Skip to main content

Chancellor for President

Like most of us who think having a royal family is a waste of public money and newspaper column inches, I get regular 'Yes, but what about...' retorts. Some of them are just inane, such as 'They bring in a lot of tourism.' Really? So France really has trouble getting visitors ever since they got rid of their royal family?

Clearly this can't be about people actually seeing the royals - very few visitors, for instance, will see Prince William on the(mostly closed to the public) two days of work he manages to squeeze into a week. If there is any draw, it's about the pageantry and the royal palaces. Well, guess what? We can still change the guard and all that stuff - in fact if we really wanted to save money, we could even do it with cheap unemployed actors, rather than wasting our military's time. And all of the royal palaces could be open all year round, rather than bits of them at times the royals fancy it. Oh, and there'd be a lot more public access in the Duchy of Cornwall.

As an argument, that's a busted flush. But I confess I've struggled in the past with the 'Yes, but if you have a president you'll just end up with another bloody politician as head of state,' argument. And what's going on in the USA, entertaining though it may be, is no encouragement. But I realised today what the model should be - university chancellors. They are the equivalent of a formal head of state, leaving the actual running of the university to the professional vice chancellor - and with a few oddities, the chancellors are excellent at their jobs. So let's model the British president on a university chancellor.

I don't know, to be honest, how they end up with such good choices, but here's one suggestion for how to do it. You would be barred from office if you had ever been a politician or civil servant. Each major party could put forward one candidate, plus a single public candidate, where anyone could put themselves forward for an online vote.

As always, there's fine tuning - come on, I thought of this on the train to Bristol. But you know it makes sense...


Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

Why I hate opera

If I'm honest, the title of this post is an exaggeration to make a point. I don't really hate opera. There are a couple of operas - notably Monteverdi's Incoranazione di Poppea and Purcell's Dido & Aeneas - that I quite like. But what I do find truly sickening is the reverence with which opera is treated, as if it were some particularly great art form. Nowhere was this more obvious than in ITV's recent gut-wrenchingly awful series Pop Star to Opera Star , where the likes of Alan Tichmarsh treated the real opera singers as if they were fragile pieces on Antiques Roadshow, and the music as if it were a gift of the gods. In my opinion - and I know not everyone agrees - opera is: Mediocre music Melodramatic plots Amateurishly hammy acting A forced and unpleasant singing style Ridiculously over-supported by public funds I won't even bother to go into any detail on the plots and the acting - this is just self-evident. But the other aspects need some ex

Is 5x3 the same as 3x5?

The Internet has gone mildly bonkers over a child in America who was marked down in a test because when asked to work out 5x3 by repeated addition he/she used 5+5+5 instead of 3+3+3+3+3. Those who support the teacher say that 5x3 means 'five lots of 3' where the complainants say that 'times' is commutative (reversible) so the distinction is meaningless as 5x3 and 3x5 are indistinguishable. It's certainly true that not all mathematical operations are commutative. I think we are all comfortable that 5-3 is not the same as 3-5.  However. This not true of multiplication (of numbers). And so if there is to be any distinction, it has to be in the use of English to interpret the 'x' sign. Unfortunately, even here there is no logical way of coming up with a definitive answer. I suspect most primary school teachers would expands 'times' as 'lots of' as mentioned above. So we get 5 x 3 as '5 lots of 3'. Unfortunately that only wor

Which idiot came up with percentage-based gradient signs

Rant warning: the contents of this post could sound like something produced by UKIP. I wish to make it clear that I do not in any way support or endorse that political party. In fact it gives me the creeps. Once upon a time, the signs for a steep hill on British roads displayed the gradient in a simple, easy-to-understand form. If the hill went up, say, one yard for every three yards forward it said '1 in 3'. Then some bureaucrat came along and decided that it would be a good idea to state the slope as a percentage. So now the sign for (say) a 1 in 10 slope says 10% (I think). That 'I think' is because the percentage-based slope is so unnatural. There are two ways we conventionally measure slopes. Either on X/Y coordiates (as in 1 in 4) or using degrees - say at a 15° angle. We don't measure them in percentages. It's easy to visualize a 1 in 3 slope, or a 30 degree angle. Much less obvious what a 33.333 recurring percent slope is. And what's a 100% slope