Social Networks: The case for a ‘pause’ button. Funny but useful.
Vice President: The worst nominee in US history. I’ve fought some tough elections in my time but this stuff is just plain nasty. American columnists: perspective please.
Cory Doctrow: The things that make me weak and strange get engineered away. He may be a krypto-trotskyist but he’s a science-fiction writer too and I like him.
Liffey crossing: Fears for the O’Connell bridge. Save it, please.
Mission creep: how to be an interesting civil service blogger
Entries from August 2008 ↓
Social Networks: The case for a ‘pause’ button. Funny but useful.
Gustav could be so serious that John McCain has considered postponing the Republican Convention.
Meanwhile, the other Tom Watson looks set to re-write a chapter in his book manuscript – Cause Wired – to account for the difference in social media activism between the times of Hurricane Katrina and now, Gustav.
Tom believes that “the flow of information online in the months (and sadly, years) after Katrina was a milestone in online social activism, a time when real people organized to hold their government accountable, raise money, and try to rebuild damaged lives.”
Alas, he also says “Like the CauseWired movement itself, New Orleans is still a work in progress – even as the camera trucks head back to the Gulf.”
But already before the hurricane hits the US, bloggers, tweeters and onlineists are coming together to share experiences, information and ideas. See:
Gustav Information Centre
Hurricane Gustav Twitter tracking and Gustav Twitter tracking in real time.
Gustav weather maps
Hurricane Gustav Wikipedia entry
Hurricane Gustav Flickr Tags
Craigslist Gustav help feed (shared rides, free accomodation and cranky stuff too)
Hurricane Gustav resources blog
BBC report the press conference of the Mayor New Orleans who has issued a madatory evacuation notice for the storm of the century. They add a a slightly cumbersome “tell us your story” style box at the end.
Now a Gustav Wiki
Gustav on a mobile
Blackwater private security are hiring people for the “aftermath” of the hurricane.
Twitter feeds: Hurricane2008, Hurricane alerts, Fort Worth Star Telegram’s hurricane alert
Banksy lacking subtlety gets in on the act
Surely this is some elaborate plot. How can this little thing grow into a giant panda?
Faber finds is a really clever way of bringing back out of print books to a new audience. By utilising print on demand technology and involving authors and readers to suggest books that may be of interest to a new generation of reader, I’m certain they’re going to find new bestsellers.
I also love the fact that every copy will have its own uniquely designed cover. Now, if they only did the easy bit and allowed a purchaser to inscribe a dedication, I think they’ll create a fabulous new market niche, particularly in poetry.
Actually, the clever next step would be to allow book lovers to design their own poetry anthologies. They’d make the must have valentine and anniversary presents.
Any ideas for books they should republish?
I recently explained how John Roberston’s position on the windfall tax was somewhat more nuanced than the headlined story in this week’s Observer. Kerry McCarthy explains on her blog how a telephone conversation to a junior at Neal Lawson’s Compaass gets translated into a direct challenge to the government. Lawson’s lobbying skills have clearly been put to good use in the media this week.
The Margaret Thatcher Foundation needs your help. (I can’t quite believe I just typed that).
During the later part of his life Quintin Hogg – Lord Hailsham – kept an occasional political and personal diary, some of it in a form of shorthand system called ‘Speedwriting’ which he seems to have used as much for security as saving time. The diaries up to 1979 are now being released to the public for the first time at the Churchill Archives Centre in Cambridge.
The Margaret Thatcher foundation has been granted exclusive rights to publish extracts online. They have successfully translated a number of the coded entries, with very generous help from some cryptanalysts at G.C.H.Q apparently.
Can you help them translate the rest?
This article in the Observer is intriguing. Brown faces revolt over energy windfall tax.
Two things strike me about this article. Firstly, the leitmotif of the Compass group led by New Labour lobbyist Neal Lawson is “raise taxes”. This organisation has been bombarding MPs and activists with emails all summer about how we need to punish energy companies for raising their prices.
Lawson was employed by energy companies as a lobbyist, and used to boast on his company brochures that “we [his lobby firm] are in-touch and in-tune with the new government”. Now, after failing to find a parliamentary seat, he chooses to speak for an organisation that is so laughable you can can get elected to their executive with nine votes. Well, strictly speaking, and this being Compass, that’s nine first preference votes requiring 11 rounds of transfers under an STV system. On those numbers, the “spoilt ballot papers” candidate nearly got elected.
Secondly, and this is where the story needs a little clarification, the article claims that my friend and colleague John Robertson “has emerged this weekend as the first junior member of the government to back a windfall tax publicly.” Apparently a delegation will seek urgent talks on the prospects of a tax.
I phoned John this morning to find out what the story was about. As ever, the picture is slightly different to the one portrayed in the Sunday newspaper.
John told me that the energy companies need to demonstrate to their consumers that they understand that people are really feeling the pinch. He wants them to act to help their worst off customers. He believes that the energy windfall tax should be considered amongst other potential initiatives that could help hard pressed energy users in a time of rising prices.
Other initiatives, which are particularly important in John’s constituency, are ending the manifest unfairness of people on meters having to pay the highest unit price for their energy consumption.
In short, like most people, he wants the energy companies to get their acts together.
This more thoughtful position strikes me as being entirely sensible. Still, it’s a thoughtful position that would prohibit a leader writer typing the “Brown faces revolt over energy windfall tax” headline. It’s Sunday. It’s August. And these are interesting times.
Now, I’m off for my second week’s holiday on the British Coast. Can you feel the warm glow of patriotic one-upmanship in my tone?
Tom Watson – the other one, is an inspiring writer.
There he is, messing around in a kayak, catching fish with the kids and sitting by the lake; but the call of the wild for Tom is from Denver and not the Adirondack mountains.
You will not read a better analysis on what is expected of Barack Obama this week.
Those beautiful spuds were in the ground two hours ago. Junior Watson made himself useful, filling the sack in between digging for worms and running away from snails.
It’s the highs and lows of being a politician that make it the profession it is.
After a short time in the veg patch and knowing in my soul that David Cameron does not pick his own potatoes, self-satisfied, I put my feet up to catch up on some reading. And the first thing on the list was an article in National Geographic, Our Good Earth – The future rests on the soil beneath our feet.
‘This year food shortages, caused in part by the diminishing quantity and quality of the world’s soil (see “Dirt Poor”), have led to riots in Asia, Africa, and Latin America. By 2030, when today’s toddlers have toddlers of their own, 8.3 billion people will walk the Earth; to feed them, the UN Food and Agriculture Organization estimates, farmers will have to grow almost 30 percent more grain than they do now. Connoisseurs of human fecklessness will appreciate that even as humankind is ratchetting up its demands on soil, we are destroying it faster than ever before. “Taking the long view, we are running out of dirt,” says David R. Montgomery, a geologist at the University of Washington in Seattle.’
I don’t mind admitting that these articles scare me.
When this blog launched about five years ago, I started the list of Labour Party MPs websites. I’d intended to add the list of MPs from other parties soon afterwards. Remember those innocent days of Westminster blogs when we all thought we could start a new kind of political conversation? [nostaligic exhaling of breath]
Well, five years on and I’ve finally got around to sorting it out. Just below the blogroll, there is now what I hope is a comprehensive list of Conservative Party MPs blogs and websites. Apologies to the other parties. I’ll get there eventually.
I’m going to add a form so that people can submit new site URLs or amendments but if you are the hard pressed researcher to a Conservative MP, and would like changes making, just drop me an email for now.
“The maker of touch-screen voting machines used in half of Ohio’s counties has admitted that its own programming error is to blame for votes being dropped in some counties.” from the Columbus Dispatch.