Last week I attended a Welwyn Hatfield Borough Council organised event called “Healthy Living in the 21st Century – Garden City Visioning Workshop”. The background to this is that Welwyn Garden City will be celebrating its centenary in 2020 and Welwyn Hatfield Council is developing a Local Plan which is expected to give the green light to a number of large new residential developments in the borough. The basic idea of the workshop was to address the question as to whether these new developments could be compatible with Garden City principles.
Early this year I was invited by my friend Denise to help celebrate her 50th birthday by joining a group on the ascent of her last Corbett followed by dinner at the George Hotel in Inveraray. I accepted the invitation and booked two nights at Inveraray Hostel for May 26th and 27th. It was a long way to travel so I was keen to extend my stay and decided to head up early with my bike on the train for a bit of cycle touring. I had never been across to Mull and came up with a plan to spend three nights camping on the island. I booked a train ticket to Glasgow (with bike space) arriving on Thursday evening and a room at Euro Hostel Glasgow for that night. I also booked another night at Inveraray Hostel for Friday, giving me three unplanned nights before having to get back there on Tuesday.
A friend posted something on Facebook today with a link to the latest episode of a weekly show on RT called Sputnik, hosted by the renowned George Galloway. The bit my friend was referring to was the interview with Mark Watts of Exaro News about the Westminster pedophile network so I watched that first but then went back and watched the rest of the episode which was mainly an interview with Annas Altikrit of the Cordoba Foundation about the Henry Jackson Society, referring to a recent spinwatch report examining the history, activities and politics of this influential clique.
Since joining the Green Party in November I have been going along to local meetings and when there was a call for candidates to stand in the local council elections I volunteered. The aim was to get a Green Party candidate on the ballot for all wards of Welwyn Hatfield Borough Council and I agreed to stand in my own ward, Hatfield West, where I have lived for over 20 years. Hatfield also has a Town Council and three seats were up for election in West Ward so I offered to put myself forward for that as well.
If you follow this blog then you may recall me railing against websites that require the use of the Adobe Flash browser plug-in, which I removed from my iMac in November 2010 and never reinstalled. I watch quite a lot of YouTube (too much to be honest) and lack of Flash was a challenge. For a long time my solution was to use Connor McKay’s YouTube5 Safari Extension but in September 2014, when I had turned off Extensions for some reason, I noticed that YouTube seemed to be working fine – presumably it had started serving HTML5 to browsers without Flash. A few days ago YouTube went further and announced that they are now serving HTML5 by default (at least in Chrome, IE 11, Safari 8 and beta versions of Firefox). They are also deprecating “old style” Flash <object> embeds and their Flash API.
The UK Trident Program maintains a fleet four Vanguard-class submarines armed with Trident II D-5 ballistic missiles, able to deliver thermonuclear warheads from multiple independent re-entry vehicles. It is the most powerful capability of the British military forces (I copied that from the above linked Wikipedia article). We are told that this capability somehow keeps us safe because nobody will dare attack us (or our friends) for fear of vaporisation. There are some fairly obvious objections to this theory which I could go into but I will save myself the effort and just remind people of a 2009 letter to the Times in which the former head of armed forces, Field Marshal Lord Bramall, backed by two senior generals, said that “Nuclear weapons have shown themselves to be completely useless as a deterrent to the threats and scale of violence we currently face or are likely to face”. Completely useless and “virtually irrelevant except in the context of domestic politics”.
I don’t mean to diminish the awfulness of some recent events, but when I checked my news feed recently I saw three positive stories in quick succession, all of them related to the United States. In no particular order:
An article in the Los Angeles Times with the headline Congress quietly ends federal government’s ban on medical marijuana.
An article in Alaska Dispatch News with the headline President Obama declares waters in and near Bristol Bay off limits to oil and gas leasing.
And perhaps most significantly the story in The New York Times U.S. to Restore Full Relations With Cuba, Erasing a Last Trace of Cold War Hostility.
Of course there will be nay-sayers but I welcome all these developments and hope that there is more good news to come this festive season.
Although I buy a few items on eBay I had not sold anything since February 2011. I have been meaning to start again for a long time but what with one thing and a million others it took me till just a few days ago to get to it. I have a lot of unwanted stuff that is too good to throw out. Some of it I could give to charity shops, but to be honest the charities behind the local shops are not the ones that I would necessarily give to – I would rather try to sell things and maybe give some of the proceeds to Freedom from Torture. Anyway, the first thing I tried was a set of steak knives and forks which somehow came to be in my possession a few years ago and which I had never used. I looked them up on eBay and found similar sets for sale, both with and without the original packaging. It seemed like they would probably sell so I listed them.
I am fifty years old and have never been a member of any political party, but with the media gearing up for a General Election in May next year I have more or less made up my mind to join the Green Party.
Although in theory we will be voting for individuals, the vast majority of votes cast will be for people standing as official candidates for one of a small number of dominant political parties and the whole thing will be presented as a battle for votes between these parties. One of the key elements in the battle will be a number of televised debates, and between themselves the main broadcasters have decided to limit participation to just four political parties. They were bound to include the Conservative Party and the Labour Party, and I guess they thought they would have to include the Liberal Democrats despite their huge loss of support since forming a governing coalition with the Conservative Party. What seems wrong is that they will also include UKIP but not the Green Party (or indeed the SNP).
I was looking at Date & Time preferences on my iMac and under Time Zone I checked the box where it said “Set time zone automatically using current location”, at which point a message popped up telling me to “Turn on WiFi to determine your current location”. Since my machine is connected to the router by Ethernet I don’t normally have Wi-Fi turned on and in fact I had deleted the interface in Network preferences. So I added a Wi-Fi interface and turned it on. When I went back to Date & Time preferences there was now a pin on the map marking my closest city, which it had correctly determined to be Hatfield – United Kingdom (though strictly Hatfield is a town not a city). When I unchecked the auto time zone box the pin disappeared but the closest city was still set to Hatfield, as if I had set it manually.