Thursday, 29 January 2009

Gaza will fuel UK extremism says minister

A couple of weeks back I published a post challenging Iain Dale's blind defence of Israeli actions in Gaza. I got a comment from the blogfather himself (Bwahaha my ego-boosting plan worked!) just acknowledging that there are two sides.

Because of this, I was trying to think of an argument against the Israeli actions that would convince a Tory (i.e. a selfish argument). So, I put in the comments at the time that they would make me in the UK less safe. It now seems that the counter-terrorism minister Lord West agrees with me.

Obviously this is all obvious stuff as it was when Tony Blair was smarmily denying any kind link between Iraq and any greater risk at home but it's unusual for a minister to say it out loud. Although Lord West does have form for truth-telling....

Tuesday, 27 January 2009

Is it just me that finds the name Lord Snape amusing?

Everytime I hear about the 4 Lords in cash for amendments, I find the mention of Lord Snape raises a smile.

I bet he gets on like a house on fire with Lord Mandelson of Voldermort.

Thursday, 22 January 2009

Latest political compass - UKIP voters agree with me?

Well, I thought I'd take the political survey 2005 that all the cool cats seems to be doing.

My results are here assuming they are persistent.

Apparently, on crime and punishment, Europe, and other transnational issues including immigration and international law, 90% of the population are to the right of me, worryingly (or maybe not depending on your viewpoint) 76% of LibDems are also to the right of me (compared with 99% of Tories and 83% of Labour).

On public and private involvement in the economy, international trade, redistributive taxation and Iraq, a reassuring 52% of LibDems agree with me (however 55% of Labour do and 43% of Tories).

For the first axis, Green voters have views most like mine and on the second, it's UKIP voters! Shurely shome mistake?

Friday, 16 January 2009

Hectoring salesmen and Virgin Wines

Some guy from an Indian call centre cold-called me and tried to sell me mobile broadband (special New Year offer). I always try and be polite and not waste their time, so after his quick initial spiel I started with the "thank you very much, but I'm not interested" but he kept interjecting with

"Do you not think this is a good deal Sir?"


"Why would you not take this good deal Sir?"

When I eventually put the phone down, I was annoyed with this hectoring tone but then I got an email from Virgin Wine...

Before Christmas, I had used a discount token a cousin had sent me to buy a nice case of wine for my Parents (who were hosting Christmas) from the younger generation.

When I had ordered using this token, the website had (somewhat sneakily) signed me up to a scheme called Virgin WineBank (I was was only told this in the order confirmation email).
This meant that they would take £20 a month from my credit card whether I liked it all not and then I could spent the accumulated balance on all or part of some specially-selected cases (ie. not on just anything on their site).

Needless to say there was no obviously way to cancel my membership but after scouring the website T&Cs, I saw that there was a clause saying that I could cancel at anytime and they would refund any money taken.

So, I wait untill after Christmas to email them to cancel. First I get an long automated email persuading me to stay and asking me to confirm and for my reasons. I reply with a polite email explained that I don't like to be tied in to things and I objected to the way I was signed up. The email I got back (supposedly from the MD) started:

"Dear xxxxxx

What have we done wrong?

I offered to pay you WineInterest on the money you spend with us. And I promised to refund you for any wines you don't enjoy. But you've still decided to cancel your WineBank membership. Why?"

Is that a hectoring email or what? Or am I just over-sensitive. I suppose it could be read in several ways but it took me aback. Maybe it's because I just had that phone call?

To be fair it then went on to say:

"If we have upset, or disappointed, you in any way, please accept my sincere apologies. We always try to make sure our customers are 100% happy with our wines and our service. But we're only human, and sometimes we mess up.

If we have done something wrong, please let me put it right. Drop me a line at and I promise I'll sort it out.

In the meantime, your WineBank membership has been cancelled and £xx.xx has been refunded on to your card. No further WineBank payments will be taken from you."

Now I've written it down, it maybe doesn't seem so bad, but I had a strong reaction at the time!

Will Dale make a semi-U-turn on Israel like he did on Sarah Palin?

During the US election campaign, Conservative blogger Iain Dale spent a long time with his head in sand over issues of Sarah Palin's competence and suitability. He posted endless ludicrous defences of her despite overwhelming evidence of her lunacy in the way that only blind partisans can.

Eventually the reality-rhetoric gap (TM LibCync 2008, oh I've just googled the phrase and see that I'm not in any way original) got too much and he eventually admitted that she hadn't been a good choice (and went for Obama).

On Israel, Dale has again been blindly pushing Israel's line in spite of the damning evidence that might possible suggest that the situation is oh so slightly more nuanced (blinkered partisans don't do nuance it seems). Norfolk Blogger elequently describes Israels latest attrocities here so I won't repeat them but I do wonder how Dale will respond to Israel latest moves. Or maybe he'll just conveniently ignore them?

Given that this situation is a lot more two-sided than the Sarah Palin question, I wonder if a semi-U-turn can be expected from Dale or even an acknowledgement that there is another side?

Friday, 9 January 2009

Praying for Jonathan Aitken

Much to the disgust of some members of my extended family, I didn't go to church on Christmas day preferring to spend the time sleeping more and having a leisurely breakfast!
My wife, however, did go but was fuming when she got back.

Apparently, it was a good service and sermon up until the point the minister asked the congregation to pray for Jonathan Aitken!

Now I wish I had been there to see this for myself (lazy me!). Accordingly I can't produce any accurate quotes but according the the wife, the minister eulogised Aitken as some kind of later-day saint.

He had had a really hard time as when he found out he was might go to prison he got a bit ill and also the poor diddums had to, of course, go to prison.
All together now, aaahhhh.

I asked if there was any mention of him being a sinner that repenteth (being a pseudo-Christian I suppose I would have to accept this for a valid reason for forgiveness and maybe prayers) but apparently not.
It was just that he was a good man. Hmmm.

The wife said she thought he was big in Alpha -that brain-washing evangelical Christian course.
(That may sound a bit harsh about Alpha but I know a couple of people who have done it and I watched all of the programmes on Alpha ITV did narrated by David Frost which was forced to be moved late at night after OFCOM ruled that it was pure propaganda!)

A quick google turned up this Guardian article from 2004 which includes:

From the pulpit, the minister says, "Let us pray for Jonathan Aitken, for his continued written and spoken mission ... "

So, it's clearly nothing new!

Doubling worrying that my wife's Christmas experience was in the Church of Scotland (not CofE) who are usually much more sensible about these things...

Thursday, 8 January 2009

Comparing Meerkats

Duncan Borrowman's post reminds that I meant to check whether there was a Compare the Meerkat site to back up the recent TV advertising campaign. Well, I'm very impressed with what's there. It's obviously been thought through.

Sadly, I have to admit I've now become a fan of the Chief Meerkat on facebook but even I draw the line at follwing him on Twitter...

Wednesday, 7 January 2009

Clegg talks sense on Gaza

I'm pleased to see that Nick Clegg is talking sense about the Gaza situation.

For some reason the establishment parties are constrained in some way that I don't quite understand from being rational about this (see Israel's own useful idiot Iain Dale).

Again I think this is something where there is a disconnect between the "establishment wisdom" and what your average person sees. There are many examples of this, in my opinion, some of which I have banged on about here where no one seems to be saying what seems obvious. These are precisely the issues we should be getting vocal on. Also, the added side-effect is that we're move likely to be reported as we're the only party saying them.

Keep it up Nick.

Monday, 5 January 2009

Spinning the War on Sex

Another excellent article from the Register on this government's dubious approach to law making:

1. Arrive at a Daily Mail conclusion.
2. Fabricate evidence to fit

Of course when they get independent experts to research the evidence they just ignore it. (I thought of linking to the Jacqui Smith Press Release...I mean Daily Mail article but then I thought why give them the clicks...

Saturday, 3 January 2009

New Doctor - Thumbs up!


My heart sank when they said he was the youngest ever Doctor. Oh no, the BBC have nobbled Moffat we thought!

Then it was revealed, Matt Smith. Sorry for having doubted you Mr Moffat. This, IMHO, is a good choice. I loved Party Animals (and it was a absolute travesty the way the BBC didn't advertise it all and then didn't renew it...if I ran the BBC I tell you...) and he was good in it.

Also, I think announcing it with an interview with the actor in the Confidential was a good move as it allowed the audience to get to know him and defuses a lot of the traditional fan whinges before they get going. The Confidential was still a bit up itself what with Russell T Davis and his cohorts (I can't wait for him to go so I can watch these with a bit less cringing) but I am now hopeful for the future of the whoniverse.