Fishy Tales

29 April 2005

Important Discoveries

Something up to now omitted from my profile and links, though referred to here and there on - I love beer. Let me remedy the omission in one fell swoop :
  • By "beer" I mean, of course Real Ale as so ardently promoted by CAMRA. I have to say I'm also partial to an occasional quality (i.e. pure ingredients) lager, such as Budvar the real Budweiser and good ol' Becks. No, not David Beckham, Mum.
  • Legendary local ale is Harvey's. I just have to keep reminding myself how good it is. You can order their beers (and plenty of other goodies) through their online shop, and have them delivered to your door, wherever you live. A polypin or two of Sussex Best goes down rather well at parties, and it's well worth having a crate of Armada around on a continual basis. Well, in the ideal world you would just live in "Lewes Cathedral", i.e. the Harvey's Brewery.
  • There are plenty of other ales I enjoy/have enjoyed, but I think I'll just throw in a blog reference when I next partake of them, e.g. at the South Downs Beer Festival or even the eagerly-awaited second Barcombe Beer Festival.
  • Same goes for bottled ales (whether "live" or not). But I do want to throw in a reference to my latest discovery, seeing as that's what got me writing on this theme in the first place: Brakspear Triple . This stuff is bloody gorgeous. Demand they get it in at your local offy/shop/supermarket. And if you know of something better, please do let me know about it!
Cheers m'dears. I'm off to crack a bottle of Goliath (damn good wetty that comes in a nice big bottle, courtesy of Wychwood, the creators of the famous Hobgoblin).

As one does, I've just noticed that there's some kind of alliance between Wychwood and Brakspear. There's a fine show that's going to run and run. Until it happily falls over, not feeling a thing...

28 April 2005

It's not the economy, stupid!

Watched the Question Time Leaders Special earlier. Not bad; revealing, even. At least of Question Time audience views..

Charles Kennedy came across very well indeed. There was the merest hint of the kind of rebirth that came over the Labour Party/Blair all those years ago. Confident, caring, and above all principled.

Michael Howard did better than I'd expected, although he completely shot himself in the foot by saying he would have waged war on Iraq even knowing what we now know. Strict, no-nonsense, a touch nasty - a bit like an old-fashioned headmaster who believes in corporal punishment.

But Tony Blair? My, my. I've never seen him so badly damaged by an encounter with the public. He was wrong-footed several times (especially by how continuous monitoring and setting poorly thought-out targets was actually damaging the function of the health service) (and Iraq, needless to say) and his means of self-defence came across disturbingly close to Michael Howard's, i.e. "I have to make decisions and you may not agree with them; but hey, I'm man enough to take your disapproval [and ignore you when I want to]". Sweat just poured off him. He actually looked desperate, genuinely worried.

And, perhaps, so he should be..

Earlier today I found yet another website that echoed my feelings quite closely - check out the Tories are Terrorists! page on the Backing Blair site. But but but, these are Labour supporters who are calling for punishment against Blair by tactical voting, thereby hugely reducing the Labour majority. What's going on?

And why do I find myself so strongly supporting the Lib Dems when (as well as fielding a particularly good locally active MP in Norman Baker) they have several views that are distinctly Left of my own middle-class, married with 2 kids, professional, property-owning, moderately Eurosceptic preferences?

Political Compass answers it all. I found the site while trying to find reference to a statement by the Lib Dem peer Shirley Williams that the political lanscape was changing from the good old Left-Right to something relating to individual freedom vs state control. Political Compass describes this dimension as libertarian-authoritarian, which will do me. However, rather than this being a new single dimension to measure political preferences, it's treated as a second dimension that relates to social attitudes. The original Left-Right dimension is left to relate to economic attitudes alone. Hallelujah!

I took the test at Political Compass and found that, surprise, surprise I'm pretty strongly libertarian (social) and just a smidgeon Left (economic).

And there we have it. Crisis makes strange bedfellows, because the Backing Blair people see the libertarian trend as something that belongs to traditional Labour, as so well evinced by Brian Sedgemore. He defected to the Lib Dems, who, as it happens, carry the liberal (i.e. moderately libertarian) candle in this election.

Now, I would have thought the Tories would be natural libertarians in that they have in the past championed less state control, the power of the self-made individual etc. But that was then, and at present they are making far too little noise about individual rights. Quite the opposite, in fact: they would like to withdraw from some of the civil rights laws that do exist.

And here's the rub. In economic terms, all three parties are amazingly similar. Sure, the Tories promise to tax us a little less, the Lib Dems will tax many of us a little more (and so will Labour in all likelihood). But there's surprisingly little "clear blue water" between them on this front. All three parties will carry on forking out for public services, which means that not much can change.

So the vote is actually, in my humble opinion, likely to be based on perceptions of quality of service, as it is when you could buy the same product from several different outlets. And remember that occasionally we will spend more to maintain a relationship with our favourite shops and suppliers.

It's not the economy, stupid!

27 April 2005

My Benefactors

OK, first post seemed to work pretty well, so let's get busy!

I may as well start with a little nod to those that brought me here:
  • Tens of millions of bloggers worldwide; a complete riot of individualism and often colourful self-expression. Quite a party, and I just had to join in some time.
  • The current UK election, primarily as reported by the BBC, for putting such a big bee in my bonnet that I was bound to blow my top, lose my head, fail to keep my hair on and find it impossible to keep things under my hat.
  • Really it was the Iraq War that first switched me to web-rant mode, tied in with discovering Cursor and Iraq Body Count. So perhaps I should be crediting Our Benefactors. Eek! But I'd much rather credit the Lib Dems for standing by principle (and arguably with the majority of the electorate), against the war. Also a nod in the direction of Robin Cook, who resigned from the cabinet and made a brilliant and compelling resignation speech when Blair decided cosying up to Bush was more important than acting according to a reasonable appraisal of the facts, simultaneously bypassing any twinges of conscience for the inevitable death of tens of thousands of innocent civilian casualties.
  • fitted the same bill as Cursor for me recently, in showing in no uncertain terms that (a) I wasn't alone in thinking what I was thinking and (b) I could perhaps offer something similar to like-minded people in the UK and globally. And that some readers may even appreciate my doing so. Well, I can dream.
  • Finally, Blogger made it ridiculously easy to get a blog up and running, while still tying it in with my existing website (not to say I won't make it better tied in).
So here we are. Bet you can't guess what I'm going to be writing about now, given that there's a week until the (UK) election!
See next week's thrilling post.

Probably tomorrow, actually.

Interesting weather today, by the way. Major thunderstorm in Foots Cray, hailstones, flash flood and all. Lovely and sunny when I got back to Barcombe. A bit cold, though.


Testing, testing, one two three...

[clears throat]

A brave new world will rise from the ashes
And there upon a rock titanic
I'll cast a giant shadow on the face of the deep..

My 10 cents, starter for 10, or 10cc;
- or me tuppence ha'penny, guv.
Cor blimey, stone the crows, have a banana.

We shall defend our Island, whatever the cost may be, we shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender..

Now there was a PM. He talked about outliving "the menace of tyrrany". Which I hope we'll still do, even when the greatest immediate threat to our freedoms is that from our very own leaders.

But more on that later. Let's just see how all this Interweb Bloogy stuff works.