Tuesday, January 15, 2008

May The Force Be With You

Sometimes I just don’t know who to think is most stupid.

Rhodri Morgan himself provided me with a prime example of that just last week. On Thursday and Friday he embarked on what some wags are describing as his “Taith Iaith” (Tour Of The Language, for those less Brythonically-inclined), a supposed fact-finding tour of North and West Wales intended to discover why those areas have so thoroughly rejected Labour in the Assembly. All very fine and dandy (if you’re buying into Labour’s version of why they lost in May, at any rate) but not especially stupid, right?

Well that was until Rhodri came out with this belter;

"The things which divide us are greater than the things which unite us, sadly. The centrifugal forces are stronger than the centripetal forces but we’ve got to overcome that."

Now I may have that BSc in Physics and that MSc in Nuclear Reactor Technology, but frankly a GCSE in Double Science, or even a trip to Wikipedia, should be enough to point out the flaw in that little scientific argument; simply put, the centrifugal force is either a fictitious force (which cannot be stronger than the centripetal force because it doesn’t exist at all) or a reaction force (which is thus equal and opposite to the centripetal force).

But just when I’m about to happily conclude idiocy on the First Minister’s part, my contacts versed in the dark arts of “political science” inform me that centrifugal and centripetal are, in fact, perfectly acceptable descriptors for territories like Wales and Scotland with nationalist persuasions.

So now I have to ask myself where the problem lies. Is it with the “political scientists” for appropriating a highly dubious scientific metaphor and giving its inaccurate use the credence of long use? Is it with the journalists, themselves arts graduates to a man, lacking the nous to spot this senseless slaughter of the English language?

But then my thoughts are drawn back to Rhodri, because there’s a more fundamental issue involved here; whether you think the metaphor is valid in its own terms or scientifically unconscionable, you have to accept that the metaphor is ultimately derived from the idea of something spinning. And what on Earth is Rhodri “I’m Old Labour me, nothing New Labour about me at all, heaven forbid you should think that” Morgan doing going round using spinning metaphors?

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