Monday, April 07, 2008

Odds and sods

Nothing profound to say - so no change there. Instead, here's couple of silly things:

Balls in talks over cadet corps in schools. Ed Balls: unfortunate name; unfortunate ideas:
"Ed Balls, the children's secretary, is in discussion with Downing Street and the Ministry of Defence on ways to expand military cadet corps in English secondary schools.

Supporters of the scheme say it would help to restore discipline among vulnerable teenagers and build a better understanding between civil society and the armed forces."
I'm not sure if the cadet corp gives them access to the real thing but I'm not sure allowing the average teenager within sniffing distance of firearms is such a good idea. Teachers getting weapons training, on the other hand - now there's an idea. One I've advocated many times in the past until my psychiatrist told me to stop.

The Diana inquest. No expense was spared to come to the conclusion that most of us did at the time: being driven at high speeds with no seat-belts when the driver is drunk isn't good for your health. What got me was all this stuff on the news with reporters asking: will this lay the conspiracy theories to rest? Of course it won't. Conspiracy theorists don't deal with evidence - they construct their bizarre theories in the absence of evidence. Then when some evidence comes along and messes up the space where they've built their theories, they ignore it and/or suggest the people who have produced it are in on the conspiracy too. The thing to do with such mentalists is ignore them - not give them attention that confirms their lunacy. Like having a public inquest, for example.

"Britishness is like a scab". I noticed Jura Watchmaker made the same observation that occurred to me: a more Buntingesque line it is difficult to imagine. The thing is, she had something resembling a point with this analogy because some people can't seem to leave it alone and when she argues that trying to reduce it to a credo is a mistake that is counter to the tradition of Britishness itself:
"Our sense of nationhood is built out of historical compromises, not out of a revolutionary agenda such as France or America's civic nationalism.

But to a prime minister steeped in Scottish Calvinism, such talk of the ambiguity of symbols is mumbo-jumbo. He wants it in words..."
She's right. The very point about Britishness, for me anyway, is you don't need to keep picking away at it, examining it all the time. And while people obviously will have ideas as to what it is about, nevertheless it isn't an idea in the way that being American or French is an idea. There are good and bad things about this but that's the way it is and that's what Britishness is for me: not a credo, nor a comparison - just a degree of affection for what is. Defining it, celebrating it, teaching it, on the other hand - someone else is going to have to do that. But I rather wish they wouldn't.

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