An interesting week, that started with my reading the findings of an Employment Tribunal. It was, in brief, the report of a chap who had worked at a bank in management for almost 30 years, and who dutifully attended an HR exercise in Race education, laid on by his employer. In that session, and as a manager of some long-standing and unblemished record, he asked the question, what should I do if I overhear someone in a junior position using the N-word, and they themselves are of an ethnic minority group? You might imagine your own thought process – simultaneously trying to form the sentence based on the reasoning that the N-word is often heard in rap songs and riffs from comics such as Chris Rock – so what does he do as a manager if he hears the word being used conversationally from someone who is black?
So far so good – except that what happened, because he suffers from dyslexia, is that the thought process got scrambled between brain and tongue, and he actually used the complete N-word… and his entire world fell apart. He had thought he was in an open, grown-up discussion, but it wasn’t. He apologised immediately – but it wasn’t accepted. He then spent some considerable time – months – with the threat of dismissal hanging over him, and then they sacked him. His appeal process was a nonsense and a travesty of natural or fair justice and so he ended up in court. His unfair dismissal claim was won, but in the process, it also became clear that various important papers had been mislaid or destroyed accidentally, that proper procedures had not been followed, and that all efforts had been spared to deliver fairness to a long-standing employee. He has won his case and please God will get proper compensation to see him through to his 70th year which he was considering working to. By my reckoning that would be a minimum of £75k pa for 12 years plus full pension contributions.
The other exercise this week was seeing the film Oppenheimer. I knew it was long, who had made it, who played the lead and something of the background of the hero. That’s a bit like a Martian saying it understands horseracing and that it involves a small person getting in the saddle at the start and riding the horse as quickly as possible to the finish. Inevitably one might have left out some nuance, some sense of history, and in Oppenheimer’s case one would be missing some of the elements that have radically and forever changed the course of ALL histories.
In my opinion, it is a great film. It is balanced and historically accurate, (bar one small incident when Oppenheimer was a graduate), and many scenes in the film are based on matters of public record. The cast is sensational, the script is excellent and the cinematography – especially the use of colour in some scenes is outstanding. The main plot is in full colour – but in 1954, we see Dr. Oppenheimer testifying before a committee tasked with deciding whether or not to renew his security clearance. Later in 1959, we see Robert Downey, Jr.’s character Lewis Strauss facing a Senate Hearing in order to be confirmed as the Eisenhower administration’s Secretary of Commerce. These two periods are pivotal and help one to understand how badly treated Oppenheimer was – and to an extent – how much he bought upon himself.
The 1954 scenes are presented in a very harsh, washed-out palette, while the 1959 scenes are completely black and white. This was a very deliberate choice on director Christopher Nolan’s part. Colour draws a clear marker between the scenes that are presented from Oppenheimer’s subjective point of view and those that take a more objective, impersonal approach.
Did I learn anything? Well yes… I think one could put up a balanced argument to suggest that Oppenheimer was in favour of Atomic weaponry, rather than as is often portrayed, racked with guilt at the outcome of his work. What I believe concerned him most, was that Nuclear (as in Hydrogen) weaponry was far more powerful than even he and the Los Alamos team had ever envisaged and that the production of H-bombs could only be purposefully used for the destruction of far larger targets than the two original, small and only targets to date. Oppenheimer, further implied that in an arms race, the USSR too could only attack major cities and that in turn would lead to Mutual Assured Destruction. What Oppenheimer was theoretically comfortable with, was the concept of tactical battlefield atomic weapons, which would somehow be controllable.
Far more importantly, I had always assumed that Oppenheimer’s career had “simply” been blighted by McCarthyism. The reality was that his downfall was a mixture of the petty spite of lesser minds who have sadly been given political power, and the abuse of that power to seek the spreading of half-truths in return for patronage or simply continued employment. They used the fear of Communism to justify their own actions and ultimately they were corrupted by the use of that fear.
Throughout the film and especially the scenes of what Thomas Cromwell might have described as Discovery, I was struck by how political, or social, or authoritative bullying, that is specifically designed to threaten often the livelihood, position and respect of ordinary people means that the “accused”, over time, loses everything.
If you don’t think it’s happening right now, and every day, then you’re at no risk of being no-platformed, of losing your job, of keeping your friends, of saving your pension, of having some freedom to state your opinions, beliefs and hopes. Best you say nothing, keep your eyes down, contribute nothing, and pretend the Age of Unreason has not yet arrived.
The great broadcaster Ed Murrow said on March 9th 1954 (CBS – See It Now):
We must not confuse dissent with disloyalty. We must remember always that accusation is not proof and that conviction depends upon evidence and due process of law. We will not walk in fear, one of another. We will not be driven by fear into an age of unreason, if we dig deep in our history and our doctrine, and remember that we are not descended from fearful men.
Talking of conviction based on evidence – and the fear of total loss… here are the tips for Saturday’s TV Racing. We also have the Italian Grand Prix.
ITALIAN GRAND PRIX – MONZA
Verstappen will win, and there will be a great deal of speculation about the future of Perez, after his crash this afternoon, at the famous Parabolica corner. It was the latest in a series of errors by the Mexican, whose hopes of a title challenge to team-mate Max Verstappen faded earlier this year. Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz was fastest, by 0.019 seconds from McLaren’s Lando Norris, with Perez third. Verstappen’s best lap was wrecked by traffic and he ended the session only fifth, behind McLaren’s Oscar Piastri. Perez’s crash, from which he emerged unhurt and did only relatively light damage to his car considering the high speed at which he lost control, blotted what had otherwise been a strong day for him. Mercedes endured a difficult weekend last time out in Zandvoort but will be buoyed by the news that both Lewis Hamilton and George Russell have signed contract extensions until the end of the 2025 season. These short contracts give all parties some minor Get-Out-Of-Jail comfort if either cars or drivers turn out to be NBG. The pit-wall tom-toms suggest that Williams is set to make amends after last week’s SNAFUs and whilst I am happy to believe that Logan Sergeant might make a Top 10 at 5/2 for a Points Finish, I’m more inclined to go for a Top 6 and a Podium for his teammate Alex Albon. He is 20/1 with Paddy Power and Betfair for a podium and 11/4 with Skybet for a Top 6. He won’t be those prices after qualis.
ALEX ALBON 4 pts Top 6 Finish Skybet 11/4 – ALEX ALBON 1 pt Podium Finish Paddy Power 20/1
1:35 CHESTER Contact Company Hcap Cl2 (3yo+) 7½f 12 run
AUSTRIAN THEORY is the trends selection but there are others I fancy more. LORD BERTIE meets an interesting Willie Haggas stat which is that Willie’s 3yo handicap debs who won LTO are – since 2013 – 56R 26W – 6P for an A/E of 1.38. SPIORADALTA had a CD win in July carrying 2lb less and got into traffic problems when 6th at Goodwood. With rain, his odds will shorten as he likes cut.
LORD BERTIE 4 pts win – SPIORDALTA 1½ pts e/w
1:50 SANDOWN Virgin Bet Best Odds Daily Hcap Cl3 (3yo+ 0-90) 7f 11 run
Willie Haggas’ ALPHA CAPTURE could make it across the card double if only he can get his head straight. Last year he’d won the Rockingham, looked a prospect and since then, has fallen through a hole in the floor. He’s down to 82 now and if there is anything in the cupboard – now would be the moment to get it out. I think TOUGH ENOUGH has a decent chance but is just too short at the moment. He’s a strong contender, but at decent odds, FINAL WATCH might spring a surprise. (Watch Spring geddit?) Within 2 lbs of his last winning mark and his trainer has good Sandown stats
TOUGH ENOUGH 3 pts win – FINAL WATCH 1 pt e/w
2:05 BEVERLEY William Hill Silver Cup Hcap Cl2 (3yo+ 0-105) 1m4f 8 run
4/1 the field and 8 runners, what is the world coming to? DARK JEDI is 7lb lower than his last winning mark and too big a price and AIMERIC is being backed and is only 4lbs off his last winning mark. The one that worries me most however is PERFECT PLAY who I suspect might try and win this from the front/
PERFECT PLAY 2 pts e/w
2:25 SANDOWN Virgin Bet Atalanta Stks (G3) (Fillies & Mares) Cl1 (3yo+) 1m 10 run
The trends say any Gosden runner, but only one has G1 form and that is COPPICE. She was slightly disappointing behind Nashwa LTO having won the Sandringham at Royal Ascot, but this G3 looks winnable. Last year’s winner POTAPOVA reappears for Stoutey and she seems by my eye to have the best form.
COPPICE – POTAPOVA Dutch for 7 Pts
2:40 BEVERLEY William Hill Beverley Bullet Sprint Stks Cl1 (3yo+) 5f 7 run
TIZ MARVELLOUS comes alive at Beverley and has won this race for the last 2 years, However, something seems to have fiddled with his Consistency switch, so one is hoping that Beverley is the answer. APOLLO ONE on the other hand remains a model of consistency and has yet to finish outside of the top three. He finished second in the Wokingham behind Saint Lawrence; who has since gone on to finish third in the G1 Maurice de Gheest going down by ½l. Runner-up in the Stewards Cup, and this isn’t the strongest Listed contest.
APOLLO ONE – TIS MARVELLOUS Dutch the pair 7 pts – 1 pt RFC
3:00 SANDOWN Virgin Bet Hcap Cl2 (3yo+) 1m2f 14 run
BALTIC VOYAGE and KITSUNE POWER are the trend selections but then Sam Hoskins sent me a very bullish update on DUAL IDENTITY who is drawn a little wide in 10 with Marco Ghiani on board. 2nd in this last year they’re aiming for the Cambridgeshire handicap next month. I’m surprised to see him favourite which suggests the market thinks he has simply been unlucky with his draw positions this season. He was drawn in Devon for The Hunt Cup and Yorkshire for The Golden Mile. SKYSAIL looks a solid entry and will like this extra distance. LORD PROTECTOR wouldn’t be a surprise. I’m going to be greedy
SKYSAIL 2 pts e/w – KITSUNE POWER 1 pt e/w – Both with DUAL IDENTITY and LORD PROTECTOR ¼ pt CFC
3:20 CHESTER Caa Stellar Chester Stks Cl1 (3yo+) 1m6½f 6 run
THANKS MONICA 2 pts e/w
3:38 SANDOWN Virgin Bet Solario Stks (G3) Cl1 (2yo) 7f 6 run
AABLAN 4 pts Win