Wednesday, May 27, 2009

The new world of instant justice

I just love the idea of the new 'cyber courts' that are being piloted in the UK. People arrested in shopping malls will receive instant justice through video links to magistrates. The saving to the taxpayer is predicted to be a whopping £10m a year - enough to cover the expenses claims of at least a few of our underpaid MPs.

But why not go the whole hog? If justice were dispensed on the microblogging site Twitter, I'm sure the savings would become even more significant. Prosecution case in 140 characters. Defence in 140 characters. Judgement in a one-word tweet: #guilty or #notguilty. It's an idea that @jackstraw needs to consider seriously.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Sorry, Archbishop, you're wrong on this one...

Proving once again just how in touch with public opinion he is, the Archbishop of Canterbury yesterday warned against the 'systematic humiliation' of MPs.

His line seems to be that after the recent expenses revelations, we've kind of got the point. No need to carry on beating MPs over the head, because if we do, democracy will suffer.

What a load of old cobblers.

Every individual elector has the right to know whether his or her own MP has put in claims for moats, duck houses, bookshelves etc or 'flipped' their primary residence to claim excessive expenses. The Telegraph's coverage is not merely an exercise in establishing the general principle of greed and dubious moral standards. It is a chance to hold elected representatives to account for their dodgy decisions and ethics.

I'm no theologian, but I would have thought that Christianity was quite strong on the idea of people taking responsibility for their actions. And if, as a result the revelations, democracy emerges tarnished in the eyes of the public, so be it. The anger that people feel will hopefully be translated into radical reform.

A comedy moment in real life

Sitting in the hairdressing salon yesterday, I found myself staring at a reflection of myself. From the waist up, everything was much as I expected. From the waist down, things were a little disconcerting. It took me a few seconds to work out that the part of the mirror which stretched upwards from the floor was, in fact, an open space. And through this gap, I was actually viewing someone else's legs.

It was much like one of those flip-over books for kids, where you mix and match the top half of one character with the bottom half of another.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Just how influential can a dentist be?

According to the latest revelations in The Telegraph, Tory MP Sir Paul Beresford is distracted three days a week from his parliamentary duties by the call of dentistry. The former leader of the flagship Thatcherite council in Wandsworth, south London, is of course devoted to his constituents. But he's equally devoted to his patients and seemingly can't choose between them. Service to the Crown doesn't get in the way of servicing crowns.

The paper reports that Sir Paul was named last year as the 34th most "influential" dentist in the UK. Which does beg the question: who are the 33 dentists who've forced their way above him in the list? Are they also knights and parliamentarians, do you think?

One thing's for sure. With The Telegraph, we don't just get the truth exposed. We get the tooth as well.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Sweetfire® Baby Beetroot

"Grown in dark, rich fertile soils and harvested early for size and sweetness. We hand select and infuse with Sweetfire® Marinade for a lightly spiced flavour."

More to follow at www.twitter.com/foodman

Monday, May 11, 2009

Appghanistan

The Daily Telegraph reports that the US military is making use of iPhones in Afghanistan , much to the envy of the British fighting forces. Capable of holding thousands of tasty apps, the designer eau de cologne can apparently figure out the direction that snipers are firing from and also help to translate conversation with local tribesmen.

It occurs to me that there are numerous other potential uses of the technology. Imagine, for instance, that you hear a tune playing on a radio on the outskirts of Kabul. Sounds familiar, but you can't quite place it. With a wave of your hand, you can Shazam the details back to some server in Santa Barbara and produce an instant tag.

Bored on a long patrol? Answer the question "What are you doing?" via Twitterrific. #usmarinecorps #hellinhelmand RT @dogtag2301 sure cant wait to get out of this f***in warzone.

And if you wanted to know whether the Bakerloo Line was running to time in London, the information would be right at your fingertips courtesy of TubeStatus.

I think it's only fair that some of the military use has an eventual knock-on effect for civilians. I'm looking out on the app store for programs that disarm improvised explosive devices and administer electric shocks to prisoners.

Thursday, May 07, 2009



Government warning: this filthy swine would get short shrift in my lift.

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

The best in period drama. Period.

The award-winning drama Mad Men, set in a New York ad agency in the early 1960s, is great on social history. There's been plenty of commentary about the role of women in the office, the obsessive smoking and boozing of nearly all the characters and the beautiful period costumes and furnishings. For me, though, it's the incidental asides that are the most shocking.

I think I may have blogged before about a scene in which creative director Don Draper takes his family on a picnic. He and wife Betty think nothing of abandoning all their rubbish on the ground. After all, America's a big country, eh? If people don't like the litter, they can go picnic somewhere else.

In another episode from Season 2, which I've just watched on the BBC iPlayer, account man Pete Campbell returns from a convention in Los Angeles and tells colleagues about his experiences. There's this very odd moment in which you realise they're talking about the west coast of America as if it's a foreign country. It's much more than straightforward east-west cultural differences. It's a reflection of the fact that, by and large, people were not making three-hour plane trips across the States at the time. No one else had been there.

Ageing art man Salvatore said that he'd like to meet the people for himself. Pete admitted he was glad to be home. I guess NYC must have seemed kind of reassuring.

Saturday, May 02, 2009

You said it

I love the search terms that lead people to the pages of Washed and Ready to Eat. So much, in fact, that I've turned them into poetry. Enjoy.