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Item one on my year of self-improvement was the US Civil War. This post is going to be a short review of the literature and some longer thoughts on the US Civil War.

<i>You people of the South don"t know what you are doing. This country will be drenched in blood, and God only knows how it will end. It is all folly, madness, a crime against civilization! You people speak so lightly of war; you don"t know what you"re talking about. War is a terrible thing! You mistake, too, the people of the North. They are a peaceable people but an earnest people, and they will fight, too. They are not going to let this country be destroyed without a mighty effort to save it … Besides, where are your men and appliances of war to contend against them? The North can make a steam engine, locomotive, or railway car; hardly a yard of cloth or pair of shoes can you make. You are rushing into war with one of the most powerful, ingeniously mechanical, and determined people on Earth — right at your doors. You are bound to fail. Only in your spirit and determination are you prepared for war. In all else you are totally unprepared, with a bad cause to start with. At first you will make headway, but as your limited resources begin to fail, shut out from the markets of Europe as you will be, your cause will begin to wane. If your people will but stop and think, they must see in the end that you will surely fail.</i>Collapse )
Dear God, does this man do nothing but go to weddingsCollapse )

I suppose what I've drawn from the experience was this, that my own assumption that everyone who is silent on the subject of religion is unmoved by it is worth reexamining and that some dialogue about the subject is probably to be welcomed.
More a commentary on my journeys this weekend. Musings on weddings in part two
If you don"t want to know about weddings you don"t want to read thisCollapse )

All in all very lovely.
I spent the weekend with my sister , my brother-in-law and Bluebird in Bristol. Well most of the weekend.

I have the quarterly Unlock Democracy Council meeting on Saturday in London, so I got up early, went to London for the day.

A useful and interesting conversation about our strategy immediately after the election and for the coming year. I may have used the words capability and resource about a dozen times. Even when not being an accountant I’m such an accountant.

In between Unlock duties I managed to eat some food, chat with my family, drink some beer and play some board games

On Friday we played Forbidden Island which is a co-operative game based on treasure hunting on a sinking island. You have to work as a team to pick up four MacGuffins and escape the island before it sinks beneath the sea. Quite a simple game but good fun.

On Saturday night we played the Village. This is a competitive game where you try and steer a mediaeval family through three generations of toil. It’s very complicated. Complicated to the point where I was struggling to keep a track of what was going on. Very enjoyable.

We also managed a few rounds of Kingdom Builder, which was fine, enjoyable, but not as exciting as the others.

Finally on Sunday we played Pandemic. Another co-operative game, you have to work together to contain and cure four diseases that threaten to run out of control. This was definitely the pick of the bunch.

It’s made me think about developing a board game of my own and on the trip back from Bristol I made really good progress turning some vague ideas I’ve had into the mechanics for a game. More anon.

Listened to Rumours, whilst trying to explain why Lindsey Bellingham is a bell-end then ear-wormed myself with the Corrs entire back catalogue.

On the journey back I finished Battle Cry of Freedom. Thoughts anon.
Some memeage - I do like a good meme.

Read more...Collapse )
Really very pleased to see the Scottish Parliament Committee on Standards, Procedures and Public Appointments recommend a light touch but useful Lobbying Register.

This follows the work of Neil Findlay MSP in raising a private members’ bill to introduce such a lobbying register and the support of Unlock Democracy and especially the Electoral Reform Society Scotland in supporting and promoting his bill and raising public support for it. I had some small role in this but the real work was done by the staff at those two campaign organisations and of course, Neil Findlay and his staff who deserve huge credit for pushing an unpopular issue. Also well done to the Scottish Parliament clerking team who took an innovative approach to the public consultation.

This report is worth the subscription fees to the ERS and UD alone.
A little while ago the Sun published its Sunfesto, a list of policies the Tories must support before the Sun will publicly support them. But how many does a sceptical left-libertarian type like me actually support once we get past the shock of agreeing with the Sun.

Read on for the answer - cut because it"s longCollapse )

The answer turns out to be 25 out of 52. (Ish) so just under half.

Big Luck!

I am often harsh about Bristol.

I’ve been visiting Bristol for about 15 years now. At first as a accountancy trainee, latterly as a good place to take Bluebird for our monthly access weekends.

Over the years, and more so in more recent years, I’ve noticed a real improvement in the city. It has more things to do, more cultural capital, the city centre seems less shaby, the pubs and restuarants more enjoyable.

I think this is backed up by statisitcs and surveys showing that the city enjoys a strong economy and a good standard of living.

There are still problems but I no longer hate visiting.
A very pleasant weekend in Bristol with Bluebird. Mainly pirates but with some psychology and gender politics.

Cut for brevityCollapse )