Hypocrisy

Brave New Worlds…


Rather a sleek bit of kit, if I do say so myself.

Some of you may remember, earlier this year, I posted a blog entry decrying the rise of the e-format of fiction. Well, brace yourself for a hypocritical U-turn worthy of the Tory/Lib Dem coalition…

I got a Kindle for Christmas. Before you start breaking out the effigies, let me explain. My principle reason for this was academic. As a law student, I have to read a frankly stupid number of academic articles per week, and since reading from a computer screen gives me a headache I end up printing them out. Which costs a fair bit. Thankfully, I can instead download them for free and read them on my shiny new Kindle, without headaches. Primarily because it isn’t shiny.

But I’d been lying if I tried to claim that as the only reason I wanted one. After all, it’s not “Treason in the Age of Terrorism” I’ve been reading for the last few days, but Gary McMahon’s “Rough Cut”. Which I highly recommend, by the way.

No, I’m also very much interested in the fiction on offer. To be completely honest, I’m a little disappointed with the price of some e-books. Unless you’re after fairly underground stuff, or standard e-reader fodder by Dan Brown or Stieg Larsson, then you’re unlikely to pay any less than you would for the print version. Which seems a little odd. I mean, less needs to be spent on the physical production. So does more money go to the author? Doubtful, although if it does I withdraw all criticism.

But anyway, the actual Kindle itself is a pleasure to read. Light enough to hold for long periods of time without tiring, a screen clear enough to read in sunshine, and a tantalising selection of books at my fingertips. Not to mention that, as the more expensive 3G version, it also serves as mobile internet access. And all without the Apple-ness of an iPad.

So yes, I’m converted. I’m not swearing off paper books, and for my favourites I still want physical copies. Digital will always lack the enticing smell, feel and general experience of reading a paper- or hard-back book, but if digital is the future, then there are much worse places it could be headed than the Kindle.

Plus, I can get the Guardian on it!

The Elephant in the Room


At the start of this academic year, I bought myself a clock radio, so I could wake up to the radio rather than whatever annoying noise my phone conjures up. Now, in Brighton I can’t get Absolute Radio. I personally cannot stand Chris Evans. So with Absolute and Radio 2 ruled out, I plumped for Radio 4. I quite like the Today programme, and John Humphrys’ voice isn’t an unpleasant thing to wake up to. (Quiet!)

This might seem an odd way to begin a blog entry, but it leads into something more substantial now. This morning I was half awake, listening to a bit about how dire Ireland’s economic state is at the moment, and how it looks like the EU is going to have to bail them out.

I wanted to use a picture of an elephant painted with the Irish flag, on fire, but unfortunately my lack of photoshop skills and the internet's lack of imagination has meant that I can only go with this particularly idiotic picture of Osborne.

Now, I might have missed a bit, as I was still waking up, but nowhere did I hear any parallels drawn between the Irish situation and our own. They suffered in the recession. So did we. They gained a large deficit as a result of bailing themselves out of the recession. So did we. They ended up with a Coalition. So did we. They set out on a program of radical cuts. We have just begun a near identical program.

And here’s the problem. Before the election, back when he was Shadow Chancellor, rather than axe-wielder-in-chief, George Osborne wrote an article in the Times newspaper about Ireland. You can read the article for yourself, but it contains the key quote.

I’m not an Osborne fan. I think he’s a moron, and I wouldn’t trust him with my pocket change, let alone the Treasury. But still, I’d have a lot more respect for him if he could let go of his damned cutcutcut obsession and looked at the bloody facts. It’s particularly galling when he himself laid out the sensible advice back in 2006.

“[Ireland]┬áhave much to teach us, if only we are willing to learn.”

And right you were, George. They taught us that sudden, drastic cuts when the economy is still unstable are a bad idea, and can result in a plunge back into recession. Not the lesson that he imagined they would teach us, granted, but important nonetheless. And yet despite eschewing the benefits of paying attention to Ireland and learning from their blunders, he seems not to be willing to learn himself.

It’s not surprising, of course. The Coalition government have set out on a program of economically-destructive cuts, and damn it they’re going to carry it out. That’s ideology. That’s politics. Any climbdown now would be tantamount to the lumbering mutant creature shooting itself in the face. But why are the rest of us not shouting louder about this?

Alan Johnson pointed out Osborne’s raging hypocrisy re: banking regulation, back when the CSR was delivered. But no one is waving Ireland around as an example of him ignoring the red lights and warning signs. Is there some reason for this? Is Ireland a no-go area for some reason?

Whatever, some brave MP (from either side of the House) needs to table a question to ask Osborne- or that Tory-apologist Danny Alexander- to explain why they are now ignoring the Irish lessons which they were so adamant we should learn from.