OK, my last post  Recessional was our time to cry in our beer. I needed it, and I suspect many of you did as well.

But, what’s different today, not much, really, except that Obama got reelected. But think about this a little. He got reelected by the thinnest of margins. He did this by trying to demonize a good man with the help of all the trappings of the Presidency, and with the nearly undivided and vocal support of the so-called news media. We fought that juggernaut to a standstill.

My favorite comment this morning came from Rebecca Hamilton. A staunch and Godly Woman of Valor, a State Legislator and a Democrat. “Don’t be defeated. The fight has just begun.” She’s right. In times like this, I like to turn to Tom Paine, especially this.

THESE are the times that try men’s souls. The summer…

View original post 839 more words

No drama for Obama

MORNING BRIEFING – By Benedict Brogan (Daily Telegraph).

Those waking this morning hoping for dramatic news from the US were disappointed. President Obama has been re-elected by a handsome margin. The swing states didn’t swing, and neither the Senate nor the House changed hands. It’s as you were for the next four years, even though the popular vote was desperately close, with 50:49 to the President the latest projection. The Telegraph have been covering the election live through the night, and you can find the action as it happens here . The margin between the candidates in terms of electoral college votes currently stands at 303-203, and you can see where the supporters were scattered on our interactive map. In his victory address, Mr Obama said:

Tonight, more than 200 years after a former colony won the right to determine its own destiny, the task of perfecting our union moves forward. It moves forward because of you.”

While the implications in terms of British politics are still emerging, both sides will take something from the evening’s events. The Conservatives have staked a great deal on the power of the incumbency, and will take succour from the fact that the President has held on. Dave tweeted the President to congratulate his “friend” on his re-election.”The Labour Party will see the triumph of a progressive agenda in a conservative nation as good omen. As Mary Riddell writes in this morning’s Telegraph, Ed Miliband & co could also learn from Mr Obama’s habit of over-promising.


Sir George Young has withdrawn the Tory whip from television’s Nadine Dorries until she returns to explain herself, as the Telegraph reports. Damian Thompson on Telegraph Blogs points out the difficulty in being seen to defend Andrew Mitchell to the hilt whilst immediately dropping an MP who was not part of the magic circle of what Mrs Dorries would term “posh boys”. However, as Quentin Letts writes in today’s Mail , she should not be disappearing while Parliament is in session in order to eat insects on television:

“As an MP she is in a position of rare privilege. We are entitled to expect more. If she wants to change the system, she should wage that battle from within the institution, not through the camera lens of a reality TV company that’s paying her £40,000 (and counting) for her time.”


Anglo-German talks between the Prime Minister and Angela Merkel will begin this evening at Downing Street before being formally taken up tomorrow. The Prime Minister will try to insist on cuts to the EU budget, particularly as the EU’s auditors have just refused to sign its accounts for the 18th straight year, but Frau Merkel may have other things on her mind, as Mats Persson writes in today’s Telegraph:.

“Part of the problem is that Germany and Britain keep on talking past each other. This is… down to bad diplomacy. Cameron and George Osborne have made a habit of lecturing the Germans on the “inexorable logic” of the eurozone becoming a debt union – for which German taxpayers would foot the bill. This is a spectacular own goal…”

Still, even if tonight’s instalment of Carry on Diplomacy is not looking promising, at least Dave managed to flog some jets on his recent trip to the Gulf. As the FT (£) reports, the UAE has signalled its intention to purchase a batch of Typhoons by signing a cooperation agreement with the UK which makes specific reference to the deal.

Dave also came away from the region with a beautiful green sash, pictured here. With a tasteful yellow border, it comes with a pretty floral charm medal. Surely the perfect accompaniment to the Prime Minister’s (hired) white tie and tails at the next state banquet?

Whether the influx of money and gaudy clothing is seen as a compensation in Number 10 for the loss of political capital occasioned by their handling of the trip is another thing. This morning the Guardian question his motives in allowing access for individual journalists in the hope of securing better coverage. The problem with that strategy, of course, is that it makes many more enemies than friends.


The first 10 Conservative targets in the 40:40 campaign have been revealed. ConservativeHome reports that Sarah Newton is targeting eight Labour seats and two Lib Dem ones in the first batch, with four of the seats intending to run candidates chosen by primary. Selection will be wrapped up by Christmas, a sign that CCHQ has given up the ghost when it comes to boundary reform and is now content to select on the old boundary lines.


That’s the verdict of Patrick Wintour writing in today’s Guardian. Although he worries that both parties will drift apart as they appeal to their bases when the 2015 election nears, at the moment, it’s all a bit Animal Farm:

“Some ministers continue to say that if independent observers watched a departmental ministerial meeting, they would be hard pressed to distinguish the Tory from Liberal Democrat.”


The Civil Service risks being “demoralised” by cuts to Whitehall budgets, according to the Institute for Government. The FT (£) reports that things are so bad one department has “not having a staff suicide as a success measure”. Grim.


Calling for a living wage is in vogue at the moment, with politicians from Ed Miliband to Boris Johnson demanding what they view as fairer pay. Unfortunately, as the Mirror reports, 181 MPs are paying staff members less than this, with a third of those MPs sitting on the Labour benches. Still, it sounds good…


As the countdown to the Lord Justice Leveson’s report begins in earnest, the divisions over press regulation are as deep as ever. This morning’s Telegraph criticises the decision of the NUJ to come out in support of some system of statutory regulation for the press. As our leader puts it:

“The defenders of a free press are few enough in number. For the NUJ to be willing to sacrifice those hard-won freedoms on the altar of Left-wing orthodoxy suggests that it is no longer fit to represent its members – who may now wish to reconsider their subscriptions.”


Given the eerily prescient qualities of In The Thick Of It, let’s hope that the premise of Channel 4’s Secret State remains a fiction. Catastrophic events force the Deputy Prime Minister to the fore, leading him to take on the establishment and risk everything uncovering a grave conspiracy. Something to keep an eye on as the evenings draw in.


On a visit to the US embassy, Diane Abbott’s faith in the market to provide public services like education clearly goes before her:

@HackneyAbbott: “Worst insult of the year so far. Women on reception at US embassy election party asked me if I was a young Republican…..”


In the Telegraph

Mary Riddell – Obama can teach Miliband about promising more than you can deliver

Mats Persson – Germany is losing patience with Britain

Alistair Osborne – The Golden Fleecers

Rowan Pelling – Let’s hope Nadine likes the taste of giant bugs

Best of the rest

Quentin Letts in the Daily Mai – We need outspoken MPs like Nadine. But her jungle junket’s an insult to voters

Alan Posener in the Times (£) – Listen, Britain. Germany’s had enough of you

John Kay in the FT (£) – London’s new airport has been held to ransom by folly and delay

Brian Cathcart in The Guardian – The press can live with this


Today: International Development Secretary Justine Greening to announce package of support for Burma.

12:00 pm: Nick Clegg takes Prime Ministers Questions.

02:00 pm: Environment Secretary Owen Paterson to hold a tree health summit to discuss ash dieback outbreak. Owen Paterson will chair a summit focussing on tree health in the UK and ‘Ash Dieback’ specifically. Emmanuel Centre, 9-23 Marsham Street.

06:00 pm: The Prime Minister will meet Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer. No 10 Downing Street.

Everything Swim Bike and Run and the Occasional Life Encounters

Swimming Faster is a fascination for many,  I just finished a swim yesterday after a month of no activity due to my feet injury and also because race season is over. I felt funny not to train after so long but I am sure definitely  out of breath swimming my usual 3 x 500m in the pool yesterday (no more races till 2013)

I have always wondered how to swim faster, Have you been wondering how to swim faster for months or even years without ever finding a satisfactory answer? If this is the case, well, you are in good company.

This article by describes six principles that will allow you to swim faster without becoming exhausted too quickly.

Swimming Smarter not Harder

For many coaches, swimming faster is the result of gradually increasing the length and intensity of swimming workouts so that the general fitness level increases.


View original post 654 more words

4 feet 2 mouths

Want to see a place that is magical, astonishing and entirely unbelievable? Visit Cappadocia in central Turkey for one out-of-this-world experience.  Spectacular land formations converge with exemplary culture for an experience of a lifetime.

We landed in the city of Göreme from Selçuk on one super long bus ride that passed through Ankara.  It is difficult to know all major holidays while traveling, but our time in Turkey coincided with one of the largest Muslim holidays of the year, Eid al-Adha.  Thus busses were booked and we added an extra four hours of travel time just to get to Cappadocia.  When we finally did arrive, we staggered out of the mini bus completely in awe.  Enormous cones of rock scattered the landscape. Each miniature mountain had been hollowed out with windows, rooms, and elaborate entrances.  Everywhere we looked was a cave home or cave hotel towering over the city…

View original post 1,018 more words

Bayard & Holmes

An Open Letter to Italy

From Piper Bayard & Jay Holmes

Dear Italy,

We recently noticed that your court in L’Aquila convicted six scientists and a government official of manslaughter and sentenced them each to six years in jail because they did not accurately predict an earthquake. (See Italian Scientists Resign over L’Aquila Quake Verdicts.) This earthquake was a terrible tragedy, killing over 300 people and leaving hundreds more injured and homeless. We extend our sincere condolences to the victims of this natural disaster.

L’Aquila in highlighted Abruzzo region, image by TUBS on wikimedia commons

We also, however, extend our condolences to the people of Italy, who find themselves governed by such imbeciles. The one thing geologists and geophysicists throughout the world all agree on is that science is not yet able to accurately predict earthquakes. We find it amazing that judges and prosecutors in Italy presume to hold Italian scientists…

View original post 715 more words

Justine Graykin

It’s been a rough couple of months. Losing the first cat wasn’t so bad (I wrote a nice article for the newspaper about that). The second cat was a lot harder (see the previous post). But that was nothing.  Nothing.

My brother-in-law called yesterday morning and told me my sister had died. I didn’t even know she was ill. Everyone else did. All her friends, the entire family, her church. Not me. Because she had expressly told them she didn’t want me to be told. They had their chance to visit her in the hospice where she lay dying of cancer. Not me. They begged her to let them tell me. She refused. Why?

Because I am an atheist.

It was her final gesture to me, her final retribution for my lack of belief in her god.

We had been estranged for a long time because I did not…

View original post 704 more words


Two 90 year old men, Mike and Joe, have been friends all of their lives.

When it’s clear that Joe is dying, Mike visits him every day. One day Mike says, “Joe, we both loved rugby all our lives, and we played rugby on Saturdays together for so many years. Please do me one favour, when you get to Heaven, somehow you must let me know if there’s rugby there.”

Joe looks up at Mike from his death bed,” Mike, you’ve been my best friend for many years. If it’s at all possible, I’ll do this favour for you.

Shortly after that, Joe passes on.

At midnight a couple of nights later, Mike is awakened from a sound sleep by a blinding flash of white light and a voice calling out to him, “Mike–Mike..”

“Who is it?” asks Mike sitting up suddenly. “Who is it?”

“Mike–it’s me, Joe.”

“You’re not Joe. Joe just died.”

“I’m telling you, it’s me, Joe,” insists the voice.

“Joe! Where are you?”

“In heaven”, replies Joe. “I have some really good news and a little bad news.”

“Tell me the good news first,” says Mike.

“The good news,” Joe says,” is that there’s rugby in heaven. Better yet, all of our old friends who died before us are here, too. Better than that, we’re all young again. Better still, it’s always spring time and it never rains or snows. And best of all, we can play rugby all we want, and we never get tired.”

That’s fantastic,” says Mike. “It’s beyond my wildest dreams! So what’s the bad news?

“You’re in the team for this Saturday.”