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A Short Leave of Absence

What do you mean it's been six months? I just rested my eyes on Reddit for five minutes...

Regular readers will notice I haven't written anything for a while. I've been a bit busy. With things... and stuff.

As a result, I haven't had time to write for the website or do the sort of research I like to do before I write anything. I've only had time to watch the news now and again, and a smattering of the BBC's political programmes - perhaps 5-10 hours per week of news and political analysis at most. So, from this blissful position of dangerous ignorance of what's really going on in the world, and without further ado, it's catch-up time!

UK News

Everyone's talking about the upcoming police elections! Full details are available in the bottom of a locked filing cabinet somewhere in a disused lavatory near you. Have fun battling to the polling station to vote on something you haven't heard much about on a freezing cold and dark evening in November.

In other words, you don't need to participate in democracy. This isn't the news you're looking for. Move along.

Economic News

The governments of the UK and EU continue to stand on the economic brakes, whilst making puzzled shrugging motions that seem to indicate, "It's bizarre, I just can't understand why our economy isn't going faster. Maybe if we continue to enact policies that damage market confidence? Nope, that didn't work. How about if we force banks to hold more capital and thus reduce lending? Weird, we seem to be going even slower now. What's that burning smell?"

Meanwhile, the US economy seems a bit odd to me. I freely admit I haven't looked into it in any great detail, but it seems vaguely gravity-defying compared to the UK's. Could it have something to do with all those Middle East economies whose currency exchange rates somehow magically stay fixed against the dollar?

The Leveson Inquiry

Following on from the hit comedy Murdoch takes a foam pie to the face, we had its slightly disappointing sequel, Blair hears an insult. Other highlights of the Leveson Inquiry include the revelation of journalists' middle names and the opportunity to see certain members of the media try to steer Lord Leveson into regulating bloggers. Damn those pesky bloggers and their hounding of celebs, their use of dodgy private investigators to get medical records and their hacking of dead girls' phones.

Lord Justice Leveson seems to have been given the job of cleaning an elephant enclosure with a toothpick.

Meanwhile various police inquiries rumble on into phone hacking, computer hacking, corruption and so on. Given that only a small handful of people have been arrested, I suspect these investigations might not be quite as thorough as they should be. Amazingly, the investigation into computer hacking seems almost to have been an afterthought. Anyone else getting a 'huge can of worms' vibe from all of this?

Politics

The bitter animosity and deep ideological divide between the Liberal Democrats and the Conservatives continued to be glossed over with superficially friendly public appearances between the two leaders. The Conservatives are slowly reverting back to being the nasty party by forcing single mothers into workhouses. Meanwhile the Liberals desperately try to curb their monstrous tendencies by mollifying them with soft music and flowers. The workhouse was probably a compromise – the original plan probably involved them being soundly flogged and then auctioned into slavery.

Labour continue to shine like a helpless beacon of fairness in these dark times. "Too far, too fast, too furious with my deliberately infuriating manner", to slightly paraphrase Ed Balls. This is most clearly demonstrated by Labour's principled opposition to the cuts going on in whichever public service happens to be in the news this week. No doubt public sector workers (and former public sector workers) everywhere fondly remember how much better it was under Labour and will eventually return them to their rightful place.

Showbiz News

David Mitchell and Victoria Coren got engaged (congratulations to them). Don't they make a lovely couple? Nice though they probably are, I fear that with their powers combined, they may now be an unstoppable television force. Has anyone informed Monopolies and Mergers about their marriage? By Christmas I expect all channels will have been renamed Dave, and they will all be broadcasting That Would I Only Connect To You Look Show 24-hours a day, in which David and Victoria wear head-mounted cameras and review the day's news by asking each other frighteningly intellectual questions and giving clever and witty answers which may or may not be a lie, interspersed with comedy sketches and occasional games of poker. Coming soon, in slightly too-vivid high-definition.

Justin Bieber: Boo. Hiss. Etc. I'm not quite sure why I'm supposed to hate him, but I don't want to stand out from the crowd so I'd better join in.

Jeremy Paxman has stopped wearing a tie on Newsnight. Not only that, but he's unfastened not one, but TWO of his top buttons. WHERE WILL THIS DEPRAVITY END? Oh, wait, he's put it back on again.

The Guardian Media Group appears to have called off its plans for world domination by selling its radio stations.

Absolutely everyone at the BBC has got a book out for Christmas. BANG! CRASH! and Other Off-Screen Noises – the Memoirs of a Newsnight Runner is probably hitting the shelves as I type.

The Olympics

Despite being a little bit expensive, and some talk of workers being exploited or something, the nation rallied together under the glorious flag of the Olympics, with the press helping to whip up the nation's sentiments and crush any dissent.

Ah yes, the sight of thousands of people together in a stadium, emotions roused (and costs forgotten) by stirring spectacle; the roar of the crowd; one people united beneath majestic swooping flags; one nation brought together by the incredible demonstrations of physical fitness displayed by our brave athletes, and by the fantastic organisation and efficiency of our leaders in putting on a show to rival China's.

What could be better? Why on earth would any party-pooper want to rain on that parade?

Must confess, even I quite enjoyed the opening ceremony, which just goes to show.

In other news...

I'd hazard a guess that some other important things probably happened. I'll probably remember them once the Reddit hypnosis wears off a bit. Hopefully this time I won't think I'm a chicken.

Right, time to get straight to more serious matters. ONS figures, institute reports and economic studies all await the inquiring mind. Oh, wait a sec, there's a picture of a cat with a fluffy tail on Reddit.