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Month: September 2013

…and you thought I was bad with my dating blogging…

I have been known to write about dates, I was about to type both good and bad but that is a lie but you know what I mean. Still I at least keep names out of it and give at best vague descriptions of people I have had dates with but a young lady living in Washington DC doesn’t think that is enough. She thinks that people who decide not to date further after two dates deserve to be named and shamed but I think it is probably fair to say that it has backfired and this young lady has become a bit of a joke across Social Media.

Here is the full version of events (from her point of view) but the premise is basically this. This lady met a guy in a bar that she did not know. They had a couple of dates. He then texted her saying that he didn’t want a relationship but says that she is funny, smart and cool and that she’ll no doubt find a great guy and she thought it was so insulting that she blogged about it (which to be fair I do but without names/details) but not only that, she decided that his bosses needed to know all about it for some reason and instead of just saying ‘no worries, good luck in the future’ or just saying nothing she let rip.

Lets look at the screenshots…

quin woodward pu texts
Guys decides to let Quin down rather gently…

But then…

quin woodward pu texts
Quin decides that she was not amused at the ‘dumping’

I mean c’mon…

This has to be one of the funniest things I’ve ever read and I’d be so thankful if I was this guy that I had seen the light after just two dates and decided to get the hell out of there. Of course there is the cynic in me that makes me think this is just free publicity for the woman in question, on her own website she describes herself as an memoirist, communications consultant, and a connaisseusse of all things social. She currently lives in Washington, DC, where she is a social media and public relations pundit and I can see this as just social media spin to prove that she can create some buzz but that is all well and good. Doing that but getting her name out there as the type of woman that guys would back away from slowly (or just turn and run quite fast) is quite the price to pay just to create a name for yourself or create from buzz in the social media world.

Writing things like I am so mature, well-adjusted and above this kind of childish behavior and then proceeding to act exactly like she did is just a wee bit weird is not? Now I’ve been told (albeit usually just after one date) that someone doesn’t want to see me again and I have no qualms writing about it just like many others do but I don’t think I’m at this level.

What I don’t do is go off on them as to why they are awful and how great I am. Even if at times I’m confused as to why they’ve said ‘thanks but no thanks’ I would never go further than anonymous internet blogging. Maybe I’m wrong and the stuff I write is just as bad and maybe that is a warning sign for other people to steer clear of me (I grant that it is more than possible) but I certainly think that this young lady as put herself in a much harder place with regards to finding a new partner if they have Googling ability.

Here are a few of these young ladies words about herself:

Speaking about her sexual charm…

We had relatively good chemistry, but then, I kinda have chemistry with pretty much everyone, because I really like talking to people and winning over complete strangers.

On the guy in question

When we parted that day, I didn’t think much of anything. In fact, I actually headed out to a bar to meet up with a former lover from 2012, with whom I may or may not entertain a few exchanges here and there. #timesbeing.

All class eh folks?

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Is that the sound of the Lib Dems growing up I hear…?

I think it very well might be.

You see I’m one of those political activists that gets involved in politics not solely because of ideology but I like to think that I tackle the issues based on practically and reality even if it doesn’t fully align with my ideology. I believe that it is better to take a small step towards your goals if it makes your end game more achievable and I’m not one of those that thinks it is better to do nothing if you can’t do exactly what you want. I think life in general is about small steps and it is very rare in life that we take a big step towards our goals – whether that be in terms of politics or life in general.

The Lib Dems have for a long time been the party of protest. Lots of people vote for the party due to agreeing with what they have to say and what they do but a large number of votes also have traditionally come from people who are unhappy with another political party. In the south where I am from Labour have a hard time in many seats so a lot of Labour leaners/voters have voted for the Lib Dems in an ‘Anyone but Tory’ protest vote. This has happened in Labour seats as well but to a more limited degree.

With the Lib Dems going into a coalition with the Tories due to the pure mathematical issues that the 2010 General Election coupled with the financial issues facing the country it led to a lot of that soft Lib Dem/protest vote deserting the party. They have drifted back to Labour or drifted to UKIP or even drifted into not voting for anyone. The Lib Dem core vote has eroded as well as a lot of people can’t stomach some of the things going on in parliament that the Lib Dems feasibly could stop. I understand these views but I don’t share them.

The thing is I don’t think it would be right for the Lib Dems to just stop every single thing the Conservative part of the coalition want to do. That isn’t what coalition politics is all about. It is about finding common ground and working off that and then giving and taking on certain issues. Last week we saw the free school meals for all children in their first two years of school in an attempt to fight child poverty as this will ensure that all children of this age get one hot meal a day. I think this is a fantastic move as child poverty is a real issue not only in a health sense but also a hungry child is not going to be able to concentrate well at school. I was known to skip lunch to play football for an hour on occasion and the period after lunch I was just not there. That was me being stupid but some children don’t have a choice.

To get this policy in the Lib Dems had to cave on a marriage tax allowance which I just find dumb policy. I just don’t see where the credibility comes in paying married couples to stay together. Will an extra three quid a week really stop marriage breakups and help keep families living together under one roof? I doubt it somewhat but when I weigh up the pros of the free school meals for the seven and unders with the cons of the marriage tax allowance then I think the pros outweigh the cons and I’m glad the Lib Dems have gone down this route, to me it shows signs of real strength. We are doing a good thing and the trade off isn’t enough to dilute the pros of the policy.

Also the activists had a couple of rather interesting votes. The activists voted to keep the 45p tax rate because it actually raises more income. As a party and as a country everyone wants to bash the rich. It is the coolest thing to do since picking up a phone and yelling ‘whasssssssssssssssssssssup?’ – and that my friends was cool. However when you delve into the numbers it becomes clear that tax revenues are at their highest when the highest tax rate is at 45p and that to me is where it should stand. Having the most potential income to spend for the good of the country is better than sitting on ideology, idealism and doing what is popular with the masses. I’m sure people would love to smash the rich but if they had the choice of bashing the rich so much that libraries shut or children’s centres closed or rubbish wasn’t collected then suddenly I think people’s views would change.

Added to that we saw the party surprise a few in backing nuclear power in limited circumstances. Traditionally Lib Dems have been against nuclear power but the current reliance on fossil fuels is too much and puts the country in a worrying position and nuclear power is a better bet whilst we continue to move forward with cleaner fuels and renewable energy sources. It is better to take that step to secure our power than to ignore the nuclear option and go green and potentially have the lights go off.

There is so much talk about the left of the party and the right of the party but I sit in the middle of the political spectrum and like to think that the left and the right should just think about what the end game is. We are all wanting to move towards the same broad goal and hence why we are all members of this party but at times I think people lose perspective. Some people hate with a passion doing anything that will cheer the Tories and think our main goal should be to stop them doing what they want more than getting parts of our manifesto into law. Some think that our role is solely to ensure Labour don’t send us into a further financial tailspin. Some think we should just do and say what most people I want to hear. I’m with none of those people.

I think we should take small steps to make the lives of people better. We can’t do everything but doing things that can actually change lives and give the next generation the best chance possible to be a success is paramount. In Glasgow I felt we saw real shoots of this grown up approach and it made me happier than I have been in quite some time within the party. As soon as we get over the notion that our role is not solely to stop others doing bad things but also doing some of what we see as our good things then I think we’ll feel a lot better about ourselves and when it comes to elections pointing to both things we’ve stopped but also things we’ve done positively will I think put us in better stead with the electorate but not only that, we can look ourselves in the mirror and not only say we’ve stopped some bad but also done some good and isn’t that what politics (and life in general) is all about?

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The autumn is descending and the Neil starts reverting to type. The lesser spotted Neil (that blimin’ spot is still fighting for life on my chin – come on just die and let the beautiful pink skin win already) is a creature of habit. When the nights draw in and the sporting seasons get going then he’s rarely to be seen socially unless you happen to catch him between the apartment and a local takeaway establishment.

Unlike previous years this year the Neil has invested in fibre optic broadband and that has led to even more options for him to watch. With an iPad purchased coupled with an Apple TV box the odds of him not spending the whole of his weekend camped either on his chair by the PC watching sport or lounged across one of the sofas doing exactly the same is shall we say low.

People who have lived with the Neil will know all about this. On Sunday’s (and to a slightly lesser extent Saturday’s) it was known for him not to be seen at all bar forages to the fridge for a cold can of Cherry Coke. A common occurrence used to be doorbell ringing at some point on a Sunday evening and for a bemused housemate to answer it and see a takeaway delivery man or woman standing there. Luckily the housemates knew what this was and a shout upstairs would see the Neil sprint out of his room and bound down the stairs to pay for said food before swishing into the kitchen to pick up a bowl and a spoon before making his way back upstairs to dish out his dinner.

You see the Neil has an issue. That issue is he has no spare time on a Sunday from September through to the Superbowl in February. Yesterday it was noted that he made and ate his dinner during the build up to the Formula 1 as he realised that was the only time he had in the day to make dinner without missing some sporting action unless he wanted to eat dinner at around half past midnight.

We are lucky enough to have been given an insight into how the Neil spent his Sunday…

He was first seen at around 11 o’clock where upon he read his e-mails and read the Sunday papers. He then checked his fantasy baseball team and planned for the big final next week. At just gone midday he remembered the Grand Prix was on and quickly realised about a timing issue that he had. He made dinner just in time for the F1 to start but 25 minutes into the race he switched the F1 to the PC and put the football on the TV. He then remembered the Dundee United v Motherwell math was on BT Sport so put that on his iPad (there is a fellow Neil who follows DU but this Neil has been known to miss occasional sporting events to spend time with his wife – our Neil doesn’t have this option).

By 6PM the football was finished but then the NFL was on – a double header. However the live games did not grab the attention of our subject and whilst he put it on he was playing around on YouTube. Throughout the day the Neil was getting messages from a friend of his who was catching up on a week of Masterchef Australia and passing on her opinions. Come 7PM the latest episode was on TV and the Neil dipped out of sport to watch MCA and because of the terrible NFL games he would also watch The X Factor. At 9PM he returned to the NFL for the rest of the night but used the end of the early games to put his laundry on and then half-time to put his own clean laundry on his clothes horse. At the end of the day he filed some work but decided to record the early morning NFL game.

This is a rare insight to how the Neil lives. Some would say he needs a life and some would say he is living the dream. The one thing we know is that he spent nearly ten minutes trying to work out if he had had a shower that day and after the sniff test realised that he had not.

On the Saturday there was an early EPL game then at three there was Soccer Saturday coupled with a choice of live games via the fibre optic broadband route before the late EPL game. Due to TV regions the Neil was unable to watch the Penn State game live in the evening so spent it watching old Law & Order episodes.

Welcome to the life of Neil – not exactly the life of Riley but interesting all the same…

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Free School Meals. Good. Marriage Tax Allowance. Bad. However…

So the coalition government have found a billion pounds a year from somewhere and they had to decide how to spend it. Middle England believes that keeping parents in unhappy marriages will help solve some of the issues of ‘Broken Britain’ as apparently marriage and that piece of paper can change everything. I think this is bizarre and doesn’t exactly add up but still I’m going to look at the other portion of the one billion pounds a year and where it is going.

It is going to the kids, ‘why won’t somebody think of the children?’ shrieks Mrs Lovejoy but wait a minute wife of the poor beleaguered reverend. Somebody is thinking of the children. In July a review recommended a hot meal for all primary school children and this is a big step towards providing that as all children – no matter what the financial situation of their families – will get these free meals and this is an attempt to combat poverty from September next year.

The DPM said, ‘It’s my idea, it’s a Liberal Democrat idea. It’s something I’ve been wanting to do for a long period of time. If we ever had the money, I’d like to go further and give all primary school children a good hot healthy meal at lunchtime.

My ambition is that every primary school pupil should be able to sit down to a hot, healthy lunch with their classmates every day. Millions of parents across the country are feeling the squeeze. Over the course of a year families spend over £400 lunch money for each child. I am determined to do all we can to help put money back in the pockets of these families.

‘We will start with infant school pupils because teaching healthy habits young, and boosting attainment early, will bring the biggest benefits. Universal free school meals will help give every child the chance in life that they deserve, building a stronger economy and fairer society.

Who doesn’t think this a good thing? Anyone? I thought as much. This is the type of thing that the Lib Dems can do in coalition government. If the Lib Dems were running the country then they would be able to fund this across all primary school children but for now this is progress. Of course if the Tories didn’t get their marriage tax allowance then we could do more but I think we have to realise than coalition politics is all about giving and taking.

In my (simple) mind it comes down to this. Is it better to have free school meals for all children in primary school in the first couple of years and the marriage tax allowance or have neither and that billion pounds going somewhere else or just sitting in the coffers? I think it is better to have the step forward in tackling child poverty even if it is coupled with a disappointing marriage tax break.

Coalition is all about compromises and this is one that I can certainly sit comfortably with. I think it is a sign that the party are growing up and tackling the things they can whilst in coalition. I know many Lib Dems disagree and think that we shouldn’t do any deals that allow the Tories to get anything they want in government if it doesn’t sit well with us but I think at some point people need to understand what is really important, married couples getting an extra three quid a week or 1.5million young people getting five hot meals a week?

To me this one is a complete no brainer. Nice one Nick.

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Fantasy, Fantasy, Fantasy!

No no no. This blog isn’t about what I’d do with [redacted] if she was up for [redacted] with [redacted] whilst wearing [redacted] and melted Mars Bars. Oh no. This is about another fantasy. Fantasy baseball. I have written before that I’ve been told that writing/talking about your fantasy team with people who aren’t in your league is amongst some of the most boring things that one can do but yet here I am and after a dramatic few days in my fantasy baseball league I think its worthy of a blog post.

In recent years I have totally scaled down my fantasy sport commitments. This year I have one fantasy football team and one fantasy baseball team and that is it. The fantasy baseball team is in a keeper league where we hold over half our major league players and half our minor league players each season. This is the eighth season that I have been in this league and I have yet to win it and have only appeared in the final once and the playoffs on two others occasions. However this year was different.

For most of the season I was seeded fourth and cruising into the playoffs. The top six make it. Yet with four weeks to go in the season I got a shellacking and went down 11-3 and dropped to the seventh seed. I lost the next week 6-8 but managed to have a big win in the penultimate week and that meant I basically had to do two better than the sixth placed team in the final week – so if he won his match-up 8-6 I’d need to win mine 10-4 etc…

Now my opponent was up against a long time friend and my friend did his job well and come Sunday I’d have to win 7-6 to qualify for the playoffs and things were tight. Several categories were tight and at various points throughout Sunday I was in and I was out. It was 6-6 and I had one players going in the night game that could win it for me. Aroldis Chapman the Cincinnati Reds closer. However I needed him to get a vulture win as I had saves locked up. I had already gotten a vulture win earlier in the day from Mariano Rivera but he got one as well. Disaster.

As the final pitch of the Major League Baseball season was thrown I was out of the playoffs but by the time that at bat ended the Fratton Yankees were in. I had done it. The Reds won it in the bottom of the 9th and Chapman was the winning pitcher of record. Rejoice. I woke up to a tweet from my friend who simply said as I had signed off Skype with the only thing that can save me was a vulture win from Chapman, ‘a vulture win like that you mean? Chapman gets the W!’ and boom boom boom. I was seeded sixth and would face the commissioner and third seed in the first round of the playoffs.

The commissioner has a fine team but over the past two years I have fluked wins against him in every single match-up. So the draw wasn’t bad for me. I lead the match-up most of the week but on Saturday I inexplicably left my star starting pitcher on the bench. He pitched great and I was livid with myself for just seemingly forgetting to make him active. Had I pitched him I would have won both QS and ERA and comfortably win the match-up but as it stood I was up 9-4 (with one tie) but he had three starting pitchers to go and several hitting stats were still tight.

By the time Masterchef Australia was in full swing I was down 5-7 (with two ties) and looked done but my Fratton Yankees are a resilient bunch. His starters were only able to grab ERA and lead QS but they couldn’t muster a win between them so I kept wins. Then my starting pitcher Jordan Zimmermann pitched terrifically and tied up QS again to make it 6-7 and suddenly his batters were stinking the joint up and Batting Average was getting closer and closer and suddenly I was ahead there, up 7-6. I had one batter left to go and he was in a rain delay so I couldn’t take him out of my side. I did the maths and knew he could go 0/6 and I’d win but 0/7 and I was done. He went 0/4 and I survived to play on.

This week a rematch with the side I beat 7-6 in the final week to make the playoffs. I have a string of injuries but I’m still alive and after the first day I lead 12-0 but six more days and lots will change. The strange thing is my team are I think a year or two away as my minor leagues are full of top class talent that will reach the bigs in the next year or so. Miguel Sano, George Springer, Billy Hamilton and Lukas Giolito will be my minor league keepers and all of them have a real possibility of being significant impact players over the next few season’s. With the likes of Manny Machado, Yasiel Puig and Buster Posey already anchoring my my lineup and Jordan Zimmermann and Yu Darvish anchoring my rotation I might be a decent side for the next few years but my 2013 season is still going and I’ve wasted over 900 words talking about it.

I despair at myself and so should you.

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Vote Peter Bone & Nadine Dorries as Best non-Lib Dem MP of the Year!

When I filled in the latest Lib Dem Voice members survey this afternoon I was asked to vote for some awards. Some were no brainers like the best Lib Dem MP of the Year. I mean seriously Julin Huppert is about as beloved in Lib Dem grass root circles as Doctor Who and with very good reason.

He is a man who has Lib Dem core values permeating out of his pores and it is people like him who many of us cling on to in the hope that Lib Dem core values are still very much in place and we aren’t just Tory-lite which has been thrown at us from all angles so Julian should and surely will be Lib Dem MP of the Year.

As for Councillor of the Year ‘m obviously voting for the woman who out-chased The Dark Destroyer on The Chase (oh and is a superb local councillor) in Karen Chilvers. I’m not voting for her because I know her but because she has the all-around package I’d want from a councillor. Works bloody hard, deeply cares but also has good media savvy and is part of a local party that is growing and flourishing despite the national climate (although it should be said that membership in my local party has also increased throughout this quarter). Karen is a fine councillor and should she win then it’ll be just deserved. It really will be.

However I then had to vote for who I thought was the best non-Lib Dem MP and I was given the options of Peter Bone and Nadine Dorries for all their hard work for the liberals. I did laugh and then I did vote for them. Not because they are good MPs or because they do anything constructive but because it would be funny. It would show that the membership still have a sense of humour. I also wonder how the media will spin it and see them self-combust trying to work out if the Lib Dem membership had gone mad or were sarcastic as hell.

The main reason I want them to win though is I really really want to know what Mrs Bone would say over the breakfast table knowing that the Lib Dems see her husband at their best asset outside of the party…

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Michael Le Vell found not guilty but how and why does the jury reach such a verdict?

When the Michael Le Vell verdict came through this afternoon I wasn’t surprised. Not because he’s famous and famous people get off. Not because I didn’t believe the accuser. Not because I thought he looked like a good guy but I wasn’t surprised because I have been there – in the jury room on a very similar case where it came down solely to whether we believed the accuser or whether we believed the defendant and I saw how a jury swayed from what their gut instincts were to how we found the man.

You see the legal system is skewed against the defendant all the way until court where in fact the defendant who has the weight of the law on his or her side. You are instructed clearly by the judge that your gut opinion counts for nothing and that only what is said in court should influence you on your decision. So what the defendant looks like shouldn’t come into play for example. All that matters is what the witnesses tell you and what the lawyers and judges say.

In our case we saw no medical evidence and the reporting on the Le Vell case says that the judge instructed them that the medical evidence was neutral and therefore shouldn’t carry any weight either way. This meant for them as it did us – it came down not just to who we believed but did we believe the accuser to such a degree that we were confident that the accused had done the alleged crimes.

I have written about this before but we walked into the jury room and after an initial vote we were 9-3 in favour of not guilty. One of the nine was a young lady who actually didn’t care and wanted to go with the majority just so she could go home so its hard to fully gauge what she really thought – if she thought anything at all. The three guilty voters were two young men who felt that anyone accused of such a crime is probably guilty and one mother who believed that in the same situation her daughter (who was of the same age) would tell the truth and therefore she believed this girl totally and any accusation that her daughter wouldn’t tell the truth would crush her.

The impasse didn’t last long with the two young men, they agreed that following what was actually said in court (and one particular comment from the girls mother) meant that her testimony could not be taken as gospel and due to the lack of evidence bar from the accuser they changed their vote to not guilty and therefore we were 11-1 within an hour or so but we’d be deliberating for several more hours whilst the final member of the jury still equated the accuser for her daughter and how bad she would feel is people didn’t believe her daughter. She eventually was persuaded that her daughter and this girl were two different people and should be treated as such and we were unanimous and acquitted on all charges.

Obviously I was not in the Le Vell jury room but I wouldn’t be surprised if the discussion went along a similar front. It came down solely to whether the accuser was a solid enough witness to prove the case, now that is the key part of the whole thing, proving the case. The jury didn’t say that they thought the accuser was a liar, they didn’t say that she made up the allegations, they didn’t say that she embellished the truth, they didn’t say that any of the things she said happened to her didn’t happen, they simply said that her word alone wasn’t enough to confirm beyond a reasonable doubt that the accused did what he was accused of.

So to those who are asking about whether the girl will now be arrested for making up allegations then just shut up. There was no proof that she made anything up, no-one has said or even intimated that. All that has happened is a jury has decided that her word alone against the word of one other person isn’t good enough to prove a case. This happens day in, day out in court cases. When it comes to one persons word against another it is hard to convict just because as humans we find it hard to take one person who we don’t know’s word above another person we don’t know – certainly to a significant degree which ‘reasonable doubt’ makes a jury think about.

Did Michael Le Vell commit these crimes? I don’t know but I suspect the jury were in a position where it was very hard to be sure that he did and subsequently acquitted and as a society we should take that verdict as fact unless any further evidence comes out. Le Vell should be free of any stigma and allowed to get on with his life. As for the accuser she should also be allowed to get on with her life and not face any questions about whether she was telling the truth or not.

The reason our criminal justice system is setup is to make the CPS prove their case and not for the defence to prove their own. You are innocent until proven guilty and if you are not proven to be guilty then you are innocent in the eyes of the law and should be in the eyes of society as well. Being a jury member is not easy as you have a lot to weigh up but you are instructed very clearly as to what you can use to form your verdict and that ‘beyond reasonable doubt’ thing always looms large in your thought process.

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