Archive for January 10th, 2009
From The Guardian
In Saturday’s Telegraph, Christopher Booker and Richard North published a long article appropriately titled “Speed cameras: the twisted truth”. A sharp decline in the death rate on the roads suddenly slowed down in the mid-1990s. They attribute this to the government’s new focus on enforcing the speed limits, especially by erecting speed cameras. What they fail to mention is that deaths started falling sharply again in 2003, after the number of speed cameras had doubled in three years…
Their article is a long catalogue of intellectual dishonesty. In support of their claims that speed cameras are worse than useless, they also use a report by the House of Commons transport committee. It said, they maintain, that “an obsession with cameras was responsible for a ‘deplorable’ drop in the number of officers patrolling Britain’s roads”. It says nothing of the kind, and the word “deplorable” does not feature anywhere. But here’s what it does contain: “Well-placed cameras bring tremendous safety benefits at excellent cost-benefit ratios. A more cost-effective measure for reducing speeds and casualties has yet to be introduced.” Booker and North also lay into one of my columns. That’s fair enough: it’s a national sport. But to make their narrative more convincing they alter the date of the column by a year. Their claims about speed cameras, like much of the material in their new book, are pure junk science, cherrypicking the helpful results and ignoring the inconvenient ones.
Jack Torrance’s first novel, finally published after his untimely death at the Overlook Hotel. Dramatized in the Stephen King book, “The Shining,” as well as the film by Stanley Kubrick. See the clip at www.youtube.com/watch?v=Dit-7hu1jKg
“All Work and No Play Makes Jack a Dull Boy is nothing short of a complete rethinking of what a novel can and should be. It’s true that, taken on its own, All Work is plotless. But like the best of Beckett, the lack of forward momentum is precisely the point. If it’s nearly impossible to read, let us take a moment to consider how difficult it must have been to write. One is forced to consider the author, heroically pitting himself against the Sisyphusean sentence. It’s that metatextual struggle of Man vs. Typewriter that gives this book its spellbinding power. Some will dismiss it as simplistic; that’s like dismissing a Pollack canvas as mere splatters of paint.”