Archive for ‘Comment’

September 1, 2011

Are You Sitting Comfortably? – Then I’ll Begin.

These words from Salman Rushdie in his novel Shame seem apt in light of the Arab Spring:

How does a dictator fall? There is an old saw which states, with absurd optimism, that it is in the nature of tyrannies to end. One might as well say that it is also in their nature to begin, to continue, to dig themselves in, and, often, to be preserved by greater powers than their own.

Well, well, I mustn’t forget I’m only telling a fairy-story. My dictator will be toppled by goblinish, faery means. ‘Makes it pretty easy for you,’ is the obvious criticism; and I agree, I agree. But add, even if it does sound a little peevish: ‘ You try and get rid of a dictator sometime.’

A fairy story? Seems to hit the right note when you consider that even with an organised Rebel uprising and NATO air support it took months to oust Colonel Gaddafi.

And Syria? Consider Rushdie’s words: ‘to be preserved by greater powers than their own.’ Makes you wonder if Syrians would be looking at a very different future right now if  the UN or NATO or America or Europe or Russia or Israel had chosen to step in as some did in Libya.

Meanwhile, the Saudi regime finds it easier to head off unrest by announcing social and economic reforms totalling $100 bn. Indeed, this might sound a little peevish too, but, I guess, it’s easy if you have the money

August 5, 2011


The LightBox section of TIME Magazine is always worth a look, I think.

Here’s this weeks Closeup.

The photographs capture more than a newsreel. There isn’t such a distance creating by the lens. What I mean is, a still photograph has a much stronger and personal effect.

When you see the fear in the face of the Rebel Fighter in Libya or the serenity and jaded beauty of the memorial in Norway or the serious face of the murder suspect standing a foot away from the police officer you can’t help but feel that these are real lives being affected by real situations.

August 5, 2011

Good Morning

A few videos to kick things off.

I can believe this especially if my weekly bill of macaroni and cheese is anything to go by.

If you have a spare $370,000 knocking around for a new car, but don’t want to compromise on practicability then maybe this is for you. On the other hand I haven’t heard anything about it being released in the UK; sounds like something just for the Yanks.

August 2, 2011

Bad News for [Swiss] Bankers

Barclays announces that it is cutting 3,000 jobs. This, coupled with the news from HSBC yesterday that they will continue to cut 30,000 jobs throughout their worldwide banks by 2013 sets a dim prospect for British Banks.

Still, it could be worse. You could be Swiss.

UBS and Credit Suisse last week said that second-quarter earnings dropped 71%. And today their stocks dropped for the seventh consecutive day. It seems to be a consequence of the fragility of the Spainish, Greek and Italian economies and the debt limit lift over the Atlantic.  This could have an effect on other European banks that are expected to follow the trend.

August 1, 2011

Uh Oh, Bachmann on Debt.

For those interested in the glamour show that is American politics. Quoted from Michael Kinsley’s article in Bloomberg Businessweek (July 25-31) on Michele Bachmann’s debt reduction policy:

I bet she’s a good mother, politics aside. But I can’t help wondering: What does Michele Bachmann teach all those kids about the importance of living up to your obligations?

Say, for example, that one of them owed some people, oh, about $14.3 trillion. Would Bachmann tell her children that a debt is a moral obligation that an honourable person will go to great lengths to pay if at all possible? Or would she tell them, Well, it all depends. Whether you pay back money that’s been loaned to you is a practical question. And if you calculate that you’d be better off reneging, then by all means do so. It’s perfectly O.K.

July 21, 2011

What the Police Commissioner Could Have Said…

…At the Home Affairs Select Committee.


COMMITTEE MEMBER: Can you tell the committee why you resigned? Bare in mind we have read your report and you say there is no impropriety as to what has happened – that you feel you did absolutely nothing wrong.

POLICE COMMISSIONER: Precisely. I wanted to quit while I was ahead.

CM: You couldn’t possibly do your job if you didn’t know what was happening in the MET.

PC: Yes. You’re right.

CM: So you did know about the phone hacking inquiry.

PC: That’s not what I said.

CM: Was there not a situation that was inappropriate for any Police Officer to receive such substantial hospitality [from the Murdoch’s]?

PC: Would you have turned it down?

CM: You had seventeen dinners with them.

PC: What can I say? I was hungry and they can get me into Heston Blumenthal’s new restaurant for free.

CM: Do you have any other information?

PC: If you asking me to hook you up with them, I’m sure I can try and make something work.


July 21, 2011

An Open University?

Not for long. See here

Just a mere increase of £3,200. That’s a snip!

Will the majority of Universities really charge £9,000? I mean, really? Tough cheese the regulator won’t let that happen. Sensationalising again?


June 9, 2011


I found myself in two bookshops today. One was good. The other was okay.

The best thing about the one that was good was that it had most of my favourite writers; specifically Carver. I’ve read his collected works, but still, when I see him on the shelf I have to pick him up – every time- and read the first paragraph of a favourite story. It makes me happy. There was also Hemingway and McEwan and Desai and a bit of García Márquez.

The bad thing about the good bookshop was that most of the best books were new and I didn’t want to pay full price. Still, they have a fairly comprehensive second hand section and I found Richard Ford there. There was also plenty of hardback Rushdie – there always is – I got one for £4.

The okay bookshop only has second hand books and it didn’t really have what I wanted. Which is why it is only okay. Although I did get 2 books. So that saves it from being bad. Maybe next time it will have more books. That would make it a better bookshop.

April 12, 2011

Ernest Hemingway


Also had an absolutely cracking moustache.

I think there could be something in this.

Writers who have moustaches.

There is something distinguished –

about a finely combed moustache.

April 11, 2011

Gabriel García Márquez


Has an absolutely cracking cracking moustache.

I mean: his face is the moustache.

His eyebrows are the moustache.

I bet he was born with it –

and his face grew around it.