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Showing posts from June, 2012

Abe Lincoln - 19th Century Superhero

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So Seth Grahame-Smith, the screenwriter of the new "Abraham Lincoln: Vampire slayer" movie, has this to say about one of America's most venerated presidents:

“The man’s life is a 19th century super hero story. He comes from nothing, has no education, no money, lives in the middle of nowhere on the frontier. And despite the fact that he suffers one tragedy and one setback after another, through sheer force of will, he becomes something extraordinary: not only the president but the person who almost single-handedly united the country.”


The full story - about how some Lincoln scholars think the weird film's depiction is actually pretty historically good, is on the Daily Beast website.

Gove's O-Level Proposal

Michael Gove's desire to return the 16+ exam system to the more rigorous style once seen in O-levels has ruffled a hen coop load of feathers but is undoubtedly the right move.  Whether he achieves it or not is another matter, but for what they're worth I blogged some nicely supportive comments about the proposal on the TRG's website here.  I do think that having decided a comprehensive exam doesn't work and ditching it in favour of a more academically selective one might be a principle worth applying to schools?  We could call the academically stretching schools grammar schools or some such thing.

No Honours For Marr

BBC presenter and Queen Elizabeth biographer is no knee-jerk republican, but he's got it in for the honours system as Roy Greenslade reports.  I rather like Marr's reasoning - we all know that the system became farcical long ago, not least for its ritual rewarding of well paid celebrities who needed no further recognition and were already doing something many would give their eye teeth for.  Mind you, I'm not sure Marr was close to getting an honour in the first place, but this will certainly ensure he doesn't need to get out the court dress just yet.

Putin's Right On Syria

The implacable features of the spymaster turned president don't always inspire comfort in the West, but on Syria I have a hunch that Mr. Putin may be right.  I have posted on the TRG's Egremont blog about why, despite the apparent moral imperatives brought to us in nightly news casts, we should not consider intervening in Syria.

Four Days in Jubilee Land - Days 3 and 4

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Jubilee weariness is getting to me, hence the compression of the last two days!  If your only news about the Jubilee was from the news channels you could have been forgiven on Monday for thinking that the boat pageant had been such a success that they'd decided to repeat it all again.  But it was just the news channels, ensuring that this day old piece of news took firm precedence over such minor things as the burgeoning civil war in Syria, the ridiculous misadventures of Baroness Warsi or the deepening Euro crisis.

Monday's Jubilee adventures brought us the evening Concert Outside The Palace, with the sort of mix that you would never possibly see - or endure - outside of a royal celebration.  And Elton John was out of tune wasn't he?  We also had the Grand Beacon Lighting, proving once again the centrality of bonfires and fireworks at the heart of the monarchical propaganda machine (Guy Fawkes anyone?).  Our own village beacon was one of the 4,000 'official' one…

Four Days in Jubilee Land - Day Two

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“Britons Brave Weather For Jubilee”.  Well we are marvellous I know, and I don’t wish to detract from the many who carried on regardless, but we were hardly “braving” anything.  We had the traditional, albeit continuous, British drizzle, interspersed occasionally with slightly more forthright rain, but it took precious little bravery.  Hurricanes, tornadoes, mega-floods, blistering Equator-esque sun – that requires bravery.  But this is Jubilee Britain where the English language has been forced into a battle against its own eloquence in order to provide ever worse metaphorical flourishes for desperate commentators.  One and a half hours of boat pageant commentating was certainly taking its toll on the BBC reporters charged with explaining what we could see perfectly clearly on our television screens.  The ‘Spirit of Chartwell’ may have managed a “perfect tactical manoeuvre” according to the reverential commentator, but on screen it looked pretty much like a boat chugging out from the…

Four Days in Jubilee Land - Day One

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I’m quite glad the weather is poor on Day 2 of the Great Jubilee Breakout.  It is quintessentially British and allows us to do our traditional British celebrations with even greater enthusiasm and fervour.  It would have been no fun to hold our 9,000 plus street parties in the glaring heat of an unseasonal midday sun.  Much better to be able to re-locate them all to the village hall and quickly see if the Morris Men can perform tomorrow instead.  And of course, as is the way when large numbers of British strangers abandon the modern custom of not talking to each other and gather together, those awkward few hours after introducing each other can now be followed, with relief, by lengthy discourses about the weather.  I can’t wait to hear my first “mustn’t grumble” and the more pithy “typical”.
So this is Jubilee Land.  Stuck with something to do that hasn’t been done on previous Jubilees or Royal Weddings, the government came up with a four day weekend instead.  Like we need an extended…