Tuesday 1st January 2008

11:33 pm

Why Do I Love Midsomer Murders?

Gravatar There are only three television programmes I watch regularly: ‘Newsnight’, ‘Have I Got News for You’, and ‘Midsomer Murders’. The first two are somewhat predictable, the last-named probably less so. And to be frank, I can’t really explain its fascination. Tonight’s episode was singularly preposterous in plot, and the guest appearances of Donald Sinden and [...]
11:29 pm

A New Year and Christmas tradition we could well do without

Gravatar It has been astonishing to read so many text messages from friends in the last 24 hours passing on New Year messages whilst explaining that they have got stinking colds or terrible coughs. What is it with us this year ? Since breaking up from school nearly two weeks ago I am now on my second cold (and this one is a real stinker and makes me sneeze every five minutes), and have had a cough for the whole holiday. My wife has been similarly afflicted, so have my parents, my in-laws, my brothers, and everyone else I know. It ...
10:24 pm

If Terry Pratchett had a Warhammer…

Gravatar Looking for information regarding the likelihood of United States Cavalry ever being published (or written for that matter), I came across this extensive article written by Stephen Baxter about the history of GW Books/The Black Library via the Official Kim Newman Website. The article in question appears to be slightly out of date, for example it only refers to the republishing of Newman/Yeovil’s Demon Download cycle as a possibility, not a fact, and it doesn’t refer to the Black Library’s expanding out to licensed work such as their 2000AD line at all. Nonetheless, the article contains lots of little gems. ...
10:24 pm

Just to recap

Gravatar 20th Sept - HMRC laptop containing hundreds of people's details stolen. 18th Oct - details of 25,000,000 child benefit claimants and their children lost (and still not accounted for today). Includes bank details etc. 30th Oct - six more data disks missing from HMRC Approx 3rd Nov - data of around 15,000 Standard Life customers lost by HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC). 5th Nov - details of up to 3,000 NHS patients on a computer stolen from a doctors' surgery. 24th Nov - package containing about 200 pension statements has gone missing after being dispatched by a Scottish Government agency. ...
10:09 pm

Too radical even for the Libertarian Party!

Gravatar Over at Peter Dunphy's place (following similar from Jo Anglezarke ) there's been some discussion about the "Political Compass" quiz that also now has an application at Facebook you can add to your profile and see how your friends have scored.  There were some suggestions for other political profile sites, including one called "The Enhanced Precision Political Quiz - in 2d " which goes slightly further than "The World's Smallest Political Quiz" (also available on Facebook ) and produces a position on a chart similar to that one.  The "World's Smallest..." one is created by The Advocates for Small Government, ...
9:50 pm

Releasing the Librarian in Me

Gravatar A friend recently introduced me to the Visual Bookshelf application in Facebook and I have succumbed to the addiction of posting books in batches whenever I have a few moments. You can see my efforts so far embedded in a page I’ve created on this site. I’m not sure whether my New Year’s resolution should be to complete the catalogue as part of a general trend towards greater organisational prowess, or to pledge to avoid such time-wasting activity in 2008? Either way, a most Happy New Year to all!
9:37 pm

John Lanchester on the City

Gravatar John Lanchester has a terrific article on the workings of the City in the current issue of the London Review of Books. He also touches upon its social effects: In London, as a rule, non-City people don’t love City people, and there isn’t much non-economic interaction between them. The bonuses are a big part of that. The City is, collectively, astonishingly wealthy. It earns 19 per cent of Britain’s GDP. People don’t mind that in itself but they do mind City bonuses. Last year, these amounted to a truly boggling £19 billion, all of it paid at the end of ...
9:21 pm

Reading Cranford

Gravatar One of the things I did over the holiday was read Cranford by Elizabeth Gaskell. It is terrific stuff, and the return of Miss Matty's long-lost brother, which I suspected had been an invention of the television scriptwriter, does indeed occur in the book. As Kathryn Hughes says: Read Cranford (1853) by all means - it is sublime. But don't expect it to be remotely like the telly. The pace is gentler, although the anti-man undertow of the ladies' conversations is even fiercer. Captain Brown, played by Jim Carter, is dead pretty much from the beginning, which, as Gaskell explains, ...
8:55 pm

West End Green at Christmas

Gravatar What is it about Christmas lights? They illuminate, they cheer, they sparkle and they just make an area look great. And this year on West End Green is no exception. At the junction of West End Lane, Lyncroft Gardens, Mill Lane and Fortune Green Road this little green is really charming. Well done to councillors Flick Rea, Keith Moffitt and Janet Grauberg who have made sure this sort of thing happens and is considered important - shame my camera (or use of it) isn't better able to capture the image - though I do think this captures the sparkle! Ed ...
8:32 pm


Gravatar Another one I cannot account for not already being on my blogroll - Jonny Wright's blog at Hug-a-Hoodie
8:22 pm

Looz Muze and the Number Crunching Mystery!

Gravatar I have just had the shock of my life reading LibDemBlogs Number Crunching (2007) to discover I made it to number 7 of the most popular blogs, hard on the heels (well maybe soft on the heels) of ubiqutous bloggers Paul Walter and Nich Starling and sadly the only woman in the top 10. However, with the emergence of the likes of Alix, Jo and Charlotte to name but three, I expect this to be very different next year. Finding myself as the seventh most popular Lib Dem blogger is even more of a shock given my sloppy and inconsistent ...
8:22 pm

Brian Eno and making radical mind changes

Gravatar Much publicity in the Guardian and elsewhere about the New Years confessional exercise over on The “Edge” site: ‘Notable Thinkers’ explain when and why they changed their minds about something.. Edge's publisher, John Brockman, asked the intellectual cream what they had changed their mind about and why. "Science is based on evidence. What happens when the data change? How have scientific findings or arguments changed your mind?" said the brief. A common theme in the responses is that what distinguishes science from other forms of knowledge and from faith is that new ideas can rapidly overturn old ones as new ...
7:58 pm

Nick Clegg on faith schools: an uncomfortable grey area for liberals

Gravatar It’s often said of the Liberal Democrats that we vote as one on issues of party politics, but are regularly split down the middle on moral issues. The argument about faith schools, currently making waves amongst Lib Dem bloggers, is a case in point. It was kicked off by Nick Clegg, who recently gave an interview to a Jewish newspaper. The atheist Lib Dem leader lent his support to Britain’s faith schools: If we are to create a society in which everyone has a fair chance in life, we need to focus on education, above all. Faith schools have an ...
7:55 pm

Meg Review: 266

Gravatar {Megazine 266} Quote of the month: “I’d recommend to anybody working on their relationship that they should try embarking on a sixteen-year elaborate pornography together. I think they’ll find it works wonders.” Alan Moore Cover: Cliff Robinson draws Dredd, Armitage and new character Tempest. Workmanlike and always a crowd pleaser, it is nonetheless nothing we haven’t seen before. Strips: Judge Dredd, Armitage, Tempest, Bob the Galactic Bum (reprint) Features: Interrogation (interview with Alan Grant), Dredd Files (summary of Dredd strips from days of yore), New Comics (Alan Moore and Melinda Gebbie’s The Lost Girls), New Movies, Dreddlines (letters) I’ve been ...
7:27 pm

Finding Common Ground Between Christians And Atheists

Gravatar I've found a semi-serious list of 10 things that Christians and atheists can agree on. For example, no 3: 3. In Everyday Life, You're Not That Different You Christians, if the transmission in your Camaro explodes, are you going to use prayer to reconstruct it? No, you'll call a mechanic. When your tooth hurts, you don't assume it's possessed by demons. You look for a cavity. Basic, everyday
7:10 pm

Is It Time To Commission An Opinion Poll On Faith Schools?

Gravatar There have been some very interesting discussions on Lib Dem Voice about how our party should interact with religious organisations and what we think about faith schools in particular. I noticed one comment there (no 53) that official party policy is against faith schools - which is something that isn't often mentioned. This issue isn't going to go away, especially if there is a likelihood of
6:52 pm

Ad of the Week: Throwing Kerry to the Wolves

Gravatar Happy new year! My first New Year's resolution (I've just made it up) is to blog more about campaign material. So here's the first dose: not one, but two George W Bush attack ad from October 2004, designed to deal a fatal blow to Kerry's reputation on defence and terror. Here's 'World View', which came first, in mid-October: In this case the Republicans were really kicking at an open goal (well, they might not understand the metaphor, but anyway). The statement Kerry made which you can read here did say basically what the ad says it did. My hunch is ...
6:07 pm

The Only Poll That Matters (Sort Of)

Gravatar The Feast of the Circumcision of Our Lord (as indeed it is for those of a Christian persuasion) is always a time for reflection, so what better time to take a look at what is clearly the most important opinion poll in the modern world, Facebook’s UK Politics poll…The headline results (as of 16:38 when I typed them) are;Conservative – 33.2% (down 1.7% since October)Labour – 29.8% (down 3.5%)
6:05 pm


Gravatar "Uncertainty is the word I would use to describe the mood around Kenya this morning in contrast to fear and anger last night." If you want to read some Kenyan blogs, Global Voices Online is a good place to start.
5:49 pm

Julie Covington: Only Women Bleed

Gravatar This would have been Sunday's music video, but the machine I had access to swallowed my attempt at posting it a couple of times. Julie Covington's version of this Alice Cooper song reminds me of a foggy day at Rugby station just before Christmas 1977, but I realise that may not be true for everybody. Covington was a talented singer and 1977 was her best year. She had a number one with "Don't Cry for me Argentina" and starred in the highly regarded TV series Rock Follies.
4:59 pm

Hilltops and Swedish Furniture

Gravatar The new year began with a bang when Tam and I saw in 2008 from up a hill in Ramsbottom. It made a change from paying £15 to stand in a dangerously overcrowded city centre bar with a roomful of angry drunkards, which these days appeals about as much as a shard of glass to the eye. Why I used to do it is a mystery. Why thousands still do is more mysterious still. Last night driving home we counted three couples screaming at each other outside horrifically packed bars. And it didn’t look like they were shouting “happy new year.” ...
4:41 pm

LDVUSA: All eyes on Iowa

Gravatar It’s become a cliche for journalists writing about the contest to succeed George Bush that this is the longest Presidential race in history. Some of the politicians aspiring to win their party’s candidacy for the November general election have been fighting, literally, for years. As they seek the support of delegates in selection meetings across [...]
4:24 pm

Brian Paddick interview

Gravatar Listen
4:23 pm

IP Wars: Episode Two

Gravatar Thanks to all concerned for all the positive comments I’ve had regarding my post last week on intellectual property. I’ve been pleasantly surprised with the response despite the article’s glaring flaws. One of the things I meant to write about, which Jock reminds us of (via Mises Blog) was the whole Radiohead/In Rainbows phenomenon. Amazon currently rates this album, released this week, at 2 in its music sales chart, and 1 in rock and indie. Not bad for something being given away for free a few weeks ago (speaking personally, I really didn’t think much of the album being a ...
3:42 pm

Is Iraq knackered?

Gravatar Sure, the Americans are taking credit for not blinking: Deaths fall as Baghdad celebrates   The number of civilians killed in Iraq is continuing to fall, data published by Iraqi ministries suggest.  The December death toll was 480, down from almost 900 two months previously and about 2,000 in December 2006. US commanders attribute the reduced violence to their "surge" strategy which involved sending thousands more American troops to Iraq in 2007. Is it, however, just more likely that everyone is just completely exhausted with the loss of life and waste of opportunity.  But... A bomb killed nine people in ...
3:01 pm

Latics lash Leeds with three first half goals

Gravatar A low key start, with rain falling and the crowd (25,906) subdued, Oldham dominated the early stages led by Chris Taylor who went off with a leg injury on 18 minutes, to be replaced by Deane Smalley. This seemed to wake up the crowd but the Latics looked like they wanted a goal and they got one in the 27th minute when Reuban Hazell volleyed in a right foot shot from 25 yards, 0-1. Oldham continued to press and seemed better than Leeds in every department. This was illustrated when Leeds had to defend a corner on 36 minutes and ...
2:44 pm

Kenya thoughts, colonialism, and the huge pressures of Democracy

Gravatar The sour tragedy of the events in Kenya highlights a colonial centenary. In 1908 Kenya was finally ‘pacified’ within the Empire after several years of conflict embarrassing to the then-Liberal UK government. Perhaps we need to reflect on the pressures of imperialism, how our Liberal predecessors dealt with it, the astonishing assumptions of democracy, and what we can learn from this about our world and how to behave in it. In 1905 the incoming Liberal government inherited a number of conflicts from over ten years of highly ideological Tory Imperialist expansion policy. The most uncontrolled was in the new ‘East ...
2:24 pm

Political Compass Analysis

Gravatar Peter Dunphy has written an insightful post on the merits and disadvantages of the political compass application on facebook. On whether land should be brought and sold (I voted yes) and whether corporations should serve humanity (I voted yes - otherwise who are they serving if not you and me...eventually?). Since I wrote my earlier post there has been a new addition to my graph - someone even more right-wing than Peter Dunphy!
2:11 pm

Guardian joins Clegg in savaging ID scheme

Gravatar The Grauniad’s leader column is inspired by Nick Clegg’s New Year message to launch an eloquent polemic against ‘a pernicious piece of plastic’. They say: Mr Brown previously let it be known that he saw big problems with Tony Blair’s pet ID card project. But when he moved into No 10, polls showing strong support for [...]
2:07 pm

"Ecstasy safer than aspirin"

Gravatar Or at least it might be if we didn't have to buy it from backstreet chemists with as much skill and customer concern as a Chinese-American toy manufacturer: The legalisation of all drugs is "inevitable", according to the Chief Constable of North Wales. Richard Brunstrom, who has campaigned for drugs like heroin to be made legal, says he believes the move towards decriminalisation is "10 years away." ... "I think that the legalisation and subsequent regulation of proscribed drugs is now inevitable, and I think it's ten years away, not ten months away."  (I'd prefer the latter of course!) He ...
1:58 pm

A miscellany

Gravatar DFS's daft use of penguins/ / Sad death of DJ Kevin Greening/ / Bowie's Queen Bitch used for ITV's "Honest"/ / Ricky Gervais' best joke/ / The remarkable advance of the Pied Wagtail
1:57 pm

New Year blues, me never?

Gravatar Avery happy NEW YEAR to all that read this page and also to those that don't and they don't know what they are missing or do they? I wonder if you are like me and getting back to normal after the festive season and trying to get those emails done and the letters that you have not written but should have by now done. Never mind it is now 2008 and I hope that we can all have a prosperous...
1:54 pm

Gilding Gideon

Gravatar  Quite an amusing article at ConservativeHome bigging up Gideon under the headline "Chancellor-in-waiting". This in particular made me chuckle:   It is clear that Mr Osborne will not be appointed as the powerful Chairman that ConservativeHome had hoped he would become. He is going to remain Shadow Chancellor. Fair enough. But it is now important that many more voters want to trust him with the nation's finances. He needs to look in charge of his brief. Solid. Reassuring.   He's got to get over this image of him (and much of the rest of the Tory front bench/party) for me: ...
1:43 pm

Shareware - the future of Intellectual Property?

Gravatar Way back last year sometime James Graham wrote an insightful piece about Intellectual Property - the big 21st century faultline?. As readers will know, as a mutualist, like other libertarian and anarchist descendants (part of the debate amongst whom James highlights), I regard patents and copyrights as one of the four great monopolies that have to be crushed before we get a truly free world and a genuine advance in the conditions of labour. It's not one that I major on because I don't understand it enough yet to make decent arguments - particularly it has to be said against ...
1:26 pm

New Year's Resolution?

Gravatar For the sake of the planet, eat seasonal foods... {Cadbury Creme Eggs}
1:08 pm

Ten most popular blog postings (4th quarter, 2007)

Gravatar Well - happy new year everyone, and without further ado - here's what keeping you reading on this blog over the last three months. 10. Low Copy Number DNA - a recap of my concerns about Labour's plans for our DNA records, back in the news after this controversial new technique was criticised by the judge in the Omagh bomb case. I suspect I got a lot of traffic to this post as lots of people went searching for information on the topic after the news of the judge's comments broke. 9. Crimestoppers caught advertising on illegal radio station - ...
12:52 pm

Political Compass Analysis - Interesting Outcomes

Gravatar The Political Compass is an application some of you may have seen on Facebook. It is another attempt to map out in two dimensions where people lie in terms of policy views. Although US based it does a reasonably good job for the UK. It is more comprehensive than the two dimensional 10 question 'World's Smallest Political Quiz' and makes more sense than a simple one dimensional Liberal vs Conservative analysis such as the Washington Post Compass. Jo Anglezarke mentions that I am the most right wing of her Facebook friends - and in fact I am of my friends ...
12:34 pm

Spinning out of control

Gravatar Planned increases in train fares across Wales tomorrow are causing huge controversy, however attempts by a 'Welsh Assembly Government Spokesperson' to sooth things over sound less than convincing. The Western Mail tells us that Government-regulated fares such as Saver and season tickets will increase by 4.8%. The cheapest return fare between Swansea and Cardiff will rise by 4.1% to £5.10. At the same time the cheapest return fare between Colwyn Bay and Chester – approximately the same distance – will rise by 5.6% to £13.30. An Aberystwyth to Newtown return, also for a similar distance, will rise by 5.3% to ...
12:25 pm

Britblog Roundup and more patronising of the female folk

Gravatar The 150th* Britblog Roundup is now up on Redemption Blues and my post on the Gender Balance Awards gets, well, it gets a roasting (and not in the good way) from The Chameleon (as well as on this week's BBC Pods and Blogs). Since I saw the post yesterday, I can't help thinking of two words that perfectly summarise the opposing argument laid down by The Chameleon. I've been debating whether to post
12:14 pm

Resist ID cards!

Gravatar This article (pasted below) is from the Daily Telegraph - written by Andrew O Hagan. We start the year in Britain with a challenge to our essential nature, for 2008 might turn out to be the year when we decide to rip up the Magna Carta. Among the basic civil rights in this country, there has always been, at least in theory, an inclination towards liberal democracy, which includes a tolerance of an individual's right to privacy. We are born free and have the right to decide what freedom means, each for ourselves, and to have control over our outward ...
11:58 am

High praise for Nick Clegg in the Telegraph and Guardian

Gravatar Nick Clegg has received a lot of coverage for his pledge to scrap ID cards. He's in the Mail and the Guardian bases a leader article on his call. Andrew O'Hagan in The Telegraph particularly praises him: The ID cards issue should be raising the most stimulating arguments about who we are and how we are - but no, it is not: we nose the grass like sheep and prepare to be herded once again.It seems
11:58 am

Is the Labour party facing bankruptcy in 2008?

Gravatar It may be a fanciful prediction, as its author Robert Winnett accepts, but it is certainly worth a read in the Telegraph. They've been hovering around £20 million in debt. And I would have thought that it is difficult for them to get donations these days. However, old Lord Sainsbury recently helped them out and if they delay an election until 2009 or 2010 (as has been mentioned in some quarters),
11:53 am

Will it be a constitution or a reform treaty Gordon ?

Gravatar I see Gordon Brown is proposing a written constitution for the NHS. I am slightly perplexed about this. In all my years of study at university we debated the country have a bill of rights and the pros and cons of a written constitution but I never remember there being any discussion on whether the NHS should have a written constitution. Perhaps though it is a sign of the fear that Gordon brown now has of the Tories. He knows that with a good lead in the polls which would probably give the Tories a small working majority, the Tories ...
11:39 am

My nominations for the blog awards

Gravatar I was tagged before Christmas with the James Graham meme which was forwarded to me by Mary Reid but was so scared of nominating (and full of mince pies and wine) that I’ve only just got round to it. There’s just one month left to submit your nominations for the campaign for gender balance blog awards. One month until James Graham, Jo Swinson MP, Baroness Jane Bonham-Carter, Ros Harper, Ros Taylor & Olly Grender sit round a big important table and decide the two winners from the 19 female Lib Dem bloggers. So here it is then – my nominations ...
11:28 am

J.K.Rowling's passion for the disadvantaged

Gravatar There was nothing really on the telly the other night and my family were out, so I settled down to watch "J.K.Rowling - A year in the life" as a sort of televisual polyfilla while further attacking our tin of "Celebrations". "What's she got to promote ?" and "She must have an expensive PR" and "Is she trying to touch up her image ?" were the thoughts that sprang to mind when it began. But I was
11:09 am

Happy New Year

Gravatar Just a quick post to say Happy New Year - I have a feeling 2008 is going to be a good one for the Liberal Democrats. We’ve got a vibrant, media savvy new leader and a very high profile top team behind him. The challenge for Nick is going to be to keep up the media profile the party managed to develop during Vince’s reign and during the leadership campaign - get our policies out there, make people know what we stand for and have some high profile events and announcements. Basically to prepare for the next election without actually ...
11:01 am

First 200,000 opt out of NHS Database

Gravatar The link is to a story in the Daily Mail indicating that 200,000 people have applied to opt out of the NHS Spine. I think the figure will be a lot larger in the long term.
10:58 am

The view from Kenya

Gravatar I have a Kenyan friend with whom I have corresponded for over three years by email. He writes about the current situation: The election is over but the result was nothing else but hell. Even the blind can tell where the truth is. With full of confidence,without fear or doubt the winner of this general election was Hon.Raila Amolo Odinga. There is an open evidence to the matter.But things were
10:10 am

And who was watching you last night?

Gravatar Welcome to 2008, and the news that the UK is one of the world’s ‘endemic surveillance socities’ (via Duncan). The good news is, of course, that we are still capable of keeping up with the superpowers at some things as the USA, Russia and China all receive the same rating. And remember that Gordon Brown still wants to make us number 1 in this list, not just sharing that title with anybody - we’re still set to get an ID card scheme that would be the “most invasive in the world”, and doesn’t that just make you proud to be ...
10:01 am

Bowling For Soup At My Age

Gravatar Is it inevitable that my favourite music is still mostly from the 70s and 80s ? I joined Facebook last week and when doing the music quiz on ilike I had to listen to a lot of bands I'd barely heard of before. My favourite is definitely Bowling For Soup. Their '1985' is ironically enough, about someone whose musical tastes, and indeed entire dreams, are still trapped in the 1980s (devotees of
9:52 am

LibDemBlogs Number Crunching (2007)

Gravatar With LibDemBlogs now in it’s forth year, I thought I would display some stats. We started the year displaying 108 bloggers, and today we have 168. The most popular blogs were: Liberal Democrat Voice (5,284) James Graham (1,523) Jonathan Calder (1,410) Jonathan Wallace (1,364) Paul Walter (1,136) Nich Starling (977) Linda Jack (749) Duncan Borrowman (741) Jonathan Fryer (644) Andy Mayer (573) Most popular posts: Sajjad Karim defects to Tories (124) - LibDemVoice Team Clegg: in full scale meltdown? (110) - James Graham Is Sajjid Karim as big a scumbag as he is being made out to be? (108) - ...
9:00 am

Legal Sex

Gravatar A couple of months ago I wrote a blog post praising the WI for their liberal approach to prostitution - basically suggesting that if you legalise it then you will find it easier to control it and in turn will help protect the girls that go into the profession. Well now the ‘Labour Party’, in the Harriet Harman, has come out and suggested it should be made even more illegal than it already is. I know I’m a little late on this one but I’ve had a few problems with my server. Instead of writing a whole new post about ...
2:48 am

Happy New Year

Gravatar Apart from that, I would just like to draw people's attention to this, a rather more reactive and, dare I say it, blog-like posting from Loz Miles, about the Archbishop of Canterbury's last sermon of 2007: Speaking out against "political correctness" during his final sermon of 2007, the Archbishop of Middlemarch has surprised Britain's Christians by inventing a completely made-up world on the
12:01 am

Happy New Year

Gravatar A Happy New Year to all my readers and I hope the coming year brings you and yours health and happiness.

Previous days:

Monday 31st December 2007, Sunday 30th December 2007, Saturday 29th December 2007, Friday 28th December 2007, Thursday 27th December 2007, Wednesday 26th December 2007