April 2010


Just dashing off this entry because, once again, the local paper has decided that its readers can’t be trusted to discuss the subject of drugs, and has published another article about a drug raid without permitting comments.

I’m guessing this is due to the fact that when they have allowed comments, readers, including myself, have questioned the police’s priorities, in chasing people over a drug which is less harmful, medically and socially, than alcohol. When are TiG going to entertain a sensible discussion about drug laws?

It would be lovely to compare the blogs of the main contenders for the Gloucester parliamentary seat (see links, right), but it wouldn’t be comparing like with like. Parmjit Dhanda’s is the closest thing in appearance to a blog, being WordPress, like this one, but he leaves weeks, even months, between entries, and he and/or his staff are total control freaks over permitting comments that are the teensiest bit critical. Richard Graham’s doesn’t even have a comment section or, in fact, entries. It’s just one long document occasionally updated, and readers can send questions to Richard, but they won’t appear on the site. And Jeremy Hilton’s is really more of a website than a blog. It’s stuffed with links (the ‘Ward News’ section is potentially interesting, although, surprise surprise, no ‘news’ in Barton & Tredworth), but no opportunity for open feedback.

So all of them fall down on the ‘giving the constituents a public voice’ angle, which is surely a big part of what any blog is about. Otherwise, it’s just ‘blah blah, aren’t I wonderful?’

Posted as a comment to a TiG article entitled ‘”Use your vote or don’t moan – Town Crier’, but it’s a couple of days old now (I only found it while looking for the ‘word for word’ of the Gloucester candidates’ debate), so I thought I might as well put it here too…

‘I read much the same sentiment being put forth forward by Mark Hawthorne a couple of years back in this paper, but he’s wrong too. People self-evidently *can* ‘moan’ without voting, and they have as much right to do so as anyone else. Only fascists would try to change that. Of course it would be great if there was a ‘None of the above’ option, or more people spoiled their ballot papers rather than just not bothering to vote, but even apparent apathy should send a message to our politicians. It’s a shame that the people of Gloucester don’t start a fund to pay the deposit for a ‘NOTA’ candidate whose only function would be to provide a box for that option. Be a bit awkward if s/he won, though…’

I promised this, after being incensed by the latest arrogant outburst of a union rep, so here it is, the analogy…

In the final (in every sense, as the series was cancelled well before the end of its first run) of the sci-fi drama, ‘Defying Gravity’, the episode’s big denouement sees Zoe Barnes, geologist, on the surface of Venus, in an armoured suit akin to the ones worn by deep, deep, sea divers.  The suit can only withstand the harsh Venusian environment for a limited time, and the landing module fails to land close enough to the target area for Zoe to reach and retrieve the mysterious object she and the other crew members of the Antares have been sent in search of, and still have time to get back to the module before the suit fails, killing her. Nevertheless, she sets off, against orders.

Now, the point of this is that Zoe Barnes does survive, barely, not because of some miracle, but because the module’s pilot, Maddux Donner, reasons that if the suit’s cooling system is adjusted so that it does as little work as possible to keep Zoe’s temperature down while still keeping her alive, it may operate long enough to get her back to the module. And so it does, barely. It’s not entirely clear that Zoe won’t succumb to her third degree burns as the series closes, but she has a chance at least.

So here’s the substance of the analogy. The suit is the company/education authority and Zoe Barnes is the union members/teachers. If Zoe had insisted on optimum working conditions and turned up her suit’s air conditioning to the max, she would have died. What actually happened was that she sacrificed short-term comfort for long-term survival. When are the union officials going to figure that one out? Probably not until their ‘jobs’ are on the line.

Listened to Mark Lawson on ‘Front Row’ yesterday evening, interviewing Yvette Fielding about the latest series or video release or whatever of ‘Most Haunted’. Anyone who’s seen this show knows the shtick. Film crew visits location reputed for its ghostly goings on, and records, usually in night vision, various mysterious knocking noises and unexplainable chills, and the possessed presenter hacking the sound recorder to death… or so you’d think, given the way they milk it.

Lawson raised a point which I’ve never heard before, though, and that is how this show, with its supposedly traumatised and even bloodied cameramen,  meets the BBC’s health & safety regulations. The Beeb can’t be a party to making stuff up, but they can’t leave themselves open to compensation claims either, so what is the real deal with ‘Most Haunted’? Are we all supposed to treat it as a bit of fun, like Derren Brown or astrology?

Great. For the record, then, the paranormal is entirely the product of gullible or deluded personalities, spurred on by con artists, which is why no proof of ghosts exists. If anyone thinks they have proof, I’d love to see it.