Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Eric Pickles, Scuffles in the Commons, and maybe a Tory Blogger involved?

I have already mentioned this earlier today on Labourhome. On the surface it doesn't seem much more than enough to make some on the left smile, but have another look!
According to Rupa on her blog, there is the consideration;


* Doesn’t it show how out of touch you are when everyone else is in recesssionary belt-tightening mode to be hosting a booze-up for no apparent reason?

* Given that the whole of London is on high alert for the G20 couldn’t you have vetted your guests to the Palace of Westminster more carefully?

* When your party health spokesperson Andrew Lansley said that recessions can change behaviours where people eat and drink less were you taking heed?

* Isn’t it a bit rich of your party to be pointing the finger at people like Tony McNulty when you yourself are an MP for a London commuter-belt seat but insist on a second London flat?

* Is it just me (Ed, Rupa) who thought your Question Time appearance trying to defend the above was not your finest hour?

The Conservatives are now saying that we ought to move along, nothing to see, it's Labour trying to shift coverage. That said, the Tories would be quick to point all of this out if this were a Labour Party incident, plus as Rupa says, it shows a lack of thought from a man David Cameron has entrusted to spearhead their election campaigns.
Plus the Conservative blogosphere has been quiet. Someone on Labourhome has pointed out that Iain Dale, ConservativeHome, Daily Referendum, Donal Blaney etc.. have not said a word on their blogs. Admittedly Guido has and he wants to know who was arrested! Floating voter on Labourhome thinks that a Tory blogger was involved, the inference being that the Conservative blogosphere are closing ranks!
Personally I think the Tory bloggers are simply hoping no one will notice what has happened and for obvious reasons want it forgotten, but the possibility that a Conservative Party blogger was directly involved in the fracas at the House of Commons is an intruiging one. It will be interesting indeed to see how this story develops!

UPDATE: It wasn't a Tory blogger, the identity of the guy who spent the night in the cells is revealed by Paul Waugh

Twenty Questions to a Fellow Blogger Part LXXXVII: Alice Dale

Alice Dale has been blogging for nearly a year on issues about women, or that may affect women, or anything else that seems to attract her attention when she has the time.


What made you decide to start blogging?

I found out a woman I admired and worked with was being paid £10,000 less than her make equivalents and I was feeling a certain frustration with the lack of information and news out there. Once I started though I was reassured to find that there is more information available ...


What is your best blogging experience?

Anytime I can get away with it without my boss noticing.


And your worst?

Getting nasty messages - I am all up for debate but I like a bit of courtesy.


What do you regard as your best blog entry?

The one where the Gender Analyser described me as 92% male.


Favourite blogs?

The F Word, The Honeyball Buzz, And Another Thing ...


Given that your blog is about feminism, how much progress would you say has been made in the past thirty years and where do you think much needs to be done?

I think a lot of people consider that the job has been done and so when trying to get traction on issues of equal pay and rape conviction rates the progress can be glacial. The fact that a lot of women feel very comfortable in their everyday lives is always reassuring though, and the next steps are to make sure that solutions are sought for the worst abuses of women .


For those who don't know, what is the Henna Foundation?

The Henna Foundation is a Cardiff-based organisation that helps women (and some men) escape from forced marriages and the associated honour-based violence.


How hopeful are you that the gender pay gap will soon close?

I used to be hopeful that when more women could access better jobs that the pay gap would naturally close up. I think the example I mentioned at the top shows that in some organisations it doesn't matter if you get the job, the pay still doesn't always match up.


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

I would love to travel up and down the length of the Americas.


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

Italy - the food, the weather, all perfect.


Do you have a favourite political figure in history?

Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire. She held the Whig party together and was active in politics in a way that no woman had been.


Which figure has been your greatest inspiration?

Queen Elizabeth I - the first monarch to say that religion doesn't matter.


Favourite Bond movie?

Casino Royale


Favourite Doctor Who?

Christopher Ecclestone.


Chocolate, vanilla, or mint?

Chocolate, always chocolate.


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

Kings of Leon


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

Oxford - good architecture, good shops, good nightlife. What more do you need?


Favourite national newspaper?

The Guardian - it has the strongest women's section and has done for over 40 years.


What would you say your hobbies were?

Making lists, reading, yoga.


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


Books would be: The Harry Potter series (J. K. Rowling); The Duchess (Amanda Foreman); and The Eyre Affair (Jasper Fforde). Three favourite songs are: Magic (Ladyhawke); I bet that you look good on the dancefloor (Arctic Monkeys); and Celebrity Skin (Hole)









Monday, March 30, 2009

The Latest In N.Ireland

The dissidents may try and continue to cause mayhem, but if the past few weeks have anything to go by, the people of Northern Ireland are united against them! So much has been achieved for the better for both communities, that no serious politician in N.Ireland be it the DUP, Sinn Fein, the SDLP, the Ulster Unionists, the Alliance, will sit back and let this continue when each party has invested so much in this peace process!

Some MP's Must Get Their Act Together!

Having just watched the lunchtime news, plus reading some of the strength of feeling in some of the newspaper editorials, I have to say I was shocked at the amount of expenses Jacqui Smith has claimed!
Such things may well be within the rules, as with the McNulty case, but as a Labour grassroots person I wish, I just wish that any MP who does this, particually Labour MP's, would stop and think about the moral implications and how this looks to the general public! There is an unpleasant chasm between Westminster politics and people at the moment, and these things put people right off politics. What particually disturbs me is that the Major government was partly brought down by sleaze allegations and ministers not using their common sense and those of us who were in the Labour Party or who supported Labour were relentless in our attacks. It would be tragic, and I mean that word, if Labour lost at the next election and part of the reason would be because we didn't get our act together in terms of how we conducted ourselves in office! The extra tragedy would be that many decent, hard working MP's would suffer as a consequence

Twenty Questions to a Fellow Blogger Part LXXXVI: Charles Kuffner

Charles Kuffner is a got-here-as-fast-as-I-could Texan who thought he wanted to write about sports when he started up Off the Kuff. So much for that. He likes his politics progressive, his pizza thin-crusted, and his bios brief.

What made you decide to start blogging?

I wanted an outlet to write - I'd written a sports column for my college newspaper, and missed the experience of regular writing since graduation. One day, I stumbled across a blog written by a friend of mine, and after reading the whole thing, I asked her how I could do something like that. That was over seven years ago, and I'm still going strong. I didn't expect to write about politics when I started, but that's what I do, with a focus on Texas.


What is your best blogging experience?

Having someone tell me they read and enjoy what I write.


And your worst?

Getting harassed by a local crank who apparently objected to something I wrote about him. He seems to have crawled back under his rock for the time being, thankfully.


What do you regard as your best blog entry?

It's hard to pick one out from the thousands of entries I've written. Generally speaking, I'm proudest of the work I do after elections sifting through the numbers to figure out what happened. I was a math major, so any time I can crunch numbers I enjoy it, and I think I do it as well as anyone.


Favourite blogs?

My fellow Texas political bloggers are on heaviest rotation for me: Burnt Orange Report (http://www.burntorangereport.com), Capitol Annex (http://www.capitolannex.com), Muse Musings (http://muse-musings.blogspot.com), Eye on Williamson (http://www.eyeonwilliamson.com), Dos Centavos (http://dos-centavos.blogspot.com), Greg's Opinion (http://www.gregsopinion.com), and many others. Various Texas media outlets have fine blogs for us political junkies as well. You get fuller coverage of the campaigns and of the Legislature through them than you do in their regular spheres.
When I want a break from politics, I go to Baseball Musings (http://www.baseballmusings.com), Tubular (http://blogs.chron.com/tubular) and Lost...And Gone Forever (http://lost-and-gone-forever.blogspot.com) to keep up with my favorite TV show, and The Bloggess (http://www.thebloggess.com) for laughs.


With the recent election of Barack Obama, the growing concerns over how there is a lack of regulation in the financial world, are we seeing a change in political philosophy and attitudes in the US?
I think so, though I think it's important to remember that any kind of change doesn't come easy. There's fear of the unknown, there's defense of turf by those who like things as they are, there's the usual political push and pull - you get the idea. Opinion polls as well as electoral results show that there's a willingness to try something different, but putting that into practice is hard and messy work.


How would you define the American blogosphere?

Huge, varied, noisy, provocative, annoying, compelling. There's something to like and something to dislike for everyone.


Just how dangerous do you regard the Republican right at the moment?
In some ways, as dangerous as ever - they still have their infrastructure, they still have their commitment to their goals, they still have the kind of unity Democrats only dream of. Yet they're as unpopular now as they've ever been, they've driven a lot of their coalition partners, the libertarian and business-oriented and fiscally-conservative-but-socially-moderate types that used to fuel their election victories away - even in Texas, this is the case, though they still have a lock on the state government - and they can't do much at the federal level to push legislation, though they can still block it to some extent. They can still make a lot of noise, demand a lot of attention, and drive a lot of the debate, but they don't have the power to do much more than that right now.


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

I've always wanted to visit Australia. And Ireland, so I can experience a true Irish pub before they all disappear.


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

I had the chance a few years ago to visit Seoul, South Korea for a couple of days while my wife was on a business trip there. I'd love to see more of that city and that country. And if I do go again, this time I will make sure I get to see a baseball game there.


Do you have a favourite political figure in history?

Not really. I'm drawn more to events than to individuals.


Which figure has been your greatest inspiration?
I don't really have one, for the same reason as above.


Favourite Bond movie?

Goldfinger. "No, Mister Bond, I expect you to die."


Favourite Doctor Who?

Never was a Dr. Who fan. If it helps, my favorite Star Trek episode is "Mirror, Mirror".


Chocolate, vanilla, or mint?
Mint chocolate. Specifically, mint chocolate chip ice cream. Mmmmmmm...


Which Band, past or present, would you most like to see in concert?
I'd love to see the classic jazz bands of the swing era. Glenn Miller, Duke Ellington, Count Basie, Benny Goodman. I played in jazz bands as a student and developed an affection for that music that persists to this day.


In terms of visiting for the weekend, New York, Harvard, or Chicago?
I'm from New York, so that would be my first choice. But Chicago is a close second - I always have a great time there when I visit.


Favourite national newspaper?

The NY Times.


What would you say your hobbies were?

I still do have hobbies, I just don't have as much time for them as before. I still play the saxophone, and I still occasionally play bridge. For the most part, whatever free time I have these days is spent with the family - we have two girls under the age of five, and they take a lot of time and energy. Fortunately, they're a lot of fun to spend that time with.


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

"Thunder Road" - Bruce Springsteen
"A String of Pearls" - Glenn Miller
"Romeo and Juliet" - Dire Straits
"The Murder of Roger Ackroyd" - Agatha Christie
"To Kill A Mockingbird" - Harper Lee
"Good Omens" - Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett

(What can I say, I was a math major - never was into literature.)

Dan Hannan, Courtesy Of Go 4th!


Perhaps not the best person to criticise the Government on economic matters! :-). Hat tip to Go 4th

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Twenty Questions to a Fellow Blogger Part LXXXV: Ewan Crawford


Ewan Crawford: I trained as a newspaper journalist with the East Anglian Daily Times, before joining the BBC. While at the BBC I produced a range of news and current affairs programmes including Good Morning Scotland. I was private secretary to the leader of the SNP from 2001-2004. Now a lecturer at the University of the West of Scotland, I also contribute comment pieces to The Scotsman, Scotland on Sunday and The Guardian.








What made you decide to start blogging?

I could barely get through a BBC news bulletin or an edition of The Sunday Times without complaining about the coverage of some story or other, so instead of moaning to myself or my wife I thought I might as well do it online.


What is your best blogging experience?

I emailed the brilliant Daniel Finkelstein once about one of his blog posts. A few minutes later he was referring to my note on the Times' Comment Central blog. It brought home to me the speed, informality and connectivity of blogging. I've written a decent number of opinion pieces for newspapers, but the process is much longer and can involve a negotiation process.


And your worst?

Nothing personal to me, but the anonymous abuse directed at high profile writers such as Polly Toynbee, Jackie Ashley and others is depressing. You can dress it up as robust debate if you want, but it's just moronic ranting from people who, I suspect, would be ashamed to have their identities revealed.


What do you regard as your best blog entry?

I have no idea


Favourite blogs?

Tom Harris - well-written, if at times tediously New Labour (it's over Tom); Iain Dale; SNP Tactical Voting; Roy Greenslade.


What inspired you to go into politics?

My father was an SNP MP in the 1970s so in some respects I suppose it was in the blood. Also, the repeated attempts by Labour and the Tories to crush Scottish self-esteem - resulting in appalling levels of child poverty and inequality - made it hard to simply accept the status quo.


You have mentioned the development of the SNP as a political party. Is it a left wing or a right wing party?

Moderate left-of-centre and interestingly for a nationalist party, very liberal on immigration and asylum matters: the SNP has been at the forefront of the campaign to shut down the Dungavel detention centre, where children are locked up for the crime of having parents who want to start a new life in the UK.
.

You recently mentioned a casual prejudice towards Scotland from British newspapers. Granted there is that in some sectors, but isn't there a casual prejudice towards England in some quarters! Is this a new development, and how can we tackle it?

The big difference is that serious newspapers in Scotland would never indulge in the kind of attacks launched against Scots by Simon Heffer and others in what are supposed to be quality newspapers. I am genuinely astonished at the level of invective prompted by the fact that Gordon Brown is Scottish. How can we tackle it? By Scotland becoming Independent - we in Scotland would then have no-one else to blame; and Simon and his mates would have to stop their game of "why oh why are the Scots living the high life on the backs of the hard-working English." Our relationship would be much healthier: one of equals.


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

Sweden, New Zealand and plenty of others.


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

Melbourne (It snowed!) and Venice


Who, excluding the present SNP leader and First Minister, do you regard as the best First Minister, and who do you regard as the best SNP leader?

Donald Dewar as First Minister. The SNP doesn't change its leader all that often. In my lifetime apart from Alex Salmond, John Swinney and Gordon Wilson have both been outstanding.


Which political figure has been your greatest inspiration?

Nelson Mandela (a great nationalist in the best sense of the word); Sean Lemass, Winnie Ewing.


Favourite Bond movie?

Any Sean Connery if course!


Favourite Doctor Who?

Tom Baker

Chocolate, vanilla, or mint?

Vanilla

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

The Beatles


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

Cambridge - I used to live in Suffolk and could easily get to my favourite town in England, Bury St Edmunds.


Favourite national newspaper?

The Scotsman (Scottish), The Guardian (UK)


What would you say your hobbies were?

Playing and watching cricket; watching football and rugby, reading political biography.


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

Songs:

Into my arms: Nick Cave

A man’s a man: sung by Sheena Wellington at the opening of the Scottish Parliament – an incredible moment.

Hallelujah: Jeff Buckley.

Books:

Sunset Song – Lewis Grassic Gibbon

The Redundancy of Courage – Timothy Mo

Grapes of Wrath – John Steinbeck

More On Jacqui Smith, The Husband, And Those Films!

From Iain Dale's blog:


The thing is. While entertaining Rosie Palm and her five daughters, Richard Timney hasn't, in theory, done anything wrong. The rules allow MPs not just to claim for mortgage interest on a second home, but also to furnish it and pay for "services". These include Cable TV and Sky. Perhaps individual PPV films don't qualify, but in the rules there is nothing to stop film and sport packages being claimed for, as well as news channels.

I believe an honest mistake has been made for the simple reason that you would not believe how inept people can be in dealing with such things, but even so, nothing illegal has been done. Hence a flash in the pan.
That said, it is a small reminder, as with the McNulty case, that some of the rules need changing and new guidelines introduced. That way it's not just a moral issue or a potential moral issue!

Jacqui Smith And Those *Ahem*, Films

Those of us who have heard it I'm sure, raised an eyebrow when hearing this tale ! That said, aside from the subject matter of these films, is there any real story here? Its amusing to some and smiles and/or irritation all round, but it will mainly be forgotten before long. The same will be with regards to Dan Hannan's attack, which, aside from fellow bloggers, was only picked up by right-wing broadcast media in the United States (although John Prescott is right about it showing the growth of the power of blogging, and don't you just love Go 4th YouTube response ;-) )! Whilst its all entertaining in one way or another, at the risk of sounding pompus, lets take it all with a pinch of salt and worry and get more excited (heck, wrong word) about the issues which affect our daily lives!

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Twenty Questions to a Fellow Blogger Part LXXXIV: Paul Dennett

(Paul Dennett)

Paul Dennett lives in the North of England with his wife and children and works in the IT industry. Paul blogs at A Progressive Viewpoint















What made you decide to start blogging?


I always felt that there were things that needed to be said that weren't being said well enough, often enough. So I decided to do it myself.


What is your best blogging experience?

Tricky one that. I'm thrilled whenever anyone thinks anything I write is worth quoting, or repeating, or even criticising. The most spectacular was when I made it into Iain Dale's UK Top 20 of Twittering Political Bloggers. But it was also hilarious, because in real terms it's completely meaningless.
The thing that meant most to me was probably when I was linked to by Mark Steyn for this post.


And your worst?

I got very downhearted at one point a couple of years ago and deleted the whole blog. Then I had second thoughts and rebuilt the whole thing from scratch.


What do you regard as your best blog entry?

http://aprogressiveviewpoint.blogspot.com/2005/09/church-against-america_20.html

This was the first article I wrote that received much comment from elsewhere. It demolishes a monumentally bad report from the then Bishop of Oxford and some of his chums. The link to the report is broken now, as the report seems to have disappeared from the Church of England website. Hopefully it was removed out of embarrassment.


Favourite blogs?

Norm Geras for his wit and genuine wisdom. He's like a wise old uncle and always interesting to read even when I haven't got the foggiest idea what he's on about.
Sadie Smith because she's lively and funny and challenging, in just the right proportions - except that she doesn't post often enough.
Guido Fawkes because he's brilliant at what he does (although I don't always approve of it).
And there are about a hundred others that are worth a mention...

You have been blogging now for four years, slightly longer than me. How would you say the blogosphere has changed during that time?

The line between blogger and journalist has blurred quite a bit, which I think is appropriate, although it's also a challenge to the bloggers to raise their game.


What is it like being a non-party political blogger?

It means I am free to operate a strict "credit where credit's due" policy. I have a fairly coherent set of political views but my natural political allies are to be found in all the main parties. So I speak as I find.


How would you reform the House of Lords?

Combine the principles of nomination and election. Get whoever it is that nominates the peers these days to come up with a list of twice or three times as many candidates as there are vacancies and then get people to vote for them at the same time as the general election. Elect a third of them at each general election so you basically get a twelve year term. And call it the Senate rather than the House of Lords.


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

America.


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

Israel


Do you have a favourite political figure in history?

I've always been fascinated by Ancient Rome, especially the late Republican period. Obviously it wasn't a democracy in the way we understand it, but they did have elections (on a limited franchise) which they took seriously and they were very big on what we would call the Rule of Law. Also they despised monarchy and were very suspicious of giving too much power to one person, so they tended to elect their executive officers in twos (or fours, or whatever). By the middle of the first century BC they had had a republic for nearly five hundred years and the wheels were falling off - very powerful people were undermining the system.

My favourite political figure would be Marcus Tullius Cicero, who saw that it was all going down the toilet, and tried in vain, but with some pretty impressive oratory, to stop it.


Which figure has been your greatest inspiration?

My stock answer to this used to be Nick Leeson, on the grounds that he was living proof that one man could make a difference. However, these days too many people have followed his example rather too closely, so I'll have to pass on this one


Favourite Bond movie?

Haven't seen a Bond movie for years, and I couldn't pick out a best film. Connery was the best Bond though.


Favourite Doctor Who?

David Tennant


Chocolate, vanilla, or mint?

Mint.


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

Queen, probably


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

Cambridge. I've already been to Oxford a number of times and I don't know where Barsby is anyway


What would you say your hobbies were?

Blogging.


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

Songs:
"Bohemian Rhapsody" by Queen;
"Sowing the Seeds of Love" by Tears for Fears;
and "I the Lord of Sea and Sky" by any sizeable church congregation anywhere.
Books:
"Atlas Shrugged" by Ayn Rand - I'm not an objectivist and as works of literature go it's pretty heavy but it's just so mindblowing I would advise anyone to have a go...

"Rubicon" by Tom Holland - a fabulously readable history of the Roman Republic.
Any or all of the "Thomas the Tank Engine" books - my son loves them and they are actually quite clever for what they are.










Friday, March 27, 2009

Royalty and Catholics

I agree that a review is necessary and that it should be okay for anyone to marry a Catholic if they so wish and not face any sanction for it! That said, for various reasons many will be against it. Some will be against it for fear it could lead to a Catholic on the throne which in turn could jeopardise the Church of England's existence. The answer to that is disestablishment, but for many a Church of England being tied to the state is essential in a postmodern age in terms of protection, for others there is the fear of the loss of established order, and then there are some who do not want any links with Rome should the C of E remain established!
My answer to all of that is simple. If change is advised because it is right, then it should be implemented because it is right, not ignored out of fear of the consequences!

Favourite National Newspaper

I interview many bloggers of varied political backgrounds, both inside and outside the UK, with 'Twenty Questions..' as regular readers know only to well. Past interviewees have included both nationalists and unionists within the British Isles and one or two have queried my question on 'Favourite National Newspaper'as to whether it means the UK, or for Scotland, or Wales, or Northern Ireland etc..
Basically the connotations have never crossed my mind until the issue was raised, but for future reference I can say it's whatever you want it to be! So it could be a Welsh, Northern Irish, Irish, Scottish, or UK newspaper, or even one from abroad (which helps given that I have interviewed americans, australians, and canadians amongst others)! Have even accepted The Economist as an answer and I don't regard it as a newspaper!
Basically the questions are designed so that a) one knows more about the blogger and b) ones I feel my readers would want me to ask within reason

Twenty Questions to a Fellow Blogger Part LXXXIII: John Dixon

(John Dixon)
John Dixon (Borthlas):

Currently National Chair of Plaid Cymru, a post held since 2002, as well as in 1992/3. Have previously been National Treasurer, Vice Chair, Director of Organisation. I have fought a number of elections over the years and served as a councillor between 1976 and 1991. I fought Carmarthen West and South Pembrokeshire in the parliamentary election in 2005 and the Assembly election of 2007, when we were within 250 votes of taking the seat. We are planning to do better next time.*







What made you decide to start blogging?


My blog is unashamedly part of my campaigning tool kit as a candidate. It doesn't reach a massive audience - which blog does, other than the really big ones such as Iain Dale? But it does provide a platform for expressing views, and making a contribution to political debate. I'd also add that "Failure is the mother of all success". After a very close-fought Assembly election in 2007, where the first three candidates in this constituency all came within 1% of each other, it would be very strange not to be looking for any avenues which might help in some way to address the deficit. I also use the blog to speak to party members on some issues as well.


What is your best blogging experience?


Debating issues through the comments section. A lot of blog posts get read, but provoke no (discernible!) reaction; but occasionally one provokes a reasonable debate. Looking across the political blogosphere in general, it seem that it's often the most 'gossipy' posts which attract the most reaction, whilst there can be less debate around more serious issues. It's always nice to get some feedback in terms of real debate.



And your worst?


The opposite - provoking reactions from Nonnies who are simply abusive, and not interested in serious discussion.



What do you regard as your best blog entry?


I think this one. I picked up on a story from one newspaper, did a little research on the local implications, and that in turn turned into a story in the Western Mail. It demonstrated the sort of symbiotic rather than competitive relationship which can exist between different media.



Favourite blogs?


I admit that I mostly read Welsh-focussed blogs; that after all is the main arena for my own political activity. Within my own party, I'd name Adam Price's blog. Adam shows an ability to float original and provocative ideas at times in a well-argued fashion. From political opponents, I always read Peter Black (Lib Dem) and Glyn Davies (Tory). For the Labour Party, I'd have to choose the various blogs produced at different times by Adam Higgitt - his latest offering being welshpoliticalhistory. I don't always agree with his conclusions, but it's a well-argued blog, and he's always up for a decent debate. Then the Welsh media blogs - Betsan Powys and Vaughan Roderick in particular. But also Tomos Livingstone; and a welcome return this week by David Cornock.



What inspired you to go into politics?


I started to take a serious interest in politics in the 1960's – as a result of what I would call the big issues of the time. The war in Vietnam , apartheid in South Africa , the campaign against nuclear armaments, the growing awareness of environmental issues. It sounds to some like a long route from there to being a Welsh nationalist; but actually it isn't. I'd describe it simply as 'acting at a human level' to respond to that sort of issue – a sort of 'Think Global, Act Local' approach to politics before that particular phrase became popular.



You sometimes talk on your blog about co-operation between Labour and Plaid. Where do you think co-operation between our two parties works best?


The nature of Welsh politics was changed fundamentally by the establishment of the National Assembly, and particularly by the fact that there is an element of proportional representation. The effect is that single party government is not impossible, but likely to be rare. In many ways, Plaid and Labour (well, traditional Labour, anyway) share some core values, and both claim to be heirs to elements of the Welsh radical tradition, although there are also some very serious areas of disagreement.

One result of that appeal to a common tradition is that we are competing for the same vote in many parts of Wales – and competing pretty ferociously at times. Add to that the way in which Labour's traditional hegemony in Wales was undermined by the new voting system (although paradoxically, it was Labour who introduced it!), and the result is a situation where partnership working is essential, but not necessarily welcomed by all.

To return, eventually, to the question, I think the partnership can work best on issues where the core values of the two parties are most in tune, and where both parties are able and willing to stick to those core values. As simplistic examples, co-operation on the Health Service has worked very well; both parties in the Assembly have been willing to invest in the service, both believe in treatment being free at the point of need, and both have rejected the use of PFI. On all those questions, there is a clear line also between the governing parties and the official opposition. On education, on the other hand, there has been much more difficulty, with Plaid committed to free tuition and the eradication of student debt and Labour following the Blairite agenda of increased tuition fees.



To a tourist visiting Carmarthen , is there anywhere in the area you would recommend?


Are all tourists interested in the same sort of attraction? Depends on whether the tourist wants beaches, castles or whatever. My own favourite would be the National Botanic Garden at Llanarthne, which suffers only one disadvantage that I can see – it's in Carmarthen East and Dinefwr constituency rather than this one…



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


Plenty of places - how long have you got? If I had to try and narrow it down, it would probably come down to a choice between one of nature's marvels, such as the Grand Canyon, or one of man's, such as the Great Wall of China.



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


Part of me says, yes, almost all of them; and another says no, not with so many unvisited places still to see. I'll plump for no.



Who do you regard as the best Plaid Cymru leader, and, if possible, the best British Prime Minister?


The best Plaid leader if I have to choose only those who've actually held the formal position of leader would have to be a toss-up between Gwynfor Evans, who led the party through a long period in the wilderness but always kept the faith, and Dafydd Wigley who was at the helm at the time of our biggest breakthrough. But if I can extend the definition to include all those who've been in a leadership role, it would have to be Phil Williams, a man of outstanding ability, often years ahead of his time in his thinking, and the one who inspired me more than any other in the party (sorry Dafydd and Gwynfor!).

The best British Prime Minister is harder. Clement Attlee had a defining role in re-inventing Britain after the Second World War and introducing many progressive changes; but David Lloyd George took a similar role after the First World War, and in many ways, his policies were even more of a break with the past. He was more flawed as an individual perhaps – and in many ways, more of a disappointment to a nationalist in that he did not deliver on the constitutional position of Wales , but of the two, I think Lloyd George was the greater.



Which political figure has been your greatest inspiration?


Back to Dr Phil, I'm afraid.



Favourite Bond movie?


Probably the spoof version of Casino Royale.



Favourite Doctor Who?


William Hartnell was the only one who actually looked as though he might be 900 years old, and the original always colours the perception of what follows, but I do think that David Tennant has been an outstanding Dr Who.



Chocolate, vanilla, or mint?


Mint, definitely, as long as we're talking ice-cream.



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


Fleetwood Mac – but with the line-up from the 1960's around the time of Albatross, Man of the World etc.



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


On the basis that I'd never heard of it before getting these questions, it would have to be Barsby. Don't know how long I'd stay though, so might want to be sure of visiting other places in the same general area to fill the weekend…



Favourite national newspaper?


A trick question: is 'national' referring to Wales or the UK ? If the former (which is the natural way for me to interpret the question), then the choice is very limited… If the latter, then the 'Independent'.



What would you say your hobbies were?


Outside political activity, I spend more time in the garden than anywhere else; there's something deeply satisfying about home grown fruit and vegetables.



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

I read a lot of Marx when I was in school many years ago - pretty turgid stuff. It helped me to establish that I'm not a Marxist, but 'The Poverty of Philosophy' was definitely a major influence then and since. The concept that theory is useless without action meant that I could never become a purely armchair politician, however attractive that might have looked. I used to read a lot of science fiction – Arthur C Clarke's 'The City and the Stars' is one of the few books of fiction that I've ever re-read. And then back to influences on political philosophy, perhaps Tawney's 'Religion and the Rise of Capitalism'. But there are so many more that I could have chosen…

Songs is a much harder question to answer – I don't really listen to a lot of music. 'Crossroads' by Don Mclean is one which long haunted me in my youth ('All roads lead to where we stand'), and 'Yesterday' by the Beatles brings back some very personal memories. I'll add a hymn for good measure – 'These things shall be'. The idea that we can be guided by "flame of freedom in their hearts, and light of science in their eyes" has always struck me as being an aspiration worth working towards.


*Brief bio taken from John Dixon's blog at his suggestion

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Genesis: Jesus He Knows Me

( Anthony Banks Ltd/Philip Collins Ltd/Michael Rutherford Ltd)

Discovered this on You Tube the other day. A favourite of mine when it first came out when I was at school. It was 1992 and at a time when various scandals put the spotlight on certain dubious televangelists and their dodgy gospel message of leading a Holy life making you rich! In fact it's not just dodgy, it's unbiblical and offensive to many who have done missionary work with little or no money. A brilliant piece of satire exposing hypocritical behaviour

Abortion and Pro Life Ads on TV

I have hesitated before blogging on this, as someone who is pro life but who has at least one friend who I care about who has had an abortion and several others who are pro choice, I am acutely aware of the various arguments and that this is an issue which needs careful thought and careful consideration.
I think it is important that if pro choice groups are allowed ads then so should pro life groups and vice versa, that is only fair. However both sides need to be given guidelines due to the acute sensitivity of the issues, and both sides need to work towards looking at areas of common ground.
This is not twee or wishy washy, this is important because there are some on both sides of the argument who have had bitter and painful experiences and who are hurting. If anyone needs to put forward ones point it is important to empathise with the opposition and hopefully all will learn something along the way

Blog Wars On Screen

It wasn't pleasant, it was cliquey, and it showed how bloggers can be just as detached from the general public as some politicians are. The fact that Daily Politics presenter, Andrew Neil had to explain some of the arguments for the viewers said it all.
Seeing as he seemed to be indirectly representing Labour, my advice to Derek Draper is simple (which I doubt he will take from a small town provincial blogger who is openly annoyed at best with some of his past antics). Don't lose your temper on TV, esp when your opponent is keeping his cool, it is unedifying and can damage who you represent!
The advice goes to all other bloggers as well, plus a reminder myself for anything that may happen in the future!

Twenty Questions to a Fellow Blogger Part LXXXII: Irfan Ahmed

(Irfan Ahmed)

Irfan Ahmed: I am a 17 year old Lib Dem blogger and a member of the party since December 2007. I am currently I am a student at College studying ICT and politics.








What made you decide to start blogging?

I want to express my opinion and commentary about politics locally and nationally. I intended to amuse a dozen or so people a day but readership has grown since and currently is a couple of hundred people a day.


What is your best blogging experience?

Being known by many high profile people as a blogger and being spotted out in an audience by Gordon Prentice MP for being "Irfan Ahmed".


And your worst?

Being accused of being a homophobic and anti Jewish after I made comments on my blog that were made without thinking about the consequences or thinking about what I was blogging. With blogging it comes with the territory, you need to be able to take rants and attacks at you by other bloggers and commenter's.


What do you regard as your best blog entry?

I don't think I have written my best blog entry, personally I think they are all my best entries.


Favourite blogs?

I read many blogs but some of my favourite include Recess Monkey, Iain Dale's Diary, the former Pendle Truth and PoliticalBetting.com


What inspired you to go into politics?

I am not in politics, I am actually on the sidelines and poking fun at politicians and giving my commentary of whats going on in the world of politics on my blog.


How did your blog in support of Lembit Opik come about and why are you a fan?

It came about after Lembit Opik was not invited into the shadow Lib Dem cabinet at the last reshuffle by Nick Clegg MP. The whole point of the blog is to promote Lembit so one day Nick will realise he needs Lembit and invite him back into the winning team.
I became a fan of Lembit after seeing his bid for President of the Liberal Democrats which I supported as I still believe he is the right man for Lib Dem president.


You also run a blog on worries people have of a Tory government. Do we take this to mean that whatever you think of Labour, you prefer a Labour government to a Conservative one?

I believe that Labour need a coalition with the Lib Dems which will organise them and make them into a party that can benefit this country, something they currently are not doing. I think the Conservatives are the party of the devil and if they were running the Country they would run it down like Margaret Thatcher did!


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

I haven't been to the USA and would like to visit the states and blog from the Oval office!


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

I can't choose which country I would revisit so I shall mention both, Pakistan because its my where my parents are from and its my second home after the UK and Saudi Arabia as its a wonderful place to visit especially for pilgrimage

Who, excluding the present leader, do you regard as the best Liberal Democrat/Liberal/SDP Party leader, and if different, the best Prime Minister?

Charles Kennedy


Which political figure has been your greatest inspiration?

Muhammed Ali Jinnah for his determination to create a Country for Muslims in Asia which today stands as the Islamic Republic of Pakistan.


Favourite Bond movie?

Die Another Day


Favourite Doctor Who?

Not interested at all in Doctor Who.


Chocolate, vanilla, or mint?

Chocolate!


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

None!


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

London and maybe some sea side town!


Favourite national newspaper?

I don't read papers, I rather read blogs and support fellow bloggers with increasing their readership then buy a newspaper. Blogs are cheaper to read as well!


What would you say your hobbies were?

Blogging, Social Networking, ICT, Cricket and just socialising with people!


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

The Quran and that's about it, don't get much time to read books especially when your a blogger!



Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Sir Fred Goodwin's Home Attacked

It was disgusting, it was wrong, it was abusive in a way that demeans the attacker or attackers, not the victim, and those responsible should give themselves up to the police.
But Sir Fred should perhaps realise that a great many people in this country are angry with both him and Lord Myners over this incident!

The Thatcher Infirmary

Just out of curiosity, why the Thatcher Infirmary? Don't get me wrong, if it was some outpost in the Falklands I would understand, or a library or a school in Gratham! But I honestly don't understand why a hospital wants to name a new wing after Margaret Thatcher, unless there were some over enthusiastic Conservative Party members and/or voters involved in the chief decision making!
Answers on a postcard please

Twenty Questions to a Fellow Blogger Part LXXXI: Our Man In Abiko


Our Man was born in a crossfire hurricaine, er, sorry, no Leicester Royal Infirmary, actually. Was a journeyman journo for some small town US papers including the Jacksonville Patriot and the Log Cabin Democrat, before honing his craft in the Midlands with stints at the Birmingham Post, Nottingham Evening Post and Derby Telegraph before hitting the ejector seat button and crash landing in Japan for a second time with family in tow, shortly before the world economy imploded, though that was not his fault, he doesn't think. His blog can be found here.

What made you decide to start blogging?

Through no fault of his own, Our Man found himself on the other side of the world, yet again, unable to communicate very deeply with the locals, but curious about the folk around him. He missed the world of newspapers. Blogging was a way to express his feelings, communicate with those left behind, and practise his typing.


What is your best blogging experience?

The best moment came early on when one of the top Japanese bloggers about J-politics linked (link here) to one of Our Man's humble stabs at satire. Until that point it felt like Our Man was just jerking off in his bedroom, suddenly he was shagging for real. So to speak.


And your worst?

When Our Man realised he wouldn't be able to quit the day job and blog for a living.


What do you regard as your best blog entry?

Our Man wanted to recreate the feel of a real gutsy newspaper and for that you need a political cartoonist. Our Man didn't know any so after a little Ozzie-plonk-fueled inspiration, he drew a cartoon on the spur of the moment, scanned it in and the next day Japan Probe linked to it. Here it is here . Wow. All of a sudden Our Man was a step closer to being James Thurber. You gotta love the internet. And not knowing when you can't do something.


Favourite blogs?

Too many to mention. The most influential on Our Man's style have been Guido Fawkes (love the attitude), Wronging Rights (great humour about genocide) Agent's Diary (brilliantly written and gave Our Man the idea for the secret agent persona) Drudge Report (proving that ugly layout can be beautiful). Want some more? Check out the blog roll under Our Man's feet.


Do you think as time goes by, people are becoming less ignorant about life in Japan?

The opposite actually. The myths of Japan being some wildly other-world distinct from the West with a higher spirituality/technical prowess are frankly a crock but are perpetuated by so many here, who should know better themselves (check out here for more ). Japan is different, but it has more in common with than it has different from the West. Our Man has to believe that, otherwise what the hell is he doing living here?


How would you define the Japanese blogosphere?

It's a couple of years or so behind the West. The Japanese have yet to completely embrace the idea of revealing all to every Tom Dick and Haru, maybe it runs counter to their sense of hierarchy, or maybe they've just got more sense than us foreigners. The gaijin (foreign) bloggers here are predominantly techno-geeks/phd students/anime fettishists/fresh-faced English teachers, though with some notable exceptions. It is growing with sterling work by Nick at Japan Soc and Japan Probe's, er, probing of Japan.


You recently mentioned that people in Japan are dissatisfied with their politicians, but isn't the desire some of them have for a coalition, whether right or wrong, a sign that they still have faith in their political system of government?

Could be. But it could be more a lack of imagination. There is frustration with the status quo - but where do you go next? The bureaucrats and the same ruling party have been in power virtually non-stop since the war. The idea of taking a risk on something new has been hammered out of the electorate's consciousness. But, there have not been times like these since the war, so something will have to give.


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

Never been to South America. Fancy following Che's motorbike trip. Or Oz for the plonk.


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

Love to come back to Britain for a visit (that's abroad for Our Man you know), but got no time or money.


Do you have a favourite political figure in history?

Otto von Bismarck. By sheer force of personalty, and backroom deals, he pulled a nation together. Whether that was a good thing or not, not sure. And he could drink two bottles of port a night. Either him or a distant relative, Amos Sherriff - the first Labour Lord Mayor of Leicester who led the poor on a hunger march to Westminster in 1905, along with a certain Ramsay MacDonald, who went on to greater things.



Which figure has been your greatest inspiration?

Keith Richards. All you need is four chords and a fifth of bourbon and look what you can achieve.


Favourite Bond movie?

Goldfinger. What was that one with the underwater car? Liked that one too.



Favourite Doctor Who?

Tom Baker.


Chocolate, vanilla, or mint?

YOU ARE MESSING WITH OUR MAN'S MIND. How 'bout Neopolitan?


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

Seen the Stones five times, so who else? Haven't seen Springsteen yet.



In terms of visiting for the weekend, Tokyo, Tokoshima, or Tokunoshima?

Don't know two of those three. Some darn fine bars in Tokyo.



Favourite national newspaper?

The Independent (is that still alive?)


What would you say your hobbies were?

Apart from blogging you mean? Recently, have rediscovered the joys of strumming the guitar.



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

Gimme Shelter, Let it Bleed (Stones) Glory Days (Springsteen). Fatherland by Robert Harris, The Thurber Carnival by James Thurber, and, oh, any collection of Rumpole of the Bailey short stories. Oh, and the Complete Works of Shakespeare, oh can't choose that one, dang. The Bible??

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Life Begins At 90

I love stories like this! It shows that you are never told old to try something new

The Conservatives Inconsistency

Two blog gems in the past two days. The first from Kerron Cross on how the Conservatives plans on tax cuts do nothing for the 96% of families in this country, whilst at Sadie's Tavern, there is the inconsistency on what the Conservatives believe MP's offices should be used for. Basically if you are a Tory, then there are misunderstandings, if you are Labour then you so much as cough, then you deserve to be frogmarched to Westminster Bridge and shot!
Okay, that wasn't the exact comparison, but that was the gist of it!

Cameron's Webcabinet. The Discussions They Have!

Brilliant satire from Labour.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Jade Goody 1981-2009

Inevitable, sad, awful. I can't really add to all that has been said and done, suffice to say that I am glad she was asleep when the end came, that she was at peace, and that I am glad she worked hard to achieve closure with regards to fragile relationships, her sons wellbeing and anything we might not know about. Few people have that privilege and it is easy to forget that life is not only short (be it hours or over a century), it is fragile too!
I also hope that, given the day on which she died, her sons will grow to see Mothers Day, not so much as a memory of the day their mother was taken from them, but rather to remember all that she did for them and all that she has wanted them to achieve!

Package Holidays in Iraq

I am pleased that confidence is returning, I am pleased that this sends out a positive message, but its not really something I would want to do. Call me old fashioned, but a holiday where the fear of being either shot, kidnapped, or blown up lurking in the back of my mind , is not my idea of relaxation! Lets not forget that the relative calm in Iraq is a recent development

Twenty Questions to a Fellow Blogger Part LXXX: Allan Lloyd

(Allan Lloyd)
After a misspent youth and increasingly disenchanted adulthood working as graphic designer and copywriter in the advertising industry, Allan Lloyd is now repenting at leisure while hiding out on Lamb Island in Moreton Bay near Brisbane, capital of the Australia state of Queensland. In a pathetic attempt to repay his moral debt to the consuming society for his cynical but well-crafted deceits over the years, he now maintains a blog committed to highlighting the absurdities of what passes for contemporary culture these days. He will fail spectacularly in this endeavour, of course, but he's having fun. Allan's blog is called FigMince



What made you decide to start blogging?

Primarily, the boredom of living in semi-retirement in idyllic surroundings – although I've always had a sense of frustration about the way so much 'information' goes unquestioned by people, and how so many absurdities are accepted without analysis by them. The trouble is, those same people are probably the least likely to read blogs, so I guess it's possibly just self-indulgence on my part. But hey, at least I haven't taken up lawn bowls.


What is your best blogging experience?

Occasionally finding my blog added to someone else's blogroll. Maybe that's an ego thing, but it works just fine for me.


And your worst?

Posting one particularly cruel and offensive item in booze-fuelled anger (don't ask), then later desperately deleting it and hoping nobody saw it.


What do you regard as your best blog entry?

Hopefully, the next one. But I think a recent post comparing the financial meltdown and Africa's problems was a relevant comment about the scheme of things. It came out of my partner's observation that world leaders can get together and take action about economic issues, but not about dying kids.



Favourite blogs?

Wilson's Blogmanac, for its eclectic diversity and sheer volume. And Gullible's Travels, which, while not overtly political, invariably makes me feel like a valued friend of its author.



Since you started your blog, do you think the World is more crazy than you at first feared?

I've always figured everyone's 'crazy' to some degree, because sanity's just a theoretical construct. But yes, I think there's a weird paradigm increasingly coming into play, whereby as things get less stable, people become more fearful and willing to accept even the most preposterous contradictions rather than allow stuff to rock their personal boats. Rather than deal with reality, they'll gratefully embrace lies they can believe in. The irony is that until they acknowledge a reality, they can't address it (nor do leaders need to) in order to change things for the better. (See 'Iraq')


How would you define the Australian blogosphere?

I'm not sure I've seen enough to be qualified to comment on this, beyond observing that those blogs expressing opinions that I agree with are great, and all the rest are clearly crap.


What is the best thing about Lamb Island?

It's got a relatively small population and there's water between us and the rest of the world – and yet we're only an hour from a CBD if we're unfortunate enough to need to go there. The island's quiet and peaceful, and people live here because they want to rather than because it's the next suburb on from where they started out. That said, there are a few not-so-best things about the place: the island's original 'pioneering' characters are gradually being supplanted by more-conservative newcomers; more new houses mean less open space and wildlife habitat; and there's nowhere on the island to sit with like-minded know-it-alls and solve the problems of the world over great coffee and tiramisu.


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

I've never actually left Australia, but I've got a possibly masochistic ambition to visit France, intrigued by my partner's admiration of the French people's arrogance and contempt for the kind of person I'd be regarded as if I ever got there.

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

Obviously, given the above, not applicable.


Do you have a favourite political figure in history?

I have a problem with political aspiration, in that I suspect that those who seek power are the worst kind of people to be allowed to wield it. But a few exceptions spring to mind: the USA's Founding Fathers, for their revolutionary concept of democracy at a time in history when there was really no template for them to copy-and-paste from; Gandhi, for a teeming multitude of reasons; and closer to home, Don Dunstan, who was Premier of South Australia during the 1970s and introduced enlightened reforms that led the rest of the world at that time.


Which figure has been your greatest inspiration?

I'm not sure about the word 'inspiration', but Henry Thoreau really turned my head around when I first read 'Walden' in my teens. And these days my bleeding-heart socialist feminist partner Eileen constantly challenges me, whether I'm ready or not.


Favourite Bond movie?

No such thing.


Favourite Doctor Who?

I'm vaguely aware of the one with the scarf.


Chocolate, vanilla, or mint?

Coffee, please. Oh, alright, chocolate – but not too sweet.


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

The Gerry Mulligan Quartet that included Chet Baker. Mind you, I'd wanna be nineteen again during the show.


In terms of visiting for the weekend, Adelaide, Melbourne, or Canberra?

Sorry, none of the above. I don't get off on cities, especially since they've largely lost their regional differences and become like huge malls full of sameness. Our weekend visits are to a small country town six hours drive from home, where there are still enough counter-culture survivors to ensure local colour, good coffee shops, great restaurants, and fantastic pub vibes. Oh, and the surrounding country just happens to be stunningly beautiful too, but it won't stay that way if I tell you where it is.


Favourite national newspaper?

Hah! Australia has only one national newspaper, The Australian, and it's owned by Rupert Murdoch. I read the Sydney Morning Herald online, but I fear for the future of the print media unless someone can teach editors how to assess relative importance and journalists how to write grammatically sound sentences.


What would you say your hobbies were?

I write and arrange incredibly derivative music on my computer, then listen back to it later and promise myself I'll eventually get around to fixing all the less-than-fantastic glitches I hadn't noticed during the mixdown. Another favourite pastime is complaining about the crap available on TV on any given night.


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

What if I restructure the phrasing of this question to read 'three of your favourite' songs/books? It all depends on where my head is at any given time. Three definite songs: 'Surf's Up', by Brian Wilson, not the least for Van Dyke Parks' lyrics; Dion DiMucci's version of Mort Shuman's adaptation of Jacques Brel's 'If We Only Have Love'; Howe Gelb and Giant Sand's 'Shiver' (or virtually anything else Howe performs).

Same qualification goes for books: I've read John Steinbeck's 'Cannery Row' more times than I can count, and enjoy it more every time; I consider Russell Hoban's 'Riddley Walker' to be a masterpiece; and I never get tired of the brilliant wordplay of George Herriman's 'Krazy Kat' strips (which, in anthology form, rate here as a book, okay?).