As I mentioned on Twitter yesterday, I spent half an hour of Friday afternoon being interviewed by Jason Cobb of Colchester 101 magazine (and the onionbagblog, of course) about my role at the Council, and various related subjects. It’s now up on Audioboo for you all to listen to – I’ve listened to a bit, but I always find it weird listening to my own voice – and if I’ve got it right, it should be embedded below for your listening pleasure as well:

Worth Reading 19: S-s-s-s-Saigon

Rocket-powered octopi all the way down…

Space Stasis – Fascinating Slate article from Neal Stephenson on all the factors that had to come together to make rocketry so important
Caroline Lucas’ U-turn on taxes – It seems that Ten O’Clock Live stumbled on an exclusive as Caroline Lucas radically rewrote Green Party policy on air. Unfortunately, they were too busy coming up with the great satire of calling Harry Cole a journalist to notice
Tree octopus exposes internet illiteracy – In the spirit of this article, I would like to point out that you all owe me £100
Cracking the Scratch Lottery Code – “People often assume that I must be some extremely moral person because I didn’t take advantage of the lottery,” he says. “I can assure you that that’s not the case. I’d simply done the math and concluded that beating the game wasn’t worth my time.”
Evidence supporting your NHS reforms? What evidence, Mr Lansley? – I think I’m approximately the 9,836th person to link to this approvingly today, but if you haven’t read it from any of the 9,835 other links, here it is.

70% of the way there

Interesting headline for a post on Political Betting:

Is now the moment to replace Dimbleby

Even though –like many others – I rarely watch Question Time now, because it’s become so pointless and merely a reflection of a Westminster political culture that regards shouting at people and never backing down as the most important skill to possess, I think I can answer that with a ‘probably’. The show needs a complete rethink, and a new host would be part of that.

But wait, there’s more to the headline…

with Andrew Neil?

And suddenly you realise that there are so many ways in which it could be made worse. A prime example of how just three words can dramatically change the response to a question.

(The comments on Political Betting are fascinating, by the way. Apparently, there are people out there – who don’t appear to be members of the production team – who think This Week in some way resembles quality television.)

Cycling in Castle Park

The Council and Cycle Colchester are consulting on whether cycling should be allowed on some routes through Castle Park. The proposals concern two separate routes – first, one that would allow cycling on the riverside path in Lower Castle Park, to connect the Wivenhoe Trail and Middle Mill, thus meaning cyclists wouldn’t have to use the bridge and Sportsway to carry on along the river. The second route is using the folley that runs between Upper and Lower Castle Park, again linking existing paths on either side.

Full plans should be available on the Cycle Colchester website and officers will be in Castle Park on Friday and Saturday from 10am until 4pm to consult with pedestrians, cyclists and other park users. They should be located in the north-east corner of Lower Castle Park, by the cycle path and bridge to Leisure World.

Worth Reading 18: Now legal in the United States

And today, we’re 80% Egyptian-related:

WorldNetDaily: The Rise of the Muslim Anti-Christ Explains Egypt Unrest – No, I’m not linking to WorldNutDaily, just to Richard Bartholomew’s analysis of another one of their bizarre conspiracy theories
Arseholes, considered as a strategic resource – Daniel Davies on how dictatorships keep themselves in power.
Why Egypt 2011 is not Iran 1979 – a very good explanation of all the differences by Juan Cole
da brother’s gonna work it out – The Yorkshire Ranter on Tony Blair’s support for Hosni Mubarak
A True Story of Daily Mail Lies – And finally, something that’s not about Egypt, but is the sad truth about how some of our media operate (via)

Worth Reading 17: Now complete with provisional licence

Let there be linkage:

A Vision Of Foreign Policy Only Beck Can Provide – That’s Glenn Beck, but reading out the lyrics to Devil’s Haircut might make more sense. Watch the video for something that looks like a dramatic reconstruction of the thought processes of a crazed conspiracy theorist, except it’s for real (via)
A Guide: How Not To Say Stupid Stuff About Egypt – Something worth checking, just to see if you’re guilty of any of them
Soccer clubs central to ending Egypt’s ‘Dictatorship of Fear’ – Something I’ve not seen mentioned anywhere else, and interesting that all football games have been cancelled in Libya following the events in Egypt.
Prisoner votes in Scottish elections again – Are BBC journalists and government ministers bloody stupid? – Since I’ve begun reading legal bloggers like Love and Garbage, I’ve become aware of just how poorly a lot of issues are being reported in the media. Here’s another example.
How Cyclone Yasi compares around the world – An indication of just how huge the storm currently threatening Australia is.

Essex announces cuts in library opening hours

Still no details of the consultation, but Essex County Council have now published the papers for their next Cabinet meeting which will discuss reduced hours of opening for libraries and other cuts (pdf file) – including 21 staff – to save nearly £2m a year from the libraries budget.

A further paper indicates how many hours will be cut from each library. Of local interest:

Colchester Central Library: Currently open for 67.5 hours a week, will reduce to 59 (a reduction of 8.5)
Greenstead Library: Currently 38, reducing to 34 (reduction of 4)
Prettygate: Currently 47, reducing to 34 (reduction of 13)
Stanway: Remains at 16 hours per week
West Mersea: Remains at 23 hours per week
Wivenhoe: Remains at 19 hours per week

As far as I can see, there’s been no consultation on these reductions and the consultation that will take place will be entirely on how you want these reductions in opening hours to take place, not whether you want them to happen at all.

I’m off to find out more, but please let me know what you think about these reductions using the comments.

Worth Reading 16: Four square

Or number 10000, if you’re using binary. I for one salute our new machine overlords.

To: Steve Hilton (an open letter) – Tim Ireland’s finally had enough (and with the pressures he’s been under, most people would have cracked long before) and is taking the fight back to his tormentors
Coalition FAQ – Joe Otten gathers a few points together in an easy-to-digest form
The Failure of Realism: Diagnosis Without Any Prescription – I don’t normally look at the Spectator that much, but is a very good deconstruction of Melanie Phillips pushing the ‘dictators or Islamists’ line
Fukuyama, f*** yeah – Crooked Timber’s John Quiggin wonders if the End of History theory is being vindicated now
How left wing are you? – Liberal Conspiracy take a look at some data on how the population of Britain perceives itself politically

And a special bonus Worth Watching link for Al Jazeera English, for its coverage of the events in Egypt.