Monday, July 07, 2008

This is the captain of your ship your heart speaking...

This is the captain of your ship your heart speaking...

See post below...Full Steam Ahead

Handing back over...

[full steam ahead] hope there are no more submerged rocks

... anyway, as we were saying on Friday in that last post before we were interrupted:

"No, don't rub your eyes - it is nourishing obscurity ..."

In among the dangerous rocks and reefs out there in that blog ocean, there are some wonderful havens of friendship and good cheer.

Thank you and I'm back [as far as I know] also due to the kindness of that chap not suing me.

[bloghounds] staying cool in the sphere

[This badge is only a mock up and will be reviewed by the steering committee, along with the tag line. If you can think of a good tag line, suggest it and it can be adopted. If there are copyright issues with the pic, it will be changed.]

The events of the weekend, appearing out of the blue and resulting in the shutdown of this blog, were simply an extension of something which has been happening for a long time in another place and I do not propose to comment on that here.

Yesterday, initial feelers were sent out to various BP members as to whether the group could be initially disbanded and then reformed under the auspices of a steering committee. The result below was not intended at the time, certainly not to kick off today but as it all went public late yesterday, there was considerable feedback, mainly along two lines:

1. The logistics of such a move would seem to be prohibitive;

2. A certain amount of feedback supported the idea of setting up an entirely new group, incorporating the best principles of Blogpower plus one or two others.

If you happen to have read the original BP post, you’ll see that it mentions a smallish group of mutually supportive bloggers and a number of the 2006 members have at times referred to the friendly atmosphere which used to prevail.

Contrast that to the past few months and even the last few days and not much more needs to be said.

Blogpower was certainly unique in that it drew together people of all walks of life, of differing political bents, even completely apolitical beings [yes, they exist in large numbers] and certainly from different parts of the world.

This was its strength.

As it grew and changed its focus somewhat, the principles many held dear seemed to assume less importance than formerly. The proposals below attempt to redress the balance. It is proposed that:

1. A new blog group be set up, initially called Bloghounds as a working name and using a steering committee to set up the group and to do the early admin.

2. While it would be nice to see some of the 2006 Blogpowerers plus the current BP administrators [2 in number] represented on the steering committee of seven, it is really open to others as well, however shy, who feel they could play a part.

3. The steering committee would initially assess membership requests according to these guidelines:

a. The blog would need to be of at least one month’s standing and be of an acceptable standard, with clear navigation.

b. The blogger needs to be identifiable, whether using an avatar or real name and be clearly active in the sense in which the committee understands the term.

c. He or she needs to accept and see the necessity for replying to comments, participating as a group member, carrying the banner in the sidebar, carrying at least one form of the blogroll, agreeing to be part of the mailing list and most importantly would make a genuine attempt to link to fellow members at least once a week.

d. The blogger would further need to accept that the group homepage and mailing list are semi-public and not appropriate fora to air personal issues which are not of interest to the group as a whole and he or she should not have a previous history of divisiveness, troublemaking or harassment of fellow bloggers.

4. The steering committee, having looked at the request for membership and if having decided against, is honour bound to e-mail the blogger concerned with both the vote and the reason why. That blogger is welcome to try again after two months.

On the matter of the vote, one dissension would necessitate a more thorough steering committee review of the proposed blogger, two dissensions would need to be taken seriously, three would fairly well end the current bid. Abstentions would be advisable in a conflict of interest situation.

Therefore the composition of the steering committee itself is quite critical and a good cross-section of even-headed, experienced bloggers are being sought for this.

5. The main thrust of these guidelines is not to tie anyone up in red tape but to enable enjoyable membership of the group without petty disputes, recrimination, drawn out issues and other things which often tend to sour what should be a fun activity.

6. Once a group of around twenty bloggers is in operation [and this could take some considerable time, approaching the dead season for blogging], members are asked to nominate and vote for the ongoing admins. When the admins are in place, the steering committee retires.

7. On a personal note, I’d like to make it known that though I am perhaps up for the steering committee, I have no intention of becoming a permanent admin.

Should you wish to be a member of the steering committee, it would be lovely if you were to make yourself known in the next few days.

UPDATE AT 7.57 - first four expressions of interest have arrived so that is encouraging.

Another nice person at 9.05 so we're up to five. I think maybe eight would be interested initially. Any more would be a bonus. Have to get some sleep now - the neighbours' dogs were barking all night.

Initial list

Group name: bloghounds
Group home page:
Group email:

[clandestini] something here for all of us

Yet another tragedy was splashed across the local paper casually dropped on the glass tabletop with the inlaid design, in the cafe I strolled down to on Sunday morning.

Here was I, white, clean shaven, dressed as smartly as any local, sipping on my coffee, just as the scattering of others also were who’d stayed in the city rather than go to the beach or to their country houses. Did I care?

Well yes.

The people in the news are the clandestini, the boat people who, desperate to escape the senseless poverty and violence of the North African Muslim regimes, prefer to chant “Sicilia or Paradise”, the latter their watery destination should they fail, which they generally do. And yet this does not dissuade them from trying.

The Italian, the Sicilian attitude, is a tad kindlier than, say, in Germany or France. There is a grudging recognition down this way that we are all struggling to make ends meet and to find some sort of life in the process.

And what of me, silently finishing the first cappuccino? I’m also by no means out of the woods, off the boat to mix metaphors. It is quite possibile that a stroke of the pen will end my stay once again. So you’ll perhaps forgive a slight edge to my interest in the boat people.

The other day for the first time, I saw one of the survivors emerge from the kitchen of a cafe and pick some leaves from a tree, then merge back into her sanctuary. She was working, possibly long hours. She had every intention of integrating and trying to find acceptance in a very closed community.

Contrast this with the aliens allowed in on study visas in Britain who then kick up merry hell at the end of their time. Contrast it with the proliferation of Mosques and the like, led by people who then have the temerity to demand their own system of justice, Sharia Law.

Oh yes?

And what does the head of the UK police say? Get knotted? You will conform to British law whilst in this country? Not a bit of it. He says there is a place for Sharia Law in Britain’s legal system. Was there a place for Jewish Law in previous years? Bahai Law? Was there a Buddhist system of justice recognized by the Crown?

Sorry to be so grumpy but why the hell should Sharia Law be picked out of the air and favoured by the British police and justice system?

Every one of you knows the answer to that. Because these leaders are not socially agreeable, hard-working immigrants, trying to integrate with British society. They are trouble makers trying to impose an alien system on someone else’s country.


Now if I’d written that about the Bahai, about the Buddhists, there’d have barely been more than a murmur. So why the howls of rage from this community, insistent on no offence being given them?

Any person of any race, religion or color is generally welcome to another land, as long as the clear intention is to integrate and conform to the law and social mores of that country.

Here in Italy, it is quite clear – to have any intention of remaining, one learns the language, the customs, the traditions of the place, mixes with the local people, rather than hiding away in a ghetto, contributing to the local economy and needing to be seen to be doing this.

One keeps one’s protestantism low key and visit the Catholic church, eating the local cuisine – not all the time but much of the time, transmitting one’s own culture to the locals as and when they wish to know of it.

Having now travelled from land to land, this appears fundamental, something that should simply be taken as read.

Not in my homeland, it seems.

Read Cllr.Tony Sharp's thoughts on this latter issue.

[Hopefully cross-posted later at Lord Nazh]

Sunday, July 06, 2008

Thought for the Day

This is from an English perspective, I am quite sure Summer is very sunny in Sicily :-)

One July Summer

"What has happened to summer,
That's what I want to know.
Is she on a vacation -
Who knows where did she go?
Tell, what was she wearing;
A zephyr breeze and rosebud
Or grass and wild berry?
Could she be honeymooning
With spring or early fall
Or has she gone so far away
She'll not return at all?"

Dorothy Ardelle Merriam

A bit of a Sunday blog round up

A bit of a Sunday blog round up

Noclue and the cutting remark Ouch!

Cherrypie continues with her theme of a picture painting a thousand words with this photo of a castle of her dreams.

It maybe that JHL is deliberately misinterpreting Tory MP George Osborne giving relief at the petrol pumps, there again...

Bob Piper asks if David Davis is a stupid bugger...

UPDATE: Belated 100th birthday wishes to Ellee.

TalkLeft - The politics of crime
On what is it that the Left bloggers don't get?

Friday, July 04, 2008

[quick lunch] don't be fooled.

No, don't rub your eyes - it is nourishing obscurity, not Sicily Scene and it's a food post.

We were just tossing up what to have for lunch today and Welshcakes decided to throw together this little lot, called Maria Teresa's chicken and together with it went the Roman dish, Vignarola, of various peas, beans, onions and so on. Not to forget the artichocke hearts, all slow cooked in olive oil.

Well all right, admittedly that one was already cooked [it's better on the second day]. And note the glasses of water, JMB.

We are also in the throes of the great boiler war.

We need a new boiler, it's leaking something awful and no one will do anything they're supposed to. Well now they seem to be as I went down and took a look and a new boiler drum was standing by so we can only guess when this water nightmare will end.

Anyway, enough for now. Off to have some supper.

[friday pause] to take in the wildlife

Isn't this both tragic and sweet?

Richard Havers writes of the owl saga:

Two have died. Both were on the ground having left the nest. Owls have their young at different times so these were the first born. The good news is we still have two left, one is out the nest and the other is still in it.

According to the local gamekeeper it seems like they've not had enough food and that's why the older birds have died.

Mrs. H. read up that if the owlets fall out the nest they're a goner as the parents stop feeding them, which is obviously why it was trying to get back....

Do pop over and read the rest of it ... and once you're done there, you might like to get abreast of the news about the bees, from Liz Hinds. Or even wish Ellee happy birthday. If you're hungry after all that, join us here. Or at the Crystal Ark, at Granville Island. And as evening falls, you could do worse than take this in.

Have a lovely Friday.

[connex rides again] the excitement of commuting

This may be true. After all, it is Connex, of British infamy. Here and here too. Now this:

Passengers have told The Age of their "terrifying" ride on the train that sped through the City Loop with an open door during Tuesday's peak hour.

Connex has confirmed a packed Sydenham train left North Melbourne station just after 8am with one door open, forcing passengers to hold on to each other for safety.

One reader, who was in another carriage, observed "screams and general panic" as the train left North Melbourne station.

"The train sped up and people starting pushing from the door and trying to secure space down the corridor or towards my door," the reader said in an email.

"On a couple of occasions, the train rocked violently and pushed people towards the open door. I became concerned that the doors as a whole were faulty and that the door I was pressed against could open."
And yet the beat up is pretty nauseating by The Age. Hell, hasn't anyone been on the Madrid underground with the swinging chandeliers crashing into the luggage racks? Hasn't anyone ever been on a big dipper?

Bit of excitement in a commuter day, methinks. Now, if you don't mind, I'm heading down the street for a cappuccino - entirely on foot.

Thursday, July 03, 2008

[thought for the day] thursday evening

This evening, I plan to kill three birds with one stone:

1. Last evening Jeremy Jacobs commented on the “thought for the day”:

A bit profound for a Wednesday evening;

2. Jams O’Donnell also indicated that he’d like to see a good Wordless Wednesday from me;

3. Welshcakes was telling me how much she loved football and couldn’t stand even one day without it. I thought I’d take up Beaman’s idea and convert it into a poem.

For all three august bloggers, the result is here to read. Hope you enjoy it:

Thank you.

[youtube] your data now with another company

"Google will have to turn over every record of every video watched by YouTube users' names and IP addresses, to Viacom, which is suing Google for allowing clips of its copyright videos to appear on YouTube, a judge ruled Wednesday.

Although Google argued that turning over the data would invade its users' privacy, the judge's ruling (.pdf) described that argument as "speculative" and ordered Google to turn over the logs on a set of four tera-byte hard drives."

What fun to be living in this day and age. James Barlow would certainly disagree with that statement, as he outlines the great parking dilemma:

If we define the problem to be "too many cars on the road", the general consensus amongst drivers seems to be that the solution is better public transportation systems for other drivers. But very few people have any desire to make the "modal shift" themselves.
Quite right and yet I'm currently on foot [well, actually I'm at the computer just now] but am thinking of a motorbike.

Just thinking, mind.

[awards] comment at the site

Not much blogging time this morning. Comment on the Awards is at the site [click pic in sidebar].

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

[thought for the day] wednesday evening

There are any number of these but this one introduces the topic fairly well:

The only failure a man ought to fear is failure of cleaving to the purpose he sees to be best.

[George Eliot]
Well, I can't completely agree. When one is failing, sometimes it is better to cut one's losses and smile; one scrutinizes the failure, works out the weakness in the idea and plans it better for the next time.

To cleave to a losing idea though seems to me the height of folly.

Of course, some say perseverance is also a fine attribute, the tenacity of the bulldog, the never-say-die attitude. So perhaps it comes down, in the end, to a question of judgement and experience.

[dillow logic] economic reasons women are crap

Flipchart Fair Tales takes the esteemed Chris Dillow to task for his Times affected article on his blog:

Since he got a regular column with the Times, Chris Dillow’s blog articles have become increasingly outlandish. His recent piece on why women are crap is a case in point.

However, although his arguments, if that’s what you can call them, are silly, they are no worse than some of the rubbish that apparently respectable columnists write about men.

Those all-men-are-hopeless articles have been around for at least the past twenty years. Some of the bullshit has been repeated so often that it has become ’stuff everyone knows’.

Chris answers, using that particular logic he's famous for:

My motivation for writing it was in my question: “am I a victim of selection effects?” and in the fact that a couple of earlier posts had discussed selection effects.

Let’s grant that my arguments are silly. Doesn’t this show that even huge samples - women I’ve met in the last 20 years - can be systematically biased, if they are drawn from non-random sources.

This being so, shouldn’t we be much less confident than we are about drawing inferences from personal experience - even a lot of it? The post was not about women, but about the nature of knowledge - a point everyone seems to have missed.

And yes, some of my posts might seem silly. But this is because I occasionally (often?) err on the side of silliness, to undermine notions of judgment, credibility and expertise.

My brain hurts.

[sarko's all right] three reasons why

There are three reasons why, despite some political decisions, Sarko is all right in my book.


Footage of French President Nicolas Sarkozy expressing irritation at a TV technician ahead of an interview has become an instant internet success. The video shows the employee clipping a microphone to Mr Sarkozy's tie, and not responding to a presidential "hello".

"It's a question of manners," Mr Sarkozy is heard muttering. "When you're invited, you're entitled to have people say 'hello' to you".

Mr Sarkozy has been caught several times in off-the-record videos posted on the web. One of them showed him at a farm show in February, swearing at a member of the public who refused to shake his hand.

Fair enough. And this too. Anyone Mandelson attacks has to be good in my book:

On BBC's Newsnight programme, Mr Mandelson attacked Mr Sarkozy in a row over a World Trade Organisation deal that would cut subsidies to French farmers.

"I am being undermined and Europe's negotiating position in the World Trade talks is being weakened and I regret that," said Mr Mandelson. "It's very disappointing because the mandate on which I'm negotiating…has been agreed by all the member states."

The third reason is to the left here. She's Italian, he was daring in taking on another tall woman and it seems to have annoyed so many people. I do wonder about their clinches sometimes and then manage to put it out of mind.

He's a larger than life figure [though perhaps not so large in life]and heaven knows the world needs more of those just now.

[2008 awards] progress report

Progress report on the Awards is now up at the site.

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

[right royal chat] the very next fad

Love this from Charon QC [the Questionable Cove]:

Last month the news broke that Gordon Brown was making phonecalls to unsuspecting members of the British public. Yesterday, the News of The World reported that The Queen had been thinking about setting up premium rate phone lines to allow the British public to call and get a message from the Royals - to help pay for the double glazing at Buckingham Palace and Windsor Castle.
What then follows is a Charon podcast on the matter, replete with the meaning of "hice".

By the way, appropriate, wouldn't you say, that the Wikipic portrays the Duke together with that other great wordmaster, Dubya? I'd love to have been a fly on the wall [or guardsman's headgear] during that conversation.

I was once of the opinion that the Duke was just an alcohol swigging, foul-mouthed committee of 300 member, dedicated to population reduction and prone to gaffs but now I'm the first to admit I was wrong.

This has to be a mini-classic:

Personal remarks have annoyed singing stars. In 1969 The Duke said to Tom Jones after the Royal Variety Performance: "What do you gargle with, pebbles?"

In 1995 he asked a Scottish driving instructor: "How do you keep the natives off the booze long enough to pass the test?"
Now I think you'd agree it takes a special sort of mind to dream up some of those.

Site of King Athelstan's Palace: Kingdom of Elmet

Site of King Athelstan's Palace: Kingdom of Elmet

Location Sherburn in Elmet

From 1955-1966, on and off, I lived a couple of miles from here at South Milford.

Steeton Hall gateway, South Milford, 14th century.

Our farmhouse was situated about 200-300 yards from this Ancient Monument. The village dates back to at least Saxon times. There is a secret passage in Steeton Hall which goes underground for 2 miles to the church in the photo above.

It was whilst I was at Primary School age that I recall asking my so-called foster father, why the small town next door was called Sherburn in Elmet when it was in Yorkshire? He replied that he did not know and suggested I ask the Headmaster. He did not know either. Sometime later when I was in Leeds I popped into the Central Library and conducted some research.

King Athelstan ruled all England and the capital of England was on this site. The Kingdom of Elmet was larger than the present day Yorkshire.

When all the talk is about devolution and independence, I think back to these times and wonder if those living in the area would be better off if the Kingdom of Elmet was revived?

I am talking about a revolution of sorts. With this in mind, I packed Liana off for a holiday in Riga, Latvia. I told her to prepare for battle...

Gun toting Lily

The Masonic Order of Athelstan

[blogger's blogger] first questions on the awards

I've done the rounds and looked at what people have said so far. There has been some quite positive feedback and some not so positive:

Morningstar says he won't support these Awards, then makes the points:

Yes I put the badge on my blog, I thought it was good that someone had recognised me, but I always felt as though it required being a part of the inner circle to get on the list. By the second one, I didn’t want to be on the list, there was too much stat porn being bandied around and I don’t think blog awards should be about visitor numbers, whichever measure you subscribe to.

The other annoying thing for me was seeing the American trend of bloggers wanting to supplant the mainstream media hit the UK, and the mainstream media moving into blogging.

And that, dear Morningstar, is precisely why these Awards are needed - awards by bloggers who are real bloggers for fellow bloggers. We know who we are, whether we are MSM or not. This mechanism keeps it all shipshape and Bristol fashion.

As for inner circle - well there are many inner circles. There's Blogpower, the Dale world, the Daily Kos world and so on. These Awards are beyond any circle and at the same time recognize each circle in its own category.

These awards are exactly for bloggers such as you, Morningstar. Easy to be negative. Far harder to support something. I hope you'll support the idea.

Already we have some names being put forward and as someone must start the ball rolling, these will appear as a list tomorrow and then those people asked if they'll be Panellists.

Finally for now, Welshcakes advised yesterday ' the Awards will certainly go ahead. Just give people enough time to come to grips with them.

So I'm still hopeful.