25 February 2015

The pay of MPs

I personally think that MPs should be paid more for the important work they do. However, it is a full-time role that they should not be engaged in other paid employment while doing so.

It just opens them up to charges of corruption and being influenced by cash.

18 February 2015

Ukraine 'ceasefire'

The continued violence despite a so-called ceasefire agreement in Ukraine suggests one of two things:
1. The Russians are unwilling to rein their proxies
2. The Russians can't rein in their proxies.

I'm not sure which of the two is more alarming.

17 February 2015

Did someone order an Apple of Discord? (Star Trek 1.4, "The Naked Time")

It's a common plot device in sci-fi and fantasy television shows for at least one episode to feature the crew getting hit by some strange virus/magical object that causes them to undergo a major temporary personality change. This will generally involve a considerable amount of overacting and general ham, as at least one cast member ending up in their undies. Watching this I was very much reminded of "And the Apple of Discord" from The Librarians (where Lindy Booth got her dress off), an episode of Stargate SG-1 that I can't remember the title of (where Amanda Tapping got her shirt off) and on a similar tangent, "Nightmare in Silver" from Doctor Who (where Matt Smith... kept his shirt on).

Indeed, every show in the Trek franchise has at least one like this and this is the drunken Irish daddy of them all. I'll get to O'Reilly later.

Scotty and another member of the crew beam down to a dying planet (dressed in the most ridiculous red hazmat suits I've ever seen) where the science crew present have frozen to death - the opening shot of this episode is rather arresting. The other member of the crew (who I think was O'Reilly, but I don't recall) breaks the cardinal rule of dealing with a strange death situation - don't take your gloves off!

As a result, nearly the entire crew end up basically getting three sheets to the wind. George Takei gets his shirt off, Spock gets emotional, the nurse with the silver hair (was that in fashion back in the 1960s?) gets romantic... and we get to see the first chase of Shatner well and truly chomping the scenery. Oh and Scotty says that he can't change the laws of physics.

Oh yes, O'Reilly. The resident Irish officer (Ensign? Lieutenant? not sure) does nothing for the popular perception of Irish people when he does the sci-fi equivalent of drinking an entire cask of Guiness - I tried it once, didn't like it - and ends almost destroying the ship in the process.

I doubt that's something he'd want on his permanent record.


Not overly struck by this one; it may be an early example of the type of plot, I have seen it done much better elsewhere.


11 February 2015

Five things that the next administration, of whatever hue, needs to do

  1. Renovate the Houses of Parliament. It is unacceptable for this nation's laws to be determined in a building that is falling apart.
  2. Make some serious steps into reigning in the bad behaviour of MPs in the Commons. It is supposed to be a debating chamber, not a shouting chamber.
  3. Look into some serious devolution to the English regions; we cannot have a continuing inequality of powers in this matter.
  4. Do a council tax re-banding and re-valuation. It's long overdue.
  5. Make a decision, one way or the other, on Trident renewal.

02 February 2015

Election prediction for May

I'm currently working on a seat by seat prediction, but this is how I think things will broadly go:

Labour will get around 33-34% of the vote and end up short of a majority by about 20; it will have to do some form of deal with the SNP and/or Lib Dems if it wants to get anything done.

Sadly UKIP are now just too strong - and I doubt there is another leader of Blair quality in the party at least this side of 2025.