Monday, July 31, 2006

An attempt to Fox by the right!

I have to say I have grown to like Iain Dale, following that false start the one time I briefly met him three years ago. Admittedly if I were in John Prescott's shoes I would hold a very different view, and like any other leading Conservative blogger, one should not be surprised at some of his views and indeed be aware of that invisible health sticker "This blogger is somewhat right-wing and is a Thatcherite Conservative at the end of the day!" But he is considerate, sincere, gives those of us on the left more time than he might otherwise, and he does wear his heart on his sleeve, which may well both be is success and undoing.
That said I was somewhat surprised to find that he spoke out on his blog today in favour of a UK version of Fox News, if only those pests at Ofcom relaxed their guard a bit! He thinks there is a market for it!
Well that's one way of looking at it, but has Iain actually watched Fox News? I am sure he has, but if there was a pro left news channel as openly biased, as shrill, as bullying as many find Fox, I would feel rather embarrassed.
The ofcom rules are there for a reason. There are many in this country who are not party political, who need to rely on at least one aspect of the media which is neutral and balanced. If people want bias they can find it in the newspapers (bar perhaps The Independent) , and you can hardly compare news channels to the blogosphere. Newspapers, TV, Blogs, Town Criers, they all provide news but each has their own culture and their own style. Blogs are usually individual things, it is in their very nature to provide a degree of bias, TV stations are something else entirely, usually involving literally hundreds of people in front of a broader audience.
As someone who holds a degree in Media and who at one time wanted to be a news journalist, the power of the media and the integrity of the journalist being of unfettered and neutral help, along the lines of a civil servant, is a position I hold dear. The moment we have an openly biased news channel in the UK will be a sad day for journalistic integrity.
Incidentally, talking of biased journalists. Hat tip to Kerron for this. I personally think Paxman came of better and that Ann Coulter was not used to being on a news channel where she was not openly slated or given deference, and therefore was not used to the gentle prodding in the style of a prosecuting lawyer. In any case she strikes me as a dangerous, angry, and bitter woman.

One Book

Via Cally's Kitchen:

1. One book that changed your life:The Bible. Although Charles Colson's Kingdoms in Conflict affected my political views.

2. One book that you’ve read more than once: Oh plenty of those. Although I am currently rereading Prime Minister Portillo

3. One book you’d want on a desert island: (Aside from The Bible and The Complete Works of Shakespeare) Space Trilogy by C. S. Lewis

4. One book that made you laugh:The novelised versions of Red Dwarf

5. One book that made you cry: None yet. But a no of books have made me feel sad

6. One book that you wish had been written: Well half of it had been already, so for me it's the second half of The Mystery of Edwin Drood by Charles Dickens

7. One book that you wish had never been written: Not sure about this. For example Mein Kampf immediately springs to mind, but then people have learnt a lot about Hitler because of that piece of s***. That said I do think there is a place for censorship, but that one should be very careful about using it and not take a Mary Whitehouse scattergun approach.

8. One book you’re currently reading: The Dog Catcher by Alexei Sayle. Actually some of the short stories in it have made me laugh.

9. One book you’ve been meaning to read: Scoop by Evelyn Waugh. Preferably before Bill Deedes (on whom the hero is based) dies.

10. One book that you wish you had written: Where do I start! I did recently read Jonathan Coe's novels The Rotters' Club and The Closed Circle. I wish those ideas had occured to me, although I wouldn't wish Paul Trotter's fate on my worst enemy.

How Irish am I?

You're 45% Irish

You're probably less Irish than you think you are...
But you're still more Irish than most.

Lebanon/Israel. What needs to be done for now!

(BBC Online)
It is of increasing concern to many, pro Israelis included, that the attacks on the Lebanon are rather disproportionate in dealing with the terrorist activities of Hezbollah. It's something I have mentioned before on this blog, and indeed I am not blind to the fact that Hezbollah, esp when you consider that they are sponsored by Iran, is keen for an excuse for an all-out war with Israel, and if you doubt that, then consider this.
But that is no excuse whatsoever for what happened in Qana yesterday. It is a continuation of Israel going OTT in dealing with a terrorist threat, it does not help those Lebanese who might otherwise be their allies, and it was rightly condemmed by the UN. What needs to be done now is, as the Prime Minister stated, a UN resolution to swiftly put an end to the conflict and for both sides to lay down their arms.
This will be tough to enact, but it needs to be done. The Middle East is currently a powdercake waiting to explode at the moment, what with Al Qaeda, the conflict in Iraq, Iran's growing millitarism and being firmly in control of the hardliners, and now this! If we are to prevent a conflict that will consume this continental region, we need to try our utmost to nip it in the bud right now, because if this current conflict between Israel and Lebanon continues into September (and with the Israelis making ground attacks), then we have major problems and that it putting it mildly.

Sunday, July 30, 2006

George's Cruising Antics

(Getty Images)
One of the things I like about George Michael is that, whether I agree with him or not, he is honest and direct and fairly intelligent. Every so often however he says things that make me think "Oh don't be silly!"
This past week has been one of those times.
It wasn't the actual fact that he has been caught cruising again (although obviously that is not something, gay or straight, I approve of. He has done it before, plus I am aware that he and his partner have an open relationship). Plus I share his anger at his accusations of entrapment. From what we hear and read about the paparazzi, they must have been tailing him for weeks hoping he would make that mistake, and with regards to his arrest eight years ago, I do think that the police, in general, seem to be more interested in arresting consenting gay couples rather than consenting heterosexual couples who have sex in public places, when both are illegal in many places.
No, what did irritate me was the defence he made this week when he stated that

"A very large part of the male population, gay or straight, totally understands the idea of anonymous and no-strings sex..."

Erm, I'm male and I don't understand it!
I mean I can understand why some people are promiscuous, why some have affairs, why some have a lover as well as a partner. I don't agree with it, but I can understand it. For example, when I was twenty-two I got slightly drunk with a friend one evening and we ended up having a protracted snogging session. If it wasn't for the fact that both of us felt somewhat responsible, in spite of the drink, and had a conscience about sleeping around, what happened would have very easily turned into a one night stand.
But I find anonymous and no strings sex a bit difficult to understand, particually with the dangers involved. It's bad enough some parks complaining that they find things like used condoms near bushes during the day, it's the fact that people can get into real dangerous situations, and for that I just wish George would wise-up a bit.

Margaret Beckett. Banned from holidaying in the Isle of Man?

(Wikipedia.org)
Kerron has been blogging away about his week long holiday in the Isle of Man. Home of his ancestors.
Among the interesting tidbits, he has mentioned some fascinating facts about this Island which is, in many respects, an independent nation.
One of them caught my eye and it was this:

" Caravans are banned on the island. Although camping is popular, and caravanettes are allowed."

Now it is known that our new Foreign Secretary is a keen fan of caravanning, and indeed that she and her husband go on regular holidays with theirs.
In which case I doubt they will be holidaying on Manx territory in a hurry! ;)

Friday, July 28, 2006

Adieu to The West Wing

(NBC)
Tonight sees the last two ever episodes of The West Wing being broadcast on More4, preceeded by a "West Wing Quiz" which has just started on TV, so I had better get my skates on.
Farewell President Bartlett. You may have been fictional, but you were one of the best US Presidents, and many of us devotees of the series, if you were real, would have gladly worked for you, nationality and occasional political differences aside.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

The Man With The Golden Gun

(MGM/UA)
Lisa Rullsenberg quoted Marie on the Bond mysoginy in that film!
Well admittedly, erm being a Bond fan (staring at my feet in embarrasment) I admit that the early Bond films were very sexist, but I hasten to add that the books are far worse and that the films have toned down over the years. That said The Man With the Golden Gun is one of the weakest of the Bond movies, although Christopher Lee manages to salvage some of it by giving one of the most unnerving and cold portrayals of a Bond villain in the franchise's forty year history.
If you want to see a good Bond movie, I recommend Goldeneye, From Russia With Love, For Your Eyes Only, or On Her Majesty's Secret Service
Oh and Moonraker if you want a good laugh!
And yes, I am looking forward to the latest one.

Saddam Hussein Verdict

Apparently it will be on 16th October. Now not many of you know this, but that will be the sixtieth anniversary of the hanging of some of the leading Nazis put on trial at Nuremberg.

Summer Air

(Wikipedia.org)
Many of you don't know this (there was no reason to), but I have been suffering from mild asthma for about twenty-five years now.
Apparently I have it for life, but as I have got older I have been going for months on end without an attack. In fact I vaguely recall not having one for two whole years and I tend to have two or three per year on average (and by that I mean the full wheezing and not simple breathlessness).
This summer I have been okay, but last night it came back almost with a vengance (It usually happens during the night). First of all the strange, almost vivid nightmares, then the gradual waking up and trying several positions in order to get comfortable and constant propping of pillows. Then (and this is new) the sensation of small rushes of air going in and out of my lungs, followed by the realisation that I am not going to get a comfortable night's sleep in my bedroom, so duvet, glasses, mobile phone (I use it for my alarm), get picked up and I head off to the kitchen to get myself some Piriton and a glass of water (because I have been silly enough not to renew my perscription), before settling down in the sitting room, where I sit upright on one of the sofas, put my feet on the ottoman/pouf, and try to get some sleep.
Reader, it was a bit difficult, but I somehow managed to settle down eventually and, as today is my day off, I arranged to have an emergency appointment with my GP.
I quite like him. I don't see him often, but he has the right mixture of "stuff n' nonsense" and gentle compassion about him. He arranged for me to pick up a fresh perscription of ventolin and becotide and I was told to now take the latter twice a day, simply because there has been an increase in asthma attacks from sufferers, simply because of the hot weather!
Thankfully it's now pouring with rain, and I hope we get a lot more of it in the next few weeks. But bear in mind that the health of many people (particually the elderly) is being undermined by this heat and it's worth sparing some thought and time for them!

Popular Blogs at Bloggers4Labour (Week 4)

Note. As Jo has pointed out, these are the Top Ten with the most recommended posts. The Top 10 Bloggers at B4L, as voted for by fellow bloggers are:


1) Labour Humanists (Same place)

2) KERRON CROSS - The Voice of the Delectable Left (Same place)

3) normblog (Same place)

4) wongaBlog (Same place)

5) Ministry of Truth (Same place)

6) Take back the voice (Same place)

7) Skuds' Sister's Brother (Same place)

8) Jo's Journal (Same place)

9) Harry's Place (NEW. Up from Jt 13th place)

10) Fourth Term (NEW)


For the curious, I am now in 14th place.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Suez and Lebanon

(BBC Online)

Fifty years ago, Colonel Nasser nationalised the Suez Canal. The UK and France, which previously owned it, persuaded the Israelis to invade Egypt and the resulting furore helped permanently damage the reputation of the then British Prime Minister, Sir Anthony Eden, and showed the UK that when push came to shove, it would be playing second fiddle to the US.
Eden had previously a high reputation, just deserved. Admired by politicians across the spectrum, he resigned as Foreign Secretary over Chamberlain's appeasment policy, played second fiddle to Churchill faultlessly in public, and had a debonair charm which effortlessly cut ice.
Unfortunatley by the time he became Prime Minister, he was past his peak, was a sick man, and that in turn may well have affected his political judgement at a crucial moment in his premiership.
I am not using this as an analogy with contemporary politics save this. With regards to Lebanon, no side is wholly blameless, but Israel must try and aim it's attacks soley at Hezbollah (although how much we really know and how much is reporting bias is open to conjecture) and the UK must pause for thought here, take a moderate stance, and take a deep breath before plunging on.
In some respects the present Prime Minister has done well with regards to a political legacy. Presiding over a strong economy, if allowing for serious mistakes like Iraq. But if he really wants to leave with a good legacy, he should perhaps be a bit less servile to the US and try to take more of a tough but moderate stance. Because now is the time to pause and reflect if we are able to be in a position to be of real help in this present conflict.

Election Nights No More?

(BBC Online)
The elections minister has stated that counting on the evening of Polling Day may soon be a thing of the past, due to new scrutiny laws
I have mixed feelings about this, as the following shows

PRO: It means things are done with more care. Many of the people involved aren't awake for about twenty-four hours. The lack of resulting tiredness might also mean an end to some of the cattiness that you get at election counts i.e. the deliberate cheering and talking loudly near members of opposition parties, so the defeat their party suffers in some areas can be rubbed in a bit!

CON: You have time on your hands to get the full results, where you might otherwise be at work, plus if you watch the results at home it becomes a bit of an event! Plus many candidates want quick results.

In any case, if the move is accepted, I am sure it will have it's benefits and we will get used to it!

Mark Oaten to stand down

(BBC Online)
You don't have to be in the same political party as someone, in order to feel sorry for them if they fall into a pit of scandal which eventually results in their having to stand down as an MP! And whereas I was disgusted at what Oaten had done to his family, his career etc.. by indulging in his own sordid sexual fantasies, I am also aware how fragile people can be, not least politicians, and how sorry he seems to be as well. He needs our support and consideration, not our ridicule.
Still, at least he has his family and a forgiving wife, some don't have that luxury for having done less!

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Cally's Kitchen on the Personal Abuse in Politics!

Worth a read and important for us all (Labour, Conservative, Lib Dem etc..) to read and take into account.
Personal favourite snippets of mine include:

"But even if something does; even if Mr. Blair is convicted under the 1925 Peerages Act and his Government's 2001(?) update of the 1925 Act, I shall feel very sorry for him and annoyed towards the crowers. Regarding the former, I remain to be convinced that Mr. Blair went into politics to play the system. Perhaps he turned the wrong way somewhere down his political path, but not at the beginning. Regarding the latter, even if Tony Blair was corrupt from the start, how can supporters of the Conservative Party think themselves able when their party was mired in scandal during the course of its rule? Surely this should induce a little compassion in them for the other side."

"Leaving to one side the issue of the 'New Labour project' doesn't this poster realise that as and when David Cameron win power, once his administration lasts for as long as Tony Blair's, he will have his own share of scandals? It happened before, it'll happen again. So why act so smugly towards Blair?
It is at times like this that I think that too many people regard politics as no more than a game of cat and mouse to be played without any respect for the opposition as people. But they are. And no doubt, like all other people, they can be hurt by unfair criticism. "


It's worth noting that the Dunadan is non Party political (a stance met with suspicion by party activists, but is true in his case, as I can vouch as a friend of nearly ten years standing)

150 Things I Haven't Done But Would Like To Do Before I Die!

As before, they are in bold. The non bold ones are things I have done, or don't want to do!

01. Bought everyone in the bar a drink

02. Swam with wild dolphins (Not sure about this one!)

03. Climbed a mountain

04. Taken a Ferrari for a test drive

05. Been inside the Great Pyramid

06. Held a tarantula (It would give me feelings of mortality)

07. Taken a candlelit bath with someone

08. Said ‘I love you’ and meant it

09. Hugged a tree

10. Bungee jumped (No, no, and no)

11. Visited Paris

12. Watched a lightning storm at sea

13. Stayed up all night long and saw the sun rise

14. Seen the Northern Lights

15. Gone to a huge sports game

16. Walked the stairs to the top of the leaning Tower of Pisa (Have a fear of heights from a narrow position)

17. Grown and eaten your own vegetables

18. Touched an iceberg (Seems unsafe when you consider how much of it is under the water)

19. Slept under the stars

20. Changed a baby’s diaper (If I marry and have children, this will be inevitable)

21. Taken a trip on a hot air balloon (Again, heights!)

22. Watched a meteor shower

23. Got drunk on champagne

24. Given more than you can afford to charity

25. Looked up at the night sky through a telescope

26. Had an uncontrollable giggling fit at the worst possible moment

27. Had a food fight

28. Bet on a winning horse

29. Asked out a stranger

30. Had a snowball fight

31. Screamed as loudly as you possibly can

32. Held a lamb

33. Seen a total eclipse

34. Ridden a roller coaster

35. Hit a home run

36. Danced like a fool and not cared who was looking

37. Adopted an accent for an entire day (I vould feel like a prat, mein bloggers)

38. Actually felt happy about your life, even for just a moment

39. Had two hard drives for your computer (Looks like fun)

40. Visited all 50 states (I would like to visit several of them, but all fifty!)

41. Taken care of someone who was shit faced

42. Had amazing friends

43. Danced with a stranger in a foreign country

44. Watched wild whales

45. Stolen a sign

46. Backpacked in Europe (I would worry too much about the logistics)

47. Taken a road-trip

48. Gone rock climbing

49. Midnight walk on the beach

50. Gone sky diving (Not unless you want me to have a heart attack from sheer terror, mid air!)

51. Visited Ireland

52. Been heartbroken for longer than when you were in love

53. In a restaurant, sat at a stranger’s table and had a meal with them

54. Visited Japan

55. Milked a cow

56. Alphabetized your cds

57. Pretended to be a superhero

58. Sung karaoke

59. Lounged around in bed all day (I just couldn't! I hate being in bed post 9AM. The only time I was okay with getting up as late as midday was when I was at Uni and I had been to bed several times as late as 4AM. The only other time I would be happy to lay in bed all morning is if...
Well I'll leave you to work that out for yourself :) )

60. Posed nude in front of strangers (No way! I may be comfortable, apart from my stomach, with my body, but that doesn't mean I want to readily share the sights as it were)

61. Gone scuba diving

62. Kissed in the rain (Have kissed in train stations, outside a Cathedral, and on a bridge amongst other places, but never in the rain)

63. Played in the mud

64. Played in the rain

65. Gone to a drive-in theater

66. Visited the Great Wall of China (I doubt very much it will happen though!)

67. Started a business (Depends, am open to it!)

68. Fallen in love and not had your heart broken

69. Toured ancient sites

70. Taken a martial arts

71. Played D&D for more than 6 hours straight (How boring! Trivial Pursuit or Risk with breaks, yes!)

72. Gotten married

73. Been in a movie(Cameo, a la Hitchcock)

74. Crashed a party

75. Gotten divorced

76. Gone without food for 5 days

77. Made cookies from scratch

78. Won first prize in a costume contest

79. Ridden a gondola in Venice

80. Gotten a tattoo

81. Rafted the Snake River

82. Been on television news programs as an “expert”(something tells me, if I say yes it won't happen! ;) )

83. Got flowers for no reason

84. Performed on stage

85. Been to Las Vegas

86. Recorded music

87. Eaten shark

88. Had a one-night stand

89. Gone to Thailand

90. Bought a house

91. Been in a combat zone

92. Buried one/both of your parents (Law of averages says it will happen one day, but I am sure you will understand when I say I don't want it to happen. At least not for a very long time)

93. Been on a cruise ship

94. Spoken more than one language fluently

95. Performed in Rocky Horror.

96. Raised children (That said I do take a Que sera sera stance on this)

97. Followed your favorite band/singer on tour (Only in a non nerdy capacity, like writing a guest article for Rolling Stone or Q, or a weekend broadsheet or something like that)

98. Created and named your own constellation of stars

99. Taken an exotic bicycle tour in a foreign country

100. Picked up and moved to another city to just start over

101. Walked the Golden Gate Bridge

102. Sang loudly in the car, and didn’t stop when you knew someone was looking

103. Had plastic surgery(Only if I have suffered serious injury. If I was that vain, I would already be dyeing the greys in my hair)

104. Survived an accident that you shouldn’t have survived.

105. Wrote articles for a large publication

106. Lost over 100 pounds

107. Held someone while they were having a flashback

108. Piloted an airplane

109. Petted a stingray

110. Broken someone’s heart

111. Helped an animal give birth

112. Won money on a T.V. game show(Seems vulgar, but am being honest)

113. Broken a bone

114. Gone on an African photo safari

115. Had a body part of yours below the neck pierced

116. Fired a rifle, shotgun, or pistol

117. Eaten mushrooms that were gathered in the wild

118. Ridden a horse

119. Had major surgery(If it involves saving or improving the quality of my life)

120. Had a snake as a pet

121. Hiked to the bottom of the Grand Canyon

122. Slept for more than 30 hours over the course of 48 hours

123. Visited more foreign countries than U.S. states

124. Visited all 7 continents (three so far)

125. Taken a canoe trip that lasted more than 2 days(Deliverance springs to mind)

126. Eaten kangaroo meat

127. Eaten sushi

128. Had your picture in the newspaper

129. Changed someone’s mind about something you care deeply about(Hope I have done so already)

130. Gone back to school

131. Parasailed

132. Petted a cockroach

133. Eaten fried green tomatoes

134. Read The Iliad - and the Odyssey

135. Selected one “important” author who you missed in school, and read

136. Killed and prepared an animal for eating

137. Skipped all your school reunions

138. Communicated with someone without sharing a common spoken language

139. Been elected to public office

140. Written your own computer language

141. Thought to yourself that you’re living your dream

142. Had to put someone you love into hospice care

143. Built your own PC from parts

144. Sold your own artwork to someone who didn’t know you

145. Had a booth at a street fair

146: Dyed your hair

147. Been a DJ

148: Shaved your head

149: Caused a car accident

150: Saved someone’s life (Okay put it this way. If someone dies becuase I have not helped them in need, I would rather save their life!)

Top Five TV Detectives

I did say I would blog about this didn't I! Ah well, this is what comes of making promises during a flight of fancy.

One of the things I like about detective shows on TV is the fact that you are, in a sense, presented with a puzzle that you have to solve. The easiest one for me was Midsommer Murders, where twice I worked out who the murderer was, the oppurtunity, and indeed the motive. I also think I got it early on the one-off Lewis (a series is forthcoming), but missed the end and will have to see it repeated to see if I am right!
So below, here are my top five favourites and why!

Inspector Morse

(Thames Television)

Have already blogged on this, but basically he is failible, bad tempered, and yet has a strong sense of decency and tenacity which always shines through.
Plus he lives and works in Oxford, a favourite city of mine!







Bergerac

(BBC Online)



Liked or loathed, I quite like Bergerac, and yes all the cliches (such as Charlie Hungerford having connections with nearly every episodes villain). A maverick, and yet decent, plus he always has lovely girlfriends (although I couldn't quite see what he saw in Susan Young!)















Shoestring

(BBC Online)
Made by the same guys who did "Bergerac". Eddie Shoestring is vulnerable (he is a recovered mental paitent), yet manages to overcome all obstacles to get results.
Plus I like the theme tune :).



Miss Marple

(BBC Online)
Wasn't so keen on the recent remake by ITV, but I do like the Joan Hickson ones. The great thing about Marple, is that, on the surface, she is a gentle old lady who indulges in village gossip, and yet underneath she has a needle sharp mind!





Sherlock Holmes

(BBC Online)
Being geeky here, I have to admit I have read all the Conan Doyle stories about this great detective. But as it was when I was twelve years old, I have forgotten many of them! Eccentric, totally dedicated to his work, an eye for detail, plus the sense of Victorian nostalga, my favourite so far is Jeremy Brett, although I think Tom Baker did well, the one time he played Holmes.

Monday, July 24, 2006

Graduation Ceremonies

(University of Luton)
Following on from Tim's comments, I have to say I am fairly neutral about them, although they can be fairly boring.
My own was okay-ish, although I didn't really listen to the speeches, and I did enjoy the dressing up and the social enviroment. I remember after my own, I took my parents and some friends to a local bar/coffee shop for a slap-up meal, and that was more important to me than anything else that day.
That and hoping that my name was prounounced correctly as I was about to collect my degree (My surname is pronounced Bur -gin with a kicking g, as in great, as opposed to the way the g is pronounced in gin). Thankfully the announcer got it spot on and I was never even asked how it was pronounced! :)
And no, the ceremony wasn't in latin. Luton only got University status in 1993. But it is a Uni I am proud of and whose reputation I will swiftly defend if need be!

Here Comes the Rain (For a short while)

Well Saturday arrived, and with it, the rain in North Herts.
Well for the afternoon anyway. I was in a Cafe and a door was open and I could smell the rain before I even saw it! Now normally I hate rain in the summertime, but on Saturday I was more than happy to see it after seeing parched and wilted grass verges and lawns.
I had just finished work andwas checking e-mails, but taking adavntage of the change in weather, I opened my umbrella and went shopping in the European market that was in Letchworth town centre. Apparently this market goes around the country and visits Letchworth once a year.
So I felt a bit continental, going around, buying Croatian biscuits and a large German sausage for the evening meal and just having a stroll, whilst trying to juggle my bag, shopping, and umbrella, and trying to eat a sandwich I had just brought at the same time.
Oh for the simple pleasures! If only we had a bit more rain as well, although preferably not when I next meet up with Rose! ;)

Twenty Five years on and John Lennon still causes controversy

(Annie Liebovitz)
Adele at Take back the voice has mentioned about John Lennon's Imagine and how a church has banned his song!
I can see their point as the song is a bit of a secular hymn. I blogged about the song myself some months back.
Am just smiling at the fact that Lennon can still cause controversy some twenty-five years after he was cruelly taken from us. For my own opinion, I like the song and some of the ideals which are universal, but I do prefer "Grow Old With Me" as a hymn, which is from the Milk and Honey album.
As for favourite Lennon song with a good creed! Well I like the single version of Revolution

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Middle Class Snobbery

(Press Association)
Okay, this is going to be something of a wee rant, because it's an issue that has been playing in the back of my mind for a while now.
Put basically, has the UK, as a cultural nation, changed with regards to social classes and some of the accompanying snobbery!
I used to think we have changed, that we were more of a meritocracy, and in many cases that is true. Two of our postwar Prime Ministers' did not go to University, let alone Oxford, and came from lower middle class backgrounds and worked to get to where they ended up. (Some would point out that Churchill also failed to go to University, but he was the grandson of a Duke and went to Sandhurst and, as admiring of him as I am, he got to where he was on social background as well as ability).
But recently I have been wondering about how we perceive our social enviroment.
It all started for me when I had a chat about a potential job at the House of Lords some five years ago. It was before I joined the Labour Party and it would have meant working for a crossbench peer. The chap was so plummy voiced I felt like doffing an imaginary cap, even though he was friendly and considerate. And there was me thinking I could deal with anyone and everyone!
A very recent personal experience was when someone came to the newspaper kiosk where I work and asked for a Daily Telegraph. I explained we had sold out, to which her opening response was "I would not dream of coming here...", something I found slightly offensive and I hope I misunderstood.
But it was the TV Series Little Britain that really did make me wonder about social snobbery. The character Vicky Pollard was one we all laughed at (well some of us anyway), but I remember my Mum taking a dislike to the Pollard sketches, saying that she was being made fun of because she was from a council estate and inarticulate, and therefore thick and irresponsible. On the national media scale, Johann Hari made similar comments. Now admittedly Hari can be emotive in presenting his arguments, but both he and my Mum did make me think! For example there are the criticisms of chav clothing, which is unfair when some cannot afford anything else, and indeed criticism of the lack of social awareness, such as smoking when pregnant or not eating proper food, when many are simply not aware, or indeed in the case of junk food, were not taught to cook properly, or indeed are able to afford anything healthy to eat. This is not to exonerate all aspects of chav culture, nor the fact that chav culture transcends class, but it is simply trying to weed out the unfair from the fair in attacks on chav culture.
Then there are the attacks on people who are self made, who go on holiday to the Costa Del Sol in Spain, instead of the more sophisticated parts of the World. Who are loud, lacking in subtlety, and are emotive in their arguments. Well I come across many across the social divide who are like that!
Well I leave it to you what to make of this, these are just some thoughts and I hope I am wrong. I am not being completely critical of the middle classes (I come from that background myself, although my grandparents came from working class backgrounds and proud of it), but I simply wonder whether the goalposts have simply changed as opposed to a real meritocracy taking place!

Galloway on Hezbollah!

Already mentioned here and here, like anyone else who shocks people with their comments so many times, they lose their ability to outrage, I am surprised Galloway's comments are newsworthy. The man is already known by most people to be a deeply unpleasant bully who has questionable morals on Foreign policy and who was craven to a vile despot like Saddam Hussein.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Faith Schools

(BBC Online)
Have been wanting to blog on this for over a week now, but, not for the first time, am not sure how to formulate my thoughts on such an emotive subject.
And before I start I suppose I ought to declare my Christian faith as an interest, although (like other similar issues) I feel that this directly leads me into Render Unto Ceasar territory if I am not careful.
First of all, my attention was drawn by last Friday's Guardian, about parents who pretend to be Christian in order to get their children into faith schools, so as to improve their education prospects.
I have no doubt that this is widespread, and indeed that some schools operate on such a policy, but not all schools are like that.
Shortly after my family moved into Hertfordshire some twenty plus years ago, I went to a C of E Junior school. We had prayers during assembly, occasionally we would have to listen to this BBC Radio religious programme for children which was explicitly Christian. But that and morning hymns, there wasn't much religious emphasis and , many pupils who attended did not, as far as I know and I have to be careful here, come from Christian families as such and there was, as far as I know, no policy on a requirment of faith to attend. My Mum and Dad were never asked about their faith or anything like that when they applied for me to attend. In fact we never even worshipped at the local C of E Church.
The secondary school I went to, likewise, has links with the same church. Again, morning assembly, prayers, hymns. R.E. didn't have an emphasis on Christianity and few picked it as a G.C.S.E. subject (not if you wanted to invite any ridicule from other pupils). One or two of the teachers were openly athiest and many of us came from a variety of backgrounds. I myself was not a Christian then and during a teachers' organised debate on religion when I was in Year Ten, I openly mentioned my then convuluted theistic beliefs which seemed more akin to the Doctor Who anthromorphic concept of the Guardians than anything else.
So much for the influence of Science Fiction.
So I do think some aspects of the debate on faith schools are red herrings. I personally have no problem with them, althoughI appreciate some of my non-Christian friends do. Put simply, if you have a faith and you have a family, you will want your children to grow up with some knowledge of that faith. Likewise a secular humanist or an athiest is not going to necessarily want their child to grow up without holding to something the parents believe in. This is what helps make the debate emotive. Some also accuse faith schools of downgrading your average secondary modern by having high reputations and causing many teachers and parents to flock to them in a hypocritical mass, leaving the secondary modern to fall back into the educational abyss.
I disagree in that, if faith schools do well in academic standards, then that should be praised. Should they try and encourage mediocrity so as to improve other schools standing. Hypocricy is certainly not to be encouraged, but if faith schools started turning puils and teachers away then they would be slated for being elitist. "Render Unto Ceasar" again.
I think part of the answer is to encourage secondary schools to improve standards by drawing on their good points. Perhaps a twinning system with more succesful schools should be encouraged. But please don't blame faith schools for the malase, because the reaons why some schools, any school, fails is complex and varied.

Andrew Burgin of STW. No Relation!

Not sure exactly why I am mentioning this, as it wouldn't matter anyway, but given the unusual surname I have and having read today's Independent, I feel I ought to point out that, as far as I am aware, Andrew Burgin of the Stop the War Coalition is not a relative of mine (although we might easily share the same great-great grandfather or something like that).
I am related to an Andrew Burgin, a first cousin of mine, but he lives and works abroad. That said, I am fascinated that the "non relative" Andrew Burgin shares my surname as it is rather unusual!

Friday, July 21, 2006

Jobs and Blogging

(BBC Online)
In the past few days my attention has been caught by the news that a British secretary in Paris is suing her firm because she says they sacked her for writing a blog about her home and work life.
This isn't the first time such a case has come to light, and I particually remember the Joe Gordon case. It all serves as a cold reminder to all of us who blog and who have jobs. Be careful! (Unless of course your name is Kerron Cross, and you have a benevolent boss and fellow staffers ;). God knows he insults his fellow staffers enough times though! ;) )
I try to be circumspect when mentioning whatever I do that can be construded as professional, even, on occasion, when it comes to mentioning politics (which is interesting when you consider that only twice have I been employed politically and they were short term jobs). Put simply, the blogging world is not a cosy playground as it appears, and we just have to be a little bit circumspect and cautious.

Here I Stand..

There are so many things I want to blog on today, but it is rather busy so I suppose this is a Vox Pops of sorts.
Except that there is one subject I want to devote time to. So my plans to blog on that Frenchwoman who was sacked because she blogged about her job, faith schools (following Friday's Guardian report), middle class snobbery, cash machines in poor areas which charge for their use, the state of libraries today, my top ten TV detectives, graduation ceremonies, and the Dutch going another liberal step too far, will have to wait for the moment.
Because last night I noticed the following entry on Iain Dale's blog.
Put basically the above ad is from the Gay Police Association, saying that homophobic attacks have increased by 74% and that the sole motive was the religious belief of the perpetrator.
Like Iain, I doubt they were all Christians, and those who said they were definetly did not behave as if they were. Then there is the fact that many people say they are Christians and don't really know much about Christianity at all.
Now I hold an interest in this in that I am a committed Christian myself. Like many I find my faith tough, difficult, and hard. I find living my faith hard enough as it is without making quick and harsh judgements about others. Thankfully (and please forgive the prostelyzing) being a Christian means living by faith and remembering that Christ died for our sins and rose again, rather than following a set of rules and regulations that are hard.
I say this, because it has always seems to be the Christian's lot to be persecuted. Now in a lot of cases it may well be deserved on an individual or a group (i.e. being arrested for breaking the law or persecuting others), but it is not always the case. Lumping Christians together for an increase in a type of crime such as homophobic attacks, that many of us find horrible and disgusting as just as bad and ill-informed as attacking all gays for the fact that sometimes men get gang raped. Then there is the fact that two Christian friends of mine, whom I am rather fond of and am in awe of their spiritual maturity, happen to be a gay couple. What does this ad say to them!
And what especially irritates me as that, as per usual, no one mentioned Islam, when there are many homophobics in that religion (I hasten to add that I am not attacking muslims, or indeed their faith when I make that comment). When I was at University I once had to listen to a leading radical islamic fundamentalist student, loudly proclaim that homosexuals should be thrown off cliff tops, and yet Christianity seems to be the easy target to aim at. There is a word for that and it is called bullying.
The way things are now, there is a very good climate for dialogue. Between Christians and secular gays and in organisations and societies. This ad doesn't help at all!

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Load of Tossers

Lola, Iain Dale, Councillor Bob Piper, and Kerron have already blogged on this.
Put basically, Channel 4 will be showing a London event, labelled as the country's first masturbate-a-thon, on August 5th.
The aim is, officially, to help promote sexual health and it's all in the name of char-idy. Unofficially it is to follow the tried-and-tested method of appealing to the lowest common denominator.
Put simply, there are better ways of organising events to promote sexual health than arranging for a group of sad and unhappy men to play a variation of "soggy biscuit" in public. This just strikes me as sick and twisted titillation and I just hope it's a wind-up!

The July Bomb Plot

(Getty Images)
For many, many reasons, for the same numerous reasons as others, I deplore murder, I despise terrorism, and (admittedly agreeing with a smaller no here) have problems with the Death Penalty.
But there are exceptions, in that, I am not a Pacifist (I feel that sometimes to not intervene by millitary means causes more harm than good), and, in some extreme cases like the Nuremberg trials, I am not entirely averse to seeing someone sentenced to death and that action carried out (although I do question this!).
It's for the simple reason that some crimes committed are so horrific, so vile, so evil, you are at a loss to know what to do. Yes, pray for their soul (God knows they need it), forgive them, but justice has to be carried out too!
It's with all this in mind that I have every sympathy for those who heroically tried to kill Hitler sixty-two years ago today. I am not sure if they were right, morally or otherwise, for what they attempted, but they had very good and noble reasons for wanting him dead and I think they should be remembered for wanting to rid the World of a terrible evil!

Hoylake Welcomes George Clooney

(Associated Press)
Apparently he has been seen there recently, having a pint at the local Ship Inn.
Admittedly no major Hollywood star has visited Baldock recently (although Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman did some after hours shopping at our local giant Tesco's store during the filming of Eyes Wide Shut
So if any A'list Hollywood star is reading my blog, you are more than welcome to pop by. I particually recommend the coffee shop in the High Street, oppositte Costcutters, as they have friendly service and nice mince pies around December.

Crystal Maze/Adventure Game

(BBC Online)
Two old game shows that are occasionally repeated on Challenge TV.
When asked, I always mention that my favourite childrens programmes were Blue Peter, Record Breakers, Newsround, and Doctor Who (Plus when I was very small, Play School).
But I always seem to forget The Adventure Game, where children's TV presenters were trapped on the planet Arg and needed to regain a crystal and return to their ship, so as to get back to Earth. Believe it or not, one of the regulars was future newscaster Moira Stuart.
The show was brilliant for weekday teatime and was as gently English as croquet and buttered scones, although these seemingly gentle pursuits have their dangers (exessive butter being bad for you) and "The Adventure Game" had the ruthlessness of the Grid at the end of the show, where if you trod on the wrong point, you were immediately out of the game
Fast forward a few years to my being a teenager, and Channel 4 started showing a gameshow called The Crystal Maze.
This time, the contestants weren't children's TV celebrities, but rather members of the public. Each episode lasted a bit longer, and this time the contestants had to go through four zones - Aztec, Medieval, Industrial (later Ocean) and Future. Try and find and collect a crystal in a locked cell within two minutes, and the total amount adding to the time allowed in the giant crystal at the end, where the amount of tokens they collected in the crystal (whilst were blown around from beneath the floor by huge fans) would define as to what prize they got at the end.
Well it was fun to watch at the time and I think it's about time that we had a new game show, along similar lines, on terrestial television.

Beirut

(BBC Online)
Like many who were born between about 1965 and 1980, my first contemporary knowledge of Beirut was a nation in civil war with seemingly no end.
There were frequent reports of car bombs, kidnappings, and people committing violent atrocities in the name of religion.
I recall only too well, the TWA hijacking of 1985, the raid on Libya in 1986 (which resulted in the murder of four western hostages in Beirut, three British and one American), the Iran/Contra scandal, the kidnapping of Terry Waite, the fall of General Aoun, and then (in spite of everything) peace!
When I was a teenager I read Robert Fisk's "Pity the Nation", abook about being a War Correspondent in such a dangerous place. While Fisk has his detractors, I owe him a minor debt in that this book helped make me want to become a journalist (and the thought of waking up daily, as Fisk undoubtedly did, to face the very real threat of being blown up, shot, or kidnapped, is not an appealing thought). While that dream died a bit of a conventional death as my cynicism about journalistic standards grew, it undoubtedly propelled me into studying Media Practices at Uni and led me into areas I would not have considered.
Anyways I'm digressing. The book brought to life the feelings of loss, frustration, and pain that this nation has felt for many years. It also seems to go through cycles of conflict and violence in a similar fashion to Israel. And like many I held out hope for it's future.
And like many, I am worried as to where this is all heading right now! Especially now there are mass evacuations. I am worried that the instability, the bombings, and kidnappings will flare up again. I pray to God that it does not

Popular Blogs at Bloggers4Labour (Week 3)

Note. As Jo has pointed out, these are the Top Ten with the most recommended posts.

The Top 10 Bloggers at B4L, as voted for by fellow bloggers are:




1) Labour Humanists (Up two places)


2) KERRON CROSS - The Voice of the Delectable Left (Down one place)


3) normblog (Down one place)


4) wongaBlog (Same place)


5) Ministry of Truth (Up two places)


6) Take back the voice (Up three places)


7) Skuds' Sister's Brother (Down two places)


8) Jo's Journal (Down three places)


9) PooterGeek (Down two places)


10) Bob Piper (Same place)

For the curious, I am still in Jt 13th place (with Harry's Place and Mike Ion)

GENERAL HEALTH WARNING
This is no indication of how popular the blogs are, nor of their standing. It's just an indicator one who has written the most interesting articles in the Labour blogosphere this week.

My Short Story on NormBlog's Site!

I took part in the short short story competition and NormBlog has added my story to his site.
You can read it here.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Oh You Nasty Bloggers!

Ministry of Truth has recently mentioned this, before going on to mention the current donation row within the Labour Party.
I see the points made and I have heard a small, but growing disquiet from some in the blogosphere towards tabloid blogging and the occasional nasty style that originates. They are issues where I share concern.
But it has to be mentioned that this is inevitable, given human nature (of which I hold a rather cynical view). But that said it shouldn't be encouraged.
So why are some bloggers just so, well bitchy!
A variety of reasons I suppose! General character in some, trying to keep up with the big boys and get noticed, defensiveness, having a particular brand of humour where the line fails to get properly drawn, a variety and who knows with each person and I imagine some of the answers are complex!
To be fair, we can all get unpleasant and snide on our blogs. It's very easy and God alone knows I have been sometimes and it is not something I am particually proud of, but we have to remember that we have a large readership and be sensitive to that. For those of us who are political we have an extra responsibility. It is an obvious thing to say but there is more to politics than Westminster gossip, and I am stating this obvious fact because sometimes you wonder if we are shouting these words and not living them or acting on them! That's not to say that what goes on in Westminster isn't interesting, but sometimes a cocoon of insularity can take place where if we are not careful we end up being blind to the world outside. A world that is not as impressed with David Cameron as some of the media are and a world that feels that perhaps it is time for John Prescott to go.
I agree that blogging is becoming part of the mainstream media, that it is groundbreaking, a new form of journalism. But seizing oppurtunities also means seizing responsibility and acting on it. Being investigative, critical, humourous, entertaining, but never cruel or malicious. Not aping some of the current trends of journalism in order to get noticed, because that's the very sort of playground posturing that has put so many people off politics and the media.

The Heat Is On! Part II

(Wikipedia.org)
Actually it wasn't so bad as I thought it would be. Perhaps because I expected it to be bad.
Fan was on full blast at work, although some customers were suffering and drinks were being sold almost as soon as they had been put in the fridge. A further disapointment was when I finished my shift and found that the computers at the nearby cafe were out of use because they had overheated.
And how are things now?
Well I am typing this with a big bottle of Diet Coke next to me and feeling slightly sweaty, so therein lies your answer.
Plus as well as being a slob, it's a bit warm as well ;)
Anyways, have a good rest of the week and don't let the heat get to you if you are in Europe right now!

The Heat Is On!

It looks like today is going to be the hottest day of the year and I can well believe it.
Went to bed shortly after midnight last night, feeling hot and bothered and not even bothering to cover myself with a duvet, and before anyone says it (because I know how some of your minds work) I did have decorum and wear boxers if nothing else!
But I got up around Seven AM this morning and still felt hot and bothered (although to be fair, some of that may well have been tiredness) and was worried about whether or not to water the plants outside because it was already fairly baking outside.
And like yesterday, I don't like to be far from a bottle of water, squash, or even Lipton Ice Tea (which I have developed a fetish for).
But we can be thankful for some mercies. It doesn't seem to be so consistent as it was in 1976, over a long period of time. It certainly didn't seem to bother me then.

Twenty Questions to a Fellow Blogger Part IV: Lola

(The Wonderful World of Lola)
Lola is a 24 year old new(ish) blogger. She studied at UCL and works in public affairs in the voluntary sector. You can find her at The Wonderful World of Lola


What made you decide to start blogging?

That would be the fault of Jo Salmon, who decided to hassle me via the medium of her comments section until I started. I was rather worried about having things to say, but fortunately the advent of ‘Commander In Chief’ on our screens provided a source of inspiration.

What is your best blogging experience?

That would have to be the discussion I started regarding ‘favourite hymns’, which rather snowballed. More Comrades than I had anticipated had very similar childhood experiences to me!

And your worst?

None have occurred, as yet.

What do you regard as your best blog entry?

That is difficult. Actually, it would probably be my premier post, at which point I was still making an effort with my writing style!

Favourite blogs?

Too many! Certainly there are too many to list without leaving people out and causing offence. Actually, I tend to be a little cliquey with blogs and mostly read those of people I know, although not exclusively. I am a particular fan of http://www.josalmon.co.uk/ and http://ridiculouspolitics.blogspot.com/, however.

What inspired you to go into politics?

I am not sure I would consider myself as ‘in’ politics! However, I was inspired to be political (and left-leaning) by my dad, who is what I would jokingly refer to as a ‘trot’ (he would probably be happy with this description). My first occasion of political awareness occurred at the age of 5, during the 1987 General Election, when I asked my Reception teacher how she was voting and proceeded to tell her off for voting Tory. How precocious!

How has your experience of NUS politics and your personal faith affected your political outlook?

In very different ways! NUS has taught me the importance of politically organising, and also reinforced the importance of standing up for your principles. Faith – well, I am of the opinion that Christianity is generally left-leaning. For example, the Bishops letter at the time of the General Election (excluding issues of conscience) was all fundamentally left-of-centre politics. You can read it here - http://www.catholic-ew.org.uk/election/letter.htm - focus on rehabilitation through the criminal justice system, anti-racism, empathy and compassion for refugees, support for public services and the global common good. I was proud to vote Labour bearing that in mind.

Who is your own favourite "Dish of the Week" so far?

- Gael GarcĂ­a Bernal. No doubt.

Is there anywhere abroad which you haven't been to, that you would like to visit?

Italy. I have never been (aside from a flight that stopped in Catania for half an hour) and I know I would love it. Currently contemplating a few days in Rome in November.

Is there anywhere abroad you have visited, that you would love to revisit?

Definitely Israel. The trip I went on was amazing and inspiring, and I would love to return. Wonderful people, sights and food! Also I would like to go and ‘do’ Old Jerusalem properly – we did it in 90 minutes! Actually, I would like to visit much more of the Middle East / North Africa, although sadly the current conflict makes visits to some of those countries unlikely in the near future.

Who, excluding the present leader and Prime Minister, do you regard as the best British Prime Minister, and if different, the best Labour leader?

Difficult to answer, so am going to ignore it (sorry!) and say Kinnock, Kinnock, Kinnock. I know far too many bits of speeches by heart, and spent an amusing half hour with a Comrade (middle of NUS election hysteria, by way of explanation) reciting them up a Welsh mountain.

Which Christian figure has been your greatest inspiration?

I don’t really have one! Would have to say JPII, as growing up when I did he was always going to be influential (plus at my school we had a picture of him in the hall, in much the way other schools have pictures of the queen!). Also, collectively, the multitude of catholic teachers and Priests who were a permanent fixture of my childhood.

Favourite Bond movie?

Don’t start!

Favorite Doctor Who?

David Tennant! I now really regret not swallowing my pride and saying hello at the Labour thing I saw him at last year!

Chocolate, vanilla, or mint?

Mint. Skinny Cow version thereof.

Which Band, past or present, would you most like to see in concert?

Nirvana.

In terms of visiting for the weekend, Oxford, Cambridge, or Barsby, Leics..?

What is Barsby and why? Probably Cambridge as I went to Oxford on an outing recently.

Favourite national newspaper?

Sometimes annoying, but always well-written – the Guardian.

What would you say your hobbies were?

Hobbies?! I feel the need to say ‘making model aeroplanes’ when someone says ‘hobbies’. However: reading, history, cooking, food generally, jogging, drinkies with friends, high quality television, the West Wing, shopping, politics, Eastenders!

And what would you say were your three favourite songs and three favourite books (Bar the Bible and The Complete Works of Shakespeare)?

Books:

Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials Trilogy
Robert Kennedy and his time, Arthur M Schlesinger Jr
Will in the world: how Shakespeare became Shakespeare, Stephen Greenblatt (have inherited geeky interest in history of Shakespeare from my English teacher dad)

Songs (hard and changes regularly, so will try and pick three as representatives!):

One Day More, from Les Mis
Here I Am Lord, a hymn (see aforementioned hymn thread for details)
We Are The Pigs, Suede

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Just When You Least Expect These Things..

This evening a fellow blogger, not unreasonably, asked why I hadn't sorted out my interview with her.
Well normally I would, but I was happily distracted by a phone call from my girlfriend.
I've been seeing Rose from rose's random ramblings for a short while now, but it's only in the last few days that our mutual attraction spilled over into a relationship, so it all still feels a bit strange, albeit nice strange! Esp as it has been a couple of years since my last relationship ended and I was getting very used to being single.
But this is lovely (as you can tell from the contented looks on our faces) and Rose is a very kind and thoughtful person, as well as giving the most lovely hugs! :). She is also involved in a church choir, so she sings as well :), which is good because I am a bit hit and miss at singing if truth be told.
In any case, thoughts and prayers and general encouragement are appreciated towards the pair of us :)

That Bush/Blair Chat (This is what I think happened!)

(Associated Press)
The bold bits are what I think was said during the indecipherable parts of the conversation:

Bush: Yo, Blair. How are you doing?

Blair: I'm just...

Bush: You're leaving?

Blair: No, no, no not yet. On this trade thingy. Sorry, mean trolley. The food trolley thingy! No eggs and bacon. Or muffins either! We were promised those for our G8 lunch! Just what is Putin playing at, giving us black bread and samovas, But, you know, you pays your money you takes your choice! And the service you get here from the waiters?

Bush: Yeah, I told that to the man.

Blair: Are you planning to say that here or not?

Bush: If you want me to.

Blair: Well, it's just that if the discussion arises...

Bush: I just want some movement.

Blair: Yeah.

Bush: Yesterday we didn't see much movement..

Blair: No, no, it may be that it's not, it may be that it's impossible.

Bush: I am prepared to say it.

Blair: But it's just I think that we need to be an opposition...

Bush: Who is introducing the trade?

Blair: Angela [Merkel, the German Chancellor]

Bush: Tell her to call 'em.

Blair: Yes

Bush: Tell her to put him on, them on the spot. Thanks for the sweater - it's awfully thoughtful of you.

Blair: It's a pleasure.

Bush: I know you picked it out yourself.

Blair: Oh absolutely - in fact I knitted it!!!
(laughter)
Bush: What about Kofi? [Annan] - he seems all right. I don't like his ceasefire plan. His attitude is basically ceasefire and everything sorts out.... But I think...

Blair: Yeah, no I think the negotiaton with the waiters is still going on, but Putin did promise some caviar this evening, along with your favourite MacDonald's burger. Plus some Hershey bars for late night snacks. BTW When you said trade, I think you meant sweet trolley. Anyway, Kofi is finding that dealing with these strange waiters who keep changing the menus is really difficult. We can't stop this unless you get this international business agreed.

Bush: Yeah.

Blair: I don't know what you guys have talked about, but as I say I am perfectly happy to try and see what the lie of the land is, but you need that done quickly because otherwise it will spiral.

Bush: I think Condi [US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice] is going to go pretty soon.

Blair: But that's, that's, that's all that matters. But if you... you see it will take some time to get that together.

Bush: Yeah, yeah.

Blair: But at least it gives people...

Bush: It's a process, I agree. I told her your offer to...

Blair: Well... it's only if I mean... you know. If she's got a..., or if she needs the ground prepared as it were... Because obviously if she goes out she's got to succeed, if it were, whereas I can go out and just talk.

Bush: You see the irony is what they need to do is get Syria, to get Hezbollah to stop doing this shit and it's all over...

Blair: You mean..

Bush: Its true. CIA have told me that the catering company here is working for Hezbollah and that they keep switching the food. They might also be connected with Saddam, Al Queda, and guess who else?

Blair: Dunno... Syria....

Bush: Why?

Blair: Because I think this is all part of the same thing...

Bush: (with mouth full of bread) Yeah

Blair: Look - what does he think? He thinks if Lebanon turns out fine. If you get a solution in Israel and Palestine, Iraq goes in the right way

Bush: Yeah, yeah, he is sweet.

Blair: He is honey. And that's what the whole thing is about. It's the same with Iraq.

Bush: I felt like telling Kofi to call, to get on the phone to Assad and make something happen.

Blair: Yeah

Bush: Because if I don't get my Big Mac and caviar tonight, then...

Blair: Don't worry. I have told the MoD that we will put a blockade on the Canadians sending Maple Syrup to the Lebanese. We will give them honey instead!

Bush: We are not blaming the Lebanese government.

Blair: Is this...? [Blair taps the microphone in front of him and the sound is cut.]

Today

Am feeling a tad low (bit quiet and distant low actually) today, so appreciate any thoughts, prayers, etc.. Nothing personal or workwise, it's just that this morning I found I have been thwarted in a minor political ambition. But hey, that's fine, there were very good reasons and I agree with them and it means better and less narrow opportunites for me in politics.
Some of you will know exactly what I mean because I told you, but obviously best keep it under your hat for various reasons.

Paul

The NEC Candidates I voted for.

As everyone else seems to have mentioned which six they have voted for, I might as well do the same:

Mohammed Azam
Louise Baldock
Helen Jackson
Ellie Reeves
Naz Sarkar
Bill Thomas

Some of you may be pleased or critical or whatever about this. That said, not all the candidates listed here were voted for without reservation and it was done after long and careful thought.

Monday, July 17, 2006

150 life experiences

Via Jo, but originallly from Louise
The stuff in bold is what I have done:

01. Bought everyone in the bar a drink
02. Swam with wild dolphins
03. Climbed a mountain
04. Taken a Ferrari for a test drive
05. Been inside the Great Pyramid
06. Held a tarantula
07. Taken a candlelit bath with someone
08. Said ‘I love you’ and meant it
09. Hugged a tree
10. Bungee jumped
11. Visited Paris
12. Watched a lightning storm at sea
13. Stayed up all night long and saw the sun rise
14. Seen the Northern Lights
15. Gone to a huge sports game
16. Walked the stairs to the top of the leaning Tower of Pisa
17. Grown and eaten your own vegetables
18. Touched an iceberg
19. Slept under the stars
20. Changed a baby’s diaper
21. Taken a trip on a hot air balloon
22. Watched a meteor shower
23. Got drunk on champagne
24. Given more than you can afford to charity
25. Looked up at the night sky through a telescope
26. Had an uncontrollable giggling fit at the worst possible moment
27. Had a food fight
28. Bet on a winning horse
29. Asked out a stranger
30. Had a snowball fight
31. Screamed as loudly as you possibly can
32. Held a lamb
33. Seen a total eclipse (more of a dusk eclipse actually)
34. Ridden a roller coaster
35. Hit a home run (rounders, not baseball)
36. Danced like a fool and not cared who was looking
37. Adopted an accent for an entire day
38. Actually felt happy about your life, even for just a moment
39. Had two hard drives for your computer
40. Visited all 50 states
41. Taken care of someone who was shit faced
42. Had amazing friends (Not had, do)
43. Danced with a stranger in a foreign country
44. Watched wild whales
45. Stolen a sign
46. Backpacked in Europe
47. Taken a road-trip
48. Gone rock climbing (school trip to Norfolk when I was fourteen. Scaled a fifty foot high cliff, under close supervision, in just under three mins)
49. Midnight walk on the beach
50. Gone sky diving
51. Visited Ireland
52. Been heartbroken for longer than when you were in
53. In a restaurant, sat at a stranger’s table and had a meal with them
54. Visited Japan
55. Milked a cow
56. Alphabetized your cds (I know it's sad, but I have a librarians mind on these things)
57. Pretended to be a superhero (In the playground when little. Plus I once had a Spiderman suit)
58. Sung karaoke
59. Lounged around in bed all day
60. Posed nude in front of strangers
61. Gone scuba diving
62. Kissed in the rain
63. Played in the mud
64. Played in the rain
65. Gone to a drive-in theater
66. Visited the Great Wall of China
67. Started a business
68. Fallen in love and not had your heart broken
69. Toured ancient sites
70. Taken a martial arts class
71. Played D&D for more than 6 hours straight
72. Gotten married
73. Been in a movie
74. Crashed a party
75. Gotten divorced
76. Gone without food for 5 days
77. Made cookies from scratch
78. Won first prize in a costume contest
79. Ridden a gondola in Venice
80. Gotten a tattoo
81. Rafted the Snake River
82. Been on television news programs as an “expert”(No, but I have fleetingly appeared in a television news programme more than once)
83. Got flowers for no reason
84. Performed on stage
85. Been to Las Vegas
86. Recorded music
87. Eaten shark
88. Had a one-night stand
89. Gone to Thailand
90. Bought a house
91. Been in a combat zone
92. Buried one/both of your parents
93. Been on a cruise ship
94. Spoken more than one language fluently
95. Performed in Rocky Horror.
96. Raised children
97. Followed your favorite band/singer on tour
98. Created and named your own constellation of stars
99. Taken an exotic bicycle tour in a foreign country
100. Picked up and moved to another city to just start over
101. Walked the Golden Gate Bridge
102. Sang loudly in the car, and didn’t stop when you knew someone was looking
103. Had plastic surgery
104. Survived an accident that you shouldn’t have survived.(No but I have come through things once or twice where I should have been injured, and in one incident narrowly avoided being disfigured for life)
105. Wrote articles for a large publication
106. Lost over 100 pounds
107. Held someone while they were having a flashback
108. Piloted an airplane
109. Petted a stingray
110. Broken someone’s heart (I hope not!)
111. Helped an animal give birth (too many to mention)
112. Won money on a T.V. game show
113. Broken a bone
114. Gone on an African photo safari
115. Had a body part of yours below the neck pierced
116. Fired a rifle, shotgun, or pistol (firing at empty cans with pellet gun on school trip and clay pigeon shooting at Christian summer camp)
117. Eaten mushrooms that were gathered in the wild
118. Ridden a horse (led during a school fete more like)
119. Had major surgery
120. Had a snake as a
121. Hiked to the bottom of the Grand Canyon
122. Slept for more than 30 hours over the course of 48 hours
123. Visited more foreign countries than U.S. states (12 at last count)
124. Visited all 7 continents
125. Taken a canoe trip that lasted more than 2 days
126. Eaten kangaroo meat
127. Eaten sushi
128. Had your picture in the newspaper
129. Changed someone’s mind about something you care deeply about (Who can say! I know the reverse has happened)
130. Gone back to schoo
l131. Parasailed (Have absailed though! Terrifying!)
132. Petted a cockroach
133. Eaten fried green tomatoes
134. Read The Iliad - and the Odyssey
135. Selected one “important” author who you missed in school, and read
136. Killed and prepared an animal for eating
137. Skipped all your school reunions
138. Communicated with someone without sharing a common spoken language
139. Been elected to public office
140. Written your own computer language
141. Thought to yourself that you’re living your dream
142. Had to put someone you love into hospice care
143. Built your own PC from parts
144. Sold your own artwork to someone who didn’t know you
145. Had a booth at a street fair
146: Dyed your hair
147: Been a DJ
148: Shaved your head (well I had my head shaved, not all the hair off mind, but short enough to "Just released political prisoner" short for charity in my last year at Uni)
149: Caused a car accident
150: Saved someone’s life

Conservative Blues

(The amount of times that pun has been used! ;) )
So David Cameron is seven months into his post as Leader of the Opposition and some of the media have been looking at him with interest, and in some cases hope!
This is understandable, if you are a Tory! After all they have now lost three general elections in a row, have slowly realised that their politics need to change if they are to be re-elected to office, they have gone through leader after leader and they are starting to feel desperate.
So with someone so revolutionary, so dynamic as Cameron how are things going!
Well not too well if he expects to be the next Prime Minister but one. The opinion polls may say one thing (but then the opinion polls did well for Labour on occasion during the 1980s), but scraping through in the otherwise safe Conservative seat of Bromley, getting lukewarm support from the Daily Mail, indiscreet e-mailing from his PPS, problems with the A'list, and now senior Conservative MP Edward Leigh getting his paces for a verbal punch up does not bode well for Mr. C
Ah well David, there is always the holiday season! Perhaps a holiday in Norway with the huskies!

(Press Association)


Plus I don't think hiding behind a plant is going to help either! ;)

Missing Doctor Who already!

(BBC Online)
Well on the digital radio channel, BBC 7 are broadcasting the Eighth Doctor audio story, Shada
Written by Douglas Adams, it was originally made during the Tom Baker era, although a technicians strike towards the end of filming meant that the story got shelved and became the only filmed Doctor Who story not to make it to the screen (although a couple of scenes wre used for the twentieth anniversary special, The Five Doctors when Tom Baker refused to appear and the story was later released on video with Tom Baker narrating through the missing links).
That said, a few years ago a company called Big Finish started making new audio adventures of the series and one of those made was Shada.(Although they had to slightly rewrite it, taking into account the scenes used in The Five Doctors and made out that this was Paul McGann's Doctor, fresh from his adventures in San Francisco, meeting up with Romana and K9 before setting off to 1970s Cambridge (where some of the events take place)) The Doctor Who website has been broadcasting it for a while now and you can find it here.
If you want to see a Doctor Who story written by Douglas Adams that involves Cambridge, cups of tea, an in-joke with regards to a Hitchhikers character, K9, a Time Lord's prison planet, a TARDIS (Not the Doctor's) disguised as a... (Now to mention more would be a spoiler)
Then I warmly recommend it.