Wake up sheeple!

Last night, I went to the cinema.  I almost didn’t go as the weather forecast suggested the evening would be exceeding wet (and I would be en vélo) and I did worry that the film would be a little grown-up for me.  As it transpired, it was rather less wet than advertised (though made up for this later) and I had passed sufficiently far into adulthood (though this latter assertion is very much a matter of opinion).

I am so glad I went – it was probably the most amazing film I have ever seen.  Whilst I am no Barry Norman (or modern equivalent), it is up against some serious competition this year alone.  Boyhood – Richard Linklater’s latest – was also an incredible movie and managed the amazing task of making the protagonist seem more “real” than most “actual” people.  I somehow left disappointed that I couldn’t go out for a beer with Mason Jr, as he was (mostly) fictional.  However, Citizen Four trumped it – despite being a documentary, a genre I tend to avoid at the cinema.

It tells the story of Edward Joseph (Ed) Snowden from his first contact with the film’s Director, through his revelations and beyond to cover some of the consequences for him and those journalists involved in telling the story.  The young lad (29 at the time) comes across as very likeable, principled and – despite his denials – as close to selfless as one is ever likely to find.  This contrasts with the governments of the US and UK who come across as almost totally unprincipled (no real surprise there I guess) and willing to do almost anything to protect themselves (again, I’m probably not going to make the front page of the papers with that particular revelation).  Barack Obama really comes across as a man whose principles (assuming they ever existed) have not survived the achievement of his ambitions, very much in line with the expectations of the 1st Baron Acton (though they never met).

I suppose I have been broadly ashamed of the UK government for some time (pre-dating, though accelerated by, the current incumbents), but this film did bring this into even sharper focus.  So draconian (a word I was disappointed to discover has nothing to do with dragons) is UK anti-terror legislation that the film’s director and several of its speakers were unable to visit for this UK première – though could go to the US for the première there.  It was also clear that whilst the US government is routinely invading the privacy (and liberties) of its citizenry, this is as nothing compared to the UK government’s activities through a GCHQ programme called TEMPORA (though, it must be said that its primary listening facilities are sited in truly beautiful scenery).  It was also interesting that the European Union was far more interested in protecting the human rights of we Brits than our own government – again, probably not that shocking given that human rights seem to be anathema to our current political masters.

Only yesterday, I recall news headlines about how busy the police were dealing with terrorism.  Regularly, we hear of yet more people being arrested under anti-terror legislation – but we rarely hear of any of these people making it to the courts and never (so far as I can recall) hear of an actual conviction.  In fact, this week has yielded news of at least one person making it as far as the courts.  I haven’t being paying much attention, but he (or it may have been she, as I said I really haven’t been paying attention) appeared to have made some threats about Tony Blair (but then again, which of us hasn’t been tempted) and have his home address (which I suspect is not hard to find).  This strikes me as a far lower level of threat than almost any even mildly public female figure receives on Twitter on a daily basis.  It would seem that if the terrorists were to restrict their activities to threatening the stronger sex, they would be able to continue unmolested by the forces of authority.  Indeed, although preaching hate while in possession of a beard and tan is a very serious offence, doing so while in possession of a pint and a fag is a loveable new force in politics.  I know Islam isn’t too keen on beer – its loss – but its more radical adherents might want to learn some lessons from UKIP, an organisation with which they share more than a few views.

Of course, some will say that I have nothing to fear from all this surveillance if I haven’t done anything wrong.  If I’m being honest, I must admit that – despite my attempts to appear as a devil-may-care maverick in GofaDM – I am dreadfully law-abiding in real life.  I won’t even walk on the grass or jump a red light on my bike (OK, I have occasionally done the latter late at night when the alternative was to wait several hours for a car to arrive and wake the traffic lights from their bike-ignoring somnolence).  I must admit that I was tempted by a little civil disobedience earlier in the week as I cycled past a very expense car (of a marque which was probably once British) which was clearly owned by someone senior in Wonga (corporate loan sharks to the desperate – surely, it is only a matter of time before the other staples of organised crime are brought into the corporate fold), but in the end my essentially law-abiding nature won out over the temptation to a little criminal damage

I suspect the law-abiding only have nothing to fear if you trust the government – and have you seen them?  I wouldn’t trust them not to mis-use a tea-cosy, let alone the personal data of an entire nation.  I suspect the only thing protecting us is their incompetence.

Still, excellent as the film was, I have to admit I didn’t sleep very well last night (though, given my chronic insomnia, this could just be a coincidence).  However, it does make me feel much better about the frequency with which I forget to carry my mobile phone or to turn it back on again after being at a gig (or similar event) – at least it might be making GCHQ work a little harder for my (entirely boring) secrets.  I think I might have to start buying more stuff in cash – just to increase the air of mystery that surrounds my doings.  I am rather tempted by this new life as a spy – at least in some small, rather ineffective ways – and already dislike going more than a few tens of yards in at straight-line when out walking (to throw off, or reveal, a tail – obviously).  I know what you’re thinking, how are these attempts at secrecy consistent with blabbing everything on GofaDM?  Well, (a) I never claimed to be consistent and (b) how do you know I’m not just making this all up?

Returning to Citizen Four, it struck me that it should be required viewing in all citizenship classes in the UK.  The film has a 15 certificate as the F-word is occasionally – and entirely reasonably – used.  I’m not entirely sure what 14 year old the BBFC is trying to protect, but frankly I think that ship has sailed for most children before they reach double figures.  Nevertheless, the film would still work at KS3 even with this certification.  Amusingly, a year to two back, I had a chance to flick through the citizenship test we inflict on foreigners wishing to live here.  The “syllabus” could be divided into three main areas:

1. Facts that would actually be useful to someone new to the UK, this was the smallest area.

2. Some very useful facts if the new citizen wishes to hold their own in a pub quiz, but which would be useless in normal life.

3. By far the latest category covered political and other opinions with varying degrees of basis in fact.

I think the good news here is the UK’s continuing commitment to quizing – a commitment all too evident in education policy which focuses on rote-learning of “facts”.  I think we can all agree that rote learning is the only way to grow the economy of the future (who needs understanding or creativity) – which is good news for me as I was always very good at it!  I look forward to the day when financial success is determined by quiz, rather than the tedious process of economics we use today.

Anyway, I seem to have digressed – and this post was long enough without me wandering off-topic.  My biggest worry on leaving the film was how young Ed is keeping himself (and girlfriend) in Moscow, as I doubt he managed to rescue his savings from the US.  I did wonder if we should be organising a whip-round?  I’d certainly be willing to chip-in.

Given the subject matter of this post, my closing peroration should probably be “Death to the West!” – well, who needs Cornwall anyway. (Sorry Cornwall! It’s nothing personal – just geographical).

Unexpected Statements II

No-one believed it would happen, but Mr and Mrs Unexpected Statements I are proud to announce the birth of their first child – named, very much in the manner of our cousins across the Herring Pond, Unexpected Statements II.

Who would have imagined that the old fool would have sufficient recollection of a previous “format” to be able to re-use it?  Well, he is not quite as far sunk into his dotage as was generally believed – and so on with what must pass for the motley hereabouts.

Those who lack the prodigious memory of the author might perhaps need a small nudge to recollect that this particular “format” is where GofaDM (quite unasked) attacks some of the weaker examples of the copywriter’s art, and so it shall.

Case the first

Not so very long ago, I cycled past a white (or mostly so) van covered in the branding of some, now forgotten, business.  So much, so ordinary – but I was struck by one particular claim made in support of the particular product or service on offer from the van’s contents (or driver or both).  It boasted that the product or service was “as seen on YouTube” as though this were some indicator of quality.  As the regularly reader will know, even GofaDM (or at least its flesh-encased representative here on earth) has been “seen on YouTube” and so it is abundantly clear that such a claim is very far from a guarantee of quality (or at least to that of the “good” variety).  In days of yore, did tradesmen boast of being “as seen in Yellow Pages”?  At least that claim did require a modest financial outlay on their part, unlike an appearance on YouTube which is free (as long as you do not cost the loss of privacy and the surrender of some personal information).

Case the latter

A few weeks back, whilst riding Shanks’ pony (did Mr Armitage also have an equine companion which is now sadly lost to posterity?), I encountered a large advertising hoarding hawking some new product from the stable (a word I use advisedly) of the Coca Cola corporation.  I must admit to being surprised that this corporation survived the loss of actual coca in its products (which surely must have been their primary appeal), and strongly suspect that even the cola is no longer entirely authentic.  Anyway, back to the product in question.  Against a somewhat verdant background a vessel of this brown sticky fluid was displayed with the claim that it gained its sweetness from a plant-based source.  It suddenly struck me that I had hitherto (probably foolishly) always assumed that “normal” Coca Cola used a plant-based source for its sweetness – presumably sugar cane or perhaps beet.  Clearly not.  Is this yet another place where the horse has crept into our food supply?  I’ve never thought of horses as especially sweet (either in person or the mouth), but now I think about it they are rather fond of sugar lumps – so maybe they are.  Is this why they also make (or made) such effective glue?  Sill, it’s good to know that Coke have finally produced a horse-free sticky brown fluid.

I think what this second bite of the Unexpected Statements cherry most clearly indicates is not that I would make an excellent copywriter – but rather that I have too much time, or thinking capacity, on my hands to be considered entirely (mentally) healthy.

Hard working families

I believe this phrase is used by at least one of the two main political parties to identify its key demographic.  Frankly, there is no easy way to guess which one it might be (and I’m certainly not going to look it up) as they are virtually indistinguishable and I’m sure their main competitor is targeting exactly the same group, albeit using a slightly different buzz phrase.

I have a number of problems with the phrase, not least my own disenfranchisement.  There can certainly be a discussion about whether I am hard-working or not, but as a single chap I definitely fail to qualify as a family (either nuclear or conventionally-fired).  My belief is that, as a “single”, I am surfing the current demographic zeitgeist – with an ever growing number of single-person households.  We, the lone wolves of society, have been discriminated against for years with more expensive holidays and passed over for 2-for-1 offers (to give but two examples – grrr!) – but now it seems we are being deliberately ignored by the world of politics too.  Perhaps it is time we banded together – though I suppose we may find this difficult, which might explain why politicians believe we can be easily marginalised.

I feel the phrase “hard working” might also be a mistake.  Going back to demographics, an every growing proportion of the population is retired – and these people tend to vote – and so are no longer hard working in the traditional sense.

In its entirety, the whole phrase does make me wonder if Lord Shaftesbury worked in vain.  Somehow “hard working families” makes me think of small children up chimneys or down mines – otherwise, the little nippers are just loafing around in full-time education (which may not be their first choice activity, but is hardly economically productive).  Perhaps the need to get children back into work is one of the motivations behind the current opposition to human rights within the government.  It is perhaps worth warning our political masters – many of whom seem to be resident in some fictional past – that chimney sweeping is not quite the industry it once was.  Fun as Mary Poppins was, it should not be considered a documentary.

Anyway, let us assume (for the sake of what I will call “this argument”) that hard working families are indeed a good thing.  I would imagine that such mythical folk would like a decently paid job (at which to work hard), affordable housing (in which to live), decent public services (to make life liveable, educate their offspring and in case of illness), decent public transport (to get to and from work) etc.  Oddly, none of these areas seem to appear anywhere on the agenda of either of the political parties which claim to be focused on helping the hard working family.  Not even a promise to abolish central heating and get Britain’s neglected chimneys back into use.

No, instead there seem to be two big policy initiatives this week:

1.  An oath for teachers: where does one begin?  I am rather fond of Tristam Hunt, he writes a very good history book, but really – is this the best he and his colleagues could come up with?  I suppose at least it should (but probably won’t) be cheap – and I’m sure has already generated many an oath from the teaching profession.

2. Reducing Inheritance Tax: so, ignore hard work altogether and just inherit money from your relatives (which ticks the family box, I suppose).  I realise this approach has worked very well for much of the cabinet, but not everyone is descended from millionaires.  I, at least, have spent several years trying to encourage my parents to spend their money rather than passing it on to undeserving-me in the (hopefully) distant future.

Senior figures in all political parties seem very keen to bang-on about any incident where they meet a “real” person – I seem to recall Gareth from IT completely trumped the economy in a recent speech – but really seem to have only a very vague idea about what we are actually like.  After the excitement surrounding possible Scottish secession, there seem a vocal group of parliamentary numbskulls who feel that only English MPs should be allowed to vote on issues affecting England.  Obviously, this idea could be extended further, so only female MPs can vote on women’s issues and only disabled MPs on issues affecting the disabled (which should lead to some very small votes indeed).  Perhaps (idiotic though the original idea is) we should go further, and most MPs will only be allowed to vote on issues affecting PR, PPE at Oxbridge and a few other areas of special interest – with only the very few “real” people in parliament (the splendid Alan Johnson is the only example that springs to mind, though surely he cannot be alone) able to vote on issues which affect real people.  It would certainly be a novelty with people voting on things for which they have some relevant experience.

Failing such a major shake-up in the political landscape, it is time for the indolent loners in society (I know you must be out there) to start fighting for our political rights.  It’s going to be tough for us – involving as it will both work and meeting other people – but our voice needs to be heard!

You’ll believe a man can fly!

Please by reassured that no lycra was harmed (or, indeed, worn) in the making of this post.

Recently, my working life has required me to take to the skies and visit foreign parts – and there will be at least one further such occasion later this month.  Given the failure of mother nature to provide me with my own pair of functional wings (or any other way to overcome the surly bonds of gravitational attraction), I am forced to use that modern mechanical contrivance: the aeroplane.

I am, at best, a nervous flyer.  I do realise that my life is far more likely to be brought to a premature conclusion on my journey to the airport than it is in the air, but being trapped in a packed, metal box high above the ground still makes me decidedly twitchy.  I have come to suspect that airlines – and/or their staff – share my anxiety about the whole process.  Faced with these fears, they have – as generations of fearful humans have before them – fallen back on observing a series of rituals.  These seem entirely arbitrary and vary somewhat from airline to airline, but are fiercely adhered to with all the fervent commitment of the religious fundamentalist.  I am particularly amused by the insistence by all UK-based airlines that in the event that we land on water, our life-jacket should be secured using a double-bow.  I feel this would be a fairly challenging call when relaxed and in a wide-open space, but will be well-nigh impossible when under significant stress in the very cramped confines of a modern aircraft.  I do wonder if it is an attempt to forestall panic, as the passengers will be far too busy trying to tie a double-bow to worry about the potential for their imminent, very damp demise.

I also wonder why, if it does not inflate, my yellow plastic oxygen mask is supplied with a limp, dangling plastic bag.  What purpose does it serve? Other than to extend the safety demonstration by an additional sentence.  Is the plastic bag, perhaps, lucky?  Or does it permit the passenger to indulge in a little auto-erotic asphyxiation as he (or she) plummets to their fiery doom?

As a nervous flyer, the first thing I do on reaching my seat – after my seat belt has been safely fastened (“like this”) – is to check out the safety card.  This identifies the location of the exits on the plane (in a way that the mime used by all cabin crews worldwide does not) and how they are operated – which I feel may become important information.  This card is free of words and instead relies on pictures and pictograms to convey its various messages.  Those are normally cryptic in the extreme – frankly I think I’d have more chance if the card were printed entirely in Chinese – but those used by FlyBe on my flight to Dublin last Thursday were in a league of their own.  So far as I could tell, in order to exit the Dash 8 aircraft one needs to do something with some nearby, geometrically patterned wallpaper – though I was unable to locate this wallpaper or determine what to do with it once found.  On the Embraer 190 which delivered me home, one pictogram showed the front and rear top surface of the plane burning merrily, but no nearby pictograms seemed in anyway to relate to this image.  Was this a serving suggestion?  Would Monsieur Mangetout recommend that the Embraer be eaten flambéed?  I am willing to make myself available to review flight safety cards (for my usual fee) in an attempt to make them a little more readily understood by a typical passenger (or failing that, by me).  I shall await the call from IATA.

I feel some of you may be feeling short-changed by the title, as the only flying covered so far has been the rather prosaic form which relies on a commercial airliner.  Fear not, this post has also been crafted to cover a more personal form of flying achieved by the author only yesterday.

The regular reader will know that I am aiming to represent TeamGB in Rio as a gymnast.  As part of the intensive training required, I am attempting to master the back lever.  This is challenging and a series of progressions are used to reach the objective.  This last week, a giant rubber-band was delivered to the good people at Brightside PT to assist in this process – and yesterday I had my first chance to try it out.  As well as helping me achieve the back lever, it also offers help towards a number of other ring-based activities which I hadn’t previously considered, but which now look to lie within the realms of possibility (or at least share a land-border with them).

With the aid of the rubber band, I was almost immediately able to manoeuvre myself into the correct position for the back-lever – albeit supported in the middle by the aforementioned band.  Cunningly – as you will see below – this band was chosen so that it can easily be removed by use of a green screen and so the user will appear to be performing unaided!

Is it a bird?  Is it a plane?

Is it a bird? Is it a plane?

Of all the things I have done in my 48.5 years on this planet, this feels the most like flying – and it feels wonderful.  It is worth all the hard work and DOMS involved in preparing for the back lever, just for the amazing feeling of being airborne.  I’d highly recommend it to all readers – though they should perhaps seek medical advice (or check their life insurance is up-to-date) before attempting it (I, of course, take no responsibility for any distress – mental or physical – caused to readers from following any of the advice given in this blog).  Obviously, it will be even better without the support – but that is going to take a little more work.  I can’t believe how stony-faced the typical gymnast looks when performing such manoeuvres – after 24 hours it has still proved almost impossible to wipe the smile off my face.  I do worry that traditional gymnastics training either leaves one hopelessly jaded or is wasted on the young.  I shall endeavour to retain my child-like (in terms of mental age, at least) enthusiasm – even should I become a world famous gymnast (or failing that, a terrible lesson to you all).

Feeling my age

This is, of course, a very different proposition to acting my age.  I have largely avoided acting my age, and when I am called upon to portray an adult in a public setting then “acting” is very much the mot juste.  In this context, I am very much NOT a follower of Messrs Stanislavski and Strasberg – I go with the “just pretending” school.

One the whole, I do not feel my age – unless there has been a dreadful accounting error and I really am only 22 (or thereabouts).  Over the summer, a number of incidents illustrated the distance between my internal view of my age and actual chronology have been allowed to diverge over the years.  I have realised that when in the company of “proper” adults – generally, but not always, those of my age or greater – I feel rather like a child who has been allowed to stay up past his bedtime and as though I don’t really belong.    With those aged around 20 (±5), I feel as though I am among equals and act as though I am just one of the gang – which I presume they must find a little disconcerting (or just creepy), but probably endure as I’m quite good about buying the beer.  When availing myself of the cake at T H Roberts in Dolgellau, I felt far more at home with the very youthful staff then with the more stricken-in-years clientele – despite being much close in age to the latter.  I suspect there must be quite a backlog of updates to my self-image waiting to be installed in a cloud or buffer somewhere – and long may they remain there!

My pretence at continued youth is also being bolstered by my gymnastic exploits.  A little while ago I learned that one of the other clients of Brightside refers to me as “the gymnast” (as though this were my profession – which luckily, for my continued solvency, it is not) and today discovered that I am a major topic of conversation among their wider clientele (in my absence, fortunately).  It would appear that I am a marvel of the age (or at least, my age) – though to be honest, it is just practice and a bit of application on my part.  At the risk of frightening the horses (you will be seeing a lot of leg), here is a picture of me practising one of the progressions towards the elusive back lever.

Just hanging around

Just hanging around

The more perspicacious reader may have noted that my head seems very pink (née red).  In my defence, I would point out that I am upside-down and this is a hold – but I will admit that I do not recall seeing this same effect on real gymnasts.  Luckily, according to the Mortician’s Gazette, I see that some gymnastics is to be televised next week so I shall have an opportunity to check out the head-directed blood-flow of the participants.  I suppose it may be that hanging like a very distended bat is not a highly regarded activity in proper gymnastics…

So, why you may wonder should I be feeling my age?  Well, partly it comes down to hanging around with the young and recalling an incident from my adult past, only to discover it occurred before any of them were born.  This can really take the wind out of a chap’s sails.

However, the spark that ignited this post was going to see the film Pride a week or so back.  The film is excellent (if you haven’t seen it, you really should) and (mostly) set in 1984 – the year in which I took my A-levels and started university.  Yet, even to me it feels like a period piece and I was shocked to realise that I was basically an adult when it was set.  The vehicles, in particular, look to be from a bygone age.  It made my feel very old and to wonder if it is time for me to start buying Werther’s Originals, carpet slippers and a tartan rug.

NO!  I refuse to act my age!  I refuse to wear anything made of fleece!  I shall re-double my efforts to grow old disgracefully.  I feel in need of a new age-inappropriate hobby to take up (to add to the gymnastics).  What do people feel about seeing a man of 48½ on a skateboard?  (I promise to eschew the strangely sculpted facial hair and pony tail).  I’m also willing to entertain suggestions for other pursuits which would allow me to retain my juvenility – but, be warned, if I like the idea I may act upon it and you may later be exposed to photographic evidence thereof!

Conference time

In days of yore, Autumn was poetically associated with mist and mellow fruitfulness.  More recently, for those of us using the trains, it has also become associated with the menace of “leaves on the line” – the curious ability of a little vegetation discarded by some (careless – or perhaps, malicious) deciduous plants to bring the 21st century rail network to its knees (and, yes, I do realise that a network probably doesn’t have actual knees).  However, it also seems to have become associated with the conference – and not just the pear!

I found myself speaking at two such conferences last week, have another couple next week and yet another towards the end of the month.  You readers may mock (or merely ignore) my output but there is a greater call for my services than you might have imagined!  It’s not just a local audience – my victims have been drawn from across the whole of Europe, and even given positive feedback after being exposed to my “content” (proof – if proof were needed – of the reality of Stockholm Syndrome).

Actually, one of my recent gigs was held in the French Salon at Claridge’s – so a brief opportunity to discover how the other half live (I did feel dreadfully common).  It was nice – but if I needed somewhere to stay for the night, give me a student room at a Cambridge College or a budget hotel chain every time and I’ll spend the money I’ve saved on something which would give me more enjoyment.

However, it is not just me attending conferences – our political masters (and would-be masters) are at it as well.  In the past, these conferences tended to be held in remote seaside locations (presumably using similar logic to the siting of nuclear power stations), but now they infest our inland conurbations without a second thought.

Of late, some of our politicians have taken to speaking without notes – and being lauded for this as though the achievement were comparable to that of a talking dog.  In all my years of public speaking, I have only once used notes – and that was only because the conference organiser insisted on it – and even then I ad-libbed extensively.  It would seem that poor old Ed Miliband came a little unstuck with this approach and forgot one of the key strands of his speech.  I know how easy it is when talking off the top of your head to lose track of your key messages, though I’ve found this can (usually) be fixed by introducing a strong narrative element to your talk.  Still, missing possibly the most important element of your talk does indicate very poor short-term memory, a tendency to get carried away by the sound of your own voice or too many messages for a single speech (to all of which I would have to plead guilty in my own less than illustrious past).  Loath as I am to admit it, less can often by more when haranguing a crowd.

Both Labour and now the Tories seem keen to convince us that, if elected, they will spend more money on the NHS.  Now, I know I dropped biology in the 3rd form and so am no expert – but I’m pretty sure that the primary objective of the NHS is to heal the sick, not to spend money.  Money may enable it to achieve its objectives, but I think I’d rather see some promises couched in terms of health-based outcomes rather than spending ones.  One could easily increase NHS spending by purchasing a Ferrari for every senior NHS manager, but whilst this may offer a lifeline to the Italian economy (and please at least some of the NHS management) I would be sceptical that it would do much for waiting lists, antibiotic resistance or the nation’s health.  I suspect spending more money is just easier than actually tackling any of the real issues which affect the NHS which I am quite certain (as it is a large organisation established by and involving human beings) wastes vast quantities of money (if, by chance, it doesn’t then it truly is unique and should be extended to cover a far wider range of activities – it would certainly be able to teach “the man” a thing or two!).

In the last couple of days, the Tories have continued to live by the dictum that if you thought the previous Home Secretary was reactionary then just wait.  It would seem that in the pursuit of soi-disant extremists my rights and liberties as a citizen are to be still further eroded.  I did wonder if this was, in fact, nothing to do with fears about the more frothingly insane members of Islam (and the young and impressionable that they have influenced) and is in fact a package of measures targeted at UKIP.  Then again, given some of the views coming from her own party, Ms May may find she has scored something of an own goal.

Still, at least someone has finally had the courage to take a stand against the evils of human rights: as a non-human myself, I feel that far too much is being done to molly-coddle the fleshy pink and/or brown bipeds that infest this planet.  Time they realised that they are allowed to exist (if at all) at the sufferance of their political masters (and the small number of wealthy individuals and corporations that are their masters, in turn).  Rights should only exist where they can be taken and held by force – whether that be physical or fiscal in nature – which has surely been the message that the world’s religions and philosophers have been banging on about for millennia.  I’m sure none of us want to live in a world where the rich and powerful might be brought to account should they chance to murder a citizen (or several) on a whim.