Friday, February 15, 2008


Who you are affects what you see as important and what opinions you have.

Recently there has been a debate on the comments pages of the main newspapers concerning Gordon Brown's obsession with "Britishness" and our "shared values."

It occurs to me that for the men and women of letters who, unsurprisingly, occupy the op-eds, editorials, and comment pieces in the mainstream media what matters are words, descriptions, names, titles, laws, treaties, phrases, syntax, semantics, symbolism, narratives, stories, and speeches.

If electrical engineers had such a powerful channel of communication then they would undoubtedly place more importance on practicalities such as how the national grid is set up, electrical component efficiency, and all manner of other eeng topics.

That is not to say that they would only talk about these topics, just as some commentators (most notably the excellent Johann Hari) occasionally deign to discuss practical topics.

Businessmen will opine on business matters, scientists will opine on scientific matters, and bloggers will rant about anything that takes their fancy (and perhaps occasionally stumble across something worthwhile in a million-monkeys-on-a-million-typewriters sort of way).

My point is that different people will always have different perspectives, as well as different ulterior motives.

Britishness is not something I personally give a damn about. I appreciate the arguments as to why Britishness is considered important but I still feel that it is being seized on as important not because it actually is but rather because it lies within the intellectual comfort-zone of the sort of people who write in newspaper editorials.

[Meta-commentary: damn, this came out all wrong. I'm pretty exhausted on account of having just come back from a week-long training junket, more on that and my new job later... Also I'll discuss Ubuntu later as well...]

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