Friday, December 31, 2010

A Short Review of the Year 2010

FAVOURITE EVENTS

The rescue of the Chilean miners



PEOPLE WHO LEFT US IN 2010, WHO I WILL PARTICULARLY MISS


Alexander McQueen

Winston Churchill

Robert Culp

John Forsythe

Corin Redgrave

Christopher Cazenove

Michael Foot

Sir Alec Bedser

Malcolm McLaren

Lynn Redgrave

Lena Horne

Gary Coleman

Rudi Vis

Rue McClanahan

Johnny Parker

Egon Ronay

Ronald Neame

Russell Ash

Pennant Roberts

Peter Walker, Baron Walker of Worcester

Pete Quaife

Alan Plater

Robert Byrd

Geoffrey Hutchings

Dame Beryl Bainbridge

Tom Mankiewicz

Patricia Neal

Sir Geoffrey Johnson Smith

Geoffrey Burgon

Gloria Stuart

Stephen J. Cannell

Sir Norman Wisdom

Ted Sorensen

Dino De Laurentiis

Irvin Kershner

Leslie Nielsen

Elisabeth Beresford

Bobby Farrell





FAVOURITE FILMS OF THE YEAR


The Voyage of the Dawn Treader

Despicable Me



FAVOURITE PEOPLE


David Miliband (for making a bid for the Labour leadership with fresh and innovative ideas that will help reenergise UK politics





POLITICIAN OF THE YEAR



See above





PERSONAL HIGHLIGHTS OF THE YEAR


A seven month relationship, followed by another relationship starting recently. Visiting Ireland again, and spending quality time with friends. Oh and General Election night. Almost predictable, but nail biting nonetheless





BLOGGERS OF THE YEAR


Given the recent spate of bloggers leaving, see my post yesterday. I think they are the ones who should be applauded





FAVOURITE QUOTES



"You're telling me that the separation of church and state is found in the First Amendment?"




Christine O'Donnell in a debate ahead of her election race in Connecticut, October 19 . Priceless!





Happy New Year to you all :)

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Osborne's Lost Luggage

Where my faith, politics, and personal prejudices collide. Read that George Osborne lost his bags on a flight. Personally I find Osborne an arrogant, condescending, and objectionable little individual who has made nasty personal smears and attacks on others. Politically I believe he has made the lives of many a misery with his cuts. So inevitably I had a moment of schadenfreude at his discomfort. Then I realised as a Christian I should know better and we should love our enemies, so I then found myself praying that his luggage got found and that he and his family were spared further discomfort.
(cough) I still find him obnoxious tho!


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Farewell To Departed Bloggers of 2010

You know at the end of each year, news channels do a montage of famous people who have died in the previous twelve months! Well Political Scrapbook has satirised that with a brilliant montage of the bloggers who decided to hang up their keyboards this year. There are a couple to whom one feels like saying "Good riddance!", but there are also a no who it's sad to see go.
Hat tip to Iain Dale's blog


Political bloggers say goodbye from Political Scrapbook on Vimeo.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Does Your Brain Affect Your Political Allegiances?

Interesting scientific test but unsure what some of it means. Is it saying that the more feeling a person you are the more right wing you are? Cos there is strong evidence to suggest otherwise, in fact feeling is almost a side issue here. I have seen caring and compassionate people on both sides of the divide and some nasty pieces of work who deserve to be kept well away from front-line politics on both sides of the divide.
Fascinating concept though

Things to do with Advent/Christmas Pt 54: The Christmas Holidays

It's been a quiet few days, apart from a heavy meal on Boxing Day and feeling decidedly ill yesterday, but today I started back at work and started looking ahead to 2011.
Overall it was a good Christmas. Spent Christmas Day with my parents and some friends who live nearby, and found myself watching Strictly Come Dancing for the first time and was impressed by Vince Cable's performance. Unfortunately I can say far less for his political sure footedness.
Presents were a delight as well. A copy of the novel "Any Human Heart", Series 1 and 2 of "Armstrong and Miller", a miscellany of "Yes Minister" scripts, a book on Wilberforce, Newton, and other evangelicals of that time, and some clothing and toiletries.
Time for 2011 then :-)

Thursday, December 23, 2010

The Norris McWhirter Chronicles

Like my view of the man himself I am in two minds about this. It seems unfair to show a one sided view of a man who is highly regarded and in some respects for good reason, on the other I can see where David Baddiel is coming from. This is a man who, to many of our generation was a childhood hero of ours, followed by the shock of finding out just how right wing he was! His support against sanctions on South Africa and supporting sportsmen and athletes who played there being one example. Many of us therefore, particularly those of us on the left, therefore find ourselves having a split view of him. On one hand we admire his knowledge of World records, his sharp brain, his personal charm, and indeed the way he coped so well and continued Editing the Guinness Book on his own following the murder of his twin brother Ross, which completely devastated him. On the other we found his litigious nature, his aggressive support of very right wing causes, and his rather over romanticised view of Britain's past rather difficult to stomach. Unlike Dan Hannan, I also disagree with McWhirter over his view that the Heath-Wilson corporatist world-view was a threat to liberty. That said, I would strongly disagree with the assertion that he was a Brownshirt. Very right-wing and woefully misguided and having political views that are offensive yes. Calling him a Nazi is a bit too far!
Some, particularly Archbishop Cramner, also feel angry with the BBC over their broadcast of an interview with David Baddiel, I find this strange, surely his anger should be with Sky for broadcasting the episode
I sympathise with the complaints made, but on the other hand I think it would be interesting to watch a story which seems to echo the  torn views that some of us feel.

Joanna Yeates

This is one of those stories which breaks ones heart. If she is alive, then the sooner she is found the better, and if anyone knows anything, then for the sake of Joanna, her parents, her boyfriend, and those close to her, they should contact the police

The Farmer Who Fought The Weather

I am very impressed, and as someone who has battled the roads, the trains, and who has set off on foot in the dark and fog and ice to get to work this week, this man has my full support. If only we had more in this country like him!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Vince Cable's Gaffe

I sympathise with some of Vince Cable's views but he has shown lack of judgement, impartiality, and thought in his unguarded comments. Plus if in politics you start making it clear you are going to be somewhat radical in some areas and be tough in others, then I would have thought that when attractive women start showing an interest in you at some event or another, that means you are especially on your guard, or to use the old saying "Say whatever you want to say, but whatever you say, say nothing!"
By staying on and Cameron not sacking him though, Cable's own position is weakened, and whatever conversations between No 10 and Rupert Murdoch take place in the near future, may well be rather interesting indeed.

Monday, December 20, 2010

ConDem Weather


It's easy to blame the government for most things that are beyond their control and it's fair to say the weather is one of those things. That said, given the winters we have been having over the past three years, and given that the coalition has had since May to do something about it, you'd have thought they'd have a more constructive plan than telling people to take a shovel and start using it!
Ideally we should be like the Germans and Scandanavians in how we handle the weather at this time. One could argue that the British weather is unpredictable, but if recent years have shown, mid to late December has become rather predictable indeed, and more unpleasant with each year

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Thursday, December 16, 2010

Pitching an idea

First of all I'd like to state that, aside from an occasional thought, I have no plans to give up blogging, but there are moments where I wonder where this is going and the enthusiasm goes down somewhat. This is inevitable in running anything over a period of time and I have been doing this now for five-and-a-half years. Overall I still enjoy blogging, I like the opportunity to bring forth my views and opinions in such an environment, and feel that whilst things are tough and Twitter is more useful and seems to be taking over, there is a niche for a market where one can mention viewpoints of over 140 characters.
That said one needs to adapt and change in order to survive, and one idea that has occurred to me is making Mars Hill a team effort. Would it help I wonder if I have a team of four or five like-minded people working for me, sharing their own thoughts and ideas? Am not sure, but you are the audience so to speak, so I will be interested in your views. Should I stay solo, or make Mars Hill more of a team blog with me at the helm?

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Farewell Iain Dale

Saddened, but not entirely surprised (given a notable recent lack of enthusiasm) that Iain Dale is leaving the land of blogging. Iain was an inspiration to many of us political bloggers, right across the political spectrum and thus making this a sad day for blogging. Personally I think whilst it in no way affected his decision, there is a shift from right to left in the blogosphere and Iain's leaving adds to that sense.
Some will no doubt be popping champagne bottles tonight, metaphorically or otherwise. Myself and various bloggers on the left who owe him a debt feel otherwise

Monday, December 13, 2010

Terry Jones Visiting UK

Some will disagree with me, citing free speech and that is fair enough, but I do think his presence will cause more harm than good and create all manner of mayhem. I am also concerned that it's taking place in Luton, the town where I went to University, and given what has happened there before, I agree with Theresa May and feel that we need to find a reason for keeping Terry Jones out, so as not to light a blue touch paper.

Those Student Riots On Thursday

Like many I believe in the right to protest, and like many I was shocked and appalled by Thursday's riots. I was especially shocked by the harassment of the Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall who happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time (what have they got to do with the Coalitions education policies anyway?) and indeed Charlie Gilmour swinging from a flag on the Cenotaph. What is it with the children of some rock stars that they have to behave so abominably? Unlike Otis Ferry's parents, at least Gilmour's did the decent thing and publicly criticised him for his bad behaviour, showing that they did not agree with what he did. I also understand that Gilmour Junior is now ashamed of his actions, unlike Otis Ferry.
Sometimes though some views on unrest cross party lines, so it is that I'am inclined to agree with Walaa Idris that the violence is planned. I would say that comes from infiltration from the hard left, but I think the NUS must be better organised and co'operate better with the police on this. Equally I believe there must be heavy emphasis on the tone of a peaceful protest, such as made by Martin Luther King and Gandhi, who had more to protest about. The NUS could be invaluable here.
Equally though, I am concerned about the use of police violence (one protester was allegedly dragged from his wheelchair), and calls from one individual during the protest to use batons and water cannon, which would have made calming the situation in the long term much harder to deal with. Many protesters are not violent people, some simply get caught up in the crowd, and for their sakes I think we need to work at putting the main emphasis on peaceful protests and to firmly distance ourselves from those who do otherwise.

Thursday, December 09, 2010

Supporting AV?

I have a dilemma. In my heart I want to be involved in the Labour Campaign for AV, but my head has some concerns which prevent me. I have listed them earlier on this blog, suffice to say that I am also concerned about how the Lib Dems and Tories would play "First and Second Preference" and that if any Labour activist in the "Yes" camp can persuade me then I shall happily help

John Lennon - Thirty Years On

Meant to do something on this blog about John Lennon yesterday, for obvious reasons. But the BBC have just put this up and I think it says it all. We lost a great talent thirty years ago, but life goes on.

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

John Bercow Was Right To Object!

Being Speaker of the House of Commons is a tough job at the best of times. Not least with MP's trying to flex their muscles and some thinking they can get away with bad behaviour. It's not often though that the miscreants include the Chief Whip.
Tory MP's tend to give John Bercow a hard time, not least because they think the Speaker should be one of them. It looks like it doesn't count that he works hard, tries to be fair, and is courteous. Some accuse him of being standoffish. Betty Boothroyd could be on occasion, and sometimes they accuse him of bias. Betty Boothroyd faced that as well, in fact if you read her autobiography it is clear that she didn't get along at all well with Richard Ryder, who was Chief Whip in the Major government, and he tried more than once to bully her, only to have it rebound on him!
Patrick McLoughlin can protest all he likes, but he heckled the Speaker and did so from the wrong position in the House and as Chief Whip he should know that is out of order and therefore should have taken the objection like a man. He didn't. If he had used the conventional channels he may have inspired some respect, even if he was wrong, but again, he didn't, and so the Conservatives have no right to complain.

Monday, December 06, 2010

Welsh Defence League's Links With Neo Nazis

Hopefully this will dissuade some people who are perhaps ignorant of such groups from joining the Welsh Defence League or English Defence League, although even the most naive must ask themselves why the Welsh Defence League's founder wears a balaclava with flags draped behind him. Has all the hallmarks of terrorist kitsch, but  groups to keep an eye on in any case 

Enough Is Enough Wikileaks

I have tended to take a dim view of Wikileaks's work, but this completely touches on the criminal. If Wikileaks did the same to countries like North Korea one might see their point, but even so, this threatens our national security, our economy and must stop.
If Wikileaks owners and those who are actively involved want to get arrested for damaging national security, if they wish to be made an example of, then they are going exactly the right way about it.

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Things to do with Advent/Christmas Pt 53: Things To Love and Dislike About the Box of Delights

If you follow the same people on Twitter as I do, then yesterday you will have seen a minor disagreement between Caitlin Moran and Chris Addison over the merits, or lack of, of The Box of Delights.
Being of that generation that watched it on weekday evenings in the run-up to Christmas in 1984 I caan see both arguments. I love the series and have fond memories of it, and yet at the same time I can see how easy it is to take the total Michael out of it.
So, for those not so familiar I thought I'd share with you what I see to be the pros and cons.

Pros

It has all the ingredients of a good Christmas tale. Danger, redemption, value of community, value of ideals, snow, evensong, animals, and beautiful women like Caroline Louisa

It  has the fantasy elements of time travel, escapism, and a mysterious man with a box that can take you anywhere. The fact that he is played by former Doctor Who actor Patrick Troughton is of course, something that never occurred to the Producers when looking for someone to take on the role of Cole Hawlings.

Ditto previous point, it has an all-star television cast. Well what would be seen in the 1980s as an all-star television cast

It has a touch of the Boys Own about it. Daring-do's and children being more sharp than adults

It's set in the past, so some distance with which to enjoy

It is that kind of comforting tale one likes to see at Christmas


Cons


Well the pre CGI technology, but to be fair this is the 1980s

The story is set in 1935, so naturally we see poor Kay Harker, struggling during the Depression. His Guardian is looking for work and several people he knows will be on next year's Jarrow March! We see plenty of the working classes here and in only one scene do we see a posh kid who is only there to give Kay info, and is so briefly there he is an irrelevance, and if you are not schooled in sarcasm and irony you won't get the point!

The younger members of the cast. I don't want to be unkind, am sure they were nice then and grew up to be wonderful people, but does one get the impression that these children have been hand-picked from choir groups and school orchestras from the Home Counties!

Pervading air of smugness and plenty of ham acting in parts. Patrick Troughton is one of the exceptions, but then it wasn't for nothing that (even pre Doctor Who) he was heavily in demand as a television actor up until his death in 1987.

"Scrobbling" being a word used to describe kidnapping here that I have not heard anywhere else. Not the only word, but the obvious and immediate one.

Air of chocolate box style throughout

Basically a middle class lovefest

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You can add your own pros and cons but hat said, I still love it, and so do many others. I even have one or two friends who are younger than me who got it on Video/DVD and didn't see it first time and fell in love with it, so clearly it has it's moments of genius

Ed Miliband Must Do Better!

I haven't watched PMQ's today, but from previous weeks and having read the recent comments from Mark Ferguson, I have to say that I agree with some of what he says.
David Cameron, when cornered, when realising he is facing a tough battle, can turn nasty. Osborne is similar in this regard as well. This is something unique as Howard was not well liked, Iain Duncan Smith was ineffective at PMQ's, and Hague was sharp, but never malicious. Cameron can, and does, get down and dirty. The man was a member of the Bullingdon Club, so however much he eschews his past there, and rightfully so, you can't say he isn't capable.
What Miliband needs to do is to remain polite, dignified, play the long game, but not to be averse and landing punches and landing them hard when Cameron gets like this. It's unpleasant but we are dealing with a skilled operator here who can wiggle out of damaging situations if we let him. Ed Miliband needs to knock him back every time he turns a criticism into a personal attack in response. Don't let him up, don't give him quarter, don't give him a chance to breathe, for one thing he won't give us the same opportunity
Above all though Ed. Dignity, always dignity, and be ruthless without getting personal.