Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Why introduce identity cards for a nation with no identity?

I read the Daily Telegraph (paper or on-line, whichever comes to hand easier) and in particular seek out the opinions of Mark Steyn, a journalist based in New York but with a keen insight to Britain and the British. His column today carries a stinging commentary on the way in which multiculturalism has managed to wipe out peoples' identities. Worth reading, IMO, but you may have to register first.

I have always found multiculturalism a paradox. Its aim is to make us all feel the same, yet to do so it provides the means to stress that we're all different. Equal Opportunity Employment policy is a good example - rather than hire the best person for the job, we must satisfy quotas. Hence the sort of comment "Well, they hired Ms X because she's black, not because she's any good at what she does" which in itself is a terrible thing to say but if its true then no-one wins, least of all Ms X.

My solution is for us all to be color, faith and gender blind. Take people for what they are, not for what you want them to be. Never easy, never fooproof, but a whole lot better than enforced multiculturalism.

[steps down from soap box]

Friday, July 08, 2005

Report from London - The journey home

I decided to leave early to avoid the inevitable rush hour crush. So, at 4 p.m. I set off across Green Park and then Hyde Park to Paddington. Nearly all the journey was in open green space, something I had not really understood before. Fortunately the wet weather of the morning gave way to warm sunshine, helping along the many others who were doing without public transport in the Zone 1 area of Central London.

At Paddington the indicator boards told a familiar story - many services cancelled, the rest delayed. The next train on the North Cotswold Line was delayed, but then up came the platform number, a few passengers boarded and we were off. A nearly empty train didn't seem right at all, given the numbers that would be traveling later.

This train was a "slow" train so it made more stops than usual. By the time we arrived in Oxford the train was taken out of service because a fast train was right behind (an ironic twist to the saying that you wait for a London bus for half an hour and then three show up). So, after waiting five minutes, in came the fast train, loaded to the vestibules. We climbed aboard and made it home.

A stiff Scotch seemed appropriate as I called family to say I was home.

Thursday, July 07, 2005

Report from London

I have been in London this week. Last evening my hotel was full so I went home for the night, returning on the 7:11 train that arrived in Paddington Station just before 9 a.m. As is usual I aimed for the underground (Bakerloo Line) and joined the streams of commuters going to work in Central London. The second stop was Edgware Road and (though I may have imagined this) I seem to remember a strong smell resembling burning brakes. Only when I arrived in the West End did I find out there had been a series of bombs, including one at Edgware Road but on the shallower Metropolitan Line.

Now I'm stuck here as all public transport is shut down and taxis are like hens teeth. I did flag one down for a colleague going to Calgary via Heathrow and he was happy to take someone out of the city (but not apparently within the city). So I am not sure how I will get to Paddington later this afternoon. And even then I am not sure that there will be any trains.

The scary part of all this has been that the communications we take for granted have all just about collapsed: not only the trains and buses but also the cell phone networks, many key web sites, and of course the emergency services are entirely focused on what they have to do. The not so scary part is just how well the general public has reacted to all this. A stoical sftiff upper lip. Churchill would be proud.

Saturday, July 02, 2005

If Live 8 isn't your thing. . . .

Personally, I doubt if Live 8 will do more than create temporary awareness - for just about as long as the G8 leaders are meeting together. Once they've parted company, we'll be back to the same old same old.

So what to do this weekend? Here are a few of recommendations: First, play any CD in the Putumayo World Music catalog. This is a company that actually encourages Third World musicians (unlike the Live 8 organizers who felt that they needed "big names" rather than less well known African musicians). Second, play one of the three albums by the Afro Celts Sound System - again, music that supports African musicians, in this case from Guinea/Senegal. David Byrne and Peter Gabriel also well known supporters of African music on a day to day basis so their music is also OK with me for this occasion!