OK, the consensus seemed to be that Saturday 17th April was the best bet. Might do something separate on the Sunday. Suggestions for where and when please!
What I'm Reading
Furies of Calderon. First volume in the Codex Alera fantasy series by Jim Butcher. I like his Dresden Files series a lot, but haven't tried this one before.
It doesn't have so much of the comic touches of the Dresden Files, and is set in a traditional faux-medieval fantasy world. Does have a good concept and a carefully worked-out magic system. This world is populated by spirits called Furies, associated with the elements of Earth, Air, Fire, Water and er, Metal and Wood. Ordinary people can control one or two weak spirits, but some control more or stronger spirits giving them greater power.
There's lots of action, and he cross-cuts various different storylines for variety. However, it's a bit weakened by a few Heroic Fantasy clichés: swords stuck through belts, someone who looks a lot like a Missing Heir, and characters who sit comfortably in the familiar stereotypes.
However, the Dresden Files books got better after a bit of a weak start, so I'll definitely keep reading.
What I'm Reading 2
What's Going On: The Meanderings of a Comic Mind in Confusion by leftist comedian Mark Steel. Autobiographical musings about the end of his marriage and the decline of his Socialist Workers Party.
Better than it sounds: he's witty and well-informed, and it's mostly a springboard for quite funny diatribes and discussions. doesn't turn it into one of those squirmingly hideous revenge-on-my-ex books. However, he does descend into self-pity a few times.
Doesn't come to any particularly astonishing political conclusions: he eventually seems to accept that single issue campaigns are a partial substitute for mass movements.
A decent read if you stumble across it.
Saw Shutter Island at the cinema Decent, atmospheric thriller. Could have been trimmed down, a bit too much exposition, but not bad. Had some nice claustrophobic and vertiginous photography. Even I didn't find it scary though.
Not sure about the plot. I was expecting a second twist, and when it didn't happen I was a bit 'oh, I suppose that's sort of satisfying'. While the actual ending is bleak for the hero, was a bit disappointed by the way it raised the prospect of truly horrifying things happening to lots of people, but then that not really happening.
See it if you like, don't kick yourself if you miss it.
Joined City Car Club and booked something called a Kia cee'd, for all Sunday. Has a manual gearbox so I can get some more practice in. Not sure where to go, weather forecast is for heavy rain. Might just pootle around the area, might try for Brighton or Windsor or Stonehenge, might just drive South until I get to the sea.
Don't like the name though: what was so wrong with car names like Fiesta or Cortina or Marina? How are you supposed to pronounce that apostrophe?
So, the last pre-budget YouGov poll has a Tory lead of only 2%, down from about 20% last year. Again, probably an outlier, but the overall decline is clear.
I've been thinking about Kaletsky's argument that the Tories gambled too much on a long recession. I think actually they were extremely unlucky in the 6 quarter length of the recession.
Now an average recession lasts about 4 quarters. If this one had been 4 or 5, by now we would quite possibly be starting an inflationary period, which would have paid off the investment in "Zimbabwe-style hyperinflation" rhetoric. More importantly, we'd be in a good position to start paying off the debt: that policy would have been validated.
Alternatively, suppose the recession had lasted 7 quarters instead of 6. That would have meant it continued through Q4 2009, and since there's no Q1 2010 data out, we would have seemed to be still in recession now. Brown and Darling could not have claimed with any plausibility that they'd helped fix things.
But the 6-quarter recession, followed by weak and shallow recovery, created a Tory nightmare. It's too long for their plan to start repaying the debt to make sense, but just too short to totally discredit Labour.
However, their campaign doesn't seem to have handled the nightmare very well either. They've tried to fudge things: keeping on with the rhetoric of debt reduction, but backing away from specific promises to do it. That's left them looking confused and indecisive. The Brown-Mandelson truce has maintained Labour's highly effective campaign machine, and they've exploited that weakness remorselessly.
Video. Cat harasses sleeping man all night. Weird: The Al Yankovic Story. Testemax. How to clean your camera lenses. Air ambulance in Cambridge Circus. Girl balances 15 books on her head while solving a Rubik's cube and reciting Pi to 100 digits.
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