Photo 101: Street

Millbank at night

So Street. As a cyclist streets normally mean fast traffic, not enough room, hazards as it’s clear that drivers aren’t paying attention to what’s around them.

This is Millbank, by the Thames. It’s about 1900, and it’s fairly quiet.

Taken with a Nikon Coolpix compact, handheld as I wasn’t carrying a tripod for it.

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Photo 101: Home


So todays title was “Home”.  Monday isn’t a good time for that as I had about an hour, mainly in the dark, preparing to go out to work.

This little creature is one of several candidates that sums it up.  Regardless of where we are we have someone keeping us company.  I’ve got this one in tow every Monday.  I think she’s just making sure I go to work.

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App test


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Derision and splitters

Much has been made this week of the decision by some members of the Liberal Democrats to form a pressure group within the party. I started by writing “another” but at the moment there is only really one formally established, the Social Liberal Forum. Liberal Left sees itself as representing the disenfranchised whose views are not being listened to by the leadership and those in Government. A counterweight to that amorphous and informal more classically liberal segment within the party described pejoratively as “Orange Bookers”.

Internal debate is very healthy, and it would be good if that was happening. Instead there is sniping from all sides of the debate. A rather unhealthy desire to hound them out, in much the same way that those of us in the more classical mould have been subject to at times ourselves. That’s not productive.

I see two aspects that concern me. The first is that the protagonists saw fit to establish a second identity to the economic left of the party, rather than seek to exploit the already established SLF. Might we conclude that they weren’t able to garner sufficient support from within that bloc? In which case can they truly be said to represent the majority of LDs, as they claim?

A more significant concern is the conflation of “ends” and “means”, with an effort to claim ownership of the preamble to the Liberal Democrat constitution because of a disagreement over the means by which that constitution is delivered.

The words are familiar, they’re printed on our membership card:

“…safeguard a fair, free and open society…liberty, equality and community…no-one shall be enslaved by poverty, ignorance or conformity”

My objection is that the protagonists of Liberal Left are asserting that those they disagree with have abandoned those principles because we advocate a different route to achieving them. Some of the policies they advocate seem to me to be likely to deliver outcomes very different from those we seek.

They disagree with our coalition. That’s fine, I’m not too keen on our partners, but I’d have been less keen on the alternatives. For a party that advocates pluralism and has a history of coalition at the local level I find it disturbing that we can’t cope with the tensions that it presents magnified at the national level. Essentially coalition is only acceptable if it takes one form, disappointing.

It maybe that there is an unreconcilable difference of opinion that goes far beyond the desired ends, but I’ve yet to see a convincing argument that indicates that and has sufficient support from any area in the debate

That said I’m somewhat confused by how an enthusiasm to embrace the statist authoritarians of Labour, and the interventionist Socialists of the Green Party helps us deliver that liberty, equality or community and avoid enslavement by conformity.

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A few useful tools

Now that I’ve very firmly demobilised following my sojourn to Afghanistan I’ve been doing some thinking about where to take this blog. It ended up not really having a theme as such, just some waffle about things that took my fancy. I’m not sure that I can sustain something that has a single theme, so I’m going to try to post and see how it goes.

As a gentle warm up it might be useful to think about some tools that I’ve been playing with lately. Some of them useful for this sort of thing, some less so.

The first to talk about is a reasonably recent service; Storify. This is a curation service, allowing the user to draw together material from a range of sources and put together a coherent narrative. It takes material from a range of different services, Twitter, Youtube and Flickr for example but also allows individual URLs to be drawn in. It then presents the story either on the Storify site or in an embedded format on services such as WordPress. Storify is a really powerful tool, but it has one big weakness as a relatively casual user. It assumes that one is accessing it through a browser. There is no mobile app, and at present few of the other useful apps easily direct material to the service.

The main workhorse is Google Reader, what has become the dominant RSS service both user facing and as an underlying engine for other services. I consume a lot of news and RSS is the way to do that quickly and easily. It’s reasonably simple to send links to individual articles either from the Reader interface or other services that use it. Recent changes have reduced it’s usefulness, trying to lock the user into the Google+ empire, but it still serves a useful purpose.

Moving on to Evernote, the ubiquitous capture tool. Essentially a service that allows the user to send links, text, images and a host of other data to, that then becomes searchable. It’s useful for capturing ideas, and supporting information. This one has a range of different ways to sort and manage the material so suits many different ways of thinking.

Those are the main tools, others would be Dropbox for online file storage, Flickr for imagery and inevitably Twitter to keep track of ongoing discussion.

All in all it’s just a question of exploring the tools available and working out what works for the individual.

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Pen-Ion Heather Honey Ale

A bottle conditioned traditional ale with a warm amber colouring and a light natural aeration. At 4.2% a pleasant strength.

Served chilled to below cellar temperature the bottle instructions suggest decanting before serving. Straight from the bottle gives very little sediment and a very gentle head.


The sweetness of honey is strongest on the nose with only a slight hint of heather coming through. The first mouthful is rich with a thick texture permeated with a sharp gassiness. Rather sweet it’s more reminiscent of a summer ale as its slightly lacking in hops or nuttiness and seems to vanish quickly from the palate.

All in all a very pleasant bottle, probably suiting white meat, fish or hard cheeses.

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Appreciating that I’ve already been very quiet for a while I should probably state that whilst I’m in Afghanistan I’ve been blogging at in an effort to keep my military stuff apart from my more generalised ranting about how we have the tyranny of the majority imposed on us in the UK




Feel free to join me over there, if you haven’t already seen it.

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