Tag Archives: boris johnson

Idiocy and expertise

I have – once or twice – been known to refer to Michael Gove as a “dangerous idiot”. In my opinion he is Dunning-Kruger in living, breathing, frightening action in one of the highest offices of state. He inserted his 1950s oar to screw up education and is now Lord Chancellor. He has somehow not yet screwed this up, probably because most of his changes seem to have been reversals of the chum-brained policies of his colleague Chris Grayling. Those two, plus Boris Johnson and Iain Duncan Smith, make up the Four Horsemen of the Brexocalypse: I’ll leave it up to you to parcel out all the roles, but Grayling’s definitely Gummo.

Gove was interviewed last night about the EU referendum, and made this statement: “I think people in this country have had enough of experts.”

gove-cartoon

What Gove means, of course, is that he has had enough of experts. Specifically, experts who disagree with him. Atop his Dunning-Kruger pinnacle Gove is unaware of how unaware he is and, by the thundering power of his own ego wrapped in his child-catcher ice-cream politeness and seduced by his own connections, he has decided he knows more than they do. He believes he is more expert than the experts.

Oh, but this kind of expert is fine by Gove, I expect.

Specialists with years, decades of training and experience, who live and breathe their subject: nope, but for one exception. The only knowledge he respects is political knowledge. To read a brief, to answer questions, to spin, to dodge, to answer without answering, to make small talk, to win elections.

This explains how he screwed up education, and how he will likely go on to screw up justice – or worse. Empirical understanding valued less than ideology and self-belief. He won, therefore he is correct.

Gove and his ilk are no different than Icke and his, bar a few lizards. It is dangerous idiocy let loose in power, a toddler diving into a ball pit of people’s lives.

2016. What a year. A year that might end with the four horsemen in charge here, and Biff Tannen over there. God help us all. No wonder everyone’s dying.

Time to rewatch Being There.

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Avaragado’s 2012 predictions – results

As usual the cider-enhanced Chris Walsh has cast a rheumy eye over the predictions I made a year ago and awarded the marks as he saw fit. Adjudications and correct answers in square brackets.

News

  1. It will be announced that the Duchess of Cambridge is pregnant. [1pt]
  2. Ed Miliband will be replaced as leader of the Labour party. [0pt]
  3. The US presidential election will be between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney. Obama will be re-elected. [1pt]
  4. At least one country will leave the euro. [0pt]
  5. Boris Johnson will be re-elected as Mayor of London. [1pt]
  6. There will be an earthquake in the UK of magnitude 4.0 or above on the Richter scale. (I’m only using this scale as it’s the one used on the Wikipedia page for UK earthquakes.) [0pt]

[Score: 3/6]

Sport

  1. Great Britain & Northern Ireland will win 21 gold medals at the Summer Olympics, and over 50 medals in total. [1pt: GB&NI won 29 gold and 65 in total]
  2. Great Britain & Northern Ireland will top the medal table at the Paralympics. [0pt: third, after China and Russia]
  3. Spain will win the Euro 2012 football tournament. [1pt]
  4. The United States will regain golf’s Ryder Cup. [0pt: Europe won in a very close finish]
  5. Jensen Button will regain the Formula One championship. [0pt: Sebastian Vettel]
  6. Manchester City will win the English Premier League. [1pt: with a last-minute goal on the last day of the season]

[Score: 3/6]

Science and technology

  1. Having miraculously survived 2011, Steve Ballmer will definitely be fired as Microsoft CEO. [0pt: still there!]
  2. CERN will announce the official discovery of the Higgs boson. [0.999pt, rounded up to 1pt]
  3. Apple will launch a TV. [0pt]
  4. At least one of the co-CEOs of RIM will be fired, and the company will be bought. [0pt: Jim Balsillie resigned but was not fired, and RIM wasn’t bought]
  5. The next version of the iPhone will include an NFC chip. [0pt: rumoured for the 5S]
  6. Amazon will release a free version of the Kindle. [0pt: but Chris wishes they would, as he sat on his and broke it]

[Score: 1/6]

Entertainment

  1. The 2012 season of X Factor in the UK will be the last. [0pt: nothing announced – time will tell!]
  2. In Doctor Who, the replacement for the Ponds will not be from Earth. [0pt: nothing to suggest she’s not from earth – time will tell!]
  3. Best Actress Oscar: Meryl Streep for The Iron Lady. [1pt]
  4. Best Actor Oscar: Jean Dujardin, The Artist. [1pt]
  5. Best Picture Oscar: The Artist. [1pt]
  6. CNN will fire Piers Morgan. [0pt: although competing petitions to deport/refuse repatriation suggest nobody wants him]

[Score: 3/6]

Celebrity Deathwatch

  1. Former anthropology student, US evangelist Billy Graham. [alive!]
  2. Former ophthalmology student, Syrian president Bashar al-Assad. [alive!]
  3. Former chemistry student, Baroness Thatcher. [alive!]
  4. Former naval cadet, Prince Philip. [alive!]
  5. Former Cassius Clay, Muhammad Ali. [alive!]
  6. Former Hitler Youth, Pope Benedict XVI. [alive!]

[Score: 0/6]

[Total score: 10/30]

Not as good as last year. I suspect I was a year early on most of the science and technology predictions. And my celebrity deathwatch category maintains its staggering 100% failure record.

Stay tuned for Avaragado’s 2013 predictions…

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The generation gap

As we slobber before our mega-tellies laughing at gypsies or braying neon quiz shows it sometimes escapes us that we’re totes living in teh futur. We regularly eat space pills, for instance, and clamber aboard our personal UFOs for weekend breaks at Moonbase Alpha. Anti-gravity holes in the floor, the ubiquitous uppy-downies, have long replaced the jagged slashes of carpentry our comically primitive ancestors subjected themselves to for trivial vertical translation. And I don’t know about you, but I couldn’t live without my nuclear fusion podule. I keep mine in the cupboard under the— er, the cupboard beside the uppy-downy, with the spare robot parts and the Yahtzee.

Well, maybe we’re not quite there yet. But we have smartphones and the internet, and the instantaneous global communication of 140-character inanity that would’ve looked miraculous to my beflared, jazz-patterned, unbald seventies self.

Like many of a certain age, this cheeky mewling scamp annually devoured the Norris McWhirter non-fascist factorama that was the Guinness Book of Records. It was a more innocent time, a time before spurious non-record records (“most critically acclaimed seventh-generation puzzle game”), a time before full-colour illustrations, a time before graphic design. Simply column upon column of facts, cold hard facts, longest serving this and first that, perhaps accompanied by a blurry half-tone image of Roger Bannister wheezing.

I was fascinated by the simpler human records like tallest man and in particular oldest living man (I was — please prepare yourself — uninterested in the women). At that time the record-holder was a Japanese man, Shigechiyo Izumi — since expunged from the book after it was realised he’d never been seen in the same room as Clive Dunn. According to the Guinness World Records web site the current holder of the record for oldest (not living) man is Christian Mortensen, who died aged 115. Though since the relevant page claimed for some time that he was born in 1825 rather than 1882, I suspect their fact checking has gone to cock since McWhirter relocated to right-wing stats heaven.

While Izumi was still being worshipped as lord of the undead my young mind boggled that someone (allegedly) born in 1865, before even the invention of the trimphone, might still be alive at that time. The oldest living person today, in our velour spacesuit future, was born in 1896 — and there are only twenty-six people verified as born before 1900 and still going (just one of them, the youngest, British). These numbers will, alas, soon dwindle: seven have died so far this year. Within a few short years there will be nobody alive who can claim to have twice endured the tedious arguments about which year begins a century. But there are certainly some now living who will be able to make that claim, in another 88 years or so. A mere geological and by then gerontological trifle.

There should, I contend, be a hands across the centuries event while such a thing is possible. Richard Branson or David Cameron or another PR luminary should bus and stairlift in everyone born before 1900 to a great gathering at Greenwich, on the meridian, whether they want to or not, and have them mingle with confused young children and photographers. They could shoehorn it into the Olympics somehow, and have Boris Johnson or his earthly representative fly in on a sponsored zip wire. Somewhere in the mix will be a child who will see the first nano-fireworks of the twenty-second century fly and spin and footle disappointingly, from their hoverchair in an Old Folks’ Home on Ganymede, and whose weary space fingers could gesture up the holoimage of them being thrust into the face of a refugee from the nineteenth century. What a moment that would be. A dull moment, true, but a moment.

I’m sure, although the execrable Guinness web site refuses to allow me to locate it, there used to be a record along the lines of “last parental link to the eighteenth century”. Luckily the internet and the wonderful @lettersofnote Twitter feed tell me the answer: the father of Alice Grigg (1863-1970) of Kent was born to a small collection of powdered wigs in 1799. A total of 171 eventful years between the start of one generation and the end of the next.

However, and still bogglingly, there are extant grandparental links to those times. Indeed of all people the tenth president of them there United States, the lowly regarded John Tyler, who was born in 1790, has two living grandchildren. Three generations spanning almost the entire history of the country, from beginning to end (do you see what I did there?).

Compare that to today in Cameron’s Britain, where people are having grandchildren almost before puberty. January’s newborn is December’s four-greats. Generations are flashing past more quickly than Andrew Lansley at a heckling competition.

In my day you didn’t have children, you had 16K and were happy with a Jet Set Willy knock-off. Still am, come to that.

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Avaragado’s 2012 predictions

Now spelunked into the Brechtian caverns of history: the year of the Arab Spring, the deaths of several prominent nutjobs, the end of the Screws, the looting of cheap sportswear, the Royal Day Off, the Occupy tent sale, and, of course, what is believed to be Sir Paul McCartney’s 49th or 50th marriage; estimates vary. And what will 2012 bring forth? Here’s your exclusive guide.

News

  1. It will be announced that the Duchess of Cambridge is pregnant.
  2. Ed Miliband will be replaced as leader of the Labour party.
  3. The US presidential election will be between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney. Obama will be re-elected.
  4. At least one country will leave the euro.
  5. Boris Johnson will be re-elected as Mayor of London.
  6. There will be an earthquake in the UK of magnitude 4.0 or above on the Richter scale. (I’m only using this scale as it’s the one used on the Wikipedia page for UK earthquakes.)

Sport

  1. Great Britain & Northern Ireland will win 21 gold medals at the Summer Olympics, and over 50 medals in total.
  2. Great Britain & Northern Ireland will top the medal table at the Paralympics.
  3. Spain will win the Euro 2012 football tournament.
  4. The United States will regain golf’s Ryder Cup.
  5. Jensen Button will regain the Formula One championship.
  6. Manchester City will win the English Premier League.

Science and technology

  1. Having miraculously survived 2011, Steve Ballmer will definitely be fired as Microsoft CEO.
  2. CERN will announce the official discovery of the Higgs boson.
  3. Apple will launch a TV.
  4. At least one of the co-CEOs of RIM will be fired, and the company will be bought.
  5. The next version of the iPhone will include an NFC chip.
  6. Amazon will release a free version of the Kindle.

Entertainment

  1. The 2012 season of X Factor in the UK will be the last.
  2. In Doctor Who, the replacement for the Ponds will not be from Earth.
  3. Best Actress Oscar: Meryl Streep for The Iron Lady.
  4. Best Actor Oscar: Jean Dujardin, The Artist.
  5. Best Picture Oscar: The Artist.
  6. CNN will fire Piers Morgan.

Celebrity Deathwatch

  1. Former anthropology student, US evangelist Billy Graham.
  2. Former ophthalmology student, Syrian president Bashar al-Assad.
  3. Former chemistry student, Baroness Thatcher.
  4. Former naval cadet, Prince Philip.
  5. Former Cassius Clay, Muhammad Ali.
  6. Former Hitler Youth, Pope Benedict XVI.

I look forward to your company next New Year’s Eve when all shall be judged.

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