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Wednesday, November 24, 2010


Kabuki is the highly stylized classical Japanese dance-drama. Kabuki theatre is known for the stylization of its drama and for the elaborate make-up worn by some of its performers.
The description has been used to describe the American airport security system in which since racial profiling is forbidden blonde Swedish girls are as likely to be examined as aggressive looking bearded Arabic men (probably moreso, its a more fun job). Stylized, elaborate, dramatic without doing anything.

The phrase seems equally apt when describing the show of "public consultation" going on over the Forth crossing & indeed other sizable public projects. We all know perfectly well that the great & powerful Alex has decreed that we spend £2.3 bn (& counting) on a pointless new bridge though a new lane (max cost £10 mill) would do at least equally well. Nobody expects that complaints by the people of Queensferry will be allowed to stop that under any circumstances (nor should they if it were of real national interest). Nonetheless our civil service go through the theatre of holding a pointless "Inquiry".

This is from the Scotsman
RESIDENTS who spent months putting together evidence on their concerns about the new Forth Road Bridge are calling for a rethink of the system for handling major projects after the Scottish Parliament committee considering the plans threw out all their objections...

"We had two weeks to prepare witness statements on why we were still objecting - that was not a particular problem.

Then we had a rebuttal from Transport Scotland, which was 300 pages. We had 14 days to read that, interpret it and draft our own rebuttal.

"It was a ludicrous timetable. These are people who work full-time, people who have children and other family members to look after. We are not full-time paid administrators.

"Transport Scotland had tight deadlines too, but they have full-time staff and people who were brought in especially to deal with this evidence."

But lets look at the cost. It probably takes at least a couple of hours of somebody's time to write a page of "rebuttal" & another hour of somebody's time to check it & another supervisor to keep an eye on these two intellectuals [2.48 July11] & then a lawyer to check it out. Total civil service costs seem to be a bit over £100,000 per employee which means £50 per hour. 5 hours per page for a 300 page "rebuttal" is £75,000. Bear in mind that this is not their opening or closing document it is just a small part. There is also the costs of their lawyers all over the shop. Beyond that is the cost of Holyrood running it. Yet this is only 1 small complaint led by the community council of Queensferry village. The serious criticism is technical. So all in all the total cost of public inquiry "theater" is likely to be at least 100 times that - £7.5 million.

But this is before anybody has even looked seriously at turning a spade. Every part of the building will require similar time by chairwarmers going over everything in the same useless way. On another occasion Steuart pointed out to me that the government's report on licencing new reactor design many of the figures are given in Imperial units (foot, pound etc). For those who don't get the significance engineers, always & everywhere use the SI system (metre, kilometer, gram,kilogram) because it is the only sane one to calculate in, so the government committee on licencing nuclear engineering is being run by civil servants who know no engineering (top civil servants all did classics) & who can thus have nothing useful to say on the subject - the licencing examination is just theatre. Damned expensive theatre since it adds years to the time when workers can start building, hopefully before the lights fail, but nothing more than theatre.

If £7.5 million minimum is being spent on stuff wholly untelated to even looking at building something I think we can assume that is only about 1% of what will ne spent on overseeing things actually being done. This fits well with Richard Rogers complaint that of the £670 million spent building the Millenium Dome, only $46 million was spent on actually building it, the rest being paper shuffling theatre.

So that would be £750 million on Kabuki Theatre for the bridge. Minimum estimate. So far.

Small wonder it is budgeted at £2,300 million when the last one cost an inflation adjusted £320 million.

Or we could just spend £10 million on a new tidal central lane & increase the capacity of the current bridge by 50%. Though no Kabuki theatre jobs in that.

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To take your first point, I believe the security checks are purely for show and to teach obedience to the state. First, hands up, the surrender pose, obey what we say. Then lose the last shred of privacy or dignity by naked scan or molestation for you and your kids (I saw some poor child in the background of a SKY report being touched-up by some 'security' pervert). Then the good old media did three vox pops saying what a good idea it was with no counter point allowed. I really think this is about teaching serfdom rather than any security and what's next, pat-downs when entering a shopping mall?
Thank you very much for creating the effort to talk about Kabuki Theater,I feel strongly about this theater as a big fan. Now I want to collect Kabuki dance dress and mask at PIJ. This will really amazing to me.
Thanks again for your awesome work :)
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