Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Trafalgar!

(Courtesy of Channel4.com)
Further to yesterday's post I watched 'Trafalgar Battle Surgeon' last night and was amazed at what I didn't know about the Battle of Trafalgar, or even about minor aspects of Maritime practice!
For example I didn't realise there was a queue of 'First come first serve' for paitents waiting on the ship's surgeon and that Admiral Nelson was not exempt from this!
Surgeon Beatty faced a court martial in response, but his concern for all of the men of Trafalgar saved him from being convicted, as was his assertion that Nelson was mortally wounded and that there was nothing he could have done except to keep him comfortable.
But, and I am not exaggerating, seeing how collected and resolute many of the men and officers of HMS Victory were (save a few), shows what a credit to their country such people were at that time, and it is sad that the many brave actions of a few can easily be forgotten over the years!

Monday, August 29, 2005

Talking of TV

(courtesy of wikipedia.org)


I understand this robot dog will be making a brief reappearance in next years season of Doctor Who.
Lets hope it will be worth the wait!

Bank Holiday Monday's

Well Bank Holiday Monday is here, the day when people go for a day out, do a bit in the garden, or watch 'The Great Escape' on television.
And, I kid you not, it's on BBC1 today at 2:10PM, although I can assure you that no Bond film will be shown, but that may be down to ITV having just finished showing a season of Bond movies.
The thing is, (and I haven't really noticed for some years, having usually been away during a Bank Holiday weekend)TV scheduling on a Bank Holiday Monday is almost predictable! Big budget films, which will include a Disney film, a big event taking place in Eastenders and/or Coronation Street, and a documentary showing a countdown listing. Today it will be Channel Five showing 'Greatest TV Cock-up Moments', hosted by Tara Palmer-Tomkinson.
I am not altogether critical of this, but a bit more quality and a bit less predictability wouldn't come amiss, don't get me wrong, I love 'The Great Escape' but I don't like watching it every bank holiday!
That said, the docu-drama 'Trafalgar Battle Surgeon', tonight on Channel 4 at Nine PM looks interesting! Particually seeing Roger Daltrey cast as a loblolly boy!

Friday, August 26, 2005

Greenbelt

If any of you read Annie Porthouse's or Philip Purser-Hallard's blogs, as shown on the links margin, then you will know that the Greenbelt Arts Festival is underway.
Greenbelt is a Christian Arts Festival which has taken place every year since 1974 (slightly older than me ;) ) and has grown in recent years. It now resides at the Cheltenam Race Course in Gloucestershire and has had speakers and artists as diverse as the current Archbishop of Canterbury, to Bono, to Bob Geldof, to the Bishop of Jerusalem, to Billy Bragg etc..
I went myself for three years running from 2002-2004 and I can say it is one of the most diverse, but informative Christian festivals around. You just cannot put a label to it (and some have tried) and that is what has helped in it's appeal.
This year's theme is the 'Tree of Life', and the line up is diverse from 'The Proclaimers' (They who had the hit single '5000 miles' some ten years ago) to the Bishop of Liverpool. I would be there myself this year, but current financial constraints and my brother's approaching birthday have made that impossible.
However, I hope and pray it is even more of a tremendous success this year, and I will try and forget the joys of meeting up with friends in the Tiny Tea Tent.

The Problem with Men

A friend e-mailed me this today. I found it funny and thought I would share it with you.
Obviously, where I am concerned, none of it is true ;)!

-------------------------------------------------

NEW EVENING CLASSES FOR MEN
>
>ALL ARE WELCOME
>OPEN TO MEN ONLY
>_____________________
>
>Note: due to the complexity and level of difficulty, each course will
>accept
>a maximum of eight participants
>
>The course covers two days, and topics covered in this course including:
>_____________________
>
>DAY ONE
>
>HOW TO FILL ICE CUBE TRAYS
>Step by step guide with slide presentation
>
>TOILET ROLLS- DO THEY GROW ON THE HOLDERS?
>Round table discussion
>
>DIFFERENCES BETWEEN LAUNDRY BASKET & FLOOR
>Practising with hamper (Pictures and graphics)
>
>DISHES & SILVERWARE; DO THEY LEVITATE/FL Y TO KITCHEN SINK OR DISHWASHER
>BY
>THEMSELVES?
>Debate among a panel of experts.
>
>LOSS OF VIRILITY
>Losing the remote control to your significant other - Help line and
>support
>groups
>
>LEARNING HOW TO FIND THINGS
>Starting with looking in the right place instead of turning the house
>upside
>down while shouting "It's not there!", You've moved it!" or 'We've run
>out!"
>- Open forum
>___________________
>
>DAY TWO
>
>EMPTY MILK CARTONS; DO THEY BELONG IN THE FRIDGE OR THE BIN?
>Group discussion and role-play
>
>HEALTH WATCH; BRINGING HER FLOWERS IS NOT HARMFUL TO YOUR HEALTH
>PowerPoint presentation
>
>REAL MEN ASK FOR DIRECTIONS WHEN LOST
>Real life testimonial from the one man who did
>
>IS IT GENETICALLY IMPOSSIBLE TO SIT QUIETLY AS SHE PARALLEL PARKS?
>Driving simulation
>
>LIVING WITH ADULTS; BASIC DIFFERENCES BETWEEN YOUR MOTHER AND YOUR PARTNER
>Online class and role playing
>
>HOW TO BE THE IDEAL SHOPPING COMPANION
>Relaxation exercises, meditation and breathing techniques
>
>REMEMBERING IMPORTANT DATES & CALLING WHEN YOU'RE GOING TO BE LATE
>Bring your calendar or PDA to class
>
>GETTING OVER IT; LEARNING HOW TO LIVE WITH BEING WRONG ALL THE TIME
>Individual counsellors available

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Democracy dinners!

(courtesy of wikipedia.org)


I received an invite the other day from Jonathan Cox, who helps run the Youth Wing of the Christian Socialist Movement.
It was to a 'democracy dinner' in Victoria, London, in mid-September.
This is part of an idea for politicans to have a series of dinners with people in Britian, in order to find out why there is little political turnout!
Not sure who I will invite along, but will keep you posted on what happens. It is a good idea, but will it convince? My heart says it must, but my head has strong doubts!

Alan Duncan

(Courtesy of the BBC)

For a piece on newsnight, according to the BBC. Alan Duncan is going to mention what the next Conservative leader must do to win the next general election.
With due respect I doubt they will listen to him, given the antipathy towards him from some sections of the party. I do however, have some free advice. On the arithmetic the Conservatives have not only lost three general elections in a row, they have failed each time to get over 200 seats. In, what was for Labour, the disastrous 1983 general election, Labour had won just 208 seats. National percentages do not bring a party into government and the Conservatives will have to look away from their core base to win back support. That will, like it did for Labour, take a very long time. The new leader will have to win a party around, he or she will have to win 126 seats at the next general election to win and that is a high moutain to climb. Unless the Government makes a spectacular failure in the next five years (which is doubtful, because Labour are determined to keep in good relations with the electorate) they haven't a hope! They will just have to work towards winning around 2015.
That's if they are not overshadowed by the lib dems and if they are moving fast. But comparing the Tories wilderness to Labour's last wilderness, the Conservatives are now in '1987' and they haven't had a 'Kinnock moment' (and by that I mean his fully-supported 1985 Conference attack on the extremists in the Party), nor have the reactionaries lost their stranglehold on the party.
But, hey, I am biased!

Profile

As you notice, have updated my profile on this blog. The reason being that in looking for full-time work it might help!

Pat Robertson

(courtesy of the BBC)

My felow blogger Kerron Cross and I sometimes mention the same thing within hours of each other on our respective blogs, and, out of decency, I do warn him nowadays on what I will mention.
However I to came across today, the same issue which he already mentioned in his blog. Namely, Pat Robertson's calling for the assasination of the President of Venezuela! Why, because Robertson alleges that he is making his country a launching pad for communism and muslim extremism.
There is a train of thought in some political circles that the end justifies the means. So for example, if a nation like, say Chile, elects a President who is a teeny bit left-wing, actually marxist. Then, that justifies helping a millitary coup to take over that country and to set up a brutal millitary dictatorship under someone like, say, General Pinochet, rather than giving moral, and possibly economic, support to opposition parties. To do something as brutal as a millitary coup in those circumstances sets one's cause back by decades in the long-term and does not serve those most in need.
As a self-professed Christian, Robertson should know better, but then this is the guy who vindictively labelled Scotland as full of homosexuals, who mentioned, quoting Wikipedia, on the Sept 11th attacks, that:

He agreed with Falwell that the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks were caused by "pagans, abortionists, feminists, gays, lesbians, the ACLU and the People for the American Way."

He later said, after the outcry, that he did not understand what Falwell was saying, just as today when he said that he was misunderstood and was actually recommending something like kidnapping!
It's like someone saying 'I didn't mean to offend your guests, I just wanted to shock them!'
Like Ian Paisley, the man really is an embarrasment to more sensible Christians. But then one shouldn't lose heart and remember that for every Pat Robertson there is a Billy Graham, just as for every George W. Bush there is a Jimmy Carter!
I just cannot help but compare Robertson right now to Brother Roger, what a contrast!

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

What MP's read on holiday!









(Courtesy of wikipedia.org)
Read on the BBC Website this morning about MP's reading habits whilst on holiday.
Obviously the 'Da Vinci Code' by Dan Brown is the No 1 book, but I suspect that was mentioned because it is trendy.
But there is little of the obvious, nothing too high brow (well high-brow fiction anyway), and nothing about the 900 page novel they have been trying to read for some years and have never got past page 76 (which most of us have gone through). It is as if they are listing what they think their constituents want them to read! Although I am sure some of the comments are genuine.
One former MP I worked alongside (In that I worked in his campaign team but was employed by the regional party), Tony McWalter, is a philosophy lecturer by profession and I can easily imagine him taking a book on Immanuel Kant on holiday with him and what MP's can do with right now is something that is relaxing but intellectually stimulating for them.
And what am I, a simple party member, reading right now!
'Memory and Identity' by Pope John Paul II, 'Last Book to Woodstock' by Colin Dexter, and some book on the legends of King Arthur.I have also recently finished 'The Closed Circle' by Jonathan Coe.
Hey, I'm a self-confessed biblophile!

Monday, August 22, 2005

Microstates


I don't know if any of you have been following the current TV series 'How to Start Your Own Country' on BBC 2, but it is a fascinating documentary presented by Danny Wallace where he sets off on a quest to create and run his own country. Namely declaring his flat in London as independent of the UK.
This, obviously, isn't anything new. One usually hears of people declaring UDI on their home or farmland and setting themselves up as President or Emperor and it is some trend! The most fascinating example being a North Sea tower called 'Sealand' which gives the impression of being a convenient tax dodge (In fact a no of UDI micronations give that impression), although it's fascination lies in the fact it isn't landlocked and gets some media attention.
Then you get the legitimate, the internationally recognised micronations, such as the Vatican City (Pop: 911, area: 44 hectares), Monaco (Pop 32,409 area: 2km), and Leichenstein (Pop:32,508 area: 160 km). The UK also has it's share of legitimate micro legislatures, although they are dependencies such as the Isle of Man and the Channel Islands. In other words they have their own parliaments, do not send MP's to Westminster, but are dependent on the Crown with regards to issues such as currency and foreign affairs.
But why the fascination? Well it seems bizarre to have such places around which can be as small as your local district to as small as your local village or ward! When I visited the Vatican in February, it did feel odd that just by crossing the road to St Peter's Square you had technically gone over a border into another country and that in one afternoon I had covered the distance of a quarter of a nation.
And do I see the temptation to set up my own nation!
Well unless it is for fun like Danny Wallace's project and tax dodges do not appeal to me, the answer is no! I have too much self-respect.
Says he who recalls playing the sad game of fantasy cabinet with one or two friends at Uni (Where you imagine being Prime Minister and you decide which cabinet positions you allocate to your friends).

Not just cricket.....


(Copyright David Mogan-Mar)





The Government have said that they want to see Zimbabwe banned from competing in international cricket.
I totally agree, but I would also like to see that extended to all mjor sports. Put basically we should now be treating Zimbabwe in a similar fashion to how we treated South Africa under Apartheid and demanding a resumption of free and fair democratic government

Sunday, August 21, 2005

Study


A bit more quiet than usual for me today, although a spring clean of the study has been done. So it seems like a good oppurtunity for you to see some of the finished work and the place where I write-up my blog when I am at home!

Friday, August 19, 2005

Mo Mowlam


(courtesy of wikipedia.org)

Like everyone else I was saddened to hear of Mo Mowlam's death this morning.
She was one of the most loved and popular politicans in the Labour Party and did much to help bring peace to Northern Ireland.
One of my favourite stories about her concerned her time in Northern Ireland. She had a drab postmodern painting, a grey canvass with a sploge of white paint, hung up in her office. She called it her 'b******t detector', because if anyone said they liked the painting when she asked for their opinion, she felt they were not to be trusted.
I strongly disagreed with her on some issues but she merited respect, and her natural popularity and her informality may also show where those of us in politics may be going wrong!

Brother Roger


(João Pedro Gonçalves)
I was shocked and saddened this afternoon to read of the murder of the founder of the Taize community, Brother Roger.
He was stabbed to death on Tuesday during an evening service at the monastic church near Cluny, Lyon.
I visited Taize as a pilgrim in 1996 and 1997 and had met Brother Roger on several occasions. He was one of the very few people I have met who just radiated holiness and goodness and that is something very rare, he also had a gentle demeanour and dedicated his whole life to helping the poor and dispossesed, as well as helping to improve Catholic and Protestant relations.
I hope and pray that this senseless murder will not damage Taize's fine reputation or prevent people from visiting.

Thursday, August 18, 2005

Some more photos



I did say recently that I would inflict, sorry, show you some more of my pictures ;)!
The cats seen here are Logan and Sophie, who are sitting on my bed. We have had them now for the last ten years. Logan (the dark cat) is quite a character, as he was born a feral cat and was rescued very early on after an attack on the litter he was in which left him the sole survivor. We have had him since the age of four weeks and he is the only cat I know that will talk to you, his common greeting being 'mao-mao-mao' in quickfire succession when he wants feeding.
We had Sophie a couple of weeks later, originally she came with one of her sisters, Dora, who was my cat, although Dora was run over four years ago. Sophie is quite shy although she is is very affectionate to those she trusts.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

More on Jean Charles de Menezes


(Courtesy of wikipedia.org)

So, according to a leaked report, it turns out that de Menezes was not wearing a heavy coat, the person watching him was busy releving himself when de Menezes left the house, he did not vault over the ticket barrier, he collected a free newspaper, he was sitting in the carriage when the police burst in, and he was being held down when he was shot.
Again, one can understand the police panicking, but this is just breathtaking incompetence and it looks like there was an initial attempt of a cover-up!
It goes without saying that this is an utter disgrace and that this is a bad day for the Met, and bad for Britain's image abroad. What would help them now and aid us on the war on terror is a more open enquiry.

Views on blogging!

Annie Porthouse recently contacted me to ask about my views on blogging!
This is for an article she is doing about blogging and the Christian viewpoint for Benchmark magazine.
It is certainly a popular thing at the moment and, obviously, I am all for itbut it has set me thinking about such things as 'What makes a blog unique?' 'Is there more to a blog than being an online diary, newspaper column, or work of fiction?'and 'Will my blog ever make me succesful enough to land me a part in 'Extras'?
Probably not, but blogging is clearly a highly popular cultural phenomenon that is here to stay.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Tips from Laud!

Senior Tory David Willetts has been interested in the recent success of Derek Laud, one of the Big Brother contestants this summer. See here.
Well, well, well.. They really are desperate!

Monday, August 15, 2005

Licensing laws


(Courtesy of wikipedia.org)

As some of you know, new licensing laws will be coming in later this year bringing in longer drinking hours.
I have to say that I do have my reservations about this!
I don't mind having the odd drink, but one of the things about me is that I am averse to getting drunk. In fact I can count how many times I have been drunk in my life and it is in single figures.
I can see where some people are coming from, in arguing that a change in the licensing laws will curb binge drinking. Arguing that on the continent, where there are more relaxed licensing laws, there is less of a problem with drunken behaviour.
But I wonder whether that is because there are different cultures involved here. In the Mediterranean it is true that a lot of lunches take place with a bottle of wine, but wine is rarely drunk there without a meal and the bottle is not just for the lunch hour.
Maybe it's me, maybe I am too conservative with a small c. But I think more needs to be looked into why there seems to be a culture of binge drinking and why so many people think it is cool to get hammered with alcohol!
In the meantime, perhaps there should also be questions as to why few places are applying to be open for later hours and why one senior policeman wants the price of alcohol to be trebled!
As for me, well I intend to have a lot of sober fun at the Baldock Beer Festival next fortnight, I just hope others will keep to that restraint as well!

Saturday, August 13, 2005

The Baldock Blog


Well today I have launched The Baldock Blog, which is dedicated to my home town.
I have to say that it does seem a bit strange dedicating a blog to any town really, but there is a lot to be said about the place which isn't well known.

John McCririck's inappropriate comments!


(Press Association)
Today saw the funeral of Robin Cook at St Giles's Cathederal in Edinburgh, and like most funerals, friends and relatives gave readings and made comments.
Many of these semed apt and appropriate, except for John McCririck's.
We all know what a larger than life character he is, and the fact he can be dogmatic and verbal in his views to the point of being anti-social, and today was no exception, in his attack on Tony Blair for not turning up.
I am not so much arguing against his views, perhaps it was ill-advised that the PM decided not to attend, perhaps he had reasons that were markedly different from what McCririck suggested, but that is beside the point!
McCririck mentioned his views at a funeral, when the primary reason for being there is to grieve for and remember a deceased loved one.
I can see where he was coming from and it isn't unprecedented, take Alan Bennett's comments at Russell Harty's funeral, or Earl Spencer's at Princess Diana's. I can appreciate the anger and disgust those who make such comments feel, but there is a time and place to make those sort of comments and a funeral is not the time or place to make sharp points or settle scores.

Friday, August 12, 2005

Niger

I meant to mention this before, but I had more pressing matters to attend to.
The President of Niger's comments regarding the famine in his country, i.e. what famine?, might have been technically correct, but it was also just plain wrong and the Media were right to slate him for it!
It showed crass insensitivity about the plight of his people and was crass arrogance concerning those western countries, such as the UK, who are doing their best to help!
But what bothers me even more is how little it is being dealt with in the Media in comparison to other events, such as Big Brother!
Not that I don't think much of Big Brother, (actually I don't. It is a brilliant concept, but badly handled)but one wants to see a bit of perspective in media coverage.
Especially after Live8.
Which was more than just a glorious international music junket. Wasn't it!

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Lords Reform Day



(Courtesy of House of Commons information office)

Today is Lord's Reform Day, where a no of bloggers have agreed to post their support for a reformed House of Lords.
This is an issue that has too often been kicked into the long grass. There may be disagreements over what manner of reform, but most seem to agree it should happen.
Besides the first steps for reform, barring all but 100 of the hereditary peers, took place in 1997. This has caused an anamoly where a hereditary peer can stand for parliament for the House of Commons, but can also stand for a seat in the Lords, if one of the 100 hereditaries die.
No one else can do that, and I know that is small fry compared to the many injustices of the World, but that does not legitimise the current position of the Lords.
You also don't have to be against the style of the Lords to see some form of elected second chamber. Like many others, I appreciate the fact the Lords is a revising chamber, I like the style and debate that goes on there, but that does not have to change! No one is asking for that aspect to change.
Personally I prefer the Bragg approach is the best realistic alternative, but I think the sort of reform (Partial, full, etc..) is something we need to be open to. As I have heard Labour MP, Graham Allen say. No one will be 100% satisfied with whatever will be the permanent and reformed House of Lords.
Oh and I have to add this:

electthelords

As Kerron said in his piece, apparently it will add your name to those supporting the campaign.
BTW You may be asking why today!
Well today is the 94th anniversary of the passing of the 1911 Parliament Act, which was the first stage in the reform of the Lords

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Welcome back Discovery!



(Courtesy of BBC News Online)

So our prayers are answered and our fears quashed. 'Discovery' made it safetly back with all seven astronauts alive.
However this is in spite of, not because of, NASA's strategy in dealing with this episode.
It brought back the space shuttle after two years, with only a cosmetic exercise (i.e. having the odd camera here and there and clearly not making the adequate changes with the fueltank) in dealing with the problems which destroyed Columbia. It opted for a return of the shuttle rather than face humiliation by being rescued by the Russians (although one has to admit that the alternative, leaving a shuttle in space, is an expensive option) and to cap it all they decided the tear above the cockpit was not worth dealing with!
If I seem harsh, it's because that's a cavalier attitude to take with seven lives in space.
It seems that NASA (A great organisation in many ways with a proud history), has not fully learnt from the lessons of 'Challenger' and 'Discovery'. Risks need to be taken with space travel, but not needless ones.
Let's just be thankful the shuttles have been grounded for the forseeable future.

CV Fraud

Just came across an article on CV Fraud on the BBC News Website
I am sure it doesn't just happen in the financial sector, but it is a bit galling for people like me to read this when we are jobhunting and have/have had, periods of unemployment.
Certainly tidy up your CV, certainly show off your good points, but to lie is pathetic, because people can so easily get caught out.
Rather like those who bootlick 'up-and-coming people' in their profession and frontstab those who seem mediocre. Sometimes it is the 'mediocres' who end up 'top dog' and then the bootlickers have an interesting series of scenearios to face

Sunday, August 07, 2005

Robin Cook


(Courtesy of BBC News Online)
Was surprised and saddened to hear of Robin Cook's death this evening.
Whilst he was derided for the seeming failure of his 'ethical foreign policy' and received a mauling over the circumstances of his divorce and remarraige, he was nontheless a man with a razor-sharp brain and intellect who did much for the Labour Party.
He is also one of the few senior labour politicans I have met and disagreed with in debate. In both the 2003 and 2004 Party Conferences I met him and disagreed over constitutional issues and the minutae of international foreign policy, but nontheless he was a man worth listening to and whose political opinions bore consideration.
His 'ethical foreign policy' was also a brave and bold plan in an increasingly morally grey world.

Saturday, August 06, 2005

Shoestring Returns



(Copyright, BBC)

Finished early from my course yesterday, and after doing some odds and ends returned home to find a slightly obscure old tv series on UKTV Drama.
It was the first episode of Shoestring, which was a detective series made by the same people as Bergerac. In fact it only lasted two series and finished in 1980, as the lead actor, Trevor Eve, feared he was in danger of being typecast (Incidentally according to the 'Internet Movie Database' the first episode was first broadcast on my fourth birthday. I really am a geek for looking up these things!). They could have done a James Bond or Doctor Who and simply replaced Eve with another actor, but instead the creators and producers of 'Shoestring' started a new series about a police detective in Jersey. The rest is history.
But Shoestring does have some charm of it's own, like Bergerac, and is about private eye and former computer programmer, Eddie Shoestring recovering from a mental illness, who is hired as a detective for the fictional 'Radio West' in Bristol (Rather similar to Bergerac rejoining the Bureau des Etrangers after a period of alcoholism).
It is a neat idea, but implausible, although I did entertain the idea of some of the places I have worked in the past having it's own P.I: A coffee shop in a shopping centre, an Oxfam Press Office, an MP's constituency office.
Now that is another idea, imagine the Houses of Parliament having it's own P.I. and seeing him/her involved in the incident Recess Monkey mentioned on his entry for the 28th July!
Or perhaps Kerron Cross would contact him/her about the mysterious case of the security flowers.

Friday, August 05, 2005

Were we right!


(Courtesy of Wikipedia.org)

Sixty years ago tomorrow, an atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima, three days later a second bomb was dropped on Nagasaki. Within the week the Japanese surrendered and the Second World War was offically over.
These bombs vaporised all living life and flattened all buildings within the epicentre of the explosion. For those further away there would be weeks, months, years of painful suffering, many dying lingering deaths from cancer as a result of the explosions.
Conventional wisdom among some is that, whilst horrific, this was the right thing to do to humiliate Japan into surrender. That by doing this thousands of lives, those of soliders, civillians, and POW's, had been spared.
And yet there is some evidence that the Japanese were on the verge of surrendering, that the millitarists who dominated Japan were about to be overthrown! Some argue that the American President, Harry S.Truman, did not know this, but others say that peace feelers must have been made to the Allies and they must have known!
If this was just to flex American muscles against the Russians then it was an evil thing to do!
But how much do we know of what went on behind the scenes and what are we willing to believe? I will say one thing though. When I see photos of the effects of the bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, I question, as a human being, as a Christian, as a British citizen:- 'Were we right'! And by that I mean, were we right to drop these bombs.
Because nearly every instinct in my body says that we weren't! I mean, looking at the photo oppositte, with the knowledge that a city has just been flattened, ask yourself: Does any behaviour warrant that?

New Blog

I have started a new blog, dedicated to the town of Baldock.
It is where I went to school, go to Church, sometimes shop, am involved in a pub quiz team, and where I stood twice in District Council elections.
Believe me, there is much about Baldock. History (Charles I stopped by, as a prisoner, on the way to London, where he was put on trial and executed), architecture (lots of Georgian buildings), community (The annual Baldock festival), and much more...
It will be official in the next ten days so hold your breath ;).
Not literally obviously... :)

Armed police

(Courtesy of Wikipedia.org)
Recent reports mention the increase of armed police in London, in response to the recent terrorist attacks.
I have seen it myself. Last Saturday I went to a housewarming party in Battersea and saw several police, armed and unarmed, at King's Cross and Victoria Station.
At first sight it is a little unnerving, but it is reassuring to see them about. Not just with terrorism, but when, as I did at Victoria Station, you see a couple of potentally belligerent drunks hovering nearby.
I also hear that a no of undercover police officers are using the Underground.
Again, it is somewhat reassuring, but let's hope they never have to go into action, as it were.
Which seems even more likely given Al-Zawahri's comments yesterday.
Al-Zawahri being Al Qaeda's No 2.

Thursday, August 04, 2005

Our old friend Otis Ferry....



(Courtesy of 'The Voice of the Delectable left')

Have just been reading the latest entry in my friend Kerron Cross's blog.
The first time I have read a blog entry which made me laugh out loud instantly.
It concerns the rules regarding punishment for storming Parliament in India.
Like Kerron, I strongly disagree with the death penalty per se, but a number of liberal campaigners have been e-mailing each other today wondering why we cannot have such draconian laws over here ;)!
Obviously I strongly disagree :), but it is an amusing thought.

Liz's Quiz Nights

My friend Liz Saul(whose blog 'Radioleaflet' is linked to this site), runs a series of quiz nights and (admittedly out of guilt as I have been unable to attend so far) I said I would advertise the details for her:

Every fortnight on a Tuesday

Hillingdon Arms, Sutton Court Road, Hillingdon, Middx

£1 entry per person though no limit on numbers in the team - supper included and spot prizes too for free drinks.

Next quiz Tues 16th August and every 2 weeks thereafter

--------------------------------------
So there you go, worth a look in.

Popular names







(Courtesy of Wikipedia.org/Vatican State)

Almost forgot, read in 'The Independent' that Benedict is a popular boys name at the moment.
I am sure it has nothing to do with the chap in the top photo, just as I am sure that John-Paul being a popular boy's name in the late seventies and early eighties was nothing to do with the two guys in the bottom photo ;).

A Night at the Opera



(Courtesy of Wikipedia.org/EMI/Queen)

I got a pleasant surprise the other day when I was given a copy of Queen's 'A Night at the Opera' album as a present.
This is seen as their defining album and contains such tracks as 'You're My Best Friend', 'Love of my Life', and their biggest UK hit 'Bohemian Rhapsody'.
I haven't listened to it for some years now, not since Uni, and definetly not the digitally remastered version.
But it is funny how memories of listening to music go with the years and whilst 'A Night at the Opera' has it's attractions and is one of their best albums, it doesn't quite have the same excitement.
But like all old loves, it still has it's warm charm.
That said, I still find 'Death On Two Legs...' a bit too vitriolic to the point where it makes John Lennon's 'How Do You Sleep' seem mushy by comparison (apparently it is about a former manager of theirs, allegedly!).
Cracking piano and guitar intro though! Even if it is a very uncomfortable song to listen to.

Is this the World We Created!

Every so often we pick up a newspaper and find, on a particular day, article after article pointing things out which make us despair about the state of the World we live in!
Today was one such example when I brought a copy of 'The Independent'and read this article!
This also comes in light of the fact that some in the muslim community are complaining about the amount of ethnic minorities who are being stopped and seached by the police at various London train stations!
On one level I can understand the police being jittery, but if true, which is very possible given the current climate of fear, then perhaps the police ought to consider that white people are just as capable of being terrorists who would willingly kill innocent people so as to further their aims!
The same goes for those who have been involved in any form of racial harrasment!
Let's leave random police checks with feeble excuses in the past where they belong!

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Tenth Planet!


(Courtesy of NASA)
So it's official! There are ten planets (as far as we know) in the Solar System
For those who are not into space exploration, this has been strongly suspected by astronomers, given the gravitational pull on Neptune. Pluto is too small to cause that!
The thing is though, what are they going to call it! 2003 UB313 is simply not a sexy name! Perhaps a departure from the names of Greek and Roman Gods! (Uranus's moons are named after Shakespeare characters, i.e. Oberon, Miranda etc..)
What about a name in honour of an individual such as Copernicus, Gallileo, Newton, or Einstein! Gagarin, after the first man in Space!
Will be interested to read any suggestions you have though ;)!

Part of a trend!

Accroding to the BBC News website (Heck, I rely too much on that as a reliable news source, maybe I ought to counterbalance that by refering to Fox News ;) ), blogs are now coming into existence at the rate of one blog per second.
It's nice to know, but it can give you a cramped feeling and yet it probably shows the importance of personal communication. They are particually popular in countries where a hardline regime means that access to mainline news is limited. The classic example being the 'Baghdad blogger' whose reports during the last months of Saddam Hussein's regime had a cult national and international following.
And me! Well I created it because I have stood for election to a District Council on two different occasions and felt that should I stand again, a blog would make communication to potential constituents much easier. The other reason is that I felt that with one book finished, and two more being planned and written, having a blog would help advertise my efforts when I feel it is necessary.
Oh and it seems fun to have one ;).

New blog link

On the side I have added the blog of a friend of mine, Malcolm, who is a devout Catholic. 'Cally's Kitchen' reflects this!
You will also find I have tidied up the links margin, so that people know what they are letting themselves in for ;)

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Should Blair stay or should Blair go...


(Crown Copyright)

No, not as Prime Minister (He has already said he will stand down as Prime Minister before the next election), but whether he will remain as an MP!
Yesterday Downing Street denied reports that he would do so, but today his agent in his Sedgefield cosntituency, John Burton, has said that Blair has told him that he does plan to stand down, according to the BBC News Website
It's the first I have heard of a Prime Minister planning to stand down as MP while still on office, at least in recent times. Some like Thatcher, leave as soon as they can, others hang on a bit, as the info from the BBC Website mentions:

John Major - stayed in Commons four years after ousted as PM
Margaret Thatcher - one-and-half years on back benches after leaving No 10
Harold Wilson - seven years in Commons after resigning premiership
Ted Heath - retired as MP 26 years after resigning as Tory leader
Alec Douglas-Home - stayed in Commons for 10 years after end of premiership, some of them as foreign secretary

Ted Heath and Alec Douglas-Home showed that there was life in front-line politics after Downing Street. But I think it depends on temprament, and one wonders if Tony Blair would be happy with a continuous parliamentary career after life as Prime Minister!

IRA Statement

As you probably know, the IRA made a statement a few days ago, seemingly committing themselves to the peace process
I sincerely hope that the IRA are seriously committed to the peace process, but watching Northern Ireland over the last decade has not just taught me to expect pleasant surprises, it has also taught me not to accept statements at face value.

Potty about Potter

The new Harry Potter book arrived in the Burgin household this week, although it may be a while before I get to read it! :(
However, given some of the rumours about it, it looks like it will make an interesting read, especially with the previous one where Fudge has faced humiliation, Lucius Malfoy in Azkhaban, Firneze taking over the Divination classes, the Dementors paying allegiance to Voldemort, and Percy Weasley breaking from his family.
I also heard that one of the major characters gets killed off in this one and have heard strong rumours as to who it is, all I can say is 'Don't tell me!' ;)

Monday, August 01, 2005

'Kilroy wos here!'

(courtesy of 'The Voice of the Delectable left')
One of the articles in yesterday's Sunday newspapers, was the news that Robert Kilroy Silk is to quit as leader of 'Veritas'.
Apparently he belives that Veritas has major problems, given that people prefer the 'older political parties', and that given the first-past-the-post system, it would be highly difficult for Veritas to break through.
What a surprise! You mean this wasn't seriously considered before they started!
For any new political party to start in these circumstances, they have to wait for a generation after becoming initally popular, for them to make any breakthrough in terms of Parliamentary seats. This is what happened with Labour, it is what the SDP had to face when they started (And they have dealt with this by having merged with the liberals), and as for the Conservatives...! ;)
Besides I thought Veritas was Kilroy Silk's ego launch after he found himself out of sorts with his fellow MEP's in UKIP.
So from being an academic lecturer, to Labour MP, to Chat-show host, to UKIP MEP, to Founder and leader of Veritas, Robert Kilroy Silk has managed to succeed in a uniquely selfish ambition to be mediocre!
Not bad for a man who said when he was first elected to Parliament that he saw himself as Prime Minister within fifteen years.