Saturday, April 19, 2008


The EU is discussing possible legislation which could enable people to sue spiritualists and clairvoyants who get predictions wrong.
Presumably this would be aimed primarily at practitioners who give face-to-face consultations. But sharp legal minds adept at finding loopholes in laws could soon have field days nitpicking it to find a wider application.
Those highly paid astrologers who make daily paper predictions for every star sign, plus weekly telephone ones and annual long range forecasts at the start of each year might find themselves in not just in hot but lethally boiling water.
‘My stars said it was a good day for getting a new job and getting married. I didn’t get the job and my marriage was a disaster which ended in divorce,’ a plaintiff might tell a Court in a claim for damages for the pain and distress he or she believes was caused by a faulty forecast.
Lawyers could argue for weeks and months about the gullibility and naivety of a claimant and make much of many people’s need to blame someone else when things go wrong.
But there is also the matter of consumer rights. People who consult clairvoyants and astrologers are consumers of their services.
It would take only a single litigant to win one case to see astrologers written off as expensive charlatans. Their predictions, one of the most popular features in tabloid papers and magazines, would vanish overnight.
This would be a great sadness for the millions who find the stars compulsive reading which they promptly forget - though some top executives read their stars immediately prior to power meetings, Princess Diana consulted several astrologers and Nancy Reagan was reported to have put her trust in the stars.
But if you don’t want to go to Court, you might be entitled to a revised prediction.
The Daily Mail’s popular astrologer, Jonathan Cainer, was unable to give a satisfactory answer when asked on TV why he had not even seen a dark hint of trouble on the American horizon prior to 9/11. On BBC2 on New Year’s Eve he predicted a booming world economy in 2008 and a woman would be elected American President. Two months later he admitted in his column that he might have got it wrong about Hillary Clinton. So predictions can be revised.
The big problem with predicting the future is that even the most careful reading of the signs and the stars cannot tell exactly how it will turn out. Just ask that other bunch of astrologers, the economists who read the signs in the business world and almost invariably get their predictions wrong.
They didn’t see the sub prime problems, which were only a 3,500 mile ocean away, coming. So just how can a long traverse of Saturn millions of miles away in the remote universe or the Moon in Leo possibly signal it’s a good day to dig the garden without hurting your back?
If you think about it, our own pasts are a far better clue to the future than a clairvoyant’s or astrologer’s predictions. We all develop patterns of behaviour and are prone to repeat what we have done in the past. If we want to make the future different and perhaps better, that is what we need to change.
EU legislation which might enable people to sue over wrong predictions is the Nanny Superstate in overdrive and would only prolong the agony of disappointment. They should butt out and leave us to grieve privately over lost hopes before we get on with our lives.
Upstaged by the Pope, still in the long shadow of his predecessor, Tony Blair, and virtually unheard of by the American public, Prime Minister Gordon Brown struggled to get noticed in the US this week.
‘He is not yet an easily recognisable superstar like Thatcher or Blair,’ was how Sky News political editor Adam Boulton, who accompanied the PM on the three day trip to New York, Washington and Boston, diplomatically understated Brown’s invisibility.
‘But Mr Brown is pressing on doggedly with his charm offensive on the TV networks,’ added Boulton, trying to sound upbeat.
As the Mr Brown is totally devoid of charm, charging around television studios demanding air time is more like his style.
Rip off cowboy builders have long been notorious. Usually small time operators, they are likely to have moved on and left town before your house floods, the roof falls in or the whole building collapses as a result of their shoddy work at a rip off price.
The big time boys who build roads, bridges, schools, hospitals and public buildings think they are a higher class of builders.
But as this week’s Office of Fair Trading report reveals they are just a higher class of cowboys who have rigged bills, fixed prices and ripped off the taxpayer to the tune of £12 billion.
Like high class hookers, they get vast sums for plying the same trade as the poor workers on the street.
The Bollywood style launch in Bangalore of the Indian Premier League of Twenty20 cricket sounds the death knell for Lords as the grand home of the game and the beginning of the end for days long Test Matches.
This exciting, crowd-pulling game, which will make players as rich as soccer stars, will consign the Tests and probably one day cricket to history faster than the PC did the typewriter as the sport follows the economy powerhouse east. Copyright © Rebecca Hamilton 2008. All Rights Reserved.

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