Friday, October 14, 2005

The BBC has a future?

Here's the text of the BBC's chums' notion of market research. I think it's nonsense, since the question of what to pay for and how to value the BBC is being asked within a completely skewed context- where we have a monolithic organisation bound up with the history of Britain going right back, and a market that's been shaped by their existence from its beginning. However, I have several good acquaintances who know high level market research in theory and in practise- and I plan to glean some observations from them.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Stop the press: Mark Steyn likes a film. As an addicted reader of Steyn, and especially of his film reviews- where his aim is surefire and precise- I have to restrain myself from linking him; but now I feel it could be a public service announcement to say this: Serenity appears to be good.

I might be tempted to say we should all go Dutch- and ban the burqa, but then again what if going Dutch means talking to Al Qaeda? (hat tip ATW)

A Nobel Assault?

I doubt I am the only one unsurprised at Harold Pinter's success in winning the Nobel Prize for Literature- but it's strange.

Until a couple of years ago I'd all but forgotten Pinter- he was one of those irrelevant and inferior representatives of modern patriotic/socialist British literature (think Hughes, Bennett, Loach etc.) I'd had foisted on me at school and university and had just about managed to vomit out of my memory. Then came the Iraq war and suddenly Pinter was hip and relevant. He produced some 'ravishing' poetry which can be read here.

What I couldn't believe was how the BBC managed to mention the prize he's won without pointing out that Pinter and Al Baradei (the peace prize winner) shared the same anti-Iraq war viewpoint. They mention that Pinter is controversial and was a fierce critic of Reagan and Thatcher, but they don't mention his most obvious claim to recent fame- which, it appears, is generally the main consideration for the publicity conscious Nobellers. To me it's almost indisputable that Pinter would have failed to win the Nobel Prize were it not for his anti-Iraq war stance (not that I give a monkey's about the Nobel Prize, but people do).

An aside- I find it particularly obnoxious that the nobel panel chose to say (and were quoted by the Beeb saying) that Pinter '"uncovers the precipice under everyday prattle and forces entry into oppression's closed rooms".'

This is absolutely what he has not done. He has been the metaphorical aider and abettor of the literal oppressor in the literal closed room, with a literal victim- in Iraq.

Update!!!- major stealth edit alert!!! Now they tell us 'The playwright is known for speaking out on issues like the war on Iraq'. And then they eulogise. (+ I edited my own post- I meant to say unsurprised earlier.)

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Also noteworthy, also from an EU-watching blog- this post about the remarkable steps being taken, and contested by the French, to massively reduce agricultural subsidies.

Random piece of British poltics: here is an insight I really hope is correct (nice site, too).

I couldn't help being slightly amused at the thought of a Cameron / Clarke ticket (though definitely more a nightmare than a dream ticket for me), because I used to know someone whose surname was Cameron-Clarke. It must be one thing to share the name of a party leader, another to find oneself bearing the names of both of them.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Miers: the debate. I'm posting this before I've read it, but it should be more than interesting when I get the time.

I would just add that for those who wonder why Miers is important- if you've ever wondered if Bush has judgement or just gets lucky sometimes, you'll have an interest in this. In that sense it's a potentially defining dilemma, however trivial it may seem (it's not trivial, when you consider some of the society-forming decisions which the US Supreme Court is entrusted with).

Sunday, October 09, 2005

Interesting Flap in the States

I continue to be fascinated by the Harriet Miers case. 'Harriet who?' I hear you say. Well, quite- that's what all the problems are about.

Although I talked about the Miers nomination previously, the scale of the controversy, at least as it appears in the US conservative part of the blogosphere, demands some kind of introduction. Maybe Richard North's analysis of another UK conservative's green eyed observations about the US' conservative 'establishment' (kind of an alternative and not yet reigning version of the deeply entrenched US Liberal establishment) will do.

And now, according to conservative luminaries like David Frum, all the conservative success is jeopardised by a President who, when he has a free hand, chooses his chum for a crucial life-long legal position. Thus Bush (it would seem) betrays those who have supported him through situations where they disagreed with him on the grounds that a) they hated his opponents on the left, and b) they were hoping that when the flak calmed down he'd reward their loyalty by offering plums like a place on the Supreme Court to someone who they could see as a representative of their own political idealism.

But, as a conservative, albeit of a British sort, I have a different point of view. I believe conservatism naturally rebels against any kind of social establishment of the kind that many conservatives in the US would like to construct. It despises the way that many would like to place themselves in some pantheon of 'greatest conservatives', thereby feeling snubbed when a significant position is filled in government by one from beyond the pantheon. My kind of conservatism believes that small is beautiful and that a closely argued thought process is better than a thousand endorsements from unconnected eminences. My kind of conservatism doesn't believe in massive tides of revolutionaries, but slow accretions of good judgement- which others value and imitate. My kind of conservatism believes in minimalism- that you can't know everything or hold a schema perfectly, but you can perfectly well know the little that is given to you and can extrapolate that knowledge to great affairs.

Thus I support the nomination of Harriet Miers and recommend you read what a crusty and longwinded lawyer has to say about the matter.

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