One upon a time, Lord Poncenby of Moneyshire rode into the small town of Greensville, atop a magnificent white steed and accompanied by an extensive retinue in finest livery. He declared that he loved the town so much, he had come to offer his grace and favour to the simple folk. If they would only swear fealty to his Lordship, and agree to a few modest conditions and changes in the town, he promised they would enjoy a bounty such that the town had never seen.
It seems de rigueur right now for governments and businesses to come together to collectively form skills strategies, in order to co-ordinate the employment needs of business with the output of the education system. On the face of it, this sounds completely logical - kids will eventually grow up and need jobs, and businesses will need new employees to replace those moving on. But somehow, the concept of aligning education with the needs of existing businesses makes me rather uncomfortable.
We hear a lot about globalisation these days; how money, people and business move freely around the world (although that has had a few teeny problems of late) and how countries must therefore compete in that market for investment, and ultimately jobs and economic success in general. Much of this is true and common sense, however, I do object to the tone and emphasis that is used whenever this argument is made.
Well, you’ve got to accept that Pope Benedict XVI isn’t afraid to tell people what he thinks. The recent furore about his comments that the church should be exempt from UK equality laws, because it would “impose unjust limitations on the freedom of religious communities to act in accordance with their beliefs” is pretty chilling. Cue a shot of loads of people on the street with banners saying that Catholics should have the ‘freedom’ to discriminate against gay and transgender individuals because of their beliefs.
I’ve watched with some entertainment the latest round of scraps across the pond about health care, which has now turned into a Brit-bashing exercise. Apparantly the NHS is ‘Orwellian’ and ‘Evil’ (allegedly that particular accusation was from the eminent scholar and international expert Sarah Palin) according to the American right-wing - which, when perceived from this side of the Atlantic constitutes most of the political spectrum compared to what is considered centrist here - all of which is news to most people in Britain, barring the usual suspects on the fringes of the Conservative party that their own leader would like to disown, but who always turn up on American TV because no-one listens to them over here.
We all know that the economy is badly screwed. And this isn’t just some country-specific problem, it’s economic buggery on a global scale, thanks to the wonders of a joined-up international banking system run by people who thought they were a lot smarter than they actually were. “Gold rushes” always collapse eventually, it’s just that in this case the gold rush knew no national boundaries and when it ended, everyone is left with a hangover, even (or perhaps even especially) the people that didn’t benefit stratospherically from the good times.
I generally don’t stay up late into the night to watch things live, such as Formula 1 or the Oscars. However, I did stay up until almost 3am this morning watching the US election results come in, only going to bed when Ohio declared for Obama, pretty much guaranteeing he was going to win (it’s a crucial swing state) - at the same time unofficial predictions were that Florida and New Mexico were going his way too, making it pretty much unassailable.
Please don’t inflict another 4 years of clueless right-wing government on yourselves and the rest of the world. McCain might seem like a change from Bush, but have you noticed how much his previously independent rhethoric has changed since becoming the republican nominee? He’s towing the establishment line more and more, and becoming more of a negative compaigner by the day. And anyone who picks Sarah Palin as a running mate needs their head examined.