Thursday, November 30, 2006

Casino Prague! ;)

(Prague Tory)
Prague Tory has been blogging about two interesting subjects in the last few days.
The first is about the Slovakian Young Conservatives, following a request from Conservative Home. The second is about the board games night that took place on Tuesday in Prague.
Now given the recent popularity of the new James Bond film, and that Prague Tory has blogged on this, I am wondering if this has fired his imagination. I mean, he is involved with the Conservative Party in the area. Could it be that he has been inspired by the activities of Le Chiffre to use these mini tournaments as a way of making money for the Conservative Party? ;)
Someone from Labour should be James Bond and wipe him out over games of chess and backgammon, but who is up to this and who will skillfully avoid getting beaten in more ways than one!

BBC Vacancy

Following Michael Grade's departure, it would be nice to see David Dimbleby get the job. The family and the corporation almost go hand in hand and rather safe pairs of hands too!

The Evil That People Do!

It amazes me in this corrupt and cynical world that I still get shocked at such things, suffice to say that general disbelief and cold anger is my main reaction! The people who are responsible (whoever they are) have not only damaged and strained international diplomatic relations, but are potential mass murderers! What especially sticks is that I suspect that they don't give a s**t, they just put thousands of innocent lives at risk just to make a nasty and vindictive political point. Well they will get a very nasty shock because we will find out who is responsible, even if we cannot conclusively prove it!

Mamma Mia! An ABBA Museum!

(BBC Online)
First John Lennon, now ABBA! What next, Status Quo?
Seriously though, I am a fan of ABBA (If a minor and deliberatley low key one) and after what they have done for the Swedish export industry, they have deserved this!
Just looking forward to a museum dedicted to Queen, but then again I Want It All! ;)

Depressing Thursday Mornings!

Not good when you read that Gordon Brown's younger son has cystic fibrosis (although the Chancellor is upbeat , which is good). Or indeed that 18 Doughty Street was the victim of a crime wave! Which is rather unfair, esp given all the hard work they put into that station that they have these kind of incidents hanging over them!
We may be on opposite sides of the political spectrum Iain and Tim, but on 18 Doughty Street matters I am a firm believer in what you are doing. Chin up and perhaps you could hire Ann Widdecombe as a Security Guard when she has evenings off. That should intimidate most hooligans! ;)
With regards to Gordon Brown and his family, my thoughts and prayers go to them. They may feel isolated and alone at times, but I can assure them that they have the love and support of many people up and down the country!

The Irritation of Our Tune

(Wikipedia.org)
INT. RADIO STATION. SIMON BATES READING INTO A MICROPHONE, A LETTER IN HIS HAND. PLAYING ON THE CD IS THE SCORE OF FRANCO ZEFERELLI'S 1968 FILM, ROMEO AND JULIET.

SIMON BATES (For it is he): This weeks letter is from a young man called Paul. Paul doesn't listen to music stations much, but one of them is Chiltern FM. One of the programmes being a five minute segment called Our Tune, a mawkish piece that yours truly once did on Radio 1 and now broadcasts on the illustrious station that is Chiltern FM.
Well Paul and Chiltern have been involved for some fifteen years now. Rather intermittently of course, but the passion is reciprocated and appreciated.
Paul has one quibble with Chiltern though! It's their insistence of having an affair with Our Tune just about every single day. He is irritated by it and wants to remind Chiltern that, whilst it had many admirers when Our Tune had it's passionate affair with Radio 1, it was disliked by many as well and, as he says, for good reason.
For a start, whilst he understands and sympathises with the many who write in, telling of the horrible experiences they have had in their relationships, and some not so horrible, he feels that the style of Our Tune is, well, exploitative! He finds the choice of background music excessively OTT, and whilst he understands that other film scores, such as Jaws or Lethal Weapon would be worse, he feels that the Romeo and Juliet score is a bit wrong, allowance of copyright nowithstanding.
He also finds Bates's cheesy ads for the programme even more irritating, esp with his signature farewell line "Best have some tissues! (small chuckle) They may well come in handy!" as being a bit, well in bad taste. In all honesty Paul also states that Home Truths, as presented by John Peel, was somewhat better.
Finally, irrevocably, Paul signs off with an admission of guilt. He understands that whilst Simon Bates is annoying at times, he also comes across as a sensitive soul and kindly suggests he tries another brief daytime format, or perhaps a radical overhall of Our Tune!
But deep down in his heart he knows that Chiltern won't give up it's lover. The popularity and success of it is just too much! He feels like muttering Philistines, but instead continues with his work!
So, here for Paul, is the song he requested!

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Biblical Moments!

(US Library of Congress)
Was rather entertained (if that is the right word) by this piece from Harry's Place the other day.
Thing is, I know how he feels. There are moments when I am a bit tired and fed up and finding myself facing a theological argument and just wanting to avoid the issue and therefore sometimes cutting the conversation short and changing the subject. And like everyone else, a lot of Christians like me have the occasional family row, hear the doorbell go and see two smartly dressed JW's or Mormons on the doorstep and think "This is all I need right now!", switch on the polite smile and say something along the lines of "Thanks but no thanks!"
I am happy to have conversations about God and Jesus (obviously :) ), I am happy to talk about deep and meaningful things, but we are all human and there are times when I don't think it's the time or the place. I also don't like being treated like "evangelism fodder" (In the loose sense of the word) and neither, I might add, would I want to do the same to other people.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Blogging Moderation!

I welcome the concerns laid out here, but I am sure I shall be forgiven if I mention some of my own.
Many bloggers that I have seen, not all but many, are good at self regulation and are no less opinionated in public as many newspaper columnists. For such a code of practise to come forward will cause no end of headaches for many decent law abiding bloggers and many will feel like there is someone watching over their shoulder when there is no need for it.
That said, I appreciate that something does need to be done, I simply ask that those concerned are mindful of the various problems this raises for many decent people in the blogging community.

The Nasty Party Strikes Again!

Hat tip to Alex for this!
Some free advice to David Cameron, as he likes to think of himself as a Tory Blairite! In the Labour Party, if an MP, MEP, MSP,Councillor etc.. said this, their career would be over! The Conservatives can say that this is the voice of the Tory Past, but when a prominent Tory MP says this and fails to apologise and is not disciplined, then it is the voice of the present!

Birmingham

(Wikipedia.org)
Further from my previous posting mentioning the city, if you have never been to Birmingham I very much recommend the place. It has some interesting history, a lovely museum and gallery, and it is always worth visiting Symphony Hall. There are also some lovely coffee houses and resturants and in the past fifteen years or so, the city has had a considerable facelift for the better. The archetecture of the University is superb and at this time of year they have a lovely German themed Christmas market in Chamberlain Square, so if you will be in the area in the coming weeks, take a look!
Right, that's my travellog piece done! ;) Seriously though, take a look!

Monday, November 27, 2006

The Blogging Deputy!

(BBC Online)
Further to my last posting on this bit of fun, the polls have closed, and with 52 votes, the verdict given!
Yes folks, the evidence seems to suggest that about 2 in 5 readers of Labourhome voted for Luke Akehurst!
Kerron seems to be a bit peeved about his low standing in the Polls ;), although with a second ballot under the rule of dividing no of candidates against votes cast, he would scrape through this one. I was surprised though, not at Luke and Antonia doing well, I expected that, but how low some of the others did and Bloggers4Labour supremo Andrew Regan not getting a single vote!
Ah well, there is always another day! ;)
UPDATE: Apparently the polls are still open, so if haven't voted yet, you are more than welcome to do so! :)

Casino Royale - The Verdict!

(Danjaq LLC,United Artists,Columbia Pictures)
Very, very good!
A lot of people who haven't seen the film know this, so I am not throwing any spoilers by saying that some radical changes to the structure of the Bond movies. No opening gunbarrel (although you see why before long), no Q (although he never featured in Live and Let Die) or Moneypenny. The whole franchise given a reboot so that you see Bond starting out as a Double 0, as opposed to being the hardened veteran as portrayed by all the previous Bonds! It was very brave of the Producers to do this and it could have damaged a film franchise going back two generations, and yet it works! I liked Pierce Brosnan but I could not see him as Bond in this! And yet Daniel Craig manages to put a stamp on his place as Bond in just one film where it took Connery and Moore three, Brosnan two, and Lazenby and Dalton never quite pushing their claim even though they are both good in their own way! Daniel Craig IS James Bond in this! He manages to capture all of Bond's facets of character as portrayed in the Fleming novels (and that takes some doing) managing to capture the original blueprint in a way that none of the others managed, even though some got very close!
The plot has a no of twists and is superb. No meglomaniac villain wanting world domination, although the villains here are a menace who must be stopped and, it is suggested in this, helped finance 9/11! My one quibble is that it is very violent in parts, although those scenes have been shown in clips already. Put it this way, blokes wouldn't want to stand next to Daniel Craig in a urinal, nor would they want to sit on a wicker chair in the immediate future, and you can forget about trying to get immunity at a foreign embassy!
The girls! Well Eva Green as Vesper Lynd is one of the best characters written. Some Bond girls give as good as they get (Tracy in On Her Majesty's Secret Service, Melina in For Your Eyes Only, Jinx in Die Another Day, Octopussy in er, Octopussy), and Vesper definetly stands among them.
If you are a Bond fan, go and watch it, you won't be disapointed. If you are not, still go and watch it because this is one with a difference.
Oh and one more thing! Some fans know that Co-Producer and Cubby Broccoli's stepson, Michael Wilson, has had a Hitchcock like Cameo in every Bond film from Moonraker onwards (bar A View to a Kill), this one, where he plays the "Chief of Police" is one to bring a smile to your face. Another cameo is that of Richard Branson at Miami Airport, although blink and you will miss him!
One of the very best ones, definetly!

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Weekend Break

Right, I am going up to Birmingham to see S and won't be back until Monday. However, expect a review on the new Bond movie, Casino Royale, when I return!

Friday, November 24, 2006

Popular Blogs at Bloggers4Labour (Week 20)

Don Paskini ... (1st) (+1)

Ministry of Truth ... (2nd) (NEW)

Labour Humanists ... (3rd) (-)

Bob Piper ... (4th) (+3)

KERRON CROSS - The Voice of the Delectable Left ... (5th) (NEW)

Tygerland ... (6th) (NEW)

Jo's Journal (NEW), Jon's union blog (-), Let's be sensible (NEW)... (7th =)

Fair Deal Phil (-), John4Leader (NEW) ... (10th =)

J'Accuse

(AFP)

It was sad, but inevitable I suppose, that Alexander Litvinenko died last night.
But it was not before he denounced those he claimed were responsible, and yet I honestly don't think we are any closer to knowing who was. It goes without saying that whoever did decide to assasinate him knew exactly that it would be difficult to detect the poison, that it would be a painful death, and that they themselves would not get caught!
For me, the suspects are down to three. Either a) The FSB was responsible, with or without Putin's aquiessence or b) it was the work of a possible dissident rival or c) (possibly mingled with b) ), it was the work of person or persons wanting to discredit the Russian government and in particular the FSB!
If it was a) then not only was it an evil and immoral act, but also downright stupid, because those assasinated invariably end up martyrs. Al Qaeda recognise this and that it why they prize the culture of death so much! Litvinenko's death will also shed an unfavourable light on them and affect some of their standing in world affairs, peacemeal by peacemeal.
If it was b and/or c, then they will not have been all that clever and, rest assured, they will probably slip up before long and get caught.

The latest in Northern Ireland

(BBC Online)

You hope, you pray, you want to see lasting peace and rejoice when significant progress occurs, and yet when incidents like these happen, you are shocked and yet somehow you are not altogether surprised!

Noel Doesn't Want a Deal!

Noel Edmonds has stated he will quit if his bosses insist that Deal Or No Deal has celebrity specials!
Which is interesting considering he was once a contestant on The Adventure Game, although that always had celebs from the world of Children's TV!
Come on Noel, I see your point, but there are advantages, such as charities benefitting, as in the celeb versions of Who Wants to be a Millionaire?
Incidentally there is currently a poll on the BBC Website, asking readers to vote for their favourite Saturday morning kids programme from the late seventies/early eighties. Not sure who to vote for, although I did marginally prefer Swap Shop

Monopoly

(Wikipedia.org)
I love board games in general, don't ask me why but I do! And whilst my favourites are Trivial Pursuit and Chess (if you count the latter as a board game), I find myslef playing Monopoly with the family more often than not.
Now Jonathan Chilvers Top Ten list of things he would never do has reminded me of how I tend to approach the game. The thing is it is a bit of a machavellian game where the aim is to bankrupt and financially pulverise your opponents in the property market. (Put simply it's not a game I can imagine the Redgrave family (well Vanssea and Corin) playing during the Christmas festivities) So how do I approach this!
Well when I am not frantically trying to buy as many properties near Mayfair as I can and trying to grab control of the railway stations at the first oppurtunity, I follow the Jonathan Bartley principle.
In one of his books, Bartley states that one Christmas he started a new approach. He brought few properties, he made sure he kept hold of his money, and indeed started bailing out other players who were in trouble, who in turn helped him. Understandably this annoyed some of the other players who wanted to win and win well and, well monopolise the game!
It does work however, gains you respect and you do well in the game, if not always win. The trick is to remember your own rules, not get nervous as you see threats to your position, and not worry about losing!
So clearly this approach is not going to be popular! :/

Thursday, November 23, 2006

More Anniversaries

(Arthur Strong)
As Cally's Kitchen has reminded me. Yesterday also saw the anniversary of the death of C.S. Lewis (in fact both C.S. Lewis and Aldous Huxley died on the very same day as JFK), and although Lewis's death wasn't quite unexpected (he suffered from various ailments in the last few years of his life and had a massive heart attack during the summer of 1963), his loss in regard to his contribution to Christian apologetics is still felt today. BTW If you ever wondered what the creator of the Narnia stories sounded like, here is a recording of C.S. Lewis describing each of the four words of love in Greek: Introduction to The Four Loves (which can be found at the C.S. Lewis site Into the Wardrobe )
On a more shallow and happier note however, today is the anniversary of the broadcast of the first ever episode of Doctor Who, so below is an except (courtesy of YouTube) is a short scene from the first ever episode

Vox Pops Part XIV

The Cross and British Airways

I did blog on this a day or to ago, but I wasn't happy with my take on it, or rather how I presented my argument, so I scrubbed it. However Andrew at WongaBlog has put the argument I follow rather well!

FSB/KGB

It's all dicey and we need to look carefully, but if in doubt over these cases (as a Journalist put it the other day) Qui Bono! President Putin was recently in the middle of a summit meeting, if he was behind this, would he really want the finger pointed at him during this time? Because, let's face it, the Russian governmentt would always be prime suspects in such a case. Mind you, if it was due to some radicals in the FSB I would not be surprised!

Liberal Democrat advertisment?

Spending most of my time during the 2005 general election knocking on doors, leafleting, arranging campaign packages for local wards in Hemel Hempstead, I didn't catch this ad (courtesy of YouTube). Does anyone know anything about it, and if it is a genuine ad by the Liberal Democrats then I am disgusted for two reasons.

1) It plays a "holier than thou" image in compariosn to the other main parties on the NHS, and yet by doing this they have made themselves hypocrites!

2) I can see it is meant to be funny, but I for one would never accuse individual Tories or Lib Dems about not caring about the NHS, even though I would argue as to the merits of their own solutions.

The Dale challenge: 10 things I would never do

Paul Linford has been tagged by Iain to list 10 things he would never do. In turn Paul has tagged me.

So here goes.

10) Take drugs (well not illegal ones anyway)

9) Visit the following willingly (North Korea, Burma, Afghanistan, Iraq, Iran, Las Vegas)

8) Bungee Jump

7) Swim with sharks

6) Get into a punch up

5) Get a tattoo

4) Do stand up comedy (although I admire many who do)

3) Commit suicide

2) Join the Conservatives or Lib Dems

1) Abandon my faith

Tagging: The Moderators of Fisking Central, Cally's Kitchen, Jo, Tim, Skuds, Lisa Rullsenberg, Miranda, any blogger named Andrew, Louise, Prague Tory, Jonathan.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Birthday Meme

I have been tagged to do the following by Cally's Kitchen

The instructions:

1) Go to Wikipedia
2) In the search box, type your birth month and day but not the year.
3) List three events that happened on your birthday
4) List two important birthdays and one death
5) One holiday or observance (if any)

Here are mine:

Three things that happened on my birthday

1399 - Henry IV is proclaimed King of England.

1949 - The Berlin Airlift ends

1967 - BBC Radio 1 is launched; the BBC's other national radio stations also adopt numeric names. Tony Blackburn presents the first show.

Two important birthdays and one death

1924 - Truman Capote, American author (d. 1984)

1945 - Ehud Olmert, twelfth Prime Minister of Israel.

1955 - James Dean, American actor (automobile accident) (b. 1931)

Holidays and Observations

RC Saints - Saint Jerome

Botswana - Independence Day (1966)

São Tomé and Príncipe - Agricultural Reform (Nationalization) Day

French Republican Calendar - Panais (Parsnip) Day, ninth day in the Month of Vendémiaire

Tagging:- Kerron, The Moderators of Fisking Central, Jo, Iain, Tim, Paul Linford, Miranda, any blogger named Andrew, Louise, Prague Tory, Jonathan.

John F. Kennedy: A Tribute

As some of you know, today is the anniversary of the death of John F. Kennedy, 35th President of the United States.

It's fair to say that, in spite of their misdemeanors, both President Kennedy and his brother Robert (in fact I am more of a fan of Bobby Kennedy) are political heroes of mine. Not only for their successes (such as standing up to the Russians during the Cuban Missile Crisis, pushing forward civil rights in the American South, creating the Peace Corps, and signing the Test Ban Treaty), but also for what they aimed for. Kennedy's comment during his inaugural speech "And so, my fellow Americans: ask not what your country can do for you — ask what you can do for your country." is one of my favourite political quotes, because it describes in a nutshell how I feel about what society should be like!

So above, is a small tribute in memory of one of America's best Presidents, courtesy of YouTube. Incidentally, Monday would have seen Robert Kennedy's 81st birthday, so here, you can read a small piece I wrote on him earlier this year.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Twenty Questions to a Fellow Blogger Part XIX: Paul Linford

(Paul Linford)
As Paul states on his blog, he is an ex Parliamentary Lobby Journalist who now works in digital media management. He left Westminster in 2004 for "a better quality of village life", and now lives in Derbyshire with his wife and son.

What made you decide to start blogging?

The fact that the technology became available! I think blogging is a medium that suits me, in the sense that I’m a bit of an opinionated git and also that I’m not afraid to share aspects of my private self, so once it became technologically possible it was probably inevitable I would take it up.

What is your best blogging experience?

Being named in Iain Dale’s Top 10 Political Blogs. My traffic doesn’t come close to justifying such an accolade so it must have been down to the quality of the writing/analysis. Unlike many at the top of their professions, Iain is very generous to bloggers less successful than himself. He’s a top man.

And your worst?

Undoubtedly the worst thing about blogging is getting abusive personal comments from anonymous posters, or anonymongs as they are commonly known. I don’t mind people having a pop at me, but to do so anonymously, and in a way that plays the man rather than the ball, is just plain cowardly.

What do you regard as your best blog entry?

Any that get linked to by Iain Dale as it invariably doubles my stats overnight!

Favourite blogs?

There are so many good blogs around it’s hard to single them out. Iain Dale is still up there, Dizzy Thinks has a growing reputation for breaking stories, The Daily regularly has good inside stuff on Labour, and Tim Ireland’s Bloggerheads is quite frequently a work of genius. But the two blogs really setting the agenda on the two big stories of the moment are Political Betting.com on the Labour leadership and Guido Fawkes on cash for peerages.

What do you feel you learnt the most about the political process through being a lobby correspondent?

Basically, I had a ringside seat at some of the great political dramas of our time. Two weeks after joining the Lobby for the South Wales Echo in 1995, the Welsh Secretary John Redwood resigned to challenge John Major for the Tory leadership. Later on, when I moved to the Newcastle Journal, we had a Labour Cabinet stuffed full of North-East MPs. It gave me a way in to major national stories like the resignations of Mandelson and Byers and it is fair to say I took full advantage of that.

Over time, I did become very disillusioned at the degree of news management exercised by New Labour, and how frankly peripheral the regional papers were to all that. The name of the game was to set the news agenda for the day, and key to that was to get a story in the nationals which would then be followed up by the Today Programme. That did piss me off a lot, because the regional press had given Labour a much fairer hearing in opposition when the national press by and large regarded them as unelectable. And they basically sold us right down the river.

All said and done, though, I loved being Political Editor of The Journal, it was the best job in regional journalism in my view. I agonised for about a year over whether to give it up, but in the end it was simply no longer compatible with the kind of family life I wanted to lead.

Is village life better, worse, or the same than you expected?

I don’t have any regrets at all about leaving London, or the Lobby. I first moved to Belper in the late 1980s and kept my house on here all the time I was in Westminster. I always wanted to come back here to live and knew deep down that one day I would, irrespective of what happened in my career.

How do you define your political neutrality and do you find it tough i.e. a temptation to consistently attach yourself to a political party?

While it is true that I don’t attach myself to a particular political party, I wouldn’t claim to be politically neutral. I make no bones about being on the “progressive” wing of politics and an Paul Linford is an unashamedly left-of-centre blog.

It’s unlikely I will ever consistently attach myself to a party, for the simple reason that there isn’t one that comes close to encompassing my views. If there was a political party that was both economically progressive and socially conservative, as I am, I would probably join it, but there isn’t, and as far as I can see there isn’t ever likely to be.

That said, I do attach myself from time to time to political personalities I admire, such as Gordon Brown. I genuinely hope he does become Prime Minister, because I think he is a good man with a strong commitment to social justice. It doesn’t mean I am about to go and join the Labour Party though.

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

The Grand Canyon. But travelling isn’t a particular obsession of mine. Whenever my wife and I discuss holiday plans, I always want to go back to the Lake District again!

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

New Zealand. My wife Gill and I made the mistake of going there for two and a half weeks in 2003 when we really should have bitten the bullet, jacked in our jobs and gone for six months. One day I hope we’ll go back there and do it properly.

Do you have a favourite political figure in history?

My political heroes growing up were Denis Healey and Tony Crosland. It is a tragedy
that neither of them ever got to be Labour leader. The recent history of the left in this country might have been very different if they had.

Which figure has been your greatest inspiration?

In journalism, Harold Evans, editor of the Sunday Times in its glory years from 1967-81. Reading it as an idealistic teenager showed me just what a huge force for good journalism could be, and part of me still thinks that.

In life generally, my grandad George Cox, who died when I was 12. He worked as a civil servant in the Treasury and was offered the OBE when he retired but turned it down, saying people shouldn’t get gongs just for doing their jobs.

In my Christian life, the evangelist David Watson. I never heard him preach but his books underpinned my faith in its early years.

Favourite Bond movie?

Die Another Day, I think, but more because Toby Stephens makes such a great villain than because Pierce Brosnan was a great Bond.

Favourite Doctor Who?

I thought Christopher Eccleston did a great job, but I’ll show my age and say Jon Pertwee.

Chocolate, vanilla, or mint?

Chocolate, especially Green & Black’s Organic.

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

Like quite a few sad old gits who grew up in the 70s, I would love to see the classic Genesis line-up of Peter Gabriel, Steve Hackett, Tony Banks, Phil Collins and Mike Rutherford back on stage together. There are persistent rumours that it will happen, but they never seem to come to anything.

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

Well, on the off-chance that it might contain a decent real ale pub that isn’t full of students, I’m tempted to say Barsby.

Favourite national newspaper?

The Guardian, because it is the only one with a genuinely progressive worldview. But its republicanism, political correctness and naked hostility towards biblical Christianity regularly drives me to despair. I have the same problem with newspapers as I do with political parties – there is no newspaper that is both economically progressive and socially conservative.

What would you say your hobbies were?

Cookery, gardening, DIY and fellwalking. I am at my happiest either when putting together a four-course meal for close friends, or when out walking in the hills. Part of the reason I left London was to do more of that.

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

Songs:

101 Eastbound – Fourplay. Whenever I hear this, all seems right with the world.

Blood on the Rooftops – Genesis. Easily the best thing they ever did.

Thieves Like Us – New Order. Immense.

Books:

Watership Down, by Richard Adams. I still re-read this every five years or so.

A Pictorial Guide to the Lakeland Fells, Vol 4 - the Southern Fells, by A. Wainwright. This has given me so much pleasure down the years.

The Art of Captaincy, by Mike Brearley. Quite simply the best sports book ever.


O.J.'s plans cancelled!

(AFP)
Well at least that's something, although I can't undertsnad why they agreed to this in the first place. Well I can, money has an effect on people, but I am saddened at just how crass people can be!

Monday, November 20, 2006

Oi Ref! See the video playback!

I am no Arsenal fan, but Wenger is right. I have always felt that, given the shape of football stadiums, the crowd (and to a greater extent those watching at home) can see more of what is going on on the pitch than the Referee! I am equally sure that some of the contentious decisions that are made by Refs are made in good faith because of the said person's inhability to see everything that goes on the pitch.
Apart from those decisions made when Leicester City play and those decisions are not made in their interests, obviously ;)

Concern Over Christian Unions..

The CU I went to at Uni, well it was then, tended to be evangelical and conservative. I don't think any of us were that political, although those of us in the leadership did attend Student Union AGM's and, like all such groupings, there were different shades of opinion within the CU!
So I am a little concerned, to put it mildly, that there appear to be attempts to ostrasize Christian Unions! More can be found on the TimesOnline. (Hat tips to Cally's Kitchen , Iain Dale, and Archbishop Cramner)
Now I will agree to my shame, that some CU's are arrogant, stupid, and ignorant, but from first hand I can state that a lot of this comes from fear and defensiveness and this kind of action will only encourage that. To be fair though, a lot of Student Unions can equally be arrogant, intolerant, bigoted and ignorant, and I am sure a lot of that comes from fear and defensiveness as well. Some of this is down to a perception that Christian Unions are homophobic, so those who agree with these moves against University Christian Unions should ask themselves why someone like Iain Dale, who is gay and very comfortable with his sexuality, is quick to defend the right for a Christian Union to exist! Yes many evangelical christians do not agree with homosexuality and some of this is down to sheer ignorance about what it means to be gay. But many of those are simply trying to equate their experiences of life with Biblical teaching and, in spite of their tactlessness and ignorance, would be among the first to leap to the defence of any gay person they felt was being actively persecuted, because they have the maturity to tell the difference between inclination and practice even if they cannot understand how awful and difficult it is to be attracted to someone and not to act on those feelings! Wouldn't it be better to discuss these issues with them in an atmosphere of mutual respect and trust, rather than each side trying to do the other down! When I was at University, Tammy and I developed this intruiging atmosphere of regard and trust for each other, where I could talk about what being a Christian meant to me and she could mention what being gay meant to her, and how we both felt about fitting in society, without fear of judgement and we both benefitted from that.
And Iain has a point about Islamic societies! When I was involved in an evangelism drive at University! I heard some of the most bigoted comments ever to come from a students mouth was from a radical muslim! It was so bad I wonder where he is now and whether he was one of those who went to help Al Qaeida! But of course, it's easier to pick on Christians who are well meaning, but crassly insensitive at times, opposed to those who might incite violence against you if you cross them!

UPDATE: Thanks to Gregg and Jonathan (see comments) for clarifying the situation

Fantasy Labour Deputy leadership

Via Labourhome, which Labour blogger would be your ideal deputy!

According to this Narnia Quiz



Not sure about this, but still. Better than being Jadis, or Miraz!

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Milton Friedman R.I.P.

(Getty Images)
I have never been much of a fan of Friedman, but coming from a left of centre person like me that's like stating that the Pope is Catholic, and therefore I don't think he had the right answers. That said I think his place as a respected economist is much deserved, alongside the likes of John Maynard Keynes (who is my economic hero, but for the fact that his policies worked only in the short term).
The world will be a bit more dull without him!

George W. Bush and The Guardian

(AFP)
Well, well, well! I would like to be a fly on the wall whenever he reads it! ;)

Sunday Morning Dilemmas!

Am going to meet up with the delightful S in London today and with an hour to spare and all ready to go, I face a dilemma.
Do I update my blog, or succumb to the political delights of watching Sunday AM with Andrew Marr?
I catch the beginning of this and find that later in the programme he will be interviewing Henry Kissinger.
So as you can see, no contest!

UPDATE: That said, I have just caught the interview with Hilary Benn, who came across as moderate, thoughtful, and persuasive.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Labour Vs Conservatives

Via YouTube, this is just wierd!
Mind you the kid at the very end sounds just like a Young Conservative, or should I say member of Conservative Future! ;), and I did idly wonder what would be next! A paintball army game between Conservative and Labour Party bloggers on Channel 4! Although actually, if that were to happen, I would want to take part! ;)


Friday, November 17, 2006

Twenty Questions to a Fellow Blogger Part XVIII:Barry Beef

(Barry's Beef)
Barry Beef is the genius behind Barry's Beef, the first and only Bovine Blog. He started work at Parliament many moons ago on April Fools' Day. His blog focus primarily on issues of national importance: football; cricket; Eastenders and the like but despite this it has been categorised as a Labour Party blog. A modest Bull by nature Barry refuses to take money for these questions and is amazed that 20 Questions now requires more than 20 'yes' or 'no' answers

What made you decide to start blogging?

God told me to. No seriously, I got into reading blogs like Recess Monkey and thought the whole concept of blogging was pretty good, in that you can vent your spleen, try and be funny, push your own agenda and slag off whoever you want.

What is your best blogging experience?

Well being named #23rd best Labour blogger by a bloke I have never met must be pretty high up there. Outside of that, of course, there were the women, the fast cars, the drink, the drugs...you know. Let me put it this way, blogging is something I enjoy doing, not something that has given me great experiences. Yet.

And your worst?

Although I can't say it truly affected my mood not receiving a response to an email I sent to Winston Bogarde would stick out, so would the apparent lack of interest the bigwigs at Channel 4 seem to show for the resuscitation of Fifteen-2-One. Rest assured the campaign is ongoing.

What do you regard as your best blog entry?

How long you got? Seriously. I always liked this one, this one , this one - I also find it cathartic to blog about my feelings on nuclear weapons, racism, bigotry, Sion Simon, the Labour right (can't be bothered to find links) and Dianne Abbott pushing in on me in the lunch queue

Favourite blogs?

Recess Monkey is the best blogger around. Kerron's very good too. Outside of these I'd say have a look at the links bit on my homepage where they are listed. If I had to stick my neck out and pick a favourite it'd probably be Barry's Beef.

What inspired you to go into politics?

I never was particularly inspired and only flirted with inspiration, together with aspiration, briefly before the Local Elections. I think seeing the Brixton riots and the Miners' Strike in formative years must have contributed, especially the latter seeing crying, protesting and later broken people sticks in a kids memory and being born on the same day as Margaret Thatcher was elected PM serves as a mark more pronounced than that stain Gorby has on his head. At university I took to the readings of Marx, Robert Owen, Noam Chomsky, Eduard Bernstein and Tony Benn. Bernstein was the man. And my politics lecturer at university, Dr Whitemore, a true Labour man.

Football and cricket. If you could only play one of those, what would you choose?

Paul, it would be my dream come true to play for Sheffield Wednesday and England or Essex CCC and England. Whilst I love football and know more about it, I am a cricket obsessive; so cricket would snatch it. Although, knocking in the winning putt in the Ryder Cup would just about top the lot. Outside of cloud cuckoo land, it's all about darts and I'd love to play more (and better).

And are things getting better with the IT lot at the Commons?

Yeh loads better, I have spoken to them for a week now.

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

Jamaica

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

No Paul, I'm not much of a traveller. One of my bovine ancestor's once got into Noah's ark, so Mount Ararat for old times' sake.

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

What on earth makes you think you need to exclude Tony Blair? I do not regard him as the best British PM, but to be honest we are hardly spoiled for choice. I guess I'd say Attlee by default and hope Blair's successor will be the best. Otherwise you got to look at Churchill. Regardless of policy his war-time leadership marks him apart from others.

Which figure has been your greatest inspiration?

Mohammed Ali closely followed by Marcus Tudgay in the last month and a bit and Hawksbee and Jacobs as heard on Talksport 1-4 every weekday.

Favourite Bond movie?

From Russia with Love followed by Live and Let Die and the Living Daylights. The new ones's (since Goldeneye) have all been crap. I mean they're all right but they're not Bond, they're just gadgetry and running around.

Favorite Doctor Who?

Always thought Dr. Who was for fags and saddos

Chocolate, vanilla, or mint?

Depends for what? For toothpaste I'd always go for mint.

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

Now you're talking. The Small Faces; 10cc; New Order; Joy Division; the Clash; the Jam; INXS; Bob Marley and the Happy Mondays

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

Never heard of Barsby, sounds shit. Guess Cambridge. Second hand book shops are good.

Favourite national newspaper?

All crap. Actually, the Daily Express has a wonderful daily sports quiz.

What would you say your hobbies were?

proper sport, reading, seeing the girlfriend, movies, going pub, Eastenders, the War on Terror, taking the piss...

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

Even if you permitted the Bible and the Complete Works of Shakespeare I wouldn't take them. Shakespeare needs to be more urban and the Bible? Well I won't offend Paul, suffice to say I am neither a Believer nor a great fan of fiction.

Songs:Blue Monday - New OrderLove will Tear Us Apart - Joy DivisionLondon Calling - The Clash

Books:The Benn Diaries, I Married a Communist - Philip RothSharpe's Escape (perhaps the best Sharpe book of them all)

Popular Blogs at Bloggers4Labour (Week 19)

A bit more streamlined this week:


Antonia Bance ... (1st) (NEW)
Don Paskini ... (2nd) (+2)
Labour Humanists ... (3rd) (-1)
Thoughts of Chairperson Mikey ... (4th) (NEW)
The Daily ... (5th) (NEW)
Snedds Blog ... (6th) (NEW)
Bob Piper (+1), Harry's Place (NEW), Jon's union blog (-4)... (7th =)
Fair Deal Phil ... (10th) (NEW)

Some Vox Pops after looking at the BBC News website!

In brief!

Makes you think twice about what you write (gulp)!

What is it about people like this, that causes more shadenfreude than when a politician one dislikes falls from the dizzy heights?

I think it would be rather nice if Prince William does marry his Kate, but isn't this a tad premature?

Am aching to see Casino Royale, but paitence is a virtue and I would rather watch it with S.

Just what is it with Margaret "BNP stronghold!" Hodge! (Remember this!)

Limelight - Chaplin's masterpiece?

(Wikipedia.org)
I was at home yesterday morning and caught Limelight on one of the Sky movies channels!
Now I am not a Charlie Chaplin fan as such (I respect his comic timing, but his little tramp does not make me laugh), although I think The Great Dictator (his first talkie), is a work of genius for it's time, maybe the same can be said for his silent shorts, but that just shows how mainstream humour has changed!
But Limelight is a rarity for Chaplin, in that it is more drama than comedy, and the storyline of a washed up drunk helping a suicidal ballerina during the Edwardian music hall era may seem a little rusty, but it is well written, underplayed at the right measure, believeable, and Chaplin gives what I think is his best acting performance. The little tramp being just a faint echo in the music hall scenes! I also know of one or two people who are not Chaplin fans but love this film, so if you do get a chance do watch it!
Incidentally I have seen all of Chaplin's post tramp films, bar his last one, A Countess from Hong Kong, which apparently is not brilliant, but the fact that it's in colour and also stars Marlon Brando and Sophia Loren, so I would like to see it if only for the curiosity value!

Bloggers Christmas Social Part V

After a couple of hiccups, I have managed to book for fifteen at St Stephen's Tavern for 5PM on Sat 9th December. If you want to come along, don't worry as the booking figure is flexible, but it would obviously be a good idea to let me know!
Oh and thanks to Lisa Rullsenburg for plugging this! ;)

Thursday, November 16, 2006

OJ: If he did it!

(Hat tip to Fisking Central)

Maybe it's just me and my sensibilities, but doesn't this seem a little bit wierd, and also in rather bad taste any way you look at it!

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

The Heavyweights

(Press Association)
My fellow bloggers who are Conservatives will disagree of course and probably take the Monty Principle, but wasn't Blair good at the dispatch box today! Bringing out what successes Labour has made in the past decade, bringing home the reality of what politics and day to day government means, and referring to the well used experience the Labour leadership will have at the next general election!
I will confess though that David Cameron is good for entertainment value and is actually a nice guy. But be warned, he is also a tough and canny operator, the question remains though, is how long he can run the Conservative Party as a PR company!
BTW is it me, or does he look a bit jumpy in front of Gordon Brown. It's almost as if he wants to run away! ;)

Perceptions of Religion and Politics

(Albrecht Dürer)
It's not often that I feel I have to stand on a podium in a secular enviroment, complete with megaphone and declare in ringing tones "I am an unashamed evangelical Christian and I feel a little bit persecuted here!", the latter part of the sentence being of course, because I am English and I am therefore a bit nervous about mentioning that I feel persecuted!
But Sir Elton John's comments the other week did make me feel, well not so much persecuted, but rather annoyed (and that's because his comments on religion seemed contradictory and generalised. Just as it is wrong to generalise gays, I think it is wrong to generalise Christians). The persecuted bit is because it is another sign that I feel that if I and others of my ilk declare that we are Christians, there is the fear that this simple statement will translate in some people's minds as "I am a bigot, a fascist, and I will treat you as evangelism fodder and proceeed to spout Biblical chapter and verse at every given oppurtunity!" , because, strange as it may seem, most of us are normal human beings. We sleep, we wake, we sometimes swear (well some of us), support a football team with almost slavish devotion, enjoy having sex (well apart from those of us who are celibate for one reason or another obviously!), and those of us who are conservative minded when it comes to morals (and most of us are different); well a lot of us do happily vote Labour in the UK, Democrat in the US, Socialist in France etc.. (obviously each to their own country or else I have unwittingly unleashed a massive act of electoral fraud!) . Plus some of us have a suspicion that, when it comes to Democracy, God is not politically partisan!
Not all of us are swift to condemn, not all of us refuse to accept people as they are. For example I am not impressed by promiscuity, but, being human, I understand it and refuse to sit in judgement and finger point at those who are! And to break stereotypes even further, two friends of mine are a lesbian couple who are devout, and one of whom thinks that my sense of humour is a bit too liberal for her liking!
Put simply, evangelical and conservative Christians are varied, just like everyone else! What unites us is that we believe, are unashamed to believe and happily share what we believe for the simple reason that we believe that Christ died for our sins and rose again! And why do I write all this and feel embarrassed to do so! Well it is simply because I am a tad tired at all the sweeping statements that get made about Christians, esp those who are catholic and those who are evangelical, or even both! Strange as it may seem, fundamentalists like Pat Robertson, Jerry Falwell, and Richard Dawkins ( ;) ) get up our nostrils as well! But then it's okay for the rest of you, we have to forgive them, not least because we are called to, not least because we all need forgiving!

90 Days

This is said so often that it can be a cliche, and therefore taken at face value (a concern in itself), but it is true that freedom is precious, as is the rule of law, as is human dignity, as is the rights of the individual.
So it is with this in mind that I have real concerns about the idea of detention for 90 days without trial for terror suspects!
This is not to say that the issue doesn't have merits, as I have stated on the Labourhome site, but, like many people I have concerns. They may be inarticulate, they may be not well thought out, but they are there!
Because these kind of rulings can sometimes be part of a slippery slope, moving beyond the control of those who initally implemented these proceedures, taking us into areas not worth thinking about! Then again, I may be wrong (and sincerely I hope I am wrong), and that, if this becomes law and the said prisoners get full legal rights, such as the right to prepare a case, the right to contact others, weekly visits before Judges and the "Sunset Clause" etc.. then I may well be persuaded on the merits of the 90 Days without trial!
But I am very concerned and I am writing as someone who is generally very loyal to this government.
But hey ho, we shall know by tommorrow and they do say tommorow is another day!

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

More blog links

Given that I find myself increasingly reading their posts and that they have already links to my blog, I now included Don Paskini and Tygerland on the links sidebar, under (Political) (Labour)

UPDATE: Have also added the non partisan political blogger Paul Linford

New links

TheChristian Political Forum (Blog) and Christian Political Forum (Website) which I am involved with. They speak for themselves and please do take a minute or two to have a look.
Incidentally I am hoping to blog on the 90 Day detention issue within the next day or so, so watch this space. Plus some more Twenty Questions are in the pipeline!

Rumsfeld Out in the Open

(Associated Press)
Looks like the wolves are out, but if he is guilty, then he is not the only one!

Monday, November 13, 2006

Gerald Ford - Longest lived US President!

(Associated Press)

Yes he was a bit of a Nixon apologist, yes he never got to be elected Vice President or President (the only one not to do so in US history), yes there were accusations during his time in office that he was dumb (something familiar about that!), but I have always had a soft spot for him and am glad he is still alive and fairly well!

A Liberal Goes a Long Way!

Like Iain Dale, I enjoy the comments of Stephen Tall and so, at the risk of being flayed alive by Councillor Cross, have added another Liberal Democrat to my blogroll!

Remembrance Sunday

(RollofHonour.com)
As with last year I had to help open the local Methodist Church where I worship, and as with last year there were double the amount of people compared to the previous year. It does seem that there is an increase in people wanting to reflect on the sacrifices people made for us in wartime, which can only be a good thing!
During the two minutes silence a no of things tend to go through my head. The Wars themselves, those who died for our freedoms, but this year, what struck me was the fact that many people did, and continue to do, extraordinary things in war that they have never done before or, if they survive, will do afterwards. I thought of my Great Uncle Frank on my paternal grandmothers side of the family. During the First World War he was a motorcycle courier who frequently went through No Man's Land, and whilst he got shot in the jaw and died some twenty years later of cancer of the jaw, it is a miracle that he never got shot to death or blown to pieces!
I also think of people who joined the ARP or the Home Guard, and other forms of civil defence, during World War II (people like my grandfathers). Many of them had never seen a shot fired in anger and probably never will, and yet they were prepared to help defend their country if need be. I often say about the characters in the TV series Dad's Army that they may have been total amatuers, but that you could not doubt their bravery and determination and in real life there were, and are, amny people like that!

Bloggers Christmas Social Part IV

On saturday I went to book at The Coal Hole, only to find that because it was so busy last year, I had to use a booking form, as opposed to booking over the phone or in person (as I have tended to do with these things in the past), and put forward a booking charge of £5 per person, and to be fair (esp as I am expecting a fair few, and coming up to Christmas) I cannot afford that and it would be unfair to start demanding that guests cough up money a.s.a.p. So The Coal Hole is scrubbed!
But all is not lost, I also visited St Stephen's Tavern (where I have arranged to meet up with some friends a week before Christmas) and asked about bookings. I can just ring up apparently and book a table for x,y, and z amount of people (I mentioned how many were likely to turn up and whether that was okay). So this afternoon I will do just that. It will still be on Dec 9th and at 5PM though, unless otherwise stated!

Not the Nine O'Clock News on Sir Oswald Mosely!

If your sense of humour sometimes veers towards biting political satire and sarcasm, like mine does. Then you will love this Not the Nine O'Clock News sketch on Neo Nazi skinheads singing about the death of Sir Oswald Mosely (courtesy of YouTube). Totally takes the rip out of fawning obituaries in newspapers!

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Howard Dean!

Originally posted by me on Labourhome :

Is Howard Dean ideal to help Labour with the May elections?

tags: , , (all tags)
According to The Guardian, Howard Dean has been drafted in to advise the Labour Party on it's campaigns for the forthcoming May elections!Personally I am a bit wary of "Yee hah!" being hired, but given the recent changes in the way US Democrats have changed their campaigning style and targets, it might well be a good choice, and that, coupled with a forthcoming change of leadership may well make May a pleasant spring for Labour!In any case, what do you think?

The Borat Factor

(Getty Images)
In the past seventy two hours, the film Borat has offended the Russians (who have banned the film for insulting their neighbours), and two american students are going to sue the studio responsible for the film.
Now I don't want to be sued myself, but I do get the impression that the students anger is over being caught out on film, rather than anything else. I mean, how can anyone be duped into making sexist and racist comments?
As for the Russians! Well, less fuss, less ridicule, although I think that anyone who is taken in by characatures like Borat is....
Well I would add more, but, as I said, I don't want to be sued!

Twenty Questions to a Fellow Blogger Part XVII:Prague Tory

(Prague Tory)
Praguetory runs a political blog from his flat in Prague. He studied economics at Nottingham University but retains a deep interest in his home town of Birmingham. The picture is quite old, but Praguetory is currently dissuaded from posting a more recent picture because the road from anonymity to disrepute is a one-way street. His blog can be found here.



What made you decide to start blogging?

You’ve got me off to a partisan start, you bugger. It was Labour’s “worst week” (Prezza, Hewitt and Clarke) that switched me on to visiting political blogging sites. What precipitated my own blogging was a Saturday night out with some fairly apolitical friends who were complaining about mainstream media bias. I promised to send them a mail with some websites worth visiting for alternative views. It ended up being just as quick to set up a blog and that’s how it started.

What is your best blogging experience?

Being asked to do a Paul Burgin interview is a treasured moment.
The greatest high was early on, just before moving to Prague. Having set the blog up on a Sunday evening, I got a text from a friend on the Wednesday morning saying that I ought to get down to the newsagents. I had been quoted on page 2 of the Guardian for my views on the CSA. That shocked the family – me buying the Guardian that is.
Sorry to go on, but the contacts I have made through blogging transformed my experience of this year’s Conservative Conference. I particularly enjoyed spending time with Alan Drew, the editor of Prison Works and going to fringe events with Wat Tyler of Burning Our Money (including the Sieghart/Osbourne autistic interview).

And your worst?

Finding like-minded people on the blogopshere. I wanted to be original! Seriously, I sometimes get tempted to use blogs for personal attacks. I think I might have knocked Tom Watson for his IT problems a bit too much. The worst is ahead of me I am sure. Expressing my admiration for Enoch Powell later in this interview may draw some unwanted fire.

What do you regard as your best blog entry?

My ongoing land value tax series has attracted the most comments and in my biased opinion a high quality of debate. Paul, you might have enjoyed this wind-up post which me and Bob Piper combined on.

Favourite blogs?

Varies. They all go through purple patches and it sort of depends on mood doesn’t it? I use my blog as my starting point for browsing. I delete links I stop liking. Often, I enjoy going to blogs where I am likely to disagree. For those escapades I find Bob Piper fun and in recent weeks Tom Watson too. From my end of the political spectrum I always enjoy visits to The Croydonian for the breadth and depth of subject matter, his eloquent turn of phrase and the rich characters who contribute.

What made you join the Conservative Party?

I have always been a vocal Conservative Party supporter. Birmingham Ladywood council candidate, Peter Smallbone, asked me to (stop talking and) become a member. Playing a very small part in the Hounslow campaign in May where the Tories took control of the council for the first time in 36 years was pretty invigorating. Despite being a relatively recent recruit, I can’t imagine leaving.

What are you doing in Prague?

I’ll answer that question the other wrong way round. I’m not trying to find myself ;-) (Hat tip to
Kerron for the smiley)..

Are you a Cameronista or a Cameronskeptic?

I’m not going to give myself either of those labels. However, I regret not been vocal enough in supporting the Cameron style of leadership. As I think we need to be fighting on all fronts, I like the way that he has engaged with and energized Ian Duncan-Smith, William Hague and even John Redwood. Sure I have disagreements, but isn’t having people like me griping part of his strategy?

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

New York, Reykjavik and Singapore.

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

Backpacking around the Dominican Republic - unforgettable.

Do you have a favourite political figure in history?

I am fascinated by Enoch Powell, partly because he looked and spoke like some of my Black Country ancestors, partly because he was unfairly ostracized, but mostly because of his integrity, intellectualism and his ability to inspire. It’s down to people like him that the West Midlands didn’t emerge from the industrial age as a Tory wasteland. Do you like his quote “A politician who complains about the media is like a fisherman complaining about the sea”? I admire Richard Nixon, too. He is under-rated.

Which figure has been your greatest inspiration?

In the political world it used to be John Prescott, but recently my biggest inspiration has been Sion Simon. Due to his inspirational leadership, positive attitude and incredible achievements my greatest hero from the sporting world is the former Warwickshire cricket captain Dermot Reeve.

Favourite Bond movie?

This a real bloke test isn’t it? Octopussy is the one I’ve seen the most times and I’d still watch it again. Casino Royale recently finished filming in Prague. I’m looking forward to that one.

Favorite Doctor Who?

Tom Baker - the closest we have these days is Peter Ainsworth, I understand that Tennant is a Socialist (shudder).

Chocolate, vanilla, or mint?

I prefer mint-flavoured crisps.

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

Good question, dude. I like intimate gigs. A sometime friend watched Led Zeppelin play in a backroom of a country pub in the Midlands in the early 90s. That would have rocked.

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

Oxbridge towns are great to visit when you have friends there. I don’t. As with many other locations in Leicestershire, Barsby ends in “by” indicating Viking origin. It should be worth a visit. Barsby – is that the right answer?

Favourite national newspaper?

As we only get the Guardian and the FT on the same day here in Prague, I don’t read UK papers much at the moment. My favourites used to be the Times and the Sun, but I’m a little disturbed by the Murdoch press of late. I think he’s losing his touch. Do I sound like a grouch?

What would you say your hobbies were?

I’m a pretty strong chess player and play socially once a week. I like to think of myself as a pool shark (but I’m not) and play football most Fridays.

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

Firstly a 1966 classic from Bob Dylan – Just Like A Woman. Next up would be local heroes Judas Priest with a Touch of Evil and finally Seattle band Alice In Chains with Them Bones off the excellent Dirt album.
As I travel light, books are something I consume rather than treasure. For me the best books are ones you come back to, so here goes. Mandela’s “Walk To Freedom”, a business book called “Rainmaking – How To Attract New Clients” and my favourite childhood book, the Birmingham A to Z.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Popular Blogs at Bloggers4Labour (Week 18)

The weekly chart update of sorts here has been rebooted somewhat and now measures the list week by week and not the accumulation of votes, so as to make it more accurate (as far as one can be with these measurements)!

So the Top Ten popular blogs at Bloggers4Labour this week are:


Ministry of Truth ... (1st)
Labour Humanists ... (2nd)
Jon's union blog ... (3rd)
Don Paskini ... (4th)
Guardian News Blog, The Reporters: US mid-terms, Ridiculous Politics ... (5th =)
Bob Piper, Fisking Central, Mars Hill ... (8th =)

Ball in DUP's Court!

(BBC Online)
Can the DUP grasp the nettle and take the initative for power sharing? I appreciate that the thought of sharing govt.. with Sinn Fein is distasteful, and I empathise with that, but they have done it before and Sinn Fein have been slowly but surely moving beyond the path of terrorism!

Premier Relatives in the Jungle!

(Wikipedia.org)
First Carol Thatcher, now Lauren Booth! Who's next! Baroness Jay? Nicholas Soames? Terry Major Ball? Helena Bonham Carter? ;)

Birthday hits!

Via Jo, I have found out that the No 1 Single in the UK on the day I was born was Sailing by Rod Stewart !

Twenty Questions to a Fellow Blogger Part XVI: Tom Freeman

(Tom Freeman)
Tom Freeman, 29, grew up in a Labour family in Cambridge. Following a degree in psychology and philosophy, he now works on the editorial staff of a medical research charity in London. He started blogging this summer, at Freemania, and also contributes to Fisking Central.

What made you decide to start blogging?

Politics really grips me, but most people I know don’t feel the same way. So I wanted some way of venting all the stuff rolling around my head, and a blog seemed a good way of forcing myself to beat it into some sort of coherent shape. It means I don’t risk forgetting ideas I’ve had, and I get to find out whether they make sense to anyone else as well. Plus I like to be able to go through a more detailed argument than is usually feasible in conversation. The guys at Fisking Central can take a lot of credit (or blame) for getting me started.

What is your best blogging experience?

I can’t single out any one moment, but it’s always nice to get comments, and even more so when other people pick up on my posts on their own blogs. Ranting into the darkness has its attractions, but the feeling of being involved in a discussion with smart people is great.

And your worst?No disasters yet, but it’s still early days. It’s a constant source of frustration that I don’t have internet access at home. This means frantic typing during lunch breaks and spare moments at work, as well as trolling round coffee shops with my laptop, looking for some WiFi. Plenty of times I’ve wanted to blog about something interesting I’ve seen, but just not had the opportunity.

What do you regard as your best blog entry?

Tough call. Of my more serious analytical-type stuff, I’m still pretty pleased with this one on why the right doesn’t understand how vital the state is for a healthy, thriving society, as well as
another on how Labour should take on the Cameron Tories. But one that still really makes me smile is a post from my first week about my inept attempts to buy some sunglasses.

Favourite blogs?

That’s even tougher if you don’t just want a huge list. Normblog and Temperama have enough politics to draw me in, but enough other stuff to remind me that there really is more to life. Stumbling and Mumbling is a reliable source of bright ideas that would never have crossed my mind, and Butterflies and Wheels mixes intellect and invective very deftly. And Bloggers4Labour is indispensable. But there are many others.

Given your view of tabloid newspapers, which do you rate as the worst and how do you rate the others in comparison?

I try to ignore them! In terms of the blurring of news and comment, and the obsession with celebrity trivia, they’re all fairly rotten, really, including the Mirror (which does at least come nearer my own views than the others). I’d say that the worst are the Mail and then the Diana cult that calls itself the Express: they take themselves seriously in a way that the Mirror and the Sun don’t (their content is a bit weightier than the unashamed red-tops but it’s still pretty trashy). They have delusions of quality but they’re just lowbrow peddlers of hate, fear and consumerism – without even a sense of fun.

Do you feel blogging has changed anything in the world of media and politics?

In that it is a new medium and that many blogs are political, certainly. But I don’t think it’s yet had a huge influence on other media. Some stories have originated and then spread on blogs, working their way into the mainstream media with political consequences – the recent spat over Bernard Jenkin and Tory candidate selection, for instance. And it’s true that many traditional media outlets have set up blogs, the Guardian being a prime example. So as well as affecting their content, blogging is making them diversify what they do.But the beauty of the blogworld is the massive diversity of content providers, and as a result the major media players can’t really take it over as they might like to because there are so few of them. Sure, Comment is Free is worth a look, but it’s just one of 20 or 30 blogs I regularly check. Also, for a blog to be successful, it has to have an individual (or small team) who are personally committed to maintaining it – just commissioning online pieces from your regular columnists isn’t the same. I hesitate to class CiF as a blog as such.Blogging’s also having some effect on political campaigning (if not policymaking): you have David Cameron and his daft webcam, and John Cruddas seems to have cultivated an early following among Labour bloggers. But a good online operation is still not nearly enough to succeed – look at Howard Dean. Also, blogging is a very useful networking tool for activist groups, whether party-based or single-issue. (Who knows, it may play a part in democratising China in years to come!)

What’s the aim of Fisking Central?

I can’t speak for the others involved, but my attitude is that there’s a vast amount of sloppy, lazy, self-serving, dishonest, ill-informed, badly argued, rhetorically obese and morally malignant writing out there, much of it from sources that really ought to be able to do better. It’s a personal pleasure (and perhaps even a public service) to take a scalpel to it, cutting away the excess fat and the cancerous tissue until there’s nothing left. FC is the operating theatre. And now and again we try to be constructive as well…

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

Well, I’ve never been much of a traveller, but enough people I know have raved about Cambodia to whet my interest. And south-west Ireland sounds pretty good.

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

The first place I ever went abroad was Montaretto, a tiny little mountain village on the Gulf of Genoa. I was ten and I loved it. I could very happily spend a couple of weeks in that area again.

Do you have a favourite political figure in history?

Not really – partly because my Thatcher/Major education left me historically ignorant. But for demonstrating human fallibility and the limits of power (whether in fact or in legend), King Canute is well worth remembering.

Which figure has been your greatest inspiration?

I’m a magpie: I take bits of inspiration from all sorts of people, so there’s no single figure (and heroes will always let you down in some way). At various times, for various reasons, I’ve been inspired by Neil Kinnock, George Orwell, Tony Blair, Polly Toynbee, Robin Cook, David Aaronovitch, Amartya Sen and the ‘tank man’ with the carrier bags in Tiananmen Square. But most broadly, for encouraging me to think for myself and passing on an instinctive concern for the state of the world, my parents.

Favourite Bond movie?

I’m not a massive Bond fan, but I guess The Spy Who Loved Me (despite the naff tune) is great value for giving us Jaws.

Favourite Doctor Who?

Tom Baker: the scarf, the hat, the hair, the voice… the jelly babies!

Chocolate, vanilla, or mint?

Chocolate. Rich and dark.

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

Pulp, circa 1996.

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

I’ve spent most of my life in Oxford and Cambridge – put me down for Barsby. (Is there a pub?)

Favourite national newspaper?

Over many years, I’ve developed a mental blind spot that prevents me from blaming the Guardian for the quality of many of its commentators. I feel at home there.

What would you say your hobbies were?

When I’m not armchair politicking, I like to go running in the evenings (or, given my current dodgy knee, gentle walking). Films, books… look, I’m easily entertained – a pint with a few mates and I’m happy.

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

I reserve the right to change my mind, but today I think:Songs: My Baby Just Cares for Me by Nina Simone, The Warmest Room by Billy Bragg, and on the third Beatles Anthology there’s an early version of While My Guitar Gently Weeps, which is much simpler and purer than the White Album cut, and with an extra verse – hauntingly beautiful.

Books: The Hitch-Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams, The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoevsky, and His Dark Materials by Philip Pullman.