Print Story Like most Robin Hoods
Diary
By TheophileEscargot (Mon May 17, 2010 at 02:36:59 PM EST) Reading, Watching, MLP, Politics (all tags)
Reading. Watching: "Robin Hood". Politics. Web.


What I'm Reading
Stuck halfway through The Sunne in Splendour, long, highly popular, historical novel depicting Richard III as the good guy.

The first third was pretty good, with battles and political machinations depicting the second half of the Wars of the Roses. Did get a little hard to keep track of who was who at times.

Unfortunately the middle third is largely from the point of view of simpering twit Lady Anne Neville, and the book abruptly turns into a bodice-ripper, with lots of heaving bosoms and emotional angst.

Shakespeare's Richard got rid of her pretty quickly after the wedding. Hopefully she'll pop her clogs soon, but it's a struggle to continue at the moment. Hope it doesn't keep on like this with her replacement.

What I'm Watching
Saw the Ridley Scott version of Robin Hood at the cinema. Better than I expected. Takes a new angle by creating a kind of origin story. Thought it was an interesting attempt to synthesize the earliest myths where Robin was just a colourful commoner bandit, to the later myths where he was a noble.

Tries to be a bit darker and grittier than normal, but doesn't take too much of the fun out of it, thanks to a couple of decent supporting parts like Oscar Isaac as King John. Makes a few references to history, though fairly silly thought they were quite appealing At least this movie knows that there was a Magna Carta, even though she metaphorically dies in vain.

Thought it was significantly better than "Kingdom of Heaven", less lugubrious, more action, and didn't suffer from the constant plausibility problem of having Orlando Bloom as a ferocious medieval warrior.

Does drag a little bit in the middle though. Overall, not a bad effort.

Shame the original concept with Robin Hood as the bad guy and the Sheriff of Nottingham as the goodie didn't go anywhere though. Did find Russell Crowe's all over the place accent a bit distracting.

Review, review, WP.

Museums
Saw the Nairy Baghramian and Phyllida Barlow exhibition at the Serpentine gallery.

Not bad actually. Didn't like the Barlow blobs so much, but Baghramian's steel and plastic abstract scultures are pretty elegant.

Politics
Overall, the new ConDem government doesn't look too bad so far, but there are a couple of worrying little signs.

George Osborne worries me: a clever young man with no real world experience, suddenly given immense power. This idea of counting future pension costs as part of government debt, even though no other nations do, and the costs are unreliable estimates anyway, is an example. I suspect he's overconfident of his ability to turn the UK into a model of balanced spending, and is going to end up just making our debt look worse compared to our competitors.

Constitutionally, I liked the idea of fixed-term Parliaments, but I imagined it would work rather differently, by penalizing any government that called election prematurely. For instance, the rule might be that the PM, Deputy PM and Chancellor all have to resign from Parliament if they do: that means they can't use premature elections to help them get re-elected.

Instead, the ConDem plan is to require a supermajority of 55% for votes of confidence, which doesn't penalize the government that calls premature elections, but restrains Parliament from doing so. But even if this administration is a stunning success, in future you could have a unpopular minority government with say 46% of seats, that can't actually govern since it can't win a majority on anything, but can't be gotten rid of since it can prevent the confidence vote supermajority. If this happens during a war or other crisis, this paralysis could be pretty bad.

The plans for a fully-PR-elected House of Lords seem very vague so far. But the plans to pack the existing house 100 new Lords seem quite specific.

There seems to be a lot of potential for abuse here. In practice, the House of Lords has served a useful purpose in recent years: its experienced if elderly legislators have managed to fix up problems with hastily rushed-through legislation, and at least being there for life makes it hard for them to be pressured with threats of the sack.

But if in the new Lords are subject to re-election, they will be under direct pressure from the current party leadership, especially if there's a full PR system where the votes go to a party list. Making the Lords more democratic could reduce even further its ability to be a check and balance on the Commons.

Overall on constitutional change it seems to me that even though the rhetoric is all about Fair Votes and Greater Democracy, the practical effect is more power for the ConDems.

Web
Video. Puppy confused by fart machine. Balls go uphill. Cognitive bias song.

Fucking magnets, how do they work?

Random. Condoms for 12-14yo boys. Early 1900s in colour. New Routemaster looks nice, wish we could afford it.

Socioeconomics. Turkey doing fine. TV viewing habits still traditional.

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Like most Robin Hoods | 15 comments (15 topical, 0 hidden) | Trackback
The Yeoman and the Earl by Vulch (4.00 / 1) #1 Mon May 17, 2010 at 03:18:24 PM EST
There's always been the split between Robin Hood being a commoner turned to crime and a disfranchised noble. The Robin of Sherwood series used both with Michael Praed and Jason Connery.

Having Magna Carta around is dodgy though. The taxes Robin and the Merry Men keep liberating were intended to pay the ransom for King Richard after he was imprisoned in 1193, and most versions of the tales end with Richard turning up incognito after his release in 1194. Magna Carta didn't turn up for another twenty plus years in 1215 when John held the throne in his own right.


In this version by TheophileEscargot (2.00 / 0) #2 Mon May 17, 2010 at 03:24:26 PM EST
The ransoming of Richard happened years before. The Magna Carta is very anachronistic though.
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It is unlikely that the good of a snail should reside in its shell: so is it likely that the good of a man should?
[ Parent ]
the worst part by aphrael (4.00 / 1) #3 Mon May 17, 2010 at 05:28:22 PM EST
is John using the threat of invasion to unite the nobles .... when in reality, after John reneged on the Magna Carta, the nobles invited the French in to overthrow him.
If television is a babysitter, the internet is a drunk librarian who won't shut up.
[ Parent ]
In fact by TheophileEscargot (2.00 / 0) #6 Tue May 18, 2010 at 01:22:06 AM EST
The whole French vs. English conflict doesn't make a whole lot of sense, Saxon vs. Norman was a more meaningful division.
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It is unlikely that the good of a snail should reside in its shell: so is it likely that the good of a man should?
[ Parent ]
Yes. by aphrael (4.00 / 1) #8 Tue May 18, 2010 at 01:52:07 PM EST
It makes no sense at all for the nobility to have a visceral hatred of the French.

I was also troubled by the fact that the weapons they were using were obviously longbows.
If television is a babysitter, the internet is a drunk librarian who won't shut up.

[ Parent ]
Hmmm.... by Vulch (4.00 / 1) #5 Mon May 17, 2010 at 05:56:16 PM EST
I'll wait for the TV showing then, I've already heard "Braveheart with arrows" used about it...



[ Parent ]
I keep seeing reports by aphrael (4.00 / 1) #4 Mon May 17, 2010 at 05:30:23 PM EST
about how the onset of puberty is creeping to younger and younger ages; that sort of makes condoms for the bar mitzvah set inevitable.
If television is a babysitter, the internet is a drunk librarian who won't shut up.
Lords by nebbish (4.00 / 1) #7 Tue May 18, 2010 at 05:44:03 AM EST
One of the things that made me question my ideology - a hugely offensive feudal system that works rather well.

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It's political correctness gone mad!

"no real world experience" by brokkr (4.00 / 1) #9 Tue May 18, 2010 at 07:39:05 PM EST
Doesn't that describe some 95 % of contemporary career politicians?
--
Deyr fé, deyja frændr, deyr sjalfr it sama,
ek veit einn, at aldrei deyr: dómr um dau∂an hvern.

True by TheophileEscargot (2.00 / 0) #10 Wed May 19, 2010 at 02:11:30 AM EST
But I'd have been happier with Vince Cable or Kenneth Clark. There are some on the front benches who aren't complete reality virgins, would have been nice to put one of them in such an important role.
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It is unlikely that the good of a snail should reside in its shell: so is it likely that the good of a man should?
[ Parent ]
Go on then. by Tonatiuh (2.00 / 0) #12 Wed May 19, 2010 at 11:37:18 AM EST
Put yourself forward.

I think to keep whining about career politicians when regular citizens are so apathetic is pretty hypocritical and uber cynical.

[ Parent ]
Cynical, yes by brokkr (2.00 / 0) #14 Thu May 20, 2010 at 10:30:03 AM EST
Because I also believe that I would have no chance in hell getting elected without pandering.
--
Deyr fé, deyja frændr, deyr sjalfr it sama,
ek veit einn, at aldrei deyr: dómr um dau∂an hvern.

[ Parent ]
You are missing the point. by Tonatiuh (2.00 / 0) #11 Wed May 19, 2010 at 11:35:25 AM EST
But it can't be helped, the new government is not very good explaining complex issues thus far.

What they want to do is give Parliament the power do disolve itself, no executive power needed thank you, but in exchange for this new Parliamentarian power the government wants to allow this with a qualified majority to ensure stability. This would be crucial specially if the FPTP system is rightly ditched.

It is a very subtle difference that most people are failing to pick up.

Um by TheophileEscargot (2.00 / 0) #13 Wed May 19, 2010 at 12:02:06 PM EST
Parliament already has the power to dissolve itself, with a majority vote (50%).

They want to reduce that power, by requiring a supermajority of 55%.

That way if they lose their majority, for instance if the Lib Dem left or Tory right split off, the remaining ConDems get to keep their jobs for 5 years even if they can't win any votes or govern effectively.
--
It is unlikely that the good of a snail should reside in its shell: so is it likely that the good of a man should?

[ Parent ]
That's problem with UK's unwritten constitution... by Tonatiuh (2.00 / 0) #15 Sat May 29, 2010 at 10:23:45 AM EST
Parliament may issue a vote of no confidence but the government has no obligation to heed it, but that is costumary, as far as I understand (you have to concede that for a foreigner I know more than I should about British political niceties) there is no bill ever passed indicating that  a vote of confidence lost forces a PM to resign.

In most situations the PM would resign, since it would be politically unsustainable to continue ruling, but in this case, the Tories could genuinely go alone, limping, until the constitutional term to call for the next election (they have enough people to rule with a minority government) given how close they were actually to win outright and the monumental loss of mandate of Labour.

It would be misguided but not beyond the realms of possibility.

The change that they want to implement is that if 55% of MPs issue a vote of no confidence, that would automatically trigger a general election with the PM having no say in the matter. That is massive, since this would be in the statues books, not longer a costumary agreement.

All this karfufle could of course be easily solved with a little written constitution of 100 pages or so (I think the US manages with far less) but Brits like their legal system muddled, their scones with clothed cream and their fries, er, chips with v-i-n-e-g-a-r ...

[ Parent ]
Like most Robin Hoods | 15 comments (15 topical, 0 hidden) | Trackback