Monday, 20 November 2006

the Times they are a changin' (mk2)

I picked up my copy of The Times today and thought, hmmmm.......

So sitting at my desk, past the front page, thinking "silly Ruskies, this is all smacks of poison darts and umbrellas" and then, hmmmmm.....

Wait a minute - Something's changed! New font and format.

The new format looks more like a cross between the Indy and the Guardian... oh dear!

Why this continous tweaking?

... and when will they stop tweaking the format at the Telegrpah too, and concentrate on content? Broadsheets in their desperate rush to attract yoof readers are loosing their reason d'etre - quality writting and not just in the comment section.

Wednesday, 10 May 2006

west wing - wow!

OK, I know I'm probably the only one who is getting excited and slightly emotional but it's here.....

Series 7 box set. Which means it's arriving but it's departing (after 7 years).

I know I have a problem with box sets (buy, buy, buy!!!) but this one is a mixed feeling.

A great series having seen better days ending. Not that its that bad - if you haven't seen any yet you should. The writing is very sharp, especially in the first four series.

Pre-order now!

Tuesday, 9 May 2006

the Times, they are a changin'

What does today's much talked about Times poll really mean?

No nice graphs as per the normal Populus/Times usual, but ConservativeHome just about fills the void.

Given the last month has included the following:

  • Cash for Peerages
  • Charles Clarke's releasing of the criminal foreign masses
  • NHS finanial mismanagement (and the Labour Party being booed by a nursing union!!!)
  • John "Two Shags" (more than two, 'alledgedly') Prescott
and that's really just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to Labour sleaze, how is the dip in support for Labour not a lot more?

Cameron's not done a bad job so far (certainly more Prime Ministerial than the last three) but I can't help feeling he'll never succeed until the public falls out of love with Nu Labour.

Surely professional incompetence (as 3 of the 4 above are) is so much worse than personal indiscretions. And yet such gross incompetence of the worst kind doesn't deliver the killer blow...

I can't even begin to explain why they are still so popular - it genuinely mystifies me.

But in saying that having just seen the advance copy of tomorrow's DT (ITV News) it would seem Blair's downfall is beginning - at last but I won't hold my breath. personal music preferences

I first heard about about 2 months ago but had been slow to check it out.

It watches what music you listen to and makes suggestions from:

  • music that is similar by genre, etc.
  • other peoples' prefences whose are similar to your own
It has a radio player "thing" that also lets you rate songs and seems to be a free to air playlist.

Combining all this, it then lists what you listened to last, most, etc. Overall quite a lot of cool things going on behind the scenes with this. Check it out:

Return to the fold...

Hmmm, well, yes.

It's been a while....

During my auspicious period of silence I have managed to submit my 25,000 (80 pages!) dissertation and find gainful employment for when, or at this rate if, I graduate - more on striking lecturers later.

You know what they say about a day being a long time....

Monday, 6 February 2006

Further more...

I suppose what I'm rallying against in the previous post is not Islam in particular as a a religion but a group of fanatics who as a minority are trying to prevail upon us alien restrictions and limit freedoms that we have fought long and hard for - since the time of Magna Carta.

Why is it alright for me to be able to criticise one religion in the strongest terms possible and not another?

I personally believe that it is ungodly, unChristian & downright evil for the Roman Catholic Church to preach in Africa that condoms are evil and chastity is the way forward. This is a policy that has and will condemn millions upon millions to long and painful deaths. Personally I believe Pope John Paul II has gone to hell for it. Would a caring loving God really condemn so many of his children to death if he could save them?
There! You see... I bet Catholics aren't terribly fond of me now.

But I also want to ask, why do so many suicide bombers incite the name of Mohammed as they prepare to blow themselves up? Why is it that Islamic organisations are so prevalent in these tragedies and not other national or tribal groups? Last time I checked we didn't invade Islam.

So why the feeling of such intense hatred - why do the religious leaders of Islam feel sothreatened by Liberal Democracies if all is as rosie as they claim?

These are hard questions that require hard answers and must be answered in order to resolve many of the current problems.

Disgusting & Downright UnBritish

Protests by a small fraction of Islamic extremists is disgusting and displays a breathtaking level of stupidity, ignorance and intolerance.

Little do they realise this great country which belongs to us all is exactly why they can just about get away with such outrageous behavior and yet they are protesting against the same system allowing criticisms against their personal beliefs!

Thank goodness we live in a democratic society so we too can protest at this unreasonable reaction...

Oh, right of course, we can't though!

Freedom of speech and criticism of religion or any other organisation which wishes to rule our lives is a permanent feature of our society.

If followers of Islam are too weak to come up with reasoned responses or their faith is lacking, may I suggest they move to any one of many very welcoming and hospitable countries in the middle eastern penisula?

Photos: BBC News, Daily Telegraph

Wednesday, 25 January 2006

The Health of the Union

Reading Drinking From Home (Scottish Raj) & The CEP (Campaign for an English Parliament) this morning, on the subjects of Scots at Westminster and devolution made me think what a botched job Labour has made of the constitutional affairs it has deigned to touch and how we solve the West Lothain Question.

DFH in the Scottish Raj article identifies 28 Scots who hold major Cabinet, Government & parliamentary positions from Tony Blair to PPSs to the Speaker. The imbalance is obvious and frankly embarrassing. As far as I can see there are two options for Britain if we accept the current arrangement in Westminster, Holyrood and Cardiff is a total, unworkable fudge:

  • We either retain the current unitary system, whilst overhauling the Lords, returning all powers to Westminster and provide more emphasis on the regions or the more impoverished areas outside London and the Midlands such as the North West/East, Scotland & Wales that will always need help.
  • We adopt a Federal system which breaks the UK into Scotland, NI, Wales, the North, Midlands and South of England each with their own mini-bicameral systems with a streamlined Commons and a Senate style Lords of much fewer Peers/Senators (approx. 100.)
However the real problem for many in England (like the folks at the CEP) is that any Union between the four nations will always require money to flow out from London to the weaker/poorer regions. This may seem inherently unfair but the price the other home nations pay in return is the loss of the brightest and the best to England, and in particular London. This has, historically, exacerbated the poor situation of wealth generation in countries such as Scotland and hence resulted in the need for such support.

David Stenhouse's 'On the Make: How the Scots Took Over London' is definitely worth a read to understand more about the outflow of talent from Scotland to England over the ages.

Tuesday, 24 January 2006

Strangers: Integrity & Galloway

I have a friend who likes to argue Galloway has integrity. Naturally I have never agreed with him and always seek to persuade him of the error of his ways.

But I watched Celebrity Big Brother for the first time last night and I don't understand how anybody can say, with a straight face, that "Gorgeous" George is advancing his cause, or his constituents, or the down trodden masses he claims to represent.

On another note, regarding his work ethic: he has the lowest voting record but for the Speaker and Speaker's deputies who can't vote and Tony Blair (the Prime Minister of Great Britain - fair enough) and yet his constituency is in London. All he is interested is in boosting his ego.

Shame Mr Galloway, shame. In the high profile campaign you fought in Bethnal Green you promised your constituents so much more and yet you have failed them so badly and delivered so little.

What Next?

The Lib Dems seem intent on total self-destruction at the moment, p12 of today's (Tuesday) Telegraph has an article about a new local Lib Dem party president - he's 12 years old!

I'm sure this is a lovely story and that he is very bright but it's wrong on so many levels and as for the possibility of jokes... well I'm not going to start, it would just be far too easy.

They're not really helping their current situation or repuation with stories like this are they?

Monday, 23 January 2006

Fat Cats in The Public Sector

Public workers are up in arms about proposed changes to their pension provisions according to a BBC News Article.

Of course they are - poor dears. It's such a hard work, toiling for the government now that their retirement age remains at 60, and their pensions must remain index linked, oh and of course under the 85 rule they should be able to retire as early as possible, for good measure.

Never mind that the people who pay public sector pensions (the taxpayers) should be asked to pay as their own pensions collapse around them and then be forced to work ever longer so as to be able to retire with a decent pension.

Please, do strike, cause mass misery to those who pay these pensions and then win any way as this government is too weak to stand up to and your irrational demands.

Mark Oaten: Part II - The Aftermath

Mark Oaten's "Episode" raises an interesting thought for the Conservative Party.

He was the man the Tory Party had the most to fear from - he won the solid Tory seat of Winchester from Gerry Malone back in '97 and could have probably done the same in larger quantities for Lib Dems around the country at the next election.

The rest of the bunch are pretty unappealing - Huhne has only sat in parliament for a matter of months and now he wants to lead a national party! I know there are Cameron parallels there but not such bravado on that scale. Ming - too old, dull and reliable. A good man but a caretaker only. Simon Hughes - not terribly inspiring is he?

Oaten was different (no, not like that!) - he wasn't threatening to alot of Tory voters and alot of his ideas (tough liberalism, etc.) appealed to many disaffected Tories. He could have quite easily gained alot of centrist New Labour voters that wouldn't vote for a Labour party under Gordon Brown too, putting the party in a remarkably strong position.

As it is now, the Lib Dems can only lurch to the left and will have to compete with Labour for a limited pool of voters - leaving the door wide open for Cameron and the Tory party to move back to the centre ground at the next election.

Thanks to Guido for the photo.

Mark Oaten: Part I

There's am interesting debate going on at Guido Fawke's place about Oaten's (supposed) hypocrisy.

Nobody, I think, likes to see another person having to resign in humiliation (unless they're a particularly nasty piece of work) nor the way the press tear up aspects of their personal life in avery public areana.

However, if one is going to cause a fuss over the use of prostitutes and the circumstances surrounding such a case, common sense would suggest that one doesn't get caught using prostitutes six months later, especially if one is married with two children.

I genuinely don't think the issue is his use of prostitutes per se, more the fact he has been caught in that classic politician pose of do as I say, not as I do.

Normal Service Will Resume...

Lack of posting recently has been, frankly, crap - apologies. Something about University final exams, Christmas, you know all the usual excuses.

Anyway, the stream of high quality chat will resume shortly...

On the subject of disappearing, what has happened to Peter Cuthbertson at Conservative Commentary ? He seems to have disappeared off the face of the earth since late lastt October. ConCom is/was always worth a read as it covered a whole range of challenging/controversial issues in Peter's unique and interesting manner. His contributions are missed.