Thursday, March 31, 2011

Racism in Football

Once again Gordon Taylor of the Professional Footballers' Association is in the news for talking tripe. This is the man whose Trade Union represents the likes of Wayne Rooney, John Terry and all the footballers on multimillion pound a year contracts. So he knows about life at the rough end obviously.

This time he's demanding that as there are only two black managers out of 92 football league clubs, black candidates should be guaranteed an interview for any vacancy. He doesn't say how he would have dealt with the over representation of Scotsmen in football management over the years. Presumably he would advocate a cap on them applying for jobs.

But strangely he justifies his pretty murky views by criticising the number of foreign managers brought to the UK rather than black managers being given a chance. Even more strangely he supports his argument about imaginary racism by actually naming two foreign managers who have allegedly blocked the progress of black managers in the UK. They are Ruud Gullit and Jean Tigana. One of them's black, and other one? Well, he's black too actually.  

And people say those in football aren't very bright.

From the BBC.

84,000 Novenas for Pope Benedict's 84th Birthday

Will you join me in giving the Pope a huge gift for his birthday? Pope Benedict XVI is celebrating his birthday on April 16th and I’m joining up with to get 84,000 people to pray a novena for the Pope’s 84th birthday.

On April 8th, we will begin praying for nine days leading up to and ending on the Papa Benedict’s birthday. The Pope prays for us everyday so it’s time to return the gift to him on the anniversary of his birth.

84,000 Novenas is a lot! So, I’m going to need your help. I want everyone who reads this blog to do the following to help with this birthday gift!

+ Sign up here: Pray More Novenas
+ Join the facebook event and invite your friends here: Facebook Page
+ If you have a website, post about it there!
+ Email your friends and family and get them praying too!

I’m sure the Pope will love that we are all praying for him! Please help us reach our goal of 84,000 novenas for the Pope!

Remember to sign up to pray here: Pray More Novenas

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Yes to AV or No to AV?

I was pretty certain a few weeks ago that the only way to vote in the referendum on the voting system in May was for the Alternative Vote. But I'm not so sure now.

If your candidate comes first but only just, he could still lose when other votes are redistributed. So those having second or third votes counted have trumped your one vote. That doesn't seem fair to me.

Furthermore we have a democracatic system based on constituences electing a representative for their areas. It is blindingly obvious then, that if you have more than two candidates there is a high possibility that the winner could be elected with less than 50% of the votes. AV means you have extra votes to botch a candidate over 50% who can't get 50% of people to support him otherwise. 

It seems to me that with AV the vote could be skewed by people voting to keep another candidate out much more easily than it can under FPTP. Therefore FPTP, under our system, seems fairer than AV. Of course there is the whole deate about Proportional Representation to have, but not now.

If I have the following candidates:

Lib Dem

There is only one candidate I would want to vote for. I could never bring myself to vote for the others just because I can when I don't support them or their policies. I am therefore immediately disadvantaged by those who may vote for all seven, two or something in between.

It seems to me that tinkering with the system isn't going to suddenly make people want to rush out and vote if they don't already. It will just create a mirage that democracy has been reinvigorated because a candidate got over 50%. In other words it's a con, they just kept shuffling the pack until the magical 50% was reached.

I am still open to being convinced, but nothing I've heard from the Yes campaign has persuaded me yet. Indeed the Yes campaign are the ones who have made me wonder about voting yes to AV ironically.

Eric Cantona and UK Uncut

You may wonder what the link is between Eric Cantona, all time hero of Manchester United fans everywhere, and a bunch of scum like UK Uncut. The link is an old pal of mine from back in the nineties when I was living and working in South London.

I was at Selhurst Park when Eric did his Kung Fu kick on a particulalry gobby and nasty Crystal Palace fan. Let's face it, if you have filth and bile directed at you by a bunch of morons every time you go to work eventually something gives.

But when I got into the office the next day a friend and colleague's reaction surprised me. He didn't attack Eric for his attack, he merely stated that earning the money footballers earn they should accept the abuse as part and parcel of the game and ignore it. This shocked me and I asked him if the staff I managed should be allowed to verbally abuse me because I earn more than them, or were they only allowed to abuse people on the salary of the Director and above? He couldn't answer at what salary level we could all justifiably abuse other people without fear of retribution.

Now we have idiots like UK Uncut smashing up businesses they think should pay more tax. My view is that our families come first, we have a duty to give them the best living standard we can. This means that we waste as little money as we can. Logically, this means we pay as little tax as we can. That is a moral obligation.

When I have to get the accountant to prepare my accounts I try to give him every bit of paper I possibly can in an effort to minimise my tax bill. Can I now expect UK Uncut morons to come and trash my house? If anybody went to their accountant asking him to make sure they paid as much tax as possible I doubt they would be bright enough to actually make any money in the first place. Do the nutters from UK Uncut buy a computer and spend their money on the most expensive so that they pay more VAT I wonder?

We all know the truth, UK Uncut are just a bunch of mindless, childish idiots who want to do what the hell they like and stuff everbody else. If they really were anarchists why would they be insisting on further empowering the state by trying to force more taxes into the state's coffers? I thought anarchists wanted the state abolished not strengthened.

So there is a link between Eric and UK Uncut. Does earning £10,000 more than somebody else mean they can abuse you? And if the corner shop has ensured it pays as little tax as possible can they expect a visit from UK Uncut?

Sunday, March 27, 2011

The Smoking Ban

I oppose the smoking ban instinctivly. It is illiberal, unnecessary and is a fine example of the nanny state in action. I am also a former smoker who gave up almost four years ago. But I didn't take on the zeal of the convert and start coughing and spluttering theatrically if someone lights up within a mile of me. Nor do I claim to have to wash my hair or clothes if I have been within spitting distance of a smoker, that is just silly and juvenile. If smokers visit my house I regard it as inhospitable to force them outside. If they want a smoke, they are welcome to light up in the warmth and comfort of our home.

As with all the interfering nannying there are unintended consequences. Increasingly people are forced to stand outside their own homes to indulge as even non-smoking husbands, wives and other family members become obsessively convinced that passive smoking may knock a nano-second off their wonderful lives. Like waifs and strays they stand forlornly shivering on their doorsteps puffing away. I couldn't do that to somebody I claim to love.

But recently I thought my beloved had taken up smoking again. When I got in her car there was the definite smell of tobacco. I enquired whether her mother, approaching ninety and still puffing away like a good un had been partaking in the car. No, she hadn't, not that I'd have minded.

I then got a distinct whiff of nicotine in the kitchen one day. It was very definitely there, I knew I wasn't having some form of nasal hallucination. But Mrs B had been out at work for three hours. I looked at the cats snoozing on the settee. No, they may be very intelligent but no, it was definitely not them.

It then hit me. We live in a stone terraced house with the doorstep onto the street. The neighbours on both sides smoke but now have to stand outside when indulging. When my beloved's car smelled of tobacco next door's lad had been smoking and our car was right outside their house as he puffed away. The smoke had found its way into the car. Likewise to the rear the neighbours stand in the garden smoking and it floats up to our open windows and into the house.

Fortunately we don't mind. But it's yet another example of how the interference of mithering do gooders has negative, unintended consequences for others. Thanks very much.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

The Caring Protesters Hit London, 26 March 2011

Nice to see those caring sharing, stinking pinko liberals marching in London today to demonstrate how much they truly 'care'.

Wonder who or what the police in this picture were protecting?

No prizes for the correct answer.

Paranoia: The Census 2011, the Police State and Big Brother

"Comrades, fill in your census forms, or it's off to Siberia!"
For the first time in donkeys years I'm not a member of a political party, and I find it very liberating. It has given me an opportunity to reassess things, membership of any party inevitably involves compromise and a responsibility to reluctantly toe the line on some issues. Having said that I will still vote for the Libertarian Party if I have a candidate, apart from the May elections which I am boycotting because of the latest foreign adventure into Libya.

What has disappointed me in recent weeks is the attitude of certain groups I have supported for a long time to the 2011 Census. I think it's a waste of time and money, especially as various parts of the state already have more information about us on numerous databases and I've blogged about this before. To be honest I found the census questionnaire less intrusive than the average job application.

But two organisations have especially disappointed me, NO2ID and Big Brother Watch. I believe both organisations have a valuable role to play as the state becomes ever more intrusive and authoritarian but, as with any campaign, you have to pick your fights. In the last few days they have both banged on about how census data would/could be accessed by MI5. That signals a level of paranoia that I find disconcerting and would make the average member of the public question their campaigns on other, more serious issues.

Via Twitter I have challenged both outfits to point out what on the census form could be of any possible interest to MI5. They have not responded. If you are reading this in the UK you will either have your form ready to complete, or will have already done it. Please, if you agree with NO2ID and Big Brother Watch, let me know, via comments, what you think on the form you would prefer MI5 not to know about you. Obviously I wouldn't expect you to divulge personal info, just mention the question or page number that you find horrendously intrusive.

Rather than asking us if we would like to violently overthrow the government, or even if we think that the policing of demos is excessive it merely asks how we get to work and if we are employed or self employed. There you go Miss Moneypenny, no need to get 007 on to me. I'm self employed and drive to work when I work in Manchester. I bet GCHQ are now going through my blog with a fine tooth comb!

At the same time I had a disagreement with Big Brother Watch on Twitter about today's demo in London against the government's half hearted attempt to clear up Labour's financial mess. They had retweeted a comment that somebody knew lots of people who were not going to the demo today because they are terrified of the police. My response, although more polite, was bollocks! More paranoia I'm afraid.

I accept that the police are not perfect, far from it, but anybody who is too scared of the police to go on a demo should really seek help. I suspect my sister and her hubbie will be on the march today. I don't agree with them and wouldn't go on the march myself, but I know they are not a pair of wimps who are easily scared and would certainly not be intimidated from making a stand for what they believe in by a British Bobby.

I found that nonsense especially disagreeable, verging on the obscene, when you look at what is happening in Egypt, Libya, Yemen, Zimababwe, Bahrein and elsewhere. I wouldn't like to be depending on a bunch of pansies who are scared of the British police if our backs were really up against the wall, would you?

They make the loony wing of the Eurosceptic movement who refer to the EUSSR sound almost sane.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Book Recommendation: Jenni Thornley, 'Trust in Matt'

I've previously posted about Jenni's first book, The Sail Turns, and am pleased to recommend her second, Trust in Matt.

Matt Stevens, having completed his history degree, undertakes the investigation of the Tindall family and the history of Netherby Hall, their home since 1458. He discovers how their lives affected those around them and makes a sinister discovery, with the help of his young friend Christopher. The story also follows the ups and downs of the personal relationships of people in Matt's life.

Jenni has a nice relaxed style and it's a pleasure to read her work. She is currently working on her third book which will complete this trilogy.

Her books are available online at Smashwords.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Den Dover and the EU Gravy Train

I'm not surprised another EU politician is in trouble over his 'expenses', but I am disappointed it's Den Dover, nicknamed 'Ben' when he was an MEP in the North West.

I debated against him a couple of times when he was an MEP and he was accompanied on each occasion by his wife and daughter. I had no idea at the time though that both were on his payroll. I suppose when you have had personal contact like that, and you found all three perfectly pleasant, it makes it all the more disappointing when they are rumbled, in a way you feel conned.

The authorities have now decided that Dover must pay back over £300,000 in expenses and allowances or face the risk of prosecution. As he has fought the authorities over this for a couple of years now I suspect he will carry on, especially if he's spent the money on house repairs and other things.

Of all the political bodies the EU is probably the easiest to defraud as it can't even control its own finances. The more useless the political body, the more useless the members of it, and the more money they seem able to cream off. Let's face it, if we got rid tomorrow who would miss the EU, apart from those on the gravy train? And if you would miss it, perhaps you can tell me one positive thing the European Parliament has done for you or this country.

Full story from the Telegraph .

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

More Thoughts on Libya

Polls are suggesting that a majority of people in the UK still oppose our intervention in Libya, the latest two being for organisations as diverse as ITN News and The Sun newspaper. I find it heartening as it shows a certain commonsense amongst the population that is refreshing.

The reasons I've heard expressed for opposing the intervention are many and varied ranging from the cost, £800,000 a missile is being mentioned, to the dangers of provoking a violent reaction from Islamist extremists. Personally I just think it's none of our bloody business and that intervening in what is effectively a civil war is likely to turn all Libyans, and probably Arabs generally, against us when one side or the other eventually wins. Just look at Northern Ireland where we went in to save the Catholic republican population, who promptly turned their fire on our troops. At a time when we are seeing services cut in this country it seems immoral that we are spending millions bombing a country in North Africa, especially when we are using armed services that are seeing their budgets and effectiveness slashed by this hybrid government.

Talking of this hybrid government what kind of democracy do they want to impose on Libya? The type of democracy that gave us a government that nobody voted for last May? The kind of government that ignores the wishes of the majority of its own people by bombing foreign countries? The kind of government that ignores the majority of its own people but goes to war at the request of a rag-tag army of rebels in Libya?

And before the 'we couldn't sit back and let Gadaffi kill his own people' brigade kicks off, I'm afraid it was the rebels who were driving around firing shells from tanks, and mortars from the back of Toyota pick-up trucks. Or are you saying their ammunition, like ours, only kills baddies?  

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Have the Tories Given Up?

We had a piece of paper stuffed through our letterbox today. It had the photos and contact details of our local Tory councillor, county councillor and MP. It also had the details of the local party secretary, I assume that means he will be standing in the May elections but doesn't want us to know yet, it's a two seat ward. The back of the sheet was blank. Nada, zilch, nowt.

If that's the best they can muster, six weeks away from local elections and a referendum, then I can only think they've given up trying seeing the performance of the Coalition and the shambles in Libya. My beloved sees it differently, she thinks they are cocky enough to think they have to do nowt to win after retaking the seat in the general election.

We'll find out soon, but I suspect Labour could retake the local council seats here come May. But we've had nothing from them yet, or any of the other parties. With any luck they've all given up!

Blackpool Councillor Simon Blackburn Should Resign. Or Should He?

Much is being made here and elsewhere of the Blackpool councillor who referred to fans of the town's football club as 'donkey botherers'. Councillor Simon Blackburn happens to be a supporter of Blackburn Rovers and made the remarks when Blackpool took a two goal lead against Blackburn. That's Rovers not the councillor. Councillor Blackburn is also leader of the Labour Group on Blackpool Council.

If any football fans are so shocked and dismayed at the remark then I can only assume they have just come to football after years of watching opera, or maybe polo. I suggest you get to a proper football game, be that your local park or a Premier League ground and spend a few minutes listening to the spectators. Actually, if you find 'donkey botherers' so vile it warrrants the resignation of the name caller you perhaps shouldn't you poor delicate flower, and please never go near a Manchester Derby or a game involving English teams playing Scottish teams.

Football is a passionate game and yes, sometimes the rivalry goes too far. But please let's keep a sense of perspective.

I can't believe it, I've just defended a Labour councillor!

Monday, March 21, 2011

Atheist Obsessives and the Census

The British Humanist Association has carried out a pre-census poll that apparently shows two thirds of people don't regard themselves as religious. I'm surprised it's only two thirds. But why are people like that so obsessed with something they claim not to believe in?

I don't think they're very bright either. As the census takes place on 27 March they could have waited a few weeks and saved themselves a load of money.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

BOMB THE VOTE-Boycott the May Elections!

As a result of the thread on yesterday's eChurch Blog, which I linked to below, the idea of a boycott of elections in protest over yet another military adventure by the UK government has been born.

'Goy' suggested the campaign name 'Bomb the Vote'. I don't usually think boycotting elections is a good idea, but voting seems to do little any more, look at the hybrid monster we currently have in government, so why not? Maybe we are a little late organising for the elections on May 5th but we can certainly sow the seed, and see what happens.

So I certainly intend to Bomb the Vote, and invite you to join me.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Libya, Provoking Islamists

I'm angry that we are getting involved in Libya, Cameron sounds more like Blair every day.

But I don't think I can improve on this excellent post on the eChurch Blog.

Will we ever learn?

Labour Playing the Race Card Again!

Phil Woolas lost his seat in Oldham for doing it, now Labour MP Karen Buck is doing it. Here's what the particularly nasty sounding MP for Westminster North said at a public meeting in Islington, no surprise there, about the Tories:

‘they do not want lower-income women, families, children, and above all, let us be very clear – because we know where the impact is hitting – they don’t want black women, they don’t want ethnic minority women and they don’t want Muslim women living in central London. They just don’t’.
When will people wake up to the fact that the party that plays on race more than any in this country is the Labour Party. Their vile tactic of divide and rule sets black against white and creates racism where it needn't exist. Thankfully as most people, black and white, are much more tolerant than Labour socialists the level of racism in the UK is nowhere near that of many countries.

What a disgusting bunch they are.

Full story.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Census 2011

Here we go. I'm probably going to be thrown into libertarian limbo as a suspected heretic for this, but I'm going to say it anyway. Last week I filled in the census form online. That's part of my confession. This is the biggy now that will probably have me tied to the libertarian stake and torched, I didn't have a problem with it and don't understnd the fuss. Oh dear, I've done it now.

Quite seriously I don't understand the big deal and am disappointed that some libertarians, and others, are kicking up such a fuss. In terms of real intrusion into our lives the census is a pussycat. In terms of real problems in the UK and the world the census is irrelevant. A bit of perspective is required.

Why should the state know if I'm married, shacked up or living with two boyfriends? Why should the state know whether I'm a Catholic a Muslim or a Jedi? Why should the state know if I feel healthy? Why should the state know if I drive to work? It shouldn't but I don't care who knows that I'm a married Roman Catholic who feels quite healthy, and thankfully don't have to drive to work. There, I've just divulged the most intrusive parts of my census return. Are you grievously shocked at my being so irresponsible with such highly sensitive and potentially damaging personal data? Will you or the state be trying to use it to blackmail or oppress me now?

I find the average job application more intrusive than the census and feel less happy giving that data to potential employees, who I probably trust even less than I do the state. Through the NHS the state holds much more sensitive data about me and my family than will be collected in the census. Local councils already hold more sensitive data on me than the census collected.

Using a supermarket loyalty scheme gives them potentially more sensitive information than the census collected. How long before a poor sod turns up to the doctor only to be diagnosed with cirrhosis, said doctor then checks your Nectar account and refuses you treatment because three bottles of gin a week has the state declaring your cirrhosis self-inflicted?

What I object to is the cost and the fact that the state already has much more detailed information about us in various places. If it got its act together it could press a button and get all the informaton collected in the census and much more besides. Which is why, after a couple of centuries or so, this will probably be the last formal census of this type.

So let's get a grip and keep the census in perspective. Whining on about 'police state' and 'big brother intrusion' in regard to the census does the credibility of those with genuine concerns about the size and power of the state no favours whatsoever. In fact it makes us look like spoilt brats throwing temper tantrums.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Broadcasting, Diversity and Funny Accents

It's that time of year when the nights are getting shorter but it's grey and wet, so our thoughts turn to holidays. If you are planning to holiday in Spain I wonder what pictures you get in your mind when you dream about your holiday. Is it brilliant sunshine, blue sea, white sand, sangria, tapas, flamenco and a background of high mountains against a deep blue horizon? Or is it a picture of brilliant sunshine, white sand, Big Ben's Pub, Ye Cockney Fish and Chip Shop, horrendous music booming from grubby bars selling best bitter and fat men in Union Jack shorts, earrings and England replica shirts stretched so tight they resemble tattoos?

The truth is you are likely to find an element of both, the degree dependent on where you choose, and that depends on your knowledge of Spain. Personally I would never venture within ten miles of Salou ever again after experiencing two foul nights there a few years back. I'm sure most of us dream of the sangria, flamenco and tapas option rather than the fat beer belly in an England shirt. Does that make us racist? I suggest not.

For the same reason I don't think the TV series Midsomer Murders is racist, to suggest it is displays a seriousness and lack of imagination bordering on the mentally ill. The people who have suspended Brian True-May, the producer from his job should be sacked and kept safely away from real people, until they lighten up.

Midsomer Murders is set in a fictional, caricature English rural setting where people in one village think those from the village two miles away are dangerous outsiders, to be avoided at all costs and kept at a distance because they only arrived two hundred years ago. Brian True-May's only sin is in stating it in plain terms in an interview, rather than couching it in mealy mouthed politically correct platitudes.

On another level it is a stylised twenty first century version of what many would dream of as being a typical Cotswold village, or a small town in North Yorkshire or any other quaint rural location. I bet when people dream of those typical English places they don't imagine a mosque at one end of the main street, a Buddhist Temple at the other, a few West Indians on one street, a few Indians on another. The local plumber is a Pole and the doctor a German with a thriving West African community outnumbering white English Anglicans at the fifteenth century parish church. No, they will have a vision of something like the villages in Midsomer Murders. That does not make it racist.

Television is entertainment. What next, an attack on the violence in Midsomer Murders as over 150 people have been murdered in a few short years in one small cluster of villages in the sleepy English countryside? Do we white English people claim that it depicts white people, especially middle class white people, as full of avarice, greed and murderous urges? It's called the suspension of disbelief, now get on with it and stop taking life so bloody seriously.

But while we're at it the use of ever more harsh local and regional accents on TV and radio has naused me off for a few years now. I don't mind strong accents when they add to the programme. If they all spoke like the Queen in Coronation Street and Eastenders it just wouldn't ring true. But continuity announcers, and those in non-drama TV and radio productions should not have accents that detract from the programme.

 Neil Nunes is a case in point. He is a continuity announcer on BBC Radio 4. He has such a rich, deep Jamaican accent that for a second you think the dial on youir radio has moved. I like his accent, but it detracts from what you actually need to hear, as do any strong accents on TV and radio. Now don't get me wrong, I have a strong regional accent and love the range of regional acccents we have in this country, but there are times when it is just not appropriate. I feel the same about overly strong Northern English accents, Irish, Scots or Welsh accents, it's not a racial thing nor is it snobbery. I'm not calling for an absurd BBC pronunciation a la Lord Reith, just a reasonable accent and pronunciation that do not detract from what's being communicated.

The problem with the BBC is that years ago it forgot it was a broadcaster, and has been desperately wasting resources and patronising us as the most heavily state subsidised social engineering outfit the world has ever seen. I hope this article indicates that they may be finally realising that we don't want to be treated like idiots being lectured by a supercilious headmaster any longer.

The one I really can't bare to listen to at the moment is Professor Brian Cox. Every time I hear his voice I think it's Mark Lawrenson. It disturbs me.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Aid to Pakistan-Cardinal O'Brien

With some terrible world events in recent weeks it's taken, yet again, a Roman Catholic Cardinal to articulate the wishes of the majority.

Speaking at the launch of a report into the persecution of Christians throughout the world Cardinal O'Brien said:

"I urge (Foreign Secretary) William Hague to obtain guarantees from foreign governments before they are given aid.

"To increase aid to the Pakistan government when religious freedom is not upheld and those who speak up for religious freedom are gunned down is tantamount to an anti-Christian foreign policy.

"Pressure should now be put on the Government of Pakistan - and the governments of the Arab world as well - to ensure that religious freedom is upheld, the provision of aid must require a commitment to human rights."
If you listen to virtually any radio station that has a public phone-in, or speak to a reasonable cross section of the public, the would agree with the gist of what the Cardinal has said. Additionally there is growing anger at the fact that this government is still shipping millions in aid to India and China, when they are spending millions of their own money on nuclear weapons and, in the case of China, oppressing its own population.

Then we have the case of Afghanistan, where people converting to Christianity are sentenced to death by the state, a state we helped establish and have troops laying down their lives to defend.

But most of us gave up thinking our government was there to defend us, our beliefs and our way of life a long time ago.Thank goodness for people like Cardinal O'Brien
Coverage of Cardinal O'Brien's speech from the Press Association.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Libya, Armed Insurrection and the Coalition

One man's terrororist.......
I don't think it's a legitimate thing for one country to impose its will on another by force. There are lots of governments that we would regard as undemocratic, but it's for their own people to change the situation. China is probably one of the worst, but I don't see us clamouring for regime change or pondering a no fly zone over Shangai, and certainly no calls to send in troops.

What has struck me as odd in the Middle East is the number of people who have jumped in to support the demonstrators/rioters/insurrectionists, with little or no idea whether they would be any better or worse than the governments they want to overthrow. It's almost a Pavlovian response to cries, legitimate or not for 'freedom'. One man's idea of freedom is another's idea of imprisonment, just as it is with democracy.

So that thinking led me to ponder the immediate calls, by this government especially, for governments abroad to get out if the people voice opposition. In the case of Libya take up arms and that proves your democratic credentials and the government should immediately step down, even if the man in charge is a pal of Blair and the previous Labour government.

My conclusion is that those who do not accept the legitimacy of this Coalition should occupy a part of Central London for a week or two, maybe Trafalgar Square which sounds a little bit like Tahrir Square, and hey presto, Cameron and Clegg will flee to Bognor and the government is gone. The army will take charge for a spell while a new constitution is knocked together.

If that fails they only have to get hold of a few Toyota pick up trucks, a few Armalite rifles, which I'm sure that nice Mr Adams or the wonderful Mr McGuiness can get hold of, and there you go, freedom fighters. Surely those same governments that have jumped to urge Ghaddafi out would urge Cameron and Clegg to do the honourable thing too.

It worked for Adams and McGuiness don't forget.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Argentina, Tango and Astor Piazzola, Milonga del Angel

After travelling from Mexico, through Central America and much of South America, reaching Argentina is very refreshing, or it was in 1991. Times may have changed, but despite the Falklands War less than a decade earlier, Buenos Aires was a welcoming and comfortable place to spend some time. And with music like this how could you not enjoy Argentina? And if this doesn't get you fancying a trip over there then consider the prospect of the finest, most succulent steaks in the world, washed down with some of the world's finest, affordable wine. I give you, Astor Piazzola:

Friday, March 11, 2011

Buddhist Temples, Synagogues and Fascists

One thing that always angers me is when people, usually British people, run themselves and the rest of us down with a negative comment then add  "...but that's typically British" or something similar. I heard it today about religion and was shocked to discover that we British, apparently, know nothing of any religion but Christianity. Oh really, is that right? No, it isn' actually.

Perhaps it's because I went to religious schools, educated first by Franciscans then Xaverian Brothers to eighteen, that I was taught in religion classes about a whole range of religions and beliefs, not just Christianity or Roman Catholicism. Although it hasn't made me an expert in theology it has left me with an interest in other religions.

Last week we went into the South Lakes for the day, only a few miles up the road and ideal for a nice relaxing day. First we went to Cartmel and had a walk around the racecourse, which is in a wonderful setting and who can resist the Cartmel Village Shop for some of the best sticky toffee pudding in the universe? Then we went on to Ulverston, where Stan Laurel was born and the Laurel and Hardy Museum is, and had a spot of lunch. We never agree on Laurel and Hardy, my beloved finds them tedious I still find them hilarious and can watch them all day. It may be genetic as my grandfather had to be treated by first aiders in the thirties when he did himself damage laughing in the cinema at one of their films.

But getting to the point we then vistied Conishead Priory, a wonderful huge Gothic pile now home to the Kadampa Buddhists who have built a wonderful temple in the grounds. Over the years there have been religious orders at Conishead, it's been a war hospital and was even a convalescence home for miners from Durham. As soon as you walk into the grounds you feel a sense of peace, and they do fantastic carrot cake in the cafe. There is also a well stocked book shop with a range of books, especially introductory books for those of us who want to find out a little more about Buddhism.

Last year we visited the Manchester Jewish Museum, another must if you ever visit the UK's finest city after London.

If you have any interest in social history or Judaism this museum is a must. I first came across it doing some research into fascism in pre-WW II Manchester and Salford, where the British Union of Fascists were very strong, despite the ludicrous revisionism of modern socialists in Manchester who claim it was a hotbed of radical socialist anti-fascism. Indeed, when the BUF had to close their National HQ in Chelsea they considered moving it to Salford, which was their regional HQ for the North. One of life's sweeter ironies is that the old HQ, at 17 Northumberland Street, now houses an orthodox synagogue.

It's always sad to see religious buildings close, especially if they are demolished, but when they do close and are put to good use, such as the Jewish Museum and Conishead Priory, they become fascinating links to the past and a provide a tremendous here and now. We are looking forward to visiting both places again soon. The Kadampa Temple is especially breathtaking when there is sunshine and blue sky, as there was when we visited.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

AV and the Electorate

I know AV isn't an ideal voting system, but it does seem better than the one we have. I have previously blogged about it here.

I have always been open to persuasion against voting for AV in May but have seen little to persuade me against it. Most of the arguments, and mainly put forward by Tory opponents, seem to be that counting the votes would be expensive. But general elections cost money so do we scrap them? The other argument is that it is a squalid compromise between Cameron and Clegg. Sorry, but I thought the squalid compromise between those two was called the Coalition.

Then I saw the following comment left by Scott_East_Anglia on a Telegraph blog.

"The problem with AV is that it allows those whose first preference was for a losing party to have more than one votes, while those whose first preference was for either the winner or the runner-up only get to vote once.

Perhaps it would be more apparent if I put in another way. Suppose we had an election with candidates from three parties - Blue, Red and Green. Then suppose that when the first preferences were counted no-one had more than 50% of the votes, so AV kicks in.

Under the AV rules, the party with the least votes - let's say Green for the sake of argument - is eliminated and its supporters' second preferences are redistributed between Blue and Red. The second preferences of those who vote for Blue or Red are never examined.

However, suppose that if the Blue and Red second preferences were also examined, and they turned out to have a huge support for Green, actually putting Green ahead of, say, Red after the Green supporters' second votes had been distributed, would it be fair that Green had to drop out rather than Red?

Under the AV systems these second votes from Blue and Red never see the light of day. Only the second votes from the Green supporters are used, and Green disappears from contention. Either Blue or Red then wins, unless it is a tie".
Interestingly his reasoned comments were met by abuse from at least one individual who does sound particularly obnoxious. Why is that some people on the internet attack people who disagree with them by calling them 'trolls'?

The letter hasn't convinced me not to vote for AV, but it has given me food for serious thought. A shame our politicians can't come out with reasoned agument against rather than just appearing to defend their personal positions.

Yes I know, very naive, but it does no harm to hope.

I still think that whatever happens the introduction of a qualification before people can vote would a be a very good idea. A high proportion of the electorate does seem particulally stupid.

In recent years I've met more than a couple of voters who have argued with me that Britain is not in the European Union. I eventually realised that they thought being out of the Eurozone meant we were no longer in the EU.

In one election, I even had somebody offering to vote for me and the Liberal Democrat candidate. Somebody in their 50s should surely have realised by now that we do have one vote only. Although that may change in May. 

Tuesday, March 08, 2011

Red Nose Day: More Cant and Hypocrisy

I never bother with the big celebrity fundraising bashes. They seem to raise money for charity, but seem equally to show what sad, attention seeking media whores many celebrities are, especially when their careers are hurtling south.

There are millions of people, all over the country raising money in all kinds of ways, some weird, some wonderful others downright daft, every day of the week. They are the heroes, and they get little publicity except maybe a thank you and a write up in a charity's newsletter or a small piece in the local rag.

I always thought that artistic types had imagination. That they could imagine what living in a luxurious mansion might be like. Or what living on a desert island might be like. But no, this year we have the sickening prospect of watching Lenny Henry and a few others staying in a Bombay slum for a week to 'experience a lifetime in dire poverty'. Patronising pap. The sight of Lenny Henry blubbing on national TV makes me reach for the sick bag whenever I see the trailer. At least he is now described as a 'celebrity', much more accurate than describing him as a 'comedian'.

I was educated at primary school by Franciscans, many of whom spent years of their lives living in the poorest parts of the world helping the poorest people in the world. They, and the people who run marathons, pack bags at the local supermarket and absail down skyscrapers are the people I really admire, not publicity starved z-listers. 

Regrets? I've Had a Few.....

It's great seeing all these people grovellingly apologising for taking money from psycopathic madmen and perverts. But I'm afraid offering to give it back once they've been rumbled doesn't cut much ice. That merely makes it a cheap and immoral publicity stunt.

Sarah Ferguson is the latest. Others have been people like Nelly Furtado who took $1m dollars for singing to Gaddafi's coven for half an hour. Morality is making a judgement before you sell your soul, not when you've been rumbled. I don't believe any of those people thought Gadaffi was the new Gandhi when they took his cash. Neither did those clowns at the LSE. They only had to Google Gadaffi and Libya which I suspect they did but didn't care, they were just greedy for cash from wherever. We've all known for years that Ferguson would sell her soul for a couple of bob so no surprise there.

Sadly this kind of behaviour is only to be expected. After all, Labour spent its years in power grovelling to Gadaffi.

Monday, March 07, 2011

Atheist and Humanist Obsessives

As the census approaches the atheist/humanists are getting all excited again, it's a little like the time of the visit of Pope Benedict XVI. In fact so obsessive do they appear to be becoming that my beloved blogged about it last night on Rosie's Forum. Like many of us she gets tired of being lectured at and patronised by self-righteous zealots such as Dawkins and company.

I know pleanty of atheists and they just get on with their lives and we rub along very nicely thank you very much. Occasionally we might discuss religion and put our arguments over enthusiastically but in a civilised way. What they do not do is obsess about religion, a god in whom they disbelieve or my religious views. They are atheists, and that's it.

What I can't understand, and doubt I ever will, is why certain atheists appear to have turned their atheism into an alternative belief system. It's as though they are desperate for approval, or want to use their disbelief to form some kind of community to comfort themselves within. There are plenty of things I don't believe in, but I don't waste my time thinking about them let alone boring everybody to death banging on about what I don't believe in.

Why waste time and effort proclaiming that you don't believe in something? It's very bizarre.

Sunday, March 06, 2011

The Barnsley Effect

The Barnsley by election was certainly a kick in the knackers for all politicians, whichever party or even independent. A government not hated quite as much as Labour but hardly loved, and between all the candidates they could only tempt 36% of the electorate to turn out and vote.

Of course the Lib Dems got a kicking, as did the Tories. But the Labour result, in Scargill's old stomping ground, of 14,000 is just as big a kicking as the voters dealt the other serious parties. 64% of the electorate couldn't be mithered trotting a few yards to the local library or primary school to put a cross on a piece of paper.

I don't blame the electors for this, I blame the politicians. Since Thursday Miliband has shown himself to be a mindless nerd who has no conception of reality. That result was not a glowing endorsement of Labour and to try and spin it as a great result merely illustrates why the electorate despises politicians. Indeed any party claiming Thursday to be a great result is treating the British people with utter contempt, and deserves to fail.

But I have the answer. If politicians can't convince more than 50% of the electorate to turn out to vote, then the result is null and void. 64% of the voters in Barnsley obviously don't give a toss about having an MP, so don't bother with one. If we are interested in true democracy then surely 64% of people saying they want none of the candidates means that the result is clear. It would save the cost of an unwanted MP and in the scheme of things would make little difference.

Mandelson's Contact Details in Mail on Sunday

My beloved insists on reading the Mail on a Sunday, which irks me a little as I have to buy it on my home from Mass. But some days it really is worth looking at.

Today there is an article on page 11 about another one of Mandelson's dodgy pals. It includes a copy of this particularly unsaviour character's address book, containing Lady Mandy's email adresses and telephone numbers. They have been blacked out. But in our copy you can still see the numbers and email addresses quite clearly.

I have not yet tried them, but intend to do so. They may have now been changed if they are genuine, but why not find out?

Friday, March 04, 2011

Royal Mail/Post Office? Let's Get Rid!

Once again I've had a wasted trek to the local Royal Mail sorting office.

This time it was to collect a recorded delivery letter that they'd called to deliver when I was out this morning. Problem is I was advised on the note to leave two hours before going to collect, but he had forgotten to time and date the note. So I left it nearly two hours and went to collect. He hadn't got back to the office. When I asked what would happen now I was told to come back later or wait in tomorow and they would deliver it then. But they couldn't give me a time. They call that service.

Usually I have to trek down to the Royal Mail sorting office to collect small packets they claim were too big to go through my letterbox. Usually, I'd say nine times out of ten, I get back with the packet and pop it through my letterbox before opening the door and walking in.  They only seem able to deliver unaddressed crap that goes straight in the bin. They call that service.

Then there's that other monstrous throwback to the past, the local Post Office. It's very rare I go to the Post Office these days, partly because I do almost anything I used to use the Post Office for online, and partly because the service is invariably crap, verging on hostile. Why suffer that when I can buy a stamp, for example, from a shop with workers who treat you like a human being.

I've never understood the emotionally retarded obsession with saving Post Offices, and I often wonder if these people think we should still be making chariots, or galleons maybe. We should treat these failing organisations like we should have done the failing banks. Let them die.

Thursday, March 03, 2011

New Statesman-New Bullshit!

The left in this country have always had a problem keeping a sense of perspective, and an article in the New Statesman about government cuts in the UK proves that they have become even more deluded with the fall of New Labour.

To compare people campaigning against cuts in the UK with those fighting for freedom in Egypt, Libya and elsewhere in the Middle East is a gross insult to people suffering repression the world over. Typical do-gooding liberal bullshit from a pillock called Laurie Penny, practising freedom of speech in a nice cosy office in London.

Stoned to death for adultery, or having the opening hours of your local library reduced. Now, which one is worse?

'Pop culture and radical politics with a feminist twist' is her by-line. More like 'pop culture and radical politics with a twisted feminist'!

New Author: Jenni Thornley-'The Sails Turn'

One of the great things about the internet is the doors it has opened. Frustrated journalists can start emagazines or blogging, entrepeneurs can find new markets and so on.

Publishing has also opened up so that people who have suddenly discovered they can write, or have always secretly dreamt of being published, can get on and do it.
One such writer is a friend of mine Jenni Thornley. Jenni has just e-published two books, the first of which is The Sails Turn. Following is a description of her book and at the end is a link to the website where you can purchase it, which I think you should:
Professor Paul Cork buys the derelict Gatesby Windmill intending to restore it and open it to the public as a working windmill and museum of the past life of the village. With the help of his neighbours the Stephens (Jim, Alice, Matt and David) and the Drabbles (Ted, Sandra and Beth) and a group of students (Tony, Joe and Pat) from his university history class, the story takes place in modern Lincolnshire over a two year period.

During the restoration process, documents; letters, bills and photographs from the 1850’s are discovered and lead Matt and Beth to investigate the lives of the family (Colledge) who once lived at the windmill and their neighbours in the village.
Mr Lawson, an elderly farmer whose ancestors knew the Colledge’s, provides more letters and diary entries to help with the historical research.

As work on the windmill gradually progresses with explanations about the repairs and how the windmill works, the social life of the present day village is explored as relationships between the main characters develop.

During the course of restoring a garden around the windmill, a child’s skeleton is discovered and having been told it is probably from the 1850’s, the investigation moves to finding out whether or not it is one of the children from the windmill. When they discover it is not, the search widens.

Pat secretly knows who the child buried in the grounds is, how he died and why he is buried there; his ancestor witnessed an accident and blackmailed Colledge, profiting for more than fifteen years from his fear of disgrace and loss of social standing.

Meanwhile, Paul looks into Alice’s own family history as their relationship develops. She reads diaries left by Sally Colledge and becomes emotionally close to her and her family. Paul realises Alice is related to the Colledges as well as another family in the modern village (Clarkes).

Certain aspects of Victorian society are explored, questioned and contrasted with modern life. The theme that life repeats itself – the sails turn – is discussed.
 Other villagers look for documents which may prove useful to the investigation and discover other secrets going on in the village – an illegitimate child of a major figure.

The penultimate chapter is set in 1854 from Sally Colledge’s point of view, giving an insight into a day in her life and the sort of social interaction she may have encountered.

I'm looking forward to reading the full book which will eventually become part of a trilogy.

You can get the book here at Smashwords.

Wednesday, March 02, 2011

Mentioned in Dispatches

It's always nice to be quoted and this time it's in Canada's National Post having a go at the whingeing expats who have been rescued from Libya with our taxes.

The last time I was mentioned was on Sky News, but I can't remember what that was about.

Tuesday, March 01, 2011

The Madness of the Middle East

If you thought the Middle East was on the verge of shaking off tyranny and heading for democracy, or at least something resembling sanity, remember Iran.

Iran is now calling for a boycott of the 2012 Olympics because the logo chosen is actually code for the word 'Zion'. They claim that it indicates that the dark forces of Zion will take over the world in 2012.

The Full Story.

Persecution of Christians in Afghanistan

I can't help wondering if we have actually achieved anything, despite the tragic loss of life, in Afghanistan. The constitution agreed in 2004 seemingly guarantees religious freedom, but persection of Christians seems as bad as it was under the Taliban. So I wonder what will happen when the UN troops finally depart?

Sayed Mussa converted to Christianity. He was sentenced to death as Sharia law apparently superceded the constitution. He has since been assaulted and raped by other inmates under the influence of the Taliban.

Once again it underlines the fact that foreigners will never tame Afghanistan. More importantly it shows that yet again, the supposed successes of Tony Blair and New Labour were nothing more than con tricks and sleight of hand.

Full Story From New York Times.