/Guardian Weekly Letters, 2 August 2019 | Global (via Qpute.com)
Guardian Weekly Letters, 2 August 2019 | Global

Guardian Weekly Letters, 2 August 2019 | Global (via Qpute.com)

Boris Johnson: what lies under the clown costume?

Gary Younge is right: Boris Johnson is likely to be even worse than Teresa May as Britain’s joker prime minister (Farewell Theresa May. Your best was very far from good enough, 26 July).

Britain’s only hope is that Boris Johnson has more in common with Shakespeare’s dramatic fools than he does with the ordinary run of jesters then and now.

As any senior high school English literature student could tell you, the fool in Shakespeare’s plays cannot be dismissed as the clueless idiot he seems at first sight. Beneath that idiotic exterior lurks a wisdom and wit that play a constructive role in the unfolding theatrical drama.

It remains to be seen whether beneath prime minister Boris Johnson’s jocularity lies a deeper layer of meaning that can serve the British nation well.

The trouble is, of course, that Boris is the main character in a real life drama currently being played out in Britain – not just a humorous character on the sidelines of the main action able to assist the main characters with wit and wisdom.

It would be laughable if it wasn’t so serious.

Let’s hope that Boris, the court jester, doesn’t lead his country from farce into tragedy.
Terry Hewton
Adelaide, South Australia

Costs of car travel are

higher than most think

The case of public transport in Berlin (Spotlight Europe, 19 July) might seem mundane but illustrates our failure to account for costs and benefits of investment, whether private or public.The sole issues in this case are portrayed as ridership and money cost to the transport authority. Meanwhile, the costs of high vehicle use are ignored. If the city were treated as a proxy for the public good, then it will benefit significantly from the reduction in chronic disease, accidents and premature mortality, among other outcomes. Investment in this sense suddenly might make complete sense.

Silo-based accounting and policy making, and unquestioned acceptance of the notion, at the heart of capitalism, that natural resources and human wellbeing can either be regarded as either free or inconsequential, need to be overturned urgently to enable us to see who actually profits, and to accordingly make decisions in favour of the planet and people.
Neil Blackshaw
Barbizon, France

TV satire has a long and illustrious history

In his article on Trevor Noah (19 July) Brian Logan (not a relative) says that late-night TV satire has never taken off in Britain. He is clearly too young to remember the heady days when That Was the Week that Was was compulsive viewing on Saturday nights.

I hope he will correct Noah’s attributing the horse used to penetrate the defences of Troy to the Trojans rather than the besieging Greeks.
Robert Logan
Carterton, New Zealand

Making cow families stay together can be profitable

In response to your 19 July story Got (ethical) milk?: nobody needs to eat veal. Why not have cow families stay together and have the mother as the family breadwinner? I think that David Finlay is half-right and stressing that the social and health benefits for the cow are the real reason he’s doing “ethical dairy farming”. This would help a long way. This was a very useful article.
Guven Cagil
Copiague, New York, US

Faster computing power may not help us humans

I guess it’s only natural that you report a “major breakthrough in quantum computing” with the same quiet triumphal tone which for centuries journalists have used for reporting scientific progress (Quantum leap from Australian research promises super-fast computing power, 26 July).

The fact is, this breakthrough is not what scientific breakthroughs generally are, a breakthrough for mankind. It is a breakthrough for mankind’s most deadly foe: the machines that are overloading our brains with information and causing our minds, which are the sole source of our knowledge, withering in redundancy to the point of atrophy.
Samuel Reifler
Rhinebeck, New York, US

Your centenary edition left out some key events

Congratulations on putting together a comprehensive and well-edited special 100th anniversary edition (5 July). While I realise it’s difficult choosing what to include from such an eventful period, I was surprised at two exclusions: the Iranian revolution of 1979 and the partition of the Indian subcontinent in 1947. Both were momentous events and have a bigger impact than some of those events that you included.
Zohra Yusuf
Karachi, Pakistan

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