Saturday, August 30, 2008

The Democrat Convention of 2008

Well it has definetly been a memorable week in American politics, and a memorable convention for the Democrats, win or lose in Nov.
We have had the Clintons giving 110% support to Barack Obama, and reminding delegates who might overwise go to the Republicans in a strop that it is important to support Senator Obama and to see a Democrat in the White House in January, and therefore to put politics before pride and anger.
We have seen Senator Edward Kennedy give one of the best speeches of his life, and sadly it could be his last major speech. It goes to show that after all that has happened involving him over the years, in the last decade he has grown and matured and achived perhaps something of the stature of his late brothers.
We have also seen a fantasic speech by Michelle Obama. Gutsy, yet thoughtful, and straight from the heart. Not only sharing her aspirations but also reminding us of the importance of dignity. A pivotal theme for this election year if the US is to avoid the sullied reputation it has in their political world for negative campaigning.
And finally, a speech from the man himself. The film and a transcript of which can be found here.It's no surprise that right-wingers on both sides of the Atlantic are disparaging about him, or feel that he lacks substance. But this is he man who not only points out where Republican spending plans fail to work out, but also has pledged to be more tough on Al Qaeda, who set a personal example in his view on dealing with the Sudan, who has given specific figures in tax cuts for the vulnerable in society, and who has mentioned his financial plans regarding the environment. And those on the right say he has no proper substance? As if the last seven-and-a-half years have been a total paradise for the US in comparison at home and abroad!
That said, I am very pleased to see that John McCain has picked a woman for his running mate. It goes to show that, come what may, next year will see one radical change to US politics, but it also goes to highlight that, whether man or woman, black or white, at the end of the day it's policies that matter and polices that will deliver.

Friday, August 29, 2008

The Birds and the Bees

Check out this website, recently started by a friend of mine, about the declining population in birds and bees in the UK. Rather interesting

Thursday, August 28, 2008

The "Where Were You When..." Meme

I have been tagged by Kerron to mention where I was when the following events happened.

Princess Diana's death - 31 August 1997

I woke up about Five AM, having noticed a downstairs light was on. I then heard my Mum walking up the stairs and she seemed to be crying, so I sat up and whether I asked what was wrong or she could he me moving I am not sure, but she told me that Princess Diana had been killed in a car crash.
I am not a major royalist or anything like that, but I did have that almost pit-in-the-stomach feeling. It just seemed impossible, so I grabbed a dressing gown and dashed downstairs to watch the early morning news with the rest of my family. The shock quickly turned to anger at what soon became clear, that the crash was partly due to a game of cat and mouse with the Papparratzi, the other fact is that a close relative had his eighteenth birthday that day, so that kind of overshadowed things. A tragic and sensless death and perhaps one that made us more aware as well about how fragile life can be

Margaret Thatcher's resignation - 22 November 1990

4th Year at Secondary School, or Year 10 as it would now be known. I went to my form room during lunch brake, about half twelve, for something, and I was just leaving when I passed the Science Corridor and overheard a guy in my year in the Maths Corridor on the other side of where I was call out to a friend that Margaret Thatcher had resigned. Was shocked, happy, amazed, and bewildered (I couldn't remember anyone else in the job). I quickly told some friends and soon a lot of us were in my form room chatting about it excitedly. The Head of the Upper School came in and we asked him if it was true, which he confirmed it was. That afternoon, instead of doing homework, I was watching an extended Prime Minister's Questions on BBC 2, feeling bewildered but elated.

Attack on the twin towers - 11 September 2001

Was just finishing my shift at work, just before 2PM, when my boss mentioned that a plane had hit one of the Twin Towers. It was thought to be a terrorist incident and like many others I at first thought it was a small bi-plane. My Dad picked me up from work shortly afterwards and told me that two airline planes had hit each of the twin towers. I was going to go to London that afternoon and, on the advice of my family, swiftly cancelled my plans. The main feeling was shock and horror, esp when the towers fell down, when there were rumours that there was a bomb explosion outside the State Department, when news came through that the Pentagon was hit and Canary Wharf was being evacuated, the overall feeling was that we were under attack and that this was an act of war comparable with Pearl Harbour. You certainly felt that you were watching history unfolding and that things would not be the same again.

England's World Cup Semi Final v Germany in - 4 July 1990

Am sorry to say that I was not thatinterested at the time, although I would have watched the Final had we got through. However I do remember seeing the photos of Gazza crying on all the newspapers the following day.

President Kennedy's Assassination - 22 November 1963

Considering it was just less than twelve years before I was born, I can't quite remember this one. A terrible tragedy all the same, esp when one wonders what a Kennedy Second Term would have been like!

Tagging Cally's Kitchen , AnniePorthouse , dizzykj , Rupa Huq, Tim Roll-Pickering, and WongaBlog

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Margaret Thatcher. Should We Know!

A no of people seem to be making news of this, although it has to be said that there were rumours going around already.
It reminds me of Harold Wilson's last years. I remember being a teenager and seeing him and his wife on St Mary's, whilst on holiday in the Scilly Isles, and then wondering why he didn't appear in the news so much as other the former PM's (then Home, Heath, and Callaghan). I soon found out when I came across John Junor's memoirs where he alluded to Wilson's mental decline, and indeed in Wilson's last years the rumours did increase. It certainly explained why he quit early.
Now of course, his family and friends are now open about what appened, so is Carol Thatcher right to have mentioned her mother's condition.
Well I imagine as a next of kin, she may well know best and know more about the situation as to assess whether it is in the public interest. Plus Carol is no idiot and is well regarded by many people as her brother is disliked. So I suspect that now is not the time to cast judgement and to hope and pray that Baroness Thatcher gets as much help and support as she can get

Monday, August 25, 2008

Greenbelt 08 Part II

Been busy with, in no particular order, seeing the Greenbelt Orchestra perform the Planets Suite by Holst, Suzanne Elvidge do a sterling talk on science journalism, a panel on Faith and Politics inc Andy Reed (Kerron's former boss) and Caroline Spelman, a talk on Evangelicals in 2008 by Joel Edwards and more. Plus there were some events I would have liked to have gone to, but were full.
But heigh ho, will post more when I get back and right now am a bit exhausted

Saturday, August 23, 2008

And the running mate is Joe Biden

Not quite what I expected, and not without a reservation or two, but Senator Biden has experience and tenacity and strength and I believe he can be a great asset for Barack Obama

Greenbelt 08

Am at the "Tank", busy spending half an hour checking e-mails etc.. All going well, went to two interesting talks last night. One on exceptance, in some cases not, of LGBT people in the Church, and another on Peacekeeping in the World. Also saw some short films made in China and attended a rereading of a Cinderella tale from the Brothers Grimm. Who says Greenbelt isn't varied ;)

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Possible Temporary Absence

Right then, am off to Greenbelt at the crack of dawn tomorrow. Might well be blogging over there as I have done before, but it depends on the circumstances as I will probably be busier than usual.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Being a Christian

I don't know about you, but I have been following that Channel 4 series Make Me a Christian and two things spring to mind.
First is that living the Christian life by a series of rules and regulations and actually living by faith are two different things, not least when there is a certain variation of Christian lifestyles. Living by faith is recognising that you are a sinner and letting Christ control your life, living by rules and regulations is actually living a life not much different to those rules and regulations in other faiths and creeds.
The second thing was noticing how detached we are from a life of selflessness. We spend too much time thinking of our own wants and needs and far too little about the needs of others. I wonder how many people in the documentary reflected on that when they allowed their feet to be washed by these group of people in a provincial town centre ;). But does leading a "good" life make you a Christian? Not really!
Well thats my thought for the day anyway :)

Paul's blog posts of the week

Bloggers4Labour on the importance of Labour's "moral crusade"

Cally's Kitchen accuses Donal Blaney of inconsistency

Kerron Cross on that Disney protest (Do you get the feeling someone is taking the Mickey somewhere? ;) )

Rupa Huq on Boris Johnson's lack of judgement

WongaBlog on the renaissance man that is Alan Dale

Freemania on Tory contradictions around GQ magazine

Labour Matters refers to No.10's response on the petition to make Jeremy Clarkson Prime Minister

Iain Dale on an evening with Don Black

Linda Jack on the importance of being more aware and doing more with regards to mental health

Friends of Zimbabwe remind us that the crisis in that troubled land is far from over

Pippa Wagstaff reports on the death of Bob Humphrys (John's brother)

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

The Occasional Silliness of Conservative Party Propoganda

Sometimes I am a bit taken aback by the sheer venom which the Conservative Party holds towards Gordon Brown, but what is heartening is that it means that occasionally they make silly mistakes.
Fact of the matter is, is that holding the European elections and the English local elections on the same day benefits all the political parties. It means that activists don't have to campaign in the same areas twice in two months, it also means that the electorate won't be constantly inconvenienced by political activists over a sustained period of time. Not only that but the dates were also combined in 2004 and the Tories' weren't crowing about doing a runner then!
Ah well, if they insist on making facile comments whilst doing well in the Polls what does it say about them!

Monday, August 18, 2008

Russian Withdrawl

Thank God, and I was wondering where this was all going to lead. That said, it is not over yet and the fact that Russian troops are still in South Ossetia as peacekeepers is disquieting

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Gold Standards

For some reason, and I don't know why, I don't seem as fired up about these Olympics as I was about Sydney in 2000 or Athens in 2004. But I am very pleased at how well we are doing from a UK perspective and it certainly helps the morale for 2012
What really did catch my attention though, was a documentary on BBC Four the other week about the 1908 London Olympics. Its known as one of the Olympics which set the torch (no pun intended, oh well okay it was in part) for future events. Plus it was a shock to find out that the previous three Olymics, in particularParis in 1900, and St Louis in 1904, were so disorganised that, say in the Paris 1900 Olympics, no one knew whether they were taking part in an Olympic event (There were other sporting events going on in Paris at the same time), or indeed when they started or finished.
Which says a great deal about today's games.

I Am Going To Buy This Album

(Edgar Martins and Queen + Paul Rodgers.)

Plus check out their forthcoming single, which can be found here on their YouTube site.

Obama Vs McCain. Part One

All well, and exactly the kind of Presidential debate I like to see in the US. Perhaps we can emulate it over here! :)
I just hope though, that Christians in the US do not take their candidates at face value in this election.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Driving Lessons Part XV

Went well, although I still have my nervous moments, but overall it's getting smooth. That said I am starting to cross my hands at the wheel, so some bad habits need to be spotted at birth really!

Careless Drivers Face Prison

Good. For too long we have had people killed or injured because some driver has been using their mobile, fiddling with their SatNav etc.. whilst driving. Perhaps this is the short sharp shock that is needed to deter people from behaving in such a way.

Georgia On My Mind

I really don't know what to make of all this, other than I suspect there are elements on both sides that have been aching for a fight for a while now. Plus Russia seems to be overtly keen on empire building, which is understandable if dangerous.
Is a UN Peacekeeping team in South Ossetia too much to ask? Probably, and it wouldn't go down well either, I remember being irritated when some americans used to suggest that about Northern Ireland during the Troubles. Hopefully though, both sides in this case will recognise that they have responsibilities that the International Community will expect of them.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Our Friends In The North

With this going on, one can imagine David Cameron was coughing over his cornflakes yesterday morning. The thing is, whilst he was right to put some distance as any decent politician would, he has already supported this think tank in the past and Conservatives have a track-record in being rude about the North of England, Liverpool in particular.
Perhaps Cameron ought to try and change the attitudes of those in his Party before talking about tackling political "no-go areas"

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Paul's Blog Posts of the Week

Apologies for the small list. Not deliberate, just am rather busy.

Kerron Cross gives some sense of proportion over Tom Daley's poor performance in Beijing

Rupa Huq (and Recess Monkey), on the confusion between Georgia and Georgia, USA

Iain Dale on the A-Z of leftie commenting

Jon Voight's Rant

Whilst reading this the other day, a few thoughts struck me.
First of all that socialism is a very lazy "insult" to throw at politicians in the US. American politics tends to be more right-wing than UK politics and I somehow doubt that Obama would have got this far if he was a "Socialist", in so far that socialism in the US is seen in the same light as Marxism.
Thirdly, will this affect his career? It depends, as being "right-wing" is not a problem in Hollywood, take John Wayne, Charlton Heston, Clint Eastwood, and Arnold Schwarzenegger for example! Artists do have a problem however, when they develop a surly attitude when they have no need to.
And as for "It seems to me that if Mr Obama wins the presidential election, then Messrs Farrakhan, Wright, Ayers and Pfleger will gain power for their need to demoralise this country..." I would be interested to know how he makes the link between Barack Obama and these people?

Monday, August 11, 2008

Issac Hayes 1942-2008

One of the great artists of his time. His theme music for Shaft was a work of pure genius, and hopefully he will mean more to younger generations than having played the Chef in South Park

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Batman: The Dark Knight. A Review

Yesterday afternoon I finally got the chance to see this film.
I have only seen the first three Batman films before this, but this is the best I have seen so far. That said I do agree with Kerron and many others that this film should not have had a 12A, as there are some scenes in the film I don't think a small child should see, not least the occasions when the Joker captures and tortures his victims before killing them.
Which leads me to the performances. Heath Ledger definetly gave what was possibly his best acting in that film and I say that hesitantly and as someone who has seen him in several movies. That said I am not sure if it merits an Oscar. Thats hard to judge or define, not least because he is now dead and that can colour our viewpoint. It's like the fact that I feel Peter Sellers deserved that Oscar for his role in Being There, partly because he gave a sterling performance but also with the view that he died months after the film was released, so that was his last chance to have had an academy award. The Joker, as seen here, is not just the villain, and not just psychotic, he is almost evil personified. He can unnervingly remind you of Alex in A Clockwork Orange and has the sort of personality that reminds you of some of America's mass murderers that you hear about. The sort who have twenty bodies buried in their backyard and who get perverse fan mail. By the third scene where the Joker appears, you felt protective of anyone who dared to stand up to him because they were not only marked for death, you knew he would make that said victim suffer first.
As for the others, well Christian Bale is a brilliant actor and he has succeed in bringing out the multi-faceted personality of Bruce Wayne/Batman. Aaron Eckhart gives Harvey Dent an almost saintly turn which makes his fate all the more painful. Maggie Gyllenhaal as Rachel Dawes is, by turns, sexy, vulnerable, ruthless, and endearing, which makes the fact that both Bruce Wayne and Harvey Dent want her so utterly believeable. And Michael Caine, Gary Oldman, and Morgan Freeman give a strong degree of dignity to their respective roles in a way that makes you realise that Batman could not operate without them.
All in all an electrifying film.

Right-Wing Glossary

Hat tip to Iain Dale. This is just first class humour.

Thursday, August 07, 2008

The Dirt Lows of Negative Campaigning

I was shocked and rather surprised to read about this (Hat tip to Kerron and Iain)
I have heard of individuals in all main political parties stooping to low tactics that can easily become a police matter, even one or two that never really made it into the public eye, but the sheer viciousness of this is something I haven't quite seen before, the guy needs help.
Iain is right, this is something that affects all of us in politics and I have learnt not to crow and make assumptions about anything, and as tempting as it is to sneer and laugh at the Watford Conservatives in their lack of judgement in selecting him, it is a mistake many party associations could make the moment their eye is off the ball.
Hopefully this will help shock activists from all parties out of their delight in demonising their opposition, but we shall see


I have decided to add Labour Matters because it's seems to be rather insightful and because, er, they have added me to theirs.
Have also added Bishop Greg's Blog. Greg is the Bishop of Qu'Appelle in Canada, and is the friend of some friends of the Burgin family who emigrated over there some twenty years ago. I think I briefly met him in 1993 when we visited and he was a Vicar in Brampton, Ontario. Anyways we met him earlier this week as our Canadian friends are back as they will be moving to the UK soon and Greg had recently been to the Lambeth Conference, so Monday evening was a bit busy

Driving Lessons Part XIV

All well, apart from moments of nervousness, but habit seems to be breaking that. If all goes well I will be doing dual carriageways before long.
Oh and am getting better with the clutch and parking cars is getting stress free :)

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Paul's blog posts of the week

Cally's Kitchen on the end of the Lambeth Conference

Kerron Cross on the 12A given to Batman: The Dark Knight

Rupa Huq on the latest twist in the US Presidential election campaign

Andrew Philip on that fallow period writers get

WongaBlog gives his review on the RSC Production of Hamlet

Iain Dale on the French Connection in the Rwandan Genocide

Linda Jack dissects Melanie Phillips and the Tories

Paul Linford on the Witanegemont Club awards

Mars Hill Blog Stats (July 2008)

Top Ten Cities listed (from where people visit Mars Hill)

London, Peterborough, Auckland, Santa Barbara, Manchester, Wellington, Billericay, Dallas, Richmond (Australia), Grande Prairie (Canada)

Top Ten Countries listed (In order of most visits to my blog)

United Kingdom, United States, New Zealand, Netherlands, Canada, France, Italy, Australia, South Korea, Ireland

For those who have started reading my blog in the last month, or who have returned after an absence, a warm welcome to you all

Top Ten Blog/Web Visitors

1) Bloggers4Labour (-)

2) Rupa Huq (+7)

3) Cally's Kitchen (+3)

4) Labour Matters (NEW)

5) Paul Linford (-2)

6) Tim Roll-Pickering (-1)

7) Kerron Cross - The Voice of the Delectable Left (-5)

8) Chris Paul: Labour of Love (NEW)

9) Skuds' Sister's Brother (NEW)

10) Quaequam Blog (NEW)

Out of the Top Ten are Wikio, Wikipedia (11th place), Facebook, and British Blogs (12th place)

Top Ten Searchwords that lead people to my blog

Life on Mars final

electoral roll for baldock herts

dr who season four finale

sticky back plastic

final episode life on mars

life on mars final?

sticky back

youtube scandaluri

cameron's bike brand


Monday, August 04, 2008

Go for it Sir Alan

Have been impressed by the defence he gave on BBC News and it shows that we need more like him to help put Labour's message across.
That said I don't agree with all his comments, esp with regards to the thought of sacking the "silent enemies". I do think though that they should be weeded out, have their knuckles rapped and warned of the consequences of any major act of disloyalty which would only end up damaging the Labour Party.

Alexander Solzhenitsyn 1918-2008

One of the great Soviet dissidents and one whose critiques of the communist system transcended to sheer poetry, mixed with a surgeons knife in it's analysis.
And much missed, although I am concerned that for someone who was a big name in the 1970s he is almost forgotten

Sunday, August 03, 2008

Keeping Our Head

Check out this piece I wrote on Labourhome, where I pointed out that it would be madness to ditch the PM and that we can continue and possibly win the next election.

Saturday, August 02, 2008

I Can Blog Again

Basically what happened was that yesterday blogspot put my blog on ice because it was suspected of being a spam blog. I immediately appealed, although I part expected the worst and now as you can see, Mars Hill is back :-)