otherwise become major while waiting for scheduled maintenance.

It was crowded, particularly at entrance and exit where I was pressed closer to a mass of strangers than any Englishman can well endure (yet without ever feeling in danger, or worrying about my wallet). After a while, the masses de-merged into family groups and I could observe the Chinese at leisure. My main impression was of extended families. I saw some old people so thin and drawn that it was hard to believe they were mobile. Yet they were cheerfully led, or pushed around by their families and looked happy in their company. The welfare state in Britain has destroyed so much. Such skeletal specimens would be in a "home", out of sight and out of mind. Here they cheerfully chatted to the family's infants, who seemed completely relaxed (as they should be) in the company of the old and frail.

Basking happily in the bright sunshine in their leisure wear, many Chinese wore English slogans. I never understand why our language has such glamour for strangers. Apart from the usual brand names (paid for or otherwise) there were random English words. One lady had "Praisworthy" (sic) emblazoned on her blouse. I don't know why our scruffy leisure costume has been adopted at all. Traditional Chinese clothes are so much more attractive, but I only saw a few people - usually very old - wearing them. Even most of the very elderly sported trainers and jeans. I noticed the cheap and brightly coloured baseball hats handed out by tour organisers so they can recognise their flock in crowds were lined with the attractive check that Burberry has now pretty much had to abandon, so "common" has it become.

More here

Pauli Finds Out People Just Want To Have Fun

Thanks Pauli

Friday, October 09, 2009

Garbo Dissects the Tory Conference -Wardman Wire

If the Labour party conference was expected to be a disaster but in the end turned out just about alright, you might say the expectation for the Tory conference were very high, but the results have been very similar to their counterparts. This week has been just about alright for the Tories, nothing like the barnstorming affair we might have expected but certainly not a disaster either.
Things kicked off in the traditional manner – a row over Europe. This is a debate that will run and run and will continue to plague the Tories. It is not a so much a matter that the Tories are split or wrong or anything else. It is more that they simply do not have a coherent policy. They want to change Europe but at the same time do not want to be part of it. They want a referendum on Lisbon, but at the same time won’t commit to one. They have a leader who knows that Britain needs Europe but a party who does not want to be dictated to by it. It is a problem that has only been slightly eased by the Irish yes vote, but only very slightly.

Then came the cuts talk. As I wrote yesterday, Osborne should be applauded for taking the bull by the horns. But it has not pleased much of the party faithful. David Cameron’s suggestion that if the deficit has not been scratched by cuts, then taxes will have to rise. Well Osborne’s announcements tackled just 12% of one year’s deficit over a five year period. That sounds like tax rises are on the way then. It has been said before – if the Conservatives are not the party of low taxation, then what are they? It is an honest and tough approach, and the polls suggest they have not been too harmed by it just yet. But it has provided the government with plenty of ammunition and very probably upset grassroots supporters and a few floating voters alike.

Continues here and here

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Friday, October 02, 2009

Graccii on Roman Polanski

Something worries me about the Roman Polanski case- and it is not his arrest, it is the reaction to it. As far as I can see, Polanski admitted to comitting a crime thirty years ago, he then fled before he could be punished- now at last justice has caught up with him. You may think that there should be a statute of limitations as in Italy and that is a fair view but it is not a view to be argued about right now because of the emotiveness of this case. There seems to be no doubt that there is no miscarriage of justice involved here: simply put a fugitive from justice has been arrested and placed in a cell prior to extradition to the jurisdiction which originally condemned him. It is for the courts to decide what punishment to administer.

And yet apparantly petitions are being drafted, the French society of film actors is talking about freedom of speech and Whoopi Goldberg about rape rape as opposed to rape. I find this rather strange. There is no freedom of speech issue here: Mr Polanski's crime was to have sex with an unwilling teenage girl- rape is not as far as I can remember freedom of speech and nor is it included in any meaningful definition of this film. Secondly thepetition: again what injustice are they petitioning about- if Mr Polanski were not guilty of the crime or if he were being prosecuted for something that should not be a crime I could understand it, but the petition is being drafted apparantly because he is Mr Polanski. He is a child rapist full stop- you either believe that child rapists should face punishment and therefore that Mr Polanski should or you do not, can we take it that anyone who signs this petition- Mr Scorsese, Mr Allen, Miss Argento and others- beleive that child rape is acceptable? I do not think they do, but their actions are worrying.

More here.