Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Qualifications

You'll have heard the old gag about ....
Those who can, do
Those who can't, teach
Those who can't teach, teach gym...
My wife informs me that this isn't funny.

Well, how about "those who absolutely fuck up everything they touch end up editing a newspaper?"

Synchronicity


Just re-reading American Tabloid.

Then saw this Facebook poll.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Lost footage

My friend, Alan, has found some YouTubes of his dad.



... and



... among others.

Alan Snr was a highly rated Bantamweight boxer in the 1960s - famous enough to be the subject of an episode of This is Your Life with Eamonn Andrews

Tragically, the tapes have been lost and Alan and his family don't have a copy of the programme. I say 'lost' though I suspect that 'not looked for thoroughly' would probably a better description? On the huge off-chance that an ITV archivist is reading this blog, any help gratefully .... etc etc.

Update: It was on the 15th March 1972 - the week after Gordon Banks was on.

And while we're on the subject of 1960s boxers, this is a blog, innit? Search engines like blogs, don't they?

If I mention Vic Andretti, you never know, he may find this. If you do, Vic, and you're ever back over from Florida, get in touch will you? It'd be good to see you again after all these years (hint: The Ringside 1990-5? You gave me enough drinks on the house to have Brenda giving me daggers whenever I walked in....)

Bikes at stations latest

This is not so much a good idea as a bleedin' obvious idea.

The Department for Transport has announced which rail stations will accommodate 10,000 extra cycling parking spaces across the country.

The £14m scheme will see cycle hubs introduced at 10 stations, including three in London, Leeds, Grimsby, Hull, Liverpool, Scunthorpe, Sheffield and York. The Leeds hub will be completed by next May, and the others will open within the next two years.

An extra 4,500 cycle spaces will be created at nearly 350 stations, and four train operators will transform their cycling facilities on their networks to become flagship ‘Bike ‘n’ Ride’ companies,
Why does this need such a fuss and why should it cost so much money? Creating a safe place at local railway stations and tube stations to leave bikes would get loads of traffic off the road.

Probably wouldn't be enough for me though. As Alan Partridge once put it, "there's a time and a place for cycling. The time is summer, and the place is Center Parcs."

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Paulie elsewhere

I posted this earlier on the new Left Foot Forward blog. Have a look?

Shorter version:
Rupert Murdoch's co-operation with new Labour didn't just buy a policy-veto. It cemented a regulatory free-ride for his companies that have earned him £billions.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Freedom

Whatever you thought about new Labour in the 1990s, they seemed to be cresting a wave, in shallow public policy terms. The Third Way appeared to be a reasonably worthwhile punt, given the perceived failure of both the market (Liverpool) and the state (Berlin Wall).

But this is the kind of language that Tory think tanks are still using:
The answer to higher education's funding crisis is neither higher fees nor higher taxes, but liberation from state control.
And....
"Taxpayers – including the middle classes – are already rebelling. They may flee elsewhere as the global economy allows them to transfer jobs and investment."
And....
"If the government wants to help the universities, ... it should also rethink its economic role and learn from two lower-cost economies: Switzerland and the US."
If I were a Tory, back in the mid-1990s, I would have been depressed out of my gourd, given Labour's ability to hit the right notes, both in terms of short-term electoral advantage, but also in terms of a pragmatic approach to the big issues.

As a Labour supporter now, I must admit that I'd be reluctant to let my bookmaker profit from my wishful thinking. But I doubt that any bookie would be too offer attractive odds on Tories for more than one term if this is what passes for thinking in their ranks.

Impartiality v plurality

Tory Culture spokesman Jeremy Hunt has surely got a point here about the BBC:
"I wish they would go and actively look for some Conservatives to be part of their news-gathering team, because they have acknowledged that one of their problems is that people who want to work at the BBC tend to be from the centre-left. That's why they have this issue with what Andrew Marr called an innate liberal bias."
All of that said, it's an odd observation to make at the moment. Nick Robinson - the chief BBC political correspondent - is the most overtly partisan journalist to hold that position in my memory (and I suspect, the most partisan since the post was created). His Tory credentials, and the bias of his reporting is barely veiled.

There's clearly a case for the BBC to abandon their quest for impartiality and embrace pluralism instead, as I argued here a while ago.

The biggest bias that they need to address is the metropolitan ex-public school Westminster insider one. The quality of political commentary would improve massively if they could deal with that....

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Zer0 Books

Saw this via the verygood Dublin Opinion blog:
Zer0 Books

Contemporary culture has eliminated both the concept of the public and the figure of the intellectual. Former public spaces – both physical and cultural – are now either derelict or colonized by advertising.

A cretinous anti-intellectualism presides, cheerled by expensively educated hacks in the pay of multinational corporations who reassure their bored readers that there is no need to rouse themselves from their interpassive stupor.

The informal censorship internalized and propagated by the cultural workers of late capitalism generates a banal conformity that the propaganda chiefs of Stalinism could only ever have dreamt of imposing.

Zer0 Books knows that another kind of discourse – intellectual without being academic, popular without being populist – is not only possible: it is already flourishing, in the regions beyond the striplit malls of so-called mass media and the neurotically bureaucratic halls of the academy.

Zer0 is committed to the idea of publishing as a making public of the intellectual. It is convinced that in the unthinking, blandly consensual culture in which we live, critical and engaged theoretical reflection is more important than ever before.
Mark Fisher of K-Punk is published by Zer0 which should give you some idea of what they're about. K-Punk's latest post may get me reading Robert Ludlum's 'Bourne Identity' (which I think Mark is implying, isn't as bad as the film).

And here's a Kraftwerk video nicked from there as well:

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Lib Dems 'mansion tax'

Bad Concience thinks it's politically astute on the Lib-Dems part. I reckon it's a bit of a tragedy that it is seen as being a bold attention-grabbing move that a lot of Lib-Dems want to row back from.

(via S&M)

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Datecheck

Further to that iBuilder / reputation management post yesterday, now there's datecheck.

I suppose that there's an argument for being able to check people out before you take them home with you, but this is a bit too creepy, surely?

Election advice


From Irish Election.

Blogger of the year: New candidate

I must admit, I thought Roger had this title in perpetuity with David Lindsay in close second. But it seems that they both have a worthy rival.

In fairness, Roger and David have both actually been involved in the setup of a political party, and this should give them the edge. Probably only one of these parties is destined for a thousand year hegemony and I'm not certain which one ... yet.

Neil hasn't set up his own party, though this quote....
"... LibDems expelled me, officially on the grounds that I approve of free markets (which in their Orwellian world is now officially "illiberal")"
... suggests that he may be a worthy addition to Roger's lot?

However, Neil's shortcomings on the 'setting up your own political party' front are counterbalanced by the way that he offers us a lengthy post containing all of the rejected letters that he's written to newspapers.

As a single post, it just gives and gives. Roger. David. Time to get your fingers out. Your reign may be close to an end....

(Hat tip: Matt Wardman)

Update: This Blogger software is serving up ads based upon the post that you submit to the site. When I added this post the first time, I was offered a link to this site. I hope that at least one of their founders is a blogger? Please god.....

Meet the opponents...

.... of US healthcare reform.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Monopolies, market research and reputation management (branding)

4iP have invested in a site called MyBuilder. It's designed to make it easier to find a good builder without being ripped off.

I'm only pointing to this because it is sort-of related to an observation that I made here recently (in a longer post) about how monopolies are sustained by their superior market research - and that the way that they keep this information to themselves could be seen as an appropriation of information that - by rights - belongs to us.

We may not have made a fully-informed decision in which we allowed them to use our judgement in the first place.

As a result, monopolies can fine-tune their services to make theirs the least uncompetitive one on offer. The result is not necessarily good for the consumer and it creates a high barrier to entry that excludes genuine entrepreneurs.

Market research also informs brand development. If you've stumbled across the concept of the 'market for lemons', one of it's corollaries is that - with imperfect information or understanding of various market options - we undervalue products. Brands allow large companies to circumvent this and be able to get higher prices for their goods and services.

So, MyBuilder - by promoting reputation management - will allow smallish builders to develop a reputation independent of large brands. Admittedly, it's not a market that is particularly dominated by these brands anyway - but I'd like to see similar projects in markets that are more dominated in this way.

Rhyme, rhythm and reason

A good while ago, I pointed to a great LKJ poem called 'If I Woz a Tap Natch Poet'

Philosophy Football have taken the refrain from this as the title for an event that they're helping the TUC out with - Rhyme Rhythm and Reason - featuring Linton Kwesi Johnson on a rare London appearance.

I saw LKJ at the Meltdown festival a few years ago (curated by Lee Perry if that isn't too alarming an idea) and he was very good. I was half-expecting it to be a nostalgia-fest, but it turnd out to be very contemporary.

It's all part of the TUC's support for the World Day for Decent Work - see you there if you're going?

Here's Tap Natch Poet again for you:

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Karma

You don't have to be that interested in Gaelic games (and I'm more of an interested bystander than any kind of expert) to enjoy this bit of slagging:



And what goes around comes around. Probably the most dated bit of conventional wisdom in Irish football is the advice to 'never bet against Kerry.'

(Ta Vic for the video)

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Broadcasting levies

There is, to my mind, an unassailable case for the application of industry levies in order to secure the future for public service broadcasters, and to ensure a future alternative to what passes for non-PSB reporting in this country.

Jeremy Dear of the NUJ makes that case here. I would read it if I were you.

Update: The BBC have finally decided to defend themselves. About time too.

When Rupert send Mini-Murdoch in to bat for him last month, he really did send a boy to do a man's job, didn't he? I don't usually go a bundle on attacking Labour ministers, but Ben Bradshaw is a complete waste of space at the DCMS.

A former Corporal at the BBC, he's entirely immersed in a universe where we don't even pretend that policy-prescriptions can't be vetoed by powerful media interests.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Still mourning for the holiday


English countryside - summer evening (near Ridgeway hostel)
Originally uploaded by Paul L Evans

When I got back from Ireland a few weeks ago, I had another quick trip - this time to Wiltshire for a weekend. While I was there, I took this.

The English countryside is a funny place isn't it? The people are a bit odd, but it looks quite nice.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

FIle under 'just give up trying'

The tenor banjo is one of about half-a-dozen instruments that I'm trying to master without much success at the moment.

Here's Gerry O'Connor with a couple of reels - the second one is New Copperplate - one I tried learning but won't bother with any further after hearing this rendition of it:

Friday, September 11, 2009

Down the tubes

September the 11th is supposed to be a good day to bury bad news, and Iain Dale has chosen today to publish his top 100 Labour blogs. NTaH is down from a heady No30 (I think - I can't find it now) to a lowly 74 this year.

I'm trying to put a brave face on this, but if I'm honest, I've let you - my readers - down a little bit in 2008 by somewhat neglecting this blog in favour of my far-more-boring-if-that's-possible Local Democracy blog - a site I confidently predict will slip beneath Mr Dale's radar (it's much more non-aligned than NTaH is, that's for sure).

I notice that the Virtual Stoa - so good they ranked it twice - is bookending this blog at both no 67 and 86 - surely grounds for celebrations in the Senior Common Room at Scone College?

Dave Osler isn't there at all - wtf? And I don't know how Bloggerheads or Chicken Yoghurt will console themselves with dropping off the list entirely.

How the mighty are fallen.

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Old instincts

Here's another post that I've had sitting in my drafts folder for a while - I've decided to finish it and get it out rather than ponder on it any longer:

A few weeks ago now, Dave Osler had a really good post up about the failure of the left to take advantage of the worst crisis of capitalism since the 1930s. Luke Akehurst also appears, thankfully, to be back on his feet and he had a typically pugnacious post up here that (oddly) chimes well with Dave.

Despite their differences, they appear to agree on two big things:
  1. They're both pointing to a genuine crisis facing Labour, and one I'd agree exists. I suspect that you could get reasonable odds on the party not existing in it's current form within the next decade or so - the French Socialists may currently be describing Labour's future, and social democratic parties elsewhere have disintegrated in a way that should prove to be a warning to all of us.
  2. They are both appealing for fresh thinking. I completely agree with Luke about the need to avoid the siren call of betrayal as an explanation for Labour's current problems. New Labour's rise can be explained, at least in part, by the sterility of centre-left thinking in the 1990s
However, I really can't endorse Luke's highly defensive 'we'd do it all exactly the same way if we had our time again' approach (I met Luke back pre-1997 and he is nothing if not consistent).

I think that there are a lot of very old left approaches that Labour could take - ones that would make electoral sense while advancing a left-ish agenda. In many cases, I think that they involve a return to values that existed in the British labour movement during the late 19th and early 20th century.

I've posted most of them in the past (thus the links) but I'd suggest that it may hint at directions for an electorally successful alternative to the current position that the Labour Party is taking - without asking the party to really change it's clothes too much. One qualification: All of these posts are about a long-term re-orientation of the Labour Party and the left in general. They're not really intended as short term policy proposals:
  1. A more aggressive critique of monopoly capitalism - position the left closer to genuine enterprise. I banged on about this a while ago here. One of the best posts I've ever read on a British blog - this one by Pete Ryley - covered the backstory to this.
  2. A more aggressive attitude towards the state bureaucracy. New Labour's single biggest failing has been in the quality of public management. The higher-paid public sector workers and the management consultants who often replace them are probably the less likely to vote Labour than their underlings, yet they've been huge beneficiaries of a Labour government. These people are the enemy. Allowing the Tories to gain points by attacking them is just potty, and I suspect that when Gordon Brown asks them to be a bit restrained in their demands, he'll just make himself look even weaker than he already is. Even I'm tempted to vote Tory next time when I read stories like this one.
  3. The creation of a client group of public sector workers. Having chucked money at the public sector, Labour has managed to persuade public sector workers - including many on the lower pay-grades - to vote Tory. Again, it's not the first time I've made this argument. It's time that public sector workers saw their bosses get a bollocking and a few small high-profile gestures on pay and conditions wouldn't go amiss either. Recruit them to appraise their bosses and the stupid agency arrangements that drive them all nuts. Matthew Taylor's view that public sector-led innovation could even result in cost savings is worth a look again. We should be inviting Inspector Frost to moan about Mr Mullet.
  4. A concerted attack on agencies that do public sector work. They do it expensively, badly, and none of the people who make a fortune out of the whole shooting match will ever vote Labour. Fuck 'em! This is one of those issues where a spot of good old transparency would work wonders. How much do they get paid to do their work? How much do they pay their staff? How much do they pay themselves? How much are we paying for middlemen who enervate the people they should be motivating to provide good service? We need to know.
  5. Co-operatives - both consumer and worker varieties. There is almost nothing by way of a well-resourced discussion about the scientific management of co-ops. Again, this is an old theme here. A cross-party commission on co-ops including the Lib-Dems and The Greens would be very useful here.
  6. Adult education. The emphasis on 18+ education has, I would suggest, gone ahead of the real demand for it. Don't get me wrong - increasing those who go through third-level education is an admirable aim, but I'd suggest that people returning to education in their late 20s and 30s (or later) would be less content to compete for the places on Applied Madeupology courses that seem to dominate large slices of the curriculum (self-organising and informal education has to be an important part of this). An offering to fund people who've been in work for years to take time off and study something that they really want to, would be electorally attractive as well as being the right thing to do.
  7. Political decentralisation. The Tories have been allowed to steal these particular clothes - and they've done it easily. The Labour Party - perhaps in partnership with the Lib-Dems and the Greens - needs to establish a commission on how a higher quality of candidates can be found for council elections. How can these people be handed more power at the expense of upper-middle managers? How can they improve their relationship with voters and reputation at a local level? There are implications from any likely conclusions such a commission would draw for regional and national government. There's even an efficiency argument for it.
  8. Democratic renewal. The moment you mention democratic reform, the left gets itself stuck into a tedious pointless argument about voting systems. Yet there seems to be little or no interest in things like co-design - involving people in design and build of their own environments, schools and transport systems, etc. There are many other areas of democratic renewal that can be discussed and acted upon without touching on different flavours of PR. What about participatory budgeting or a better use of social media by elected representatives? What about MPs taking a more active role in public enquries? They could start by spending the last six months + of a Labour government getting Labour MPs to cross examine bankers on TV - an inquiry into the current crisis. Here's an argument for this from the Irish Republic.
  9. Open Source - again, I posted recently on this one. By promoting collaborative information sharing, both small businesses and consumers could benefit at the expense of larger businesses.
  10. Can't think of a tenth one now. Nine's enough to be going on with, innit?
New Labour grew up, at least in part, out of the observation that a small-c conservativism in the British people was offended by the the posturing of New Left-influenced elements within the party. I'd suggest that all of these ideas - outlined above - avoid this problem.

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Cameron the recentraliser

Jonathan Freedland on David Cameron's spending plans (and the fact that he's leading them with a plan to cut the cost of politics by cutting down on the number of MPs):
"Of course, the public is right to be outraged by the money MPs lavished on themselves through dodgy expenses. But to link the deficit to ministers' pay was little more than cheap demagoguery, seeking to turn justifiable anger at greedy MPs into a generalised loathing for public spending. Yes, I know the argument Cameron was making: that cutting the cost of politics is merely a way of leading by example. But to devote a whole speech to what he insisted is a looming debt crisis – one measured in the hundreds of billions – to a set of measures which at most will save £120m, a drop in the ocean, was fundamentally unserious. It was gesture politics."
Now, seeing as Cameron is also planning a much more noble cull of the quangos (and I struggle to disagree with that much even from this Spectator article on the subject) one has to wonder if there will be less by way of decision-making by a Conservative government?

And if they are planning to actually do anything apart from winning the election and then sitting on their hands? Would they sooner that all decisions are made by the Conservative Party centre, in conjunction with new, more powerful (i.e. with fewer rivals) civil servants?

If Cameron believes that fewer politicians will result in a better quality of deliberation, one has to wonder if he has any respectable basis for his claim to be a decentraliser?

Monday, September 07, 2009

Open Source - beyond I.T.

This post has been sitting in my drafts folder for a while - and it started off as a bit of an aimless one about how the model for open source development - if applied to other areas apart from software development - could be the key to a sustainable economy, one that puts both consumers and small businesses back in the driving seat at the expense of monopolies that dominate most marketplaces.

It involved an elaborate plan to spec out the more popular items that we currently buy, arrive at agreed specifications or recipes for them (perhaps using some kind of wiki) along with a reputation management system that suppliers can use to establish the fact that they do, indeed, make the things that they promise to make, and that they stick to the agreed specifications.

So long to big car manufacturers. So long to the buy-new-instead-of-fix-it culture (if we can spend pennies to buy spare parts that actually fit for common household goods) and so on.

If you ever go to Ikea, you can see how well-modeled their product system is. They have bits of furniture that they've been selling for years because they know what their customers will buy. There's no reason that there couldn't be a commonly-specified rival to the Billy Bookshelf system, for instance.

But then it struck me that the real problem is the way that large companies can hoard their market research.

If someone were to come up with a collaborative market research tool that could guarantee widespread participation on the promise that all findings would be made public, perhaps this step along could chip away at the dominance that large companies have over smaller ones.

I'd like to think that - whenever I expressed any kind of preference, or that the market observed me making a choice, that no single company could turn that observation into data that it then held privately without sharing it (even if they didn't invade my privacy - an issue that I seem to care about a bit less than some - by placing that data in a file that also contained a unique identifier that linked it to me personally)

It's interesting that a cursory search on the term 'against monopoly' throws up this site - one that would probably be more accurately entitled 'against patents'....

Need to think some more about this - but what do you think?

Tongue-tied Labour

I don't make a habit of commenting on Westminster politics too much, but this post by Ben Lucas illustrates the forlorn position that Labour finds itself in at the moment.

Matthew Taylor's response to it makes sense, especially this bit:
"Currently it is assumed that the areas that will be most badly hit by public service retrenchment are those – like the North East – which have the highest proportion of their local economy in the public sector. But if the squeeze leads to new ways of thinking and working it could be those areas that see the biggest advances in overall productivity. This is not just about more efficient spending. Education and health care are two of the fastest expanding areas of global economic activity. Innovation in the public services could help the UK compete more effectively in these markets."
As Matthew says....
"The debate about deficits and cuts has tended to revert to a simplistic economic model in which the private sector generates money, the Government taxes it, and the public sector spends it."
If ever there was a time to challenge this, it is now - given what's happened in the past six months. But Labour is not longer in a position to have that conversation. It has a leadership that generally chooses to say nothing unless it has the space to say exactly what it wants to in the context that it chooses. And this space is no longer available.

Ben is saying that the government should go ahead with the Comprehensive Spending Review this year. I'd be worried about how much tacking and backtracking they'd do as soon as any element of it received a bit of hostile press.

It's probably too late to play the best card that Labour could: That it is ending it's flirtation with the idea that the public sector could be run more effectively if it were done along frameworks that pretend to mimic those of the private sector.

That there is a space for self-confidence and enterprise in the public sector. One that doesn't involve private sector salaries or the bureaucratic/managerial processes of large commercial monopolies.

I doubt if the current government would agree with this anyway - and if they did, I'd not be too confident that they could communicate it.

The BBC and the BNP

The argument presented here by Dr Bart Cammaerts is good enough for me:

The liberal arguments won the fight in North Belgium and representatives of the extreme right started appearing regularly on the news, news shows, in election programmes, etc. Granting the extreme right a platform to disseminate their ideology proved to be a very slippery slope towards presenting them as legitimate political actors being good at their job of opposing the government. More and more representatives of the extreme right have gone through the same media training as democratic politicians and are quite savvy in grasping every opportunity to get their often vile messages across, in spite of ├╝ber-critical interviewers.

In fact, representatives of extreme right parties often perform a sort of permanent underdog anti-politics that appeals to anti-establishment sentiments - an establishment to which the (liberally inclined) media elites are also considered part of.
He goes on:
I believe that extreme right parties should not be ignored altogether and the societal tensions and conflicts they are the symptom of, even less so. But the media should expose extreme right parties for what they really are and lay barren internal conflicts (just as with other parties) rather then give such parties and their representatives a platform to repeat their discourses of hate and exclusion.

Journalists should furthermore be very aware of the dangers of legitimizing extreme right discourses when reporting on the extreme right and when interviewing their representatives.

Pluralism should be radical in a democracy, but for vibrant multi-cultural and ethnical democracies to be able to survive, a common ground relating to basic values such as equality, respect, solidarity, difference, etc. is crucial as well. Popper’s paradox of tolerance sums it up pretty neatly, up until what point can intolerance be tolerated before it destroys tolerance all together?
The phrase 'so open minded that your brains fall out' springs to mind here....

Saturday, September 05, 2009

Two BEEB-related articles

Two from Will who doesn't have a blog:
  1. Public trust in the BBC going up, not down.
  2. Charlie Brooker on James Murdoch
Choice bits:
Brooker: "Now there's a lengthy, valid, and boring debate to be had about the scope and suitability of some of the BBC's ambitions but, quite frankly, if their news website (a thing of beauty and a national treasure) helps us stave off the arrival of the likes of [Glen] Beck [of Fox News] - even tangentially, even only for another few years until the Tories take over and begin stealthily dismantling the Beeb while a self-interested press loudly eggs them on - then it deserves to be cherished and applauded.
Julian Glover: Asked to pick from a range of ways of funding the BBC, including the licence fee, a subscription service and selling advertising, more people back the licence fee than any alternative ........ The fee is backed by 43%, against 24% who think advertising should foot the bill and 30% who think people should pay to subscribe if they want to see BBC programmes. In 2004, only 31% backed the licence fee, 12 points lower than today.

Friday, September 04, 2009

Sing all our cares away

Yesterday, I posted a link to a Damian Dempsey song - I came across it a while ago, but heard it again the other night which prompted me to link to it.

I really can't get it out of my head. The lyrics are a bit mawkish at times, and his songs often have a bit of a sledgehammer quality about them, but do listen to it again if you can - get to the line about 40 seconds in:
"Stevie smashes the delf, cos he can't express himself,
He's consumed by rage, like his father at his age...."
Like I say, not subtle. But listen to the vocal treatment that Dempsey gives that line. It's just fantastic. Innit?

Also, it's good that his Dublin accent sort-of dictates what he writes. Only a Dub could rhyme 'boil' with 'smile.' I met the actress Dillie Keane once - she was playing in 'Juno and the Paycock' in Leicester at the time and did a very good Dublin accent. He told me that you only needed one word to unlock the whole dialect: Mushrooms. Or Mush-eer-ew-ums.

Thursday, September 03, 2009

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Bloggers arrested. Spread the word?

If you have a blog of your own, would you mind picking this story up and writing about it?

I went for a drink with an old friend the other night. She brought along an Azerbaijani blogger (that isn't some dirty euphemism, by the way) who should probably remain nameless for the time being. Plenty of good stories about what a fine government they're blessed with over there.

Highlights included Azerbaijanis being hauled in by the cops to explain why they voted for the Armenian entry (not a euphemism either) in the Eurovision Song Contest.

And then these guys ....


... got arrested for 'hooliganism' shortly after this went out.

From the BEEB's coverage:
"People are not arrested in Azerbaijan because of political activity," said Ali Hasnov, a senior adviser to President Ilham Aliyev, in a statement.

"There was a scuffle between some young people and some of them were injured.

"Law enforcement agencies are investigating the case and will give an impartial assessment," he added.
There's a campaign website here and some background here. Please link to it and ask your readers to spread the word?

Update: More here.

Ta.

Differing logic

Was sent this in an email which probably means that you've already seen it .....

An astronomer, biologist, an engineer and a mathematician were crossing the border into Scotland from England on a train when they saw a field with a black sheep in it.

The astronomer said, "Look--all sheep on Earth are black."

The biologist said, "Look, in Scotland the sheep are black."

The engineer replied, "No, in Scotland some of the sheep are black."

The mathematician rolled his eyes to heaven and said, very patiently, "In Scotland, there exists at least one field, in which there is at least one sheep which is black on at least one side."

Membership

Here's an interesting post. I say 'interesting' at least in part because it reflects my own views, up to a point about where the media may be heading.

I won't ruin it for you, though if you want to come back and say anything about the untapped value that membership of trades unions, consumer co-operatives, credit unions and other affinity groups have, do feel free.

On another matter, go and read Anton's post - quite one of his best for a long time. Anyone who has been worried that journalism may not pay for itself in the future can now sleep soundly in their beds.