Monday, May 26, 2008

Turning 3...

I have just realised that it was three years ago yesterday that I first surfaced in the Blogosphere.  How exciting, and how fitting that I chose to write a post today about cake.  Obviously, it would be better on such on occasion to celebrate by actually eating cake, but such is the reality of the virtual world we inhabit.


It would probably be the Done Thing now to reminisce about my time in the Blogosphere and look back over the last three years, but I'm afraid that I don't have time now to reel off such a spiel.  It's all there in the archive though, so please do peruse to your heart's content.  You might find a few hidden gems - life in Oxford was generally more blogworthy than it is now.  Had I still been there this year I'd have celebrated my birthday with all the festivities of May Day and Ascension Day rolled in to one.  The excitement would almost have been too much!


Has anyone been journeying with me since the very beginning?

It's all about the Kake

I notice that I am still getting a steady flow of people landing in this corner of the Blogosphere in search of JP's Kake Korner.  If that's you, I'm sorry, but I do hope that you'll take the opportunity to break your journey and look around anyway before moving on.  I believe that the site you are after can be found here


The cakes (kakes?) look pretty good actually, and if I lived anywhere near Maryland I'd be sure to pop by.  If I lived in Laurel itself I'd probably be quite fat by now.  Many thanks to Della for taking the time to comment and help me understand what most of my visitors are actually looking for.


In case you didn't see it, here is what she said:


"JP's Kake Korner is an awesome little bakery in Laurel Maryland. I happen to be lucky enough to be employed there by the multi-talented Diane the Cake Lady. We make delicious custom cakes for all occasions. I would direct you to our website, but it's being updated and just doesn't do the business justice right now. I'm not sure who the original JP was, but the location has been a bakery for 30+ years and Diane took over just a couple years ago."


Does anyone know who the original JP was?

By way of an apology

The trouble with writing in this context is that sometimes things don't come across quite as they were meant.  Furthermore, even though I do have the option of checking what I write before I blurt something out in to the public domain I sometimes get caught up in the passion of my argument (as it were) and risk speaking my mind before engaging my brain.


Not for the first time, I think I've got it a bit wrong.  Obviously I have strong feelings about the recent ruling on IVF treatment - as I commented on the last post, I'm going to stick with the sentiment that I don't like the implication that a father figure is unimportant.  But equally, I know lots of people who, for one reason or another, have not been brought up by both parents and I'd like to take this opportunity to apologise if I came across as harsh or ignorant; I certainly didn't mean to offend.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

What happened to responsibility?

The last few days have seen some major ethical issues being debated in Parliament.  I am generally disappointed by the way in which the voting has gone, if I am honest; something which probably won't surprise you.

I'm worried about potentially dangerous precedents which have been set, and wonder where the line will eventually get drawn (particularly regarding such things as hybrid embryos).

I think that Kester makes a fair point here about the IVF issue, and the fact that the father is no longer seen as important.  Children aren't a commodity and should ideally be brought up by a parent of each gender.  We all need a good male influence and a good female influence.

I was also disappointed by the abortion ruling, and one MP really wound me up when she put forward the argument that she'd "had an abortion at 21 weeks and it was so important for her because she just wasn't in a position in life to bring up children".  I have no sympathy for her in that situation.  Contraception isn't 100% effective, and if you're not prepared to cope with kids you shouldn't be having sex.  Simple as.  I despair at the number of people these days who can't look beyond their own 'needs' and could probably do with a dictionary to define responsibility.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Talking of nobs...

Perhaps unsurprisingly I was not impressed by Labour's campaign for the by-election in Crewe, which seems to be trying to woo voters on the basis that the Conservative candidate is a 'person of wealth or social importance' (or nob). 


This BBC Video makes for interesting viewing, and highlights just how awful the Labour campaign is.  Harriet Harman pointedly judges the Conservative candidate on the basis that  she *thinks* he is a multi-millionaire.  There's some waffle about being 'excessively privileged' and when it's pointed out that Ms Harman would certainly fit any reasonable definition of that phrase she bats it away by claiming that she's "not making an issue of it" in her case.  That may be, but something in me thinks that Edward Timpson (the Conservative candidate) isn't making an issue of his background himself either.  It's only come about because of the blatant hypocrisy of Ms Harman and her ilk.


I should add that I don't buy in to this rubbish about the Labour candidate being better because "as a hard-working mum she's more in touch with the people".  I do wish that Labour would stop bleating about 'hard working people' as though having money and being 'hard working' must be mutually exclusive.  I could go further and be very derogatory, noting that a lot of their supporters are probably not 'hard working' at all.  In this case though, I have other gripes with the argument put forward.   Firstly, as a "hard working mother of five", is this woman actually going to have time to fulfil the commitment of representing the people of Crewe?  I'm sure that as people who work hard, the residents of the area would want someone who has the time to do the job of MP properly, and don't want their taxes spent on child-care while she does it.   Secondly, why do people go for this nonsense about having an MP who's "just like them"? You can't have someone who's like all of the thousands of people who live in the area, and at the end of the day what people need is someone to do  the job properly.  People come from all sorts of different backgrounds and have all sorts of different skills, and at the end of the day, all I personally would want an MP who has well thought through ideas and can get their views across in Parliament.  Whether or not he or she can mother five children is an irrelevant point.  Actually, the whole thing is irrelevant, because despite the campaign's aim of coming across as "the party for the common people", the aforementioned video also makes it clear that the late Mrs Dunwoody's house was also quite something and that she would also count as being "excessively privileged".


Thinking about the Labour party, I wonder if I should have used a 'k' in this post as well.  I do hope nonetheless that this campaign backfires and that Labour continue to get the thorough kicking they well and truly deserve.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Isn't it spelt with a k?

As I approach three years in the Blogosphere, I see that the cowardly art of the anonymous 'insult' is still alive and well...

Selling Out?

It's possibly been well documented in the past that I am not the world's biggest fan of Microsoft. I've not followed the extreme trends of some (I didn't write this webpage using vi, for example) but even so, I'm definitely more Firefox than Internet Explorer and more Gmail than Hotmail. I've always been pro Open Source and I do really like Linux. If there was a quick and painless way of running Linux on a Tablet PC I'd be tempted, but needs must and I'm happy with XP for now.

However, I've just discovered Microsoft's Windows Live Writer, and against my principles I'm giving it a go. You may have noticed that I've been quite quiet in recent months, and one (just one) reason for that is simply that I've become a bit disenfranchised with the Blogger user interface. For a start, I've found the site to be painfully slow recently, to the extent that writing new posts and adding comments to old ones has become quite a chore. Besides, if I'm using a computer without an Internet Connection, penning my thoughts for later is always a bit of a faff.

Last week I bought a computer magazine which talked about Live Writer, and I have succumbed to the temptation to try it. It promises a better user interface than the web-based Blogger one, and it promises to allow me to work offline. Of course, I did Google for alternatives before I went ahead and installed it, but to no avail. So, here I am using Live Writer. It's already got a big black mark for not allowing me to zoom in on the text as I write; for want of a better word, I do have a visual impairment and it's not comfortable for me to type with text this small. In this day and age the lack of zoom is pretty poor to say the least, especially given that Microsoft clearly know how to use the technology; if and when I use Word I can zoom to my heart's content.

So, maybe I've just proven to myself why I don't like Microsoft. But even so, I'm going to continue this experiment for a short while. If you can read this, it's been moderately successful, though I shall be on the hunt for alternatives until Microsoft get their A in to G and provide me with some zoom.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Shaken but not stirred

I was relieved this week to get the news that my colleagues who are currently out Chengdu are OK following the recent earthquake. I was however amused by the way in which the email was worded.

"(they) are well (which is excellent news), although they are a little shaken".

You don't say...

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Has someone beaten London with the ugly stick?

On my travels today I've been able to take in a braod spectrum of the nation's newspapers* and I'm wondering what all the fuss regarding the new Sex and The City movie is about. To be fair, I'm a man and I've never seen the TV series, but even so, I can't understand why it's such big news that some older bird has turned up in London in a green dress and a silly hat. Even taking her age in to account, she's not really that much of a looker.

Talking of 'not being much of a looker' I have to say that I was very disappointed by the lack of eye candy as I crossed town earlier on the Tube. I hope that this isn't a sign that Boris has banned more than just booze, but on the plus side it did mean that I didn't feel the urge to try and nonchalantly appear to be cool and sophisticated.


*I say broad spectrum, but it wasn't entirely unbiased; I decided against pulling the Guardian from the rack in the Waitrose cafe, because I had no desire to ruin an otherwise blissful lunchtime.

Sensory Delights

I'm at Swindon station, where I have just discovered the 'Sensory Garden'. Someone has fenced off a bit of the platform and thoughtfully placed some pot plants and some benches within the enclosure. I kid you not. Someone else has thoughtfully left a copy of The Times. Is there a better place in which to enjoy the glorious sunshine?