Tuesday, 31 March 2009
Sunday, 29 March 2009
His philosophy, some of which must have rubbed off on his listeners in the 1940s and 1950s, can be seen in this speech. Over sixty years on, none of his concerns have been satisfactorily disposed of, although it must have seemed, in those more optimistic days as the Second World War was turning, that a better world was being created.
Blogs were added (rather tardily, some might think) to the Orwell Prize roster last year. The People's Republic of Mortimer tops the 2009 shortlist. It seems that this is on alphabetic grounds, but if there is any justice Alix Mortimer should be on the winners' rostrum at least, when the judging is over. For me, at least three of the blogs should be ruled out straight away as being part of institutions. Orwell was always an outsider, and always personal. He may not have approved of Alix's rococo prose*, but he would certainly have approved the power and conviction of her writing. There does seem to be a high regard for liberal democracy at present, helped by Vince Cable's persona and our MPs' standing apart from the general allowance-claiming culture, which may work in her favour. (We'd better make the most of it; when the date of the general election looms, the big money and the big media will swing behind the conservative parties.)
Later: I see Chris Dillow has struck a sour note.
* For those who didn't catch the reference in my comment to the Mortimer blog, it was to Orwell's "Politics and the English language". Personally, I love both simple and ornate, multi-layered, writing. It's the in-between which bores me.
Devotees of classic Hollywood will know of the movie, "Mr Smith Goes to Washington", in which James Stewart stars as "a naive man [who] is appointed to fill a vacancy in the US Senate. His plans promptly collide with political corruption, but he doesn't back down", to quote from the Internet Movie Database.
Seventy years on, and in an older, tired, democracy, the consort of the Home Secretary and her parliamentary aide made use of her allowance to obtain blue movies, as the Mail on Sunday reports, in her official second home.
Thursday, 26 March 2009
"Many civilisations rather like rats. In India, the rat is the vehicle of Lord Ganesh, while at Rajastan's famous Karni Mata Temple, some 20,000 rats can be found. Many Hindus travel great distances to pay their respects to the kabbas, or holy animals, that guard the shrine, believing them to be reincarnations of the deity's tribespeople. In China, the rat is one of the 12 members of the animal zodiac. People lucky enough to be born in the year of the rat are said to qualities of creativity, honesty, generosity and ambition."
Its Linnaean moniker is misleading, by the way; the brown rat originated in Asia.
In the last few years, the implications have begun to dawn on people generally. Now there is news from David Peter that MPs have thwarted the latest attempt at warehousing by Jack Straw at the Home Office.
Wednesday, 25 March 2009
If it were a straight choice between badgers and Welsh farming, I would reluctantly come down on the side of eliminating badgers. But I do not believe it is a straight choice. Moreover, there is no mention in the report of the four-year programme recently announced for Pembrokeshire of control of the other carriers of TB, especially the cattle.
For a reasoned argument on the other side, read Glyn Davies's posting on April 9th 2008.
Tuesday, 24 March 2009
Although a Geordie, he settled and committed himself to the development of cricket in Wales after injury forced him to stop playing. He was a perceptive, and witty, expert summariser for Radio Wales. He will be much missed.
Monday, 23 March 2009
One would like to think that this success would encourage sponsors to come in. The winning team is virtually completely amateur. In nineteenth century tradition, they have paid for their campaign out of their own pockets, or from family and friends. The team will break up as key members must give priority to finding paid employment when they return home. The only way to prevent this is for sponsorship to pay for them to play professionally.
However, commerce did not rise to the possibilities opened up by our women winning the Ashes in 2005, so prospects do not look good.
Sunday, 22 March 2009
"But upholding an appeal against the verdict, the Court of Cassation ruled the shepherd was justified in possessing this small quantity of the drug on account of 'the long and solitary period' he was about to spend 'in the countryside and the mountains, due to the migration of his flock of sheep'."
Saturday, 21 March 2009
Kirsty Williams: She does have this overriding principle of drawing things to the centre and dictating from the centre and for me, as somebody that wants to see power devolved to local communities, that's a very worrying trend and that's been the hallmark of her tenure in the health department.
Patrick Hannan: But she is of course, and these are sensitive things, the only woman candidate who seems to be coming through at the moment, Kirsty.
Williams: Yes, that is correct. We don't see ... well, Jane Davidson has obviously announced her retirement and Jane Hutt came even closer to losing her seat and obviously does not have any intentions to put her name in the hat. The question is, what's Eluned going to do?
Hannan: Oh, [laughs] well, you'd better answer that question, Eluned. You're not in the Assembly ..
Hannan: ... well, not by September
Eluned Morgan: [inaudible] ... September ... [inaudible] no idea.
Friday, 20 March 2009
Tuesday, 17 March 2009
For a long time, I have felt that Iran had more justification for a nuclear power generation programme than many Western countries, including ourselves. Iran has uranium ore, which we do not. Although it is a major petroleum producer, it does not have sufficient refining capacity of its own to meet domestic needs. The desire not to be dependent on foreign corporations is understandable.
It's nice to be able to come out of the closet on this issue, given the PM's lead. Of course, I agree that Iran must not be allowed to develop nuclear weapons - and, indeed, she has consistently said that this is not the aim of her programme. Iran should also return to full compliance with IAEA membership, including nuclear inspections. Now that there is a less belligerent administration in the White House, and there should be no suspicion of US bullying of the UN agency, it should be an easy decision to make.
Friday, 13 March 2009
Section 1 of the Act says:
A person is guilty of an offence if—
(a) he causes a computer to perform any function with intent to secure
access to any program or data held in any computer;
(b) the access he intends to secure is unauthorised; and
(c) he knows at the time when he causes the computer to perform the
function that that is the case.
Under Section 3, (1), A person is guilty of an offence if—
(a) he does any act which causes an unauthorised modification of the contents of any computer
There is also the matter of "acquiring" the botnet, which will have involved
the payment of a sum of money to a criminal.
Wednesday, 11 March 2009
Yet a succession of apologists for fox-hunting have been allowed to get away with the argument that a main reason for the activitiy is to keep the fox population down. I can recall only one honest media statement about the pursuit when the then editor of "Country Life" (it might have been Dorian Williams) expressed it on "Any Questions?" many years ago.
Until now. Conservative Glyn Davies has often been too honest for his own good. In this piece on his blog, he straightforwardly argues in favour of a healthy fox population and of fox-hunting for its own sake.
In the interview, Betsan put it to him that mistakes were inevitable, with the implication that we had better just get used to it. The conclusion that Peter drew was that this was all the more reason for government to abandon its national database scheme.
I think we need to change our attitude to digital data. It may seem weird to compare them to common cold germs, but there are parallels. Viruses are too small to be seen, are easily copied and usually cause damage when in the wrong place. We now discourage cold and influenza sufferers from struggling into work when they are still shedding germs. We can't see the bugs, but we know they are there, and we know their power. We need to instil into people working with personal data that they can wreak great damage in the wrong hands. A lost memory device can be as dangerous as a discarded tissue, or a dirty finger in a school kitchen.
Monday, 9 March 2009
A petition has now been launched on the 10 Downing Street website calling for a review of how the FSCS is funded. Please think about adding your name to the petition, which has a closing date of 15th March (next Sunday).
Thursday, 5 March 2009
Tuesday, 3 March 2009
The worry now is that, if any of the thirteen police officers involved are found guilty of perjury, their evidence in other prosecutions could be thought to be tainted. If cases turned on such evidence, then there could be retrials or even the quashing of convictions.
Perhaps it was investigation of these implications which caused the long delay in bringing the new case - which, I note, is being tried in London rather than Cardiff.
Monday, 2 March 2009
The ban in various places was always illogical. The film did not attack Christianity as such, but religiosity.
The Guardian reported last September when Torbay decided that the film was fit for showing there: "Members of the Monty Python team were not available for comment yesterday but when a ban was overturned in Swansea 11 years ago so that it could be shown in aid of Comic Relief, Python Eric Idle said: 'What a shame. Is nothing sacred?'"
Update 2009-3-2 17:45: "Good evening, Wales" has broken the news that the ban was rescinded some time ago, and that there was a screening of "Brian" in 1981. Still, it's all good publicity for charity, isn't it?