I have some native sympathy with the lackeys struggling to handle the Inland Revenue’s computers which, like a berserk one-arm bandit, have just spewed out an excess £1.9 billion in tax credits. I am not sure I am the best-qualified person to expound on the inadequacy of government IT systems. My own computer bears the large indelible bootprint of the Clark school of systems technology. It was imprinted a fortnight ago when the machine crashed, erasing two years’ worth of work, or at least sending it somewhere deep into the bowels of the hard drive where it could only be recovered by the kind of forensic nerds who do kiddie-porn investigations.
The New York Times publishes a daily box score with the latest list of the soldiers killed in Iraq under the rubric ‘Names of the Dead’. For instance:
KAUFMAN, Charles A., 20, Specialist, Army National Guard; Fairchild, Wis.; First Battalion, 128th Infantry.
MUY, Veashna, 20, Pfc., Marines; Los Angeles; Second Marine Division.
POWELL, Chad W., 22, Cpl., Marines; West Monroe, La., Second Marine Division.