Posts Tagged 'Matthew Oakeshott'

Questionable Time #86


questionable time 86 david dimbleby ken clarke dancing

Good morning Lemmings and are you feeling it? Are you feeling the warming glow of economic recovery and the promise of a better future? No? Why ever not? Oh, that’s right, because we’re still in a January that’s refusing to end, the sky appears to be falling in and all your carefully laid plans for smoking heavily in cars full of children have just been kyboshed by the busy bodies in their ivory duck houses. Gah! Truly it is the cruellest month! Right – lets stop all this moping about and get on with it. Onwards, to a very IT-orientated Questionable Time…

 

I feel like I’m writing this on Ken Clarke…

Remember back in 2008-ish when netbooks were the next big thing? Well I was one of the suckers who bought the hype and here I am 6 years later, tearing my hair out at an uncooperative oblong of cat hair clogged keys, unresponsive scripts and a rebooting process that takes around half-an-hour. In fact, it’s not even like I have to do this as I have a perfectly good desktop that doesn’t feel the need to constantly play silly buggers and even my phone is now quicker (by a factor of several million) than this hunk of wanton awkwardness – yet every week I go through the same ritual of starting the damn thing up, waiting for it to complain about something, closing it down again and then screaming as some piece of irremovable bloatware demands to be updated. Why? Why do I do this to myself? Because despite (or maybe because) of all its failings, this machine has personality and not just any old personality. No, this netbook is in every respect – except form factor – the silicon-based equivalent of Ken Clarke.

 

Let’s start with the booting up process: I press the on button, it makes noises that suggest it doesn’t take kindly to being woken up before arriving in that weird netherworld between the login and the desktop – just like Ken in the opening shot. Icons slowly start materialising on the right hand side of the task bar and fire off little pop ups to herald their arrival: ‘Windows has detected that you tried to change tax settings and isn’t very pleased’ says one and you immediately double-click the Firefox icon in the hope of resolving this issue only to find that the system was nowhere ready for such a strenuous activity. The egg timer appears, everything freezes and more pop-ups demand attention:

 

‘Unidentified pundits detected. Searching for drivers’

 

‘You are running low on patience, please save all unsaved work’

 

‘You appear to be trying to be trying to connect with the general public – Please check your connectivity settings’.

 

Ahh! Enough already! Eventually though things start to settle and the browser window finally springs to life. You open a few tabs on foreign crims, fire off a few emails about dredging and start to feel that you are actually in control of things. But then you get cocky: You click a link about smoking in cars and it opens a new window with a massive Flash banner in it – it’s Emma Smurthwaite and she’s just done the old switcheroo on your point about lobbyists. It’s all too much to deal with, the keyboard becomes unresponsive and the screen turns blue. Good night and God bless.

 

So that’s my netbook and it’s also Ken Clarke – a tired yet functional collection of idiosyncracies that you can’t easily reformat but have grown to love in a very counter intuitive way.

 

MS Thornberry: The OS that could have been…

I was going to compare Emily Thornberry to one of those massive Acer lappies that came out around the time of Windows Vista’s release but then thought ‘No, that’s not entirely fair’ because Vista was just plain bad and Thornberry is at least half-way competent. However, there is one thing that she shares with Vista and that’s her innate capacity to rub people up the wrong way – like when she got hoist on her own petard by refusing to have a firm opinion on a case study of her own making. In fact, that was a pretty reasonable thing to do as the very point of the case study was to highlight how difficult it is to have a firm opinion on delicate judicial proceedings but that didn’t matter – something about the way she said it just riled the crowd and they gave her a right old booing. Actually, maybe she’s more Windows 8 – a technically ok bit of software that will never be loved because it took away our Taskbar. Ok, Windows 8 she is.

 

IBM Oakeshott…

There’s no way Matthew Oakeshott is anything other than a giant corporate mainframe, probably originally built in the 50’s and programmed using some arcane language (‘Social Democracy’ I think) that no-one knows how to code in any more. There he sits, relentlessly churning out data on why we should tax wealth and I hope he continues to do so until his magnetic tapes degrade to the point of unreadability for it is a worthy endeavour indeed.

 

HP Littlewood…

‘Drudgery’. That’s the word that always pops into my head when I see Mark Littlewood – drudgery like using a locked-down Dell or HP on a corporate network. Sure, it can sync calendars and book rooms anywhere in the building but what if I want to play a cheeky round of Solitaire at lunchtime, eh? No, it’s just all a little grown up and unsmiling for me thank you very much. Now then, where’s my proxy list?

 

iSmurthwaite…

So then, what’s this shiny new array of bells and whistles that have the crowd all a-clapping? Why it’s iSmurthwaite, the latest bleeding edge iteration of cloud based synergistic solutions for all your current affairs needs. Like all the other iDevices, iSmurthwaite has much to offer – like high performance and a snappy UI – but I can’t help thinking that we’re probably paying just a little over the odds in order to look cool when there are much more functional alternatives about. Maybe I’ll upgrade when Ken finally calls it a day.

 

Tl;dr

 

Clarke: 5/10

 

Crashed

 

Thornberry: 4/10

 

(Had hopes) Dashed

 

Oakeshott: 6/10

 

(Probably has a frighteningly small amount of Level 1) Cache (Memory)

 

Littlewood: 4/10

 

(Would look interesting with a) ‘Tache

 

Smurthwaite: 6/10

 

(Did) Clash (much with Ken)

 

The Crowd: 7/10

 

(Sounded like they’d been on the) Lash

 

 

…And so our story ends. Oh wait, no it doesn’t because I forgot to work in this week’s pshop. It’s Ken and he’s adopting his usual position in the Commons (see Fig. 1).

 

ken clarke sleeping

Fig. 1

Right that’s it from me expect to say go check and out this t-shirt I designed – it’s GTA Coalition and I’m more than a little stoked with it.

 

Next week Lemmings, next week…

Questionable Time #64


questionable time 64 david dimbleby toreador bullfighter

Good morning Lemmings and you all owe me a big one. Remember how I said I was going on holiday in search of this mysterious ‘Sun’ business? Well I found it, hacked off a small chunk and successfully smuggled it back through Leeds-Bradford Airport at great personal risk because that’s the sort of selfless guy I am. It’s in the sky right now and I have to say I’m rather taken by it. Anyway, if you can take your squinting eyes off it for a second, here’s what happened on last night’s Question Time...

 

I had high hopes for Margot James…

Given the rolling hullabaloo that is the Tory party’s attitude towards gay marriage it’s probably not the easiest job being the Blue Team’s first openly lesbian MP, let alone one that’s also against an EU referendum and has the ability to come across as a vaguely normal person. As it happens, Margot James is all these things and very bloody good at them she is too, what with her bopping a series of less-than-touchy-feely True Blue noses on the Commons’ floor in the past few months. So, she’s got QT-Pro-In-The-Making written all over her, right? Well, not quite.

 

James’ first problem is a common one for QT n00bs and mainly relates to how far you throw your punches. For some it’s a case of over-extending yourself too early, lunging at your opponent with an elaborate spiel only to find that you’re now totally overexposed and taking kidney punches from four separate directions – think Warsi a few years back or Dories when she’s been at the catnip and you’re on the money. However, this isn’t the case for James and if anything, she suffers from the polar opposite of this syndrome: She’s not throwing them far enough. Take for example the first question on Labour’s new welfare duds. Here’s an open goal with oodles of potential for mischief yet Margot let it slip by with only a cursory jab at her opponent that may well have stung but certainly didn’t result in any real damage. It was the same with the bulk of her other responses too: Short range, compact little affairs that while conforming to the spirit of our weekly political Fight Club failed to show off any real taste for blood.

 

However, I will give her this – she dealt with the ambush on lobbying rather well for a first timer. Some of this is purely circumstantial as Yaqoob inadvertently threw her a lifeline by blathering over the top of the really dangerous moment but I was heartened to see a well-timed deployment of the Knowing Smile. This came after the failure of her Dear Sir, Imagine My Concern escape plan and sort of amounted to an unspoken Fair Play Guv, Banged To Right’s. Granted, it’s not the best way to lead your life but it did the trick of disarming the crowd and moving matters along before they got really fraught.

 

So a mixed bag then. On the one hand James has already proven that she’s able enough to avoid going fully-n00b but there’s definitely room for improvement – like checking the Register of Members Interests for your own culpability before appearing on a Lobbygate-heavy edition of Question Time.

 

I’ve finally figured out what Douglas Alexander’s superpower is…

…It’s Acoustic Camouflage, a deft little trick where the timbre of your voice is just so dry that the listener is baffled to the point where the content is indecipherable. It happened throughout last night’s show and is so effective that I don’t actually have a clue as to what he said about anything (which is just as well since the same also applies to Labour’s new stance on benefits) nor did I find myself caring much either way.

 

On top of this, Wee Dougie also has a supplementary power which I call Emotional Muting – a sort of internal dampening mechanism that makes it really hard to discern what he’s actually getting at. For example, he had numerous to-do’s with Margot James where the way his lips were flapping and the few words that registered said ‘this guy is angry’ yet the overall impression was of a slightly fidgety man who was trying to work out whether he set Holby City to record or not. Sure, neither of these powers are up with flight or ESP, but they’re certainly useful if you’re in the market for making people slightly perplexed and nonplussed.

 

Yaqoob showed us how this QT lark is done…

Remember when the Respect Party resembled something slightly more nuanced than a ramshackle vehicle for conveying George Galloway’s supersized ego into everyone’s faces? No? Well I do and that was largely down to Salma Yaqoob, the party’s Adult-in-Chief before she got so hacked off with Galloway that she threw herself out of the passenger seat and set up a makeshift camp on the hard shoulder. Anyway, it’s Respect’s loss as last night she proved just how good she can be: Measured, passionate and in it for the right reasons whilst never straying into the territory of shrill. So top marks then? ‘Fraid not as the waffling over James’ Oh Bugger moment applied a portion of fly to an otherwise immaculate ointment but seeing as no-one’s ever got top marks on Questionable Time I wouldn’t complain.

 

Lord Oakeshott: He does exactly the opposite of what it says on the tin…

What the tin says: A Liberal Democrat member of the House of Lords who represents the interests of a party in government.

 

What he actually is: Some guy who hates the House of Lords, hates the government and probably hates his party as well.

 

Love it, love it, love it.

 

And A. N. Wilson?

I’ll level with you, I thought this guy was going to be a train wreck but in actual fact he was pretty good fun. Ok, so all the banging on about ‘Debt this, debt that’ was a little predictable but he was clearly having a blast and the way his sentences were constantly in danger of ending with a phrase like ‘Whoopsie-daisy!’ was all rather jovial. I just wish he’d worn his Hogwarts/Accelerated Decrepitude get-up to really seal the deal (see Fig. 1).

 

an wilson question time

Fig. 1

Tl;dr

 

James: 5/10

(Has a way to) Go

 

Alexander: 5/10

(Exactly what he said I do not) Know

 

Yaqoob: 8/10

(Is my new) Beau

 

Oakeshott: 7/10

(Will) Kowtow (to no man)

 

Wilson: 6/10

(Probably lives in something that looks like a) Chateau

 

The Crowd: 7/10

(Like eating Play) Doh

 

Speaking of the crowd, they were a colourful bunch weren’t they? Now, before you all get on your high horses and accuse me of casting aspersions about cross dressers who aren’t very good at cross dressing I’d just like to say a) he really wasn’t very good at cross dressing and b) I was more shocked by the lad with the Skrillex haircut/facial piercings who went to all the effort of putting on a suit. The overall look was a little… disjointed.

 

Right, that’s me. Enjoy the Sun that I’ve so generously provided.

 

Next week Lemmings, next week…


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