Friday, October 31, 2008

BBC Standards

Hopefully now a line has been drawn, but this does leave some issues of the BBC. Notably it's role as a public service provider.
Whilst, and this is important, one has to be aware that some of the critics on this issue have an agenda in wanting to see the BBC broken up and privatised, it is equally the case that the BBC's remit is to educate, entertain, and inform. That means not pandering to the lowest common denominator and trying to ape other media outlets in the commercial sector (although that is understandable). Being a public service provider, the BBC has done exceptionally well in the past and has a worldwide reputation. It should, and ought, to be better than it's competitors in style and taste because it can afford to be and there is a need for it. It has made sterling documentaries, brilliant TV Drama (as shown recently with Little Dorrit), and, ironically enough, created some exceptional chat show programmes. It has the stature, the ability, I only wish it had more confidence.

Should Somebody Tell Recess!

Involved in a Seattle kid music band! Gets everywhere ;)

Thursday, October 30, 2008

David Tennant Leaving Doctor Who

When I read about this last night I was rather shocked and a bit sad. But that is testament to how successful David Tennant has been in the role and it is better he leaves whilst people want more. I did think that he should do a fourth series and then leave, but with hindsight leaving next year is perhaps the right time.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Tuesday, October 28, 2008


I for one tend to find Jonathan Ross clever, witty, and amusing. I also think that sometimes he is an egotistical show-off with all the sophistication of a child who thinks saying things like "wee" and "poo" is funny.
So put basically I am annoyed and disgusted by what he and Russell Brand did to Andrew Sachs. It was not just puerile, it was cruel and borderline bullying (one wonders what Ross and Brand would have thought if someone did that to an elderly relative of theirs?). But they are not the only ones to blame. The Producer of the show is also at fault for allowing it to go ahead, plus some restitution can take place by Brand issuing a public apology by letter to Andrew Sachs and his family, as Ross apparently has done.
And hopefully they will learn not to behave like a pair of prats in future.

Live Blogging Next Week

Given it's only once every four years and that this will be an historic election. I hope, if am not at some party celebrating or commiserating, to be doing a bit of live blogging of results of the US Presidential election next week.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Moment of Pride

Whilst I am not taking the prospect of Senator Barack Obama's winning next week for granted, I feel that this is a moment in which to be proud and happy about those of us who have been involved have achieved.
The pride of simply being there, seeing the first US Presidential election in history where one of the two main candidates is black.
The pride of being involved with a dialogue in wanting to see sea changes in politics. Not just policy, such as better education and health care but also attitude. Seeing a politician being prepared to lsiten to and respect his opponents, even though there is major disagreement.
The pride of having taken the chance and gone over to the US and helped in the election
The pride of having made good friendships as a result
The pride in seeing one's opponents fight dirty and finding it does not succeed quite so easily
The pride of anticipating a real change
The pride of seeing a possible re engagement in foreign policy where there is better dialogue, but not that of appeasement.
I am proud to have seen this election, been involved in this election, more than any other in US History and that is no hyperbole. Those of us who are involved have reasons to be proud. Lets work now to help cement that pride :-)

Friday, October 24, 2008

John Humphrys and the Queen

I have heard of this story on several occasions and came across it in the Daily Mail newspaper earlier this week.
The thing is, whatever the Queen thinks of John Humphrys, it is a difficult situation. Her Majesty has never granted an interview and if she did now, she would have to make a choice where she risks offending God knows how many reputable media outlets for not giving them first choice. For that simple reason alone I think the prospect of her granting an interview is unlikely.

Sarah Palin's Wardrobe

All I can say is that I am glad I am not a member of the Republican Party in the US, or even a Republican supporter, or else I would be pondering on what more important things they could have spent so much money on!

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Osborne and the Russians

Like I said before, I take a personal dislike to George Osborne from what I have heard and know of him, so I will try and be even handed in my views on this.
The thing is he could well be innocent, but this blew open when he allegedly tried to smear Peter Mandelson earlier this week, as well as trying to use Mandelson to make another personal attack on Gordon Brown, so he has laid himself open. That said, for all our sakes I hope he is innocent (as especially in these times we need to be more bipartisan) and that this incident will humble him into being a little bit more mature about what attitude he takes towards his opponents in political life, and that means not being personal and nasty.

Monday, October 20, 2008

The Obama Lead

This is encouraging, although one cannot afford to be complacent. My main concern though is not whether Obama wins, but whether there is a clear lead. If Senator Obama does win and he only manages to scrape through, then the Republicans will make life very difficult and may try and contest the results. Those of us who support him must work hard to make sure that not only does Barack Obama win but win well.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Obama Vs McCain. The Final Debate

I managed to catch some of it repeated on the TV last night. I know I am biased but I thought Senator Obama came out better. His answers were not only measured and concise, but straight to the point. I liked what he had to say on education and health. I found McCain's attacks on Obama's plans on the latter rather offensive, i.e. if you like them "you will love Canada or England".
Time will tell and we cannot get complacent, but I have to say that I think the choice for Americans on Nov 4th is clear cut. How they will vote is something else and we cannot take an Obama victory for granted, however much many of us want to see that happen.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Driving Lessons XVI

Well I think I am nearly there. As my instructor says I have improved a great deal, although I do make occasional mistakes. But it is all going into a rhythm and I find I am doing the right things without even thinking. My main problem now though is having to remember to check mirrors

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Blog Update

Right, I have done a spot of spring cleaning, or rather autumn gathering, and dusted up the sidebar a bit.
Put basically I have removed blogs, websites etc.. that have not been updated for more than six months. I have kept some on the basis that they were always meant to be very short term and as a record of an event.
Nothing personal meant to anyone :-), and will be happy to put any old-timers back should any blogs etc.. be updated

Monday, October 13, 2008

Those Nearly Moments in Film

If you are a bit of a film buff like me, then you might occasionally like hearing or reading about those "nearly moments", like the fact that the first choices for the film Sleuth were not Sir Laurence Olivier and Michael Caine , but Cary Grant and Albert Finney (now that would have made an interesting film).
As it is, I recently came across a very interesting "nearly moment" and one that I now doubt will ever happen. As I am sure some of you know, amongst the deluge of autobiographies that have come out in the past month, there is Roger Moore's My Word Is My Bond. In it he mentions that he was approached by Richard Attenborough for a role in his forthcoming film A Bridge Too Far (which incidentally had Sir Laurence Olivier
and Michael Caine amongst it's cast). Moore hesitated
as the next Bond movie looked like it was about to go into production,
then decided to accept once there was a slight delay. Attenborough
had in mind for him the role of
Lt. Gen. Brian Horrocks,
but unfortunately Horrocks, being still alive at the time, had first refusal and he was adamant that he was not going to be portrayed by Roger Moore, so, with regret, Attenborough gave the role to Edward Fox.
Now that doesn't seem much of a story in itself, but for the fact that A Bridge Too Far is an all-star cast film and includes Sean Connery in it's cast, so had Horrocks had been a bit more open minded, he would have given Bond fans and film buffs a field day.
I hope he was satisfied!

The Economic Challenges

This article will appear in the next edition of the CPF's IMPACT magazine

Like many of late, I wake up in the morning and switch on the news and have that queasy feeling as I see how the financial markets are doing. I have to say that economics are not among my favourite subjects, but we all seem to have suddenly developed an interest for very good reasons. Notably, our livelihoods.
At the time of writing this, many are comparing what has happened to the 1929 Wall Street Crash, a financial disaster of epic proportions that few are alive to remember well. I briefly discussed it with one of the oldest people at the church where I worship and she said that whilst she remembered it, she was too young to fully appreciate what was going on! So one wonders how good the comparison is, that said, this is the worst economic situation that many of us have seen in our lifetimes and that is scary. It is also scary to compare this with 1929. That crisis, as we all know, triggered a decade-long economic depression which damaged and destroyed livelihoods and communities and which helped foster the growth of fascism in some countries, notably Germany, and therefore helped lead to the Second World War.
Thats scary, and it certainly puts things into perspective. For too long now many Christians have banged on about abortion, alternative lifestyles, and how much postmodern culture should be embraced! What has been banged on with a far quieter voice, if mentioned at all, was about financial greed and exploitation, and God knows how often that is mentioned in the Bible. More than most other sins in fact, but I suspect that will soon change. What I think will happen in terms of the choices Christians in the US make when they vote for their next President, is not how sound McCain or Obama are on gay rights, or abortion, or in their dealings with non Christians, but rather whether McCain or Obama are good financial stewards and who would be better at healing the US in it's current economic climate and making sure that financial justice and honesty is carried out?
Some of you may know of the Greek myth of Pandora, who had a box that was full of the evils of the World. One day, out of curiosity, Pandora opened it and all the evils escaped. But a virtue was still there, and that was hope.
The question is then, can we see hope in the current situation? I think we can. Politicians are aware that they need to work together and not score party political points and, even though old habits die hard and the occasional barbed comment comes out, there is still the effort being made. Nations are working together to try and stem the flow of financial blood. The days of bonuses for managers who leave their stricken vessels with all hands desperate to escape is all but over, and there seems to be a willingness to face up to the challenges, weather the storms and work together.
There is also the knowledge that the markets operate on events and if there is panic and fear, then that will have an adverse effect, and that knowledge has helped people set to work and push harder for solutions. In the 1930's, President Franklin D. Roosevelt stated that the only thing we needed to fear was fear itself, and this was someone who knew what he was talking about, as he helped create a "New Deal" , giving aid to the unemployed, making sure business practices were changed, as well as bringing in relief programs. As a result, Roosevelt not only helped the US prosper, he helped make Americans feel better about themselves. We wait to see whether our Western leaders will make the same achievements. Time will tell.
And yes, we can also take solace from the Bible when Christ stated at the end of John Ch 16: "Here on Earth you will have many trials and sorrows; but take courage, I have overcome the world."
We can overcome this, financial instability does not last forever, nor does ongoing pain, but so long as we hold fast and look ahead and work together to revitalise the economy, even if it means a change in thinking, then we can succeed and succeed well!

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Presidential Campaign Taking a Nasty Turn!

Just when you think you have seen it all, you get shocked by something in an election campaign. In this case the sheer venom that many Republicans don't even bother to hide towards Barack Obama.
On one level I suppose it is encouraging in so far as it shows that these guys think they may well lose (although their behaviour hasn't helped there), but it is unnerving and just goes to show what those of us who support Obama are up against and that we must not drop our guard.
Plus I still wonder, other than panic, what possessed McCain to pick Sarah Palin as his running mate!

Thursday, October 09, 2008

The Cosmos Rocks. A Review

Well having now heard the Queen + Paul Rodgers studio album, Queen's first in over a decade, I have to say I quite enjoyed it, albeit with one or two reservations.
And those are reservations to be expected from any Queen fan, of which I am one. For a start, as brave and difficult as it undoubtedly was. A Queen album minus, not only Freddie Mercury, but also John Deacon, was always going to have a sense of witnessing a jigsaw with missing pieces. Mercury's contribution to the band did not just include his charisma and stage persona, but also his songwriting (Bohemian Rhapsody, Crazy Little Thing Called Love, and We Are The Champions to name but a few) and impressive vocal range. Likewise, John Deacon may have a reputation of being the shy and quiet one (a fact that has grown with his retirement and desire to avoid the limelight), but he had a razor-like precision in his contribution to Producing previous Queen albums, likewise a good songwriter (You're My Best Friend, Another One Bites the Dust, and I Want To Break Free) and now, only now is it obvious what an innovative and talented Bass Guitarist he is. Brian May and Paul Rodgers do sterling work taking over on Bass duties, but "Deaky" (as some fans know him) is missed.
But there are compensations. At their prime it was all four members of Queen who were the driving force. All four writing hit singles, all four making the major decisions that kept Queen going into the 1990s. If, in an alternative Universe, it is Brian May and Roger Taylor who are absent and and an alive Freddie Mercury and a still active John Deacon being involved instead, then other important Queen factors would be missed and fans would still be debating as to whether the show must go on!
Certainly then, there is a Queen feel to the album. Brian May's splendid guitar riffs, the vocal harmonies, and familiar musical and lyrical patterns that May and Taylor added their stamp to on previous albums, so in many ways it does feel like a Queen album, albeit, as I said earlier, with missing jigsaw pieces. But there is the saving grace in the presence of Paul Rodgers, a respected and famous musician in his own right and who was singing to stadium-like crowds before Queen became a fully fledged band.
The genius therefore, is in the assertion that Rodgers contribution is not that of a replacement where Mercury is concerned. Rather this is an ongoing collaboration, and certainly The Cosmos Rocks has moments of pure Paul Rodgers, such as with Warboys and Some Things That Glitter, only this time with Queen as a backing band. Likewise C-lebrity is pure Queen, as is Say It's Not True, only this time with the added influence of Paul Rodgers. Then you get the mixture which takes the collaboration down interesting avenues, such as with Small.
Certainly worth a listen, but best if heard as a collaboration Queen are involved with, rather than as a purely new Queen album, and to give you an idea of what I mean, below is a video of their current single, C-lebrity, from their official channel on YouTube.

But if you still yearn for Queen in their heydays, below, also from their official channel on YouTube is their 1989 hit single Scandal

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Monkey Business

Hat tip to WongaBlog. You look at it and think "It's wrong! But it's cute. But it is wrong! But..."
Anyway watch these monkeys in a Japanese restaurant yourself and see what you think!

Obama Vs McCain. Part Two

I have yet to watch this, but from what I have heard and read it was a bit of a draw. That said I have heard consistent reports that Senator Barack Obama is slowly inching ahead and is getting positive polls on all issues. That said, those of us who support Barack Obama cannot relax and we have our work cut out for the next month.

City Chaplain in Gay Tattoo Row

I don't care if it is meant to be in jest. It has caused offence and he should apologise. Surely the first concern of a Chaplain is to be sensitive and have a strong pastoral heart, whatever his or her theological beliefs. Making such jokes, and then failing to apologise makes one question if the Rev Peter Mullen is lacking in that area

Monday, October 06, 2008

The VP Debate Between Joe Biden and Sarah Palin. As Seen By Saturday Night Live

Top class. My only concern is that Tina Fey is so good that people will vote McCain/Palin in November simply to see more Sarah Palin impressions.

The Ten Blogging Commandments. Courtesy of the Evangelical Alliance!

Hat tip to Iain Dale. You can find them here, and I will admit that it made slightly uncomfortable reading. I like to think I am a good blogger, well I try to be anyway. But I am human and occasionally I do find I idolize it, use it to make cheap points in a political argument, and I am esp guilty of Commandment No 10. Lord forgive me!

Sunday, October 05, 2008

Cabinet Reshuffle Review

All cabinet reshuffles contain one or two moves which can be annoying, welcoming, or even bring bewilderment. Peter Mandelson's return has surely generated all three emotions in some Labour members and I will admit, my feelings are somewhat mixed. As I said the other day, this is either a stroke of genius or a major mistake.
With regards to other appointments etc..I am glad to see a new Dept for Energy and Climate Change, given the high importance of the issue, that both Brownites and Blairites have been given important positions, although it would have been good to see Jon Cruddas get a job.
Plus don't forget what sort of opposition Labour are up against. One that doesn't refrain from getting down and dirty and playing "Punch and Judy" games. George Osborne has already not been able to refrain from venting his pathological loathing of Gordon Brown by launching a whispering campaign about having had lunch with Peter Mandelson a few weeks ago, and given his vile track record, I think we can safely say that it was Osborne who was behind it. He certainly has form, and not form that will endear him to the electorate considering that he hopes to be the next Chancellor of the Exchequer.
One hopes that the Conservatives will show some maturity at some point in the near future and become the sort of Opposition David Cameron originally envisaged, one hopes and prays anyway! Likewise the Government has it's work cut out in regaining trust. Whether Mandelson's appointment will have hindered that, time will tell. We certainly have a formidable team though and we need that right now.

Friday, October 03, 2008

Mandelson Back In Cabinet

To be honest I have a lot of reservations about this. It is either a work of genius or a major mistake. That said we need to be heavily united as a political party and hardened in the fight against the Conservatives at the next general election. Because they will be unpleasant and unrelenting in their attacks.
Plus I am glad that, as first reports suggest, Jon Cruddas is now in the Cabinet.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Mars Hill Blog Stats (Sept 2008)

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

Milton Keynes, Prague, London, Kingston Upon Hull, Tulsa, Nottingham, Midland, Brighton, Welwyn Garden City, Redmond

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

United Kingdom, United States, Czech Republic, Argentina, France, Canada, Australia, Ireland, Netherlands, South Korea

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) Paul Linford (+1)

2) Freemania (Returned)

3) Labour Matters (Returned)

4) Cally's Kitchen (-3)

5) dizzykj (NEW)

6) Wikipedia (Returned)

7) Tim Roll-Pickering (-1)

8) Neil Harding (NEW)

9) Iain Dale (-5)

10) British Blogs (-7)

Out of the Top Ten are Rupa Huq, Luke Akehurst, CNN, Kerron Cross - The Voice of the Delectable Left, and Bloggers4Labour

US Senate Bail Out!

I think the apt phrase is "relief all round". This goes beyond free-market vs regulation ideology, punishing the bankers etc.. This is about protecting the vulnerable

Student Initiation Ceremonies

There is something about initiation ceremonies which we sort of take for granted, until we hear of the ones which get well and truly out of hand.
The ones of the "humiliation" variety, usually to be found at some Universities or rugby clubs etc.. are a case in point, as mentioned here. The acts dreamt up out of a misplaced sense of humour, they can be more nasty than meets the eye, as in some cases people have died as a result.
But what does get me is why some people do such things. Well the BBC News story which I have linked to gives one such example:

Another, Nick Levy, said that during his ceremony he was told to drink excessively and then run naked through Cheltenham.

He added: "We had to put matches in private, inappropriate areas and set them on fire whilst drinking more beer. I did it to be accepted by the older guys at the time.

"It was a bit tormenting, but if you didn't do it you would get called a wuss".

Personally I'd rather be called a wuss. And given that in one ceremony a student died whilst choking on his own vomit, I don't see these initiation ceremonies as something to be tolerated either. I am not sure I agree with the NUS for an outright ban as I don't know if that would be workable, but I do think there should be stronger voices against such acts

Nativity Competition

You know, I might just take part in this! :-). Telling the Nativity Story in thirty seconds is rather intriguing

Wednesday, October 01, 2008


I hope this is not true. Despicable if it is. Hat tip to Recess Monkey
Plus, on other matters, I am glad I am not the only one who saw the connection here! ;)

Political Bi-Partisanship With Regards to the Economy

I think hopeful, but cautious, best describes my feelings on this!

Driving Lessons Part XV

Going well, improving all round, although I still occasionally pick up bad habits, such as yesterday when I started crossing my arms when making rapid steering movements, or not having the clutch fully down when needed. Still it turns out I am good at parallel parking :-)