Monday, November 02, 2009

Webs and political families

click photo to enlarge
Is it just me or is there something quite worrying about family members (fathers and sons, husbands and wives, etc) achieving high political office in democracies? Am I right in thinking that where this does occur it is more likely to be due to "connections" and nepotism than the political attributes of the individuals concerned. And that even if these factors aren't at work the very fact that they look like they are should be enough to make those involved search elsewhere for employment.

During my lifetime it has happened in the United States with the Kennedys, the Bush family and the Clintons: there may be others but my knowledge of U.S. politics isn't so extensive. It happens in the U.K. too, though perhaps to a lesser extent than across the pond. We have husband and wife M.P.s and cabinet ministers who are descendants of cabinet ministers. Some would say that the fact that politicians are predominantly drawn from only a few areas of employment, from higher social classes, and from a limited number of academic institutions, is more of a problem. I would agree, but I nonetheless think that the family connections route to high political office is the way of dictatorships, and is a cheapening and corrupting influence on a modern democratic society.

I was reading recently about the aspirations of Jean Sarkozy which many say would be unrealistic were his father not the French president, and recall that Chelsea Clinton may have designs on a political future. To those who say that the sons and daughters of doctors, lawyers, accountants, teachers and plumbers often follow in their parents footsteps so why not politicians, I would remind them that those jobs require a demonstrable and examined level of competence, something that a career in politics can't claim!

I was thinking about offspring following in parents' footsteps the other day when I photographed a spider's web on my drive gates. Early morning fog had hung beads of dew on these delicate constructions, and as I made my images I noticed that some of them had two large drops at the centre. When I took a similar shot last year that web also had these two drops. Was this the work of descendants of last year's web architect? Is it a signature of a particular spider family? I have no idea! Perhaps someone with more knowledge than I have of spiders' webs can throw some light on this. Looking for something to distinguish this year's photograph from last year's I included some sunlit leaves which gave a yellow/green background rather than the green/blue/black of the earlier image.

photograph & text (c) T. Boughen

Camera: Olympus E510
Mode: Aperture Priority
Focal Length: 35mm macro, (70mm/35mm equiv.)
F No: f4.5
Shutter Speed: 1/60
ISO: 400
Exposure Compensation: -0.3 EV
Image Stabilisation: On