Finished Perverting the Course of Justice by Inspector Gadget. Book based on a UK police blog, now wiped out after the Inspector's bosses found it.
Annoyingly there's a printer's error: about forty pages are missing, replaced by what look like some kind of children's historical book about Spain. Not sure if it affects just this copy, a whole batch, or all of them.
It's fairly familiar from the other police blogs, like Coppersblog and P.C. Bloggs: bureaucracy and top-down micromanagement damaging the service. Respectable citizens are alienated by being used as ways to meet targets: criminals often given easy times to get easy detections. As a genuine Inspector, Gadget gives a view from a bit higher up the hierarchy.
It's fairly interesting, with a good selection of anecdotes. However his attitude gets a little irritating at times. All the police failures he thinks are due to terrible systems and government meddling. He's occasionally sympathetic to some other bodies: a few PCSOs and some social workers, but generally regards similar failures by others as due to deep moral and personal failings.
The Magistrates Blog has documented at length how sentences are tightly restricted by tariff books: they literally give an exact formula for what the sentence should be when all aggravating and mitigating factors are considered, and the magistrate just applies them. If he varies it, he's almost certain to just be overruled on appeal. Gadget however constantly fulminates against the gullible, liberal, out-of-touch magistrates and judges handing down light sentences
Interestingly, at a couple of times he hints that he does have a certain discretion that he doesn't use. He complains about the time wasted on Mispers (missing persons) who are hunted down even they're happy teenage skivers. He mentions that they're categorized as High, MIddle and Low risk, but he and everyone else is too worried about consequences to rate any Low.
In another incident, he complains about a minor marijuana offender, reported by his mother who wanted a policeman to give him a little scare, being severely prosecuted. He mentions here that he could have given a written document, but regarded this as impossible since it would affect his future career.
So it does seem that the picture might be a bit more complicated than just government incompetence.
Overall, pretty interesting even if you're familiar with the genre, would be even more so if you're new to it. However it's a little self-serving and should be taken with a pinch of salt.
Update [2010-2-5 18:20:51 by TheophileEscargot]:
Monday books have read this diary and responded!
First, the Inspector Gadget blog is up and running. (I thought it had been taken down, but must have been wrong).
Second, there was a printers error affecting a couple of hundred copies, most of which were recalled. They've offered to send me a replacement copy: not sure I'll bother but it sounds like good customer service!
What I'm Watching
Saw The Book of Eli at the cinema. Bit of an oddity: it's partly a Denzel Washington vanity project, partly aimed at the US Christian cultural parallel universe, partly aimed at the mainstream.
It's set decades after an apocalypse devastated the Earth. It's not specified, but more consistent than 2012 or The Road: some kind of war weapon blasted everything above ground. Only the most resilient creatures survive in the wasteland: rats, hairless (mutant?) cats, and aging British thesps. Denzel Washington is the protagonist, carrying the last Bible on a journey to somewhere, since they were all destroyed in a reaction after the apocalypse: apparently some blamed the war on it.
Starts off very well. There's some decent if ostentatious cinematography with much use of filters and flipping the camera around. The ruins and desert are impressive on the big screen: lots more CGI than The Road, though of course we've seen this kind of thing many times before. There's a great early action scene with Eli flipping out and killing people in silhouette under a bridge.
However it bogs down a bit later on. A lot of time is spent on a conflict between the one major villain and his assorted henchmen. You might have to be a Christian to take some of this seriously: it's hard to believe that the villain first wants the book, and second doesn't just shoot Eli in the back and take it rather than going through the whole temptation routine.
The movie also follows the annoying trend of using divine intervention to fill in plot holes. To be fair I don't think this is particularly due to the Evangelical subculture. The Will Smith "I Am Legend" and "Battlestar Galactica" did the same thing and aren't a part of it. Also I read the first of the "Left Behind" books and it didn't use that lazy get-out: the only divine exposition they get is through reading Revelation.
One scene is particularly awkward: the elderly cannibal couple is uneasily played for comedy, I get the feeling the writers couldn't reconcile how it would work for the two audiences.
However it tightens up near the end. Some aspects of the ending are very effective. I think it does help that the film-makers have a distinct moral and philosophical vision, rather than just going through the motions of hauling a McGuffin around.
Overall, a bit flawed, but still a pretty good experience, fairly entertaining to watch.
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