Saturday, July 30, 2005

Basic Physics, the Monarchy and the Scotsman

Picture your steadfast and dauntless Pedant-General enjoying a moment of quiet reflection, complimentary copy of the Scotsman unfurled, as he sits on the very comfy sofa at "His Hair" - the marvellous old-fashioned barbers on Lynedoch Place. The eldest and middle masters Pedant-General were strapped down securely whilst their hirsuteness was attended to. A happier and more peaceful scene one would struggle to imagine, I am sure you will agree.

But not for long. This letter in the Scotsman practically knocked me off my feet. Given that the bandits that run this shoddy excuse for a newspaper have taken to charging for everything except the most mundane elements of only the current edition, I reproduce the offending letter in full:
Castle's hydro power

You report (25 July) that Windsor Castle is to have 200 kilowatts of electricity - about a third of its consumption - supplied by a hydro electric plant. But the electrical consumption for my modest house was 520kwh for May.

Perhaps its extraordinary low consumption of electrical power shows why the House of Windsor still seems to be stumbling about in the Dark Ages.

On a more constructive note, could we be informed as to how long it will take to recover the costs of this £1 million investment? This would be a more meaningful figure and reduce the pressure on myself to turn off lights when I leave a room.

St Margaret's Road
North Berwick, East Lothian

Well, Mr George R Graham of St Margaret's Road, North Berthwick, permit me to disagree. The clue, as is so often the case, is in the units. 200kW is a substantial local generation capacity. 520kWh is indeed a modest quantity of energy consumed in the course of a month. In fact, a 200kW turbine running at capacity will churn out 520kWh in rather less than a month. It will do so in 2 hours and 36 minutes if we are being picky.
Perhaps its extraordinary low consumption of electrical power shows why the House of Windsor still seems to be stumbling about in the Dark Ages.
Actually, your total ineptitude towards the most elementary calculations shows that the Dark Ages jibe is a little misdirected.

So, I hear you say, "man with apparently little education or intelligence makes unfounded jibe in provincial newspaper" - Big Deal.

Wrong. This is a big deal. The "big deal" is that the Scotsman printed it. That Mr George R Graham of St Margaret's Road, North Berthwick might make such a schoolboy error - the term could hardly be more fitting - in order to support an anti-Monarchy rant is of little consequence. The same cannot be said for the letters editor at the Scotsman.

This is very, very poor.


berenike said...

No no, it's the Spectator you are thinking of: the Scotsman does, much to the disappointment of my miseryguts power (intellect, will, and miseryguts), allow you to read most of itself.

Devil's Kitchen said...

For heaven's sake, P-G, what did you expect? It is The Scotsman after all...

Pip pip!

Boeciana said...

Berenike, alas no longer. Unless they've recanted.

The Pedant-General in Ordinary said...

Devil's Kitchen: Not quite sure to what you refer. If it is regarding the Scotsman's position on the monarchy, I think you are wrong - it is usually fairly Unionist in outlook. It vigorously challenges the lamentable performance of both the Scottish Parliament (which is widely known as the "numptorium" in the Scottish cul-de-sac of hte blogosphere) and the Executive, though with the occasional tug of the forelock towards devolution (as opposed to independence [pauses to spit]) in principle.

If you refer to the policy of charging for content and hence the Scots predisposition towards meanness, that is fighting talk. Mind you take care of your split infinitives, matey: I'm watching you...

Mind you, I shall have to look very carefully as it is much, much harder (and considerably less gratifying) to spot errors in well-written, closely argued and entertaining prose.

Boeciana and Berenike: at least the Spectator allows you to read a good chunk of articles from the current issue. The Scotsman has cordoned off the leaders and comment articles even for the most recent edition.

Toodle Pip!

berenike said...

I do not retract.


My usual approach to a newspaper begins with the letters, then the editorial and columns. The news I read if there is anything that catches my eye and if I have energy left. Psychologically, it is as though I can no longer read the Edinburgh rag, now that I am restricted to the actual news.

Perhaps your Pedantry's perception of the new subscription policy is affected by a similar habit?

With regard to your Pedantry's last point: one could with equal venom say that at least the Scotsman doesn't make you pay for back issues!

The Pedant-General in Ordinary said...


You are quite correct: the actual "news" in a newspaper is almost entirely redundant/useless/spun beyond all semblance of the truth. Only the Analysis/Comment/Leaders and Letters have any merit. (Unless we are reading the grauniad, when clearly this does not hold either.)

This approach could hardly do anything but colour one's view of a newspaper when it chooses to squirrel these items away behind a subscription policy.

Still, at least we can slake our daily thirst for insightful analysis here.



Devil's Kitchen said...


I was merely referring to the fact that The Scotsman is just generally a bit rubbish. I have been carrying out my own personal war against them–or, more specifically, their Fringe reviewers–for almost 10 years (I banned them from getting reviewers tickets to the shows I produced at the Fringe in 2001 and 2002). I also wrote a closely reasoned rebuttal of their review of another in 1999 (which I then blew up to A3, along with the review, and displayed the two outside the venue) after which our ticket sales surged. I laughed mightily.

Mind you, I shall have to look very carefully as it is much, much harder (and considerably less gratifying) to spot errors in well-written, closely argued and entertaining prose.

I shall take this as a compliment, and duly accept and offer thanks. I must confess to splitting the odd infinitive, but only if the consequence of not so doing would be to render the relevant sentence inelegant. I will also confess to some associated guilt at not having posted for a couple of days, and shall spur myself to indulge my literary bent rather than spending all my time in Cloisters drinking fine ales.

Carry on the good work, sir...

Chin chin!

Boeciana said...

Hah! So it's your time-wasting, Mr Kitchen, apparently more dedicated than mine, which means that whenever I try to go to Cloisters it's already full and I have to go to Bennet's instead... Edinburgh pub life can be cruel indeed.

Devil's Kitchen said...

Aye, well, if you ever get in there, you'll probably see me; I'll be the one propping up the bar near the hatch...

Chin chinnimy chin chin cheroot!

dearieme said...

That'll be North Berwick, I suppose? Rather than North Berthwick? Yours in pedantry....