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I am standing for election to the Council of the Electoral Reform Society. My election statement is below. Two other Unlock Democracy Council members are also standing, James Grindrod and Stephan Carter. We hope that having some cross over of membership of the two Councils will help the two organisations work well together.

You can still join the ERS and vote in the election. In order to vote you'll need to be register by the 24th July.


https://electoral-reform.netdonor.net/ea-action/action?ea.client.id=1754&ea.campaign.id=20794

The last Council election had about 650 voters so your vote could well be influential. Also you can experience voting using STV.

Danny Zinkus Statement ERS Council Election Statement

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To London last weekend for the second part of my four part birthday celebration, a trip to the Oval with my dad and his mate Dave to watch England play Australia.

The three of us often go to the cricket together. We have a well worn routine. This weekend was not much different.

Dad and Dave had tickets for Friday, Saturday and Sunday with me joining for Saturday and Sunday - days 3 and 4 of the Test.

I flew down on Friday night and met up with Dad and Dave for our traditional Friday night dinner in a Greek Cypriut restaurant. Dave has a mate who goes there every week and we've been going there with him, regularly, for twenty years. We're welcomed and the portions are significant. One meze and kleftico later we collapsed on the sofas at Dave's to watch the highlights of the days play from the Oval. In reply to Australia's 481 all out England were 100 and something for 8.

The plans for Saturday were to make our way to the Oval, watch the cricket then join one of Dad and Dave's old school chums and his wife for dinner.

In many ways the cricket went as expected. England's last batsmen put up a bit of spirited resistance, scoring 36 in a few overs from boundaries. Moheen Ali is fine stricker of the ball. I can see the arguement for him opening. I could see it all the more quickly a few moments later.

Johnson dismissed Wood and Ali in consequtive balls to dismiss England for 149.

Uniquely, Clark enforced the follow on. It's a great shame he's only really discovered himself as a Captain in his last test.

Just time for me to purchase myself an Australia Green and Gold polo shirt and cap.

So after a short break we sat down to watch England's second innings. It was better but not good. Cook looked tenacious and prudent yet aggressive and I could see him standing out there for two days like Atherton but late in the day a Captaincy Combo of Clarke and Smith undid him a little short of a well deserved hundred and a heafty Australian victory looked enevitable. Much consulting of weather forecasts. Rain on Sunday, but probably not until 2. That would give Australia a whole session to take 4 wickets.

We broke for dinner in a Sardinian restaurant. Lively chat, largely about Corbyn and holidays. Lovely food and wine. I had calamari stuffed with calamari, fillet of lamb and a creme catalana. Very lovely. Home, to watch the highlights of the cricket on the sofa.

Between the cricket I'd managed a good few hours of conversation with my dad. It was lovely to spend the day with him.

On Sunday Dave opted out of the cricket. I could see his point. He's likely to travel half way across London and watch 8 overs of cricket and his team badly beaten and then travel home in the rain. Dad manfully agreed to chum me down to watch Australia win.

As it happened the rain came early and heavier than forecast and caused a little bit of anxiety. Light showers at 2 became heavy shower at noon. Australia had only taken two of the necessary four wickets with Ali and Butler looking in decent nick. Advantage still with Australia but you'd always want to finish off the match rather than be sitting about in the damp wondering if it might rain for weeks.

By chance Widgetfox, her husband and father-in-law were at the Oval too. So, Dad and I met up with them and had a chat. Somehow I got myself in to a discussion about electoral systems with WidgetFox's father-in-law, the key motif of which seemed to be Me: the thing you thing FPTP does, it doesn't do. Him: But I like the thing that FPTP does. Dad opted out of the rest of the day, instead chosing to head back to Ealing to watch the Grand Prix and some football. I rebased myself from my seats to the spare seats next to WF.

After an hour and half of rain play resumed. As advertised it didn't take long for the final two wickets to fall.

Australia win the fifth test but lose the series 2-3 and the Ashes are placed in the temporary custodianship of England.

Widgetfox and I didn't stick around for the presentation but instead went for a walk in Green Park and St James park and talked hither and thither. It was lovely although neither of were really as cheerful as we usually are.

Home afterwards via the Docklands Light Railway (there's more of it than you think) and London City airport (there's less of it than you think).

Home fairly late. A lovely bottle of whisky from some friends as a birthday present. Still tired. Fell asleep on the sofa on Monday night after MLW went to bed, the wrong move as it wasn't great sleep and the Captain decided to wake up at 4.45.

My thoughts on the cricket.

It's been a funny old series. Both sides have looked brittle - in particular the batting, but the bowling has at times also failed to make an impact. All the matches have been very lopsided and increasingly so. It's not provided much entertainment. A 2-3 loss probably seems fair but the whole thing appears to have largely been a crapshoot rather than a test of cricketing ability. I look forward to better cricket and a better result in 2017 and 2018.
 
 
 
 
 
 
As a birthday treat My Lovely Wife took me to see three comedy shows at the Fringe on Wednesday.

We went to see

The Thinking Drinkers Guide to the Legends of Liquor

https://tickets.edfringe.com/whats-on/thinking-drinkers-guide-to-the-legends-of-liquor

Mark Steel's Who Do I Think I Am


https://tickets.edfringe.com/whats-on#q=%22Mark%20Steel%3A%20Who%20Do%20I%20Think%20I%20Am%3F%22

Chris Turner - XXV

https://tickets.edfringe.com/whats-on#q=%22Chris%20Turner%3A%20XXV%22

All of the three shows were very good, enjoyable, and funny. Worth the entry fee.

The Thinking Drinkers is a mix of anecdote, sketch comedy and stand up based around a semi-serious consideration of the role that alcohol has played as lubricant to thinking and living in civilised society. Drink less, drink better is their watch word. The show is silly, in a good way. Included in the ticket price is a tasting of some nice beers and spirits. The feel of the show reminded me of the Doug Anthony All Starts in their early years. Tom and Ben are likeably, funny guys with excellent knowledge of their subject.

Mark Steel is a very polished comedian with huge experience. Left of center, in fact too left wing for the Labour Party. Very enjoyable. This was a stand up show about being adopted and finding his natural parents. I'd have enjoyed an hour of his stand up with out the incredible, I mean literally incredible, story that he told of how he tracked down his birth mother and father and their lives. I won't spoil it in case you are going to see it. If you are then I think the surprise and the way the story unfolds is part of the experience. If you're not going to see it, then google is probably your friend.

It is frankly the story of the century.

The final show was Chris Turner's XXV. For full disclosure Chris is sort of cousin of mine. He is the nephew of my sister-in-law and therefore my grown up nephews' cousin.

Anyhow, he's a stand up who does improvised rapping. He's very clever and charming. The rapping is very impressive.

Having done some improv in my time I've a little insight in to how you work an improvised component of your routine. So I spent a little time figuring out how he did it. Like magic, once you know how the trick is done it can be difficult to sit back and enjoy the wonder of experience but I was able to concentrate on enjoying the show and not working out how it worked because, again, it's hell of a tale.

Chris opens the show by explaining how, approaching his 25th birthday, his new girlfriend asked him if their relationship was serious and enduring and if he was committed to it and that he'd had to tell her that at the age of 15 was diagnosed with a rare, fatal growth disorder and given ten years to live.

Queue an improvised rap about the contents of people's handbags. Which actually fits in to the story about how being given only until you are 25 really, really motived Chris to do what he wanted to do, which was to become a rapper.

MLW and I had an interesting conversation about the similarities between improv, rapping and facilitation in the bar after because that is what the Fringe is for. There's a tripartate focus. What am I saying or doing now. What do I need to say or do later. How do I make all of this hang together. They are also things that appear magical from the outside but which rely on a set of learnable behaviours on the inside.

So it goes and all washed down some decent but very strong blonde beer and fueled by gormet burgers.

Home for cake and rum.
 
 
 
 
 
 
It is my birthday. I turn 40 today.

And I feel very happy about it.

I have a loving family, A Lovely Wife, good friends, a happy home in a beautiful city, a secure, prestigous, interesting and well paid job, some time to spend enjoying my hobbies, my children thrive and my parents enjoy good health and new adventures.

And although I'm younger than I'll be and older than I was, that's not unusual and I can look forward to the future with good physical and mental health. I feel energetic and ready to make good use of the next year, the next ten years and the rest of my life.

So there is lots to reflect on positively here and lots to celebrate.

Happy Birthday to me.
 
 
 
 
 
 
1. Marmite—love or hate?
I do not think I have knowingly consumed marmite. I did not much care for vegemite. I do like gentlemen's relish. Ah, the salty goodness of anchovies on toast.
2. Marmalade—thick cut or thin cut?
Thin cut. Thin cut for the love of Dawkins. Have we lived and fought in vain?
3. Porridge—made with milk or water?
I make mine with milk. In the microwave because I live in the 21st Century and not some chocolate box version of a foreign country mis-named Scotland where you have to get up before you were born to make porridge over an open fire with a spurtle.
4. Do you like salt, sugar or honey on your porridge?
My prefered topping for porridge is maple syrup - because a) I live in a globalised economy with ready access to cheap products and produce from around the world and b) I like maple syrup on my porridge. The Captain does not. He likes it plain. He's weird.
5. Loose tea or teabags?
Teabags.
6. Where on your door is your letterbox?
It sort of spans the space between inside and outside. To be frank, I'm thinking of getting rid of it.
7. What's your favourite curry?
Usually either a lamb rogan josh or a lamb green herb, although there is a very good Indian restaurant in Birmingham where they do a rather fine lamb shank.
8. What age is the place where you live?
Built in the 1870's according to the title deeds, making it about 140 years old. Strangely, we are only the third family to live in it, which is nice.
9. Where do the folks running your local corner shop come from?
They are mostly university students, so from all over.
10. Instant or fresh coffee?
I prefer fresh but I have to be careful not to have too much caffeine, like I have today. WhoooHOOO.
11. How far are you from the sea?
Some four miles.
12. Have you travelled via Eurostar?
I have not.
13. If you were going to travel abroad, where's the nearest country to you?
England. I do not recognise the unilateral declaration of independence made by the so called Kingdom of Fife.
14. If you're female (or possible even some males) do you carry a handbag?
I often carry a handbag - I'm helpful that way, if my wife needs me to carry her handbag I will.
15. Do you have a garden? What do you like growing?
I have a small garden that is stuffed full of shrubs. I am working on it's 3rd and 4th dimensions. It needs more flowers.
16. Full cream, semi skimmed or skimmed?
I prefer full cream. My wife prefers skimmed. We compromised on skimmed until the Captain was born, when MLW discovered he needed the cream for the vitamins and now we have full cream.
17. Which London terminal would you travel into if going to the capital?
Depends a lot where I was coming from and which capital I was going to.
18. Is there a local greasy spoon where you live?
Not particularly. I live in a posh bit of Edinburgh. Even the greasy spoons use olive oil.
19. Do you keep Euros in the house?
I currently have Euros, US dollars, Australian dollars in the house.

I also have about 100 billion Euros worth of New Greek Drachma which I unwisely offered to look after for my friend Yanis in case he needed them. They take up a lot of room.

20. Does your home town have a Latin, Gaelic or Welsh alternative.
No, there is no where like Aberdeen.
21. Do you have a well known local artist or author?
How local do you want? I think there are two just round the corner.
22. Do you have a favourite Corrie character?
I like Andrea Corr.
23. Are your kitchen sink taps separate or a mixer?
My kitchen sink taps are a mixer - another product of the 21st century I am happy to adopt.
24. Do you have a favourite brand of blended tea?
Not particularly.
25. What's in your attic if you have one?
I have a sort of loft. The pluarality of the volume is taken up by Christmas decorations and the water tank (which I want to get rid of).
26. If you go out for a cream tea, what jam do you like on your scone?
Depends on my mood and what jam is on offer.
27. Talking of scones—scon or scown? Jam or cream first?
scooone.
28. Barth or bath?
The large container for cleaning small boys or the small Roman city?
29. Carstle or castle?
Castle
30. What flavour of crisps do you favour?
Thai sweet chilli
31. If you go to the chippie, what do you like with your chips?
Fish.
32. Take away, take out or carry out?
Take away.
33. If you have one, what colour is your wheelie bin?
I do not have a wheelie bin.
34. What colour skips does your local skip hire use?
I neither know nor care.
35. Do you celebrate Guy Fawkes?
I'm not a big fan of catholisism, terrorism, tyranny, state sponsored torture, absolute monarcy, the death penalty, ultra-montainism or treason. So it's difficult to pick a side here. Also, Edinburgh saves its fireworks for Hogmaney and the Festival.
36. Dettol or TCP?
I don't mind, just so long as you don't put coke in it.
37. Do you have a bidet in the bathroom?
No one lives in my bathroom.
38. Do you prefer courgettes or aubergines?
That really depends on what I'm using them for...
39. In the 'real world', do you have friends of other nationalities? Which nationalities?
From memory, English, Australian, USian, Irish, Londoner, German, New Zealander
40. Do you have a holy book of any sort in the house?
In terms of foundational texts of world religions I'm pretty sure there is a Christian bible somewhere and I may still have the Book of Mormon. There may be others. Or none.
41. Do you prefer a hankie or tissues?
Wet wipes.
42. Are you a fan of crumpets? What do you like on them?
I prefer totty to crumpets.
43. Doorbell, knocker or both?
I prefer knockers to doorbells. (Fuck me, I've turned in to Sid James).
44. Do you own a car? What sort?
I do not. If I did, it would be like I like my women, small, compact and battery powered.
45. What sort of pants do you guys prefer? Y fronts or boxers?
Technically I believe they are called trunks.
46. Anyone still a fan of suspenders?
Most enthusastically.
47. Do you have a favourite quote from the bard?
The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars, but in ourselves, that we are underlings.
48. Do you like toasted muffins?
Yes - often as part of a bacon and egg sandwich
49. Do you think a traditional trifle should contain jelly?
I do, but it should also contain plenty of custard and sherry.
50. Do you attend regular religious worship? Of what kind?
I do not. I am a lapsed, or perhaps resting, evangelical atheist.
 
 
 
 
 
 

My daughter has some course work for A level English. She needs to pick a work of Dystopian Fiction to compare in some way with Margaret Attwood's Handmaid's Tale.

So recommendations sought of an interesting work of  Dystopian Fiction and some interesting potential points of comparison.

Please.

 
 
 
 
 
 
Whilst walking round the Dean Cemetary over lunch this afternoon I was caught out by the rain and sheltered under a tree. Looking around I caught sight of a few flags clustered around a memorial stone. Confederate flags? Once the rain eased I made my way over to the memorial. The flags were Confederate flags. Two battle flags and the flag of Mississippi. The enscription on the stone was too weathered and too wet to read but it looked like I had found a Confederate War Memorial in Edinburgh. But too whom?

The answer is one Colonel Robert A Smith, of the 10th Mississippi Regiment, who was killed leading his men in an attack at the Battle of Mumsfordville, September 14, 1862.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Munfordville

He had been born in Edinburgh but followed his brother to the United States and settled in Jackson, Mississippi. Joined up, was elected colonel of the regiment and


The wikipedia article on Colonel Robert A Smith

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Colonel_Robert_A._Smith_Monument

and his life and times

http://andspeakingofwhich.blogspot.co.uk/2012/03/col-robert-smith-in-life-and-death.html

Col Robert A Smith's Memorial in Dean Cemetary Edinburgh

http://www.geograph.org.uk/photo/3860774

http://www.geograph.org.uk/photo/1207754

His actual grave


http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GSln=smith&GScid=59613&GRid=5900906

And the memorial erected on or near the site Mumsfordville Battle

https://www.flickr.com/photos/whsieh78/6098806506
 
 
 
 
 
 
The conversation I am currently not having with several people is about George Osbourne and #IndyRef.

Everytime a No voter I know starts tearing in to the manifest incompetence and evil of Osbourne as Chancellor I have to bite my tongue to avoid saying unhelpful things like "You voted for him to be our Chancellor you idiot!"
 
 
 
 
 
 
Two thoughts on US defence policy and spending.

One - the amount of money the USA spends on defence should be viewed through the lens of transfer payments from rich parts of the US to poor parts and from rich US-ians to otherwise unemployed USians.

Two - the amount of money the USA spends on defence should be viewed through the lens of a desire to support basic research and foundational science as well as product development and innovation.

The ability to invade everywhere else in the world at once might just be a side effect of items one and two.
 
 
 
 
 
 
There's a lot written about American politics. Two issues seem to consume the British commentariate like no other. The state of race relations and gun control. Both issues have had major talking points in recent months and the murders in South Carolina have brought both together.

And it's not that I'm not interested, curious, fascinated. I am It's not that I don't think the issues are important or that the people affected aren't important or deserving of the right answer to their problems. They are. It's not that I don't think there are answers. I certainly do.

But they are also issues, people and political solutions in a foreign country, no more or less important than similar issues in other countries.

Often I think that commentators in the UK are more excited about US race relations or US violent crime than they are about those issues in the UK. Dozens of British citizens have been murdered in a religiously motivated attack using uncontrolled guns in Tunisia and judging by the way my social media accounts are spinning you'd think it hadn't happened.

So, I'm interested and concerned but also trying not to say too much about and I'm looking out for blogs on the experience of Eastern European migrants to the UK, or how UK hindus experience hindu nationalism in India, and also on the subject of Australian boat people, gun control in Russia, land rights for indiginous peoples in South America, the experiences of white Zimbabwians or any of the experiences of not the US.

Just a friendly reminder to myself that the US is not the UK and the US is not the whole of the world.