Friday, January 30, 2009

Gaza Appeal

The BBC and Sky may be justified in being impartial with regards to the Gaza Appeal, but the Mars Hill blog has no such constraints, and whilst I am equally scathing about the rocket attacks that Hamas has made on Israel, I feel I should not pass up an oppurtunity to encourage people to help those who are defenceless and vulnerable.
So this address may be of use to you:

Disaster Emergency Committee
Gaza Crisis
PO BOX 999
London EC3A 3AA

MDC Joining Zimbabwean Government

I only hope they know what they are doing, suffice to say that if Mugabe causes problems again (and given his history he will), then he may find himself with very few apologists, if at all!

Thursday, January 29, 2009

The Curious Case of Carla Jones

For those of you who don't know, Carla Jones is a "Conservative" whom supposed fellow members of her Party got into a panic about, thinking that she might be a plant from the Daily Mirror. In panic, many dropped her as a Facebook buddy etc.. fearful at what she may or may not find out or use as evidence against them!
Well Recess Monkey adds an interesting twist to the tale.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Chav Holidays

There is a mixture of surprise, slight amusement, and offensiveness about what has happened here. Personally, I feel that if a travel company wants to appeal to individuals who judge people by their names, or how they dress etc.. then those individuals are welcome to them and perhaps those who are less inclined to be unkind will travel elsewhere.
And yes I do think there is snobbery here, not the straightforward class snobbery, but more of a tribal snobbery and possibly old vs new money in some quarters. Put it this way, it would be interesting how Activities Abroad would define their policy, or even places of destination if chavs not only start calling their children Cordelia, Alice, Michael, or erm.. Paul, but also start going on holiday in places like Norway, the South of France, or anywhere else that appeals to the "established middle classes"!

Twenty Questions to a Fellow Blogger Part XXXIX: Kiff

Kiff is a professional Engineer who lives in Bristol UK with his wife and they are expecting their first child in 2009.

Kiff is heavily involved with scouting, filling the roles of Assistant County Commissioner for the Scout section in Avon and Scout Leader with a local scout group. On top of that he plays cricket and badminton when he can and he support Scotland in the Rugby(it is a birth right thing).

Kiff has in one form or another been trying to write a successful blog for a number of years and so far this is the longest running project :). His blog is Jabbering All Day Long

How did you get involved in blogging?

I have always liked the idea of keeping a journal, something that someday someone will find and read over, in the way major figures do like HRH the Prince of Wales. However I have tried to start a journal on a number of occasions and failed. The option of writing an online journal came about in the form a blog so I decided to try that.

What is your best blogging experience?

I don’t believe I have had my best blogging experience yet.

And your worst?

The worst blogging experience is an odd one, if it's more of a fear than an experience. The fear that there is no one reading my blog and therefore what is the point! I would like to have readers and followers.

What do you regard as your best blog entry?

I am not sure I have made it! I am sure that after baby meadows is born I will make my best blog entry.

Favourite blogs?

It has got to be Stephen Fry’s blog, the man is a true legend

You mention your love of Twitter on your blog. What would you say to encourage Mars Hill's readers to join?

I am not sure what you are trying to get people to Join! My blog or Twitter? I will base my answer on the fact that you are looking for people to Join Twitter.
Twitter is a micro blogging function it allows , in a kind of stalker way, to follow the every move of a person. It could be your best friend your mum or it could be someone famous. Posts can be made by text as well as from a number of mobile applications that can be downloaded to smartphones or Iphones etc. It is also posible to obtain a number of web apps that can be used. When you start out you will feel more like an observer than a contributor because you will read what others are doing but will not have people reading what you are doing.
Some famous twitters include
Stephen Fry – last message at time of writing (lmatow) – One scene down. Five to go. Morale high. Too many cakes available. Mustn't weaken. Mustn't weaken. Mustn't weaken. Mustn't wea....gaaaaargh)
Robert Llewleyn – lmatow - Having been tweeting since June last year, I can really say it's catching on. I'm such an early adopter saddo, so it's nice when it grows
Abby Lee (blog girl with a one track mind) – lmatow - Barclays Bank just hung up on me, after promising to connect me to Customer Complaints. I'm on the verge of tears and am going into hiding.
Also known to be on twitter are John Cleese, Jonathan Ross, Barack Obama (in the form of White House press office) etc.
If you have a little bit of Fame, stalkering in you this can be very interesting seeing what people are up to.

Do we know if Baby Meadows will be a boy or a girl?

We don't

Your job seems to involve a lot of stays in hotels. Is there anyone you particually recommend?

Hotels are difficult items, peoples interpretations of what makes a good hotel change, I am also bound by company policy to stay in hotels which fall within the Project budget and agreed rates with clients. I tend to use Premier inn because they fall within budget measures and you know what you are getting. I have been to a very nice hotel called the March Bank at Scotch Dyke in Cumbria and it is a wonderful family run restaurant (

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

The list is long and varied but I think number 1 on the list would have to be New Zealand.

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

When I was young we lived in the far east so we visited, Hong Kong, Bangkok, Singapore, Brunei. This is a whole area which I would like to revisit so I can relive the memory from when I was young.

Do you have a favourite political figure in history?

I guess I would have to say Nelson Mandela – recently watched Goodbye Bafana it is a wonderful insight into Nelson Mandela's life in prison.

Which figure has been your greatest inspiration?

My Father

Favourite Bond movie?

I don’t have a favourite Bond movie, they are all my favourite you can pick between them they are just Bond movies. I have not seen the latest one which moves from the mould but we shall see.

Favorite Doctor Who?

I enjoy Dr Who, but I never really had a favourite but if I had to chose one it would be Sylvester McCoy, as he was Dr Who when I watched it.

Chocolate, vanilla, or mint?

Mint Choc Chip

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

Barenaked Ladies

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

Not really sure what you are asking! If I was having a weekend away I would go to the South West somewhere like Woolacomb or Bude, or I would go to the Lake District.

Favourite national newspaper?

Depends on my mood, I get the Times because I like the puzzles and on Sundays I like the supplements, other times I get the Independent or the Guardian.

What would you say your hobbies were?

Hobbies – well Scouts, but there is also badminton, cricket and the outdoors, I used to play Rugby.

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

Favourite song at the moment is Barenaked Ladies – Take it Back, and book wise, well I am not really a proflic reader but I am really enjoying Book Thief by Markus Zusak.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

The Value of Dignity. Something Sir David Attenborough's Opponents Should Learn!

I was saddened but not surprised to read about this! It's disappointing that such people lack Christian forgiveness, or a desire to persuade (although I am no "creationist"). Its also sad that they cannot seperate conviction and attitude and, like many, use evolution as a pivotal argument as to belief in God, or indeed the Christian faith.

The New Gang of Four

I saw enough on the news last night where the taped recordings were concerned to feel rather depressed about this. If the four peers concerned are found guilty by an investigation, then they should be punished. Perhaps the Labour Party could have the Whip withdrawn from them? But it has opened up a whole situation where it is clear that we need tougher rules and dealing with a situation where it is clear that the House of Lords is a soft target for those who are willing to pay for legislation to be made in their favour.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Obama and Oil

I think this is a good idea, although I am concerned on how this might affect Europe. However I can see this being popular in the US and we must do more and take a leaf out of their book and look at ways of being less dependent on other countries with regards to energy.

Jonathan Ross Is Slipping

I have to say I agree with Iain here. At his best Jonathan Ross is witty, amusing, quick, intelligent, and can do empathy well if so inclined. Qualities all interviewers need. At his worst he is egotistical, unable to see boundaries of taste, and ignores and probably deliberately winds up his enemies out of bloody mindedness (but who wouldn't if they could!).
But if what Iain has said is true about his comments last night, esp given that The Sun and the Daily Mail are gunning for him in a big way, then he has not done himself any favours and should go.
There are ways of facing down your opponents, and taking a superior V sign waving attitude is perhaps not the best option when those said opponents, whether bullies or not, are rather powerful. Unless you have a good plan of attack up your sleeve it is best to leave well alone and keep one's head down.


Its a word much needed in politics, and one that is valued by voters if November's Presidential election in the US has anything to go by.
It's especially needed after several years of unethical acts during conflicts and causes of conflict, and it's even more needed during this time of economic recession. So whilst many many knock such comments, I think Gordon Brown is making a valuable point here.
Pessimism works more as a virus on the economy than anything else if you think about it, and whilst it is right to acknowledge the mess we are in and not to devalue the long and arduous journey it will take to recover, likewise we should say that the fightback begins here and now and that we must all work together to bring about recovery.

Friday, January 23, 2009

I Just Love This Banner

For those who haven't been following the news in the UK lately, it's a mickey take on this.
Hat tip to ParburyPolitica and Jon Worth

The Oscars for 2009

Well it's interesting this year, although it would have been nice if Michael Sheen got a nomination for his role in Frost/Nixon, but then we can't have too many Brits nominated can we ;). I also notice that Kate Winslet has not been nominated for her role in Revolutionary Road.
But all eyes go to the Best Supporting Actor catergory, where Heath Ledger has been nominated posthumously for his role as the Joker in Batman: The Dark Knight. Given the brilliance he showed in that role, that it is his penultimate film role, that he has even been nominated, I think it is likely that he will get it.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

President Obama

"The challenges we face are real, they are serious and they are many. They will not be met easily or in a short span of time.
"But know this America - they will be met."

One of the defining comments that Barack Obama made in his inagural speech as 44th President of the United States
And he is right to not only point out where the US has lost it's way, it's sense of moral compass where their government is concerned over the previous eight years, but also that the challenges we all face will take time, effort, sweat, and tears. That said there is so much goodwill for him right now, so much of a desire to see him succeed, and so much awareness of what a mountain we all have to climb, that I don't think the warning will go unheeded. I hope not anyway.
But hope always triumphs over cynicism, even if it takes a long while. Recently the BBC have unearthed some footage of an interview they gave to Martin Luther King in 1964, where he mentioned his belief that America would one day have a black President. Apparently Robert Kennedy was almost bang on in accuracy when he stated around that time that he expected to see a black President within forty years. I hope that if it is possible, they are seeing todays events and smiling that some of what they have dreamt has come to pass.
But today also has its sadness. Senator Edward Kennedy is ill in hospital. Many of us will pray for his recovery and in the midst of all the joys of today, our thoughts must also go to him and his family.

President Bush Snr on the invasion of Kuwait and President Clinton on Health Care Reform

In the final part of our series of significant speeches from former US Presidents, we see Priden George H.W. Bush address Congress on the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait in 1990, and President Bill Clinton address Congress in 1993 on Health Care Reform. Perhaps one of the more important aspects of his administration. Footage courtesy of the Miller Center of Public Affairs

Monday, January 19, 2009

The Return of Kenneth Clarke

Yes he is formidable, yes the Conservatives have upped their game, yes it may even get some people voting Conservative again.
But he is beatable, he was on the Conservative front bench in 1997, and he does have a less than perfect record.
Plus he is someone who a no of right-wing Tories do not think highly of, as Gordon Brown pointed out today when he stated:

"It's good to have someone in the shadow cabinet who has supported our policy on Europe, supported our policy on VAT and is probably quietly supportive of many of our other policies."

Lets see how long the honeymoon will last!

President Carter on the Success of the Egypt/Israel Talks and President Reagan on the Cold War Situation

Following this brief series, today we see President Carter announce the success of the Egypt/Israel talks at Camp David in 1978 (something that needs to echo todays situation perhaps). This is followed by President Reagan's visit to the Berlin Wall in 1987, challenging Mikhail Gorbachev to give people a choice by tearing down the Berlin Wall.
Footage courtesy of the Miller Center of Public Affairs

Sunday, January 18, 2009

President Nixon's Resignation Speech and President Ford's First Speech as President

Following on from yesterday, below is President Nixon's farewell speech as President, explaining why he is resigning. I think it is better than his "No whitewash in the White House" speech, which strikes me as somewhat veering away from the truth.
Next is Gerald Ford's opening speech as President. Humbling, and yet sincere. Ford might not have been the sharpest President, but he was gentle and straightforward. Two essential qualities needed in the post. Footage courtesy of the Miller Center of Public Affairs

Friday, January 16, 2009

Attitudes On Israel

I find Tim Ireland's view on this idealistic, but perhaps not without taking things fully into account. I find Donal Blaney's view on Tim's view, rather contemptible and nasty.
But this is only a tiny fraction of part of the problem at looking at the Israeli/Palestinian situation. Namely that whilst the Israelis are behaving in a vicious and appalling manner towards the Palestinian people, equally they have suffered great provocation and do have a right to exist, something that some in the Arab community find hard to take in.
Donal Blaney's view (and those who share it) will not help and encourage those who are rightfully angry with Israel to see the full picture (in fact I wonder if that was the intention). Equally, Tim and others should perhaps consider more about the history of Israel, what the Israelis have gone through, and the treatment they have recieved at the hands of terrorists like Hamas. I refuse to apologise or condone the actions of either, but we must forgive and we must work hard to bring about lasting peace on both sides and listen to the anger and concerns from both sides. However frustrating or long it takes

President Kennedy On Civil Rights & President Johnson's Announcement That He Won't Seek Re-Election

Given that in just a few days we shall see Barack Obama in the White House, I will be showing speeches of every President since (and including Kennedy) which is either memorable, and/or speaking on an issue which defined their Presidency. Today we look at President Kennedy's televised speech in 1963, stating that legislation would be put through to stop segregation in the US.Followed by President Johnson's speech in 1968, stating that he would not seek re-election for another full term as President. Films are courtesy of the Miller Center of Public Affairs

Patrick McGoohan and Sir John Mortimer

I was addened to read about the deaths of both these men. Patrick McGoohan was someone who was willing to play the action hero, but not in conventional ways and it was that which lead him towards helping to create, and play the lead, in The Prisoner.
Sir John Mortimer was a fine author. Indeed he had a way of getting inside the skin of the anti-heroes in his books with a certain degree of empathy, but still with sharp criticism (see Leslie Titmuss) , which makes it easy to see how he made a good barrister.
But it was for his creation of Horace Rumpole that he will be most remembered. The barrister who always stood for the defence, who calmly stood for justice and faced down many opponents, but lived in some trepidation of his beloved wife Hilda (otherwise known affectionatley as "She Who Must Be Obeyed!").
Both men much missed, and who made life a little more exciting.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

It's Official! Waterboarding Is Torture.

At last we are about to have an administration in the US that says so. With the news that Guantamano is to close, it seems that the US authorities have recognised that such methods achieve nothing that promotes justice and encourages questionable evidence. More importantly that such methods are an affront to anyones dignity and human rights which, esp when not proven guilty in a court of law, they are entitled to.
It's basically a no brainer!

That Third Runway

I am in two minds about this. (As indeed, I suspect, are a lot of people) On one hand I don't think it is going to do wonders for the Environment, or indeed the wellbeing of local communities. That said, Heathrow is one of the most well-known and popular airports in one of the most popular and powerful countries in the World. Those who are very much against the expansion must put forward viable alternatives of transport at International level.
As for John McDonnell, one cannot help but wonder if this was pre-orchestrated and therefore an act of indulgence and not helpful at all. It won't help his cause and only put up the backs of MP's of varying opinions on this matter.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

The Tories Plan To Cut Around 60 Seats

Hat tip to Kerron. Not only is it a bit of Pie-in-the-sky policy, but isn't it convenient that the areas where they want to downgrade the no of MP's tend to be areas where the Conservatives don't do very well!

Dyslexic Fiction

Either Graham Stringer is very brave or else he is being foolish. Given what I know of the condition, the evidence concerning dyslexia, plus having friends (inc a close relative) with the condition, I am strongly inclined to believe the latter.
I also know of at least one Labour MP who is dyslexic as well, so this assertion will go down well in the corridors of Westminster today

Monday, January 12, 2009

Sir Menzies Campbell for Speaker!

I actually think this is a good idea. Am not partisan when it comes to choosing Speakers and I think it would be good for both Labour and the Conservatives if next time it's a Liberal Democrat, and out of those I can think of no one better and more dignified!

Sunday, January 11, 2009

How Does The Conservative Party Attract Such People?

Enough has been said in detail about this insensitive and sickening stunt and credit to the Conservative Party hierarchy for acting as swiftly as they did. It does make one wonder though, given previous incidents (esp note the Party Animals section in the Daily Mail article linked above), how the Conservatives attract such young people. Indeed, one of their members told the Daily Mail:

'Young Tories need to understand that Conservative Future is not some merry drinking club for a bunch of idiots.'

And to be fair, I know of one or two Young Conservatives who are very decent people, such as Tim Roll-Pickering, plus no Party is immune from its problem members, but it does look like the Conservatives might need to look at what sort of people they are attracting amongst the young, esp girls like Flick Cox who said:

'I am quite glad about that, I would hate to have to end our friendship when I become an MP because you had pulled a Prince Harry!!!.'

How cynical, crass, stupid, and arrogant. One things for sure, she will never be an MP as a result of this! No Party would want her and this would always be dragged up somewhere if she even tried!

Thursday, January 08, 2009

Chris Morris's Jihad Satire

Not sure how this will work, but it looks promising. Bit of an egg shell of a subject though and am concerned how Chris Morris (given his track record) will handle it!

The Return Of the Test Card Girl

I have said it before and I will say it again. The Test Card Girl scared me as a small child and still sort of gives me the creeps.

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Wearing a T Shirt of a Member of the Nazi Party and Being Well Thought Of!

Why would anyone want to? And if they did why would decent people think it was cool.
By simply wearing this T Shirt

Hat tip to Cally's Kitchen

The Need for a Ceasefire in Gaza

One of the most awful aspects of this situation is the strong element of Catch 22.
Put basically, Isreal attack Gaza because Hamas have been attacking Israel, firing rockets daily across the border. By invading Gaza, Israel has put themselves in danger of driving international opinion against them and yet a response is needed from them given the intense bullying and provocation they have recieved.
In turn the attacks on Hamas can bring sympathy, but of course it doesn't help when they make it clear that they are not interested in peace with Israel, and then there is the fact that this is the sort of situation that is food and drink for the extremists.
We need a ceasefire and we need international mediation and fast. Hopefully the French/Egyptian plan will secure that!

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Things to do with Advent/Christmas Pt 47: Epiphany

And of course, today being offically the last day of Christmas, there is plenty of snow and frost. If only it happened a week ago. Still it's okay if you are a member of the Russian Orthodox Church, as today is Christmas Eve

Friday, January 02, 2009

The Next Doctor Who

I didn't anticipate the announcement would be this soon, and am on tenderhooks. I would like it to be Patterson Joseph, but lets wait and see!

Thursday, January 01, 2009

Mars Hill Blog Stats (Dec 2008)

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

Coventry, London, Manchester, Nice, Kuala Lumpur, Regina, Canberra, Madison, Seoul, Prague

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

United Kingdom, United States, Switzerland, Austria, South Korea, Malaysia, France, Canada, Australia, Czech Republic.

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) Politigg (NEW)

2) Chris Paul: Labour of Love (+8)

3) Daily Telegraph (NEW)

4) Rupa Huq (Returned)

5) Kerron Cross - The Voice of the Delectable Left (+4)

6) Bloggers4Labour (-1)

7) British Blogs (-)

8) Cally's Kitchen (-7)

9) Tim Roll-Pickering (-3)

10) Wikipedia (-7)

Out of the Top Ten are Rullsenberg Rules, Paul Linford, and Shaw

Apologies by the way for the non appearance last month. Was rather busy and had a lot on my mind, that said I am not sure if it is worth my while publishing such lists

The Mugabe Issue. Doing Something Proactive

Put basically I am organising an online petition via Facebook, which, if succesful and generating over 5,000 responses, will be sent to the South African Embassy in London. The petition reads:

We the undersigned, have been watching with mounting concern over the political situation in Zimbabwe for a no of years now. We have come to the conclusion that not only has Mugabe remained President by increasing illegitimate means, but that his past record means that he is not a man to be trusted and that he needs to be told, rather than advised of his position.
Many of us are ordinary everyday people, not just westerners, but many from various parts of the World, including Africa. We are not motivated by colonialism, or racism, or deference to the West, but out of a sense of common decency, compassion for one's fellow human being, and anger at the lack of regard and respect which Mugabe and his cronies have for those who try to live a day-by-day existence in Zimbabwe
If the situation in Zimbabwe continues unchecked, then we fear the consequences and we want to see that averted now. We see you, an influential neighbour of Zimbabwe, to have the authority and ability to help bring in a change of government to one that is more democratic and one that does not involve Robert Mugabe whom many of us would like to see tried in a Court of Law for his actions.


I don't know what the response will be, but doing something is better than doing nothing