Wednesday, 18 February 2009

Wednesday 18/02/09

Yesterday’s post on Ronnie Biggs produced a small flurry of responses, mostly from readers across the pond. It seems we’ve come to a position where retribution has become a dirty word. What’s wrong with retribution? If someone pokes you, you poke them back – none of this turn the other cheek stuff. If the lesson isn’t learned, the poke back wasn’t hard enough in the first place and the force should be massively increased on the next transgression. That doesn’t necessarily mean to say the force has to be violent; Mahatma Ghandi used passive resistance very effectively and he didn’t roll over and ask for his tummy to be tickled by the British Raj.

I suppose that could take us, as a next step, into the realm of the death penalty. I have no problem with the death penalty as a penalty for the ultimate transgression; my problem is with the fact that the potential for a miscarriage of justice is simply too great a risk to take. What’s your view?

Talking of death; is it really news that a woman who made a total plonker of herself on a reality TV show, has not one redeeming quality and is dying from cancer is about to get married? Not content with living her life in front of a camera, Jade Goody is now going to make the ultimate reality sacrifice and die in front of the cameras for us. I find it all rather distasteful, but will doubtless be vilified as a heretic for thinking such a thing about someone who has inexplicably become a national treasure, an icon and role model for millions of chavs. No wonder we have so many dysfunctional families.

Pundits are lauding her for ‘doing it for her children’. Does that make her any different from any other parent on the planet? Isn’t that what parents the world over do every day – do the best for their children (well, most of them)? I thought it was a parent’s prime directive until their kids are capable of looking after themselves? Given the men in her lives and that the chap she’s marring is not the children’s father, I wonder if the kids will ever see the money – and more importantly, whether it will do them any good if they do.

Moving on, but taking with us the subject of parents; the Advertising Standards Authority has upheld 552 complaints over billboards featuring the word "sex" in giant lettering. The adverts taken out by the Advanced Medical Institute (AMI) offers treatment to men with sexual problems and says, “"Want longer lasting sex?", with "sex" written in giant red letters. Complainers said they were offensive and unsuitable for public locations and caused embarrassment to parents whose children had questioned them after seeing them.

Why do people get so upset about sex? Why do parents get so embarrassed about talking to their children about sex? Could the British (and American) national prudishness be one of the prime reasons we have such phenomenally high teenage pregnancy rates as compared to the continent? The ads were on billboards in London, a city of some 7 million people. I find it incredulous that 500 odd complaints from a population of 7 million are enough to force a premature withdrawal – if you’ll pardon the expression.

Returning to reality TV; why can’t our politicians behave like this, and this, and this? Now that’s what I really call reality TV – primarily because it is actually real and not contrived.

Celebrity chefs are apparently feeling the pinch and are closing down restaurants as if they were car factories. It’s probably because what with money being tight, punters are getting a bit more discerning and would rather eat a meal actually cooked by a celeb chef than one cooked by an underling at a restaurant the celeb chef probably hasn’t stepped foot in for over a year – especially if they’re paying as if the celeb chef personally cooked it.

Nokia, Motorola, Samsung, Sony Ericsson, LG, T-Mobile, Orange, 3, AT&T and Vodafone have all backed plans to introduce a universal mobile phone charger. The interface they’ve settled on is the micro-USB. It’s strange they’ve chosen an interface that very few, if any, support today. If I remember correctly, my Motorola (which I gave up on due to its execrable charge retention) is the only one with a micro-USB, so if you have several mobiles (I have 3) you’re going to have to buy new ones to take advantage of the development. Neat ploy – but a move in the right direction at a time when manufacturing is crashing through the floor.

Yesterday I was given instruction in how to operate the new video conferencing system installed in our office. VOOOOOOM - straight over my head. It’s like asking me to programme a new video recorder; not a chance. We have 18 office locations around the UK and only 2 of them have the system - our office and HQ. I somehow think I won’t be using it that much – thank God.


  1. I loathe and abhor Reality Television and cheap quiz shows – particularly when they are on the BBC or Channel 4 and thus partly or wholly funded by licence fee payers.

    Jade Goody is dying of cancer. Like it or not she has been taken to the heart of a great British Public and she is choosing to die in a manner that you, and perhaps I, whilst we may not choose this way for ourselves - is in a manner that she enjoys, that is being the focus of the attention of a great many people. And some good may come of it – If I were Jade Goody I would be very proud that the take of cervical smears has increased. And if I could find a way of dying that would increase the value of my estate then be very sure that I would choose that route as well.

    Oscar Wilde is supposed to have called for champagne when he was close to death – those close to him are supposed to have said that they couldn’t afford it – he in turn said – “Nonsense – I wish to die as I have lived – beyond my means” Perhaps that’s all Jade Goody wants – to die as she has lived.

  2. Death penalty? I used to believe in it. I used to wish that every murderer, paedophile and big time drug dealer was humanely removed from the planet so that we didn't have to deal with them. But I've changed my views now - not because I don't believe in 'eye for an eye', but because I don't think it is any human being's job to take a life. Which makes me sound as though I wear Jesus sandals and knitted muesli.. but I don't.

    Jade Goody - actually, I admire Jade and I always have. Never wanted to be within ten feet of her, or be her best friend, mind you. Can't say that I feel we are on the same level. Can't say that I like how she behaves or what she says. But as my sister said, she isn't afraid to live loudly and at full throttle. And if other people don't think that she should be there - she couldn't care less. Wish I was more like that.
    She is dying now, she is very young, and is doing what she can to provide for her kids because she has the opportunity to do so.

    I guess there's always the remote control if you really don't want to watch... :o)

  3. Richard,

    The take-up of cerviacal cancer smear tests would improve if the media took an interest in it and focused on any individual dying of cervical cancer. The fact is that they don't. The real story here (as far as the media is concerned) is not the increased uptake of smear tests, but the life of a train-crash 'celebrity'.

    I thought Oscar Wilde's last words were, "Either that wallpaper goes, or I do."

  4. Kabbalah,

    I have never watched reality TV - well, not in the sense we have come to understand the term.

    I dio, however, object to minor celebrities who are famous for no other reason that their stupidity being considered newsworthy.

    Seems Andy Warhol was right.

  5. I am always pleased when I see the values of the Christian Right spelt out clearly – Retribution - of course there’s nothing wrong with it – an eye for an eye – that’s what we need – if a motorist runs over a child then take their child and throw it onto the M4 at rush hour – perhaps this could be combined successfully with reality television. And hanging for parking in my parking space. And of course if you look at my girl friend then I can knife you ‘cos you’re disrespecting me.

    Prison doesn’t work – except as a sop to the feelings of the aggrieved – because and firstly if it’s a planned crime the perpetuator believes s/he has planned sufficiently well to avoid detection and if it’s a spur of the moment crime the perpetuator doesn’t consider the consequences anyway. Secondly prison – as it is at the moment is nothing but a criminal education service. On completion of the course – or sentence as it’s sometimes known – the person is far better equipped for a life of crime than when they entered.

    Isn’t it time we grew up and started seriously to consider rehabilitation rather than retribution?

    Richard x x x

  6. Richard,

    And what about the career recidivist?

    By the way, you're falling into the thin edge of the wedge fallacy in your suggested sentencing policy. Parking in my space is castration, not hanging.

  7. Richard - PS

    The public purse cannot afford the massive cost of rehabilitation. However, should drugs be made legal, the consequent drop in crime would free up resources to at least have a good go at trying to rehabilitate the more serious offenders.

  8. I hear you.

    I watch the occasional bit of reality TV because I love working people out - the 'social experiment' side of things, albeit contrived.

    I don't object to the minor celebrities themselves, but I abhor the media's gossip and manipulation that push and pull these people in to and out of the spotlight. I guess you can't have one without the other, so I tend to watch what I want and let the rest ride by.

    And there are documentaries on TV of people dying of cancer, but the difference is that Jade is someone that the public already know (or think that they know), so the news tends to have more shock value.

    Maybe that's the reason she's here...

  9. I often thought that making many illegal drugs legal would reduce the crime rate, but thinking about it now I'm not so sure.

    I mean, petty crime commited by criminals usually happens because the criminals need to sell stolen goods etc for money. The way I see it, making drugs legal won't necessarily make them any cheaper, it just means people will be able to walk into a shop and buy them. But the addicts will still need money to pay for them, and so I don't think that legalising drug use will have much of an impact on drug-related crime.

    As for the death penalty, I'd like to see the country operate with it for a few years, and see how it affects crime rates. I'm all for it, because not only would it possibly deter more people from commiting pre-planned murders and the like, but it would mean fewer prisoners for our taxes to have to feed. I can understand your point about there being "too great a risk" of someone being executed wrongly, but if that were to happen even once, I personally believe that it would scare people even more. After all, punishments are there as a deterrent first and foremost, and so if people think there's even the slightest chance of being sentenced to death, they'd probably not get involved with anything remotely fishy incase the crime was linked to them directly, and they were executed for it.

  10. Dom - a bit naiive there, old mate.

    The minute drugs become legal, the price crashes, as there's no scarcity and the crims leave the trade. Drugs would be humungously cheaper, and drug addicts would nto be afraid to seek help through fear of being locked up.

    As for the death penalty - they have it in the US, and there are far more murers per capita there. It's been proven time and time again to not work as a deterrent. All it ensures is that killers don't kill again, if caught.

    How would you feel if you'd been fitted up for a killing you never committed and the death penalty were in place. It has happened in the past.

  11. PS - plus the money saved on policing existing drug laws and the resultant crime could be diverted into effective drug rehab.

    No drug addict actually wants to be an addict, if only they could get the proper help.

  12. But people still use and are addicted to the legal drugs and they kill themselves and others.


    And a lot won't stop or give up their drugs of choice.

    Richard x x x

  13. I'm no expert on drugs by any stretch of the imagination, but I thought a lot of drugs are fairly cheap these days, especially when compared to legal drugs like alcohol and nicotine. And those drugs are as expensive as they are partly because of the taxes that the government puts on them, which would, of course, happen to any other drugs that became legal in the future. I agree with the taxations, but I'm just not sure how much cheaper taxed legal drugs would be compared to the untaxed illegal drugs being bought today. Although I do agree that the taxation money, coupled with the money saved from not having to police so many drug-related crimes, could easily be put to good use.

    But some people argue that if smoking wasn't legal, for example, then there would be less strain on the NHS to deal with smoking-related diseases and conditions. I suppose if the money made by the taxes on tobacco outweighs the costs of treating people with smoking-related diseases, then fair enough. In the same light, I'd hope that the tax money made on taxed legal drugs covers the costs of rehabilitation centres, medical care for addicts, etc.

  14. What a fabulous discussion on the death penalty!

    In the US, 37 states allow the death penalty. The murder rates in non-death penalty states are not higher, and in some cases, much lower.

    In addition, the cost to prosecute a capital case from the selection of a jury, to the trial, to the many appeals are about 90% higher than the cost of prison without parole.

    Black defendents are much more likely to be given the death penalty, especially when the victim is white.

    And, juries are notoriously stupid and wrong (trust me).

    These are some of the reasons I oppose the death penalty!

  15. Briana,

    Purely from the miscarriage of justice argument, or for other reasons?

  16. I'm not completely sure. When Ted Bundy was executed, I was a bit happy about it. And I have no problem with a pedophile who murders children being executed. So, it's more about the degree of heinousness (I'm not sure if that is a word, but you get the idea) of the murder. And I do feel that the death penalty is not appropriate for any other crime.

  17. I don't think the death penalty would reduce crime, unfortunately, so basically I am against it. However, if someone killed a person I loved, I would want them to swing for it as life imprisonment no longer means that - after a few years they are out on good behaviour, or having found God, or whatever it takes to shorten a sentence. Murderers should do life - that means locking them up and throwing away the key;

  18. Louise,

    I agree. The statistics show that the death penalty has no effect whatsoever.

    If it had no effect on sheep stealing, then it won't have an effect on anything else, except perhaps stationery theft from offices.

  19. I know my comment sounded like I was waffling, but, really I am against the death penalty.