Thursday, August 31, 2006

Today is Blog Day

At least according to Agent Mancuso. So I will take the opportunity to squeeze under the wire

My five in alphabetical order are..............

1. Life at the Edge

2. Rachel from North London

3. Stranger in a strange land

4. The Policemans Blog

5. Worldwide Sawdust

Banning violent pornography - should it be done?

A difficult issue to address. The understandable campaign by Liz Longhurst, following the death of her daughter, to make the possession of violent porn a crime appears to have been successful according to this piece from the BBC.

The questions which arise from this issue seem to me to be twofold. Firstly from a liberal perspective should we be banning people from viewing this sort of material in the first place and secondly will this ban stop the sort of terrible events which happened to Liz Longhursts daughter from happening to someone else?

On the first score my instinct is always against the banning of anything. Yes if we know that something will definitely have an adverse affect on others then it should be made illegal. Murder or violent assaults on others clearly fall into this category. However, watching violent pornography does not fall into this category. If this was made consensually then who has been harmed? It may not be everybody's cup of tea but if all involved are acting with consent then to my mind there is no issue. It may be good populist politics to ban this sort of thing but it does not make much sense and it does not make good reading to see Liberal Democrat MP's rushing out to support and the ban as Sandra Gidley did here. To quote her "You cannot look at this sort of material and not be affected" Hmmm. Well I assume that a fair number of people do look at this stuff or it would not be there. So I also assume that she believes that these people are likely to rush out and commit violent murders? To think I campaigned to get her elected in the first place.

This brings me on to the second point and perhaps the more fundamental one. Will this law prevent violent murders such as that perpetuated upon Liz Longhursts daughter? I don't believe so and I cannot put it better than by quoting the piece that Gavin wrote on The Whiskey Priest. He wrote "Ban violent pornography and deaths won't suddenly stop, they might change in character, the people perpetrating them might use different methods, but they won't stop because it's not the pornography that is making them do it - it's something else. It's something that isn't present in the other people that watch violent pornography and don't go and murder people - and we should find out what that is and tackle it." Absolutely - lets find out what the key to this is and try to tackle rather then implementing knee jerk laws. That would be a far better way of reducing violent murders in the future. Otherwise we might as well start down a long road of banning things because they might cause someone to commit murder. Alcohol anyone?

Two more bikes

One of these was an F1 Schumacher special

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Another couple of bikes

One nice and one well lets say "different but not to my taste". Thats what makes these machines such fun. Every Harley is different and each one makes a unique statement. You never see a Harley which has been kept as it was when brand new.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

So now the police are for sale

This piece in yesterdays Guardian suggests that the police are now for sale. Well at least the saddlecloths and horse boxes of the police horses in Nottinghamshire are. This strikes me as being the edge of what may turn out to be a very long and slippery slope. What next I ask myself? Sponsors logos on the chest and backs of the local bobby on the beat, branded police cars or logos on truncheons and riot shields. How long will it be before someone suggests that the police have backpedalled on an investigation into an alleged crime because it is alleged that it was committed by their biggest sponsor?. This is an idea that should be kicked into the long grass very smartly by the local police authority.

Monday, August 28, 2006

Politically incorrect alphabet

Somebody sent me this link to a website of someone who has created a website with a politically incorrect alphabet.

The guy who designed the alphabet wrote the following "Lacking any tact or decency, I therefore determined to create an alphabet using only subjects that, while they might have been unremarked a few decades ago, are now outside acceptable usage. But only just. And then it was my intention to illustrate these in a 'modern' style, something along the lines of Dick Bruna's Miffy (OK, Miffy is 50, but still looks fresh). "

Well it amused me.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Leeds beat Wednesday

At least one reader of this blog will be delighted that the mighty Leeds took all three points from this game despite their normal hatred of us. Leeds may have felt a bit lucky in the early stages as Lewis was pulled down on the edge of the box when through. Leeds got a free kick but amazingly the Wednesday player wasn't even booked. I thought Leeds had a penalty later on the first half when Healy was hauled down in the box but the ref (Steve Bennett) wasn't giving anything. In general he did not have a good game as a few moments later he gave a free kick to Leeds that clearly should have been given to Wednesday. Honours even at the end of the first half although I think in all honesty Wednesday shaded it.

Second half and Leeds came out flying. For the first fifteen minutes they were all over Wednesday and put them under tremendous pressure. Derry nearly scored but might have been offside anyway. In the 67th minute the Wednesday keeper brought down Healy on the edge of the box and Steve Bennett awarded a penalty which Healy calmly slotted into the corner. Both sides had a couple of chances but the for the last ten minutes or so Wednesday were really pressurising Leeds and given our habit of conceding late goals recently I was getting nervous. Thankfully the defence hung on to secure all three points. There were a lot of positives to take from Leeds play during this game especially with so many players still out. The defence looked good except for Crainey and the midfield did well going forward - we just need to get a few more players in the box on the end of those attacks

Meanwhile yesterday Reading appeared to struggle to find their normal attacking verve against a physically strong Wigan. If anything it sounded as if they did better once Hunt and Oster (normally second choices) had come on for Seol and Convey. Reading went down 1-0 although they could have snatched a point at the end through Leroy Lita.

Another bike at Bisley

Another bike from the SOFER Rally at Bisley

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Lord Clement-Jones raises autism issues

You can see what he had to say about Autism during the debate on Autism in the House of Lords here. Much of what he had to say makes sense. The numbers of cases of Autism have soared in recent years. Whether this is because the number of people with Autism has soared or whether it is because the diagnosis has improved or a combination of the two is difficult to say.

What is clear is that resources are needed to help people with Autism and other Learning Disabilities and their families and carers. Without that money it is difficult for those with such difficulties to lead a fulfilled life and in many cases it proves impossible for the family to keep the child at home leaving the state to pick up an even larger bill eventually.

What is less clear is whether or not pots of money for people with specific difficulties such as Autism should be ring fenced in the way in which Lord Clement-Jones suggests. If resources for those with Autism are to be ring fenced then what about those with Williams Syndrome, Fragile X, Downs or Foetal Alcohol Syndrome (considered to be the largest single cause of Learning Disability). This would lead us to a world where different departments and budgets would be desperately being spent to ensure that the budget was retained whilst generic services would probably suffer as a result and some who need a service would fail to receive it because it had already been spent on someone who needed it less but was covered by a ring fenced pot.

Friday, August 25, 2006

Thai PM alleges assassination attempt

According to the BBC the Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra has alleged that there was a plot to kill him. Police found a car with bomb making materials near to his house and he alleges that this was part of a plot by Thai military officers to kill him. Apparently a former army officer has been arrested and the PM has sacked the head of Thailand's main counter-insurgency operation.

Meanwhile his opponents are suggesting that there was no such plot and that this was an attempt to gain sympathy and to divert attention away from his problems.

Thailand goes to the polls again on October 15th and I am hoping that there is a fair election with a peaceful outcome which is accepted by everybody. This latest incident does not augur well though and the danger is that if Thai Rak Thai and the opposition parties are still at loggerheads after the next election the military may decide to take matters into their own hands. At that point I suspect that the stance of King Bhumibol will be critical.

Battle of Hastings anyone?

These pictures were taken at the South of England Rally which was held at Bisley earlier this month. We went along on our two Fatboys and had a great time. This bike must I presume belong to someone from 1066 Chapter. More photos to follow.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Lib Dem buttons added

That was really easy and looks (I think) very professional. I have added the buttons to my site by inserting some simple code. If any other members or supporters wnat to do the same then just go here

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Leeds reject Royals

The bid by Reading for Kilgallon has been a big talking point in our household with a Leeds fan (me) and a Reading fan (my son). I go to watch Reading with my son and although I would be extremely reluctant to let him go from Leeds for as little as the rumoured bid of around 1.3m I think I would also be reluctant to see him join Reading. I am not convinced that he is a Premiership class defender of the quality that Reading will need if they are to progress. I guess the fact that they are bidding for him is indicative of the difficulty that they are having in strengthening their squad. Now if Reading would like to up their bid to say 3.5m then maybe Leeds should let him go!

Monday, August 21, 2006

So is he banned or isn't he?

Peter Ridsdale may or may not have been banned from Elland Road. The Leeds United official site is silent on this one. The report from the BBC appears to imply that Ridsdale thinks he has been banned for life whereas Bates says he has not been banned. On a personal level I do not care that much whether Ridsdale is allowed in or not. Of far more interest is how he is allowed to play an ongoing role in the running of a Football Club.

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Readings barnstorming start - Leeds lose

Leeds sadly lost to another late goal when Cardiff scored in the 84th minute. Judging by the reports I have read so far Leeds did not play well and lacked creativity and pace on the counter attack. Unless things start to improve particularly in the points department the calls for Blackwell to go will increase and he could yet be one of the first managerial casualties of the season.

Meanwhile I went to the Reading game with my Reading supporting to son to watch their first ever match in the top flight after 135 years. Reading started a little nervously and made quite a few mistakes in the opening period. Their passing wasn't quite up to it and often a Reading player would get the ball and dwell on it too long looking for options before being dispossessed by Middlesbrough. Downing opened the scoring for Middlesbrough after 11 minutes with the Reading defence clearly at fault. Middlesbrough doubled their lead 10 minutes later after Hahnemann spilled the ball to Yakubu who promptly stuck it in the net.

At this point the home fans were beginning to fear a cricket score and were praying that the final scoreline would not be too embarrassing. However, it was at this point that the Reading team stopped being nervous now that they had nothing to lose and started to play with some grit and determination. Slowly some confidence returned and Reading started to look dangerous. Kitson scored a scrappy goal and the self belief continued to flow back. The second goal by Sidwell was real class and more the sort of thing Reading fans had become used to last season. Lita scored a third early on in the second half and the come back was complete. Middlesbrough were unlucky not to equalise when Viduka had a goal ruled offside. Reading continued to have the better of the exchanges and played out the half with some confidence.

There is a long way to go and I am sure that watching Reading will have lots of ups and downs this season but the opener will have given the players the confidence that they can compete in the Premier League. My biggest concern would be the depth of the squad with Kitson injured today and looking likely to be out for a few weeks at least

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Prescott, Prescott and more Prescott

What a busy day for Prescott fans

First it is reported that he thinks President Bush's foreign policy is "crap"

I agree with him on this although it appears that he omitted to mention that our foreign policy as the 51st state is almost identical. Oh well open mouth, insert foot business as usual from John Prescott.

In the same article it is reported that "he called the US President a cowboy with his Stetson on". Oh well I guess it takes one to know one. It was only a few weeks ago that he was fantasising about being a cowboy himself!

Then it is reported that following a freedom of information request "the Cabinet Office has refused to say how often the Cabinet committees chaired by John Prescott have met"

Tricky one this. Damned if you do and damned if you don't I suspect.

Finally it is reported that a TV Drama is to depict John Prescott's fall from grace

Surely this cannot be a TV Drama? A comedy yes, but a TV drama? I think not.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Loss of community spirit?

This survey was conducted by ICM and commissioned by Community Service Volunteers (CSV) for Make a Difference Day. They highlight certain findings which they believe could be in part addressed through volunteering in general and through Make a Difference day in particular.

I am not sure that I entirely agree with the headline in the Guardian piece which exclaims "Report reveals loss of community spirit" I think that this can be read in a more positive light in that people are concerned about these issues. It seems to me that it is not good that there is dwindling support for young people or a lack of dignity for the elderly but it is positive that "40% of the population say they are concerned about dwindling support and guidance for young people growing up and 25% say they are concerned about older people losing their dignity."

This survey certainly provides some useful hooks for Liberal Democrat policies.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Instant Justice = No Justice

So here we go again. Further plans to undermine the concepts of fairness and justice which we rightly hold so dear. We have already seen some small steps in this direction with the powers the police already have. Now they are proposing that this should be taken further with more powers to dispense instant justice. The end result of all this is that the police become prosecutor, judge, jury and executioner all in one. This is not good for justice and in the long run this will not be good for the police.

There is a trend developing here where the debate starts over the principle as a result of which the proposals (say detention without charge) get watered down. Nonetheless the principle becomes established. Later on the government comes back with further proposals and the debate gets sucked into the detail rather than the principle. The ninety day detention is probably going to be back on the agenda after recent events and we will end up seeing the debate conducted over the detail of whether or not it should be ninety days rather than over the principle of whether or not we should be detaining people without charging them. I hope our parliamentary team will be focused on bringing the debate around to the principles

Monday, August 14, 2006

Government booze stash

According to Don Foster the government has a "hospitality" stash of booze which contains some 35,000 bottles of wine, beer and spirits worth some £647,000! Quite what they need such a large amount of alcohol for I do not know. I always find the local shops, supermarkets and off licenses well stocked with such items. We could have a brilliant party with that lot and so could they always assuming of course that they know how to organise a p*** up in a brewery

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Disappointing but signs of promise

Leeds threw away three possible points this afternoon at Crystal Palace. However despite the loss there were some very positive signs. Leeds went down to 10 men after 15 minutes when Horsfield was sent off but held on until the 91st minute when Morrison score for Palace. For much of the game Leeds looked comfortable on the ball particularly in the last 30 minutes of the first half when some good chances when begging. The struggled more in the second half but still looked worthy of a point and Westlake and Stone were brilliant

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

1 Point gained 2 lost

I guess four points from six at the start of the season is not to be sniffed at especially given the disrupted pre-season and late signings at the back end of last week. Some poor defending allowed QPR to snatch a point. Oh well early days I guess

Monday, August 07, 2006

A small step in the right direction

At long last some commonsense prevails and the Ordnance Survey is going to put details of security sensitive sites on the map. This is an issue which has always seemed barking mad and slightly offensive to those of who live near to nuclear sites such as the Atomic Weapons base at Aldermaston. To look at the map and see green fields where patently a large military industrial complex sits has always been at odds with reality.

I used to sit on the Atomic Weapons Base Local Liaison Committee in my days as a councillor and raised this very issue on a couple of occasions. I was told initially that it could not be done for reasons of national security. I then produced a map of the base (kindly sent to me by some anonymous party) and asked whether or not the Committee could instead be supplied with an up to date version of my map. Queue apoplectic fits on behalf of the AWE Staff who wanted to know where this classified map had come from?

I pointed out that given the leaks from inside the base of radioactivity and documents and the name of the adjacent village (Aldermaston) it would not take a rocket scientist to locate the base. Several years later it was conceded that it would not be a problem to apply to have Aldermaston put back on the map. Finally some action appears to have been taken - It is not absolutely clear from the article in the Guardian but it looks as if the Weapons Base at Aldermaston will be restored to Ordnance Survey maps and at last I may be able to obtain a reasonably accurate map of the local area.

Saturday, August 05, 2006

Great - the season is underway and 3 points in the bag

Excellent start to the season after last seasons disappointing trip to Cardiff. I must admit I was nervous about this one - expecting Norwich to be stronger than last season and thought that a hard fought draw might be a possible outcome. Still this win sets us off on the right foot for a long hard season ahead. It is good to see some activity on the transfer front despite the fiasco with Livermore with three more players arriving in the last couple of days. According to the preview on Leeds United Life this win keeps a great run of opening day results going - "Our last opening day defeat was the 5-2 loss, away at Newcastle, on 19 August 1989, the year we won the old Division Two title. Since then, we have won nine and drawn seven and yet nine of those sixteen games were played away. This will be our eighth successive home game on opening day and we are looking for our sixth win in that time."

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Hospital fined for treating patients!!

So basically the hospital in question had spare capacity and got on and treated the patients that were waiting. Brilliant you would think what a good idea.........but oh no hang on a minute loads of these patients they treated were seen earlier than the 122 days they were supposed to wait so there is no way the PCT's are going to pay up. So patients get treated quickly without having to wait 122 days (4 months) and the PCT's who are short of cash in the mad world that is the NHS these days weasel out of paying. It is good to know that all these reforms are working so sensibly!!

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Mad goings on at Elland Road

21st July - David Livermore signs for Leeds from Millwall for £400,000

1st August - David Livermore joins Hull for an undisclosed fee

Well he obviously impressed in training then!! The official line from the club is "At the time of signing David, Kevin Nicholls and another potential midfield target weren't available to us. We then managed to acquire Kevin and things have now opened up on another target. With everyone fit, David is unlikely to play - so when the opportunity came up for him to talk to Hull, we gave him that choice."

This is so bizarre it beggars belief and doesn't bode well for the coming season which kicks off on Saturday. The clubs line on the acquisition of Kevin Nicholls might hold some water if it were not for the announcement on the official site the same day (yesterday) that Nicholls earlier injury was being described by the manager as "serious" see link here.

And why the undisclosed fee lets hope it is because Hull don't want to admit that they have paid more than £400k for a player who cost Leeds that amount less than two weeks ago. The alternative is that Leeds have made a loss on the player.

Roll on Saturday - but I fear a long hard season ahead