Friday, March 26, 2010

To baldly go where many have gone before 

Before throwing around jokes about ‘Baldemort’. Dave You-Know-Who Cameron should beware of getting his own ‘bald’ label.

With his cunning plans in Northern Ireland getting as unstuck as his brilliant idea to force his MEPs to sit with assorted homophobes, the name to recall is Baldrick.

I do hope hesitations about Blackadder copyright don’t inhibit the spread of such a ‘Baldrick Dave’ meme…

Incidentally the original meaning of the word ‘Baldrick’ is ‘a wide ornamental belt’.


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Thursday, March 25, 2010

A few budget words 

The budget reminds me a little of a story of an American soldier back in WW2 time. He and his girlfriend turned up at the office of a Justice Of the Peace on a Friday afternoon asking to be married – the man was to be shipped off overseas on Monday morning.

‘Sure thing soldier’ said the Justice. ‘Just let me see your marriage license.’

‘License – we need a license?’ says the young man.

‘Yes and I am sorry. Without the license I just cant marry you’.

‘Well in that case Judge, could you just say a few words to tide us over the weekend?’

And that at the bottom is the budget – a few words to tide us over the next 40 days or so…


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Monday, March 22, 2010

A sklightly rueful mutter about the sucess of 'save Traditional Election Night' 

It may be a Thursday night count in name… but the result may be ‘gone’ for some time…

Take this example.

Milton Keynes was going to count its vote on a Friday morning but thanks to the upcoming legislation is switching to a Thursday 10pm start. That is for both the MK parliamentary seats and for the local election counts too… when the results will actually be announced is not dramatically clear.

The RO for this double Parliamentary count has never had to handle a general election and local election combined poll day before (1997, 2001 and 2005 were the off-years in our election-by-thirds cycle). So we are concentrating on verifying the ballot papers in all boxes (parliamentary and local) as we cannot proceed with the actual count until it is proved that no ballot papers are in the wrong boxes. No start on the main Parliamentary count until ALL local boxes are also verified. The actual counting into candidate bundles has to start by 2am on Friday for both seats according to the ‘New Law’ and MK may be able to complete verification and actually do this – but on this timetable declared results are not to be expected much before dawn.

It is a good thing we are counting in the social hall of StadiumMK not our previously used sports halls as the stadium has excellent bars and food outlets (which I understand will be open all night) and comfy seats away from the count floor for shattered staff to crash into. Also I think TV screens to see the results from other places – though maybe if other seats have similar experiences the midnight drama of election night Thursday night TV programmes will be much less fact-filled than desired.

So I ruefully contemplate a LibDem work day stretching from 6am Thursday Good Morning deliveries through running a committee room and on to verification duties at 10 pm finishing with 4 am Parliamentary declarations next day. And back to count the Local Election Results from 1pm Friday. This assumes no Parliamentary recounts and as both MK seats are effectively ties on the ‘nominal results for 2005’ calculations after boundary changes that may be an interesting assumption.

Just for a moment I wish the Save Traditional Election Night agitation had gone the other way.


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Thursday, March 18, 2010

The perils of grapefruit juice and rational thinking about drugs 

With all the uproars about Mephedrone, should we also be thinking about another totally legal product with definite dangers – grapefruit juice?

Well, dangers if you are taking certain medicines to control high blood pressure. Grapefruit juice contains furanocoumarins, chemicals that inhibit certain enzmes in the gut. These enzymes partially destroy the active ingredients in statins (chloresterol-reduction drugs) and in ‘calcium channel blockers’ (drugs that directly reduce blood pressure). The dosage for each patient is prescribed on the assumption that these enzymes are working normally. Inhibition means that the patient actually takes in a higher dose of the drug than intended and can unexpectedly suffer substantial side-effects.

The NHS says that

Drinking grapefruit juice whilst taking calcium channel blockers can lead to low blood pressure, increased heart rate, dizziness, flushing and headaches.
Whether or not you can drink grapefruit juice without experiencing these effects depends very much upon you as an individual. One person might be affected in a very different way to another, even though they are on the same dose of calcium channel blockers and drinking the same amount of grapefruit juice.
The reaction depends not only on the dose and on the individual, but also on whether you are a regular, long-term grapefruit juice drinker….
….. If you are taking felodipine, nicardipine, nimodipine, or nisoldipine you should avoid drinking grapefruit juice altogether.

I doubt whether many people will call for grapefruit juice to be taken off shop shelves …

Hat tip to Caron for digging up this link to a statement by Prof David Nutt on the present Mephedrone uproar, and it seems we can look forwards to the webpage for the new ‘Independent Scientific Committee on Drugs’ going live in a couple of weeks. In time for the election on other words and lets hope this new resource reduces the temptation of some ‘Old And Sad’ smear-mongers to do ‘soft on drugs’ stories on some of us…

The ISCD says it was founded by Professor Nutt
.... to objectively review and investigate the scientific evidence of drug harms free from political concerns. All too often, crucial information on the effects of drugs is buried away in arcane scientific journals and the debates of expert groups. The Committee will provide accessible information on drugs to the wider public and engage in an ongoing dialogue.

Webpage planned to be http://www.drugscience.org.uk/ (you only get a domain notice at time of posting this).

The interactions of this and that chemical in the human body are a wonderous thing!

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Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Thatcher right and Savage Cuts are clearly the Labour attack mantras to come... 

Well I was wondering what Labour was up to on my patch, this being a constituency with a sitting Labour MP and after boundary revision nominally a dead heat with the Tories. To hold on they need to squeeze every vote possible. And this morning a glossy gold card through the door with headline ‘LibDem Leader: Thatcher was right’ and parading a certain remark about ‘savage cuts’. On reverse a bar chart of NATIONAL vote figures and the mantra ‘Only Labour can beat the Tories’.

I suspect ‘Thatcher’ and ‘savage cuts’ will be a drumbeat mantra from the Brown Trousered troops from now until polling day.

A bit late for first Labour activity you might think in this LibDem/Con battleground ward moved from Milton Keynes North-East to Milton Keynes South in the last review, where nobody knows who Enid Starkey MP is at all… But we think Labour spent so much money in wasted preparations for the Election That Never Was that they were too broke up to now to do anything like paying for a household delivery in a key LibDem area.

As I said obviously a nationally produced publication so others will be seeing it on doorstep soon.

Milton Keynes is a strange beast this time round. The Tories won MK Northeast (a gain) and Labour held MK SW in 2005. The boundary revisions mean that just about all pundits thing the new MK North seat is on 2005 figures a nominal Labour one with a sitting Tory MP and the new MK South seat is so close that some rank it as a nominally Conservative seat with a sitting Labour member. The scope for creative bar charts on all sides may just be too tempting!

Any other sightings of this Labour fart?

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Thursday, March 11, 2010

What IS on at conference at party Website? 

Just been looking at the party website, acting as an interested visitor would. In particular the pages on the spring conference. Lots of easily available information about conference in geneal but where are the easy clicks to find the Spring agenda, the reports and the speeches that may be made?

Yes I do know where to link to the reports (and by the way at the time of writing the clearprint version of the agenda is in fact the plain text file repeated) but the only click-on link at present says 'training programme now available' or words to that efefct.

Am I missing something glaringly obvious or is there some last minute work to be done on this site?


And lo and behold - the much wanted pages emerge!

Nice blog.
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Saturday, March 06, 2010

The flag on high! Tory ranks tightly closed! Giovinezza! Giovinezza! 

So there is an organisation that claims to have trained 2,500 British Conservative Activists in such electoral skills as firing semi-automatic weapons. Yes, the Young Briton’s Foundation emerges blinking into the limelight again advocating inter alia the abolition of the NHS, support for torture for ‘terrorists’ and the adoption of US-Style gun laws. And also denouncing ‘global warming’ as a fraud.

The group has caused disquiet in Tory ranks before. Why? Well for example

The YBF chief executive, Donal Blaney…. has called for environmental protesters who trespass to be "shot down" by the police and that Britain should have a US-style liberal firearms policy. In an article on his own website, entitled Scrap the NHS, not just targets, he wrote: "Would it not now be better to say that the NHS – in its current incarnation – is finished?"
Blaney has described the YBF as "a Conservative madrasa" that radicalises young Tories. Programmes have included trips to meet neo-conservative groups in the US and to a shooting range in Virginia to fire submachine guns and assault rifles.
Robert Booth, Guardian, 6 March 2010

Senior Tories who have addressed YBF events include:

Eric Pickles, Con Party chair
Liam Fox, Con shadow defence secretary
Michael Grove, Con shadow education spokesman
Ed Vaizey, Con shadow
John Redwood
David Davies

The group’s president is Daniel Hannan MEP.

At least 11 current Tory PPCs appear to have gone through the group’s training processes. Wonder who they are?

The YBF web pages appear to have been partially blocked from open web access but it is just possible to glean a few things, such as that one of the trustees is Frederick Forsythe (yes the ‘Day Of The Jackal’ author). Also that the Parliamentary Council members include Lord Trimble (yes that Northern Ireland Trimble), Lord Parkinson, and the Earl of Stockton (Grandson of former Tory Prime Minister Harold Macmillan).

And the speakers panel is a tasty menu including Antony Worral Thompson and (roll of BlogDrums) Guido Fawkes.

One-day training sessions in the UK cost £25.00 I wonder who is subsiding all this.

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academic degree
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