| Thursday 28th October 2004 19:00MDT | → 2 Comments |
Because the European Parliament exercises its right (yes, it does have the right under Article 214 of the treaty - it didn’t decide to vote on the Commission as something to pass the time) to reject a proposed Commissioner who is seen to be sexist and homophobic, the media immediately starts talking about crises. This is the same media that has been claiming the EU is ‘in crisis’ and ‘about to collapse’ continuously for the past few decades and, shock horror, it hasn’t happened. The Sun described it as ’sleazy’. Huh? Exercising democratic rights is sleazy? This sounds very much like the Parliament doing what it’s supposed to. If the British Parliament censures a Government minister, does that throw the whole principle of UK governance into crisis? Somehow I suspect The Sun doesn’t like people getting in the way of Government appointed stooges that are susceptable to pressure from vested, business interests.
The current Commission will continue for slightly longer in a caretaker mode while not making any major decisions. The member state Governments will have to work out how to convince Italy to find someone better. In the meantime, everything will go along as before.
If there’s anything to be learned here it’s the following, which is not the analysis the media have come up with:
- The Parliament should be allowed to veto individual Commissioners, not ‘all or nothing’
- It demonstrates that appointing Commissioners is daft, as it’s nothing but a stitch-up by the Goverments to put in place cronies who are not necessarily suitable (note that the EP has also rejected at least two other Commissioners for not being up to the job). Commissioners should be chosen according to merit, which is actually how everyone else who wants to work as a civil servant in the Commission is chosen - through a rigorous interview process.
Remember the infrequent pictures of comedy-named chocolate? I’ve finally put it all together in its own section.
| Tuesday 26th October 2004 20:48MDT | → 1 Comments |
Another (ambient) CD purchase arrived today: Octagon by Dilate.
Bf is planning a couple of dinner parties while here. Some are to be more ‘themed’ than others (i.e. beyond dishes being predominately from a particular country). On idea is has is for a ‘White Trash Gourmet’ dinner. The menu goes something like this:
STARTERS: Cocktail Franks in Coca-cola Barbecue Sauce, Cheese Wiz Canapes, Bologna Pinwheels
SALAD: Lime Jello Brand Gelatin, Whipped Salad
MAIN COURSE: Linguine with Roasted Spam and Wild Mushrooms, Wonder Bread Bruschetta
DESSERT: Twinkies with Bittersweet Chocolate, Carmel(sic) Sauce, and Nutmeg Whipped Cream
BEVERAGE: KoolAid Kiddie Cocktails
Apparently, the trick is he makes all this into something that is actually edible. I wait to be amazed.
| Sunday 24th October 2004 18:23MDT | → 1 Comments |
Only two weeks until bf is here, so effectively today was the last full day I had to buy presents. I took the opportunity to add some Lush goodies, bringing the total number of gifts for him to fifteen. Some may consider that excessive (and they’d be right - but that’s love for you).
I also visited Harvey Nicks for the first time in ages. To me it always feels like a less vulgar version of Harrods with the added bonus of not having Harrods’ tedious ‘in your face’ security guards who insist bags must be carried and not hung from shoulders or on backs.
Hugo Young memorial lecture transcript in The Guardian. It’s by Philip Stephens and is entitled Britain and Europe - unforgettable past, unavoidable future. I well recommend it.
I bought a 10m CAT5 (ethernet) cable from Scan, so I could make a better job of hiding the cable modem as it’s in the other room from my box. I thought
| Thursday 21st October 2004 20:47MDT | → 0 Comments |
Between April 2003 and March 2004, my MP cost
| Wednesday 20th October 2004 20:06MDT | → 0 Comments |
Normally I find The Guardian sensible in its outlook, with the exception of its sometimes holier-than-thou attitude and sometime oh-so-terribly-witty journalistic style that just falls flat, but its recent project to try to influence Ohio voters in the US presidential election was just asinine and they deserved all the criticism they got (including from this country). Without doubt, the Guardian would have been front of the ‘condemnation’ queue if a paper in the US had tried the same thing here.
If they’d stopped to think, they might have realised the problem is not that we can’t influence the US administration but that the fault lies with our Government trying so had to turn Britain into a supplicant nation to the US. Therefore the solution is change that Government’s attitude or replace them with one that takes an independent (but internationalist) and principled stand on the issues and stops letting us be humiliated by the US in the eyes of the world. I’m sorry, but isn’t that obvious?
As an exercise in nerdyness (i.e. just to prove the concept and just because I could), I’ve created a SOAP service running on this server that allows one to retrieve either the latest diary entry or a specific one using the entry ID. The ID is the same used in the RSS feed and I supposed you could consider this service to be half-way between the HTML representation and the RSS. It returns a single block of text with no markup but with line feeds.
If you care, the calling URL is:
… and the methods are:
GetLatestDiaryEntry [no arguments]
GetSpecificDiaryEntry [argument: entry id]
Who knows - someone might find them useful. If you don’t know what a SOAP service is, apart from thinking it’s another name for a car wash, then just ignore it and go about your normal business.
| Monday 18th October 2004 20:16MDT | → 1 Comments |
One last shot before I give up on the right-wing-baiting, otherwise know as Gerald Howarth’s comment that the Civil Partnerships Bill would ‘…encourage the proliferation of homosexuality.’. From 12 Reasons Same-Sex Marriage will Ruin Society (which I admit I’ve linked to before, but only because it’s such fun):
8. Gay marriage will encourage people to be gay, in the same way that hanging around tall people makes you tall.
As bf is going to help me lose weight while here, mostly through cooking me healthy meals and making sure I don’t snack (I ate a whole Battenberg cake this evening!), he’s come up with a few tips before the programme starts in anger on his arrival:
1. No fizzy drinks.
2. No eating after 7pm.
3. Chew each mouthful of food 15-20 times.
This could get complicated.
| Sunday 17th October 2004 19:13MDT | → 0 Comments |
I was listening to an item on the World Service programme People and Politics about the Parlimentary debate on the Civil Partnerships Bill and, lo and behold, they had Gerald Howarth prattling away.
What struck me is how he, like most right-wingers, are unable to justify their arguments beyond some sort of “well, it’s obvious isn’t it”, which seems to suggest to me some sort of religious basis to their thinking, along the lines of:
1. God is.
2. I’m a Christian.
3. Therefore, I’m right.
Despite being repeatedly asked exactly how queers getting committed would undermine marriage, his responses were simply variants of “It just will”, as if it was a mathematical certainty and everyone was an idiot for not realising this. The same ‘unsinkable rubber duck’ syndrome explains why right-wingers are totally convinced that putting more people in prison will solve crime and if that doesn’t work - just put even more in prison!
| Saturday 16th October 2004 14:45MDT | → 1 Comments |
One problem I’ve found with my webcam, apart from its obvious contrast issues, is that every so often the picture comes out completely corrupted. To analyse this better, I archive each image snapped before it’s uploaded and a rather interesting pattern emerges - corruption only occurs with daytime images. Those taken at night are never mangled.
Then again, it was only a cheap webcam (
| Wednesday 13th October 2004 21:50MDT | → 0 Comments |
More by accident than design I came across the Government’s Interdepartmental Review of International Human Rights Instruments. No great surprises and fortunately it looks like we’re planning to drop a number of reservations and derogations. However, the greatest bug-bear still remains which is derogation from Article 5 of the ECHR. The rationale was, and remains, farcical:
The need for the United Kingdoms derogation and the detention powers which are underpinned by the derogation are regularly reviewed by the Home Secretary. It remains his view that:-
a) there remains a public emergency threatening the life of our nation and
b) the extended power of detention remains a necessary and proportionate response to that emergency.
In no way can locking someone up indefinitely without a proper trial or even giving them a reason be considered ‘proportionate’.
Speaking of rights (as I always am), I was reading the Hansard record of Civil Partnerships Bill debate that was yesterday in the Commons. Some may claim that proper debate is dead in Parliament but it was certainly alive and kicking from what I read here. The quality of the various contributions from both sides was exceptional. What surprised me the most were the number of Tories who argued both passionately and extremely cogently in favour. I think it must show that they’re not all evil. Of course you did get a few old-guard loony Tories (referred to as ‘mediaeval’ by opposition MPs) like Gerald Howarth who claimed that the bill would:
… send out the message to the people of this country that there are two equally valid lifestyles and that one can be in a homosexual relationship or a heterosexual - many of us would describe it as normal - relationship? That message will encourage the proliferation of homosexuality.
What a tosser. Anyway, the bill passed (to committee stage) by an overwhelming majority. If anything, this reaffirms my faith in Parliament but in the sense that this was treated almost entirely as a ‘conscience’ issue which meant it truely had to be argued on its merits, resulting in a standard of debate that was much higher.
When I came back from seeing bf in July, I had around $168 in cash with me (more in fact than I had started with - don’t ask me how). However, I lost it in the mess that was my bedroom and eventually, after much fruitless searching, came to the conclusion I’d accidentally thrown it away. Anyway, only this evening I went into my box of envelopes and found it! I shall be sending some to bf.
… and there was another money bonus. I made a claim from my credit card company for the wedding list item from the company that had gone bust. They paid up only two days later without me needing to give any details. Bonus!
Next Page »
| Tuesday 12th October 2004 21:36MDT | → 1 Comments |
Last night, in a sudden fit of efficiency, I actually sat down and wrote my essay. Ha! I think the spur was the recent email from my tutor which, in response to my moaning, was very supportive but, reading between the lines, essentially said “Just belt up and write the damn thing”. Now I’m back on schedule.
I suspect my mood was helped by listening (over and over again) to the track ‘Held’ by Smog, from the album Knock Knock. I was just captivated by it.
Very good article in the Guardian about the forthcoming appeal case on using evidence obtained by torture overseas. In the same edition is an item about our Uzbekistan ambassador, Craig Murray, who is likely to lose his job for having spoken out against human rights abuses there (as Uzbekistan is an ally in the morally bankrupt ‘war on terror’). Saying ‘New Labour’ and ‘ethical foreign policy’ in the same sentence is nothing more than a sick joke.
Spy Blog has an excellent analysis of the Indymedia server seizures.
Bf sent me copies of his medical info so it can be shown to the authorities in case he gets ill while he’s here. One part of it covered the side-effects of his pills but I didn’t read it as I’ve seen first-hand the sort of things that could happen when he first started taking anti-retrovirals some years ago (throwing up day and night constantly for weeks on end was one, psycho-terrors was another). Fortunately he suffers much fewer effects these days as the drugs are much more sophisticated but I still don’t want to think about it. I’ve told him not to do too much and take things easy, e.g. no going on really long walks around the countryside as he likes doing while here, especially as it will be winter.