Saturday, January 24, 2004

I've got a blog, and I'm not afraid to use it

Reading through various comment sections on blogs, in a vain attempt to fill the long long hours of a night shift, I found a couple of interesting ones, not necessarily related to the subject of the post, but when are they ever?

Firstly, over at Oliver Kamm's, Vivienne appears to have been reading my mind at some point (or I've been reading hers, or Charles Kennedy has brainwashed us all, Brian style, to say we are all individuals):
This is, incidentally, why I gave up blogging. I got really bored with people presuming what I thought (without asking me) and then misinterpreting what I said when I told them.

It's boringly partisan, doesn't encourage the moderation of views, debate or people backing down when they are wrong and is generally unconstructive. It's pointlessly black and white, unnuanced and generally 'ya boo'.

I really felt like starting a blog anonymously without expressing my political affiliation at all. If no one knew I was a Lib Dem, you may be surprised what I actually think if you bothered to read it instead of reading it how YOU THINK I THINK.

Furthermore, I think on my own - I don't sign up to the opinions of everyone in the party. As such, I get bored of random rubbish being dropped on me which I don't sign up to at all. However, I know when assaults on the party are justified and when they are just malicious. Most of them emitting from the blogosphere are factually incorrect or just malevolent. This makes me very reticient to say anything when I know that the party is wrong or I disagree. I believe it is similar in 'real' politics - it crushes accountability, freedom of thought or genuine progress.
Then, over at Beatniksalad, I find Tim quoting and expanding on something from Ken Macleod that I hadn't seen before:
I'm increasingly convinced that Ken MacLeod is right - political blogs are just Usenet flamewars with nicer layouts. Unfortunately, blogs don't yet have an iron system of rules in place to adjudicate these dick-waving contests.
Nah, this isn't going to turn into some big 'I quit' piece if that's what you're anticipating/hoping for/dreading - I just thought they were interesting quotes.

Likely to remain that way, too

As you no doubt already know, I'm two years past being normal. (via Green Fairy)

Heisenberg: The computer game

I haven't been caught up in the latest internet sport of Penguin Cricket, mainly because I can't work out how to play it. The game loads up, but I have no idea what to do after that - control it with the power of the mind?

But, thanks to that piscine relevance woman, I've found a game that I can play, which is rather simple and disturbingly addictive. Prepare to go and dodge some blocks - and if you can do it for longer than 23.22 23.501 23.563 seconds, you've beaten my record.

Stranger things have happened

It's unlikely to bring about much other than a ban for the player concerned, but Wales appealing against their defeat in the Euro 2004 playoffs because one of the Russian players failed a drugs test might be a story worth watching. There is always that slim possibility that Russia could be disqualified and Wales find themselves in Portugal in their place. And if it did happen, then who knows how Wales might do? A late entrance worked wonders for Denmark in 1992.

Friday, January 23, 2004

Obligatory

Anthony's right - it wasn't one of those issues that took much wondering over who would join in the great big blogger pile on. But, Jenny Tonge's comments were particularly stupid so there's not too much surprise in watching another blogosphere circle jerk going on.

Two points, though:

1) As I've mentioned before in another context, it's a good idea for people who use words to remember that they often have more than one meaning. For instance 'understand' means both 'comprehend' as well as 'condone', and does not necessarily include both meanings.

2) I really can't be bothered to look, as I have far more useful things to do with my time, but if any of the circle jerkers have ever quoted Ann Coulter approvingly I trust they suitably excoriated her and themselves after she said 'My only regret with Timothy McVeigh is he did not go to the New York Times Building'.

Thursday, January 22, 2004

Fantasy League update

OK, first update from the UK Bloggers Fantasy League for 2004, and things are getting interesting.

The Moose is starting to open up a lead at the top of the table, with AFC Wibblington now having a 50 point gap over second place Real Politik. The gap may be attributable to Politik having three Man Utd defensive players and no Wolves players at all. The struggle to be the Chelsea of the league in third place is currently between myself and Jez, though both of us are currently slipping off the pace of the leaders.

Of course, the big news at the bottom of the table there's even bigger news as the Riverside Dogs, who everyone had assumed were doomed to finish bottom, have continued their amazing run to finally draw ahead of the Pomo Pornstars XI and are now setting their sights on the higher echelons of the table. Or 11th, anyway.

Senate spying?

This story of Republicans allegedly gaining illicit access to computer files of Democratic members of the Senate's Judiciary Committee could turn out to be big, so if it is remember that you heard about it here first (unless, like me, you heard about it from Atrios and Josh Marshall first).

Take the time to work on your grammar, young man

James Graham follows the lead of the Guardian Diary and shows us young Tory (or should we be calling them cfukers?) Jonathan Cordell and his oh-so-hilarious picture taken outside Cowley Street. If I was moronically stupid, I might even think he was really going to the toilet, not pretending to.

I notice that young Mr Cordell is standing for some election or other. Given that he believes the plural of LibDem is 'LibDem's' may I suggest he considers the slogan 'tough on apostrophes, tough on the causes of apostrophes'?

Wednesday, January 21, 2004

The count that matters

From the looks of it, this appears to be a permanent link on the Washington Post's website - a count of how many delegates the individual candidates for the Democratic nomination for President have received, including the 'superdelegates'. Likely to be of more interest later on in the process than now, but it does give an indication of how many party figures have been endorsing the different candidates.

Out on the hustings, the New Hampshire tracking polls are showing some interesting movement - Kos has a roundup of several of them, but the trends in the ARG poll are enough to strike fear into the hearts of the Howard Dean campaign - Kerry's surging, Edwards is starting to grow and both Dean and Clark are slipping. There's a debate tomorrow night which promises some interesting viewing.

Pierluigi

This could be a case of someone putting two and two together and making five, but The Mirror has an interesting suggestion today that Italian football referee Pierluigi Collina may 'transfer' to the Premiership after next season as he has to retire at 45 in Italy, but can carry on refereeing in England until he's 48.

It would be interesting to see it happen, though one wonders how successful he'd be at refereeing the Premiership week in, week out. However, other reports link him with a move to the Bundesliga, so it'll be interesting to see which, if any, of the rumours turn out to be true.

Tuesday, January 20, 2004

Whoop! There he goes...

I hadn't seen the Howard Dean speech that a lot of people have been talking about today, but I just caught some of it on Newsnight.

You know what it reminded me of? Something too long ago and far away for American commentators to see the resemblance - Neil Kinnock in Sheffield, 1992.

Nobody Knows Anything

Especially when it comes to primary elections.

So, Kerry wins Iowa, Edwards goes from nowhere to second, Dean - whose support was so large his winning the nomination was inevitable, we were told so recently - came third, and Gephardt promised a win, came fourth and withdrew.

A couple of weeks ago, I predicted that Wesley Clark (who didn't campaign in Iowa) would be the Democratic Presidential nominee. I still think he'll win (though part of me does think that in six months time I'll be saying 'Did I say candidate for President? Oh sorry, that was a typo, I meant Vice-President.') but I'm not sure that the scenario I described will the way he wins. I was anticipating that Dean would build an early lead in Iowa and New Hampshire but that Clark would play the long game and eventually grind him down. However, the seemingly back from the political dead Kerry and the late surge of Edwards look like making this a four-way contest or even five-way, though Lieberman's campaign doesn't seem to be firing at all, and he needs to pull something out of the bag in the next week to stand a chance of staying in the contest, let alone winning it.

I read yesterday a description of Dean's campaign as a 'bubble' - one that's grown quickly but is very fragile and easily dissipated. As I said before, I think his support, though large, has reached a peak and won't grow anymore. The problem is that his 'insurgency' got too big, too quickly to the point where he was expected to win the early primaries easily. You can spin all you like about how third place would have been seen as a miracle this time last year, but when you've spent the last few months ahead in the polls, it's a severe disappointment, especially when it's not even a close third.

Reading some accounts of what happened in the caucuses themselves (see here and here, but with the proviso that that's just two out of almost 2000) I wonder how well Dean's message plays outside his core support, which is the key to winning the nomination. Dean's supporters seem to be liable to just standing around shouting 'Yay! Howard Dean! He's great!' while the other campaigns are getting out there and trying to show people why their candidates are great, not just proclaiming it and expecting people to feel grateful for the chance to jump on their bandwagon. It reminds me of campaigns I saw during my time in student politics - there were lots of people who could run campiagns that were based around the theme of 'look how popular I am!' but, more often than not, they lost out to the people who would actually get out and talk to people, finding out what their concerns were and what they wanted.

So, bearing in mind that nobody knows anything, the attention turns to New Hampshire. Dean has to bounce back and win (or perhaps come second to Clark) as snatching another defeat from the jaws of victory could prove catastrophic. Clark has to show he can compete when he doesn't have the state to himself, while Kerry and Edwards need to show Iowa wasn't just a blip. Edwards is probably the man to watch right now - I believe that he, unlike Kerry, has funds in the bank and his campaign strategy of being relentlessly positive and not attacking his opponents does seem to have a lot of appeal amongst voters. It'll also be interesting to see who, if anyone, Gephardt supports now he's withdrawn. He may not be able to deliver a huge amount of votes outside of Missouri, but he has a lot of contacts (especially amongst the Unions) whose support and organisation would be very useful to any of the remaining candidates.

Lowering the tone

I was just looking around the web at some stuff on the Iowa caucuses (which take place tonight) and found the official leaderboard, which will give the results as they come in. I'm sure no one reading this will have the answer, if there is one, but it's curious that only John Edwards has his job title (Senator) mentioned there. Gephardt and Kucinich don't have 'Congressman' before their names, while Kerry and Lieberman are both missing the 'Senator' before theirs. Kerry, however, does look as though his photo was taken during his time as a model for 'Man at C&A'.

I'm sure there'll be someone out there making a complaint that it gives Edwards an unfair advantage - or that Dean and Kucinich are the only candidates not smiling in their pictures. Dean's looking serious in the middle of a speech and Kucinich...well, to be honest, he looks constipated.

Sunday, January 18, 2004

The General's sweater

It's amazing just how much you can make selling your old stuff on eBay. (via The Poor Man)