April 23rd, 2009


MEPs rated

Marco Cappato, an Italian Liberal MEP, has set up a website tracking the attendance and activity records of all the members of the current European Parliament. It's mostly in French, and the eplanation of the methodology is not yet complete, but it is an interesting set of data: very glad to see some good friends of mine (Raul Romeva, Sarah Ludford, Ana Gomes) scoring highly; not at all surprised to see some big names rather low in the list.

In Belgium, top marks go to Gerard Deprez of the MR and Bart Staes of Groen!, with lowest marks going to the VLD's Dirk Sterckx and CD&A leader Marianne Thyssen (who is a neighbour of ours). (Even they are not too bad, but they are the only Belgians who score below average.)

In Ireland, the top mark goes to veteran pol Prionsias De Rossa, now Labour, and the lowest mark (by quite some way - the only Irish MEP to score below average) goes to a fellow Dublin MEP, Sinn Féin's Mary Lou McDonald.

Of the British MEPs, Sarah Ludford of the Lib Dems takes top spot, followed by her fellow Londoner Charles Tannock (Conservative) and South-East England MEP Caroline Lucas (Green). The system ranks Chris Huhne bottom (which is a bit unfair as he stopped being an MEP four years ago) and then we have six of the UKIP crowd (including the now expelled Roger Knapman). Of the three from Northern Ireland, Jim Allister ranks 24th, Jim Nicholson 35th and Bairbre de Brún 57th.

The glitch with Huhne, and the incomplete and monolingual explanatory notes, suggest that there are still some gremlins in the system, but I'm glad Cappato has taken the initiative.

April Books 15) The Romance of Crime, by Gareth Roberts

I liked this much more than the other Four / Romana II / K9 novel I've read, The Well-Mannered War, which as it happens is by the same author. Our heroes arrive on a sinister prison asteroid, where they find themselves at the centre of a plot involving miners, corrupt judges, criminal brothers based on the Krays, Ogrons, and a dead mind-stealing criminal. The Doctor accuses K9 of never knowing the answer when it's something important, a glorious reference to the famous Tom Baker out-take. It all pretty much hangs together, Russell juggling multiple viewpoint characters without losing track of the story. One of the good ones.

April Books 16) The Star Trek: The Next Generation Companion, by Larry Nemecek

I bought this cheap at an Irish sf con several years back (or possibly even won it in a raffle) and finally have got around to reading it. Slightly disappointed to find that it covers only the first five years of ST:TNG (1987 to 1992) and even more surprised to realise how few of the individual episodes I can remember having seen (specifically, Symbiosis, Identity Crisis and Unification).

But it does the duty of a book like this, each episode getting a very brief plot, cast and crew summary and a slightly longer behind-the-scenes commentary, with a bit more commentary of each of the seasons. I'm familiar enough with the sub-genre from my reading of Who commentaries that I can see this is a decent effort. Oddly enough it spurs me to (re)watch the Original Series more than any later version.