Some thoughts on the London riots

By Mysterion

In response to the riots, a petition has been set up to remove benefits from those involved in the riots. At the time of writing, it has amassed 115,436 signatures. Some people have argued against this move, saying it will disillusion those people further from society. Whilst not necessarily advocating to removal of benefits myself, some seem to be under the impression that everyone is entitled to a place in society, which is something I don’t agree with. A place in society is earned by adhering to the unwritten social contract we have, i.e. respecting others and the laws of the land. It is this contract the keeps society functioning smoothly.

Some are under the impression that it is the job of the Police to keep the population in check, which is of course not the case. If everyone decided not to adhere to the law, the Police would be overwhelmed and could do nothing about it. Luckily, most people respect this social contract, but there those who choose to ignore it. These people should not necessarily gain the advantages that functioning members of society receive. When events of these nature occur, there is always the attempt to excuse the actions due to societal factors, as Nina Power in The Guardian has tried to do here. However, it is unfair to blame society as a whole for criminal elements that have always existed, and always will.

There is absolutely no justification for the actions and conduct of the rioters. People can go on all day about the reasons why this happened and the underlying causes, but simply put, these people have committed criminal acts. It is sheer criminality and it cannot be tolerated. There is ALWAYS a choice when it comes to such acts, the choice between doing what is right and what is wrong. If one were to come home and find their wife in bed with another man, and then they shot her, people might understand their reasoning behind it. But is it the right thing to do? Of course not.

Some quarters have pointed to the cuts as a catalyst for the riots, which is what Harriet Harman did on a shameful display on Newsnight where she tried to score political points from the events. This is absurd, and not even the New Statesman could agree with Harman. It is unlikely that a 13 year old stealing a widescreen TV is making a statement to the cuts to the EMA. If there is any underlying cause to all of this, it is a culture that has fostered this sense of entitlement from society for nothing, and a breakdown in the identification between right and wrong in people. A good way to establish the difference is to show the consequences of doing wrong. Punishing these rioters to the full extent of the law would be a good start.

NRL 2011 predictions

By Mysterion

Disclaimer: Sorry if I didn’t put your team in the top eight. This is just a bit of fun, I don’t know how it will really turn out – I’m no Ryan Tandy.

Broncos: The return of Justin Hodges and Ben Hannant should cover the loss of Folau and bolster the forward pack. The core of youngsters should be better for the experience last year and will be enough to get the Broncos back to where they belong. 5th

Bulldogs: Have made some good recruits and look good on paper but a slow start will be a hindrance to their hopes of making the eight. Maybe next year. 10th

Cowboys: Another team that has made some good recruits but still not enough quality and will likely struggle again this year. 15th

Dragons: A strong looking squad and the reigning Premiers are definitely the yardstick for the rest of the competition. Favourites for sure. 1st

Eels: I can see a repeat performance of 2010: Thereabouts for most of the year, waiting for a winning streak in the lead up to finals that never comes. 11th

Knights: Still not enough quality in the side to have a proper tilt at the eight. Maybe when Nathan Tinkler takes over. 14th

Panthers: Surprised everyone with their showing last year but I think other teams will have them figured out by now. 12th

Rabbitohs: Didn’t really recruit any big names over the off-season but a team on the rise and should be there come September. 6th

Raiders: Made big moves towards the end of 2010 and should see this continue this season. Will probably fall short of winning the title but things are looking up for the Raiders. 3rd

Roosters: Another side that did well at the back end of 2010 and should see that momentum kick over into a top four finish. 4th

Sea Eagles: Will have an up and down season but will do enough to see them in the eight. However like 2010, I can’t see them getting past the first week once there. 8th

Sharks: Definitely the weakest side in the competition and a long, hard season awaits. 16th

Storm: Not the side they once were (and quite rightly too) but still plenty of quality across the park, plus they have something to prove. Back in the eight this year. 7th

Tigers: I like this Tigers side and they should be able to go one game further this year. However, this depends on Benji Marshall staying fit/avoiding prison. 2nd

Titans: A lot of key players are ageing and an injury toll could see them just missing out come September. 9th

Warriors: They look good this Warriors side, they have recruited well and are coming off a strong season last year, which can only mean…13th

On Latin

By The Rhetor

An article in The Spectator discusses the benefits of learning Latin for those training their minds.  I of course agree with its thesis. Many will ask why learn Latin, why not a more relevant language i.e. Mandarin (and this example is given in the article). The wonderful thing about Latin – from a Western, and specifically Anglophone, viewpoint – is the way in which it is  as similar as it is foreign to our own linguistic experience. Further more the english speaker can relate more readily with the ideas expressed by the Latin. Latin then, forces you to construe familiar ideas in unfamiliar ways. Mandarin in contrast is a language which expresses a wholly different cultural experience and indeed presents a whole group of different challenges for the learner. I am not suggesting that one should not learn Mandarin, it is an incredibly useful language to learn, however we should not be so willing to proclaim Latin dead.

Well, sir, there’s nothing on earth like a genuine, bona fide, electrified, six-car monorail!

by Leveret

In the State of the Union this week, the Prez urged the Congress to invest (i.e. spend) money on developing a high-speed rail network. Resurrecting this 19th Century technology is often wistfully mooted by the denizens of our capital city as well. Of course, the costs are almost never justified. It certainly is not the United States with its $18,000,000,000 in federal public debt or here in Enzed where we are borrowing $300,000,000 a week just to keep the lights on. Continue reading

So why is it all right for women to be sexist about men?

By Mysterion

This week Sky Sport football presenters Andy Gray and Richard Keys have lost their positions after being caught up in a sexism row. During an English Premier League game remarks were made about a female linesman (or linesperson, I guess), suggesting that she did not know the offside rule. They have since been sacked, which you may think is fair enough, except that these comments were made OFF AIR.

Aside from now being able to be punished for private comments, this incident also raises other issues. Giles Coren has written an excellent article on the hypocrisy of sexism.

Men are fair game for women. While sexism from men is the outstanding social crime of the modern world, women can say absolutely whatever they like about us.

For make no mistake: sexism is alive and well in this country and applauded in all quarters — as long as it is practised by women. And they are allowed to say the most terrible, terrible things.

Does class matter in comedy?

By Mysterion

This week Danny Cohen, the new controller of BBC 1, has called for more sitcoms to feature blue-collar characters. Naturally this has sparked debate about whether class matters in comedy. Someone on a Guardian blog posted this comment:

Middle Class, Working Class, does it  really matter as long as it’s funny?

Well, yes and no. A working class comedy is not necessarily better than a middle class sitcom by itself, that comes down to factors such as writing and casting. However I would say that a working class comedy has the potential to be a better sitcom. What really makes a great sitcom is the idea that the characters are trapped within their situation. This idea lends itself far better to sitcoms with working class characters than middle class ones. Aspirational working class characters are well-worn in sitcoms. One only has to look at Harry in Steptoe and Son, always trying to escape his circumstances, or Del Boy in Only Fools and Horses, trying to get rich quick. Their comedy lies within their attempts to leave their impoverished circumstances, and can be repeated week after week by returning to the status quo. It cannot be as easily done is shows as say, My Family. There are exceptions of course, but I would say working class characters have the potential for better comedy. I would also suggest, if I may, that Blackadder became funnier as his class standing diminished. As for the changes, well if it means more shows like Only Fools and Horses and less like Miranda, it can only be a good thing.

A Disaster

By Mysterion

Is what Benedict Brogan says about the resignation of Alan Johnson from the Labour front bench. I think this is a fair thing to say. No matter what skills Ed Balls may have, it can’t be helpful to Ed Miliband to lose his favoured Shadow Chancellor after just months.

There’s an interesting scene in the (excellent) new film ‘The King’s Speech’, where Colin Firth’s character laments the popularity of the previous King, his brother. I find there are parallels in the situation with the Miliband brothers, and not just because both George VI and Ed Miliband sound odd when they speak. Ed Miliband, like George VI, has taken a position from his older, more charismatic brother. In the film, King George notes that most people become King when the previous Monarch is dead (or just about), but in his case the previous King is very much alive and looms over his leadership. Similarly, every setback and mistake that Ed Miliband makes will be analysed against David Miliband and how he may have dealt with the Labour leadership, especially while he is still alive in the political sense. With the downfall of Alan Johnson, I am sure the Labour faithful will be wondering whether they indeed chose the right brother.