Flooding: When did we lose personal responsibility in this country?

The people who live by the side of a river, on the coast, on flood plains or on reclaimed marshland (like the Somerset Flats) are playing a percentage game. They are gambling that the once-in-a-couple-of-centuries series of storms won’t happen while they live their idyllic waterside existence.

Most of the time, because the percentage chance of it happening is so small, they get away with it. It is hypocritical of them *in the extreme* to complain if the Environment Agency and the government plays the same percentage game.

How much would the uneducated masses be complaining if billions was spend on flood defences when nothing is likely to happen for decades or centuries? They’d be up in arms complaining about it.

The railway to the SouthWest has been there since Brunel built it. The Thames hasn’t flooded this high since long before 1947. How many billions would you like us to spend now to make sure that these things are still safe in the year 2235?

Also, nobody has explained to me why the people who live in these places can’t organise and pay for their own flood defences. They seem to be such experts on it.

Has the question “How much should Council Tax go up to pay for local flood defences” even been asked? Or has it been asked and met with stoney silence? It always seems to be “someone else’s fault” these days.

Nobody has a backbone of their own. It’s pathetic.

The Standard published it, but edited it almost out of existence:

20140213-155653.jpg

The infinite tedium of yet another Hillsborough inquest

Sirs,

I note with resignation that the infinite tedium of yet another Hillsborough inquest is about to get underway. Already, the apologists are up in arms because some of the submitted evidence suggests that alcohol may have played a part in the event.

The nay-sayers cite the low bloody alcohol levels of the victims as proof that this is not the case. Let’s examine that, shall we? The Liverpool fans who turned up in plenty of time, who allowed for travel issues and who didn’t loiter in local pubs and who were near the front in a prime position to be crushed had low blood alcohol levels. So far so underwhelming.

What about the blood alcohol levels of the Liverpool fans who arrived late after long coach and rail journeys where drink was flowing freely, of the Liverpool fans who lingered in local pubs as cited in the original inquiry reports, of the Liverpool fans who actually did the crushing and killing of their fellow fans? Where is that measurement?

The repeated and nauseating levels of denial about the root causes of this event sicken me.

Royal Mail: Russian standards of asset theft

missive at several papers because I am getting increasingly pissed-off at the Royal Mail sell-off, not least of all because the Royal Mail in its current form already makes a profit for the country

Sirs,

“It’s your chance to own a bit of the Royal Mail” they claim. I’m a British citizen, I already own a bit of the Royal Mail, thank you very much.

What they mean is that they’re stealing my bit and everybody else’s bits and flogging them off very cheaply so their city friends can make a lot of money.

It is asset theft on a Russian scale, pure and simple, and utterly corrupt.

The Evening Standard printed it, which I was quite impressed by, given their Russian ownership…

20131008-154508.jpg

A day later, the Independent printed their version, without the Russia reference – they’re owned by the same Russian as the Standard…

20131011-022743.jpg

I’ll have an apostrophe please, Bob

I don’t know why I waste my time writing to these people sometimes…

Sirs,

That is not a possessive “its”!

20130912-043733.jpg

Go and stand in the corner. Yes, that one. Put the hat on.

Thank you.

Paul Harper

Suzanne Moore gets equality wrong, as usual

Missive to the Guardian after one of their clueless feministas gets it wrong again

Sirs,

Suzanne Moore (G2, 5 Sept.) inadvertently sums up nicely the difference between equality and feminism with her statement about men: “They can walk along­side us, just not ahead and take charge”.

She defines equality as men slowing their pace down to match that of women. Not a terribly high opinion of women’s capabilities, is it? So much for progress!

No, equality is all about making sure women can have the same opportunities as men – walk at the fastest pace, if you like – not about holding men back.

Women will never compete fairly with men if they insist on having men shot in one foot first.

Crocodile tears by the Tomlinson family?

Letter to several papers after the Metropolitan Police apologised to, and “compensated” Ian Tomlinson’s family for the attack by a police officer that killed him

I would find the Tomlinson family’s ‘fight for justice’ a little more convincing had they fought harder to keep him out of a homeless hostel.

He should not have been attacked and killed, of that there is absolutely no doubt.

But it is difficult, given his circumstances, to avoid the suspicion that his death is being treated opportunistically by those who might have done more while he was alive.

Rolling Stone Cover is Spot-On

letter to the Indeoendent about the cover of Rolling Stone featuring the Boston bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev in a pop-star celebrity pose

Sirs,

I think the Rolling Stone cover is a spot-on piece of cultural analysis.

Freedom of speech issues notwithstanding, those calling for a boycott of the magazine are *exactly* those who have been treating people like the Boston bomber as celebrities for years – drooling over the blow-by-bow coverage of their trials on television and the breathless analysis of every minute facet of their lives.

If they don’t like criminals being treated as celebrities then they should start treating them as criminals instead. Simple.

Kudos to Rolling Stone.

Paul Harper

20130718-102449.jpg



The Independent published it:

20130720-081443.jpg

French Farce of a Gay Marriage

Missive directed at several newspapers after having watched the first gay marriage in France descend into a media scrum because one of the grooms had a point to make:

Sirs,

I’m a gay man, and fully in favour of same-sex marriage.

But I’d have a lot more respect for France’s first gay marriage if they’d done it quietly like a proper wedding instead of inviting 150 journalists and turning it into a media freak show. The younger groom looked distinctly uncomfortable with all the posturing that his gay-activist husband was indulging in, on what should have been their special day together.

It always annoys me when equality isn’t enough. It is a major issue I have with the gobbier members of the “gay community” (whatever that is supposed to be) over here who spend so much time and energy campaigning, that they don’t realise they’re putting people off and having the opposite effect that they think they are.

The battle had been one. It was bad form to stamp the defeated’s head into the ground.

Paul Harper

The Evening Standard printed it, heavily edited:

20130603-190531.jpg

Then the Independent printed a longer version:

20130603-190538.jpg

Coalition’s “Grown-Up” Junior Partner

Sirs,

I do wish Nick Clegg would stop saying that “the public decided this is what they wanted” when justifying his inability to break up the coalition.

Not one single voter had this in mind when we voted, something later proved by the resounding defeat of his proportional voting referendum which would have made these fake coalitions far more likely in future.

By hanging on for dear life to his tenuous and mostly imaginary grip on power, he does his party and the country a great disservice.

Paul Harper

Ageism and sexism in media is not a male-only problem

Rant at the Guardian after a particularly whiny front-page piece about the rarity of over 50’s female presenters:

Sirs,

You highlight that only 18% of media presenters over 50 are female.

Over 50% of the population of the country is female – why don’t these presenters have massive viewing figures? Surely if women wanted to support this “cause” then they’d watch and be supportive in huge numbers?

The answer is, of course, that it isn’t a “cause” at all, it’s just a few gobby individuals who feel their ‘special talents’ aren’t being appreciated.

They are right, they’re not being appreciated. But they’re not being appreciated by both men AND women equally, so the issue is NOT one of sexism.

Any female presenter who thinks she’s striking a blow for equality by appearing on shows for cooking or shopping or country walks is delusional. They are reinforcing stereotypes, not breaking them.

Paul Harper