Thursday 30 July 2009

The good, the bad and the ugly

No, I'm not going to write about Clint Eastwood films, or Sergio Leone. Instead, there are three unrelated matters that I want to draw to your attention, for very different reasons.

The good
A young lady by the name of Annelie Simmons is taking part in the Mongol Derby, officially recognised by the Guinness Book of Records as the longest, toughest horse race in the world. She'll be riding 1,000km in under two weeks, on semi-wild Mongolian horses with no marked course, no roads to follow and no back-up, support or assistance. Why? Well quite apart from the massive achievement this would represent for anyone, let alone a 27-yr old PA from London who, by her own admission, has an "appalling ability to navigate and [an] alarming efficiency at losing things", Annelie is also raising money for charity. The event's official charity is Mercy Corps, and Annelie's personal chosen charity is Help For Heroes. What I would do if I were you is read the feature on Annelie in Sport Magazine, then read more about this remarkable woman on her Mongol Derby "Adventurists" profile page, then head over to Just Giving to sponsor her.

The bad
I wrote about how bad an idea the government's national ID card scheme is some time ago, and I don't really want to repeat it all again. But I've got to, to an extent; the look and content of the proposed card are in the news today. It's going to be trialled in the Greater Manchester area soon. But then - and this is the really bad bit - when the card is introduced nationwide, it will not be compulsory. Now admittedly I'm starting from the perspective that the whole idea is terrible, but surely even the scheme's staunchest supporters must admit that the claimed benefits to national security will be zilch if you don't have to have one? What's the point in having a new, biometric and (supposedly) hard to forge single source of common identification if it isn't common? A very bad idea just got a whole lot worse, and really should be scrapped before more money disappears into this cavernous black hole.

The ugly
Now I like The Guardian; it's my newspaper of choice, generally. So I was more than a little disappointed to read their "new offenders of standup comedy" article earlier this week. Yes, it was lazy journalism but it also drew conclusions from decontextualised generalisations, was ill-conceived and, most of all, was just plain wrong. According to the article, respected, award-winning comedian Richard Herring "argues that racists have a point." No, he doesn't. Don't be so bloody ridiculous. What Herring does is begin a segment of his current show with a rhetorical question along the lines of "let's suppose that racists have a point" before going on to shoot any such point down in well-observed, carefully thought out, logical, rational (and still comedic) flames. I've never met the guy, but I'll happily tell you and anyone else that will listen that Richard Herring is not a racist. And I'll also tell you that Brian Logan, the journo/hack who threw this ugly article together, needs to go home and take a good, long look in the mirror and see if he's proud of himself.