Saturday, August 11, 2007

The Last Acceptable Prejudice?

England Rugby
I'm well into my big match build up now. I refer of course, not to anything thing to do with the new kevball premiership season which has just kicked off (did it ever go away?), but England v France at Twickenham today.

Warming up by watching Scotland v Ireland as been a bit like watching a replay of England thrashing Wales last week, as the home side's big pack looks, as of half-time, to be strangling the life out of the Irish. Being of partly Scottish descent, I'm delighted to see Scotland performing, especially after some of the well publicised woes of the game north of the border.

More foolishly though, I decided to pass my eyes over the BBC's rugby forum, and was disappointed to say that as well as being frustrated by the piss poor design of the web site, sadly the same mindless anti-English bigotry seems as strong as ever. There are culprits of many nations but it has to be said that a certain, and I would have to say from personal experience wholly unrepresentative, segment of Welsh support predominates.

Several thoughtful posts analysing the England victory last week attracted the usual accusations of 'arrogance', with whining complaints that England were only playing a second string Welsh team (a fact fully acknowledged in most of the original posts). 'Triumphalist', 'boring', 'would never have beaten X, Y or Z'; all the usual bile trotted out, usually by someone who hadn't even taken the trouble to read the more considered original posting. There were clear weaknesses in England's performances and most of the English posts reflected this, but a win is a win, and you can only beat the side in front of you, to trot out a couple of cliches.

I actually don't care about the actual content of the posts per se, supporters of England rugby have heard it for years; it's water of a duck's back. I certainly don't want to see any extension of the powers of the thought police, like the ridiculous investigation into Anne Robinson's alleged anti-Welsh comments. There is a bit of sadness that these perpetual knockers spoil the generally very amicable nature of rugby supporting throughout the world. More than that though, I object to the underlying tone that for some reason, England alone, are not allowed to celebrate their team's victories in the same uninhibited, and yes, sometimes over the top, way as any other nation.

The only time I encountered anti-English sentiment face-to-face, that stepped just over that line beyond good natured banter was also rugby related, when I happened to be in Dublin when Scotland were playing Ireland there in the 6 Nations. After the game the Irish and travelling Scots united in their abuse of the common enemy. I couldn't help find it a little bit ironic considering the the involvement so many Scots in the development of the Ulster situation, a little bit of history that was conveniently forgotten for the evening. Ah well, it was a good night anyway, and as my mother would say, never spoil a good story for the sake of the truth.

Anyway, time to head to the Base Camp, in order to avoid the usual fonts of ignorance at the Mother Ship.

Good luck in the World Cup, to England and Scotland, and yes, to Wales and Ireland too.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Everyone else is doing it...

Iain Dale's Book
Voting open until 15th August shall I.

As posted in the earlier hours of this morning, I've been finalising my list of 20 blogs for contribution to Iain Dale's search for the Top 100 UK Political Blogs, which will form part of the upcoming book, 2007 Guide to Political Blogging in the UK.

It's been a little more tricky than I expected, as I wanted to apply some kind of objectivity to the subject; like most people I probably read some blogs not in this list, to which I have a greater political affinity, more often than some which I have included as being, in my opinion, the best examples of blogging from a perspective different to my own. Even with that proviso, I will admit it's pretty one sided, perhaps even more so than my own political position actually warrants; I consider myself a pretty moderate EUrosceptic, but I just couldn't ignore too many of the many intelligent blogs which lay into this organisation with such a powerful mix of wit, venom and exasperation.

A also dropped a few on the grounds of a handful of rules I set myself, some in the interests of objectivity, others to do with my idea of what a blog should be. Boris Johnson MP has a brilliant blog, but the postings are a bit too thin on the ground to get much of a dynamic behind it, despite an admirably liberal policy on commenting. CiF Watcher, and
Educational Conscription have all got off to a fantastic start, content-wise, but I felt were a little new to include. Others, like Archbishop Cranmer I enjoy immensely, but I feel really have politics as a secondary theme, woven in as and when necessary.

I've also got a bit of a short term memory when it comes to these things. I regretted leaving out Tom Watson whose usually good blog I disagree with often; only a few recent activities that I felt were beyond the pale spared him from the embarrassment of appearing on such a true blue list. Also, like anyone interested in blogging from a Conservative point of view it felt strange to omit Guido, but as he himself has announced, there are many more important things in his life than blogging right now, and I don't think many would dispute his priorities right at the moment, and he's still a very good read.

I've ended up with a bit of a weird mix of 'best in class' and overall champions, but anyway, after all that rambling, here is the Liberty's Requiem Top 20, in alphabetical order:If and when my hosting provider unblocks my Blogroll for Facebook Application, and it gets a few more users, I might have to consider a 'blog read compatibility rating' feature...It's been quite interesting, seeing so many other peoples top 20s on various blogs, to work out just how many great, and thankfully rare not-so great minds I think alike to!

A Little Perspective

A Real Blow
Before turning in, I felt I should put my previous posting in a little context.

I found out about my little technical problems by e-mail sad in pub backlit with News 24 screens filled with the scenes relating the latest Foot and Mouth outbreak, which was a valuable reminder of what real problems are. Yet again British agriculture faces another real blow, following on from the appalling handling last FMD outbreak, Avian Flu, BSE some time ago, and the consequences of the recent floods very recently.

There are people who try and portray at least some of these as being in part self inflicted, by greedy rich farmers. Thankfully, judging by the mood in a pub in a fairly urban part of London, where there seemed genuine sympathy for the position of the country's farmers, the majority understand that most farmers work damn hard for pretty small, and often uncertain reward. Some of the commercial practices of the big supermarkets that many supply severely test my free market instincts, and tales of incredible subsidies only make me rail against those (yes, from that lovely organisation) that come up with the ridiculous schemes, and those that at a national level administer them so badly, not the recipients of this money.

Personally, knowing the risk to human health is beyond negligable, I'll be on the lookout for British beef to buy this week, even if the price does rise. I'd encourage anyone else to do the same, and if you are lucky enough still to have a real butcher with the good stuff somewhere along your high street, so much the better. The same applies to all the other great products too. As long as it doesn't involve misguidedly trampling around any of the areas where there really is a genuine problem, I think we should do all we can in our small ways to support British agriculture and the rural economy at times like this.

Too Blue to Blog

The Internet
Internet Woes
No, I've not suffered abuse from militant POLs. Well, actually I have, but that was not in this forum so its not really germane to discuss it here and now, and, as it happens they were of the subspecies whose arguments were so weak, despite their venom, that it was actually a bit of light relief to roast them on spit of reality.

My real downer has come from the fact that my hosting company has, with a whole 20 minutes notice, disabled my most successful Facebook application, not on the grounds of it's questionable taste, but because it's just been too successful (over 113,000 users). Basically, take all the invective you can find at Devil's Kitchen, Mr Eugenides, or your own personal favourite swearblog, on their most enraged of days, add a little real vitriol and multiply it by a thousand, and you're getting close to why I've been either too angry or too down to blog, even aside from the practical considerations of finding a new home for the application.

The good news is that the Backing Boris and Say No2ID Facebook applications that I also host are unaffected, though Facebook Blogroll has taken some collateral damage, though I expect this to be very short term.

On a note of cheer, on a night that has been bleak even weatherwise, I'm very pleased to be on Thunder Dragon's ballot paper for Iain Dale's poll of political blogs. I've been struggling with my own submission; fifteen, including Thunder Dragon, are shoe-ins, but its proving very hard to drop some of the contenders for the remaining slots.

And the coaches coming up with their final thirty for the Rugby World Cup think they have it hard!