Friday, December 07, 2007

Is this the Ultimate Answer? If So Panic!!!

For many years as a Douglas Adams fan I have long known that the ultimate answer to the ultimate question of life the universe and everything should be 42. However, I’m quite sure that as a sci-fan fan who was also brought up with Star Trek that the question was not 'How long should the British police be able to detain a suspect without charge?'.

For this sadly is the new number that has been arbitrarily picked by someone at the home office, following the failure of 90 and 56 to be the figure that people might love to up the ante from the original 14 days a few years ago, which itself had been an increase from 7 which itself was 3 more than the police had at the height of the Troubles in Northern Ireland.

Newsnight last night did a pastiche of the Hitchhikers Guide to Galaxy to explain the whole story leading to 42 days. However, it looks like the graphics have got worse over almost 30 years, so much for CGI at the Beeb, or at least in the news department.

42 to me has always been a nice friendly number just like the words ‘Don’t Panic’ were on the guide. To have it associated, and I hope only briefly, with another attempt by Labour to extend the time frame in which humans can be held without charge is another backward step.

Now I don’t always agree with the former Tory Chancellor Ken Clarke but last night on Question Time I did, he said that the Government had yet to prove a need to extend, let alone double, the period that was so recently reached only as a compromise. All they point out is that one or two cases have reached the end of he period but to me this is not a valid reason to extend. This is merely an example of Parkinson’s law, where work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion. It doesn’t mean that any more time is needed for the task, it may even mean that the task could be completed sooner to the same standards if less time was available and more concentration exercised on it earlier.

Personally if 42 does somehow become the Government’s answer to this question I’d remove the word don’t and say PANIC!!! Because while the US has to charge within 48 hours not 42 days, they do have an interment camp at Guantanamo Bay so the Isle of Man may be partially returned to its WWII status if we not careful and Brown tries to imitate Bush too much.


Andrew Porrer said...

"graphics have got worse over almost 30 years"

I though the graphics were deliberately retro (in H2G2 stylee)!

Stephen Glenn said...

The H2G2 Style was far better done in a retro stylie than those that Newsnight did last night, they could ad least have made a better effort with the moving script and fonts.

Andrew Porrer said...

Fair point. I just assumed that was my ten year old TV being typically rubbish.

Stephen Glenn said...

I could have done better myself in Powerpoint. (other applications are available)


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