Friday, March 30, 2007

Letter to Mugabe

Paul has written an open letter to Robert Mugabe. While I share Barry's scepticism about the outcome - anything that highlight's the dreadful situation in Zimbabwe is worth supporting. Pop over to Mars Hill and show your support.

Monday, March 26, 2007

Alternative Children's Books

From my lovely friend Davy Brody.

1. You Are Different and That's Bad
2. The Boy Who Died From Eating All His Vegetables
3. Dad's New Wife Robert
4. Fun four-letter Words to Know and Share
5. Hammers, Screwdrivers and Scissors: An I-Can-Do-It Book
6. The Kids' Guide to Hitchhiking
7. Kathy Was So Bad Her Mom Stopped Loving Her
8. Curious George and the High-Voltage Fence
9. All Cats Go to Hell
10. The Little Sissy Who Snitched
11. Some Kittens Can Fly.
12. That's it, I'm Putting You Up for Adoption
13. Grandpa Gets a Casket
14. The Magic World Inside the Abandoned Refrigerator
15. Garfield Gets Feline Leukemia
16. The Pop-Up Book of Human Anatomy
17. Strangers Have the Best Candy
18. Whining, Kicking and Crying to Get Your Way
19. You Were an Accident
20. Things Rich Kids Have, But You Never Will
21. Pop! Goes The Hamster...And Other Great Microwave Games
22. The Man in the Moon Is Actually Satan
23. Your Nightmares Are Real
24. Where Would You Like to Be Buried?
25. Eggs, Toilet Paper, and Your School
26. Why Can't Mr. Fork and Ms. Electrical Outlet Be Friends?
27. Places Where Mommy and Daddy Hide Neat Things
28. Daddy Drinks Because You Cry

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Porn Names

I know I'm tempting the bizarre search term fates by having this entry title but never mind.

I'm intrigued by the new film that's coming out "I Want Candy" about two would be film makers who attract the "services" of the world's biggest(!) adult film start. Candy Fiveacres. Whose name is pet name and street name.

MY porn name is Misty Red, (last pet and the street I lived on when we had the lovely wee thing). I think it's fab. I won't actually tag anyone to do this, but do let me know in the comments what your porn name is.

Brown's Big Con

So he got his soundbite then "2p off income tax" - hurrah.

Despite my questioning yesterday about my political party loyalties I am still a conservative, I still believe in a low tax economy, I still believe in individual responsibilities and freedoms, and those freedoms include keeping as much of the money that you earn as possible. So I'm happy about the 2p income tax cut then? Well, no not really.

The abolition of the 10p rate cut has totally negated the benefits this will bring to the lowest paid people - who need the tax cuts most. There should never have been a 10p rate in the first place - it was a con to make people think there had been a tax cut. Any removal of this rate and the simplification of the tax system is a good thing. But this should have been matched by a raising of the lower threshold. Instead we now have a situation where those earning less than £17,000 per year will be worse off. This can never be right.

I know the apologists for Brown's leadership manifesto... sorry budget will point to the fact that tax credits will make up the shortfall. Big bloody deal. Tax credits don't help - tax cuts do. Tax credits introduce complicated forms and means testing into the system. People shouldn't have to go through multi page forms to be able to keep the money they have worked hard to earn, and if I can be a bit stereotypical but honest a sizable number of people who are earning less than £17,000 a year will not be confident with form filling and would rather not fill out these intrusive questionnaires. So the very people who most need the money will be the people who are least able to navigate the systems to ensure they get it. Good trick that.

Anyway many people don't trust the systems to work - there have been so many tax credit blunders - see here, here and here. So instead of forcing people to rely on a complicated system that doesn't work terribly well, why not make the simplification of just cutting taxes and allowing people to develop the economy through their spending choices.

To steal a statement from Dick Cheney (the first and possibly last time I will ever do this) - no nation ever taxed its way to prosperity.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007


Over the past couple of years my political views have been going through a bit of a change. When I was a student I was a hang em, flog em, send em back where they came from type of Tory. And (to the eternal dismay of my daddy) a staunch Unionist. Now things are very different - I am now much more liberal than I was when I was younger. The thought of the death penalty for example now fills me with dread, I would rather go to prison than carry a compulsory ID card and I think the treatment of refugees and asylum seekers in Britain in one of our nation's shame.

I still regard myself (mostly) as a Conservative but I have no problem whatsoever in not voting for any candidate that I regard to be sexist, racist or homophobic. I have no loyalty to the Conservative Party anymore but of the three main parties in England they are probably the one whose views are closest to my own.

And there's the rub - in England. I don't know how I would vote if in Scotland. I am still, mostly a Unionist, but not as staunch as I was a decade or so ago. I believe the Union has been good for both Scotland and England, fiscally and culturally and I think that a larger country will always carry more weight on the world stage than a smaller one and that Scotland benefits from this.

But, but, but.... Over the last couple of years I have started to question whether this is enough to base the Union on. I am fed up with the continual patronising of Scotland (and the people of Scotland) by politicians who claim that Scotland couldn't cope as an independent nation. Of course it could. Scotland, as with any nation, has the talent and ability to achieve great things. Or it has the capacity to elect dreadful politicians who mess up the economy. No-one can actually say for sure what will happen if/when Scotland becomes independent. But as part of the Union the same is absolutely true. Isn't that what happens in every country? And isn't that the decision of the Scottish electorate?

This is, of course, partly a result of devolution. I was, and still am, opposed to devolution, it's a ridiculous half-way house which does nothing to strengthen the union. And we now have a situation where the democratically elected government of Scotland in Edinburgh has to look to the other democratically elected government of Scotland in London for permission to do anything a wee bit off New Labour message. Or where the majority of Scottish elected representatives vote against Trident but it will still be partly funded by the Scottish tax-payer and based in Scotland. I was right about devolution - it was the first step to the break-up of the UK, just I think now that's not necessarily a bad thing.

So - why shouldn't Scotland be independent? I really don't know.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Rise of the SNP blogger

The best political bloggers in the UK have typically come from the right wing with a few honourable mentions from the left - Paul and Kerron for example.

However the up-coming Scottish elections seem to have spurred on a bit of a rise in the SNP blogger.

I first read Grant Thoms (the Tartan Hero), but there's plenty more - Anne McLaughlin (no relation), Alison Thewliss, Lachie McNeill, Jamie Hepburn, Julie Hepburn, Chris for Pollok, Davie Hutchison and Richard Thomson to name a few. The quality varies a bit but there are a couple which I will now visit regularly - especially the Glasgow Springburn and Shettleston ones.

Interestingly, many of the posts across the board are quite similar. With many of the same graphics. I wonder if this is a deliberate campaign being supported (and possibly encouraged) by Nat High Command. Well done if it is. Many voters will be finding their SNP candidates with blogs which are (shockingly for political candidates) on-message. The SNP, unlike the Conservatives, seem to have taken the hint that public statements diametrically opposed to the Party line don't actually help. Still, hopefully after the elections the blogs will keep going and be slightly more open to varied topics rather than just party policy.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

How Did I Get Here?

Shamelessly stolen from Chris. I love this one.
I don't want it to be a photoshopped image, but I do have my suspicions...

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

The Burning Question

I received this text message a couple of days ago from a friend:

"An unpopular government hoping a new leader will revive their fortunes after a long time in power, Take That at number one, Walter Smith leading Rangers to a win at Parkhead despited being pummelled for 90 mins - is it still the 90s?"

Monday, March 12, 2007

Shameless Appeal for Money

I've signed up to do the Walk for Life for Crusaid this year. I'm hoping to raise at least £250 and need everyone's help.

Please take a moment to sponsor me. It's really easy - you can donate online by credit or debit card at my fundraising page.

All donations are secure and sent electronically to Crusaid. If you are a UK taxpayer, Justgiving will add an automatic 28% bonus to your donation at no cost to you. Please join me in supporting Crusaid and a fabulous cause!

I have started my training already! I spent 20 minutes on a treadmill and walked about 1 and a half miles - so not longer to go before I reach the 10k.

Crusaid really needs the cash and I really need the motivation to keep going.

Feel free to pass on to friends, family and anyone else you know who might want to sponsor some random person they don't know.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Another Books List

For World Book Day the Guardian published a list of "100 Books You Can't Live Without".

Below is the list with my comments on each. It does seem that I've managed to live 31 years without most of them, and don't feel incomplete for having not read them.

A couple of things wound me up. If you include the book series there are more than 100, but that's minor, the real source of annoyance was the inclusion of No. 33 The Chronicles of Narnia and No. 36 The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe. TLTWTW is one of the Chronicles of Narnia. It's the second in the series. Hence the name of the film "The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe". And Hamlet being listed seperately to the Complete Works of Shakespeare.

As suspected the Guardian is moronic!

1 Pride and Prejudice
Jane Austen - never could get into it.

2 The Lord of the Rings JRR Tolkien - dear god, could never get into it. For Geeks and Freaks and Dungeons and Dragons players only. Though I enjoyed the films.

3 Jane Eyre Charlotte Bronte - never read

4 Harry Potter series JK Rowling - love em. Can't wait for the final instalment.

5 To Kill a Mockingbird Harper Lee - may be the best book ever written.

6 The Bible - in common with the vast majority of people I've never actually read it

7 Wuthering Heights Emily Bronte - s'ok I suppose. Read it when I liked Mills & Boon.

=8 Nineteen Eighty-Four George Orwell - Fabulous. Still want to slap the girl at university who said that it had nothing to say to her. This may be why the legal system is going to pot.

=8 His Dark Materials Philip Pullman - Haven't read, but will do.

10 Great Expectations Charles Dickens - Love it, must be time for a re-read.

11 Little Women Louisa M Alcott - Never read.

12 Tess of the d'Urbervilles Thomas Hardy - read a long time ago, seem to remember enjoying it. Not enough to rush out and read again.

13 Catch-22 Joseph Heller - not read.

14 Complete Works of Shakespeare William Shakespeare - ditto The Bible, but have my favourites.

15 Rebecca Daphne Du Maurier - never read it, but enjoyed the talking book if that counts.

16 The Hobbit JRR Tolkien - Ditto 2, except I have read it.

17 Birdsong Sebastian Faulks - I enjoyed this one. Bit over-wrought though.

18 Catcher in the Rye JD Salinger - Never read

19 The Time Traveler's Wife Audrey Niffenegger - Never read

20 Middlemarch George Eliot - Never read

21 Gone With The Wind Margaret Mitchell - Really enjoyed.

22 The Great Gatsby F Scott Fitzgerald - Enjoyed

23 Bleak House Charles Dickens - Never read

25 The Hitch Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy Douglas Adams - s'ok

26 Brideshead Revisited Evelyn Waugh - Never read

27 Crime and Punishment Fyodor Dostoyevsky - Never read

28 Grapes of Wrath John Steinbeck - Never read

29 Alice in Wonderland Lewis Carroll - Never read

30 The Wind in the Willows Kenneth Grahame -Never read

31 Anna Karenina Leo Tolstoy - Never read

32 David Copperfield Charles Dickens - Never read

33 Chronicles of Narnia CS Lewis - Very much enjoyed

34 Emma Jane Austen - Never read

35 Persuasion Jane Austen - Never read

36 The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe CS Lewis - Harrumph. Best in the series without a doubt.

37 The Kite Runner Khaled Hosseini - on my bookshelf to be read.

38 Captain Corelli's Mandolin Louis de Bernières - s'ok

39 Memoirs of a Geisha Arthur Golden - s'ok

40 Winnie the Pooh AA Milne - Never read

41 Animal Farm George Orwell - Excellent book.

42 The Da Vinci Code Dan Brown - on the bookshelf. Will get round to it sooner or later.

43 One Hundred Years of Solitude Gabriel Garcia Marquez - Never read

44 A Prayer for Owen Meaney John Irving - Never read

45 The Woman in White Wilkie Collins - Never read

46 Anne of Green Gables LM Montgomery - My absolute favourite childhood book. Still re-read this and love it.

47 Far From The Madding Crowd Thomas Hardy - Never read

48 The Handmaid's Tale Margaret Atwood - read a long time ago. Very serious.

49 Lord of the Flies William Golding - I studied this book in my S Grade English, I think I may appreciate it more now than I did then.

50 Atonement Ian McEwan - Never read

51 Life of Pi Yann Martel - Never read

52 Dune Frank Herbert - Never read

53 Cold Comfort Farm Stella Gibbons - Never read

54 Sense and Sensibility Jane Austen - Never read

55 A Suitable Boy Vikram Seth - Read a long time ago. A BIG book, couldn't read it now, would be like commuting with a brick...

56 The Shadow of the Wind Carlos Ruiz Zafon - Never read

57 A Tale Of Two Cities Charles Dickens - The only Dickens I've never managed to get into.

58 Brave New World Aldous Huxley - Never read

59 The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time Mark Haddon - On the bookshelf, waiting patiently...

60 Love In The Time Of Cholera Gabriel Garcia Marquez - Never read

61 Of Mice and Men John Steinbeck - Read at school. Can't remember it.

62 Lolita Vladimir Nabokov - Never read

63 The Secret History Donna Tartt - On the bookshelf, waiting patiently...

64 The Lovely Bones Alice Sebold - Never read

65 Count of Monte Cristo Alexandre Dumas - Never read

66 On The Road Jack Kerouac - Never read

67 Jude the Obscure Thomas Hardy - Never read

68 Bridget Jones's Diary Helen Fielding - Was ok, the second one was really annoying though. Just wanted to slap the silly tart.

69 Midnight's Children Salman Rushdie -Never read

70 Moby Dick Herman Melville - Never read

71 Oliver Twist Charles Dickens - Really liked it.

72 Dracula Bram Stoker - Dracula-a-a mwahaaaa, I enjoyed.

73 The Secret Garden Frances Hodgson Burnett - Really liked it, but prefered A Little Princess.

74 Notes From A Small Island Bill Bryson - Never read

75 Ulysses James Joyce - Dear God, I hated it, or at least I hated the few pages that I made myself read.

76 The Bell Jar Sylvia Plath - Depressing poetry by a suicidal bint not my cup of tea.

77 Swallows and Amazons Arthur Ransome - Never read

78 Germinal Emile Zola - Never read

79 Vanity Fair William Makepeace Thackeray - Never read

80 Possession AS Byatt - Never read

81 A Christmas Carol Charles Dickens - Read it every December, it's a cliche, but I enjoy doing it.

82 Cloud Atlas David Mitchell - Never read

83 The Color Purple Alice Walker - Never read

84 The Remains of the Day Kazuo Ishiguro -Never read

85 Madame Bovary Gustave Flaubert - Really like this one.

86 A Fine Balance Rohinton Mistry - Never read

87 Charlotte's Web EB White - Never read

88 The Five People You Meet In Heaven Mitch Alborn - Much better than I expected. Unexpectedly moving.

89 Adventures of Sherlock Holmes Sir Arthur Conan Doyle - Never read

90 The Faraway Tree Collection Enid Blyton - Never read I don't think, but I loved the Famous Five and Secret Seven. Lashings and lashings of pop and scones and saving middle England from strange swarthy men (the Cornish!)

91 Heart of Darkness Joseph Conrad - Never read

92 The Little Prince Antoine de Saint-Exupery - Never read

93 The Wasp Factory Iain Banks - Never read

94 Watership Down Richard Adams - Never read

95 A Confederacy of Dunces John Kennedy Toole - Never read

96 A Town Like Alice Nevil Shute - Never read

97 The Three Musketeers Alexandre Dumas - Never read

98 Hamlet William Shakespeare - Never read. This must be one of the plays that doesn't appear in the Complete works though...... Idiot Guardian

99 Charlie and the Chocolate Factory Roald Dahl - Never read

100 Les Misérables Victor Hugo - loved the musical so read the book. Loved the book too.

Monday, March 05, 2007

Why I Don't Like Chris Martin

I used to think my loathing of Chris Martin was a little irrational - now I know I was right all along. A quote from a BBC News story:

"Singer Chris Martin has described a track written for Coldplay's next album as "basically genius", saying it could be their best composition yet.

The 30-year-old added that everybody "has to hear this song before we die, otherwise we'll be terribly depressed"."

Prat! Self-opinionated smug ponce. I look forward to contributing to your terrible depression you self-righteous git. Go on, bugger off, learn how to smile and not create such an overwhelming level of hatred in my soul.

Sunday, March 04, 2007

Stating the Obvious

Top story on BBC Scotland - Rangers Boss is a Unionist.

And in the next journalistic breakthrough - Pope in Catholic shocker....

Thursday, March 01, 2007

The Joy of Wikipedia

I'm bored at work so wikipedia-d the town I live in and a couple around it. The Leatherhead entry is fairly standard, telling me little I didn't know - other porn star Ben Dover apparently lives near me!

The Dorking entry however is a joy. It starts so much like the Leatherhead entry - then, just at the end of the article, it becomes a work of double entendre genius:

"Councillor Maltby's big fat cock

In 2005, Mole Valley District Councillor Neil Maltby hatched a plan to put Dorking on the map - what if every visitor to the town had the privilege of seeing an enormous cock? It took him more than a year to prepare, but by December 2006, the councillor was sounding confident. "I would hope it will be up in the second half of January or early February.", he told the Dorking Advertiser. "It looks wonderful." By early 2007 Malby's cock was hard as steel in readiness for a public erection in February, as promised. The gleaming 10-foot cock was unveiled in front of a 100-strong crowd. Although initially controversial, many Dorking residents are quite proud of their giant cock, and can sometimes be heard boasting about it."

For more on the serious issue of the Dorking Cock see Chris's blog here and here (for the full photographic experience).

Well - that amusingly distracted me from Excel for a few minutes.....