Friday, 25 January 2019

The Art of the Possible

The latest 'top news' story on the BBC news pages is headed "Trump announces deal to lift shutdown".

If only the news were as good as the headline suggests.

It's a temporary measure, getting people back to work for three weeks, and then the US government  and all the federal employees face the same predicament.

Trump insists that he's going to get the funding for his wall, either in the budget or via declaring a national emergency, presumably thinking that the threat of the constitutional crisis this would evoke will be enough to bring the Democrats into line and make them write the budget he wants.

It must be hard for him to realise that being President is not the same as being CEO and that sometimes the dreaded C word needs to be used - and no, I don't mean covfefe.

As some students of US history know, and all those who have seen Hamilton know, originally when one of two candidates was elected US President, the loser/runner-up became the Vice-President. The gentle art of compromise (not to mention decent campaigning without resorting to derogatory comments about your opponent) was essential for anything to get done.

There seems to be a view in governments on both sides of the Atlantic that if you compromise with the opposition, you have somehow lost. You haven't, you've governed. And the people you are governing have won.

Fingers crossed that someone with the ear of the President/control of his Twitter account can help him understand this some time in the next three weeks.

Friday, 18 January 2019

Elderly Driver Involved in Prang

The top story on BBC News at the moment is about Trump accusing someone else of lying when they said he instructed a lawyer to lie on his behalf. Not so much fake news as old news. (And how can he remember anyway?)

So instead, I'm looking at the next story down, about Prince Philip being involved in a car accident. The dent in his car is noticeable, and the story says his car rolled, both of which suggest he was the hittee rather than the hitter. Someone in the other car has a broken wrist, but otherwise all the personal injuries were in the nature of scrapes and cuts. Apparently he has said the sun dazzled him. A common problem in this country, as it's such a rarity that we don't generally wear sunglasses to drive.

Why, therefore, promote the story so heavily? A minor obsession with the Royal Family is the only reason I can think for it, unless there is a campaign about to be launched to restrict the issuing of driving licences to the elderly.

The local council were already debating reducing the speed limit on that road, which may or may not be a good thing. There are plenty of roads round here that have a limit of 40 or 50 which everyone exceeds because the roads are straight and wide with good visibility. I'm all in favour of keeping speed limits down in villages (and not *just* because I live in one), and particularly near schools. In the US, many places double speeding fines near schools at the beginning and end of the school day - not necessary in this village, as the parked cars on the school run provide a complex chicane that can only be negotiated at about 15 mph on a good day.

The issue of elderly drivers is also one that crops up in the news whenever an elderly person is involved in an accident, particularly when driving the wrong way on the motorway. But to suggest that therefore all elderly drivers over, say, 70 should have their licences taken away is ridiculous. For a start, in our village, the bus service is relatively good but is still only hourly and finishes by 7pm. In Spain, once a driver reaches the age of 70, they have to take a virtual-reality test every couple of years, not just an eyesight test, but something on a computer that tests reaction times and hand-eye coordination.

Doing something to prevent accidents for the rising number of drivers over 70 can only be a good thing - and not just because we can't all afford a new car the next day or a chauffeur.

Sunday, 13 January 2019

Back to the original view/intent

Anyone who reads my blog will know that I’m not a big believer in “New Year’s Resolutions”. I’m happy to set myself challenges for the year, some of which may even be successful, but the whole “it’s a miserable month so I’m going to change my life” approach is something I do not embrace.

So any changes I make now are not so much because it’s the new year, but because a number of changes have taken place in my life recently, and I’ve just been away on holiday with a chance to do a lot of thinking.

One of the things that has bugged me is my complete ineptitude when it comes to writing a regular blog. There are only so many times I can write about coping with depression or apologising for the long gap between entries. Originally, when I set up this blog (after closing down my fictional blog), I had intended to comment on things in the news, with a perspective from a leafy English shire village. Why didn’t I do that? In part, I think I was worried about offending people. The views became inoffensive, bland and, to be honest, boring.

Therefore, without wishing to offend people deliberately, but acknowledging that I probably will anyway, I shall go back to the original plan. Once a week, I intend to pick one of the news stories of the day and present my view, possibly including how it pertains to life in an English village. And any offensive or trolling comments will be deleted.