This week, Allison Vivas of Pink Visual received a fax from Newt Gingrich’s American Solutions for Winning the Future (ASWF) group, informing her that she’s been chosen for a 2009 Entrepreneur of the Year award by his Business Defense and Advisory Council. From the letter obtained by ThinkProgress:
Newt would like to arrange a private dinner with you at the historic Capitol Hill Club on the evening of October 7, 2009 in Washington. You’ll dine privately with Newt at this exclusive venue and he’ll take the occasion to present you with your well deserved award and have your photo taken together.
This tremendous honor is a testament to your success in building your business and recognition of the risks you take to create jobs and stimulate the economy. As an award winner, you’ll be on the ground floor as Newt and his Council begin the work to turn this country around. … Newt is looking forward to hearing your ideas on getting the economy moving again and getting your feedback on his plans over dinner.
Nothing special, you’d say, right? Well, the punch line of this joke is that Pink Visual is a porn DVD superstore.
Creation, starring Paul Bettany, details Darwin’s “struggle between faith and reason” as he wrote On The Origin of Species. It depicts him as a man who loses faith in God following the death of his beloved 10-year-old daughter, Annie.
The film was chosen to open the Toronto Film Festival and has its British premiere on Sunday. It has been sold in almost every territory around the world, from Australia to Scandinavia.
However, US distributors have resolutely passed on a film which will prove hugely divisive in a country where, according to a Gallup poll conducted in February, only 39 per cent of Americans believe in the theory of evolution.
In principle you can – or so the government has promised – immediately discover how energy-efficient a public building is. All you have to do is go online and look at the certificate (which in this case is called a Display Energy Certificate) which all such buildings – everything from government departments to theatres – of over 1,000 sq metres are now obliged to show. There’s meant to be a hard copy visible in the building, and an electronic copy visible online. But, as James Berry of the Energy Saving Trust has pointed out to me, it doesn’t quite work like that.
The government has outsourced the service to a company called Landmark Information Group. So you go to its website to perform what should be a quick and simple search. It says, “Click here to retrieve one of the below certificates or reports … Display Energy Certificate (DEC)”. Having accepted some truly ridiculous terms and conditions you are then invited to enter the certificate’s identification number.
There’s just one snag: the only way to discover the identification number is to look at the certificate. But you can’t look at the certificate unless you have the identification number. It’s a perfect catch-22.
It wouldn’t be too difficult to devise a system that worked, would it? You would simply enter the name and address of the building and the certificate would appear. But that would carry the danger that the system might actually work, and voters would then be able to see how public money is being spent. Instead we have a system that is designed to be impossible to use, for which a private company is being paid by the taxpayer. Is this what open government looks like?