Thursday, 31 July 2008

From the Annals of Research noted by Pootergeek:

Red Hot Chilli Consumption Is Harmful in Patients Operated for Anal Fissure - A Randomized, Double-Blind, Controlled Study

Of course, any smart arse could have told us that.

...and this from Chris Dillow at Stumbling and Mumbling (though cited in the process of making a more serious point):

why ugly people are more likely to be criminals

While you lot take a good long look in the mirror, I'm off to study my navel.



Now the woman doesn't need the extra publicity (so I won't link to the article and I would recommend you ignore it altogether, don't even be tempted to google it!) but I feel it my duty as a self-appointed guardian of public morality to 'condemn a little more' as recommended by John Major himself.

Edwina Currie has written an article for the Daily Moraliser about the respective abilities of men and women in keeping affairs secret. She should know, as she boasts.

The article it seems was prompted by a survey on the subject although it doesn't mention which. She uses explicit words to describe her affair and parades the scheming she did to make and cover her liaisons with John Major as if it were a badge of honour. She also takes the opportunity to disingenously justify her revealing the affair when she published her 'memoir' in 2002.

She reckons she wanted to expose John Major's duplicity in espousing his 'Back to Basics' agenda. Pity she waited till they were out of government to do so and in the meantime such rhetoric had been used to vilify lone/single parents to the point where it became publicly acceptable to cut their benefits.

More like salacious, money-grubbing.

Now I'm no prude, stuff happens, especially with human beings and emotions and such like and all this is old news but why-oh-why has she now published the full, tawdry details of their lying and cheating during their affair while there is still a wife to be hurt, not to mention a public to be offended by such brazen publication. Sell anything these Tories, including other people's dignity.

Speaking of which this is the woman that used to tell old people to wear a woolly hat and longjohns if they couldn't afford their heating bills in winter at which point they awkwardly died of hypothermia.

Earlier this year Chris Grayling, the Tory shadowy figure for Moral Issues, vowed to tackle 'Shameless' families (in a reference to the 'non-traditional' Gallagher family in the Channel 4 programme 'Shameless).

They should start by putting their own house in order.

And as for that daily tabloid which seeks to comment on the great moral issues of the day, why they have given space to this shamelessness is beyond me.

So incensed am I, I had to just check the postcode on my extortionate utility bill to see if it began with TN.


Wednesday, 30 July 2008

Will he or Won't he, The Media is 'in flux'

How the media are spinning this article by Delicious David...

The content has been largely overlooked in favour of analysing to death why he wrote it.

Here's what he actually said about it.


The Politics of Personality

The Iron Lady Either I picked up a very old newspaper the other day, I've had a déjà vu moment where the original moment never happened or there's some other explanation as yet to be discovered for why I believe I saw an article the other day in a proper paper newspaper on the subject of nicknames of Prime Ministers (here's some helpful pictures) but cannot find any trace of it online.

This is relevant, or would have been had I actually read/seen it, because today I found this one for Nick Clegg so funny (a reference to this story for those who don't follow these things) that I wanted to mention it.

Also lately, some people have taken to calling Harriet Harman, 'Harriet Harperson' (see what they did there). Good for her for working hard for women and families.

Now there's nothing wrong with taking a bit of humour with our politics and having a healthy scepticism -in the true sense of 'to examine' - but many commentators have noticed the increasingly toxic tone of media commentary which casts all politicians as corrupt, dishonest etc and also a rise in the politics of personality both of which diminish and harm our politics and democracy.

So we have a recent poll which finds David Cameron 'lightweight but likeable' and yet at the same moment he is the next Prime Minister.

The Hansard Society's Audit of Public Engagement in 2007 found that when people were asked how well MPs do their job they have a far higher satisfaction level with their own individual MP than when asked about MPs in general, the national media informing the public's view of the national picture.

How welcome then David Miliband's comments today that politics and the media should focus on the issues and the arguments not the 'cult of personality'. And he's quite handsome too.

(Photo source)


Tuesday, 29 July 2008

Lancashire Hot Plot

I have no truck with all this Labour leadership challenge nonsense based as it is on a great deal of hype in the media as most ably blogged by the delectable Sadie at, er, 'Sadie's Tavern' who, I have to say, delivers a post with all the punch of the great Muhammad Ali -floats like a butterfly, stings like a bee, dancing around the canvas, bouncing off the ropes, jabbing her opponents quite efficiently...

...anyway, no truck with all that, but couldn't resist, fond of my Lancastrian heritage and food and thinking myself occasionally funny and that the MSM missed a trick here, posting the title 'Lancashire Hot Plot' as a paraphrase of this article in the Indy.

For those of you who don't get the cultural reference here's a picture:

Northern delicacy, Lancashire Hotpot with obligatory Red Cabbage(although this is presented rather more posher than I am used to).


Monday, 28 July 2008

Dirty Dancing

One of the oft cited benefits of immigration (aside from the plain economic one) is the enrichment of the host culture with new ideas, art, chicken korma, Polish sausage, language and all sorts of other cultural goodies.

Living proof of this is Zbigniew Colbecki who came from Poland to England three years ago and has introduced this to our streets:

For all those who will be forced to do litter-picking as punishment for being sick and/or unemployed under the new welfare reform proposals (of which more another day), have no fear, see, it can be great fun! Although it must be pointed out that the man in the video was not part of any welfare-to-work scheme and was just doing his regular day job.

However, once this catches on more widely, I predict a backlash against such cushy community service activities and a new crackdown will be announced -probably by the Conservatives who are widely expected to form the next government and there will grow up a big divide between the deserving litter-picking dancers and the undeserving who will not be allowed to dance and will be made to wear sad faces instead of an Ipod.


Nagging gets results

After years of campaigning by women's groups, at last the double-standard which operates in the exercise of justice in murder cases in the context of domestic violence seems set to be addressed. Or at least its up for consultation.

On a day-to-day level 'nagging' often takes the form of simple requests to perform domestic tasks.

As I always say, there would be no such thing as nagging if men/women/sons/daughters/lawmakers/etc did as they were told in the first place.

Indeed this man feels patronised for the converse:

"Getting praised for successfully carrying out basic baby tasks soon felt oddly emasculating and patronising, since the subtext seemed to be that not much more should be expected from me."

So come on you blokes, for it will be mainly them making and implementing the laws, get your hands dirty and together with your campaigning sisters let's see some sensible equality in the law.

You can read the proposals and respond to the consultation here.


Sunday, 27 July 2008

The World Turned Upside Down:Cameron's Leadership Questioned

poll In the past week several backbench Conservative MPs have been calling for a vote of no confidence in David Cameron's leadership. They have been unhappy at his modernisation of the party, focusing on such issues as climate change and social responsibility.

Due to popular (or rather unpopular!) demand William Hill opened a book on who would be the next Conservative leader. William Hague is Hill's 9/4 favourite with David Davis offered at 5/1 and George Osborne at 10/1.

Meanwhile, YouGov’s monthly poll for the Telegraph has voting intention figures, with changes from YouGov’s last poll, of CON 32%(-1), LAB 41%(+1), LDEM 16%(+1).

UK Polling Report who look at these things said:

"...there is still a sharp difference between positive opinions of Gordon Brown, who enjoys a net approval rating of plus 7 as Prime Minister, and negative opinions of the government, whose net approval rating is at minus 25. It’s been a lot lower (at some points in the last year it reached minus 43)... The obvious explanation is that Labour’s positive position in the polls at the moment is based on Gordon Brown, he hasn’t yet transferred that popularity onto the government or the Labour party."

Except that was all July 2007.

Can such a catastrophic fall from grace be based on any rational and objective analysis of the man, his government, policies and performance. Sure mistakes have been made but add a dash of "media character assassination" and a "vilification of the prime minister on his first anniversary [that] is grotesque" and so he becomes the most unpopular leader since [insert odious leader of choice from any time in the history of the world here].

As, Simon Jenkins wrote in no piece of flattery, back in June "The psychological abuse now being heaped on Gordon Brown is beyond reason".



Tuesday, 22 July 2008

Make Poverty History

New welfare reform proposals could include polygamy.


Saturday, 19 July 2008

Sign of the Times

Being housebound, yesterday I spent a very entertaining evening reading the comments left by readers on Simon Jenkins article for the Guardian in which he recounts why Margaret Thatcher should have a state funeral (she isn't dead yet but as Gordon is fond of saying something about taking the long term decisions, discussions are allegedly underway already -some commenters wondered why we should wait.)

Setting aside any partisan judgement on whether she should or shouldn't, I have to say I was mightily impressed at the creativity of the ideas generated by the commenters for her manner of despatch and any fitting memorials thereafter all expressed with such economy and eloquence which surely must represent a lasting testament to her legacy.

While Gordon has been keen to associate himself with the Iron Lady, David Cameron has kept his distance.

However, I cannot help but notice a similarity in attitudes between Mrs Thatcher and Cameron.

On her victory in the 1979 General Election as John o Farrell explains in his book:

"Like the bubonic plague and stone-cladding, nobody took her seriously until it was too late. The clues were there. She gave a V-sign the wrong way round. She was smiling and telling the British people to fuck off at the same time. It was something we'd have to get used to."

Couldn't find a photo of the occasion so here's an artist's impression.

Recently, David Cameron had a similar message for the fat, the poor and addicted. Pull your socks up (if you can reach them!).

Of course the family is to blame for the problems Cameron identifies but what I want to know is given the age range of the children and teenagers currently running wild in the streets their parents were either born or brought up and had their children under the 18 years of Tory rule 1979-1997- why did these years create such crap parents??


Thursday, 17 July 2008

Fair comment

From here

"By 2009, the British people will have endured 30 years of unfettered free market economics. Thatcherism didn't disappear with Thatcher. The economic doctrine promulgated by Frederich Von Hayek and Milton Friedman is still the only player in town. Thatcher loved it and used it to smother Keynesianism. Major just trundled along, extalling the virtues of 'trickle down' economics and Blair then augmented the ideology under the guise of 'New Socialism'. As the philosopher John Gray has stated 'once in power, it was clear that Blair came not to bury Thatcher, but to continue 'her work'. Brown is following the same path but is hiding under the stairs until Cameron moves in. The paradox is that without the state and its numerous interventions and the generous amounts collected each year through the much reviled tax system the free market myth would lie flat on its arse. Our tax is not being utilised in the creation of a decent, fair society for all. It is being used to shore up the institutions of a failing free market; used to perpetuate the myth of monetarism; used to hammer a square Chicago School economics peg into a hole that is finding accomodation increasingly irritating. In short, the economic model thrust upon this country in 1979 aint working and until a political party arrives on the scene with the guts to say so, oh and to tell the CBI to fuck off, its business as usual folks."


Still the 'nasty' party? - a photo story

As David Cameron jabbed and poked and ridiculed and name-called at the Prime Minister at Prime Minister's Questions in Parliament on Wednesday...

His front bench colleagues George Osborne, Theresa May et al sneered and jeered and bayed...

Given that one of the topics was concerns about violent crime, this behaviour was irresponsible, boorish and unedifying.

This is the party that lectures the nation on personal responsibility and common decency. Why should they be surprised at anti-social behaviour when the 'leadership' of a major party thinks this is an appropriate way to behave.

Still the same old hypocritical, nasty, sneery party


Tuesday, 15 July 2008

Unfunny punnery

Yesterday or the day before as I think it just turned midnight, I engaged in some profligate punnery. Well I have to say that this particularly skilful example of wordplay should get an orange prize or something... Blue Shade Views


Monday, 14 July 2008

Black Gold

Have you seen the price of oil!


Sunday, 13 July 2008

(B)eerily quiet

lavenderI have in my garden a lovely bank of lavender of which the picture here is just a small but fragrant (just like me!) part.

Usually in the summer it is quite literally buzzing ...with bees funnily enough.

However, today in full English sun and mid-July there was not a sausage. Nor a bee.

Just where have all the bees buzzed off to??

I looked for ages but they definitely weren't hiding in the bushes.

Various theories for the tumble of the bumble have been trailed - Other buzzing mobiles, GM crops/Monsanto, illness or pesticides, habitat loss.

The death of the bee is being described as 'Colony Collapse Disorder'. And we could suffer the same collapse as Robert Edwards, a North Carolina farmer put it starkly to a congressional hearing in America on the matter, "No bees, no crops," .

With food prices already high this is not good. And what's more, as our favourite tipple, warm beer, grows on plants the great winged wipeout will mean we won't even be able to drown our sorrows or cry in our beer. No bee, no beer.

Some useful links
Bumblebee Conservation Trust

Campaign to increase research funding into what's happening to our bees with the British Beekeepers Association.

And as 'personal responsibility' is the buzz phrase of the moment why not bee responsible and follow the wildlife gardening tips from The Wildlife Trust.

If you think my puns are bad you could try these