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Eddie Mair | 19:37 UK time, Tuesday, 4 November 2008

This is the place where PM listeners can start serious conversations about topics of THEIR choosing. There are previous Furrowed Brows under Categories on the right hand side. Just click under this message on Comment if there's something you want to say about something serious.

Comments

  • 1. At 8:31pm on 04 Nov 2008, kjlkjhkjh wrote:

    Probably already thought of but if/should Obama win and he is surrounded by celebrating supporters the BBC could have a voice over on the television broadcast of celebration from King's 'I have a dream speech

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  • 2. At 9:16pm on 04 Nov 2008, JustDek wrote:

    Does anyone else hope that once Obama is elected (hopefully) we will see a change in US oversees policy away from confrontation to negotiation based on mutual respect.

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  • 3. At 9:41pm on 04 Nov 2008, RxKaren wrote:

    I'm not sure whether this has been covered elsewhere but post-Manuel-gate was it sensible to have broadcast Clarkson's comments on Sunday and repeat them tomorrow night? Last Wednesday it was two years to the day that Tania Nicol went missing. I knew her when she was much younger. My workmate knew Anneli very well.

    But the strange thing is that I'm not offended by Clarkson. I took his comment as being a ridicule of a stereotype of lorry drivers and not an insult to the victims of Steve Wright. In fact, I never even linked the comment to the Ipswich murders when it was made. He has a bombastic, over the top style but I was able to accept the comment as being "just Clarkson." I wasn't able to accept JRs or RBs behaviour as being "just them," though. I never thought that they should be sacked in the same way that I think it is an excessive sanction for JC and the Top Gear production team.

    Is this double standards or different situations meriting a different response? What does anyone else think?

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  • 4. At 10:28pm on 04 Nov 2008, phillinskeg wrote:

    JC did not make the mistake of singling out an individual for contempt, satire, lampooning, whatever. While he may (and quite often does) offend someone he did not on this occasion single out one individual to offend. The offence only occurs when the listener makes a connection themselves.

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  • 5. At 10:53pm on 04 Nov 2008, ingeniousCliff wrote:

    The BBC commemt about JC 'making ridiculous an unfair urban myth' made me cringe.
    What a bloody fool he/she was whoever said that.
    It was a distasteful comment by a second rate brain. Just tell the truth and reduce the licence fee.

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  • 6. At 00:39am on 05 Nov 2008, Hampton67 wrote:

    From April the 1st 2009, Cheshire is being split into 2, Cheshire East and Cheshire West with Chester. Over 800 years of history has been erased by the stroke of a pen. Nobody I know here in Cheshire wants this, and we have already had one consequence, that of the rest of Cheshire West paying higher rates for Chester as they have their bins emptied weekly, while the rest of us have a fornightly collection. Unlike Manchester that is having a referendum on conjestion charges, we in Cheshire have just had it forced on us. Many services are under threat and many don't even know how they are going to be affected even though the split is happening in less than 6 months.

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  • 7. At 01:09am on 05 Nov 2008, Will Scarlet wrote:

    I would like to express my disgust at the BBC series Coming of Age. I cannot understand how Ross can be suspended, yet this trash be permitted to be aired.

    This program is from start to finish offensive, and the entire series is based on a premise of being offensive and setting an appalling example to teenagers.

    There seems to me to be no justification for broadcasting this on a publicly funded network

    I cannot understand how this is considered to be suitable for broadcast by the BBC. I am a relatively young viewer, and do not think it is appropriate material for the BBC to be broadcasting

    It typifies disrupted classes and encourages teenagers to believe that being promiscuous on a daily basis is what all the kids are doing.

    Very disappointing, and a terrible example to set to children. Young children will watch this and emulate it in classrooms.

    I believe that it breaches broadcasting standards on taste and decency and material like this should not be shown.

    Just some of the inappropriate material:

    "sex is messy and fun like throwing mud at fat people"

    "sex every day dont make you a slag"

    "theres an easy wasy to make a relationship last, just bend over once a week and take it up the arse"

    "you make historic market town of Abingdon look so beautiful, even though it is @#!$ dump"

    "we are going to break into college" - response: "cool"

    also featured a teacher give a middle finger gesture to a pupil misbehaving in class

    shows a teenage girl asking a parent whether her boyfriend could stay over the night. The mum says yes, and is delighted its going to be for sex, and that the girl is going to be a "proper lady" and then proceeds to discuss the parents sex life and how they recently had anal sex and almost led to rectal prolapse with the daughter

    how many parents would think this is a suitable or realistic conversation?

    you then see one boy encourage another to break into college, saying he is a "pussy boy" for not wanting to break into the college, and they break into the college by smashing a window

    they then joke about setting fire to the college building, which gets a laugh from the audience, then talk about doing graffiti on the wall, then there is encouragement to drink, take drugs, and encourage a cocktail of drugs "for a wild manbeasts" and "wild ladybeasts"

    they take a drink and two take the drugs and smash glasses against the wall of the classroom

    You then cut back to the virgin teenagers having sex for the first time, and the mother is wanting to be in the room at the same time they have sex, before they send the mother out.

    the mother then comes back in again to provide a soundtrack, with the father.

    Then back to the school at night, and the boys on drugs hit each other and feel no pain

    at the end of the show another child makes a joke of playing with fire and sets light to a teenagers bedroom by mistake, and seems more keen to spray the other teenagers with the water from an extinguisher than to put the fire out.

    At the end of the show you see one under 18 girl give an under 18 boy an explicit magazine, where all the photos have had her head stuck on them.

    you then see a teacher call a male pupil who had misbehaved a little bitch.

    All in all, something which is depressing, offensive, and I very much hope is taken off air

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  • 8. At 04:38am on 05 Nov 2008, J_O_E_L_-_C wrote:

    Sorry about this but the other mods are asleep or overwhelmed!

    Yippee for BHO!

    Just waiting for the speeches, then its beddy-bo-bos.

    Cheers,

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  • 9. At 06:06am on 05 Nov 2008, The Stainless Steel Cat wrote:

    Blimey, who knew Obama was already responsible for all of the above!

    This is a good result...

    ...in that a marginally less scary person will be president. To be honest, I don't think it'll make a huge amount of difference.

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  • 10. At 06:27am on 05 Nov 2008, eddiemair wrote:

    SSC there is a new Obama thread if you want to dip your toe in the water...

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  • 11. At 07:01am on 05 Nov 2008, The Stainless Steel Cat wrote:

    Ah, there's personal service for you...

    Have you been to bed yet Eddie? We don't want you falling asleep during the 5:30 headlines.

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  • 12. At 07:51am on 05 Nov 2008, fletcherhay wrote:

    Great Obama has won.

    I hope one thing the British electoral system could take from this is early voting.

    Why cant our polling stations open every night throughout the week plus staying open all day on Thursdays.

    I am sure this will increase voter awareness and encourage those who do not vote to have a go. It would also give time for political parties to chivvy people to vote.

    I have been often amazed at those who do not vote because they did not have the time on the day or just forget
    Ian

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  • 13. At 08:40am on 05 Nov 2008, needsanewnickname wrote:

    Interesting how quickly the US votes were counted. Do they do it electronically?

    And how fail-safe is this?

    Hanging chads spring to mind...










    No, not chavs, silly

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  • 14. At 09:14am on 05 Nov 2008, Fearless Fred wrote:

    Fletcherhay (12) I agree. Also, why have the elections on a thursday at all? It's purely a convention that they're held then. Why not have the voting over a weekend? People will have much more chance to vote if it were outside the typical five day week. Plus, having it over two days may make it less likely for people to miss out on voting, due to time constraints.

    Frances O (13) I'm afraid the votes haven't been counted quickly! If you look closely at each states' results you'll see it quoted as something like "2500 of 15000 precints tallied" and "the state is predicted to go fo candidate X". Typically the true results aren't known for a while yet. However, as with the UK system, a lot of the voting districts can be fairly well predicted on what the voting split will be, so it allows for a reasonable forecast to be made, which then becomes the accepted wisdom. Of course, it can sometimes get it wrong, such as the "fun" in Flirida in the 2000 contest...

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  • 15. At 11:33am on 05 Nov 2008, fletcherhay wrote:

    Thanks for your comment fearless Fred.
    I only chose Thursdays as i know how bound up in tradition we are in this country and also the need for workers at the polling stations.
    The point is we need a way of extending the voting system in Britain.
    Postal voting was a farce.
    Compulsory voting will probably lead to massive outcry from those who believe it will infringe their right not to take part in our democracy that many fought to create so I thought maybe this was a less intrusive.

    On postal voting by the way apart from those abroad it should be stopped. As an alternative couldn't volunteers duly checked beforehand go and collect the votes of those who genuinly cannot get to polling stations.

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  • 16. At 12:37pm on 05 Nov 2008, Chris Ghoti wrote:

    fletcherhay @ 15, you say 'Postal voting was a farce.' I would go further and say that it was an open invitation to fraud and illegality.

    Nobody even seems able to say how many postal votes were sent out last time: I have seen four million, five million and six million given as the number, each in an authoritative way. No check was made, as far as I could ever tell, to establish who cast those votes or what entitlement they had to do so.

    My father was a polio victim and had impaired mobility, so when he lived in a village without a polling station he did need to vote by post. In the Bad Old Days he was required to produce evidence of his identity when he made the application. For the past two elections, he was not obliged to apply, and his postal vote was sent to his address without warning, in an envelope that made it clear what was inside it. As he said, 'I had no idea I should expect it, so anyone could have seen what it was, stolen it and voted on my behalf without my having any idea what had happened or knowing that I needed to correct the mistake.'

    I understand that quite a few people did turn up at polling stations only to be told that they had already voted using a postal vote they had not applied for nor ever even seen. This information doesn't surprise me in the least!

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  • 17. At 12:47pm on 05 Nov 2008, needsanewnickname wrote:

    FF, I hadn't realised that, so ta for the info.

    I've heard some dire stories similar to those, Chris.

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  • 18. At 3:24pm on 05 Nov 2008, justfloating wrote:

    (7) Chilled1 - Speechless. Without a TV I only get to see programs "recommended" by others online. I am so please when people like you help me realise that the 12 years without a TV has been well worth it.

    Tell you a secret; I've met 3 UK teenages that have never sat down in front of a TV in their life. Absolutely brilliant kids.

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  • 19. At 3:29pm on 05 Nov 2008, Will Scarlet wrote:

    It was wonderful to watch Barack Obama win the election last night. I was happy to stay up to see his vote overtip the 270 mark, to see McCain's very gracious concession, and Obama's inspirational first speech as President Elect.

    As a white UK citizen and with a political leaning towards Cameron's conservatives, I am overjoyed to see Obama win.

    I was pleased to see Tony Blair win in the same way, back in 1997. There are times when you need the left to be in power, as there are sacred cows that the right cant touch.

    Barack Obama seems a very similar figure to Tony Blair, in that he has that messianic appeal, convincing enough people that he is a unifier, that he will bring change to sweep into power. His "yes we can" mantra of empowerment spoke to me deep inside as if he were the reincarnation of Martin Luther King. As soon as I saw him speak over a year ago, I had no doubt that he would be the next President, well before he won the nomination. He was so clearly a charismatic figure that any opponent would find almost impossible to beat.

    Will I agree with everything he does? Probably not. Do I think that America and the world needed to see him elected right now? Definitely.

    I will be fascinated to see how he creates his administration, and to see what he does with the opportunity that is now presented to him.

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  • 20. At 4:11pm on 05 Nov 2008, Will Scarlet wrote:

    justfloating:

    Here is the iplayer link to the most recent episode of "the Coming of Age" programme.

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b00fcv14/Coming_of_Age_Pussy_Boy/

    I would welcome other people watching and commenting up it.

    I love most of the comedy output of the BBC, e.g. Have I Got News for You, and Mock the Week, and am fully behind the BBC and its license fee, and think the BBC makes some of the best programmes in the world. BBC Three has some great content, e.g. one off dramas like Being Human that has been commissioned to become a series, and I am looking forward to watching it next year....

    .....but material like "Coming of Age" just doesn’t belong on TV in my view, and I can’t see any justification for it being on the BBC.

    It should be flushed away as soon as we are able....

    I am in horror of a diet of this being fed to teenagers over the next ten years, as this will help to form their opinion of what is and what is not acceptable, either as comedy, or as "cool" behaviour in a classroom.

    I don’t think the BBC should be trying to take a leading role in the decline and fall of British society....which is all that dross like this can achieve.

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  • 21. At 4:49pm on 05 Nov 2008, Triffid100 wrote:

    Surely the BBC think following worthy of comment ?

    http://www.order-order.com/2008/11/guys-arrested-searched-and-ticketed.html

    Jack Straw's idea of rights is frankly shocking with so many morals and laws broken with this stop and search ... and not a mention on the BBC.

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  • 22. At 5:07pm on 05 Nov 2008, Triffid100 wrote:

    Come on BBC - the Blogger blears attacked in your article http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk_politics/7711562.stm

    was arrested today for walking in Parliament square ! Surely, you can see a public interest here ?!?!

    We know you love Labour but this is ridiculous !

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  • 23. At 5:26pm on 05 Nov 2008, ingeniousCliff wrote:

    Re 20.
    I had a look. Oh God...very poor quality. Just 'gutter shock gags' to keep the Chav Tribe giggling and gurgling over their lager and Asda Pizza.
    The BBC obviously have chosen this crap for a new target audience. BUT.....
    here is an opportunity for some good writers to send in some scripts. They must be desperate for some good new material.

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  • 24. At 7:45pm on 05 Nov 2008, Chris Ghoti wrote:

    Triffid 100 @ 22, walking in Parliament Square is clearly illegal, like driving a car along the Embankment: both are offences for which people have been arrested under the current regime.

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  • 25. At 10:42pm on 05 Nov 2008, mittfh wrote:

    "The most popular blogs are right-wing, ranging from the considered Tory views of Iain Dale, to the vicious nihilism of Guido Fawkes," she said.

    Err...I thought Guido Fawkes wasn't around any more...
    If she was referring to someone using the name as a pseudonym, perhaps she should have made it more obvious...

    Anyway, seeing as it is November 5th, someone's posted an interesting documentary screened on "The Other Side" a couple of years back on a well-known video sharing website: "The Gunpowder Plot: Exploding the Legend."

    As well as discussing the plot itself, the 1605 parliament building is reconstructed on a remote Scottish military base, filled with 36 barrels of gunpowder, then electronically ignited from 1/2 mile away.

    v=eFytcsA9mU8

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  • 26. At 07:28am on 06 Nov 2008, DI_Wyman wrote:

    With the recent dismissal of General Toshio Tamogami from the Japanese Self Defence Force for his comments in an essay as to Japan not being an aggressor in WWII, does anyone else think that deep down they are still in denial?

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  • 27. At 11:08am on 06 Nov 2008, Will Scarlet wrote:

    DI Wyman, I dont think the world will ever forget what the Japanese did, however much they equivocate

    The human biological warfare experimentation, forced labour. cannibalism, and sex slavery were particularly horrific.

    wikipedia as ever provides a useful introduction to the subject

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Japanese_war_crimes

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  • 28. At 11:25am on 06 Nov 2008, justfloating wrote:

    Today we have a BBC report of ID cards for airport workers and the use of fingerprints.

    I bought tablet PC with a fingerprint security access device. All worked wonderfully until I did some physical work.

    Firstly I got glue on my finger. A black sealant. It took a week to remove. It was based on super glue. The finger reader was useless.

    I worked for a week on a building site lifting stone and brick. The reader was useless.

    Last time I went to the site I asked to check the fingers of the skilled workers. Their fingerprints were worn away.

    The reader does not work if the fingers are hydrated. Not wet, but after being in a wet environment.

    Has anyone really used real peoples fingerprints in anger for a security system? Or will it only work for nerdy IT people and politicians that have no real life.

    When you go to these ID centres will you be "rejected" if you have real life hands. Are we going to have a split society that can, and can not, get ID cards? Or are they going to just accept anything they get. Even if they are covered in sealant? Seems like another case of a system that protects the criminal minded. Technology is NEVER the answer to security.

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  • 29. At 11:27am on 06 Nov 2008, Big Sister wrote:

    re Japan and WW2:

    I think we do have to accept the huge cultural differences that existed between the Japanese and Western nations at that time, not least of which was the all-powerful God-Emperor. Having taught Japanese students, my impression is that, while there are still cultural differences such as the many social inhibitions within Japan nowadays, it is essentially very changed today from then.

    As a child, there were still many stories being told in our house about Japanese atrocities as one of my uncles died, a prisoner of war, in Burma. As well as my personal experience of younger generation Japanese, I found insights, such as that offered in 'Merry Christmas Mr. Lawrence' and recent documentaries about wartime Japan, helpful in understanding how that nation could behave as it did then and hopeful that it will never be repeated.

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  • 30. At 2:37pm on 06 Nov 2008, The Stainless Steel Cat wrote:

    Another 1.5% cut in interest rates. This is really hitting savers like me. I've already seen a major drop in the interest I can expect from my ISA and this is another blow.

    Isn't the whole economic crash down to people over-extending themselves and getting into debt? Shouldn't the government be rewarding people who save their money and only spend what they can afford?

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  • 31. At 2:53pm on 06 Nov 2008, Chris Ghoti wrote:

    SSC @ 30, Hear hear!

    Having been brought up to think debt shameful rather than a norm, with no credit card and no borrowing as part of my life apart from a mortgage (and one that was a smaller part of the price of the property than has apparently become a norm, too: we saved up what used in those strange lost days to be called 'a deposit', how old-fashioned of us!) I do find the way that these days gamblers are rewarded and the provident penalised strange, to say the least.

    When it comes down to the life-savings of the elderly being taken from them, along with their houses, as a matter of course, I find it really distressing.

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  • 32. At 5:56pm on 08 Nov 2008, U11204129 wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 33. At 10:50pm on 08 Nov 2008, U11204129 wrote:

    Whilst they are considering 32, do you think they may finally come to a decision about my post 246 on The Beach of 3rd Oct and my post 6 on The Beach of 10th Oct?

    I have mentioned their tardiness on this blog wrt these two posts a couple of times before and did send them an email about them on 3rd Nov (in reply to their removing a more recent post of mine, a slightly edited version of which is now on a blog thread hereabouts)

    No reply.

    Evidently not a discourtesy for they are Moderate in all they do.

    The current one, 32 is easy enough to deal with. It's a parable (true story) about colonialism and the similar positions France and Briton occupy.

    If judging the two Beach ones is beyond them, then I'm worried about them. Cos they make a couple of very proper observations about......other posts on the Beach. Properly and politely.
    They WERE posted a month ago!

    Is this a record for their being dilatory?

    Immoderately late, aren't they?

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  • 34. At 10:55pm on 08 Nov 2008, Sid wrote:

    Regrettably, the mods never reply to our replies.


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  • 35. At 3:57pm on 09 Nov 2008, U11204129 wrote:


    Ian sat opposite the railway station in Marseilles.

    Ian was in one of those French cafes that promise the sort of Gallic mystique that transcends the Italian Gaggia machines for the frothy coffee, (as it was before today's skinny-latte-to-go talk), by remaining uniquely French - in the way the barman moves, in the way the cafe empty remains pregnant with the possibility of its rooms filling with drinkers of red wine with garlic and Galoise breath or a few hours earlier of them eating the fixed price dinner - omelette or beef steak and mash, a creme caramel and melon or ham to begin, all conducted in the strange blue electronic light of the neon decor behind the bar. At lunch time, a restaurant like one's mother's kitchen, everyone in their place and woe betide interlopers. Late in the evening, the relaxed intense atmosphere of the French deciding whether to take a cognac or retreat homeward with a small black coffee for the necessary energy. The cafe day punctuated by people on their way to work, taking a coffee and a croissant or a chocolate-bread, which in those days was four inches of a long loaf and a piece of Nestles. (You dunk. How else to eat it.) Or by vaguely relentless, quietly desperate, suited solitary figures drinking a glass and solemnly peeling the 100 broken shell pieces of a boiled egg taken from the bowl of perhaps three dozen on the counter.


    There were only two women left at widely separated tables. They were there strictly for the Pernod that the barman probably gave them. They were old enough to be his aunts. They weren't. They weren't his customers either. Or his friends. Just people whom it was seemly to offer Pernods to, until they had had enough and slipped into the night, with the same sense of quiet that had let them sit noiselessly in the cafe. The quiet, not of determination or of introspection or of depression but simply of existing without frills or conceits. Not expecting to be spoken to, not recording that one is seen by others as always in a bar-cafe, just being, without self reflection.
    Not even the Pernod affecting their course through time, as they added a little water and drank, the Pernod dreamy cloudy white, the drinkers earthly grey, with a flash of blue in a scarf or red in a blouse, working drinkers, the job to drink. Which they do dispassionately, unconcernedly, as men throwing bundles of newspapers onto pavements outside corner shops at six in the morning but with the quietness of men returning from a night spent fishing.

    It was not in the script when the barman said they were closing. But then a crowd arrived and sat at tables behind Ian. Ian on the pavement, the group a couple of foot above and behind him sitting at tables on the apron that, when the sliding doors of the cafe were shut and locked, all tables and chairs inside, provided a curved step that ran right round the street corner bar frontage. At one end there were stone steps up from the pavement cutting through the curved apron-step to a little front door where the patron or barman came and went when the night had closed their bar.
    It was evidently still drinking time but the women had gone .They could not have been stopped, or called back. 'Hey, there's more drinking to be done!' They were going home like pigeons to their lofts. That was what they did when the barman smiled at them in that 'It's over for tonight. The evening has ended' way. Then they would slip away, their drinking done. For them to return would be for two cricketers to walk back to the middle, stumps already drawn for the day.
    Whenever the night began earlier, without surprise, when the late drinkers were in place early, then they would stay a little longer. But when the barman gave them that smile, especially for them, as customers drank on, they went home, without saying goodbye to the barman or to each other. Perhaps they did know each other long before - in tragically unhappy young adulthood when whatever caused them to refuel nightly on Pernod was creating its havoc in them. Or from deprived childhood through to young adulthood, when they briefly thought life would reward their hopes and their joyful anticipations, and let them forget their sad pasts - their shared childhood catastrophes. Now in Pernod forgetfulness and implausible alertness they went about their drinking like strangers sitting a few tables apart waiting for different trains in the cafe in the station opposite.

    Ian's train was at 00.50. It was five to midnight.

    The crowd of men behind him thinned out until there were two or three left.

    Between them they had made the cafe look alive enough for two couples, probably on their way home from a film, and drinks elsewhere, to sit at tables on the apron (it was just a little too chilly to venture to the tables in front of Ian and open to the wind.)

    The couples began to realise the men were seeming less than happy in their volubility.

    They looked at Ian. He was obviously a foreigner. Almost certainly English, though perhaps German. They wanted to protect their Frenchness from the effect they feared the men might have on him.

    One of the men began to talk to Ian very insistently. Then both. Ian turned, and apologised. Ian said his French was not that good. They spoke too fast. He was English.

    The couples intervened.

    Ignore them, Ian was told. They are drunk, it was whispered. He was grateful but dissatisfied. They had talked to him. How they had spoken didn't seem drunken. Perhaps their manner would change and they would erupt abruptly.
    Meanwhile, he repeated his apologia to them.

    For the first time he understood something they had said.

    You are French.

    Me French?

    He wanted to tell them how pleased that made him feel - that anyone could think him French after they'd heard him speak.

    No, no! I am English.

    The men spoke with heavy accents. One said again

    You are French. The pronunciation harsh.

    No, English!

    OK. What then are you doing here? A nasal-throat rasp.

    Me, I'm waiting for a train. There's my suitcase.

    Which train?

    The express train, overnight, (it was slower in those days) to Paris.

    There you are! You are going to Paris!. You ARE French. The voice with the rhythm of a cross cut saw.

    No

    OK, then. What are you going to Pairs for?

    Me, I'm getting the train to Caen from there. He was worried about his pronunciation.
    Caen, in Normandy, not Cannes on the Mediterranean. .

    I know Caen, all right? Heck, whoever would go to Pairs from Marseilles to go to Cannes, eh? His friend laughed.

    There you are. You are French. You are going to Cannes. That proves it again.

    No!

    Ian's French was failing him. He hoped 'conference' was a conference. He realised he was in a very serious conversation.

    A conference, there, he said (he hoped it was the same word), a conference on...

    There you are ! You are French! And then, after that, (he'd talked Ian down) what?

    Ian was sure he had them. Me, then I go back to England.

    London eh?

    No, Birmingham

    And to do what exactly, there?

    I'll be continuing my studies.

    Lecturer, eh

    I hope so.

    There you are, you ARE French. You're taking the train to Paris. You ARE French. Then you take the train to Caen. You ARE French! You're French. And then you return to England. To give lectures. You are French.

    What?

    Me, I am Algerian. Me, I too wait for a train. Not the big train to Paris. I am Algerian. I take the train to Commorse. The village to the north. I arrive there at two oclock in the morning. I am Algerian. I work there in the factory, assembling televisions until ten oclock in the morning. And then, I come back here. To sleep. Once a month I come to drink coffee in a cafe. And you? How often?
    I say to you again. I am Algerian. You are French.


    A conference in mathematical economics in Aix had brought Ian to Marseilles. Nothing remotely connected to sociological difference was to be found the 200 papers presented there.

    Closer was the Conference in Caen where the possibility that societies with ruling classes could become dictatorships was central to the concerns discussed there, in another 200 papers.

    But the men who had spoken in Arabic to tell Ian and the couples how it is, and then in rough French to Ian, alone, (because the couples had somehow given away the secret to the men that Ian was a gap in their French cultural hegemony), knew more than the 400 papers taken together.
    The men had taken the language of Renais's final-scene judgement told to the girl from Nevers, in a film they were never to see, that expressed an ethic irrelevant to them, and had made it beautiful. Will Goddard's beautiful Weekend revolutionaries ever take over the work benches in Commorse? The New Wave whether in Cahier times or in '68 or Obama's now, would have to be tidal for that.


    In Caen the language of instruction was English, in the main. One paper mid morning was presented in French. The rose between thorns, it was called, to ecstatic applause.

    The Algerians who had made the monitors for the closed circuit TV in the rebuilt Universite de Caen, were right. All there, were French.

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  • 36. At 4:01pm on 09 Nov 2008, U11204129 wrote:

    35 is 32 with the dialogue in English.

    That the dialogue was in French (my version - maybe that's why) was why it was removed, apparently.


    Still no word on posts 6 and 246 from The Beach of 10th and 3rd respectively, OCTOBER!!!

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  • 37. At 1:08pm on 10 Nov 2008, DI_Wyman wrote:

    If you really want an example of government today...the Queen of Spin and Ahh, Err and Umm is on BBC Parly at the moment putting her case(s) forward about Human Rights and the Home Office.

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  • 38. At 4:01pm on 10 Nov 2008, purpletandem wrote:

    We don't seem to have heard much about Haut de la Garenne recently, although I saw that two individual prosecutions were launched in October.

    Although in no way personally involved, I find the whole (alleged) thing deeply troubling. I hope that the police will continue to investigate, and that PM will continue to report.

    This is an attempt at a response to the revelations:

    BRING ME NO MORE

    Bring me no more to that deep dark place:
    Where the rank damp walls cry with tortured grief,
    Where faith is dead, martyred to its own dark thief,
    And the soul is no more, consumed without trace.
    And what is a body? – Look to the face.
    And where, where are the sad children, whose chief
    Hope was for love? A hope all too brief:
    Where is your honour, you land of disgrace?
    Imprisoned these years: ears have heard your cries;
    Eyes have seen your scars; war has been raised.
    You are not alone: shout loud at the skies;
    There are cracks in the night: not all are debased.
    But bring me no more to that deep dark place:
    Show me your honour, you land of disgrace.

    pt

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  • 39. At 7:22pm on 10 Nov 2008, U11204129 wrote:

    I've sent PM the photo described below.


    With the text (in effect) below. Sadly if PM does show photos, it's with very little description.

    So, I'm sorry, I really do apologise, but here it is:

    Dramatis Personae, (people of the play, I think) as they say in plays (i.e. who's in it).

    Well, there's me dad, Don.

    The woman is Queen Mary. Not the Queen Mother who died of gin poisoning a year or so ago, but George Vth's wife.

    It was taken in the Italian Gardens at Chiswick House, late 40's or early 50s. It was a Sunday. Don is in his demob suit.

    If you zoom in, I think it's clear (notwithstanding that it's a b and w photo scanned up in COLOUR mode (b and w ruined it), that then you'll see she's saying (as Don used to say she was) 'Who the hell do you think you are?'

    The park had been taken over from the Devonshires (Duke+Duchess (the present one, Deborah, was a Mitford. Her sister, Diana married Mosley, the British fascist )) It was in lieu of Death Duties (1929)

    They still want it back. Queen Mary was there on reconnoitre.

    Don, who was the council's Superintendent, is saying 'Come round to the Parks Office, seven o'clock sharp, on Monday morning, and I'll see what I can do about getting you a proper job, with the Council. A bit of gardening or pricking out suit you, ma'am?'

    He really did believe that class of person should take their turn for a generation or two. HE would gladly have given them medals for it and written poems in praise of them.
    The woman in the background in glasses was her Lady-in-Waiting

    I've been meaning to send it for some time. It's an extraordinary photo.
    I was brought up there. Now, sadly, I work in a huge open plan office. I had it on my desk for years. Used to tell people about it. Then it disappeared. Only got replaced after heartfelt pleas.

    Like the photo of my grandfather, looking like a Keystone cop. Except that one never did turn up. Some lucky descendant of someone from Kirton Close has that.

    Or like my mother's wedding ring. still not returned. (Nothing to do with Kirton Close I hasten to add)

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  • 40. At 08:56am on 21 Nov 2008, Sid wrote:

    "In a dramatic move intended to demonstrate his resolve and consistency, George Osborne is set to follow through on his summer consultation over introducing a fuel tax stabiliser, and will call for an increase in fuel duty.

    "As he said when launching the policy idea on 6th July: [This is] A common sense plan to help families, bring stability to the public finances and help the environment by making the price of carbon less volatile.

    "The plan stated: If a Fair Fuel Stabiliser had been introduced at the 2008 Budget, fuel would now be 5p per litre cheaper, shaving £3.50 off a tank of fuel for a Ford Mondeo.
    But if, instead of rising, oil prices had fallen below the $84 forecast in the Budget, then fuel duty would have risen. [Source: official Conservative Party news release.]

    "With the price of oil now at $54, a full $30 below the policy’s trigger level for increasing fuel duty, George Osborne will attempt to see off his critics who see him as inconsistent and failing to come up with credible policies that will stick. He will be urging Gordon Brown to introduce an immediate increase in fuel duty."

    And pigs might fly.

    But doesn't this show just how vacuous Osborne's policies are?

    [Thanks to LibDemVoice.org for the idea]

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  • 41. At 4:08pm on 05 Dec 2008, U13717586 wrote:

    So why aren't the banks fully nationalised by now?


    One answer is because of a legacy of the Blair years.

    If the talented identify themselves by being rich, and hence more commonly Tory than socialist, and if the talented should be running the country......


    ....then every government appointment and advancement is and was likely to fall into the lap of some Tory or another.

    This is true not just of Try left-overs like Chris Woodhead or of particular placements like that ex CBI chap who became a Minister, but of career placemen like (Blue Rinse) Adair Turner who is not only entrusted with Financial Services but also with saving the planet.


    Worse still, even the ardent New Labour professionals have been trained up in market expertise and little else.

    Does anyone at the government's disposal know how to run a socialist bank, how to run a banking system which is in public ownership?

    Well, of course, Mervyn King must be regretting that he didn't listen to the Marxists at Birmingham, the LSE and Cambridge. But others did, and we need them now.

    For now IS the time to take the whole financial sector into public ownership.

    It is a vast task. It requires not only the appointment of Boards, like those which ran the railways under, say Richard Marsh, or coal under Derek Ezra, say, but a whole new approach to
    1. business and industrial investment
    2. national pension allocation
    3. external exchange management
    4. provision for international development,

    and, I can reasonably say, etc, etc, etc!!!.


    Where can we find such expertise? Well, we have a number of ex - socialist countries in or close to Europe where socialist expertise can still be found - usually languishing, whilst the Vicars of Bray like Angela Merkel prosper. I think of Poland and of the old Czechoslovakia too, given that the expertise there has not been perverted by the appalling nationalism that Thatcher encouraged across Europe.

    Then again there is Italian, French, Spanish and Portuguese expertise, probably more readily available.

    But above all, in sheer local proximity, there is the massive experience of those from the old socialist local authorities and still, from the old industries in their public ownership days.


    It would be a tragedy if this golden opportunity to take back so much from individual selfishness that Thatcher stole from the public purse, were lost because we didn't have the people to run socialist banks and industries.

    We've seen where 'talented = extremely selfish' (Tory radical individualism) leads. It leads to chaos - as market practises always do.

    If we are to enter the new era of cooperative socialism fully, we must seek those who can not only criticise existing arrangements, one thinks for example of Will Huuon, but those who. unlike Hutton, like the idea of socialism returning here on England's green and pleasant land and are capable of running (organising and administering) socialist industries.

    The first step is clearly to appoint Boards of executives to run the banks and finance houses as socialist institutions.

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  • 42. At 12:29pm on 07 Dec 2008, jonnie wrote:

    Now as much as I like and admire Kate Silverton - I'm surprised she's in Who's Who.

    I see on the Who's who website there is a section to nominate people.

    Any thoughts?

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  • 43. At 5:49pm on 07 Dec 2008, U13717586 wrote:


    First you strip a social class of its work (by exporting production and living on the profit generated from conquest and capital)****

    Then you keep interest rates high to keep what jonnie foreigner is producing for you cheap for you.


    And that really helps wrt to Poland. You buy up their agricultural land. It's SO cheap. Meanwhile the most active and energetic workers, there, come here. To pick your fruit and fix your toilets.
    .

    Now it's true the class that used to pick your fruit and fix your latrines shouldn't have to do it any more. But why haven't they been told that greater leisure and opportunity is now theirs. But not at the Poles' expense.

    'Cos assuredly the time has come for the rich and idle to do their own dirty work.

    They haven't been told or prepared because......the account would inevitably make it clear who should be drawing the water and hewing the wood.

    They certainly don't believe it should be the Poles. Their own experience of such exploitation militates against such a blinkered outlook.

    So, in confusion, without a role and not allowed to enjoy their entitlement to more leisure on greater income, they turn in on themselves, irrationally.

    Think about the irrationalities we are subjecting them to. We refuse them enough to enjoy life on, but if they have a lot of children and take a little of what's due to each.......why,....... then a certain happiness is theirs.
    If they are overcrowded in their Council homes, so what? But if their children are fostered out to relatives, also in Council accommodation, the local authority will build an extension, there, to make room for them, but not if they stay with their families.

    That sort of encouragement of the characterisation of children as sources of revenue is evil and causes great harm. As we know.

    Where is there a serious attempt to generate a genuine culture of our wretched and dispossessed?

    Our schools want to teach them irrelevant poetry, irrelevant history, music, plays and novels. Our theatres? A joke. Our newspapers openly berate them in a way that makes Laingian binds look like mild teases.

    'Get jobs' There are none

    'Get off benefits' But some redistribution in their favour is no more than just.

    'Stop being yobs' But the cultural channels are clogged by views merely critical of them or by expositions in a culture irrelevant and alien to them.

    'Your men are useless, your women oppressed' That is the ruling class view and ideology that helps ensure this strata feels useless and angry with each other - themselvs. Groups, as well as indivudals, can self harm..

    So where do we start?

    By telling them who should be doing the jobs that for generations they have been condemned to do.

    It would be so liberating.

    'What then should we do?' they ask. The first step is to realise that you are entitled to better and to better things to do.

    Once people get back their sense of self worth, they stop turning their aggresssion inwards.

    When individuals escaped from the burden of manual work in traditional class society there was available to them the exquisite possibility of helping those they left behind. The Anuerin Bevans, the Ted Hills, the Jimmy Maxtons.

    There seems little sign of that this time round.

    Those who do escape, seem content with devising games for the middle classes to play or be entertained by - from blogging to fashion, sport and food fadisms. ********
    There seems no attempt to locate the virtues of this alienated stratum, as there was with the old working class.

    I'll start off the process. They are a stratum, a caste, that sees through the pretentions of other strata very easily. In a sense, their low opinions of themselves are deeply touching. For they see themselves, wrongly of course, as useless.
    Tell them, then, that their leisure is an entitlement they have the right to enjoy in comfort and that those whom they see as the idle rich and work shy chattering classes are exactly that, and that it is now their right to upgrade their seats and board the gravy train. The rich and idle are getting off here. .



    **** You doubt it? Try Kenya for both or Malaysia or capitalist China and so ooooon.


    ********Thus it is that the Beckhams etc make the escape of their whole stratum, in background, harder, becuase their escape is represented as dependent on special skills, thus supporting a capitalist ideology of individualism and 'ability'.

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  • 44. At 6:48pm on 07 Dec 2008, U13717586 wrote:

    I might add that, to make the sense of entrapment complete for this stratum, those professing 'help' are often from the classes that pretend they have a God given right, never to fall through the Glass Floor into proper jobs.

    Their 'skills' in 'helping' the wretched of the earth are what keeps their fingernails well manicured and free from grime, and the 'underclass' unaware of the deception being practiced on them.

    Thus it is, for example, that they, the 'underclass' practice a sort of 'client racism', protecting not their own interests, but those of their 'betters'.

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  • 45. At 00:18am on 08 Dec 2008, jonnie wrote:

    aka-pmLeader - jonnie foreigner indeed!

    Well gald to see you are utilising the correct thread for the correct purpose anyhoo ;-)

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  • 46. At 11:10am on 10 Dec 2008, justfloating wrote:

    Assisted suicide. Why can people profit from it? Is this not just a snuff video?

    Please do not make this a normality. My family took what life gave them and did their best. 1 Cancer, 1 motor neuron, 2 car crashes, 1 current diabetes with amputations. There are so many young people that can not face life that any advertising of this is just going to encourage them.

    If the thought of a few years in pain is too much to handle just think what looking forward to the whole of your adult life in pain means?

    Very selfish people.

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  • 47. At 12:49pm on 10 Dec 2008, retirementlooms wrote:

    Damian Green...Leaks...etc

    I think that the Frank Bough / Gordon Brown interview shown on the latest "Have I Got News For You" should be receiving much more air time.

    A young Gordon Brown is almost boasting about receiving all his information from leaks from Civil Servants.

    What hypocrasy?

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  • 48. At 1:56pm on 11 Dec 2008, emmauspaul wrote:

    I was shocked to hear Clifford Longley on last
    night's Moral Maze say that we are responsible
    to everyone else in society, and therefore must
    be prepared to suffer terribly for their benefit. Perhaps he is a member of Opus Dei who put a premium on suffering? I do think that each individual must have ultimate control of their own life
    and that Mr Cliffords View is proposing some
    kind of Orwellian future.

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  • 49. At 11:15am on 25 Dec 2008, U13717586 wrote:

    What a 12 month!

    What a 12 month.!

    How deep IS the crisis,
    'deep and.... (un)even'?

    As a rough guide:

    The crisis is as deep as the LEAST RISKY risks which now look irrational to take. (If 10 percent or more default chances look irrational at any price, it's a 90 percent crisis. If (down to) 1 percent risks look crazy at any price it's a 99 percent crisis. Etc. To date we seem to be in a more than 99 percent crisis. Foreign banks won't hold our currency even with one in a hundred default risk insurance)

    If the crisis is as deep as I think it will turn out to be (far closer to 100 percent than it is at present), ordinary fractional banks will fold in the New Year.

    Even wholly secured loan businesses can look bankrupt if the crisis turns out to be that deep. (And, as I say, I think it is)

    Whether, in our case now, huge amounts of real economy bad news are required fully to realise the crisis isn't yet clear yet.

    For, of course, these crisis can precipitate via pure financial effects, or more deeply, via changes purely in anticipation, in mood, in economic hope, in expectation.

    Those who pulled the plug on the sub prime American poor, knowing it's domino effects (ie the hard nosed financiers) still have more plugs to pull, notwithstanding that their Republican cronies are being run out of town on a rail.

    The deepest crisis will look more plausible if it comes with a President and Fed appearing to try to AVOID it from the start - and to be taking the right action

    Here, of course, Mervyn will fight it with the 2 percent he has to play with, but so slowly (again) that you wonder.........

    ..........as do every Marxist and socialist who have ever talked with him


    Personally I think he's found a way of and time for cutting rates that, via the exchange rate effects, makes matters worse, not better.


    Another way of measuring the crisis is to ask:

    What fall in asset values here, and demand for their output, is required to

    a. mess up the OPEC oil producers?

    (And the answer looks like 'Not much more than what we have already')

    b. mess the newly emergent China and India?

    And the qualitative answer to that is: falls so sharp that these countries must

    A. divert economic effort away from selling us stuff
    (Mandelson's continuous aim as Euro trade honcho and now)

    B. re-sell, at knock down prices, the UK and US assets thay have acquired (from trade surpluses) in order to repay their scheduled capital account loans

    AND THIS IS THE CRUX.

    It happened to the 'Asian Tigers'... and Japan.... and Germany.... 'n' all.....

    They capitalise up with Western technology and investment. The repayment schedules are absolutely rigid. They are denominated in real terms at historic prices. The short term trade surpluses with the West disappear, via economic crisis, and the overseas asset values crash.

    Western capitalism thus has enjoyed a costless flow of goods from former colonies, defeated powers etc.


    There is one other factor to put icing on the cake:

    It's how you pull the plug.

    The best way to secure the general collapse in confidence is via internal effects that hard nosed finance approves of.

    Pulling the plug on the (otherwise homeless) poor who have had the temerity to try to buy a home for themselves, is ideal.

    Now you see two things,

    i. Why the authorities 'solutions' look so odd (slow and tangential).

    ii. How unnecessary the crisis is. Never would a change of heart by so few have given so many so much relief.

    Both follow from how valuable the crisis is to Western capitalism.



    Lastly, the international interplay in our present mess:

    Western orientated banks representing Japanese, Indian and Chinese interests refused the West credit. They thought they were being offered 'Mission Impossible' - style self destruct assets in exchange.

    India and China will (and are) switch(ing) to much needed home infrastructure.

    In the face of Obama's up - coming fiscal give away, will the contractionists still try to put the squeeze on, at home and abroad?

    Well, yes. They have nowhere else to go, nothing else to do.

    Will the fiscal packages work?
    That depends entirely on the attitude of China. She could try to bring the West down (one can only hope).

    What is clear, is that, given the new fuzzy Western politics (New Labour and inter-party Washington) contractionists can be found in many important official public positions, in politics and public finance, as well as everywhere, and at the heart, of Western finance and industrial capital.


    There, the paint's dry.

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  • 50. At 7:07pm on 29 Dec 2008, defendeeCommonsense wrote:

    Why the inconsistency? As we enter the final year of this decade, it's time to break the inconsistency. And we can start by calling it "twenty-o-nine"!

    At the start of this decade, a BBC representative on "Feedback", in answer to a listener's question, said that the years of this decade should be pronounced "Two thousand and..." whatever, because years like 1905, 1809, etc, should be pronounced "Nineteen-five", "Eighteen-nine", and so on. Hence, to be consistent, 2009, etc, should be pronounced "twenty-nine" which sounds like 29. Thus "Two thousand and nine" was considered more appropriate.

    But in all that time since his comment, I have never heard anybody pronounce 1909, or any other first-decade year, as "Nineteen-nine", etc; almost always as "Nineteen-o-nine", and sometimes as "Nineteen hundred and nine", and so on.

    With the approach of the 2012 Olympics, the year is sometimes called "Twenty-twelve", and sometimes "Two thousand and twelve", similarly with other years in the coming decades; an inconsistency. 1066 is always called "Ten-sixty-six", so to be consistent, why not call 2066 "Twenty-sixty-six"?

    PM can now start the trend of consistency by calling 2009 "Twenty-o-nine", so that the bicentenary of Darwin's birth, which is bound to be discussed, can be called "Eighteen-o-nine to twenty-o-nine", to be consistent. It will also go consistently and naturally into 2010, 2011, etc. And you can be at the forefront of this revolution!

    I predict that, by the middle of the next decade, people will be calling 2015 "Twenty-fifteen"; and what's more, they will be referring back to this decade as "Twenty-nine" or whatever. You can beat them to it by starting with 2009.

    Be there first! (Well almost: I've always referred to years of this decade as "Twent-o-...")

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  • 51. At 4:44pm on 08 Jan 2009, Thejestersang wrote:

    purpletandem@38

    Thanks for that. Wonderful and still topical.

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  • 52. At 5:42pm on 09 Jan 2009, U13772369 wrote:

    Is this where we try to make each other laugh?

    Glenda Slarg said today:



    Joan Bakewell, don't y' just love her to death?


    When I was twenty she was telling me what to think on Late Night Line Up.

    When I was forty she was telling me what I should think of God and what God thinks of me.

    When I was forty five she was telling me how to do it, down and dirty, and whether marriage meant anything

    And all along she's been putting me right about up market feminism.

    Now she is telling me how to get (even) old(er) in the proper manner (comme il faux)

    Good on her. We all need a Big Sister to tell us what to think, to opine endlessly on our manners and mores (though we haven't heard from her on Israel despite it being a favourite theme of H. Pinter's).

    In combating age and ageism her opinion on a couple of things besides, is not quite crystal.

    One HRT. It does seem to reduce irascibility, but it also increases that sense of being right about everything. Should she take more or less.

    Two. No blokes left by 85 (Well, it's two gals for every boy). Should we share? Is adultery good training for old age?

    It SEEMS to have something to do with work. Those laying out cones on Motorways for a living seem to live longer than people of opinion sitting at computers.
    Which encourages Care Homes to see themselves as having too many old women.

    So they corral them into covered wagon circles of wheel chairs (and refuse them exercise so they atrophy, and leave 'em unfed too, and leave 'em anomic 'cos who cares that they worked in a factory for 40 years, they didn't write a history or a treatise on the Holocaust (if they had, they would be somewhere much posher) and their contribution to the war against Germany doesn't mean a damned thing to young nurses more concerned with their less than parfait attiudes to ex-colonial peoples). (Tell Joan)

    So whaddaya think, Joan?

    Is the real prob. the way good blokes die so young?

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  • 53. At 12:33pm on 11 Jan 2009, Charlie wrote:


    Personally, I'm hoping for Option 2

    http://www.boston.com/business/articles/2009/01/11/critical_choices_ahead/

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  • 54. At 09:54am on 12 Jan 2009, The Stainless Steel Cat wrote:

    Isn't it reassuring that our army chiefs have their priorities well organized?

    Several recruits are bullied to death at a training barracks - shoulder shrugs and lack of co-operation with the curtailed police investigation.

    A toff officer trainee uses a now disparaged but still very common racial nickname* - immediate inquiry and promises of disciplinary action.

    I wonder what would have happened if he'd also referred to "Taffy", Jock" or "Mick" friends...

    * I've given up trying to get elderly relatives to stop calling the local corner shops by that same name.

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  • 55. At 5:55pm on 23 Jan 2009, U13794892 wrote:

    Felt compelled to write to comment on what appears to be hypocrisy on the part of the BBC, in their refusal to air the DEC appeal for Gaza. The beeb were not alone (in the media) in consistently refering to any action on the part of the Palestinians during this long conflict, as 'terrorist', and in doing so have legitimised, by default, any Isreali response. Perhaps they are too ashamed to give a more convincing reason for not airing the appeal.

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  • 56. At 00:22am on 25 Jan 2009, U13795307 wrote:

    My biggest fear is that the theorists who want the end of government are on the way back. They believe in markets so deeply there shouldn't be states at all - and hence not one's espousing their own currencies. The bad banks and governments should fail and new financial institutions emerge. For them EVERYTHING government does is wrong. They used to be round Thatcher like wasps round rotten pears. The US and UK should crash, for them. Far fetched? The privatisation of everything sounded far fetched in 1978. They're back and wil hide behind Cameron's coattails till he's in power and their time comes. Meanwhile they will happily wreck the pound, the dollar and the Euro. Joseph is right, SSRC. They are few and powerful. As privatisers were in '78.

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  • 57. At 4:35pm on 25 Jan 2009, mittfh wrote:

    Ho hum...I see our resident Economics Correspondent (aka Chicken Licken) has returned...

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  • 58. At 9:34pm on 27 Jan 2009, U13801267 wrote:

    There is a recurrent problem in the theory of democracy that if 60 percent go one way and 40 per cent another, how do the 40 per cent even get their say, let alone their rights, far less even elements of their way? (Proportional representation doesn't solve it, it just shifts the problem to the legislature).
    One answer is an Opposition, of course.

    But the way modern politics is, the 40 percent may not be in the Opposition at all. They may instead be disaffected government supporters - a faction whom the Opposition doesn't agree with either.

    Today in a national newspaper I read that a 'mere' 40 percent of the population support nationalisation of the banks, all of them, lock stock and barrel.

    'Mere'? I was staggered. The way I read the papers, watch TV and listen to the radio, if support were proportional to coverage, I'd guess the policy had 5 percent support, if that.

    The report didn't say how many of the 60 per cent not supporting the policy just wanted to make an exception of one or more banks, how many thought just those with majority government shareholding should be nationalised, how many weren't sure about any such policy, how many didn't think they knew, nor how many thought the nationalisation of any bank wrong.

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  • 59. At 10:28pm on 27 Jan 2009, U13801267 wrote:

    I am interested in post war strategies.
    The distress caused by war, post war, is often seen by the other side as part of their war effort.

    In clear cases of well endowed and poorly endowed combatants, the poorly endowed, during the post war 'peace', can be left deliberately by their enemies to suffer. (Hostilities continued!)

    Those who do not oppose the war, who do not oppose the destruction it causes, may, odd though it seems, call, post war, for relief for those suffering the war's ill effects. They do so, even when their opposing the destruction itself would have avoided more suffering than their support for relief ever can.

    It is not always clear whether this raises questions of conscience, strategy or understanding.

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  • 60. At 10:53pm on 02 Feb 2009, U13811255 wrote:

    1. Sounds like the lads have got a case.

    If the company decided not to let Londoners work on those jobs, what would you think?

    Why are these guys forced to come to England to find work, of all things?

    Sounds like another market mess up.

    2. Markets are such BAD things, aren't they? They turn people and paintings into commodities. Just as the Dukes of Sutherland do. It's their thing.


    3. Isn't Erdogan the finest politician Europe has! Let's all hope he gets well soon.

    4. I still don't get the BBC's Gaza appeal position. Impartially, is it a humanitarian crisis, Mark? Imparially, would an appeal by DEC HELP delivery of aid, Mark?

    Impartially, wouldn't opposing the slaughter in the first place (it caused a humanitarian crisis) have been impartial, and right?

    (For those who didn't oppose the slaughter and think the Beeb should have Appealed: so it would have all been all right if only the BBC had let DEC appeal? That sounds to me like conscience salving.)

    5. Did you see Bragg on Footlights? I enjoyed the film that followed. The Pythons ruthlessly satirising the British in Africa! Great! I bet by now the British have givenback all their ill gotten land and mining gains in Africa, eh? This was no piece of cosy self congratulation. This was ruthless.
    I should think that even now the modern Footlights are satirising Crusaders in the same way.
    'We're all Footlights, not hand-lights, you naughty Saracen!'
    What talent, what ability! Do you remember the way they savaged Christianity (when church attendance was at an all time low) and that tall one who went on to satirise hoteliers? Fearless.

    1 to 4, serious.
    5, (:-)

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  • 61. At 4:34pm on 06 Feb 2009, bankertothenation wrote:

    Curious - nothing on the furrowed brow since Nov 08 - has nothing serious happened since then?

    How can the government make a fair decision about bankers bonuses? Roughly 50% of the bonus payment goes to the treasury (40% tax + ERNI) so if you own half the bank and all of the treasury allowing the bonuses is a painless decision.

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  • 62. At 5:42pm on 12 Feb 2009, alanparker wrote:

    Dutch MP to be sent home:
    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk_politics/7885918.stm

    Capitulating to bullying and threats might be on our dhimmi UK government’s agenda, but not mine.

    Isn’t the person who brought this about, Lord Ahmed, not the same Lord Ahmed awaiting trial for killing another motorist while texting and driving?
    And isn’t this the same Lord Ahmed who invited notorious anti-Semi Israel Shamir/Jöran Jermas to speak in the UK.
    Or Abu Rideh, who had links to Al Qaeda fundraising?
    Geert Wilders isn’t the danger to the UK, it’s Lord Ahmed.
    It’s OK to invite Al Qaeda
    It’s OK to take action AGAINST undercover mosque
    But not OK to have a man over here to show a film?!
    Here’s a list of those who we HAVE let in recently:
    FIREBRAND CLERIC
    Yusuf Al-Qaradawi, 82
    Visited London in 2004 at the invitation of Ken Livingstone, then the city’s mayor, who considered him a ‘progressive force for change’.
    Egyptian-born spiritual leader of Muslim Brotherhood, which embraces the Hamas organisation that controls Gaza.
    Has justified suicide bombing…
    HOMOPHOBIC SINGER
    Bounty Killer, real name Rodney Price, 36
    Performed in East London in November despite appeals to the Home Secretary from gay activists who wanted him banned from the country.
    One song, translated from the Jamaican patois, calls on listeners to ‘burn a fire on xxx and faggots’. Another claims: ‘We need no promo to rub out dem xxx’.
    BILLIONAIRE CULT LEADER
    Reverend Sun Myung Moon, 89
    Labour Home Secretary Charles Clarke overturned a 27-year ban against the cult leader and allowed him 24 hours in Britain to address a rally in London, in 2005.
    The Korean-born billionaire declares himself to be the Messiah.
    His movement, famous for its mass weddings …
    ..has been a failure in Britain since 1981, when the Moonies lost a milestone libel case against the Daily Mail. The Mail had called Moon’s Unification Church ‘the church that breaks up families’.
    SERIAL PAEDOPHILE
    Raymond Horne, 62
    A serial paedophile with a long jail history in Australia for offences against boys from 13.
    Horne, who emigrated to Australia with his parents in 1952, when he was five, has a criminal record in Queensland stretching back 43 years.
    British ministers made no objection when Australian authorities deported him to this country after he finished his sentence…
    ANTI-SEMITIC AGITATOR
    Ibrahim Moussawi, 43
    Propagandist for Hezbollah cleared to enter the country by Jacqui Smith in November, despite fierce Tory objections.
    He is the head of a TV station that routinely describes suicide bombers as ‘martyrs’ and which has broadcast a 30-part series on the Protocols of the Elders of Zion…
    Moussawi is alleged to have said that Jews are ‘a lesion on the forehead of history’.

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  • 63. At 3:08pm on 20 Feb 2009, SeriousSoundBiter wrote:


    I see that yesterday we were told that the acquisition of the bank shares by the government was adding a trillion to the National Debt.

    Because the banks themselves have that volume of debt ,as well as the cost.

    But every economist of public opinion (Flanders, the chappie from Fiscal Studies, Peston etc) say the same thing:

    'Of course whether this debt is a real burden depends on how profitable acquiring shares in the banks turns out to be'

    For the banks' whole problem is that real estate prices have crashed, so that any direct acquisitions of these AND ANY FUNDING THEY HAVE MADE AVAILABLE TO FIRMS for the purchase of such assets and its development are now a liability.
    Because
    1. their capital value has crashed
    2. the companies borrowing from the banks can't make interest payments no matter how small and certainly can't repay.

    So the idea our gurus have is that with the return to profitability of these assets, the banks will become solvent and government can sell them off.
    (That to sell the land etc at the moment would result in huge losses, is what our experts call the 'liquidity problem')

    But that is to say we WANT a return to super inflation, speculative bubbles, in the housing and stocks markets. (How else could high prices return?)

    Which we don't.

    Instead of pouring money into the banks, government should be acquiring the real estate assets by compulsory purchase and funding the development of the NEW HOUSES planned.

    That way the government automatically has counterpart assets to its lending and houses coming on stream.

    Meanwhile the banks, which should be fully publicly owned, just write off the debt.

    No doubt today's stock market crashes are due to the new realisation of the scale of government debt.

    The crash thus extends to companies funded by banks to buy stocks.
    In fact exactly the same policy of public acquisition followed by investment, should apply in this sector.

    (Note a simple contradiction running through what our wise oracles have to say. If the illiquid estate development was restored in value then the houses coming on stream would keep prices down. A sort of mechanistic Prisoner's Dilemma).

    Public ownership of the assets that the banks have (allowed others to have) speculated in, is the only way to stop markets attacking governments' plans.
    (They complain about the inflationary effects of government spending, pull their money out at home and move to harder currencies, gold etc. The currency crash causes the inflation they 'feared'.
    Such policies hurt capital too. But to the hard nosed, losses need to be made to discredit Obama and Brown - and bring back the likes of Thatcher and Bush.
    Meanwhile the effect on China, India and the oil states as well as labour at home is regarded as salutary.)

    I'll post a summary of this on today's Glass Box if it becomes relevant there.



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  • 64. At 5:29pm on 20 Feb 2009, Ed Iglehart wrote:

    SSB, Interesting analysis. Generally agree. meanwhile we ride the slide and look forward to bottom fish...

    Slainte
    ed


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  • 65. At 07:55am on 21 Feb 2009, eloquentMercedes wrote:

    Hi
    can we stop the bizarre apparent political correctness and start using the full span of the existing English language? Last night on PM I heard 'female actor', we actually have a word for this, it is: actress. and more: governess, headmistress, etc.
    thank you!

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  • 66. At 09:53am on 21 Feb 2009, Sid wrote:

    No, eloquentMercedes, we can't.


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  • 67. At 10:37am on 24 Feb 2009, U12196018 wrote:

    eloquentMercedes (65) - Don't listen to Sid. Of course we can we can do as you suggest. But implementation will depend on a simultaneous adoption of good grammar and syntax.

    no more sentences starting without a capital letter, we also won't stand for commas where a full stop should be used.

    you're welcome. innit.

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  • 68. At 10:44am on 24 Feb 2009, Big Sister wrote:

    horse i just spotted a bunch of capitals in your last post which i think you should reconsider also the use of paragraphs which cannot be tolerated in this context watch it mate

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  • 69. At 10:55am on 24 Feb 2009, U12196018 wrote:

    dont if feel strange writing on a disused furrow, not that i ever wrote much here you know like cause im more lightweight than yer actual intilectewl type

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  • 70. At 11:01am on 24 Feb 2009, Big Sister wrote:

    yeah geegee i'm wiv u on that 1

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  • 71. At 08:45am on 03 Mar 2009, Sid wrote:

    From BBC home - comments on University Challenge:

    Total comments:519
    Published comments:126
    Rejected comments:8
    Moderation queue:385

    The BBC really needs to sort out its moderation policy. At present, the need to ensure that no one offends anyone clearly takes precedence over the need to allow interactive reaction to current news. By the time the queue is down to 0, we'll have moved on to another topic.


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  • 72. At 5:36pm on 05 Mar 2009, SeriousSoundBiter wrote:

    Love is theory laden activity.

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  • 73. At 6:15pm on 05 Mar 2009, SeriousSoundBiter wrote:

    My dad was unemployed during the First Great Slump.

    He went to classes at the local Poly.

    All his life he was proud of knowing that the separate continents of today were once a single land mass and that the anticline rock structure meant there was oil under Hampshire. ('Bags of it, boy!') In fact he'd that learnt the whole of Scotland was 'floating on a sea of oil, boy!'

    This reminisce is not available to iPM.

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  • 74. At 3:16pm on 06 Mar 2009, SeriousSoundBiter wrote:

    72

    Not a good start!

    It should have said

    'Love is a theory laden activity'


    Last week I saw the future. The pain, the hospital beds, the wheel chair circles, the dumbing down, the immobility, the weakness paralysing my arms, my legs long gone.

    'I must think, keep thinking. There's a puzzzle there in the paper they've put on the blanket covering my thigh.
    Keep thinking. Yes, 41 + 19 + 8 +12 people in a cinema. That makes 50 + 20, no, keep thinking, the first bit, 41 +10, no, no that's wrong. Keep thinking. Forty one plus nineteen. That's better, think in words. That's sixty. And 8 and 12 is, keep thinking, this bit is easy, I can do it with numbers, it's 20. That is sixty, no eighty.
    'Stop. Rest. Relax. Remember it's eighty. Hold on to that somehow. Reread the next bit.....'

    But it was the physical preamble to that final curtain that so worried me.

    I'd been going strong for about an hour fifty....

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  • 75. At 00:07am on 12 Mar 2009, SeriousSoundBiter wrote:


    Gramsci today would say that the transition to socialism must be made by the majority of the people themselves. A socialist society must be created within the womb of existing society and prefigured in the movements for democracy at the grass roots.

    Socialists must neither place their faith in an Armageddon or in a capitalist collapse nor in nationalisation alone.

    The Jacobin notion of a vanguard making revolution on behalf of working people relates to a backward society (and prefigures an authoritarian and bureaucratic state). The complexity of moder n society requires a co-ordination of social priorities by people at a community level and control by producers at an industrial level. In such a way political power will become a synthesis of – not a substitute for – community and industrial life.

    This requires from the Labour today a positive commitment to creating a socialist society, a coherent strategy with rhythm and modality to each reform to cancel the logic of capitalism and a programme of immediate aims which leads out of one social order into another. Such a social reorganisation - a phased extension of public control would in EP Thompson's words lead to "a crisis not of despair and disintegration but a crisis in which the necessity for a peaceful revolutionary transition to an alternative socialist logic became daily more evident."

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  • 76. At 08:30am on 12 Mar 2009, Sid wrote:

    On this day ...

    "1930: Mohandas Gandhi begins a campaign of peaceful civil disobedience against British rule in India."

    I wonder if today would be a good day to start a campaign of civil disobedience against and oppressive and illiberal government in the UK?

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  • 77. At 09:03am on 12 Mar 2009, David_McNickle wrote:

    Sid 71, I suggest that the moderators visit the comments about articles on The Independent website. They would faint at what is allowed there.

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  • 78. At 11:00am on 12 Mar 2009, Sid wrote:

    D McN - wouldn't they just ...

    I really do think that the modding of the BBC blogs needs looking at - I'm particularly irritated by the way new posters are encouraged to comment by Eddie, and are then held in limbo for hours (if not days) which destroys the coherence of their contributions.

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  • 79. At 10:28am on 15 Apr 2009, Mykulmerc wrote:

    Why is everybody getting in such a state about the smear-mails coming out of No. 10? This is what politicians do. The best solution would be for those, who like me, who don't like this sort of behaviour to campaign for fewer MPs. This would also mean lots less advisors and civil servants. Obviously this would not eliminate smears, but would reduce them considerably.

    Possibly this could go further to change the status of MPs to that of voluntary work with expenses only paid for days spent either at Westminster, or in a constituency office. This would mean we would only have as politicians people who are there for genuine publice service reasons.

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  • 80. At 12:18pm on 15 Apr 2009, U13879388 wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 81. At 7:14pm on 15 Apr 2009, U13879388 wrote:

    Well, this is a re-write of 80, rewritten with heavy heart, 'cos I cna't see what's wrong with 80 in the first place

    Are we on the PM blog whistleing in the dark, too upset at the RW to give it full attention?

    If so, it's a pity, because the debate currently being conducted in the markets and in governments is like some Wagnerian joust between opposing giants.

    We shouldn't be afraid of it. Just the opposite.

    The argument is at this sort of stage now:


    The economy may be on the turn, we are told because China's decline has slowed.


    OK.


    Now, here's the 'Great Themes' bit:

    'Ah,' says big money, 'that's no good because the China recovery is due entirely to government spending (schools, hospitals, infrastructure, quake proof homes (!))
    There's no entrepreneurial willingness to set up factories to produce cars, electrical and electronic goods for us.

    So we're continuing the credit crunch.

    Good Austrians***** that we are.'


    The Chinese knew this crunch was coming.

    'Cos slumps are great policy instruments. Money they lend us gets paid back in pounds which have lost value over the life of the loans. And the long term capital debts they owe us, must be repaid at Chinese currency rates, which means a (price and effort) impossible export effort to make the payments.
    So the debts we owe to China for their poorly paid workers' efforts in the factories are suddenly slashed. Which worries me, 'cos isn't that us getting something for nothing?


    Anyway, its the reason why the 'foreign banks' stopped giving us ('lending' us) money

    The exciting thing is that markets are reflecting the two obvious positions.

    'More crunch!' demand American markets, all day yesterday.

    Europe yesterday was full of the excellence of the Chinese recovery. Today it is strictly Austrian.

    The UK seems to be holding everyone else's coats. A little up, yesterday, a little down today.


    Anyway, the Easter Holiday 'good news' stories we were told, to keep us from harm and the real world, have dissipated in Europe**, never ran in America and will be gone here by tomorrow.


    Actually Europe is in the most confused position. Wanting the control of private big money (abolition would be better) but no government spending to fill the gap.

    **** The Theory. Government should keep out of economics entirely. Whatever goes wrong, whatever, it's government's fault (What do the people know? Only entrepreneurs get ti right) When they spend too much (ie spend a single sous) eventually everyone wises up and we get...a credit crunch


    ** Up yesterday on China recovery and regulation. Down today on America says it won't work

    Hope that passes.

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  • 82. At 5:23pm on 06 May 2009, chatterisgirl wrote:

    I have free tickets to tomorrow night's recording of "The News Quiz" but I cannot justify paying the prices of the train for two of us:-



    Select outward journey time
    Thursday 7 May 2009 Select return journey time
    Thursday 7 May 2009
    ELY to LONDON KINGS CROSS
    Tickets /
    Price
    From ELY ELY ELY ELY From KGX KGX KGX
    To KGX KGX KGX KGX To ELY ELY ELY
    Depart 18:06 18:53 19:06 20:09 Depart 22:15 23:15 00:07
    Arrive 19:33 20:10 20:33 21:30 Arrive 23:25 00:31 05:29
    Duration 1:27 1:17 1:27 1:21 Duration 1:10 1:16 5:22
    Changes 0 1 0 0 Changes 0 0 1



    Off-peak Day Return
    £24.50

    Travelcard Off Peak
    £31.00

    Off-peak Return
    £32.00

    Anytime Day Return
    £35.50

    First Off-peak Day Return
    £40.00

    Anytime Day Travelcard
    £44.00

    Anytime Return
    £44.00

    First Anytime Day Return
    £56.80

    First Anytime Travelcard
    £68.00

    First Anytime Return
    £70.00

    Singles from £22.40

    This rotten government wants to get us out of our cars. This rotten government wants us to spend a bit - and we would have bought some dinner in London. I cannot see how the train company can justify this amount for an off-peak return journey of about an hour each way.
    So Boris can keep London for the Londoners - forget those of us who may add to his economy, and we will go to the cinema and have a nice meal locally and spend less.

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  • 83. At 5:40pm on 06 May 2009, mittfh wrote:

    Just out of curiosity, I used the website of a well-advertised train ticket retailing company to compare the costs from Warwick Parkway (the nearest station to me with decent parking) to Marylebone (where the line terminates)...

    Super Off-peak Return - £18.50
    Off-peak Return - £30.00
    Travelcard Off Peak - £35.00
    Off-peak Return - £38.90
    Travelcard Off Peak - £39.50
    Anytime Return - £81.00
    Anytime Day Travelcard - £86.00
    Anytime Return - £115.00
    Anytime Day Travelcard - £125.00

    However, if I booked a few days in advance, I could potentially get single tickets for £5 or £10...

    It's all a matter of knowing the system and playing it... :)

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  • 84. At 6:02pm on 13 May 2009, Sid wrote:

    I wonder if I can post here ...

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  • 85. At 11:50pm on 18 May 2009, SentIntheClowns wrote:


    Many must be wondering (I did) why people are defending Micheal Martin on the grounds that he was a sheet metal worker and was born to a merchant seaman and a cleaner. Because he was a sheet metal worker and born to a cleaner in Glasgow does not seem sufficient answer, at first. After all, there surely must be 650 honest, left wing Labour Trades Unionists and Councillors with working class family backgrounds who started on the shop floor who could easily become good MPs and a Speaker found from among them.
    Indeed Martin seems to be on the right of the Labour Party. However his radical politics may be tied up, indeed hidden, in his class loyalties. Given the chance, he may have turned out to be an effective left winger. But the Thatcher-Blair years militate against such developments.
    We are in a world where the trough is where most head if they can, and signs of radicalism anywhere are scarce to non - existent. So using background when deciding between candidates, would seem wholly reasonable were - it not for the number of working class Tories we would be endorsing in elections!
    They may of course have a collective Pauline conversion to radicalism in the middle of the future crises we face. (!!)

    It seems to me that the class defence for Martin is a strong one.




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  • 86. At 1:11pm on 19 May 2009, SentIntheClowns wrote:

    85
    Well, the FB is to start thonking going I suppose. In this case myself, sadly.
    That'll teach me to post late at night.
    As you were! (The weasel words version would be '"a strong defence' but not a decisive one") What is wrong about 85 is that the integrity, courage, honesty and determination that such a background gives seems to be ignored. I am ashamed of myself.
    I think of the sorts of people I knew who brought Micheal Martin up. Tree loppers who had served with the Chindits in Burma, lorry drivers who had parachuted into France time and time again after D Day. Women in leather aprons who filled seed boxes day after day having survived the blitz on the machine tool industry surrounding their homes. The ex fast-step infantry Men who walked 24 miles a day behind a gang mower, .
    The sons and daughters of these workers had integrity and courage, honesty and dedication built into them from birth.

    If Marin strayed, his background will eventually forgive him. But as I should have said in 85 the appropriate number of honest left wing Trades Unionists and Councillors from that background will be easy to find.

    We can find them by the summer.

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  • 87. At 9:01pm on 21 May 2009, AndrewKetley wrote:

    Lots of talk about reform of the legislature at the moment. Here's a 'modest proposal' to tackle four of the of the more commonly aired criticisms:
    1) Badly drafted or ill-conisdered legislation;
    2) Lack of substantive debate in the lower chamber;
    3) Lack of a clear and democratically legitimate purpose for the upper chamber;
    4) Government not held adequately to account.

    The idea: All new legislation must be preceded by a 'requirement for legislation', which sets out in plain English why the measure is required and what it is designed to achieve. The upper chamber is formally reconstituted as a deliberative body of experts empowered to reject legislation solely on the basis that it would not achieve the stated objective.

    The porcess would run something like this.
    1) A requirement for legislation is introduced, either by the government or a private member, as currently. The statement is debated (hopefully with passion and conviction - this is a debate about issues and aspirations), and the amended version put to a vote, and, if passed, sent to the upper chamber.
    2) The upper chamber may criticise or propose amendments, but may not reject the at this stage.
    3) The lower chamber debates the upper chamber's amendments and comments. It can ignore them, but must vote explicitly to do so.
    4) Detailed legislation is introduced and examined in committee. The final text is voted on by the lower chamber.
    5) The upper chamber scrutinises the text, and votes on whether the legislation achieves its purpose. The bill may be approved, rejected, or approved with reservations (such as potential unintended consequences).
    6) If the bill is rejected, it goes back to committee stage for rework. If approved, it becomes law. If the bill is approved with reservations, the lower chamber must vote to ignore the reservations, in effect stating that the benefit of the bill outweighs its potential drawbacks.

    Finally, the purpose of the Queen's Speech changes from a list of intended legislation to a statement of the government's objectives - the outcomes it intends to bring about. The legislature can then periodically debate whether those objectives are being achieved.

    This system should focus parliamentary debate on the substantive issue, and force the government to exlain its intentions more clearly to the electorate, while also providing a quality-control mechanism for the technical (and ideally apolitical) process of drafting the legal text of a law. It should also inject a degree of rationality into debates on contentious issues. For example, a law to introduce road pricing would have to be preceded by a debate defining the problem (congestion, lost time, environmental impact etc), and outlining the objectives (distributing peak traffic flow across a wider span of time, or shifting traffic onto public transport), and would pass only if the design of the pricing scheme were reasonably sound and any downsides (eg impact of different income groups) had been publicly aired and democratically accepted. The devil is in the detail, of course - particularly how to the upper chamber so as to combine a broad range of expertise with popular legitimacy without creating a rival democratic mandate.

    AK

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  • 88. At 11:17pm on 21 May 2009, SentIntheClowns wrote:

    Recall the NS dictum 'If a revolution were possible, it wouldn't be necessary'.

    Yawn.

    Nice and enigmatic and probably rubbish.



    Peter the Prof says the political class is rubbish.

    Much of the politico 'elite' of the age group, (now) 60 to 70, got tied up, it must be said, in revolution, smoke and acid.

    Survivors include Tariq Ali and Kim Howells.

    There were many non-survivors but also many who realised what might be called the fJd problem.

    They believed in the dissolution of the very elite of which they were a part. (Howells, the son of a mining familly, was not part of it of course) They refused their own primrose path, rightly, but so opened the door to second rate politicians like Thatcher and ego trippers like Blair.

    Sadly some compromised in their own way or were ground down.

    The rest are still around, if in lowly, but probably appropriate, roles in life.

    One part of the problem they created (it emerged very clearly in the late 70s and 80s) was that they were schooling a generation of younger cadre into believing in Russian-revolution style revolutions for Britain. None were, however, Stalinist and viewed the treatment of minorities in the Soviet Union with total distaste.

    It is still true that a great deal of work needs to be done to persuade our younger would-be radical class of the virtues of communism under majority decision making. Destructive and vicious versions of both these components, past and present, make their re-emphasis necessary. Re-emphases also scare off pseudo-socialists who don't like talk of work redistribution and pseudo-democrats who don't really trust revolutionary majorities, their main importance here, since PM is still politics for the posh. Despite his excellent background, Eddie's main effect has merely been to make it tee-hee time for them. (The blog is very different, of course)

    But the class that did indeed,in effect, dissolve itself, did its job - in small political groups, in technical colleges, in community politics, in praxis and political education. Their small effect and the deep inherent need for socialism in the revolutionary class makes everything still possible.


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  • 89. At 10:18am on 28 May 2009, SentIntheClowns wrote:

    Welcome to post number 89, FB, 4th Nov 2008.

    The post with the daftest idea I've ever had.

    (Pause for 'No, x,y,z ....,was dafter' etc comments)

    For the sake of argument, say we had 40 million electors and 600 seats in Parliament.

    It's a national list system (Re-pause). You choose a list. No STV component.

    The big parties get the number of seats in proportion to their vote.


    But there will be lots of little parties failing to get a seat because they have less than 1/700 of the turnout.

    Why not give them a FRACTION of a vote?

    Every party including those with only a fraction of a seat, has special rights - to the Parliamentary web sites, where they can address whoever is willing to watch, and vote on every motion in Parliament, casting their fractional vote and join in the running blogs which cover Parliamentary business. Only full members have the right physically to sit in Parliament.

    In effect every voter has
    600/40 million th.
    of a vote to cast.

    All business in Parlaiment can be voted upon by everyone.

    If you voted for a Party you have to decouple to vote otherwise, and correspondingly the strenght of the Party vote reduces.

    If a Party loses enough votes it's marginal member withdraws

    You can vote for no government by voting against every piece of business.

    Re-elections occur periodically.

    Individuals could register themselves as a Party at any time, and so, in effect, vote for themselves, thus having the right to video presentation and to contribute to the Parliamentary blogs.

    (One imagines an internet 'Hurrah!' taking off when an individual voter is recognised as pointing out that the current emperors have no clothes. People then vote for the new kid on the block if s/he's willing)

    There, I told you.

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  • 90. At 11:00am on 28 May 2009, SentIntheClowns wrote:

    88
    Silly or what? That should be 600/40 million th.

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  • 91. At 11:03am on 28 May 2009, SentIntheClowns wrote:

    88, 90

    The Constituency link would be preserved by 600 full time local ombudspersons.

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  • 92. At 11:05am on 28 May 2009, SentIntheClowns wrote:

    90, 91, as you were!! For 88 read 89, please. Sorry.

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  • 93. At 7:06pm on 02 Jun 2009, pilesdappy wrote:

    Being as America and France seem to have forgotten that we took part in W W 11.no doubt the new French Poodle Sarkozy will be renaming the Omaha beach `Obama Beach`in honour of the yanks winning the war single handed,we wont mention the mess they made of taking that beach,shhhh.

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  • 94. At 12:11pm on 10 Jun 2009, charles wrote:

    Apropos police officer who apparently engaged dangerous newspaper vendor at G20 protest with baton.......any news? The last I heard, he was being 'interviewed under caution'. That sorts that out then?

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  • 95. At 5:21pm on 21 Jun 2009, Fifi wrote:

    .








    Ha!






    ...made you look...

    ;o)

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  • 96. At 7:14pm on 21 Jun 2009, Cossackgirl wrote:

    95. Fifi
    Yes, you did, dear, and I wish you hadn't. I am bored with scrolling, but at least I know now where not to come again. Except for your sake, of course!

    BTW, I heard (and saw) some of your musical performances and liked them very much. But you seem to stick to YouTube these days, I think your MySpace site is looking a bit neglected (sorry, if it's been updated in the last 10 days!)
    I'll come and post on the Beach some day, dear Fifi. Bye for now! ;0))

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  • 97. At 5:19pm on 28 Jun 2009, U14049770 wrote:

    'Your father died because of you. Of a broken heart.' She was in tears, in her hospital nightdress. 'Darling I'm dying now. And you stand there, at the end of my bed not caring one jot. I'm DYING, John, DYING!'

    My dad had died six months before. In a single bed downstairs, to make caring less exhausting, in the dining room. Under a lamp shade like one I got recently in Wales. A bowl of smokey white glass with slashes of red in it, like a bloodshot marble. I lie below it each night in my retirement flat, the irony occasionally crossing my mind. His dying behind me, out of mind, I'd bought it because I had loved the one in that dining room since childhood.

    At the end of her hospital bed I stood in total incomprehension.

    She was in despair and there was nothing I could do about it. It was the third time in six weeks she'd persuaded her doctor to have her taken in for observation in the then brand new Chelsea and Westminster Hospital.

    She came from a generation for whom the caring for physical illness was the only sort of permissible medical support.

    I guess her doctor had thought 'This is make or break for the old girl. A bit of medical TLC and she'll probably pull herself together.' Otherwise, she'd be moved out of her council house and into sheltered accommodation.

    Just wish I'd been in the loop or realised that at the time.

    For me the situation was incomprehensible and deeply disturbing. I'd been down there three times to see her, to be harangued and blamed where I stood.

    She didn't seem ill and the doctors I spoke to thought she was OK but thought they'd better do tests.

    The last things she was authoritative about in her life were her health and my demeanor.

    'John, your hair is a disgrace, you are chewing that dreadful chewing gum and you talk like a navvy'

    Actually, I talk half way between her North London posh and his Bermondsey cockney. My telephone voice goes north, but for expressions of delight I go south of the river.

    I'd made the mistake of telling her there was nothing wrong with her. She'd proved to me there was. It was always like that. 'Oh John, how could you say that? You wicked man.' In tears. Like Sophie, Queen Victoria's knitting circle companion,who used to cry to order to entertain.
    She always convinced me. Way, way back, she'd had the sort of medical traumas you don't often hear of from the sufferers. They die. It gave her huge cred. in my mind and my dad's. For years we would smile with relief whenever she told us that the heart attack she had been sure, not 20 minutes earlier, she was about to die from, had turned out to be indigestion, the peritonitis, constipation, the aneurisms, muscle stiffness and the stroke onsets head aches at worst.

    We had believed it every time, and tended and cossetted inadequately, but as best we could

    As I got older I doubted or even downright disbelieved. But tears and accusations of insensitivity soon put me back on troubled track.

    Then, I merely felt helpless and so worried for her I would be beside myself with silent contorting concern.

    Perhaps part of the reproach in her, was that I just didn't have the nursing skills to minister to her that she had to minister to others.

    Hadn't I seen her in the dining room ministering to my dad as if he were a baby bird. We used to feed lost fledglings and ducklings with small morsels of mashed food on the end of a match stick and give them drinks from an eye dropper of water. Hadn't I seen her s bare 6 months before kneeling on his bed trying to trickle water from the pinched lip of a beaker into his lips and onto his old sad swollen tongue.

    And hadn't she been right about his dying. I'd come down and spent the night in the room.

    He died as he'd have liked. He'd said he wanted to go watching TV and letting the world know what he thought of it.

    He'd woken an hour earlier. I'd switched on the picture, no sound. He watched it for a bit. Then his eyes closed. A half hour later his body expelled air. Out of his lungs. but out of his stomach too, like an endless roll of summer thunder. A fart to you all. And he died.
    I looked at the screen. It seemed that one of life's delights was to be his legacy to me for a beautiful woman sent me her smile from the set.

    I went to tell my mother by waking her in their bed upstairs, holding the blankets and the sheet tight across her, expecting, I suppose, some uncontrollable seizure in grief. She awoke and before I could utter a word said very calmly and sweetly 'He's gone, hasn't he. Well it's a relief'.

    That lampshade went too, as a gift to a carer, I think. Anyway it disappeared from her sheltered flat.

    Now, I stood at the end of her hospital bed beyond coping with her, beyond being able to stand it in that hospital room for another minute.

    'I'll have to go and feed the meter for the car' I said.

    Actually I'd parked it in the pay on exit hospital car park but it got me onto the landing for the lift. As I waited I looked down from 10 storeys at a full size tree in a tub on the ground floor in the glass atrium in the well of the building. The tree looked like a bonzai from the great height.

    I went down to the cafe area that did bistro tubular steel chairs and square tables with a checkered pattern of little squares etched into the stainless steel table top, each set of etched straight parallel lines orthogonal to each of its four neighbours.

    I thought vaguely about coffee, but just sat down at a table and stared blankly at the table top.

    Some trick of the light, some consequence of some piece of subtle optics transformed the table top into an ice cavern, deepest, I had thought infinitely deep at first, in the very middle. The ice cavern itself comprised precise square columns with flat tops, arranged in graduated height, the smallest in the middle.

    I couldn't believe what I was seeing. It was exquisitely beautiful, glinting and glistening in neon sun light.
    Like those voices in the Sistine who have to be hushed as they crescendo in wonder at the ceiling, I just had to share my joy at the crystalline ice. I lifted my head up. There was no one close. All were sitting at such tables, drinking tea and coffee, none were lost in the magic of the ice caves. I looked back down. For a moment the table top was a plain cross hatched surface. Then the cave reappeared as a disaggregated computor picture reappears from its component pixels. Every square column of ice, in its proper place. The cave was like an inverted ice crystal chandelier. For someone standing on the smallest flat column, in the very middle of the vast cave, every direction offered a hundred steps up, each six or more feet high, reaching to the edge of the table, to the rim of the ice crater.

    I looked up again and then down, But it was gone.
    Never to return to my mind which it had left untroubled and calm. The ice delight had cured the agony in my soul.

    I went back to see my mother. Perhaps she took comfort that her only child was calm and collected for in her troubled way she cared for me.

    She went home again the following day and lived there, in her own home for another five years, and then five years more in her sheltered accommodation.

    As for me, I've bought something else for my retirement flat. It'll be delivered in the week. I am really looking forward to seeing whether I can find my way back into the exquisite ice crystal cave in my new stainless steel topped kitchen table.

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  • 98. At 01:11am on 29 Jun 2009, U14049770 wrote:

    Today (yes, really today) I realised what the Fundamental Dishonesty of Economics IS.

    Imagine sitting in Venice looking at St Marks.

    Now imagine sitting on a beach on St Kitts.

    In both cases ask yourself how much money you would give or want to be given to be in the other location.

    Economists say you can always answer that question and that it tells you the 'opportunity cost' of one alternative over another.

    To those who say, 'These experiences are incommensurate., St Marks and the beauty and charms of a beach, economists say 'That's nonsence. Everything is commensurate in terms of human happiness or welfare and hence in terms of the differences in value between all the different things and circumstances'

    And eventually we agree. We give in. Hadyn is commensurate with Schubert. Both are commensurate with good dinners and they with days out at the races or reading a book or watching TV.

    And so economics has got us to capitulate to its First Great Lie, because these things are not commensurate. Few things are. Not an apple compared with cherries or a sandwhich compared with a poem.

    The money I would pay or not pay to change from option A to option B includes the sum that it takes me to agree to this lie, to pretend that I can price bowling and dancing and drinking and eating and reading and travelling.
    The measuring stick of economic value is the rod for our backs that cudgels us int the First Dishonesty.

    After that they get easier.

    'Of course radio announcing is worth more than road sweeping' and so on and on and on

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  • 99. At 6:25pm on 27 Jul 2009, Fifi wrote:

    (97) That is beautiful. Thank you.

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  • 100. At 7:09pm on 15 Aug 2009, U14101052 wrote:

    Freedom of speech at the BBC?

    The Central Communities team's take

    Someone else who knows a certain host's predelictions

    A certain real name was "killed" by a certain "host". Promises of re-instatement were made, but remain unfulfilled.

    The inside dealing and buddy-helping and revolving door need to be exposed as the corruption they are. After all, we are the license payers, and it's our money over-generously filling these people's pockets!

    Am I angry? Do I have friends in investigative journalism?
    You bet.

    Will some of those within the BBC who still have their integrity intact take the opportunity?

    We'll see, won't we.

    GRRRRRRRR!

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  • 101. At 8:44pm on 15 Aug 2009, Sid wrote:

    It's all very strange, HITH.

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  • 102. At 10:48pm on 15 Aug 2009, U14101052 wrote:

    A friend writes,

    "Summing up re *******, I think that we have simply come across a typical scam on the public sector, all conducted in the name of "out-sourcing". Some smartarse sees a growing trend and persuades the public sector that it would be "cheaper" (cost-effective is the wording normally used) for them to contract it out. Smartarse then poaches insiders from the public sector client in order to gain information, embed loyalty.

    In the case of Sparkie, it does seem to have worked like a dream. He'll be buying an airline and an island in the Caribbean soon !

    A big BAD to the BBC though, to pretend to the public that the Moderators were BBC Moderators. A lot of people who were straightforwardly entering into debate with so-called reporters like Justin Webb have been seriously misled.

    I'd just love to see the terms of that contract.


    Visit the tipiglen at blogspot dot com slash spate dot html

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  • 103. At 4:27pm on 16 Aug 2009, U14101052 wrote:

    BBC Annual Accounts show the Budget Spend for 2009 for the online service to be :

    Content - £112.2m
    Distribution - £18.5m
    Infrastructure and Support - £46.5m

    So our friends in moderation must be taking a large slice of the £46.5m

    hat a pity we're unlikely to be allowed sufficient "transparency" to know how big a slice...

    A thread about moderation, in which a quick search reveals a total lack of a certain company name....

    Be Warned!!! "Hosted" by Humpty Dumpty.

    (Total Online Spend for 2009 is budgetted at £177.2m (2008 - £182m)

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