Posted by: James Shaddock | Tuesday 9th September 2008

Grit Genius

The Liberal Party of Canada (know as ‘The Grits’ hence the title) have come up with a rather clever idea to help voters keep up to date with the scandals of the Conservative minority government during the Federal Election over there through a wiki called Scandalpedia.

From Liberal.ca

September 9, 2008

Liberals Launch On-Line Conservative “Scandalpedia”

OTTAWA – Today the Liberal campaign launched Scandalpedia, an online encyclopedia to assist Canadians in keeping track of all the facts surrounding the growing number of ethical scandals engulfing the Conservatives.

In just two and half years, we have seen a dizzying array of scandals surrounding a Conservative government that ironically got elected by campaigning on accountability. There have been so many scandals that sometimes it’s tough to keep track of all the facts, but now Canadians have a tool to help them do just that.

Scandalpedia focuses on well-established Conservative scandals such as the “in-and-out” scam, the Bernier-Couillard affair and, like other on-line encyclopedias, it is hyper-linked, can easily be updated and expanded to include new scandals or newly-revealed details about existing ones.

Unlike the Conservatives who have launched websites and attack ads that contain character assassinations and outright fabrications, Scandalpedia is fact-based and is fully sourced. Rather, than insult Canadians’ intelligence by trying to mislead them with lies, Liberals will present Canadians with the facts about the Conservative record on accountability to let them make an informed choice on election day.

Scandalpedia is available in both official languages and is located at: www.scandalpedia.ca

Posted by: James Shaddock | Sunday 7th September 2008

Snap General Election Called..

…in Canada.

For those who don’t follow Canadian politics, this has been on the cards for a while. The ruling Conservatives are a minority government who have had to really on the support of the two oppostion parties, the Liberals and Bloc Quebecois for some time. In recent months, this situation hasn’t been working and several ministers have resigned.

Of note is that fact that in Canada, the Liberals are the ‘natural party of government‘ (and unlike in Australia, are actually liberal), and so it gives us a chance to see what our sister parties can do and more to the point, what we can learn from them.

For those who want to keep an eye on the election I reccomend the following links:

The Liberal Party of Canada

Young Liberals of Canada

Liblogs (Liberal Party version of Lib Dem Blogs)

Young Liblogs (Youth version of above)

The CBC (Canadian equivalent of the BBC)

CTV (Canadian equivalent of ITV)

The Globe and Mail (Canada’s ‘newspaper of record‘ like The Times)

The Toronto Star (Canadian equivalent of The Guardian)

The Canada Post (UK based Canadian newspaper, aimed at ex-pats but rather good at expalining things for non Canadians)

Posted by: James Shaddock | Sunday 7th September 2008

Vive La Resistance!

I’m sorry, but I’m afraid I’m going to have to upset some of you with this statement:

My name is James Shaddock, and I don’t like Chrome.

I tried, I really did, but it is no Firefox. It’s style is bland at best (as has always been my criticism of Google products), and while it’s faster, I have problems with its functionality. Most prominently this is to do with it’s inability to work with Flash, and seeing as Flash is a key component to most websites (especially Web 2.0 sites like Facebook) this is bad.

There, got that off my chest. If there’s anyone else who feels the same, I’ve started a little light hearted Facebook group: ‘The Firefox Resistance

Posted by: James Shaddock | Monday 1st September 2008

Leave Bristol Alone

GOP Vice-Presidential Candidate Sarah Palin’s 17 year old daughter Bristol is pregnant.

Now, what’s the big deal?

Bristol is her own person and what she does in her life is her decision, not that of her parents, the Republican Party or any one else. What would be the difference between this and say Chelsea Clinton being pregnant? Why does is matter so much that she’s having a kid at 17?

I don’t believe in age limits/restrictions. I’m a liberal, I don’t do that sort of thing.* If a person wants to have sex at 12, 16, 18, 20, 40, 80, whenever, it’s their business, same as if they want to have a child. It’s why I don’t like the term ‘teenage pregnancy’.

Of course, the question of whether its actually her choice to keep the baby is a different matter, and I have a feeling it’s a shotgun wedding, so I hope it’s Bristol’s choice.

Trying to use this as a way of criticising Palin, and thus McCain is small-minded and petty, not just because of the personal nature of a pregnancy, but also because I don’t like the idea of children being used for political motives. It’s pathetic to say the least.

So remember, as liberals, we should live by what we preach and let her live her life her way, not ours.

*This also relates to things like smoking and drinking, and I willingly will go into a shop and buy such products for ‘underage’ people.

Posted by: James Shaddock | Friday 22nd August 2008

Who Am I In The Lib Dems?

Who’s Who In The Liberal Democrats went live this week for all of us to put in our entries. It a great concept, particularly in turning it into a form of social networking site, so hats off to Jo Christie-Smith for being the driving force behind it.

However, I’ve come a cropper in composing my entry. Namely, I’m stumped by the ‘Description’ section. I can’t for the life of me work out what to put in it. The other sections cover most of my life and party role fine, and though there are suggestions in the ‘Completing Your Entry’ pdf, I find them irrelevant to me. I don’t want to do the whole born etc etc thing. That’s just tedious and boring. So the question is what else is there?

You’d think as a member of the social networking generation I should be used to this sort of thing, and yet the more I do things like this the harder it becomes. What is relevant? What do people actually want to know? How much is too much? I suppose I could put ‘single white male, 21, 5ft7….’ but that would turn it into a Lib Dem dating site (now there’s an idea worthy of Dragon’s Den) Also, I could document my life, but would send you all to sleep. At 21, not much has happened and things that have like ‘I was nearly in an Avril Lavigne video’ would lead to mockery from some most people.

Therefore, any suggestions as what to put are welcome…you may even win a prize*

This all in turn raises the question of when did we become so obsessed with defining ourselves? I mean is it really that important that we have to know who we really are and then put it into words or are humans more than that. Were there people 50, 100, 200 years ago trying to sum themselves up in a few paragraphs? I doubt it.

* Prize consists of  that warm feeling you inside when helping another person.

Posted by: James Shaddock | Wednesday 6th August 2008

Required: 1 Policy Wonk

I’m looking to create a policy motion with regards to HE funding.

However, I need someone who a) can write a policy motion than I can and b) has decent enough economic knowledge to make sure the proposal is financially sound and workable.

Comment if interested.

Posted by: James Shaddock | Wednesday 6th August 2008

Guilty Pleasures

This is something I started on the Liberal Youth Forum* and think it’d be a good meme.

Basically, all you do is list those things that you like or love that you or others think you really, really shouldn’t.

I’m new to the blogosphere, so I’m not going to tag or link to people. This can be one that people just pick up if they want to or more importantly have the guts to admit to their guitly pleasures.

Think of it as blog based group therapy.

Here  the ones I’ve owned up to so far:

Lads Mags
N-Dubz
American sitcoms that are cancelled after one or two seasons
Catherine Townsend’s ‘Sleeping Around’ column in The Independent
Bonekickers
The Volkswagen Passat
Stargate SG-1
Kebabs (If possible a mixed with cheese from Denis Kebab van in Headington, Oxford)
Tea (I drink way too much)
Cleaning my ears
Ultimate Force
The O.C.
One Tree Hill
Britney Spears (I have every album prior to Greatest Hits)
The life and work of Rex Harrison
A good caper film or novel (I recommend Christopher Brookmyre’s ‘The Sacred Art of Stealing’ for a great contemporary one)
Kate Middleton
Fashion programmes featuring Gok Wan or Trinny & Susannah
Biscuits
Sweet & Sour Chicken Balls
Diagnosis Murder
A good, crisp and unblemished notebook
Gossip

So go own up, before a tabloid expose or Piers Morgan GQ interview get you first.

*The Liberal Youth Forum is open to not just to Liberal Youth members, but to other Lib Dems, members of other parties and everyone else in general. Why not have a look a round and join in the discussion.

Posted by: James Shaddock | Wednesday 30th July 2008

Fascist Italy v2.0

Am I the only person noticing Italy’s sharp turn to the (far) right in recent months?

Since the return to power in April of Silvio Berlusconi, backed by his right-wing coalition built on the support of the far right Northern League, there’s been a widespread discrimination of immigrants and the Roma ethnic group (see here also), Berlusconi has had himself made immune from prosecution (just as he was about to face corruption charges) and now they’re deploying troops on the street.

Should we as liberals and fellow Europeans not be worried about this evolution of a corrupt, racist, possibly fascist state before our very eyes?

Posted by: James Shaddock | Tuesday 29th July 2008

I’ve Officially Become Sad

Because I’ve started a Facebook group called The ‘Make It Happen’ Appreciation Society.

In my defence, I am currently unemployed and needed a distraction from job applications. Plus, I felt it need a social networking presence.

So go back to your profiles and prepare for government.

Posted by: James Shaddock | Monday 28th July 2008

Death of a Hero

This morning I learnt that one of my heroes had died last Friday.

Randy Pausch was not a world leader, a politician or a Nobel Peace Prize Laureate. He was just a humble computer science professor from Carnegie Mellon University, who was considered one of the best in his field of virtual reality.  It was not for this that he was one of my heroes though, but for the something he did called ‘The Last Lecture’.

‘The Last Lecture’ is a Carnegie Mellon tradition in which a member of the university’s faculty gives a lecture on any topic the wish, giving lessons about life that they’d learnt, as if it is their last before they die. The difference with Randy Pausch’s was that he was going to die.

He was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in August 2006 and found out it had become terminal a year later, a month before giving his ‘Last Lecture’.

Pausch’s Last Lecture was entitled ‘Really Achieving Your Childhood Dreams’, and it’s underlying theme was about how we should never let go of our dreams and how life helps you achieve them if you do the the little things in life that helps it.  Such things include determination

“The brick walls are not there to keep us out; the brick walls are there to give us a chance to show how badly we want something”

and honesty

“You get people to help you by telling the truth; by being earnest. I’ll take an earnest person over a hip person every day, because hip is short-term, earnest is long term”

Throughout the lecture, Pausch tells stories of his childhood dreams and how he came to realise them. These include working as a Disney Imagineer (they create the rides at Disney World), which he did as a virtual reality consultant and experiencing zero gravity, which he achieved thanks to some of his students winning a NASA contest.  All of this and more stems from Randy Pausch’s simple belief in the sincerity of humanity to achieve anything and everything that we wish, made more moving by the fact he’s dying while imparting this wisdom.

The world learnt of Pausch, his lecture and his story thanks to Jeffrey Zaslow, a Wall Street Journal columnist and Carnegie Mellon graduate who attend the lecture on hearing about the circumstances around it. He wrote a column on it, linking it to the video of it (see below). The results were appearances on Good Morning America and Oprah, where he gave a shortened version of ‘Really Achieving Your Childhood Dreams’, a TV special and a $6.7millon book deal.

Pausch has become a phenomenon since last September, inspiring people from all walks of life, and I’m sure he died as upbeat and happy as he was throughout his life, knowing that he made a difference. I know he did to me, as I discovered ‘The Last Lecture’ at a time when I was low in spirits about myself and my work at university and for that I thank him.

Below is the video of the The Last Lecture and ask that you watch it, because if you ever doubted yourself or those around you, this will change your outlook on life.

Randy Pausch, 1960-2008,  RIP

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