Liked the last one so went straight on to the seventh Inspector Rebus novel: Let It Bleed by Ian Rankin.
Another very good one. Rebus is falling apart mentally, but does finally get his teeth seen to. The plot carefully balances corruption in high places in Scotland, with some stuff at the other end of the social spectrum. This time the corruption seems more plausible, with the generous business development grants being diverted with the aid of the complex bureaucracy of Scottish government.
Worth reading. This series is a bit of a slow starter so if you're pushed for time you probably wouldn't want to start right in the middle. While the books are self-contained there are a few continuing plot elements and the odd in-joke like the villains using Ford Escorts. "The Black Book" (number 5) wouldn't be a bad place to start.
What I'm Watching
Watched the last of the Henry plays from the BBC Shakespeare series: Henry V.
Not too bad, but a little disappointing. They seem to be trying for a kind of grittiness popular at the time (it was made 1980ish), but not sure it totally works. "Once more unto the breach" seems a little forced with Harry chivvying exhausted soldiers individually. The prolonged rom-com stuff at the end where he tries to seduce the princess across the language barrier also makes a jarring change of tone. I think it's better to either romanticize the war stuff, or cut out the romance stuff.
David Gwillim does a pretty good job in the title role, and the other performances are OK.
What I'm Watching 2
Saw the latest M. Night Shyamalan movie The Happening, since I'd managed not to be spoilerified this time. Thought it was pretty good with some nice tense and creepy scenes. Was a little let down in some ways by the ending: could have been tighter and tougher. Not bad on the whole though.
Looked though some of my diaries from earlier in the series.
Well, the constitutional talks have failed. Seems like a good thing: behind all the details and sub-clauses and voting schemes lies a basic fact that people don't want the EU to exist as the vast, bureaucratic, undemocratic, command-and-control system that the Eurocrats want it to be.2004: constitution introduced
...a "two-speed europe" is actually a pretty good idea. Keep the free-trade and free travel zone as it is; but let France, Germany and their allies unify themselves into the high-tax, high spending superstate that they want so much.
So, looks like there's a new constitution to think about... Will have a look through after the toilettage, but it looks like this one might be vote-uppable...May 2005: French referendum
Can't see the constitution being ratified in the near future though: most of the UK press have come out with all scaremonger cannons blazing, and they'll keep up the bombardment indefinitely. Plus there are various other countries holding referendums, some of which will doubtless fail, leading to the usual keep-holding-referendums-until-we-get-the-right-answer business.
French Referendum. I'm broadly in favour of the constitution: we need the voting changes, but not that enthusiastic about it. If the French reject it, they'll want a load of anti-market concessions to reapprove it; but since the new Eastern nations would have to be involved in the renegotiations, the French would find it hard to get a better deal. No idea how it would all play out.June 2005: French vote No
The basic fact is: nobody knows why the French and the Dutch voted no. The no campaigners were a disparate bunch from all across every spectrum. The vox pop interviews with no voters show diverse, contradictory and often self-contradictory opinions. Nobody knows anything.2008: Irish reject Lisbon treaty
And so, the obvious response from every commentator and politician is: to solve the problem we have to do exactly what I already wanted...
Ultimately, it's not that there is no Plan B. The difficulty is that there are plans B,C,D,E, F right through to Z, and most of them are completely incompatible with each other.
Don't really have that much to add. The big problem was that the EU voting system was designed for fewer countries, and the plethora of vetoes and weak, 6-monthly rotating presidency don't work very well for the expanded EU.
Now in everyday operation, this hasn't proven as unworkable as some feared. Most routine stuff still gets done.
The problem though, is that this cumbersome system makes reform of the EU very difficult. Major changes like CAP reform, proper accounting and reducing corruption can't really be pushed through.
So, I think the moderately Euro-disgruntled are basically shooting themselves in the foot. Those who want a more efficient, less corrupt, less profligate EU aren't going to get one, because they keep cancelling the legislation that would actually make that possible.
Homophobia quiz: spot whether the quotes are from rappers or pastors (I got 7/10).
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