Thursday, June 16, 2005

Political Happenings: Rebate snooze, Tory leadership rule change

Not a lot happening this week that is of much interest, unless you are enthralled by the British rebate and other assorted European shenanigans.

I just can't get excited i'm afraid. But here are some links:
Rebate Malarkey, what's it all about? - BBC

"Compromise is neither a dirty word nor a dereliction of the national interest" - Guardian

The Tories have finally decided it a good idea to let Mp's elect a leader, and to leave out the blue rinse brigade. About time, being as they always elect the unelectable. Maybe MP's having the final say will result in someone the electorate will be more inclined to vote for, and even like.
Speaking of which, youngster David Cameron has hinted he will run in a leadership election; Cameron makes Tory leadership ambition clear - Guardian:

"The youngest of the potential Conservative leadership challengers, David Cameron, today dropped the broadest hint so far he would be standing for the job."
Well at least he hasn't "thrown his hat into the ring" Tempest avoiding the cliché this time. Though he slips in this metaphor, whatever it means; "So far up to eight candidates have expressed an interest in replacing Michael Howard, but all are keeping their powder dry until the formal process for selecting a leader is chosen"

Keeping their powder dry?

Back to Cameron. At 38 he may be too young and inexperienced this time round, but the Tories need a Blair figure to reinvigorate the party, rather than one of the usual crusty suspects. No time for tepidness, the Tories need to break with their past.

Ok, how about going to the past to bridge to the future? Ken Clarke has decided not to throw any old hat into the ring, but one of his trademark Fedoras (that's enough of hats and rings, i promise) as he announced on Dimbleby his intention to stand as a candidate. I think that he would be a good interim leader. He has a presence that the other contenders lack, name recognition, one of the few popular MP's from Majors government, Successful Chancellor, he’s a heavyweight (not just his weight), could match Blair/Brown in the Commons and is a Pro Europe, moderate, one Nation Tory.

He could re- shape the party’s direction, groom the youngsters, and then make way for Cameron, if they lose the next election. Wishful and sensible thinking, but it's not going to happen. His problem in these contests has been that in the past the grassroots haven't liked his pro European stance, "He'll give Johnny Foreigner too much power, so we won't give him any". The leadership rule changes wont help, as the Tory MP's, like the party members, would rather be out of office than embrace a pro Europe leader. Much like labour in the 80's, when it was almost seen as virtuous to stay out of office as long as the party stuck to its ideals.
So it will be probably be David Davis leading the Tories to a fourth successive defeat. Then will things finally change?

Monday, June 13, 2005

Yum Yum

These are the best sweeties in the world ever, i am eating them right now as i type. Expensive though.

Friday, June 10, 2005

That joke isn't funny anymore

"An Englishman, Irishman and Scotsman walk into a brothel..."

I find jokes to be largely unfunny. You know, three men go in to a bar... What's the difference between...Why did the... An Englishman, an Irishman... Obviously a lot of humour isn't spontaneous, of the moment. Sitcoms, stand up, etc are all premeditated, but at their best they make you laugh. Jokes, rarely are at their best.

I'm writing about humour in a social sense, between people, in a pub etc. Jokes are mostly told by people who often don't have a real sense of humour, who can't be witty, cant make funny observations, who rely on someone else’s humour for theirs. A last resort to make people laugh, rather than being able to be self-deprecating and allowing the laughs to be on them. When jokes are told in a gathering, there are usually lots of them. Everyone has to get one or two in. You sit there, and 90% of the time, feign laughter. After sitting through the joke you feel compelled to laugh at the punch line, out of politeness. Jokes are the humour of expectation. They expect laughter, rather than earn it. Nowadays i just shake my head, 'Weak, that was really weak mate'

I don't tell jokes. But maybe no one thinks i'm funny.

Thursday, June 09, 2005

Book Review: High Rise by J G Ballard

Ballard in this little book of his explores a contained world. That of a 40 storey tower block. It’s a mediation on the effects self-contained living can have on individuals and the embryonic society they create. This is a society though, like that of the normal world. The same stratifications of class come into play. The bottom, middle and top floors all mimicking the class system that is in place on the outside.

This tower block is unlike those we are familiar with. It is not a tower block of the urban slums of inner city England, where poverty and crime are the usual associations. This world is one of relative affluence; TV Execs, Doctors, Newsreaders, who enlist for this new and exotic living arrangement. Needless to say it’s architect has miscalculated. Things go very wrong. Class replicates itself wherever. Tribal battles take place; men adorn themselves with blood. There are raids on each others sections of the Tower, people become zombiefied, stupefied. They grow to rely on the high rise. They fear leaving it, by the end they cannot. Irony; a perfect living place is created, to foster a happy, new and modern society. In the end it turns primal, man reverting to a earlier, more savage time.

There is little to say of the charaters, they arn't that important, and as such are not developed. It's the Tower itself that is developed, it's floors, amenities and make up. Allowing the reader to visualise it in detail.

The book has flaws. Things start to unravel too quickly, rather than simmering away, before a gradual collapse of order. As a short novel, Ballard hasn't time to allow things to unfold at a slower pace and develop characters, so maybe a longer novel would have helped create greater tension. The reader - although knowing - having to to wait longer for the inevitable.

It is a novel that can be read as a forewarning to the problems of high-rise living, and urban planners who thought it was a good way to live, up in the Sky. Living in confinement, affluence incidental. Prophetic maybe, with the currrent repudiation of the high rise ideal, and the razing of tower blocks in inner cities.

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Backpackers magazine

I have found an online version of the hilarious Britishballs backpackers magazine, that made me laugh out loud several times whilst bumming around Australia. Fed up of dry news reporting?, Po faced opinion?, Servile entertainment news?, Steve Davis (boring that is) sports coverage? Then go here British Balls. A very entertaining, hugely libelous (maybe) read.
Some examples:
"Skeletor's love child, Victoria Beckham, and her gimp husband have shelled out £360,000 for three bomb-proof cars to protect their children when they drive them to school.Beckham's security advised him to purchase the steel-clad BMW X5s, that have their own air supplies in case of chemical attacks, and bullet proof tyres, after threats against his three sons. Dressed in a tuxedo, wearing a spontaneously combusting watch, a source crooned: "These motors are pure James Bond."
"Wildman England coach Sven-Goran Eriksson has confirmed David Beckham will stay on as captain for the 2006 World Cup. But the Swede insisted he was "very lucky" to have a host of potential captains to choose from. Eriksson whispered: "We have many who could do the job but, once again, I can say that I have no intention of changing the captain. "I am very happy with the one I have. The idea that I would think about changing captains is rather silly," he continued before throwing a TV set out of the window and going on to an all-night pool party with loose women."
"Great news. The Spice Girls won't be playing at Live Aid II because, erm, they're crap basically.Organisers have decided that their 'plastic pop music' isn't what the concert needs.The girls created fear across the nation, when they promised to reunite for the first time in seven years at the event on July 2.Thankfully though, a BBC source delivered the good news, rejoicing: "The Spice Girls offered their services but they don't fit the bill. With all respect to them, Live 8 isn't Party in the Park," as they cracked open a bottle of Cristal. Gutted."
That's proper news coverage, is that.

Right Idea, Wrong man

Malcolm Rifkind has decided to "throw his hat into the ring" and put himself forward for the Tory Leadership contest, maybe. Matthew Tempest can't resist the urge to use the old cliché.

"Sir Malcolm Rifkind will unofficially throw his hat into the Conservative leadership ring today, with a speech urging the party to reclaim the "centre ground" when Michael Howard steps down." Matthew Tempest Guardian

Predictable fun aside, Rifkind has a point; "The reality is that winning back the centre ground is not an option, but a necessity for the Conservative party." One that should have been obvious to the Tories, let's say, hmmm, maybe back in 1998/9. Rifkind's association with the Thatcher and Major Governments won't help his appeal to the general voter. Not that he was ever found naked with Midgets or donkeys, to the best of my knowledge. Sleaze free! However a younger, fresher face would likely be there best bet. Cameron or Osborne come to mind, but being relative newcomers, it's hard to tell on what side of the party they have set up camp.

"One more heave" at the next election, with their current ideology will likely result in another disaster. A bold step forward, them scuttling back to the centre with their tales between their legs, a charismatic leader and finding that missing intangible would be the best bet for re-election.

Keyboard Annoyance


My caps on, caps off key switching technique is obviously off and needs correction

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