Russell Brand’s take on politics

Russell Brand – yes, he of the long hair and comedy – writes surprisingly vehemently and eloquently about politics in an editorial for the New Statesman:

There’s little point bemoaning this apathy. Apathy is a rational reaction to a system that no longer represents, hears or addresses the vast majority of people. A system that is apathetic, in fact, to the needs of the people it was designed to serve. To me a potent and triumphant leftist movement, aside from the glorious Occupy rumble, is a faint, idealistic whisper from sepia rebels. The formation of the NHS, holiday pay, sick pay, the weekend – achievements of peaceful trade union action were not achieved in the lifetime of the directionless London rioters. They are uninformed of the left’s great legacy as it is dismantled around them.

Of the two possible reactions to the mechanised indifference and inefficiency of their alleged servants, not leaders – apathy or rage – apathy is the more accessible and is certainly preferable to those who govern.

Brand of course has made political statements before, and on Morning Joe earlier this year pointed out the absurdity of the media right to their faces, but I’ll definitely accept that I never expected quite the strength of opinion and intelligence backing it that shines through in this editorial. It’s fascinating for the contrast against Brand’s character as much as the content of the polemic against the political landscape of the day.

Reinventing the Smoke Alarm

Nest, who recently reinvented the thermostat for the 21st century, are at it again with the smoke alarm:

To improve safety, Nest had to find a way to thwart false alarms, which lead people to tempt fate by disconnecting their units. The company’s solution is the pre-alarm heads-up. Nest Protect detects the problem before it reaches alarm-triggering levels and informs you, deploying its reassuring yet authoritative prerecorded human voice. Users can forestall the full-scale siren of the alarm with a wave of a hand under the device. This “gestural hush,” detected by motion sensors in the smoke detector, gives them some time to deal with the offending situation. When the air returns to normal, the voice delivers an all-clear message and the device glows green.

Sounds fantastic. Want to see more of this kind of innovation coming Australia’s way.