Wednesday, 30 June 2010

A Nice Dollop of Satire

You can't beat a nice bit of satire for comedy, especially if you really dislike the people its being aimed at. So, with that in mind, I was really happy that this article thinks that the return of the Tory's in the coalition will lead to an explosion in satire. (It still works if even if you like the people though, as this proved to me)

It got me looking round a few different things and I came across some gems. Obviously, a lot of its on TV but you can find some great things online, and this site is really good for it. There's a lot of satire, but other general funny stories. Here's a couple of my favourites and a bit of a teaser for each:

  • Nick Clegg to be given a toy steering wheel to play with during PMQ's.
"Mr Clegg is understood to be absolutely delighted with his new wheel, which he can use to turn left and turn right in accordance with prevailing government policy. ‘It gives me a real sense of power,’ said an excited Mr Clegg ‘and it even has a little horn which I can honk, but only if Dave says it is safe to do so.’"
  • England football team enters into historic coalition with Germany.
"The deal has already received the full support of the rest of the Liberal Democrats in the Cabinet: ‘This represents a fantastic opportunity for England,’ he said, ‘admittedly, none of our players will be allowed to touch the ball or play any part in the match, but standing on the sidelines and jumping up and down is what coalition is all about.’
However, the deal has received a mixed reception from the England squad. ‘It makes little difference to me,’ said Wayne Rooney, ‘I mostly stand around doing nothing anyway.’"
You should definitely check it out some time, if that's your kid of thing.
And as a leaving present, here's another story from a different site. Regulars will know my dislike for alternative medicine (otherwise known as complete bullshit) and so you'll understand why I like this. (For those who don't know what homeopathy is, have a look before the story and it'll make a lot more sense.)
"Following a recommendation by the British Medical Council to scrap funding for Homeopathy on the NHS, homeopaths have claimed that such a dilution of their funding will only serve to make them stronger."
“The important factor is that we potentise our accounts by shaking them in exactly the correct manner, ensuring that the memory of the previous funding is transferred to our now empty bank accounts.”

NHSuper Efficient

People may have realised by now that I really like the NHS, I think it's one of the greatest things our country, even the world, have ever devised. A way to keep the less fortunate safe in the knowledge that they will be cared for and they won't have to worry about any bills. Ingenious.

So it would be unwise of me to miss the opportunity to lavish praise on it where it comes up, and this seemed like just such an opportunity. It comes from a commonwealth report that looked at the health care systems of 7 western countries (UK, USA, Canada, Germany, Netherlands, New Zealand and Australia) and found that the NHS was the most efficient, i.e. got most value for money, out of all the various systems. Pretty damn good for an NHS which is often on the end of criticism of 'wasted billions' in bureaucracy and chief executives.

The report looked at a whole range of areas, and overall the NHS came second in performance to the Netherlands, which spend a third more per capita on its health care system which is probably largely responsible. We ranked very highly in most areas of care and the fact that its free at the point of use meant we ranked top for access in cost-related problems.

Poor old USA was right at the bottom of the heap, despite spending way more than double what the UK spends on health care. Proof, if ever it was needed, that market forces aren't always the best way to run things like health care, in fact, they're the very worst way. You end up with people looking purely for profit, and patients are inevitably the ones who lose out.

One final interesting thing, is the rankings on patient centred care. The UK came 7th in this criteria, and the Netherlands (which came 1st overall) came 6th in this. This could how one of two things. Either, the countries which perform best have focused on other aspects of the care have gained and will improve further once care is more patient-centred. Or alternatively, is it the very fact that care isn't patient centred which makes the care good? With all the talk in the UK at the moment being about putting patients in charge of their care we should be careful not to do it just because it sounds nice in political sound bites. Everyone likes to have more control, but would they really still want that control if their health suffered because of it?

Sunday, 27 June 2010

Bye Bye World Cup

Yeah, it was awful, bar maybe one marginally better game against a country with a population of 2 million, hardly a highlight is it. But I'm going to try not to have a massive knee-jerk reaction to the whole thing.

For a start, we should not get rid of Fabio Capello under any circumstances, that would be the worst move we could make and move us way backwards. He's a proven quality manager, who got us through qualification with ease and only started to be questioned once the boys were in South Africa. This was his first international tournament so he can learn from it. And whilst we might have been humiliated in this tournament let's not forget how much we looked to have improved on the England team of old. He isn't the problem, the players are.

England players make no sense. On paper we have one of the best teams in the world, we've got class all over the pitch, yet in practise they look more like a Sunday league club. Why can't they play like they do week in week out for their clubs, many of them playing against teams like United, Chelsea and even Barcelona who are better than most international teams. I get the feeling that every time they fail they wait for the manager to leave and then all jump on the 'we had a bad atmosphere in the dressing room' bandwagon. There comes a point when you say either a procession of world-class managers have failed, or its down to the players. I'd say we've got to that point. Even Steve McLaren's having a successful time in Holland!

Where the hell was Wayne Rooney and what was Gerrard supposed to be doing? Two of the stars of world football yet wouldn't cut it in League One based on their World Cup performances. In fact the only one who seems to play well game after game is Ashley Cole, make of that what you will.

Today we did have a massive stroke of bad luck in the form of the disallowed goal. It doesn't excuse the poor performance or the fact we deserved to lose the game but it does bring up the subject of goal-line technology all over again. Surely anyone with half a brain can see that we need goal-line technology. We don't need an extra couple of referees behind each net like UEFA think, we need a very simple computer to tell us in about 5 seconds whether or not the ball has crossed the line. It won't slow the game down, if anything it will speed it up by getting rid of all the arguments. Why oh why can't Sepp Blatter see that? He's a prick of the highest order.

In summary; England bad, keep Capello, find out why our players can't perform, assassinate Blatter.

Saturday, 26 June 2010

Quote Day #2

Here's another quote in the 'I can't be bothered coming up with something to write about today' series. I was going to do one of these every week but I forgot when the last one was so I think I'll just do one whenever the mood strikes me, here's my favourite quote for those who missed it last time.

"He who would trade an essential liberty for temporary security, deserves neither liberty nor security." - Ben Franklin

I really like this quote from Franklin, and it's still relevant today because its been happening more and more since 9/11. People seem to think its acceptable to brush aside basic human rights and defend it by saying its for 'security reasons'. Of course we need security, but that should never need to be at the expense of rights. A human right is forever, you can't pick and choose when to apply it.

And you also can't pick and choose who the rights apply to. That means everyone, even the people I hate most in the world. You don't prove you have better morals than someone else by beating them at their low level. Essential liberty means nothing if it isn't universal.

If security services can't do their jobs as well as they want because of keeping to human rights regulations, then I suggest they find a better way to do their jobs.

Friday, 25 June 2010

Boom - First year done!!

Yep, results were out today and I'm officially 1/5 of a doctor (not that I feel like that!) after I passed all my exams. Excellent times indeed. I got satisfactory's across the board other than a distinction in my SSC (the 15 page essay we have to write on a subject of our choice) which I was very happy about. I apparently nailed my anatomy as well (80% and 100% on the two stations) which is even more surprising because I was sure I'd got quite a few wrong!

I really can't believe it's been a whole year already, its gone crazy fast. I remember when I first came and saw the second year medics, I thought they must be demi-gods of medicine with all they must have learnt, now I'm a second year and I definitely don't feel godly at all! Hopefully I'll feel a little bit more like that before they let me loose on patients.

Next year should be so much fun, what with my house and my 12 new children (see older posts if that's confusing) it could even be better than this first year, which has been brilliant by any measure. Roll on yet more medicine and drinking!

Anyway, on a related note, here's a great Amateur Transplants song for the occasion -

Thursday, 24 June 2010

The Budget lies unravel..

And little by little we see how the lies about 'fairness' being instilled in the budget are bought crashing down, no wonder the Lib Dem's looked so glum. All the coalition did was re-write the past and instill fear of the future to make way for their terrible policies which, much as they like to claim, weren't 'unavoidable' at all.

Now I'm no economist, I've never studied it at all, so I'll leave all the fancy calculations to the clever people at the IFS (probably the most respected impartial source, I think most people would agree) and base much of what I say on their report. That's a better way than me make silly mistakes in trying to understand it myself.

Talking about Nick Clegg and Osborne claiming the budget is 'progressive' (i.e. will hit the richest hardest) the report says 'That claim is debateable' and in fact only holds true because the government were factoring in measures already taken by the previous Labour government and because it looked only a little into the future. It says if you look further into the future and discount changes Labour made (i.e. Look just at what the coalition has proposed) then the budget 'looks less progressive - indeed somewhat regressive' and will hit the poorest hardest. So really, the only good part of this budget is what Labour already did! George Osborne claiming the coalition was a progressive alliance was possibly the most humorous thing of the new government to date, more than Nick Clegg's undying nodding in the background. No-one agrees with Nick anymore.

And then we have the travesty of the idea to raise VAT, I expect these kind of 'hit the poor' ideas from the Tory's but to come from the Lib Dem's is the most hypocritical thing in the world, and for them now to claim 'they never ruled it out' would be funny if it wasn't such a bad shift towards the right for their party. (See the picture of the Lib Dem election poster below if you're not sure why.)

VAT is a regressive tax, it hits the poorest hardest because the lowest incomes pay a disproportionately higher percent of income on goods that are taxed, and now they'll be paying even more. Osborne said it was 'unavoiadable' and Clegg said it was either this or cut schools and hospitals. What a load of tosh. Its only 'unavoidable' for Osborne because of the £12bn of other tax cuts that he announced and the fact he didn't want to increase tax on the richest in a meaningful way. (That's also in the IFS report) There are plenty of taxes other than VAT which are a lot less regressive and could have been used to fill the hole if there was one, Income and National Insurance would surely have been better ideas than VAT?

It would be nice if some Lib Dem's refused to follow their Tory master and voted against the budget but somehow I don't see it happening, power's got to their head. And as for the Tory's, this isn't an unavoidable budget. We all accept cuts have to be made, but not in the way you're going about it. It's completely the wrong way and after your disasters over the last few years I don't see how anyone can trust them to make sound economic policy. Its an ideological budget, with the facade of being an 'emergency' one so as to soften us up for the horror to come in the spending review.

Wednesday, 23 June 2010

Thank God For That

Well that's relieving, England are through to the last 16, we sneaked through but that's all behind us now, knockout football is a whole new game.

I hope we've seen the start of a new page in this World Cup campaign for England, maybe the do-or-die feeling ramped them up for the game, that would bode well for the pressure of the next few games. I still thought England would make it out of the group, but there was a healthy smattering of doubt, if we'd have turned up like we did against Algeria then we'd almost certainly have crashed out today.

Gerrard on the left worked much better than it had before, and I think that's more to do with us keeping possession much better than we had, allowing him to take it into feet rather than be chasing balls all the time. Wayne Rooney probably should have scored, but regardless he was a lot better, his touch which was like baboon's against Algeria was much better.

Unfortunately those stupid Yanks beat us to top spot on Goals Scored, despite the fact they insist on calling our beautiful game 'Soccer', idiots.That means a tougher run, but play to our best and we should make it through to the quarter. From there on in its too tight to call, but you just never know. Especially after the crazy results we've had so far in this World Cup.

Monday, 21 June 2010

Chop or Not?

On Channel 4 tonight they had the programme 'How to save £100 billion'. It was basically about which cuts people would support and the audience voted on them. I thought, the day before the 'emergency' budget, I'd have a look at a few of them; NHS reform, VAT rise and a bank tax.

NHS - GP Charge/Privatise

There were two ideas to do with the NHS, one of them a small change, another a major shake up. I think both are bad ideas and I'll say why.
The first was an idea to charge people a small fee for every visit to the GP, the idea tonight was £10. Its a way of raising cash with a seemingly inconsequential fee and frees up the NHS  from frivolous visits by people who don't really need to see a doctor.
This might be the case but I think its still a terrible idea, and could even end up costing more. First of all, the NHS should be kept free at the point of care, that's the most fundamental principle of our healthcare, and should never be changed, no matter how trivial the amount might seem. Its a slippery slope to be on when you start charging small amounts. And one of the reasons that it should be free is that by charging, you can end up costing the NHS more as people end up more ill than they might have been. Even if someone, who maybe doesn't have much spare cash, leaves seeing there GP an extra couple of weeks to save money, then they could end up being much more seriously ill and in need of more care than they would have been.

And the more radical idea to strip down the NHS to a core product, and leave the rest to the private sector is madness. The idea that free market competition is the answer to all life's problems is pure wrong and has been shown to be so many times. Why do we always assume competition is a cure all? Competition in healthcare will lead to double standards, a private sector stripping all the lucrative services and the NHS left to pick up the cost of the necessary but costly procedures. In short, it will destroy our NHS, which despite what may be said by some, is world-class.

Bank tax

The financial crisis started in the banking industry, so its no wonder there's such a blood lust for hammering the banks with taxes. Then there's the argument that if you hammer the banks too hard then you'll drive away business, and Britain is quite heavily reliant on the banking sector for its cash.
I think we should cut a balance, but that balance shouldn't be easy on the banks, its wrong to be held to ransom by a sector that enjoyed the good times and the free cash through quantitative easing but cries foul when it's asked to pay back.

Verdict - A good source of money, and it can be put to use as a safeguard against future collapses, a sort of insurance policy. And I don't want to hear any more about, 'Ooh, the markets won't like it.' Some times you just have to think screw the markets on this one, they can deal with it.

VAT rise - Increase the standard VAT rate to 20%.

On the programme they voted for this, but decided not to spread it to items like food and books which are currently tax free. Of the possible tax rises, I think VAT increases are possibly the worst idea, if you're trying to share the burden then this completely fails. 

Those on lower incomes, the ones already struggling after the financial crisis will be hit hardest as they have the least disposable income and they are least capable of absorbing paying more for their shopping. It will look strange on the Lib Dem's behalf if they decide to vote this through. Anyone remember their poster about the Tory 'VAT bombshell' during the election campaign? Plus the fact that so many of them have come out and spoken about how VAT is the most regressive tax. 

Verdict - Cuts the deficit, but by hurting the people least able to take the pain.

Saturday, 19 June 2010

World Cup Nightmares

Now that the anger has had time to simmer I thought I'd write about how the World Cup's been getting along, or not in England's case.

I'm a perpetual optimist, in most things but in football as well. I'd always believed we had a shot at winning the World Cup, obviously I didn't think we were the favourites but in knock-out football anything can happen. We have players that can turn a game on its head in an instant, when they can be bothered that is. Spain's defeat to Switzerland and Brazil's struggle against North Korea just showed how little form and dominance can be reduced to in cup football. With that in mind I looked forward to England following up the USA game (which I thought they played okay in, without any real brilliance and just got very unlucky) with a fired up display against a poor Algeria side. What we got was utter crap.

I've never seen England play that badly under Capello, it was just such a nothing game. Algeria offered nothing, England offered less. Most worrying of all maybe was the horrendous performance of Wayne Rooney. He wasn't just sidelined and not able to get in the game, he actively gave the ball away countless times and his touch and passing were terrible. I don't think he's ever played that badly for club or country in the past. And he was by no means the only poor performance, in fact its hard to pick out any positives. Something needs to change, and quick, or we could be out in the group stages if we play like that again against Slovenia.

I'm no casual football fan, and so I usually hate the kind of fickle fans who boo their own team at the end of the game, but on this occasion I can sympathise. The players just looked so condemned to not winning from far too early. And for Rooney to sarcastically say 'Nice to see your own fans booing you, that's what loyal support is.' after the game was disgusting. These people have paid thousands of pounds and taken a lot of time out of work and normal life to come watch you play football, only to be treated to a performance with no desire, they have every right to voice their upset. I hope it was just a heat of the moment comment and he promptly apologises unreservedly.

Buck your ideas up England, this tournament is still saveable, but only just.

Wednesday, 16 June 2010

Labour Leader

If you've read this before you might remember that I backed David Miliband to be the next leader, for reasons that I'll put later. But I'd kind of like to go back on that. Not that I've turned against him, I still currently think he's the best for the job, but I realised its wrong for me to declare so strongly before the others have really had a shot at persuading me. That means I can watch the debates with an open mind and should someone put forward a good argument I'd have no problem switching if I think they'd make a better leader.

First, let's get the criticism out of the way, because there's been a lot of scoffing at the fact that four of the five candidates are middle-aged white males. Yes, I'd prefer there to be more diversity in the campaign, but you can't tell people to stand or not to stand based on how they look. Labour has plenty of very good women MP's who chose for one reason or another not to stand. Both Harriet Harman and Yvette Cooper would have been very credible candidates and are still at the highest level of politics.

The idea that David Cameron can mock Labour for this would be laughable if it wasn't so hypocritical. I don't remember too many women standing for the Tory leadership?

In fact there was only Theresa May who even bothered to rule herself out, no other women were even considered a potential candidate. Cameron must have a very short memory if he thinks his party is so high and mighty on the equality front, especially considering that Labour have more female and ethnic minority MP's than the rest of the parties put together.

Anyway, back to the candidates. I thought all of them performed reasonably well, whilst none of them delivered a real knock out blow. I think that's to be expected though in a debate where you share so many of your ideas and principles with your contenders. Diane Abbott was surprisingly strong, and I think her inclusion  as representative of the left of the party was a very good thing indeed. It stimulated debate and in the end whoever wins is going to have to represent both the left and the more central wings of the party so have to learn to listen and understand their respective qualms.

I'm not a massive fan of Ed Balls, he's very passionate about what he says, but I'm not sure he has enough radical reforming spirit for my taste, he seem's to be the consistency candidate. I've always liked Andy Burnham, he did very well as Health Secretary and he speaks on a level that resonates well with many members who feel the leadership was too distant and elitist. His plans for a National Care Service are excellent and really the kind of thing that Labour should be putting forward more, a radical state solution to an area where leaving the problem to market forces is harming people in a big way. Ed Miliband would be my second preference at the moment, he's a very approachable character and his decision to centre his campaign around the living wage was a good one, again another idea that should be bread and butter stuff for Labour.

But, despite saying earlier I don't want to jump to a decision, David Miliband is still my preferred leader. He's an intelligent guy, but more important than that he's willing to listen to any opinions. He quoted Obama when he said 'we should be able to disagree without being disagreeable.' I couldn't agree more, not just in terms of the party but the whole country. The left and the centre-left of the party should realise that they are fighting the same fight and that by working together we can provide the country with a progressive left that not only is business-friendly as New Labour made it, but still stands up for the unions which were after all the reason for its creation. I think David is the man who can deliver this best.

It will be interesting to see what more solid policy decisions come out over the next few weeks and months, what with their positions on civil liberties, Iraq and some other areas coming to light recently.

Monday, 14 June 2010

Cutting Aid?

Someone showed me this questionnaire that YouGov did the other day about all sorts of stuff, one part of which I really didn't like. It turns out that when asked what should be first in line for cuts in the next budget a big majority (from all classes and ages there was 61%, along with 72% of Tory's and 69% of the over 55's; though before I get abuse I should point out that no party has actually suggested this yet.) said that International Aid was the thing that should be cut down first. It seems to be the one area of agreement across the whole spectrum, so I thought I'd say why I think cutting International Aid is one of the last things we should be doing.

The arguments for cutting it are that - you have to sort out the problems at home before you help abroad; that we can't afford to give away money when we are short of cash; and that its wrong to give money supporting people abroad when people in the UK are suffering from cuts. I really don't think any of these stand up to scrutiny, here's why.

I think that the fact we give aid to the less well off nations is one of the genuinely good uses of money from public funds. It gives us some sense of perspective which is so often lost in the rubble of political point scoring. Talk your rubbish about 'Broken Britain' if you will but in reality we have it good, we have it very good.

We live in a country where the state will support you if times get hard and if you're ill you can have treatment and a bed for nothing. We have world-class education for all and more opportunity than many other country's in the western world. We give aid because we realise that no matter how much we might want things to improve, our needs are nothing compared to the conditions billions of people around the world have to contend with.

You can't get that new three-bed detached because the government taxes you too much? You're welcome to your qualms, but don't whinge when a tiny proportion of the cash you give is directed to people who would kill to have any sort of house. In fact, moving out of a tent in the refugee camp would be an upgrade.

The whole idea that we should worry solely about ourselves and maybe we'll throw a penny change in the charity jar if we're feeling particularly generous is outdated. I hate everything about nationalism and wish it a speedy death. We need to make sure patriotism (which I have no problem with, the more flags flying for the world cup that better) doesn't bleed over into a more tribalistic nationalism which assumes we are somehow more important than them, where them is meant to be anyone not from our tiny island, i.e. most of the world.

Let's not get rid of the one thing which gives s perspective, that reminds us we are insanely lucky to live the kind of life that our country offers. Anything more than food, water, shelter and security is a luxury to the majority of the planet. We should do our bit to help where we can, and a tiny bit of tax isn't much to ask.

Sunday, 13 June 2010

Quote Day #1

I'm not doing nearly as many posts since I've got home, that's because I don't need to use this as an excuse to get out of work any more, so this will probably pick up again when I get back in September. But, I'll do my best to still write a few if anything comes up.

And as a way to come up with easy ideas for posts I figured every so often I'll put up my favourite quotes from various places. I do love a good quote. As this is the first one I'l give you my all time favourite, from my favourite book 1984 [Prepare for philosophical babbling] - 

'The sky was the same all over the world, and the people under the sky were all very much the same - hundreds of thousands of millions of people, ignorant of one another's existence, held apart by walls of hatred and lies, yet almost exactly the same.' - George Orwell

I really like this, the book as a whole is great and this just about sums up what I think is the biggest message in it. Its my favourite because if you understand and agree with it then you instantly see why inequality is so wrong, why sexism, racism, homophobia and any kind of stereotyping is just so ignorant. Everyone's so similar, everyone lives on the same planet with the same sky, but people choose to pretend that people they disagree with are somehow not like them, that they're somehow not the same kind of human. 

Next time anyone tries to be casually racist (a good indicator is if they start a sentence with 'I'm not a racist but..') about immigrants or they suggest that some people deserve to be treated differently, try remembering this quote. 

Philosophical rant over.

Friday, 11 June 2010

World Cup Season

Sorry for neglecting you for a while blog, I've now left Manchester and am back in Blackpool, haven't really had much time or stuff to write about. But that's about to change, its World Cup time! And after Blackpool getting promoted, surely its time for the perfect year with England winning it?

I like to be optimistic, we genuinely have a good shot at it this year. I know its fashionable in football circles to laugh at people who genuinely believe we can win and scoff 'Ha, yeah, like we'd ever beat Spain'. Well, clearly they have the better side, but this is cup football, it isn't as simple as all that. Its actually not all that common for the favourites to win it and England certainly have more of a shout than before after a great qualifying campaign.

I was pleasantly surprised by the first match today, South Africa were a lot better than I'd imagined in the second half and the first goal was a fitting start to the tournament, absolute beaut it was. But then Mexico spoilt the party after some pretty shoddy defending, all in all though I'd think South Africa would be content with a point on the opening day.

The France match was abysmal, I don't think either of them really deserved the three points so in that sense it was a good result. France really missed a trick though, against ten men for the last 10 minutes they really should have put on a lot more pressure than they did and half the players seemed disinterested. Other than the near fight that is, before Domenech remembered they were French and promptly ran on and surrendered.

Can't wait for tomorrow, hopefully we'll give those Yanks a dicking and show them that calling the beautiful game 'Soccer' just isn't acceptable.

Monday, 7 June 2010

Ikea Fun

Today was an exciting day, it was Ikea shopping time for our house next year, clearly the best part of moving is buying stuff to go in it! It was doubly exciting because I'd never been to Ikea before, what with my Blackpool childhood, so it was a whole new fun world.

Our house is pretty kitted out as it is so all we needed was the smaller stuff like cutlery and plates etc. but you can still look around everything else. We tended just to buy any item which was especially colourful, our knife set is a particular gem. Our house is going to look like its owned by a clown, just the way it should be!

Without doubt the single best buy of the day was my idea, and I'm very proud of it. Cast your mind back to your childhood, did anyone used to have a kind of large mat which had a picture of a cartoon town on it with roads that you could drive toy cars on? Because that's what we got :) Its like the one in the picture but I think ours is better and doesn't come with the complimentary smiling child.  I have no idea what its going to be for or where it will go but it just had to be bought. Brilliant times.

Back to the seaside tomorrow, should be good to see everyone back home, I'll miss Manchester too though. Maybe I'll appreciate our beach more now that I've experienced life without being close to the sea as well.

Sunday, 6 June 2010

An Overdue Return

Well in all the excitement of finishing exams and university life I've neglected talking about what's going on in the world, I'm sure people have missed it. What's going on in our new ConDem-nation?

We've had a little bit of time now to get used to this whole coalition government business and its high time I gave my view on it (I bet regular readers can guess before I even start!). My favourite story, if it turns out to be true, actually happened before Cameron even moved in but we didn't hear about until now. Apparently one of Gordon Brown's last acts (before writing some letters to people that inspired him) was to accept a pay cut for the office of Prime Minister, just in time for David to arrive. Depending on your party either an underhand trick or a pure stroke of genius, good lad Gord. The real masterpiece was that David can't even complain about it because it was he who argued for scaling back Ministers pay!

But anyway, on to actual policies. We had our first wave of cuts come through since the election, nice to see Lib Dem's sticking to what they said in the campaign. Yes, coalition means compromise, but I don't see how doing exactly what the Conservatives wanted and dropping all your own argument's is a compromise? And David Cameron's promise to eliminate waste ahead of any front-line losses must be sounding pretty hollow now in light of his cutting of the Future Jobs Fund. How he can lump that in the same kind of 'efficiencies' savings as pot plants is beyond me. That fund gave guaranteed work for long-term unemployed young people, the very people that Cameron claimed he was saving from a lifetime of being saddled with national debt. That's all very nice but it won't help them much to be out of work.

We had our first resignation (which ruined my prediction that Vince Cable would be first to go!) of a minister in the shape of David Laws. Now people are pretty split about whether or not he should have gone but I think in the end at a personal level it would have been very tough for him to stay. Those who argue that the media coverage was homophobic are plain wrong to start with, no-one was bothered about giving money to a gay partner, just that it was his partner who was being given money, regardless of gender. And I know there is the argument that he could have legitimately claimed more money and that he was protecting his privacy, but surely it would have been much more private to just have paid the rent out of his own pocket if that was what he was worried about? After all, he isn't short of cash having worked in the city.

And then Labour continue their contest for a new leader. Nice to see Andy Burnham looking like he could get on the ballot paper and it'd be even nicer if McDonnell and Abbott could manage it. I might not agree with them but the more people in the debate the better it will be. I'm a little disappointed that Harriet Harman isn't running as she's shown at PMQ's she's certainly capable, and she'd have a lot of support in the party, even if she isn't my own personal favourite. Another one to watch for the future as she's ruled herself out this time is Yvette Cooper, she wanted to spend a few more years with her children whilst they were young, completely understandably, but she speaks well and her article about the sexism she faced for not standing from Cameron and the right is a fine piece.

In my first ever post on politics I talked about how I had a lot of time for the Lib Dem's whilst still being a Labour man. After their performance over the past few weeks I'd have to say I'm fast falling out of favour with them as they drift away from the centre-left and are looking more like a centre-right party. If they fail to vote against raising tuition fees when it inevitably comes up (and abstaining from a vote is not enough by any measure) then that really will be the final straw and you could see that as the moment they abandon all their previously held principles. That's that, feel free to tell me where I'm wrong if you disagree.

Friday, 4 June 2010

Exams are over!!

Pretty much summed up in the title really, my very last one was yesterday, freedom at last!

The semester test went pretty well I thought, it went better than my Semester 1 test and I got a decent mark in that so things are looking good, not to jinx it I hope.

We didn't actually have the exam until 2pm which is probably for the best seeing as after the exams in January which were earlier the fact we started drinking straight after meant that by about 6 we were pretty gone and the night never really happened because we were all paralysed. This time though we timed it to perfection :)

Even the weather loved us because when we went for the post-exam BBQ (brilliant idea btw whoever thought that up!) it was absolutely roasting and nothing beats sitting next to a lake with a burger and a beer in the sun! Then we went down to Woolton Bar for a bit more pre-drinking with some mint vodka before heading off to Sankeys.

After the disaster of my last visit to Sankeys (Involving being inside around 5 minutes before being asked very nicely to leave aha) this was a great success. Although I did spend an extortionate amount of money in there, but that's allowed for such a great occasion. I'm sure about half the people in there were medics who'd just finished exams, every time I lost someone another person would magically appear. And I'm not sure what was in those buckets but they did serious damage to my liver!

All in all, great day, and now I can look forward to my house next year and my very own 12 children to take out on curry night and PJ pub crawls, excellent times!

P.s. I remember some Pbl 19er's telling me they wanted mentioning on here so hello to Becky, Zara, Will, Anna, Rach, Cad, Dave, Gej, Debbie, Wei and Ibrahim. (In no particular order :) ) And thanks for the picatures Debs.

Thursday, 3 June 2010

My Big Personality Test

A couple of nights ago 'Child of our Time' was on, and they did a massive personality test over 51 countries to look at five personality traits that pretty much cover most aspects of human life; Openness, Conscientiousness, Extroversion, Agreeableness and Neuroticism. So, eager for another excuse to have a break I decided to do it myself and you lucky people can see the results.

Ta da. Apparently my highest trait is agreeableness (4/5) and my lowest is neuroticism (1.8/5). Whilst I know that any kind of test like this isn't going to be 100% accurate, I'd tend to agree that I reckon these results pretty much sum me up in these 5 areas.

Agreeableness is how easily you can get along with others and how well you can read their expressions and fears. I've always liked those quizzes where you have to tell how someone's feeling from a picture of their eyes and I'm pretty good at it if I do say so myself ;) It also probably has something to do with the fact that sometime's I crave approval from other people quite a lot, maybe too much. Although not being neurotic means that I don't get too stressed when I don't, see how they all go together nicely.

I'm definitely low on neuroticism, if I had to predict any that would have been the one I'd have put hard cash on. Being neurotic means that you're sensitive to stresses and I'm just not a worrier, sometimes I worry a bit too little. On the plus side, it means I rarely get stressed about exams or other things which helps me because while some people thrive under stress, I prefer to work when I'm calm and can think things through.

And plum in the middle is conscientiousness (3.4/5), that's the ability to make plans and follow them through. In the middle is pretty much right for me I'd say. I can make plans and stick to them if I really need to but most of the time I just like to go at things as they come along, having a plan can be so boring sometimes.

So there is me, simplified down to five numbers, make of it what you will.

P.s. This hasn't just been written now, because I'm currently on a major binge having finished exams. I wrote it earlier but just posted it now for you lucky people. Let me know what you think of the re-jig with the Medicine/Politics/Football buttons -> and whatnot.

Tuesday, 1 June 2010

Doctor Who, seriously?

There's far too many serious posts around here, I've decided, so here's one about something I've recently decided is brilliant. Doctor Who. Yeah, the Chris of 2 months ago would be disgusted too but then after watching one episode I was officially hooked and much to my disgrace have now watched all the modern Doctor Who's.

I don't know why I think it's so good, its not exactly realistic, it hurts your head if you try and think about it too much, and its not exactly the pinnacle of special effects. I think its just because its so unashamedly fun to watch, a man running around with a screwdriver fighting aliens and saving the planet in his little blue space ship, simple but fun. The only problem is that in some episodes I end up hating humans because some of the things they do are so stupid in the programme, obviously that isn't too handy a quality to have in normal life.

And then there's the all important question, who's my favourite Doctor? Well, I liked Chris Eccleston when I first watched it, but he's nowhere near the other two so I'll discount him first. Between David Tennant and Matt Smith it's a lot closer, I think at the moment Tennant would win it but Smith might edge ahead if the finale of this season is good and he gets a few more quality episodes. The finale's are always the best and he hasn't been in one yet so I think its a bit unfair. Plus, David Tennant was just brilliant, so he should be happy to be still in the contest.

Like I said, Chris of 2 months ago would hate me, sorry.