Monday, 25 October 2010

Things that I do not understand, numbers 5, 6 and 7

Posted by Tania Kindersley.

1. If someone told you that a group of doctors was ten years away from curing cancer with one pill, might you not hold the front page? It turns out that this is an actual news story. The BBC will run a programme on it tonight. Yet it is not mentioned anywhere in the broadsheets. Dr Ghulam Mufti, who is leading this extraordinary breakthrough, cannot compete with Wayne Rooney when it comes to headlines. (It is at moments like this that I am in grave danger of falling into the fatal Why Oh Why trap. I shall resist.) Also, in these days of Bad News, might you not be tempted to laud to the skies the fact that the eminent specialists in this radical field are British? I know that the accepted meme is that since the Chancellor started slashing about with his bloody axe we are all for the dark, but should that not mean that the tiniest crumb of good news ought to be lauded to the skies? Blighty still has world-beating scientists is the kind of headline that might bring a faint smile to our ravaged faces.

2. The current political situation seems to have put the hype back into hyperbole. I love a little hyperbole myself, and find a massive generalisation hard to resist. But I am not an elected representative or a serious political commentator. I'm not sure how it helps anything much when Tristram Hunt says that the Tory cuts will send us back to the Victorian Workhouse, or Laurie Penny calls the spending cuts 'the greatest assault on social democracy in living memory', or Polly Toynbee repeats her mantra that the difference between Labour and Tories is that the Conservatives 'enjoy' cutting, as if those evil right-wingers are having a party while the unemployed huddle sadly in dank doorways.

Over in America, the Right is indulging in even more crazy assertions. Obama is a 'racist born in Kenya who became President under false pretences'. He is compared, sometimes in the same sentence to Hitler and Stalin, also Pol Pot, just for fun. He is viewed as a Manchurian candidate, who is somehow removing America from Americans. We want our country back is the cry of the Tea Party, who devoutly believe that that evil Commie Fascist Kenyan Muslim went and stole it, probably in order to sell it to the Chinese.

I don't understand why people can't just argue the policies on the merits. I know it sounds bland and dull; so much more fun to accuse people of slashing sadism or Communist plots. It's just that the more outlandish the accusation, the less it achieves. There is a sober part of me that believes in utility, and all this intemperate shouting seems like so much sound and fury, signifying nothing.

3. Can this really be true? It just looks quite bonkersly mad, set down on the page like that.

US budget

And now, to take your mind off it all, the photographs of the day. The jury seems to be divided on whether the muted or the saturated are preferable. I keep an open mind. Today, however, I am back to singing colours, for those of you who like a full palette:

25th Oct 4
25th Oct 3
25th Oct 2
25th Oct 5
25th Oct 1
25th Oct 9
25th Oct 11
25th Oct 10
25th Oct 12

(Regard how the eyes match the colour of the fallen leaves. The chicness.)


  1. That pie chart looks about right from my perspective (I'm in Tucson, Arizona). And apparently it reflects the priorities of a majority of American voters -- a poll this morning finds 60% of voters suggesting cuts to education, alternative energy, and health care in order to reduce the budget, rather than see the US get out of the war business that has been driving foreign policy since the early 60s.

  2. Colby - how absolutely thrilling that you are reading the blog all the way from Tucson. This is when I really love the internet.

    As for the chart, I heard Chuck Todd talking with absolute AMAZEMENT on MSNBC the other day about our Prime Minister cutting defence, as if this were an unthinkable thing from an American perspective. Now I see why.

    All that stuff about the military industrial complex was perhaps right.

  3. I cannot believe a breakthrough for cancer is not hitting the headlines. Let me go and check the local news here and come back to you.

    I find it hard to believe that chart though.


Your comments give me great delight, so please do leave one.


Blog Widget by LinkWithin