Boaty McBoatface: an update

If you live in Britain, you probably already know that the will of the people–or, more accurately, the will of 124,000 people, because there’s no such thing as a unanimous people, is there?–has been trampled by the boot of humorless bureaucracy.

And who said journalistic objectivity was dead? That opening was a model of objectivity.

If you want the back story–all in the finest tradition of balanced journalism, of course–you’ll find it here.

The new research ship will not be called the RRS Boaty McBoatface but the RRS David Attenborough. Or–no insult to Mr. Attenborough, who I like as well as I like any other TV presenter–the RRS Snore. In an effort to placate the baying public (or to faintly indicate the ability to detect a joke when in proximity to what seems to be one), one of its remotely operated subs will be called Boaty. Never mind that a sub isn’t actually a boat. Neither is a ship. Or that the public isn’t actually baying.

As long as I’m arguing for my own objectivity, let me interrupt myself to say here and now that I don’t much care what they name the ship, I just like the silliness of it all.

Someone’s already started a petition to rename the ship. When I checked it had 297 signatures. So not a mass movement at the moment, but it’s still worth a newspaper article or two.

But we’re not out of absurdity yet, because a parliamentary committee is getting ready to hear evidence from the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC), which was behind the vote it so spectacularly lost control of. I gather it’ll be asked whether the public engagement was a triumph or a PR disaster.

Isn’t it interesting that they can’t tell the difference? And that of all the problems in this battered world, this is worth their time?

I can’t end without mentioning that NERC isn’t to blame for not choosing the run-away favorite name. That was the science minister, Jo Johnson, who seems to be invisible to parliamentary committees–a spell Harry Potter would envy if he’d chosen a career in politics. NERC’s crime was to turn public opinion loose in an uncontrolled form. I hope they don’t lose their funding for it.

18 thoughts on “Boaty McBoatface: an update

  1. I love this. All of this. I just wish there were more of this. Wait!! I could have more of this. This would keep me busy for a short while…waiting for this and for my own boat to sail. If I Had A Boat.
    If only I had a boat….OH! I see it’s time for tea. Is the kettle on?

    Liked by 1 person

    • That’s how I feel about really, really good desserts: I love this. All of this. I just wish there were more of this. Wait!! I just had too much of this. Why do I feel so queasy?

      Wait. I’ve wandered off script, haven’t I? Is that tea ready?

      Liked by 1 person

  2. So disappointed in this news. I really admired the fact that the boat was to be named Boaty McBoatface. I thought it was a shining example of a people (Brits) not taking everything too seriously.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Scientists, engineers, politicians and ego-driven company heads are usually spectacularly bad at naming things. Hence the “Swiss-Re Building” in the City of London, which was promptly renamed by Londoners as “The Gherkin” (and it could have been much ruder than that).

    I found out the other day whilst surfing the BBC News web site that about eighteen months ago (that’s how bad I am at keeping up with the news) a technology company in Surrey, UK has invented a coating which is the blackest black ever. I mean really, really black. So black that it anything coated with it looks like a black hole. So what’s this new black called? Did they ask the creatives in the paint companies for suggestions (you know the sort of thing: “Midnight black”, “Darth Vader black”….). Did they heck. They came up with the name Vantablack. Vanta? What on earth does that mean? Well it’s an acronym of course. Techies just love acronym. “Vanta” stands for Vertically Aligned NanoTube Array, because the coating is made of carbon nanotubes standing on end. The science behind it is cool. The name is not.
    So – and now I come to the point – I think that as the blackest of black blacks it should be called “Blacky McBlack Black”. Should we all vote for that?

    For more about Vanta black (if you haven’t had enough already), see
    and pics:

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Pingback: Boaty McBoatface: the last word | Notes from the U.K.

  5. Pingback: Breaking news: Trainy McTrainface meets the public | Notes from the U.K.

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