Subjective Objectivity – The Blog of The Reasonable Man

March 26, 2011

The Arab Spring Reaches London

Filed under: Uncategorized — mikeshotgun @ 11:19 pm

This might be the most idiotic minute in a speech ever given:

I assume in the uncut version the audience starts singing “we shall overcome”.

Look. All the movements that Ed Miliband mentions were fighting against a tide of oppression. Say what you will about the current level of The Cuts, it doesn’t come close to that. Further, all those groups managed to convince lawmakers through means that went beyond the protests to measurable democratic victories. 

We’re not arguing over the inability of half the population to express themselves at the ballot box because they lack the Y Chromosone. Nor the lax enforcement of equal voting rights and the surpression of voter registration based on the colour of one’s skin. And certainly not the establishment of an underclass of individuals who form the majority in what is essentially a Christian Fundamentalist regime. 

All this really does is prove how shallow the bench of the Labour Party currently is.

Cross-posted at Something Quotable

March 22, 2011

In which I agree 100% George Monbiot

Filed under: Uncategorized — mikeshotgun @ 2:19 pm

Well, with a 5% margin of error. Devotees will know that I’m not exactly his biggest fan, and especially find his political analysis quite shoddy. I think the same about Paul Krugman, though for different reasons. But I digress.

To be fair, his environmental writing is generally pretty well constructed and ultimately aiming in the right direction, and further to his credit, Monbiot does research his pieces and is knowledgeable. I’d certainly not want to debate against him, if only because . Today he weighs in on nuclear power with a degree of reasonable analysis that is remarkable, especially as the German government (to name but one group) lose their heads over the energy source in the wake of the Fukushima apocalypse meltdown incident. To wit:

You will not be surprised to hear that the events in Japan have changed my view of nuclear power. You will be surprised to hear how they have changed it. As a result of the disaster at Fukushima, I am no longer nuclear-neutral. I now support the technology.

A crappy old plant with inadequate safety features was hit by a monster earthquake and a vast tsunami. The electricity supply failed, knocking out the cooling system. The reactors began to explode and melt down. The disaster exposed a familiar legacy of poor design and corner-cutting. Yet, as far as we know, no one has yet received a lethal dose of radiation.

It’s hard for headline writers to really capture the point that human ingenuity and engineering capability has got to the point where even a corner-cutting example of it is still relatively resilient against catastrophic failure. It’s by no means perfect and has required a great deal of ad hoc remedial work, but given the prevailing circumstances, I’m going to go ahead and put this in the “win” column for Man’s Hubris.

Of course, it would seem perverse to celebrate such a state of affairs in the wake of the disaster, as much is might seem perverse to celebrate the fact that, the terrible loss of life notwithstanding, a combination of engineering prowess and strict regulation, saved untold numbers of lives in the face of a potentially horrific earthquake/tsunami double-punch. It could have all been far, far worse (c.f. Haiti, 2004 Tsunami etc)

More on the disaster itself another time; back to nuclear, where George provides some further context:

Some greens have wildly exaggerated the dangers of radioactive pollution. For a clearer view, look at the graphic published by xkcd.com. It shows that the average total dose from the Three Mile Island disaster for someone living within 10 miles of the plant was one 625th of the maximum yearly amount permitted for US radiation workers. This, in turn, is half of the lowest one-year dose clearly linked to an increased cancer risk, which, in its turn, is one 80th of an invariably fatal exposure. I’m not proposing complacency here. I am proposing perspective.

Bonus points for linking to xkcd by the way. Click through to the diagram he mentions, it’s a nice illustration.

The rest of his post is a a fairly wonkish dissemination of how an effective move to fossil fuels could be effected, and worth a read, if only because it throws cold water on some of the environmentalist magical thinking that routinely does the rounds. But more importantly, I think it’s genuine progress for finding a solution to our energy and environmental problems (and no matter what one thinks of the latter, we definitely have the former) that even the most outspoken advocates of green issues can find a pragmatic basis on which to evolve their views in light of how facts and circumstances develop. It’s encouraging for the debate as a whole, which is uncharacteristic of most that is written from any side of the debate.

I don’t even have to put one of my usual snarky one liners at the end of a post, either.

Cross-posted at Something Quotable

March 21, 2011

Housekeeping Open Thread

Filed under: Uncategorized — mikeshotgun @ 9:10 pm

Hmm. The blog is looking all messed up today, and I got my first insulting comment for a post I did months ago! What a ride.

Anyway, sorry for the light posting. I really prefer the world when its happenings are the marginal sort of bullshit that I can snipe at from the sidelines. But all this big world shit is crazy! Crazy, I tells ya! All this Middle East stuff, and Japan and the economy and everything. It drives a man crazy sometimes. Sometimes it’s just easier to unload on Twitter and let the collective inanity wash over you like a metaphor. 

Not sure what to about the blog text malfunction. To me it looks like Wingdings threw up on our blog, though that might just be my browser/eyes. I’m hoping that maybe this post will rattle the system a little, or that the problem will go away by itself, like this lump on my neck. 

How are you guys? Not sure why I made this an open thread, since we don’t yet have regular commenters, but all the cool blogs do it, so maybe that’s the trick.

Cross-posted at Something Quotable

March 10, 2011

A letter to the NHS

Filed under: Uncategorized — mikeshotgun @ 12:50 am

Dear NHS,

I received your letter today. I realise that it’s not your letter per se, but from University College Hospital, but given that we live in a country that will invariably conflate the two, herein lies my premise.

I should add here that I like you, even though you’ve not managed to correctly spell my name for the better part of two decades. That’s ok. I know you’ve got other concerns, and I’ve been satisfied generally with your service to date. Having met your cousin from the US, let me re-iterate my undying advocacy on your behalf. It’s in this spirt that I write this letter. 

I have an issue. If you are going to adjust my appointment date with a consultant for whom I had to wait an inordinate amount of time already, that’s ok. I’ve heard of appointments slipping by a day or two in busy periods. Deadlines get shifted and so forth. This is understandable. I’ve been there. 

I also understand that in certain circumstances, a two month shift might be necessary. That’s fine. We all have things. Your apology for the “problems [it] may cause” was noted. It will cause problems, but I’m a grown up, and this isn’t an emergency, so I can deal. I admit I was little bit irked by the fact that you went on to select me a second date sixty days after the original, and then proceeded with the following sentence “If you are happy with this option please attend at this new date and time”. 

Well, I’m not fucking happy with this option, to be perfectly frank, so am I unable to attend the fucking appointment? I suppose I am, and your poorly chosen phrasing was to give me the option to phone up and select a date sometime in 2012. You probably should have just said “the next available time is X, for which your appointment is now scheduled, if this is not convenient, please call Y to re-arrange.” 

But to be plain, my problem is this. When you chose to re-arrange my scheduled appointment at the point in time at which my consultant specifically said they would want to see me again for Reasons, you failed to give a cause for the delay. Maybe it was awkward, but you know, I probably would have accepted some sort of Orwellian lie. Transport For London have been dining out on “adverse weather conditions” since snow came back into fashion. Hell, I’d accept “staffing difficulties”. Just give me a fucking reason beyond “unfortunately” which is only really a recourse for abstract philosophers. I can shrug my shoulders and say “shit happens” without wondering if it’s because a member of staff in the clinic decided to take a holiday.

Naturally I shall endeavour to keep the appointment and will of course remain

Your devoted servant,

Pete

PS – If this is payback for me not saying that the upcoming reforms to the NHS will destroy the very fabric of our society, then I apologise and fully concede that they will undoubtedly destroy it for whatever reasons you are able to muster. I only hope that I get to attend this appointment before I am forced to purchase private medical insurance or die on the streets.

Cross-posted at Something Quotable

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