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It's not like the Americans to claim victory prematurely…

It's not like the Americans to claim victory prematurely…

New York Post cover for 13 June
and for a bit of context on what that headline means…

Mission Accomplished ?

Fighting a losing battle against copyright

Fighting a losing battle against copyright

Sarah Cameron not quite standing by her man, David Cameron

So… on the night when David Cameron finally became Prime Minister, HyperHam and I had the following conversation:

HH: “Why is Mrs Cameron standing at the back, pregnant and far away from her husband?”
AW: “Well, we’re living in Tory times now.”

To me, this was so amazingly funny and of-the-moment, that I immediately posted it on Twitter and Facebook. After all, what’s a joke if it’s not instantly shared to as many people as possible?

While a couple of friends graciously shared the joke with credit, another friend of mine reposted the joke without attributing it towards me. Indeed, when I pointed out that I wrote the joke, she deleted the comment, and then we had a slight disagreement before she decided to delete the joke to begin with. But she genuinely thought she was in the right to just copy a joke without any form of attribution.

Record companies and artists everywhere bemoan how we now live in an age where people copy works without even thinking of paying for it. But at least we all know a song by Lady GaGa is by Lady GaGa. How soon is it going to be before people can’t even be bothered to acknowledge that someone else wrote that song or book or joke?

W12 Election watch – week three

W12 Election watch – week three

So it’s been two weeks since my last update of what the election candidates seem to be doing in the 78th Tory target seat of Hammersmith. So this is what I’ve been observing locally at least:

Labour

Labour have definitely gone for a personal approach. Aside from a couple of flyers stuffed through my letterbox (one of them on the day of the launch of the Labour manifesto), I’ve spotted candidate Andy Slaughter twice at White City station (again, on Labour manifesto launch day).

To top all that off, he even paid a visit to my road. Naturally, in advance canvassers knocked on everyone’s door in advance to see who wanted to speak to him and only one household took him up on his offer. And his Twitter feed at least took the time to acknowledge one of my tweets.

Conservatives

By contrast, Shaun Bailey‘s team have been relatively quiet after their initially strong showing. I’ve had a couple of leaflets through my door – saving money by combining his election pledges with the local council’s Conservative candidates pledges – but I’ve not seen him or his team anywhere on my travels.

However, you can’t move in the constituency without seeing some Conservative billboard – ironically with Gordon Brown’s smiling face. I’ve not seen any Labour billboards in the area.

Liberal Democrats

Alas, nothing directly from the LibDem candidate Merlene Emerson – although her team did email me direct. But that doesn’t count for the purposes of this comparison.

I may have gotten a leaflet from her or her local council colleagues vying for my vote in my ward.

Other candidates

Again, nothing at all from the other candidate. While I don’t particularly want to hear from the UKIP or the BNP candidate, I do wonder where the Green candidate is. And what Stephen Brennan is standing for.

Still, there’s seven days to go…

So… what is bigoted?

So… what is bigoted?

So, Gillian Duffy from Rochdale reportedly says: “All these Eastern Europeans what are coming in – where are they flocking from?”

Prime Minister Gordon Brown, in a private conversation with one of his aides shortly afterwards, describes her as “bigoted”.

What do you think?

W12 Election watch – week one

W12 Election watch – week one

So, I happen to live in the 78th Tory target seat, in a seat that’s currently held by a Labour MP (who couldn’t be bothered to discuss the Digital Economy Bill in the House of Commons). My council ward is a top target for the Liberal Democrats. Let’s see how much effort they’re putting into getting my vote (apparently currently worth 1.46x the UK average), while I live my daily life in this constituency. Note that I am, like most people, not going out of my way to attract the attention of candidates.

Conservatives

They’ve been stalking my local tube station, exhorting me to vote for the local candidate by shouting “Vote for this remarkable man!”. What, no policies? No manifesto? I should just vote for Shaun Bailey because he’s a “remarkable man”? I think the local barman is a remarkable man for all sorts of reasons, but I wouldn’t vote for him.

At home, I’ve had three letters from the Conservative party – it’s gotten to the point when I can spot the letters. They look like formal official letters, and – according to the back of the envelope – seem to come from CCHQ. Which uncomfortably reminds me of GCHQ – ironic, considering the last letter asked me to consider Labour’s erosion of civil liberties versus what the Tories would do.

Liberal Democrats

Not a word from the LibDem candidate, which seems a bit of a shame. But the prospective LibDem councillors have stuck a leaflet through my door, extolling their attempts to get London Transport to improve a bus route. Given the road it goes through has a bunch of closed shops and a recently revitalised library, I’d have thought that particular area needs more than an improved bus route.

UK Independence Party

There’s a rather offensive poster down the Goldhawk Road screaming about how 5000 immigrants a day move to the UK, and what a terrible thing this is. Never mind the Goldhawk Road tends to be one of the more diverse roads in W12.

Labour

Absolutely nothing. Which seems bizarre.

I wonder if this’ll improve next week…

Why America needed health reform…

Why America needed health reform…

So finally, at long last, America has joined the rest of the world in offering near-universal healthcare to its’ citizens, instead of relying on a hodgepodge of private health insurance coverage. And about bloody time too, if my brief peek into the world of American healthcare was anything to go by.

HyperHam and I were having breakfast with her mother, when she started having a mild cough. By the time we’d left the restaurant, it had become a coughing fit and by the time we were in the car, it had pretty much developed into a full-on coughing attack, and HyperHam starting to panic. So we rushed to the hospital’s “emergency ward”, only to be confronted with a counter that had nurses deep into administrative paperwork, and one elderly volunteer sweetly asking how she could help. So I blurted out “She’s choking!”, only to be told “Oh dear… I’ll see what I can do” before the elderly volunteer shuffled off trying to attract the attention of one of the admin nurses.

Somehow, a wheelchair arrived and I vaguely remember being told to go this way please – at which point, I wheeled that wheelchair to wherever the nurse was amiably ambling. (With HyperHam inside – I’m not that stupid). We arrived at some kind of place where there were machines that go ping, where they stuck a probe on her. Frowning at the number, we were then directed to an emergency cubicle where HyperHam was wired up to a bunch of more machines that go ping, and a couple of nurses fussed over her while we all anxiously looked on.

At one point there was a bit of an almighty flap when the machines that go ping started to go ping-ping-ping-ping, there was a bit more frenetic activity and HyperHam looked close to panic. Fortunately, the machines managed to settle themselves down – but while we were recovering from all this, the hospital administrator decided to wheel herself (and her laptop trolley) in and ask us a bunch of questions. Not useful stuff like her medical history, but things like her name, and WHO HER INSURANCE COMPANY WAS – ie who was going to pay for all this. I’m surprised she didn’t just point-blankly ask for my credit card.

Then we spent the next few hours waiting in A&E while the nurses subjected her to a battery of slightly pointless tests – an X-Ray machine was wheeled in, an oxygen pump was brought in – “just in case”, or more likely as HyperHam remarked later, to bump up the amount they could charge back to the insurance company. While all this was happening, HyperHam’s mother tried to point out how nice American healthcare was, and how most people were covered anyway. Those who weren’t covered, she explained, were mostly illegal immigrants anyway. So that’s alright then.

To be fair, it could have been a lot worse – I suppose they could have refused to give us any help if we didn’t look like people who could afford to buy the healthcare or if we didn’t have the right insurance card – but in all the times I’ve spent in British hospitals, I don’t remember being asked to quote my NHS number verbatim, or to have to carry a card with my NHS number around. But it seems you have to do that in America, just in case.

The doctors and nurses were very nice, very efficient – as they would be. But to this day, we don’t know what happened or sparked off the attack.

Only in America…

Only in America…

would they want to charge overseas tourists $10 to register for the privilege of visiting America. So they can fund a travel tourism promotion group aimed at … getting overseas tourists to come to America. And explain to tourists why they have to be fingerprinted and give away lots of their personal details.

Nothing like being scanned for fingerprints and asked if I was involved in a Canadian drink-driving incident in 1994 to make one feel welcome when entering the land of liberty and freedom. Looks like I’ll have to pay an extra $10 for the privilege soon…

Drop The Dead Donkey is alive and well…

Drop The Dead Donkey is alive and well…

Remember Drop The Dead Donkey, the seminal UK sitcom set in a news-gathering organisation? And in particular, unscrupulous cameraman Damian Day, who would go so far as to punch a child in a war zone to get the crying shot he needed?

Look at this Associated Press photograph from the site of the Ethiopian Airlines plane crash in Beirut

Forgetfulness or racism?

Forgetfulness or racism?

The Evening Standard carries a story about a black couple, outraged that their waitress scribbled ‘black couple’ on their bill, when they were the only couple dining.

The thing is, I’ve kind of done this myself while running my parents’ Chinese takeaway, scribbling descriptive notes on their order because I have a huge tendency to forget which order belongs to which customer. I’ve even done it when there’s only one customer – after all, another one will inevitably walk in and I’ll get all confused.

I’m not so sure I’ve gone as far as just describing someone in terms of their race, but there have been other unflattering descriptions such as baldy, NHS glasses etc. But if I went to a restaurant, and saw that scribbled on my order was “fat balding Chinese man”, I’d be a tad put out to say the least.

It’s certainly racism in the sense of discrimination against or antagonism towards other races, but there are probably bigger battles to fight. Like the woman at Question Time taking Jack Straw to task over African-Caribbean versus Afro-Caribbean while one of Britain’s biggest bigots sits on a panel next to Jack Straw. And then there’s the controversy in China over a “Chinese Idol” contestant who’s half-Chinese, half-black

Ooooh it’s complicated. But I’d rather we just end up dealing with people based on whether they’re nice to us or not…

Bloody Romans, coming over here, stealing our sexist bishops…

Bloody Romans, coming over here, stealing our sexist bishops…

BBC News: “Some Anglican clergy have said they are ready to accept an offer to join the Roman Catholic Church at a meeting of about 600 conservative priests. … Many who are considering conversion are unhappy at women bishops being introduced into the Church of England.”