David Blunkett spins off

But where to?

David Blunkett, the former home secretary, has many admirable attributes but recently, on Oct 27th 2010, he got a little carried away. This is not a political attack on him nor on the policies of the coalition government. I want this blog to be apolitical as far as that is possible. I must also assume that he was accurately reported [http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2010/oct/27/david-blunkett-cuts-english-nationalism].

Blunkett was describing the possibility of  increasing nationalism  in England due to spending cuts. He spoke of civil society being ‘the glue that holds us together‘. It is also ‘the driving force…to assist each other‘. He also told us how ‘scarce resources are … pulled like a magnet into  …. the Olympic Games’.

Apart from from being a somewhat febrile rush of mixed metaphors, these seem to make sense.

Then, however we are told, ‘The denial that there is such a thing as regional identity pulls the centrifugal force of England into London and alienates those who are hardest hit by the cuts.’.  …Pause…. I’m sorry! What was that again? I have never heard before of anything ‘pulling a force’.

Let’s talk about centrifugal force. At this time of year it seems to be proper to consider a conker on a string. If you whirl it around, the conker moves in something like a circle and the string is stretched straight. Newton’s First Law tells us that any body tends to move only in a straight line so a force has to be exerted on the conker by the string to make it move in a circle. That force is provided by your hand [it feels a pull outwards] holding the string. This is a centrifugal force. While we are about it, the conker feels a force towards your hand, as you do pushing towards the centre when you ride on a roundabout. This is a centripetal force. Newton’s Third Law tells us that the centrifugal and centripetal forces are equal to each other.

Try Wikipedia, of course, at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Newton%27s_laws_of_motion     .

Alternatively a more funky site seems to be at http://www.physics4kids.com/files/motion_laws.html   .

Most of that could be said to be as much GCSE Physics as engineering. But I claim an engineering interest because, as I always define it, engineering is entirely about handling forces very often in terms of Newton’s Laws. I will say that, every single day, engineers who design and make jet engines and other turbines have to work very hard and continuously to reduce the risk of accidents due to centrifugal forces.

Anyway, none of this clarifies Mr Blunkett’s last phrase. I was reminded of the description “…inebriated with the exuberance of his own verbosity…” . I discovered [http://quotationsbook.com/quote/30923/] that this was said by Disraeli of Gladstone. Perhaps that is too much. Let’s say at the loss of some euphony “a little tipsy with the exuberance…” shall we?

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