Thursday, August 31, 2006

Tory recycling LD policies

Its good to see gorgeous George Osborne launching some Tory policy into the policy void that they have. (I think a void is synonymous with being "completely open minded"...)
But talking about environmental taxation is hardly breaking fresh ground. It sounds a little familiar and not unlike the Lib Dems tax paper launch nearly 3 weeks ago.
Osborne's love affair with new forms of transport (the Shanghai maglev), reminds me of a Simpson's episode (Marge vs the Monorail).
I can imagine George leading a rendition of "MagLev" during the tory conference.
On a serious note, there is an awful record in this country for building new rail based lines (it really all went wrong from the first Manchester Liverpool line that had major problems to overcome, with the latest problems being with the Channel link and Thameslink going well over budget). As there is so little spare land, dropping a new line onto the landscape is a difficult task. But the French and Germans have far more room to plow a new line through the country side.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Open Secrets

The revelations in The Times (and other newspapers and outlets) that actually Kennedy had been an alcoholic for a while should come as a surprise to no-one. But also stink of hypocracy.
Surely the media are even more guilty for conspiring and covering-up than the "inner circle". At least the circle were working towards a public declaration, and getting CK to seek help.
I think Rob F is onto it when he says that the LD membership will probably be the most sympathetic of all.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Cabinet gym instructor

It's official: the nanny state now has a minister for fitness.
But as with all training regimes, we should be led by the example of the cabinet itself with such fine examples as Prezza and Brown. Every Thursday morning Caroline Flint should lead the cabinet in an aerobics class.
I've known that I'm overweight/obese for sometime (since about 10yrs old...). But my BMI is currently on the way down (30.9), not through growing taller, but by shedding some pounds. Over the last 4 weeks, I've given up a daily can of coke/fizzy drink substitute, and a bag of crisps. So far this has meant about 14lbs lost. Hopefully by the end of next week I'll be technically overweight, rather than obese.
I've probably increased my exercise/activity slightly through playing whole 6-a-side matches weekly, rather than only getting a half. But that is more to do with lack of availability of more than 6 people at a time!

Monday, August 21, 2006

New year of fantasy

Football that is.
A so-so week to kick off the fantasy season for me. 10 of my starting 11 played. I need to find out why Chimbonda didn't start for Wigan.
In terms of leagues, I'm in 4 private leagues this year: 1 work, 1 friends, 1 Lib Dem [Cowley St and other types], and Iain Dale's league. If you fancy your chances of taking £100 of politicos vouchers off Mr Dale then sign a team up at the premierleague fantasy site, and join Iain's league with this code: 239252-43069

to profile or not to profile?

Former Met police chief Lord Stevens says he should be fasttracked onto his flight because he doesn't fit the profile of a suicide bomber. Yet, some of the suspects currently in custody don't "fit the profile" (from the home counties, related to Tory activists etc).
The storm about profiling has again raised its head, but profiling has been taking place for quite a while: Customs & Excise regular use it (if you arrive at the same time as a flight from the carribean, or asian sub-continent then nearly all the C&E chaps are looking at people coming off those flights, once I had to hang around in the red channel waiting to pay some duty and the C&E people only came out of their back offices when these flights came in). I believe they can justify profiling on the "output" side, as it is looking at whole flights, and particular types of people (solo travellers etc), rather than on ethnic or religious grounds.
But profiling on the input side (ie prior to flying) wont work because, to use Lord Stevens argument for it, the terrorists will manipulate the "rules" and shave their beards and look like respectable old business travellers with suits, shirts and ties (and will probably get an upgrade...:)
Meanwhile, the Government needs to tell us why they are doing various things (like reducing the size of handluggage), rather than saying "because we say so".

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

He should know better...

Walkers Crisps have been found guilty by the ASA of misrepresenting the number of the brands that have a low amount of salt. But the representative of the anti-salt pressure group [Professor Graham MacGregor, chairman of CASH and an expert in cardiovascular medicine at St George's University of London] went a little over the top in his statement:
"To imply that a Walkers Sensations Walkers Oven Roasted Chicken with Lemon & Thyme Flavour crisp is 'better for you' when it contains approximately one and a half times the salt level of seawater is in my view socially irresponsible."

The implication is that seawater is not bad for you, and socially responsible.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Inflation to be hit by Tuition Fees

For me there seems something quite circular about the fact that Tuition Fees will probably have an impact upon inflation. [See BoE Govenors opening remarks]
The estimate is that they could affect inflation by upto 0.25%. If interest rates are increased to dampen the inflationary pressures then my mortgage will increase. But university pay is not index linked for the next two years, so if inflation exceeds the previously agreed pay awards, then university staff will effectively lose out, even though their institutions will have benefitted from the increase in Tuition Fees...

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

How many LibDems does it take to change a light bulb?

There's probably a long winded joke in there (10 people on the executive to delegate it to the 12 on the policy committee, before the conference committee decides that the motion can go forward to the 1000+ federal conference delegates).
Or just the one: Our leader.
Which reminds me that I too should get a stock of energy efficient light bulbs ready to replace ones that fail.

Monday, August 07, 2006

Sunday Ride

Was up early on Sunday morning to pop out for bike ride out into the Warwickshire countryside.
I've been looking for a nice group ride for a while, but failed to find anything, but last week I missed my normal spin class and went to a different one instead with an instructor I'd not met before. Afterwards he mentioned there was a group who rode from The Billesley pub at 0830 every Sunday, with 3 different groups. What he failed to mention was quite how serious the A group were, I only noticed this when they arrived on the Sunday with some v.impressive equipment (lots of tri-bars and time trialling bikes).
What I hadn't been told was that the ride was used by the local triathlon club! Fortunately the C group who I rode with weren't fast/competitive, and ran at a nice 15mph average.
Will be going back in a couple of weeks.

Friday, August 04, 2006

4 dead, £180 and 6 pts

I'm still not wholly convinced that this was the "right" outcome of the case involving the driver who plowed into a group of cyclists on a freezing sunday morning in North Wales.
The court heard that the bald tyres were more likely not to blame (tyre tread helps by dispersing water, rather than helping on ice), but surely the driver should have been driving within limits of the road and weather conditions, and obviously exceeded them in spinning off the road.