Saturday, November 28, 2009

Some tweets

For no other reason than an attempt to discern patterns in my interests, here are some selected tweets from the last week or so...

CrossCountry trains need to be pumping heat into the carriages at sauna levels because...?

New blog post: Exeter has a Tory county council, a LibDem city council, a Labour MP & a Sword of Damocles

Wha...?! Blogpost by @DuncanStott recalling that over 60% of Lib Dem MPs back NHS Homeopathy

Great post by Millennium Elephant on Doctor Who and the Waters of Mars

Quote of the day from @sarabedford "Sometimes only schadenfreude will do!"

Oh no! I must've forgotten to vote in the elections for the EU govt, and now I don't know the new President's policies.

Just dropped a small piece of chocolate on the floor. GUTTED [my most heartfelt tweet]

News from 2011: Chief Mathematics Advisor says politicians are inumerate. Ed Balls backs him 150%

Justin Webb R4 26.06.09 "I'm useless when it comes to science and maths". Is journalism the kind of profession where that doesn't matter?

Super Mario Bros Wii getting good reviews e.g. But then again Anyone played it?

Not entirely sure what #xfactor #scd #pdc really are. Fairly sure I don't need to care. [less subsequent hate-mail than I was expecting]

powerful stuff RT @HrothgirOD Why I think Bishop Spong is awesome #atheist #athesim Only downside - one more god than me

Why are vampires, visions and fame such preoccupations of 21st century humanity?

This has been bugging me for 2 weeks. Ollie thinks he's Josh #TheThickOfIt Were the speechwriters Sam, Toby & Will not heroic enough? [sadly, no answer to this one]

Free the data RT @jamesgraham RT @libcon How to commit a global warming fraud [RT'd]

Save us from the dogmatists! Roy Hattersley & @iaindale say minority govt = compromise = bad legislation [RT'd]

Is the "revelation" of a No10 Iraq cover-up actualy going to change any votes?

#elevatorpitchesforblogs Guido Fawkes "What if a troll was occasionally sent gossip?"

C4News story about Murdoch & Microsoft - I wonder if Google's current dominance depends on future of open web?

#climate prof on @channel4news comes across as slightly stumbling but unworldly & genuine. Shame media now go ad hominem against science

@HrothgirOD Perhaps our civilization's remnants will be washed up on the shores of an ice-free Antarctica...

Did your Labour MP vote against the 10:10 campaign on the orders of the Labour whips? has the votes

RT @sarabedford A Christian's take on British Humanist Association's latest campaign @PlsDontLabelMe

@campbellclaret BBC 10 o'clock news doesn't think its audience is clever enough to cope with leaders' CBI speeches

Extreme Précis: attemtping to summarise Clegg's speech to the CBI [RT'd]

On secret £61bn loan, Vince Cable: The Govt has treated taxpayers like children while expecting them to foot the bill

Guido's cod-libertarian bile factory is a new rallying point for #climate sceptics

Brigstocke has crowd on his side with witty reasonableness... oh no! he's gone too far #bbcqt #fantasyreenactmentofbbcqtbeforeitsevenstarted [I thought this was my best effort this haul!]

Melanie Phillips booed by Twitter on climate change. Desperate applause in studio #bbcqt #fantasyreenactmentofbbcqtbeforeitsevenstarted [Most accurate prediction]

Does #bbcqt decide Scottish panel using Scottish General Election vote%? Labour(40%):1 on panel,SNP(18%):1,LibDem(23%):0,Tory(16%):2

Does #bbcqt decide Scottish panel using UK seat%? Labour(55%):1 on panel,SNP(1%):1,LibDem(10%):0,Tory(31%):2

Does #bbcqt decide Scottish panel using UK vote%? Labour(35%):1 on panel,SNP(2%):1,LibDem(22%):0,Tory(32%):2

Does #bbcqt decide Scottish panel using MSPs? Labour(46 MSPs):1 on panel,SNP(47 MSPs):1,LibDem(16 MSPs):0,Tory(16 MPs):2

Does #bbcqt decide Scottish panel using MP numbers? Labour(39 MPs):1 on panel,SNP(7 MPs):1,LibDem(12 MPs):0,Tory(1 MP):2 [RT'd]

@bbcquestiontime Would appreciate some help in answering the questions posed in the last few tweets.

RT @Forgotten_Man: I wonder when #bbcqt and #thisweek will ask a Scientist about climate change rather than a politician. [RT'd]

hehehe RT @serafinowicz Cause of death: Autopsy

Andrew Neil, one of the most cynical news journalists in the UK, asks why there is so much cynicism around.

Audio progs I can't listen to on public transport because I laugh out loud like a nutter: Adam&Joe, Mitchell&Webb, The Unbelievable Truth

Scary. @TimMontgomerie disbelieves #climate science; & even if true, disbelieves solutions; & even if solutions, disbelieves political will

Shocked, angry & a little confused as to why there isn't a dedicated Tiger Woods TV channel to cover the crisis 24/7 [RT'd]

How likely is hung parliament with Lab, Con, LibDem the seat ranking & Con, LibDem, Lab the vote ranking? Inspired by

Conclusions? Slightly obsessive on climate change. Not quite a political nerd, but a distinct danger. Needs to get out more.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Extreme précis

Not, you know, précising a text that is extreme, but trying to summarise in the way one might approach extreme surfing, extreme skiing or extreme ironing. With not quite the same risks of death.

Slightly impatient with political verbiage around economics, but also baffled as to why yesterday's BBC 10 o'clock news failed to even mention the speeches by the leaders of all three main parties to the CBI, I decided to have a go at précising Nick Clegg's speech.

At 2,237 words it's not a huge speech to start with. But I always like speeches shorter if possible.

I managed to reduce his 5 main points to 5 tweets:-
  • LibDems on banking: Get bailed-out highstreet banks lending responsibly. Tax profits at 10%. More competition & mutuals
  • LibDems on the deficit: Labour in denial; Tories secretive. Instead, stop the spending on bad ideas
  • LibDems on capital spending: Invest in energy infrastructure to cope with new generation technologies
  • LibDems on promoting growth: Decentralise decision-making. Create a local/regional investment fund
  • LibDems on tax: Needs to be simpler & fairer. Reward hard work & initiative. Penalise polluters. A tax switch, not a tax rise

That's a reduction from 13,289 characters to 545 characters (assuming people don't actually read URLs). That's a reduction of 96% in terms of characters (and of course even more in terms of subtlety and reasoning).

Could the précis go all the way to a single tweet? Possibly, but I'm fairly sure I'm not up to the challenge of doing that while keeping enough of the detail in to make the tweet worth reading. It really does become a series of slogans. On the other hand, I didn't fancy bombarding my twitter followers with 5 tweets about a speech that they'd probably not be interested in; or if they were interested in, had probably already read.

Oh well...

Monday, November 16, 2009

Exeter politics rather interesting

Exeter is rather an interesting place to live politically. Our county council, Devon, is Conservative; our city council is LibDem; and our MP, Ben Bradshaw, is Labour.

Yet even these facts hide further complexity. Devon County Council was LibDem until this year; on Exeter City Council there are roughly equal numbers of Labour, LibDem and Conservative councillors; and until 1997 the parliamentary seat was Conservative for much of its history.

So what's happening at the moment?

Devon County Council, which is based in Exeter, is having to make £20 million worth of cuts, including the loss of 500 jobs. Care homes look to be particularly badly affected.

In relation to Exeter City Council, we continue to wait for the long-delayed results of the Boundary Committee's review of local government in Devon. Like a Sword of Damocles hanging over us, the city's 800-year-old rights to take decisions about its own affairs could be removed at any time, without a vote by its inhabitants.

Having an MP from the governing party has not helped us with this issue, as with most other issues. Ben Bradshaw is a decent, well-liked chap, last week named Politician of the Year by Stonewall. He's often seen on his bicycle around the city, and he comes across very well both on television and in person. He claims far less in MPs' expenses than most of his colleagues; and he supported reform of the expenses system in 2008, well before the recent scandal.

But as a member of the Government since 2001, he never votes against the party line.

According to, Ben has voted for student top-up fees, ID cards, the Iraq war, nuclear power, the hunting ban, 90-day detentions without charge, and reduced Parliamentary scrutiny of new legislation.

Recently, Ben has...
  • jumped on the media bandwagon that centred on misquoting Emma Thompson on racism in Exeter and the University of Exeter.
  • lent credibility to the ridiculous suggestion to sell off the Met Office, at just the moment when we need the Met Office most focused on research in climate change rather than commercial shenanigans.
  • supported the proposal for 10 new nuclear power stations around the country, including Hinkley Point, less than 40 miles from Exeter (as the wind blows).
  • (on the plus side) pleaded with Transport Secretary over the £2 million the city council has to find to fund the Government's concessionary bus fare scheme. But we're not in the clear yet, and he makes no acknowledgment that it was his government that imposed the scheme without funding it properly.
2010 will herald elections for Exeter City Council and of course the General Election. Less parochially, it may be may-or-break year for our planet.

We live in interesting times.