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04 June 2008

I'm Not One To Boast...

But I refer you to my post of 28th December 2006 - eighteen months ago - where I called it for Barack Obama in the Democrat race. There are many of you I wish I'd bet with. You all said he'd never beat Hillary. Well, ding dong, the witch is dead and I celebrate heartily.

19 May 2008

Pedal Power

I've spent the afternoon at the NEC, wading through the Baby Show. Thought it might be a laugh. What it's really achieved is a sense of how lucky today's nippers are, and before you start worrying that I'm going to get all 'back in our day' about it, unfortunately that's exactly what it's made me feel and now I'm going to write about it. It's reminded me of my Grandpa, who died when I was about six years old. Maybe five. Didn't have Outlook, but I'm expecting 1979/1980.

I've been checking out a lot of the websites of the myriad companies that have flung free stuff my way all afternoon and have come across some truly excellent toy sites: not all battery-0perated, plug'n'play contraptions - real toys, made of wood or metal and involving manual craftsmanship. There's this incredible pedal car for 2-3 year olds and upwards. I'm starting to save now.

It's this that made me remember my Grandpa because, once upon a time (I am imagining my second birthday), he built me a metal pedal car, designed just like the one on the link. Yep, built it. He was a car mechanic before and after the war - and during it he served in Burma with the RAF as a mender of aeroplanes and other sundry engines. He would get on an old Norton or BSA and ride the Wall Of Death for japes and larks. He was that kind of bloke. Bizarrely, given the current Big News, he was based on the Irrawaddy Delta.

The sad thing is that my cream-liveried, SIMON 2 number-plated, all-metal pedal car has long since passed into the ether, and I've been trying to remember when it left me. And under what circumstances. It was one of those toys that I couldn't let go of, one that lived for many years in various garden sheds and garages along life's highway. Of course, it had been years since I had been able to fit inside it by the time I remember it not being around anymore. I just can't remember the day when it was discussed that it would be sold/scrapped/given away. I actually feel quite a pang for it now. It would have been a great thing to give to Max, but then - it does have my name all over it. Maybe he should get my father's watch. That's easier to store.

01 May 2008

All Change, Please

The Yanks must be looking at our political process - though, more than likely, they aren't - scratching their heads at how all this change occurred with nary a 'woo-hoo' or a 'yeah'. Or any chanting of slogans. Hardly any money spent. No buses. No flags. No rallies.

So what does my unimportant mind think is going to happen come tomorrow morning? For starters I was taken aback at the presence of a BNP candidate on my local ticket. Couldn't believe it. I worry that, in the current climate of ethnofear, the knee-jerk brigade might just cast their votes down this sorry route. I hope this is not so, it would be a victory for stupidity.

Locally, that leaves me with Lib, Lab, Con and Green. They let a BNP candidate in, but no UKIP. No independents. Labour seat here, by a whisker to the Lib Dems. Too many times already on this evening's coverage, I've heard words to the effect (from both Cons and Libs) that Gordon Brown's Labour party has been the best recruitment sergeant for their own party. One thing I can be sure of: Gordon is going to wake up sore tomorrow.

The London mayoral election is also a key part of today's shenanigans. Many are suggesting that it will be a forerunner to the next General Election, and if Boris gets in - Cameron and co are going to be high-fiving and whooping their way down Whitehall on Friday morning. Actually, they probably won't, but perhaps some analogous Etonian-style celebrations, I'm sure.

I have also been rather alarmed to hear that wheelie bins are such a pivotal topic. Clearly the system here in Birmingham is buggered: I've visited towns and cities where each house has nice big bins for paper, metal, glass, plastic, food waste - the way it should be done, and the way most Europeans have been dealing with the issue for years.

So, rubbish collections aside, GB will take a bloodied nose come tomorrow - whether by Libs or Cons in their respective patches. I reckon Boris will get it in London. And both Cameron and Clegg will be fnarring at the PM, whose party will now slide further into disrepute, before he loses the next election.

18 February 2008

And My Thanks Go To...

My Mum for buying me an illuminated keyboard and mouse. No more fumbling in the dark.

To my sister Ellie for yet more investment in my being well-read.

To Faye, for her chest-hair-clipping solution: even I can look like a Chippendale. Especially in my 'espresso' FCUK jumper.

To Graham and Gill for their fantastic CK pyjama set.

To Isabelle and Richard for their John Lewis vouchers.

And, of course, to Maxi Moo for his "I Love My Daddy" mug, coaster and mouse-mat ensemble (am I spending too much time in front of the PC, son?)

For their cards; all of the above, plus Vanessa Shaw and Lorrie & Sam.

For their electronically-conveyed wishes, and in no particular order (well, OK, the order they appear in my various inboxes); (by email) Andy Germaine; (via Facebook) Carmen Lau, Amanda Atherton, Manish Pradhan, Antonia Esser, Nasreen Ahmed, Rachel McAlley, Vanessa Shaw (again! this girl gets everywhere), Mark Turner, Liz 'Emson' Harvie, Simon Ritchie, Dan McEvoy, Reena Combo (always my favourite meal-deal), Ameet Chana (yeah, I get EastEnders actors wishing me happy birthday...), Rumana Hoque (blam! blam! blam!), Nadeem Cheshti (may the force be with you), Lucy Evans, Djinn and his 'Vibe', Helen Rosier (nice one, cuzza!), Ruth Baretto, Naveen Pabbi, Wayne Colbourne, Mandeep Juttla, Jo Parkerson, Indy Sahota and Karen Stenning.

Which just goes to show that Facebook OWNS us.

My hugest thanks and love to each and every one of you: proof, if proof were needed, that life does not stop at thirty.

Now, where's me cocoa and slippers?

13 February 2008

Stop Press...Stop Press...Stop Press...

Obama just went into the lead in numbers of delegates pledged to his cause. 1170 plays 1168 for Clinton. What a lovely thing to happen just before I go to bed. I can sleep the safe sleep of babes, knowing that there is a brighter tomorrow. America: keep doing what you are doing.

Primary Screaming

I cannot for the life of me remember the last time there was as compelling an American primary and caucus season as the one we are in right now. It is hot viewing, listening, reading and reacting. I am pleased to see that many of my earlier assertions - based purely on website quality for each of the candidates on both sides of the House - have come to be realised.

For the Republicans, John McCain's Reaganite mantras are some comfort - admittedly, of the cold variety - for the panicking GOP supporters. They already understand that They will not be in power come January next year. It might just take a few years before the Reps win back some trust among the American public. Sure, they still have their supporters: the over-60s, the angry and the insane. But this motley crew is not going to return an Elephant to the Oval Office this time. Sorry, guys, your current leader really blew it for y'all. But I don't need to go into that here. It's been done to death, and is now boring. Bush has been a cripple for a long time - at least since the House went Democrat two years ago. There is nothing as foul, depraved and compulsive to watch as a lame duck President trying to keep his head above water while the sharks start circling. It's been a pleasure to watch.

Now, I am speculating here, but there is a very interesting observation to be made among the Republican racers. All the cars were lined up all nice and shiny on the grid, but - as with results among the Democrats - they never crossed the line in the expected order. It's fair to say that, from the start, the pollsters got it so, so wrong. All this Romney talk...even Guiliani jabber...before the race proper began, has been replaced with a Baptist Minister and a Dog of War. Somewhere between God and Guns seems to be where the alignments are taking place.

But here's the interesting bit: at the end of Super (Dooper) Tuesday, February 5th, the race looked like this: McCain - 12 states; Romney - 11 states; and Huckabee - 6 states. And yet...and yet...at the close of play that day, it wasn't Huckabee who admitted defeat: it was Mitt. Mitt, the man just one state behind his nearest, leading rival. So what's behind that, then? Well, and again I speculate (wildly), I suggested before that there was something that I instinctively didn't trust about Romney. I called him a car salesman; a charlatan; a mountebanke. Now, these descriptions may or may not be true, but something happened - something bad - to Mitt's fervour in attempting becoming El Prez. I think someone had a word about that waitress back in Utah, yeah, you know the one Mitt...or should I call you Pop? I jest, of course, let me make that quite clear. But something scared Mitt off the scent. No one chucks in the towel when he's on his opponent's heels like that, not for nothing. But an explanation has been slow in coming forward. Which just leaves a vacuum for me to fill...

Also, if you want to think about a real failure to capitalise on candidate funding, pre-existing profile and reputation, then it's Rudy. His campaign has produced the lowliest return-on-investment I think I can remember. Money raised: $62 million ($20 million more than McCain). Money spent: $49 million ($10 million more than McCain). Money left in the bank: $13 million ($10 million more than McCain). Number of delegates pledging their support at the Republican Convention in September: None. Zilch. Nada. Zero. Or, to look at it another way, 723 delegates fewer than Johnny-boy. Rudy Guiliani, please leave the stage by the nearest exit. Very, very poor performance, sir. But then, I think you had ideas WAY above your station from the off...I live in Britain, but I know how money-management works at local government level - and you, sir, just writ that large. What a loser.

And so to my personal favourites, the Democrats. Now this hasn't been as surprising as the Republican race. There isn't the same sense of panic - more a sense of 'which one of us will it be?' I feel so sorry for John Edwards. Imagine being the third leg of a triumvirate of candidates, two of which would see either America's first black President, or its first woman President? The options are far too tempting, and well away from John. As I heard one wag quip on the wireless the other day, Dubya has ensured that no white man will be in the Oval Office for the next four years at least.

So where do we go from here? As things stand - and DC, Virginia and Maryland are still to 100% report their results - Hillary has 1164 delegates pledged to her cause, while Barack has 1159. Ooh, shit, it's close. Exit polls in Virginia give it to Obama. (McCain is beating Huckabee by a whisker). I am almost tempted to stay up all night to see what happens, but I suspect I would under-perform in teaching radio to my kids tomorrow. Yeah, in half term, can you believe it? Just my luck.

Anyway, Barack is gonna get this job. He'll face McCain in the final, and he'll twonk the warmonger all around the ballpark. You might just see a Democrat landslide come 4th November; it'll be like Nixon in '72 or Reagan in '84, only in reverse. Why am I so sure? Because America, and Americans, have seen the damage caused by Bush. They know Daddy started the war (and later, Son went in to finish it off and make Daddy proud). Then Blowjob Bill came in and sorted the mess out, a bit. Don'tcha remember? The Nineties were such a good decade. Thatcher was out and the Tories were floundering. Bush was out. Bill was in (though what he was in, and how deeply, remains a subject for further, unsubstantiated speculation). OK, there was the war in Yugoslavia, but don't forget the Roadmap? You remember the Roadmap? Dubya can't even find the fucking car.

The world was a happy place where intelligence, smiling, politeness and diplomacy won over the old forces of evil, lacksadaisical mismanagement. But this is also exactly why Hillary shouldn't, and won't, win the Democrat nomination. Not because she'll be a bad President, but because of Bill. And because of the whole Bush-Clinton-Bush-Clinton dynastic approach to politics. Were Hillary to win, it would mean at least 28 years under the oversight of one of these two families. And politics, surely, should be about change and trying different tacks. This isn't the bloody Capulets and Montagues.

I'm being nice. The fact is, I cannot stand Hillary. If ever there was a woman who would be 'guided by the unseen hand' of Billy-Boy, it's Hills. In fact, I suspect that you would find the Commander-in-Chief being led less by her team, and more by her bloke. And what if Bill decides to get his dick sucked again? How will she deal with being publicly rejected again WHILE IN POWER? That's gonna be a bad day at the office.

Politics is about change, but it's also about the vision of that change. Hillary will be a Clinton-clone. It will be more of the same. It will be what Bill would have done if he were allowed more than two four-year periods in power. Barack...oh, Barack...you are a breath of fresh air. You hold yourself well, you do not resort to the snidey, smirky, smug mentality of Hillary. When you speak, you sound like you have a very clear idea of what you plan to do. Hillary sounds like she's just going through the motions. When Hillary does her 'I care' routine, I want to vomit and shit simultaneously. What a phoney dame.

Anyway, America, I have two words for you: Margaret Thatcher. And this one doesn't have Denis tagging along behind, it has Bill pulling the fucking strings.

That is all.

09 January 2008

Is that an election or are you pleased to see me?

The madness starts over, and the next year will be incessant American politiking. Woo. I'm putting my money on an Obama vs McCain final. I have also devised a simple way of eradicating candidates, and that's by looking at their campaign websites.

First of all - if your website does not automatically create a clever little icon, specifically designed to complement your campaign: you're out. I mean, come on. Seriously. You folks keep telling us how you invented t'internet, and your PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATES can't rustle up bookmark link logos? Pah. Who's 'doing the website', chaps? Monkeys?

So, that eradicates the following: Bill Richardson (DEM), Alan Keyes (REP), Fred Thompson (REP) and Duncan Hunter (REP). Note the Republican-heavy slant here. Damn kids. Can't stop emailin' and textin' and surfin' the Interweb. Why can't things go back to how they were? I can't keep up.

So, let's actually visit the sites - and remember, folks, first impressions count...for the Democrats, please, alphabetically...

BARACK OBAMA - clean, crisp, no videos autoplaying, considered content, well though-out
BILL RICHARDSON - is already out of the race because of the lack of little logo. Twunt. He looks like James Belushi with a perma-tan. His site looks like CNN, anyway. Have a look if you can be arsed.
DENNIS KUCINICH - yeah, who? Not a great deal happening here, save for a rather pasty-looking, weedy chap giving the Churchill salute. Click through to grey vapidity.
HILLARY CLINTON - a splash picture of the Wicked Witch of the North, smiling. How heartwarming that is. Click through to slick, professional site that's easy to navigate. Just as you'd expect.
JOHN EDWARDS - second to Obama in Iowa, but not really a decent candidate. Boring to look at, listen to and engage with. Not overblessed with charisma. Website plays family card strongly (let's hope there aren't any old hookers in the closet. That is not a statement. That is a joke.)
MIKE GRAVEL - another bottom-feeder. Doesn't stand a chance, mainly because no-one's even mentioned him so far. At all. Has tried to make himself hip on-site by selling "Gravel Gear" (badges/buttons depending on pond alignment) - no joke - and also by trying to get 'with the kids' by linking campaign to profiles with YouTube, Facebook, Digg, MySpace, Google Groups and even - horrors - Second Life. Let's hope the campaign HQ ain't near no pedo-philes.

Let's see how those Luddite GOPs tackle the goshdarned infernal wurld wahd wayab. I'm rather regretting having done this, now; there's eight of the buggers:

ALAN KEYES - officially banned from this round, owing to logo-based transgressions. However, Barack Obama is not the only black man running the race. Yep, that's right. Alan is black, too. Nobody's mentioned Alan, or his blackness, and I suspect that's because nobody is voting for Alan, or even thinking about voting for Alan. Website: cheap and nasty. Have a look if you want, you sick pup.
DUNCAN HUNTER - another already on Skid Row, but let's give him a chance. It might have been 'an oversight'. Oh. No. It wasn't. If you want simple video embedding made simpler, have a butcher's. Scrolls down for far too long, and very untidily.
FRED THOMPSON - yep, an actor. I would never have an actor for President, it sends out very wrong vibes indeed. Also a logo-less offering. Fred's site doesn't disappoint: it's straight into Fred's head begging for money, and Fred wants you to Fill His Red Truck. No, Fred. You can buy your own fucking petrol. Goodnight Charlie.
JOHN McCAIN - John has a bookmark logo, and John's site looks like a beer brand. Woo! Way to go not having it all red and blue, John! But then, I suspect John likes the gunmetal and yellow masthead because the grey reminds him of the machines of war, and the yellow of the suns of Korea, Vietnam, El Salvador and Iraq. Yeah, fight 'em till they're all dead, John.
MIKE HUCKABEE - Mike, for a moment, you looked like you had a chance. For a moment. You are too nice, Mike. You are too good a person to get mixed up with this lot. Politics, like business, requires a bit of a bastard and you, Mike, are about as far away from 'bastard' as you could get. Mike's site is well-designed, compact and bijou. Perhaps even 'twee'. You won't win. But I like you, Mike.
MITT ROMNEY - did you ever set eyes upon a slicker, greasier car-salesman than Mitt? I wouldn't trust that guy with my kid. Also, and once again, loud and clear: THIS IS A JOKE - Mitt is the kind of guy where a woman or some other sleaze could come out along the line. His site is a side profile of Mitt ON THE FUCKING PHONE. He's the politician who listens. To another conversation while you try to get time with him. What a phoney. What a mountebanke. What a charlatan. Don't fall for this man, please.
RON PAUL - a name I keep hearing, but one who's name never seems to appear high up any results. Might be a dark horse, coming up late on the inside while the leader's already celebrating. Who knows. I certainly don't and wouldn't pretend to. Ron looks like a banker, and Ron has a spinning digital cash totaliser on his site. He hasn't broken a million bucks yet, so he's probably not going to be doing much on this run.
RUDY GUILIANI - Rudy displayed spunk and gumption during and following 9/11 (aka September 11th) as Mayor of NYC, but I'm not sure that the street-fighter world of city hall politics can be classed as qualification to go for the Big Job. Rudy would be run by advisers. He would be a puppet. Maybe America should take a leaf out of the rest of the world's governments and install a puppet regime? Might make a change. Also: the American press hates his gaudy wife. That's fatal.

Needless to say, each and every website seeks (primarily) your donations and (secondarily) your contacts so you can 'join the team'. I must say, there is something of the talent-show/popularity-contest/open-begging ethos about this process that leaves us normal democracies feeling slightly nauseous. The simple fact is, we couldn't be arsed to SELECT our candidates first BEFORE actually voting them into power. Far less DONATING TO THEIR CAMPAIGN! The process is dull enough as it is. There's no need to over-egg the pudding. Why not do all this in private among the party members (one member, one vote) and launch your candidates in, say, September? Cut it down a bit. That's the problem with any American venture - elections, wars, sports. They're all designed for TV serialisation. You guys love the long-game.

22 November 2007

Strange Days Just Got Stranger

I haven't written here for five months. This is mainly because I started doing a bit more work - and also because a lot of time was involved in nurturing my pregnant (now not pregnant) good lady friend, who has now blessed us both with a wonderful son.

Current roles I enjoy are:

1. BTEC Radio Production course tutor at Gateway College in Leicester. £300 per month for a four-hour week.
2. IT Project Executive at lingerie shop in Stratford-upon-Avon. £500 a month for a couple of days per week.
3. Director of Poduction Limited, which still moves very slowly despite much interest from a varied selection of sectors. £0 per month.
4. Landlord of two flats, one in London, one in Birmingham. London £1300 per month. Birmingham going on market in the New Year.

And so, just 18 months after leaving my infernal role at the national broadcaster - sorry, it wasn't all infernal - just the bit that involved those women (except one) plus that man and his late night show - I am back to earning the same money. And I have no stress. And my muppet quota has drastically reduced.

Life is good. Which leads me onto this: how stupid do you have to be to respond to the following, which dropped in my inbox yesterday:

Good Day
I know this mail will come to you as a surprise. Any how forgive me if I disturb your privacy.

My name is Wilson Taylor, the Son of Mr Charles Taylor, the former president of Liberia, who is facing trial for alleged crime against humanity at The Hague. This whole frame up was orchestrated by the Mrs Allis Johnson The present president who is bent to destroy our family.

All our family wealth has been seized so we are left with nothing. However, my father during one of his visit to Cote d'Ivoire deposited in a bank the sum of USD 8,500,000.00, with the name of his personal aid who is also serving a jail term in Liberia. I have the deposit documents with me so I am asking for your help so that this money will be released and transferred to your account as the beneficiary of the money

Please, if you are interested to assist me with this transaction, kindly let me so that i will give you more details. Be rest assured that this transaction secured and risk free.

I am waiting for your response
Yours sincerely
Wilson Taylor

If anyone actually falls for these things - and I understand that they do, frequently - then, frankly, that person deserves everything he or she gets.

Which is an crook emptying their bank accounts.