Saturday, December 24, 2011

It's A Wonderful Community Life

Chris Black writes:

Frank Capra's "It's a Wonderful Life" begins and ends on Christmas Eve - and should have a special resonance for anyone who fancies themselves as a community campaigner.

The hero of the film , George Bailey , is a superb worker for his community - but neglects his family and his home. The only thing that saves him and those he loves from tragedy , bitterness and failure is some supernatural help from an awkward angel, Clarence.

George makes two mistakes. First of all, he is so focussed on his community work he temporarily stops caring about his own family.
"You call this a happy family , why do we have to have all these kids?" In real life I've seen someone based their lives almost completely around council work, and it didn't end happily.

Secondly, George sees himself as a failure. When someone calls him a "Miserable little clerk, crawling in on your hands and knees" he has no answer. And that's also easy to do when you've been a councillor for a while. You forget about the little improvements that you've got done, and only think of the items that haven't been achieved. So it's important to get the balance right between family, paid employment and council duties, and never get yourself get too discouraged!

If you've never seen the film, you should. It does have a happy ending ! And you can watch it here on YouTube.

Merry Christmas.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Prices And Values

My wife Elena heard a news report this week on Russian TV about the most expensive apartment in the USA.

I then read about it in the Wall Street Journal:

The latest trophy example came this week, when a Russian billionaire, Dmitry Rybolovlev, issued a statement saying his 22-year-old daughter, Ekaterina, a student, was in contract to buy one of the best-known apartments in New York: the sprawling penthouse with a wrap-around terrace at 15 Central Park West.

The apartment was owned by Sanford I. Weill, the former chairman and chief executive of Citigroup Inc., who said he would donate the proceeds to charity.

Mr. Weill decided to list the 6,744-square-foot penthouse on the 20th floor at $88 million last month, a breathtaking price for the New York market, where the previous high sale had been a $53 million townhouse sale back in 2006.

But within a few weeks, brokers at Brown Harris Stevens abruptly called off showings of the apartment, signaling that a buyer had made a high offer.

The contract price, according to a person familiar with the transaction, was the full asking price of $88 million...

What I really liked was the final comment of the Russian newsreader , a lady in her forties. She said that she didn't know what to envy the daughter for, the 88 million dollars , or for being 22.....

Sunday, December 11, 2011

The One On The Right...

I happened to hear this song by Johnny Cash on Radio 2's "Sounds of The Sixties" yesterday, and I'm afraid I couldn't help thinking what a gift it could be for some satirists...

There once was a musical troupe
A pickin' singin' folk group
They sang the mountain ballads
And the folk songs of our land

They were long on musical ability
Folks thought they would go far
But political incompatibility led to their downfall

Well, the one on the right was on the left
And the one in the middle was on the right
And the one on the left was in the middle
And the guy in the rear was a Methodist

This musical aggregation toured the entire nation
Singing the traditional ballads
And the folk songs of our land
They performed with great virtuosity
And soon they were the rage
But political animosity prevailed upon the stage...

Anyway, here's a shortened live version:

and the complete song, in Lego:

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Europe, Cancer And The Coalition

Unlike some other Lib Dem Bloggers, I have only a few qualms about what's happened with Europe this week.

But what does disturb me is the recent proposal regarding making all cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy to have to undergo medical assessments in order to receive benefits.

I think George Potter has explained the situation very well here:.

Macmillan aren't happy about this and, aside from all the ethical and moral reasons for us Lib Dems to want this group of cancer patients to receive unconditional support (which is my primary concern), it could potentially turn into a damaging PR disaster for the government and us as a party by association.

Given a choice betwen trusting MacMillan Cancer Care and trusting the government, I think most people will go for the former.... I certainly will....

I really hope that Lib Dems in government get this idea dropped. Quickly.

Thursday, December 08, 2011

Bertrand Russell's Liberal Decalogue

I recently found this, from Bertrand Russell in 1951:

Perhaps the essence of the Liberal outlook could be summed up in a new decalogue, not intended to replace the old one but only to supplement it.
The Ten Commandments that, as a teacher, I should wish to promulgate, might be set forth as follows:

1. Do not feel absolutely certain of anything.
2. Do not think it worth while to proceed by concealing evidence, for the evidence is sure to come to light.
3. Never try to discourage thinking for you are sure to succeed.
4. When you meet with opposition, even if it should be from your husband or your children, endeavour to overcome it by argument and not by authority, for a victory dependent upon authority is unreal and illusory.
5. Have no respect for the authority of others, for there are always contrary authorities to be found.
6. Do not use power to suppress opinions you think pernicious, for if you do the opinions will suppress you.
7. Do not fear to be eccentric in opinion, for every opinion now accepted was once eccentric.
8. Find more pleasure in intelligent dissent that in passive agreement, for, if you value intelligence as you should, the former implies a deeper agreement than the latter.
9. Be scrupulously truthful, even if the truth is inconvenient, for it is more inconvenient when you try to conceal it.
10. Do not feel envious of the happiness of those who live in a fool's paradise, for only a fool will think that it is happiness.

Russell seems to be setting out 10 commandments for thinking , not for day-to-day life. So I would assume that no. 5 refers to the authority of other scholars - not policemen.

Hat-Tip - Ann Althouse - who doesn't seem fond of liberals.

Tuesday, December 06, 2011

A 19-Year-Old Speaks Up For His 2 Moms

Zach Walls testifies before the Iowa House of Representatives.

Hat-Tip: Andrew Sullivan

Monday, December 05, 2011

When Things Fall Apart

The recent comments of Lib Dem Euro MEP Sharon Bowles are pretty startling:

Bowles had travelled to the event directly from Brussels to inform the industry about the current state of the European Mortgage Directive.

But after her main speech was concluded she was asked a number of questions from the audience about the future of Europe.

The event’s host, Kevin Duffy, managing director of UK brokerage Mortgage Force, asked her whether, with the continued instability in Europe, in six months time we would see a two speed Europe.

Bowles responded: “I don’t know whether we will have an EU.” When Duffy attempted to clarify whether she meant the EU or euro, she responded “I don’t think we’ll have either”.

She went on to say while the parliament and commission were currently holding the line well when it came to protecting the single market, she said she was pessimistic about the future of the euro, and in her opinion it was “game over”.

We really are moving into uncertain times. The only comparison I can think of is with the break-up of the USSR. A time I remember well - I was in northern Russia when the Commonwealth of Independent States was proclaimed. (and inadvertantly happened to witness the first ever public striptease in Murmansk, though that's another story.)

For those salivating at the thought of the break-up of the EU , be careful what you wish for. The demise of the USSR brought about a great deal more personal freedom, but led to years of poverty, a massive gap between rich and poor and at least two wars.

I don't think the break-up of the EU would do much for personal freedom, but on the other hand I don't think we would get any wars. As for years of poverty, I'm worried...

Sunday, December 04, 2011

The Face Of Putin

I'm watching the Russian elections live ... on Russian TV. From what I can see on the screen, Putin's party is down to 49%.

Medvedev and Putin are talking to the media. Putin has the tired, unhappy expression that people normally have when they have lost an election.

Another thought. Why on earth does Russia, of all places, have elections in December?

Damn Interesting

I'm delighted to see that the Damn Interesting website has come back to life , after a two year gap. I'm delighted because it has some stuff that is, well, damn interesting.

Do either of these snippets intrigue you?

A tale of intelligence, cunning and love of money:

The scoreboard on Larson’s podium read “$90,351,” an amount unheard of in the history of Press Your Luck. In fact, this total was far greater than any person had ever earned in one sitting on any television game show. With each spin on the randomized “Big Board” Larson took a one-in-six chance of hitting a “Whammy” space that would strip him of all his spoils, yet for 36 consecutive spins he had somehow missed the whammies, stretched the show beyond it’s 30-minute format, and accumulated extraordinary winnings. Such a streak was astronomically unlikely, but Larson was not yet ready to stop. He was convinced that he knew exactly what he was doing.

and the experiences of a pilot in the wrong place at the wrong time:

At times the air was so saturated with suspended water that an intake of breath caused him to sputter and choke. He began to worry about the very strange—but very real–possibility of drowning in the sky.

Saturday, December 03, 2011

"Crimes" By Caryl Churchill

Well gosh , it's months since I posted something. Not exactly writers block, but ... life has been kinda busy.

So to get back into posting , here's a video clip of something I just about remember watching back in the 80s.

The BBC had a short season of plays then entitled "Play for Tomorrow", all set in the near future. This is how one of them opens. The actress, Sylvestra Le Touzel, was given some great dialogue, and she certainly makes chilling use of it......

Friday, August 12, 2011

Mr Moore Is Salaried....

Another snippet from Whats My Line...What kind of work does Bobby Moore from London , England do?

What On Earth Does He Do For A Living?

After seeing a fascinating little TV clip of "I've Got A Secret" on Liberal England, I stumbled across this segment of the US series of "What's My Line", circa 1956.....

Colonel Sanders lives in Kentucky. He has a neat white beard, a string tie and a white suit. What on earth does he do for a living?

Sunday, July 31, 2011

What Happens If The USA Defaults

The following document from Buckingham Palace, signed by Her Majesty herself, has recently come into my possession. I understand that Wikileaks are absolutely livid that I got to it first.

I can't guarantee that it is genuine, but I believe it will come into effect if the USA defaults. Anyway, here it is:

Whereas Our Royal Ancestor King George III was pleased to sign the Treaty of Paris of the Year of our Lord 1783 that granted sovereignty to thirteen of Our colonies in North America . Nonetheless it is noted that Article 4 of that Treaty stated :

“It is agreed that creditors on either side shall meet with no lawful impediment to the recovery of the full value in sterling money of all bona fide debts heretofore contracted.”

It is now acknowledged that the government of those American Colonies is now unable to pay those debts.

And it is acknowledged that 25 % of Americans do not even know their country was granted independence by Our Royal Ancestor.

Therefore that treaty is now nullified, and it is Our Royal Duty to reassert Britannic Sovereignty over these impoverished and misgoverned lands.

Therefore We Solemnly Pronounce as follows:

I  A NEW COLONY. All the lands of the so-called “United States of America” will become a colony of our United Kingdom, except where stated below.

II ARMED FORCES Whereas it might be normally expected that the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines and Coastguard of the United States would resist, we are not expecting war, as their government can longer pay them.  They will be invited to join our own distinguished armed forces, and keep Red , White and Blue ("These colours don't run") , and if Marines become Royal Marines, and if Navy became Royal Navy and drink rum, and if Air Force become Royal Air Force and grow mustaches , and if soldiers, wear kilts and play bagpipes and if Coastguard join the Royal National Lifeboat Institution.

However enrollment in our Armed Forces will be denied to any person who cannot pronounce "lieutenant" correctly.

III NEW CAPITAL The colonial capital will be located at Charleston, where our beloved eldest son Charles will reside as Viceroy. 

IV . FORMER CAPITAL The former capital of these colonies will be renamed “New Washington” to avoid any confusion with the town in the north-east of England. The White House will be given to the National Trust.

V . CORRECT USE OF LANGUAGE. All those annoying misuses of Our English language will be decreed unlawful. Anyone writing “Color” instead of “Colour” or “Gasoline ” instead of “Petrol” will be fined. In a similar way, all unnecessary geographical terms will be replaced by their proper English equivalents. For example, the television series “Dawson’s Creek” will be renamed “Dawson’s Stream”.

VII  BROADCASTING In order to improve the state of culture in America , all TV and radio stations will be taken over by the BBC. As a first step, Rush Limbaugh's programmes will be replaced by The Archers and Desert Island Discs.

VIII NEWSPAPERS . Our initial decision was that all American newspapers would be replaced by the Sun and the News of The World, However, after careful reconsideration We are pleased to maintain the status quo on this one.

VIII CURRENCY . The dollar will be replaced by the pound. As Our Americans are used to having a low denomination banknote , “The One Dollar Note”, as a gesture of goodwill We will reintroduce a “One Pound Note”, with an image of Ourself on one side and Jesse Owens on the other.

IX FINANCE MINISTER Our Colonial Finance Minister will be former British Prime Minister Gordon Brown Esqr. as, despite the hash he made of things here, he couldn't do as badly as the US Congress. Also, as our current Prime Minister is fond of saying, people deserve a second chance.

X REDUCING THE DEFICIT . We will reduce the deficit from the fines paid on incorrect use of English (see above). Also our advisers will increase duty on Petrol from its current low level. Also to raise the rest of the cash we will sell Alaska  back to the Russians. (at quite a profit)

XI HEALTH Whereas we understand that raising the tax on petrol will bring hardship to some of our poorer colonial subjects, we will save them money by introducing a National Health Service. We will appoint our beloved subject Hugh Laurie Esqr. as Colonial Minister for Health.

XII . DISPOSAL OF DISTANT TERRITORIES Some of the lands of the former United States are too far from Charleston to be governed effectively. We will therefore be pleased to dispose of some territories as follows:

i ) Small islands in the Pacific such as Guam will be given to Our loyal government in New Zealand.

ii) The states of Hawaii, Washington, plus Northern Idaho will be given to Our loyal government in Canada as We believe they are fond of pineapples, apples and potatoes .They will be renamed the Sandwich Islands, Arnold , and South British Columbia respectively.

iii ) The state of Alaska will be sold back to Russia. However We have promised to keep Mistress Sarah Palin.

iv) The island of Puerto Rico will be given to our Royal Relative Juan Carlos of Spain in exchange for Majorca and the other Balearic Islands, as they are mostly occupied by British Subjects anyway.

XIII  SPORTING ACTIVITIES We are disappointed to note that the as part of their general decline , the Americans are no longer so good at sports and games. We will therefore appoint our loyal subject Colin Montgomerie as Minister for Sport to teach them better golf. We will also send a party of Welshmen to Dallas, as we think the Texans would be rather good at Rugby. However in the opposite direction we will be pleased to bestow honours on the Williams sisters and make them Dame Venus Williams and Dame Serena Williams and place them in charge of Our Lawn Tennis Association.

XIV We believe it is necessary to grant some political representation to our colonial subjects and we will therefore appoint the following persons to the House of Lords:

Neil Armstrong, Duke of Tranquillity
William Gates, Lord Digits
Michelle Obama, Countess of Chicago
Thomas Petty, Lord Heartbreaker
Bruce Springsteen, Juke of Asbury.
Tracey Ullman , Duchess of Springfield

XV RELIGION Religious freedoms will remain. However as Utah is near the edge of our new realm and has it's own ways we will make Utah into a separate British Morman Colony under the governorship of Donny Osmond. We also note  that some of Our Muslim Subjects find living under our realm troubling and therefore offer them  the chance to live in a new Colony of Nevada. However they will be required to allow the gaming and  libertine dancing to continue, with the hope that it might broaden their outlook a trifle.

XVI HOLIDAYS . We will of couse discontinue July 4th as an American holiday. However we will introduce July 21st as a holiday to commemorate Neil Armstrong walking on the Moon, an event Our colonials should always be proud of. We will also introduce Darwin Day on February 12th, to stop America falling any further behind on science. Also....

The document I have ends at this point - clearly it continues further. I wonder what the rest of it says.

In the meantime I've heard something interesting about Greece, and the Ottoman Empire.....

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Maybe Vince Saw Stuff Like This

According to the Guardian:

Vince Cable has launched an extraordinary attack on "rightwing nutters" in America who are trying to block the raising of the US government's debt ceiling and who are, he said, a bigger threat to the world economy than problems in the eurozone.

Maybe he read something like this blog post with the snappy title "Default -The Two Swwetest Words In the English Language"

Thinking Of Norway

A candle in Oslo cathedral today.....

Too many faces of heartbroken parents.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Problem Number 2 : A Shattered Pledge

Jennie says everything I wanted to say about the tuition fees issue, except ten times better.

You really should read her full post here but here's the key paragraph:

Let me spell this out in very small words: the problem is, as I said before it even happened, that, with twenty-one honourable exceptions*, our MPs broke their word. We ran our whole damn general election campaign on no more broken promises, we're not like all the others, vote for us and things will change because we're honest... And then we broke our word.

There are some excellent comments as well.

Monday, May 09, 2011

Winning Elections Is Easy

Winning elections is easy.

At least if you are Ruth Ellen Brosseau.

Never been to the constituency? Doesn't matter! Have problems with the local lanaguage? No problem!

Ruthe Ellen was a candidate for the New Democratic Party in last week's elections in Canada. As Wikipedia explains:

She is also an animal welfare activist who has worked to find homes for stray animals and help injured animals recover.

As of May, 2011, Brosseau is a single mother who resides in Gatineau, Quebec. Brosseau held the position of assistant manager for Oliver's Pub, a bar on the campus of Carleton University in Ottawa.

Brosseau ran for a seat to the Canadian House of Commons in the 2011 federal election. She stood as the New Democratic Party candidate in the electoral district of Berthier—Maskinongé in central Quebec. She was the second nomination choice of the party as the original candidate, Julie Demers, decided to run in Bourassa instead (where she lost).

Initially, Brosseau was considered a paper candidate who had been selected by the party due to the lack of a viable local nominee. She never put a serious campaign together and never went to the riding, which straddles the regions of Lanaudière and Mauricie, during the writ period. However, on election night, Brosseau defeated incumbent Bloc Québécois Member of Parliament Guy André and four other candidates winning with a plurality of 5,735 votes and taking just under 40% of all the votes cast. André finished a distant second, with only 29.4 percent of the vote.] Her victory was part of a wave of NDP support in Quebec--a province in which the party was virtually nonexistent prior to this election. By the end of election night, the party had seen a provincial seat increase from a single one in Montreal to a surprising total of 58.

The Toronto Globe And Mail has more here.

You'd have to have a heart of stone not to see the funny side of this. I sincerely wish her well. She's going to have an interesting time....

Problem No:1 A Vague Identity

The party is in a mess and it's going to take a lot of effort to get us out of it.

We don't have one big problem, we have four.

The first problem is that it's very hard to sum up our party's basic aims in a sentence or two. Ask most people and they might say that the Tories are in favour of free enterprise, low taxes and reducing the role of government. They'll say Labour are also more or less in favour of free enterprise, but want higher taxes and the state to do more. The Greens obviously are there for green issues, UKIP are anti EU. The SNP want independence for Scotland.

And the Lib Dems?

"The official view is “The Liberal Democrats exist to build and safeguard a fair, free and open society, in which we seek to balance the fundamental values of liberty, equality and community and in which no one shall be enslaved by poverty, ignorance or conformity” but that is pretty vague. Most of our voters would yawn before even finishing reading it.

On economic policy it was all a lot simpler for us in the ’80s when you had Thatcherism on one side and outright socialism on the other, it was easy for us to offer a middle path. Not so easy now – though I think we are doing a good job inside government holding back the extreme right of the Conservative Party who seem to hate the NHS, BBC , etc. But that’s not being seen by the public.

Also a lot of the “Liberal” battles over the last 40 of 50 years have been won. So what is our raison d'etre now? What do we say in 30 seconds on the doorstep?

If I was going out campaigning today I'd say : We support free enterprise – but the wealth should be shared, the lowest paid shouldn’t pay income tax and big corporations and super-rich shouldn’t get away with paying little. And we believe that that organisations like the NHS, the BBC and the armed forces should be properly funded and supported.

But other Lib Dems might say something completely different - and therein lies the problem.

Sunday, May 08, 2011

In Deep Blue Rochford

Rochford District has been one of the bluest councils in England in recent years - before election day the Tories had 31 seats, we had 5 , the Greens had 1 and the Rochford District Residents Party had 1, with 1 vacancy in Hullbridge.

It was very much an election for us to focus on defense, as we had elections in all 3 wards where we had councillors....

The end result was that we lost one seat (Sweyne Park) where we were defending a majority of just 30. But we held our other wards (Downhall and Rawreth, and Grange) with over 73% of the vote in straight fights with the Conservatives.

So although it's disappointing to have lost in Sweyne Park, we still have a very solid base for the future. And we've found new helpers, a new candidate and a new agent , so it's not all doom and gloom.

Elsewhere in the District, the expected Green challenge faltered in a couple of Tory wards, but Christine Mason for the Rochford District Residents Party won Hawkwell West, so that Christine and her husband John are now an official party group, and we will be sitting next to them in the council chamber.

The Council is now 31 Tories, 4 Lib Dems, 2 Rochford District Residents and 1 Green, with one vacancy.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

If the Premiership Was Decided On FPTP

I'm getting a bit tired of all these "If sporting events were decided under AV then..." arguments from the NO campaign.

Because election races aren't really athletics races. If they were, they wouldn't let men and women compete in the same elections. And they aren't really horse races either, because if they were, the Lib Dems have won Orkney and Shetland so many times they would have to be given a big handicap in the next contest. And they aren't really boxing matches, because if they were Cyril Smith would have been in a separate election all by himself.

And election races certainly aren't football matches. But if football competitions were decided on the first round, this is how the Premiership would have been decided this season:

Premier League table snapshot

As it stood on 14 Aug 2010 23:59 UK
Position Team P GD PTS
1 Chelsea 1 6 3
2 Blackpool 1 4 3
3 Aston Villa 1 3 3
4 Wolves 1 1 3
5 Blackburn 1 1 3

Like I said, I'm tired of these sporting comparisons.....

Friday, April 22, 2011

In Saudi Arabia, FPTP = Females Prevented Taking Part

From the Arab News:

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia announced Monday that it was not yet ready for women participating in next month’s municipal elections as voters or candidates. “We are not ready for the participation of women in these municipal elections,” Election Commissioner Abdul Rahman Al-Dahmash said.

On the Saudijeans blog, there's a call for an elections boycott:

The municipal elections deserve to be boycotted because democracy is not a ballot box. Democracy is about conceding power to the people. When the ballot box does not lead to conceding power to people and using this power effectively, then the ballot box does not lead to democracy. The municipal councils had no impact on the lives of people, and the comical manner in which their mandate has been extended for two years shows that they have nothing to do with the power of the people or delegating that power from them. How can an elected councilman gets his power from voters, then keeps to exercise it thanks to a government decision? This is, by the way, why democratic countries hold elections on schedule, because an elected official cannot continue to use his power without the consent of those — the voters — who have given him this power in the first place.

Have you noticed that they are using the same excuses that they have used to exclude women in 2004? The lack of separate polling stations for women, the need to learn from the experience with a promise to take part the next time around, etc. During the past seven years, we have built KAUST and sent 80,000 students to study abroad but somehow we still can’t prepare polling stations for women’s participation. Due to all this comicality and lack of seriousness, the municipal elections deserve to be boycotted.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Farewell, Elizabeth. Goodbye Sarah Jane.

Shocked to hear of her death....

For so many , she was "Our" Doctor Who Girl. This Mitch Benn song has a little extra poignancy now:

And I don't think pain and loss do define us as much as happiness and love:

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

You Are Either Going To Love This Or Hate It

It's at

The webapage describes it as:

Simple sinewave synthesizer triggered by an ordinary 16step sequencer. Each triggered step causes a force on the underlaying wave-map, which makes it more cute.

As Kim Ayres explains here

Some of you will already know about this, indeed will probably have it as an iPhone app or something. So far as I can make out, it was created a couple of years ago. But I only found it today. I wanted to put it on my blog so I would be able to find it again any time I wanted to for the rest of my life.

There's some other interesting stuff here too....

Saturday, April 09, 2011

Politics Doesn't Have To Be Bad Tempered.

From The Ticket:

Jefferson Smith loves a good political joke.

Early last year, the then-freshman Oregon House member from Portland was getting ready for bed when he and his wife, Katy, began bantering back and forth about what might be the ultimate political prank, something that could lighten the increasingly divisive political mood among his colleagues.

As Smith recalls, the idea came almost instantly. "What if we were to Rick Roll the legislature without anybody noticing?" he wondered.

The lines had to be delivered on the House floor during a lawmaker's regular floor speech--which is, under Oregon law, videotaped for public records purposes. And the lines of the lyrics had to be spread out, so as not to tip off the state House clerk or other observers to what lawmakers were up to.

"It was way harder taking words and spreading them out than simply manipulating them (on video)," Smith says. "There are some easy lines in there to say without getting noticed. 'You're never gonna' is easy. 'I just wanna tell you how I'm feeling' is easy. But an 'ooh?' That's tricky." ..

Hat-Tip : Andrew Sullivan

Thursday, April 07, 2011

The Missing Majority

Rochford District Council is very blue. We have 32 Tories, 5 Lib Dems, 1 Green and 1 Rochford Residents Party councillor. So we don't win many votes....

But it was a slightly bizarre evening tonight.

Our Standards Committee consists of 4 Tory District Councillors, 1 Lib Dem District Councillor (myself), plus a number of parish councillors and independent members.

Tonight none of the Tories turned up!

For the first time in ten years our party outnumbered the Conservatives in an official council committee (albeit by one to nil).

Everything went very smoothly and we made some useful decisions...

Actually poor attendance by the Conservatives is becoming a trend here.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

"My name is Mervyn King, as i am the Governor Bank of England"

I had an email today from the Governor of the Bank of England, which explains why the government is facing such a big deficit:

Although you may be concerned about my e-mail because we have not met before, My name is Mervyn King, as i am the Governor Bank of England, is the sum of EUR20,600,000.00 in my bank, there were no beneficiaries stated concerning these funds are not an agent would ever come forward to claim it.

So I ask, are we to transfer funds from my bank to work on your bank account or another account of your choice, I would like to see if you can help me and also a good and trustworthy person. Once the funds have to keep your bank account we shall then jointly adopted at a ratio of 60% for me, 40% for you, do me as soon as possible by e-mail for more info here is my e-mail address:
My friendly greetings
Mr. Mervyn King

Does Vince Cable know about this?

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Not Exactly Decentralisation......

I'm grateful to Prue Bray, who has pointed out a rather worrying statement on March 23rd by Conservative MP Greg Clark, the Coalition minister for Decentralisation. You can find it here.

It's about 'planning for growth', which sounds good in terms of improving the economy, but there are some alarming bits for people concerned about over-development:

.....there is a pressing need to ensure that the planning system does everything it can to help secure a swift return to economic growth. This statement therefore sets out the steps the Government expects local planning authorities to take with immediate effect.

So new policies come into effect immediately.

Authorities should work together to ensure that needs and opportunities that extend beyond (or cannot be met within) their own boundaries are identified and accommodated in a sustainable way, such as housing market requirements that cover a number of areas, and the strategic infrastructure necessary to support growth.

So a council like Rochford may have to accept extra development to cover the needs of other areas such as, say, Southend? (this has happened before, but perhaps not as directly as now proposed.)

local planning authorities... should... consider the range of likely economic, environmental and social benefits of proposals; including long term or indirect benefits such as increased consumer choice, more viable communities and more robust local economies (which may, where relevant, include matters such as job creation and business productivity)

Does that phrase about increased consumer choice give more leverage for new supermarkets to be built? (some residents may welcome this, many others will be concerned about the viability of town centres)

.......To further ensure that development can go ahead, all local authorities should reconsider, at developers' request, existing section 106 agreements that currently render schemes unviable, and where possible modify those obligations to allow development to proceed; provided this continues to ensure that the development remains acceptable in planning terms.

So even where developers have agreed to fund new open space, education or health provision or highways improvements, developers can pressurise councils to CANCEL these funding agreements?

Mr Clark is the Minister for Decentralisation. That should be about giving councils more power and freedom, not less.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

It's Political History, But Not As We Know It

Something went very very wrong in the Disney Hall of Presidents....

Sunday, February 13, 2011


Let's hope we don't run out of raw materials.

I've been reading a little of the 1965 book by Graeme Clark and Stuart Piggott, "Prehistoric Societies".

In this book they mention the Ubaid culture of early Iraq - we are talking about 6000 years ago:

"The newcomers in the delta of the Two Rivers had to contend with many difficulties, not least with a shortage or non-existence of the material resorces to which they had been accustomed in their original homeland. They were especially handicapped by the lack of metal and stone...."

At which point the slightly curious may wonder, what do you make things out of when you don't even have stone? I mean, even stone age people had stone, that's why we call it the stone age.

Well, these people didn't have copper any more, and at some stage had to make axes out of stone instead of copper. Any then:

"Instead of sickles with a curved cutting edge made of serrated flint blades, in what was now an ancient tradition, we find sickels made entirely of hard-fired clay. However neither the shaft-hole axes nor the battle-axes can be regarded as functional , but rather as the reproduction of unobtainable and expensive weapons of prestige in the only locally available material - mud"

So there you have it. Items of prestige made out of mud.

Now , I know this is being disparaging towards pottery, which is an important technology. But I've got this vision of someone giving their husband a clay battleaxe, and him replying (and looking like a Sumerian Baldrick) "Oh darling, you are spoiling me, this is the finest mud."

It makes me smile. But there is something slightly chilling about a people's technology regressing in this way.

I just hope our society doesn't run out of raw materials.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

The Shortest You Tube Clip Ever?

So it's about time I got back to blogging again.

So why not begin with possibly the shortest YouTube clip ever.

One filled with astonishment - and hope.....

Chris expresses his own views on this weblog.

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