Last night was the worst night of my adult life. The fever finally broke at about 4am, and by 6am I could feel the medications I'd been dosing myself on actually take effect.

I work with kids. If I'd thought about it, I should've known to go get a flu jab, the thing is, every dose of flu I've had up to now has been a mild form of "knock you out for a few days, Lemsip'll help" type.

This dose of flu? Bloody awful. I've had it since last Sunday, thought I was getting over it Thursday, only to have it kick back in with a vengeance Friday afternoon. Apparently, total number of cases this year is about normal but the Govt is being criticised for not spending enough money on an advertising campaign to get people to go get their jabs.

Me? I always wondered why spending money on adverts for this sort of thing were needed. We have newspapers, TV news, radio news, etc. Govt ministers could simply push it as a news item and get the media to cover as an essential public interest story.

And those of us with some method of communicating news could help spread that message. Right?

Does this actually make sense, or is my brain so flu addled it's coming up with daft ideas again? If I'm right, feel free to link to this post, write your own, tweet it, share it on Facebook, etc. If I'm wrong, well, y'know, my brain is barely working.

Oh yeah. Merry Christmas. You're not supposed to take alcohol alongside a chunk of the pills I'm using to take the worst off. So I'm stone cold sober watching The One Ronnie. I think being sober is a mistake for this one.
I'm awake, honest. I've had enough coffee to get me going again anyway. Doing some tidying up to my LJ, renaming tags, etc. This seems like a good enough reason to rename one of them, plus 2008 has ended so it's time to start a new 'life' tag for this year.

Appears I've posted less about what's been going on in my life this year than any other calender year that I've had the LJ. I guess being happy gives me less to write about, right? Completely skint, but there y'go, can't have everything.

I don't do new years resolutions, and, well, predictions are a bit of a mugs game, but, well, might as well.

UK: politics will dominate, likely election, bit of history explaining why )

Obama's honeymoon, potential pitfalls, hope he holds it together )

Europe, Referenda, Libertas and elections )

Meh, 7pm. Time to go pick the Shrub up from her Dad's.
In the ongoing saga of "Lord Goldsmith is an arse", Jennie, having already covered it well, links today to Larry's Britishness Test, and, well, it amuse me muchly—I knew most of the quotes, and even knew many of the sources, but it's nice to see them all compiled. So, here we go, how British are you?

[Poll #1152920]
ETA: Gah! Forgot the ticky box for people to say they'd done it. That was really stupid. Ah well, sorry all. Question: I deliberately uncut it, good/bad? Does it work as a form of post?

Answers below the fold: Larry's answers )The Scouts, 'My Duty' and reforming the powers of The Crown )

Gordon was supposed to be ushering a new era of constitutional change, getting rid of the worst bits of St Tone. It said so in his off-the-record press briefings. Anyone see any evidence of it?
So, lunchtime today, we listened to Any Questions. Jennie's take is here ... ), but one of the topics that came up was the subject of the National Anthem. Because, seriously, this Govt has, apparently, just figured out that having the line Rebellious Scots to crush might not actually be the best idea in a song meant for all of Britain. Of course, the interesting thing in the story wasn't actually covered.

Not England, Britain nor the UK as a whole actually has a national anthem; I'll let Gareth explain at Anthem4England:
Surprisingly it is not the official UK national anthem as it has never been adopted by Royal Proclamation or Act of Parliament, and hence there is also no authorised version.
The order of the verses is disputed ... )and it has no legal status ... ).

One of the worst songs ever written

It's also one of the worst songs ever written, bloody awful to sing, completely uninspiring and dull as ditchwater. There is of course a less dull version, but even I'd not propose that to be officially adopted.

Given that England has no anthem, I'd personally favour either Land of Hope and Glory or Jerusalem, but neither is great, merely adequate. Perhaps we could commission a decent one? Or maybe the national sporting bodies could do it, but please, not Baddiel and Skinner.

As for Britain? No contest, can anyone really object to this?
Britons never shall be slaves... thy native oak... haughty tyrants ne'er shall tame... )
To thee belongs the rural reign;
Thy cities shall with commerce shine;
All thine shall be the subject main,
And every shore it circles thine.

Rule, Britannia! Britannia, rule the waves:
Britons never shall be slaves.
... )
I sure as hell don't, and the anti-slavery/anti-tyranny message appeals to me on a number of levels. There is, of course, a different, valid objection. Lorna alluded to it here awhile back:
What really freaked me out was seeing St George's flag posters, since I generally associate that with an even more virulent brand of nationalism.
Personally, I view the surrendering of national symbols to the extremist bigots and xenophobes to be a problem. Many people want identity, they want to belong to something.

When I first started a politics only blog, I said in the first post:

I'm a Devonshire, Westcountry, English, British European. I can be, and am, proud to be all of these things, and it remains true today. There's a reason that site... ) will have symbols people identify with ... ) it persuades people who softly oppose your position to still listen to you. Taking an extremist view, even if it's one I would agree with ... )means that some people who would otherwise be sympathetic will ignore the actual point—they'll dismiss the messenger and thus ignore the message. ... )

Nothing wrong with symbols of identity

There's nothing wrong with symbols, of identity, of wanting to belong and feel part of something. ... ) I dislike categories because people like to use them in an exclusionary way—that's wrong. Being one thing doesn't prevent you from being another, and sometimes portraying it as if it does does more damage than it should.

The problem with political identity is that it sometimes gets hijacked by extremists, and then those that oppose them sometimes thing they also have to oppose the symbols they've stolen. I disagree; rejecting the symbols means that those who feel they belong sometimes go to those we object to, and thus we lose. Sometimes.

The biggest problems with British and English symbols of identity is that many of them, like the cross like flags and that awful dirge, are simply crap. I'd like to see the Welsh Dragon included on the Jack not because I have many Welsh friends, but simply because, well, Dude? Dragons are cool.
There are some days, y'know, when the British legal system does us all proud. Two different stories today. Stripogram copper walks on offensive weapon rap | The Register:
Kennedy was dragged before the beak at Aberdeen sheriff court on the offensive weapons rap. However, Sheriff Kenneth Stewart ruled he had no case to answer.
Because arresting a strippogram for 'impersonating a police officer', being forced to drop those charges then chasing him for something else is a really good use of resources. But, much more importantly. BBC NEWS | Entertainment | Springer opera court fight fails:
two senior judges at the High Court said the 1968 Theatres Act prevented any prosecution for blasphemy in relation to public performances of plays - and the 1990 Broadcasting Act prevented any prosecution in relation to broadcasts.

They said it was reasonable to conclude Jerry Springer - The Opera "in context" could not be considered as blasphemous, as it was not aimed at Christianity, but was a parody of the chat show genre.
That's right, the courts have told "Christian" Voice director Stephen Green to go fuck himself--and this has to be a good thing, his extremist nonsense gives sensible people of faith a really bad name. More context on him and his censorship campaign at an old post of mine.
A comment at SB's public blog:
The attractiveness of a low waist-to-hip ratio (WHR) is generally due to it being an indicator of health and fertility, but this new research offers a possible additional factor, that low WHR also indicates high cognitive ability. So, yep, the study suggests that curvy girls are likely to be smart and produce smart children, and this increased smartness is possibly what makes the curves attractive to men. It's to do with the difference in upper bopdy fat and lower body fat supplying the particular kind of fatty acid that's essential for brain development.
I now have an excuse to letch after a nice arse--I'm checking out her likely mental capacity as well.

OK, I didn't have this excuse before, and it's never stopped me, but, y'know, skience on my side now. There are a lot of very smart women on my blog reading list, this is good. I'm marrying one of them. This is even better.

Oh, rest of the post and comments is worth a read over as well. I have another, different follow up post planned, but that one requires engaging my brain, which isn't working today, sorry...
I concur with Adrian, The continuing saga of Westphalia-on-Sea (twinned with Pessimisme, France) is absolute genius. It might not actually be about Torbay, but if it's not, then I pity the poor gits in the other town that have just as bad a track record as us. The first chapter In which we learn how Westphalia-on-Sea went into terminal decline just rings so true:
Westphalia-on-Sea was once the most popular and prosperous seaside town in England. Hordes of visitors from the Midlands, the North and even Scotland would fill its hotels and guest houses every summer. By day the families would crowd onto the beach and gradually sit closer and closer together as the tide came in, not really minding that it was overcast, and ignoring the children when they said they felt little drops of rain. By night the younger revellers would crowd into the town's nightclubs and drink sensible amounts of Bacardi and Coke or Watney's Red Barrel. These were happy times, when locals and holidaymakers would bond with each other outside late-night kebab shops, and the odd dispute over a taxi or a girl was easily settled by throwing someone in the harbour.
[ profile] westphalia_sea, naturally. Directly elected mayors=a Bad Thing for small to medium sized towns. Especially ones that went Unitary for stupid reasons and have been ungovernable ever since.

A very nice place to visit my hometown. Definitely wouldn't want to live there at the moment.
Despite being vegetarian and broadly in favour of animal welfare attempts and being opposed to cruelty and unnecessary slaughter of animals, I've always been slightly ambivalent about badger culls and similar. When the reports earlier in the year indicated what we'd always suspected, that it didn't actually make a difference to the spread of bovine TB, I thought that might possibly be the end of it. It appears not.

My parents get The Telegraph. They used to get the Independent, but then I moved out and it went tabloid, plus Alex is in the Telegraph (or at least was). This mornings picture story is this: Cull badgers to fight TB, advises top scientist, and it's followd up by a comment peice on page two using that failure of a good argument, the appeal that Common sense demands badger cull. Fortunately, I have [ profile] tyrell paying attention, and he's done a nice little demolition job on the idiocy surrounding the story and the wonderful idea that a Govt advisor (specialty: chemistry) can spend a few months and thus dismiss a report by a professor of animal health, director of the institute of animal health and a study that took him ten years to complete.

Now, obviously, I might be missing something and I haven't had time to do much research, but, um, who would you believe? Oh, wait, it's DEFRA, they'll go with not-annoying-the-farmers approach rather than the slightly harder let's-tell-the-farmers-the-truth approach. Gah!
BBC NEWS | Politics | MPs get four more days of holiday:
MPs will have an additional four days of holiday in 2008 compared with this year, it has been announced.
Right. Because they're not in Westminster at their offices or putting their bums on the green leather, they're "on holiday"?

Lies, damn lies, and media misrepresentations ) Last two paragraphs:
Variations in the number of Fridays when the Commons is open for business mean it is likely that MPs will sit for a greater number of days in 2007-8 than in the previous 12-month period.

MPs often respond to criticism of their lengthy spells away from Westminster by saying that they devote much of these periods to constituency work.
So what the story actually says is MPs will be at Wetminster more next year than this, and they say they do work elsewhere but we can't be arsed to actually check this so will write it up as if they're lying.

Is it any wonder people get disillusioned when even the BBC puts up this sort of half-baked sorry excuse for coverage?

Bah, stuff this, I'm off to the pub.

ETA: Nich already covered this and said roughly the same as me. Why do the press tell such lies about MP's salaries and holidays ?
Feeling fairly powerless about the whole Burma thing. Of course, anyone that studied at Exeter at the same time I did is already aware of the issues, I've long been of the opinion that if the point of Iraq was to do good and acheive 'regime change' then a much better target would've been the evil bastards in self-styled Myanmar. But the only effective thing we can really do is show solidarity and apply pressure on those companies that invest and/or exploit the Burmese people. Especially alleged forced labour using Total Elf Fina (what the Exeter problems were centralled around). Fortunately, the Burma Campaign has a dirty list, which while a little heavy on the rhetoric is fairly exhaustive. Included in this list:
Lonely Planet
Lonely Planet is an Australian multinational publishing company specialising in travel guides. Lonely Planet publishes a guide to Burma which encourages tourists to visit the country. Lonely Planet also vigorously defends tourism to Burma, attempting to undermine calls by Aung San Suu Kyi and Burma’s democracy movement for tourists to stay away.
Fair enough, avoid buying their products, across the board, and tell them what you think. Hmm, problem. BBC Worldwide buys Lonely Planet. Boycott the BBC? Um...

I guess an email to be sent after I finish work won't be too bad, possibly copy in Feedback--they could easily change their policies in light of current events, especially if the above quoted is Suu Kyi's stated position. Ah, the travails of ethical consumerism, there never is an easy answer.
Posted without comment...
The Associated Press: Scientology Faces Criminal Charges:
A Belgian prosecutor on Tuesday recommended that the U.S.-based Church of Scientology stand trial for fraud and extortion, following a 10-year investigation that concluded the group should be labeled a criminal organization.
scientology belgium - Google News

Oh, ok, maybe a little one. Bwah ha!

*grabs popcorn*
(I think the "list of famous Belgians" might get a bit bigger over this one, right?)

ETA: Seen initially by way of [ profile] ladyegreen because I forgot to give credit...h
Executive who branded wife with iron freed with a £2,000 fine:
A report recommended a community service order, but Recorder William Featherby questioned how Read would fit it in around his long working hours.

He said he was concerned that Read had denied the offences despite overwhelming evidence and he called the iron attack "appalling".

But the judge said it was the circumstances of the marriage that had provoked Read and that now those circumstances had gone, sending him to prison would "help no one".
So branding your wife with a hot iron isn't worthy of punishment in and of itself? A £2K fine (about a weeks pay for this guy) is going to sort it all out?

Prison has three functions: Punish, protect and rehabilitate. This guy seems barely able to acknowledge he's done wrong, but because he has a busy job he can just pay it off?
Judith Stephenson, of Women's Aid, said: "This case is extremely worrying. It takes an enormous amount of courage for a woman to go to court and this sentence may deter other women from doing so."
That people (predominantly but not exclusively women) become trapped in abusive relationships and feel they can't get out is something I can't relate to, can't understand. But I know it happens, and it has happened to people I like and respect. To have the court system then effectively dismiss it out of hand is horrifying.

Via Katy at The Devil's Kitchen.
Hmm... Remember this?:
Ann Bryn-Evans, joint Wessex district manager for The Pagan Federation, said: "We were hoping for some dry weather but I think I have changed my mind.

"We'll be doing some rain magic to bring the rain and wash it away."
Maybe there's something in it:
Torrential rain hits Dorset towns
after all?
some areas received more than two months' rain in just 24 hours
Bloody pagans. Do y'all like the way the media and the Govt is commenting loads on this set of (southern) flooding, but when Yorkshire got swamped a few weeks back it was barely commented on and that nice Mr Brown went partying?

Idea for this post from [ profile] hennel @ [ profile] topicalcomedy
El Reg reports:
Royal Navy bomb disposal experts were called to a house in Paignton, Devon, after a tip-off that 68-year-old Thelma Bonnett was rather ill-advisedly using a live First World War German shell as a doorstop
The Daily Mail informs us:
At any time during all those years, however, it could have exploded.
And local newspaper rag The Herald Express confirms:
it had been used by a pensioner as a doorstop for more than 20 years

I was born in Paignton. She seems to fit the demographics much better than I ever did...
OK then; I've got so behind posting stuff that hald the links I stored are done already. Meh, have some of the best/more recent while I keep sorting things out.

Softpedia reports that Windows Vista is essentially spyware and Microsoft will be able to track a big chunk of what you do; yes, they're unlikely to pick on individuals, but the EULA gives them carte blanche to give everything away.

Cthuugle--the H. P. Lovecraft search engine. Do Werewolves Roam The Woods Of England? Probably not, but some interesting stuff, even if the guy writing it is a bit, shall we say, touched? How about instead a bunch of 3-D Starmaps? So very very cool.

Reading this Register article on Conservapedia I discover the wonder that is RationalWiki, a slightly satirical riposte to the loons and their delusions. Conservapedia has managed to clean up all the blatant vandalism that it got hit with soon after it launched. Now the edits are much more subtle.

On the subject of wikis, anyone fancy a game of Wikington Crescent? Very very silly way to kill time, but you never know. [ profile] sunflowerkits recently attended a Gothic Bellydance workshop and has videos of some of the teachers dancing; it is actually very impressive, and I'm not just saying that because they're also quite hot.

On to a bit of politics. My old friend [ profile] paulatpingu compares Gordon Brown's position to that of Londo Mollari. Yes, that Londo Mollari, the one with the silly hair and the tentacle penis. Scarily, he's actually got a point, although as I commented there it's not going to happen any time soon.

Silliness. Turn the subjects from any feed (including your public LJ posts) and burn them into Lol!cats. Results can vary between the impressive, the funny and the downright stupid. And of course there's an online macro generator, which even works from LJ userpics. Yes, I've ued it, and it's actually not a bad overall tool for quick-and-dirty actual design work.

Lastly? How about a survivors guide to Doctor Who fandom? So very true, especially the Rose-fen; I only really started follwing the online fans since Torchwood started, and seriously, they scare me. Especially the Jack/anto shippers. SRSLY, they're warped. Not interested? Ok, how about an economic argument against the smoking ban combined with an assertion that passive smoking isn't actually dangerous. Ok, that last comes from the Torygraph, and is thus a little sus, but not hugely, the science he researches is real, and I remain of the opinion that car exhaust fumes do more damage than someone else's smoke ever will.

Not bad that, cleaned 16 links out of the folder. You really don't want to know how many there are in total. Trust me on this. Oh, look at that, I've managed to do that silly Doctor Who quote meme without even trying. Bargain.
I said:
I hope for Johnson, but think Harman has a strong chance, and she made a blatent play for Cruddas's second prefs near the end,
And after the results are called, we see that:
Electoral college results
Candidate 1st round    2nd round   3rd round  4th round  5th round  
Hilary Benn 16.40% 18.22% 22.33%      
Hazel Blears 11.77%          
Jon Cruddas 19.39% 20.39% 23.89% 30.06%    
Peter Hain 15.32% 16.42%        
Harriet Harman 18.93% 21.23% 25.88% 33.58% 50.43% ELECTED
Alan Johnson 18.16% 23.74% 27.90% 36.35% 49.56%  

Her blatant grab for his support worked like a charm. Cruddas won the first round, but barely picked up any second preferences, Johnson was picking up more until close to the end, when Harman then jumped ahead with Jon's votes. Interesting times it seems. Lots of people on the Labour blogs bitching about the voting system, one even said it was "stalinist". To me it remains the best way of determining a result acceptable to all, allows for multiple candidates rather than requiring a stitch up before the actual vote and is invaluable in a close contest, as this undoubtedly was. It also shows that Harman knew to play for second and third preferences a lot more than others, apparently internal canvassing wasn't asking for preferences at wll--and the media constantly referring to it as a "complicated" system was really annoying me throughout.

But most important aspect: Blears last place on barely 11% of the vote. Labour members renew my faith in humanity a little with that one, word has it there was a massive cheer when her elimination was announced.

Loads of politics posts in a row. Time for some frivolity methinks...
Watched Question Time last night with SB for the Labour Deputy Leadership contest. Took many notes, might try to write some coherent thoughts up on the whole debate, was very interesting. Following Sue's statement of preferences:
1. Jon, 2. Peter, 3. Alan, 4. Harriet, 5. Hilary, 6. Hazel
I did it based on the following, and in this order: (1) my opinion of how little they were likely to toe Gordon's line, (2) excessive toadying under Tony (3) voting record (4) school and (5) amount of union support.
I thought I'd summarise my thoughts. I don't have a vote, but some of you might (I know at least two do).

Biggest issue is how the Dep Leader will affect Labour's prospect at the next General Election. Unless things change drastically, I currently predict a Tory landslide; that has to be stopped. My personal ideal vote would, fairly obviously as already stated, be a hung Parliament resulting in a Labour/Lib Dem coalition prepared to actually carry out the necessary fundamental constitutional reforms we were promised in '97 and that Brown is hinting might actually now happen. On top of there's a personal factor, who comes across well and would be someone I (and other left-leaning liberals) could possibly work with. So, given I don't have a huge amount of time: My reactions to the candidates and some thoughts )
Will possibly transfer more thoughts as to the positioning elements, but really, if you are in position of a Labour vote; think carefully, as this one will make a huge difference to electoral chances, and I really really can't stand the idea of a Cameron landslide, which I think is what someone like Blears will help lead to.

Off now, Bradford and Soylent Green beckon...
I think this damned thing has spread across my friends page today faster than last weeks LJ wank, so in order to settle the ongoing debate, I have decided to apply science to the problem.

[Poll #996934]
Um, yeah. There's a petition, I haven't signed it as I really couldn't care less, but if you do, feel free.

[ profile] mapp has the best of the BBC's alternative submissions. ETA: Oh, and [ profile] anw's entry linked above got metaquoted as well. Also? No comment notifications. At all. Not ignoring you, honest.

ETA 2: Via Duncan, they have a video. Does that help understand it and make it work better for anyone? No, thought not.
Hmm, good news for a change, Masterfoods no longer evil:
Mars said it became "very clear, very quickly" that it had made a mistake.
Merely very very stupid. Was going to post about the sheer idiocy when [ profile] mooism first posted on the 8th (note, that was 6 days before the BBC caught up), but things got lost in the shuffle. They were using the excuse that "only strict vegetarians" would be affected, and in a way, they'd be right. When I eat out, I don't tend to worry whether the cheese is made using rennet, I'm not that strict. But if a company does something blitheringly stupid, and says that it shouldn't bother me at all?

Worse, for them, it would've meant that many of my non-vegetarian friends and family would have stopped buying their products; why buy Masterfoods when Cadbury do something just as good? Stupid stupid company decision. Still, while I'll try to stick to Green and Blacks when I can afford it, and Cadbury when I can't, I can still buy Masterfoods now, they're idiots, but they're not
evil like Nestlé. Ah, informed consumers making choices within an active market, and forcing companies to change. You can see why so many capitalists are anti-market at heart, right?

The only problem of course is that some of the statistics used to claim how many vegetarians there are in the country are likely very very wrong. Why? Because even smart people are stupid:
Twenty years after the IQ tests were carried out in 1970, 366 of the participants said they were vegetarian - although more than 100 reported eating either fish or chicken.
Guys? Vegetarians don't eat fish, let alone chicken. So as virtually every survey of the nature relies on self reporting, and approx 1/3rd of self-described vegetarians are pescetarians at best, the market impact might be smaller than it should be. People assuming I can eat fish despite being vegetarian is probably one of my biggest pet-hates, and it isn't helped by the ignorance of some who self-describe wrongly. It's a bit like self-described Christians who don't go to church; they may quack like a duck, but they sure as hell don't walk like a duck.

Oh, it's National Vegetarian Week as of tomorrow, so expect dodgy media coverage, false assumptions and some of my more idiotic ethical eaters to be a bit too assertive in various places, sorry about that.
matgb: Artwork of 19th century upper class anarchist, text: MatGB (Default)

British Liberal, house husband, school play leader and stepdad. Campaigner, atheistic feminist, amateur baker. Male.

Known to post items of interest on occasions. More likely to link to interesting stuff. Sometimes talks about stuff he's done. Occasionally posts recipes for good food. Planning to get married, at some point. Enjoying life in Yorkshire.

Likes comments. Especially likes links. Loves to know where people came from and what they were looking for. Mostly posts everything publicly. Sometimes doesn't. Hi.

Mat Bowles

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October 2015


Stuff and nonsense

I'm the Chair of the Brighouse branch of the Liberal Democrats.

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