Month: April 2009

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson

What with elections, a change in job and various other things, this last month has yet again been a bit of a washout for this blog, but I plan to change that fairly soon.  I have also written a load of posts that never appeared on this site for one reason or another and so I will put them up on the date they were supposed to have appeared as soon as I can.

However, one thing that I had to post about straightaway was a book that I have just finished reading – The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson.  This book has had huge critical acclaim and was recommended to me by my parents and one of my friends, and it certainly lived up to the hype.  It also fitted quite nicely with an increasing trend of mine to read Swedish fiction – something which wasn’t possible until the current fashion for translating Scandinavian literature in to English.

This book started as a simple mystery and family saga but grew in to a fast moving political thriller.  It also started by telling the story of two completely different characters who seemingly had little in common, but when they eventually came together the story really took off and the story moved from interesting to gripping.  The advantage of having a long train journey to and from work now is that I can read a lot more than I used to and I finished this book within days, but I still hated having to put it down at the end of my journey.  The only odd note of the book was how it would occasionally include some very specific technical detail, for example there is a lot of information on the make and spec of Lisbeth Salander’s computer.  Some of the details though on what people were eating and which shops they used perhaps added a stronger sense of place for someone like me who knows a certain amount about Sweden.

I am now looking forward to the next two books in the trilogy, the next of which “The Girl who Played with Fire” has been translated to English and is available in hardback.  My parents have already read all three in Swedish and actually consider the first book the weakest, and so the other two must be very good.  It is such a shame that Stieg Larsson died shortly after handing the books over to his publisher and so we will only ever have these three books.

Flying is equivalent to knifing someone in the street, says Green Party

I’ve blogged before about some of the more bizarre ideas that the Green Party have, despite the cuddly image they like to give.  The latest one though is not only bizarre but shows quite how extreme some of their views are and how they can make an issue that has a good deal of public interest in to one where they are completely out of touch with reality.

It all comes about thanks to a comment by Green Party Leader Caroline Lucas MEP on the programme Leaders of Europe.  Until this moment I had tended to see Caroline Lucas as one of the more sensible people in the Greens – after all whilst you may not agree with a party you can usually find some of their politicians that you like or think are reasonable – but I am beginning to rethink that view.  God help the people of Brighton Pavilion and the rest of us if she succeeds in her bid to be elected as their MP.

The comment comes after about 14 minutes in response to UKIP Deputy Leader David Campbell-Bannerman telling Caroline Lucas that she was curbing people’s freedoms by making it more difficult to fly.  Caroline Lucas responds by telling him that you do have to stop activities when:

One person’s freedom is undermining someone else’s freedom… I would think that even you would agree people can’t go round knifing people in the street.

So far so reasonable.  It is also a classic dilemma for liberals.  We don’t believe in banning things, but of course there are some things you have to.  But where Caroline Lucas shows her illiberal tendencies is when questioned further:

CAMPBELL-BANNERMAN: So is flying to Spain the same as knifing someone in the street?

LUCAS: Yes it is.  People are dying from climate change.  It’s very irresponsible.

She can’t say she didn’t know what she was saying as she even asked Campbell-Bannerman to repeat the question.

Now I think combatting climate change is one of the most important things that we need to do, but you can’t use an analogy that compares it to the gravity of knifing someone in the street.  Perhaps this is the prelude to a new form of carbon trading – people who haven’t used their quota of carbon emissions in a year, can instead offset what they haven’t used against someone who has commited a knife crime instead.

Perhaps I am being a bit too flippant, but this remark by Caroline Lucas adds to my view that for a party that attracts the votes of a lot of liberal-minded people they are anything but liberal.  Instead they are very intolerant of anyone who does not agree with them completely, as befits a party that was once jointly led by Derek Wall who describes himself as an “eco-marxist“.

Finally, thanks to Sara Bedford for drawing my attention to this story.