Saturday 20 September 2008

Boiler Juice

A while ago, I was talking to a colleague about rising heating oil prices. Some people apparently club together with neighbours to arrange group orders. This keeps prices down, and also saves some CO2 because the tankers have less driving around to do, and helps keep rural traffic down a little bit.

I suggested that a web site to assist with these group deliveries would be useful. Of course, I've now discovered that it already exists! has price history charts, arranges buying weekends (they group online orders by postcode), has security tips and products (heating oil theft is rife).

One feature that it's missing, though, is energy efficiency tips. Well, it has user comments on the blog.

Thursday 18 September 2008

Clegg trounces Brown and Cameron

In a Newsnight focus group of 27 floating voters, 3 said they'd vote for Gordon Brown, 4 for David Cameron, and 17 for Nick Clegg - after being shown clips of them talking about the economy. Unfortunately, only one of them had anything to say about him before being shown the clips.

The most effective clip was Clegg talking about how the rich pay less tax than the poor - proportionately to their income of course. For example, the Chief Executive of Northern Rock got a £30k golden handshake, and it wasn't taxed at all!

Saturday 13 September 2008

Changing At Southampton

Well, this seems ok. I'll not be boring my reader with too many posts here. But, I'm also trying out twitted. So check for regular conference updates at

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Posted with LifeCast

Testing Lifecast

Lifecast is an iPhone application, which allows me to easily blog from my phone. I'm going to try it out while I'm at conference. At he moment, I'm on the train to Brighton.

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Thursday 11 September 2008

Day of Paine

Tuesday was something of a day of Paine.

First, I went to the Mayor's "Keep Lewes in the National Park" event. I learned that a new objective for national parks is to preserve cultural heritage. Of course, Lewes having been Tom Paine's home for a while, that cropped up. In fact, a big issue for the campaign is whether Lewes is "embedded in the South Downs". Now, Lewes was built in a gap in the Downs, through which the river Ouse flows (well, one of the many!). That was for two reasons. As a defensive position, it's the site of Lewes Castle and hence the Battle of Lewes. As a trade crossroads (paths along the Downs, and the river), and a port, it became the home of Tom Paine, who was a excise officer in Lewes. So, two of Lewes' most important contributions to national and international history happened because Lewes is embedded in the Downs.

So, that was my first encounter with Paine for the day.

Next, I attended Lewes District Council's cabinet meeting. They discussed an offer by a member of the public to commission a statue of Tom Paine by Marcus Cornish, for display in front of the Library - on district council land. Of course, we Lib-Dems were keen to accept the offer. Two of the Tories though launched into vicious attacks on Paine - calling him a traitor to the country. He wasn't, of course. He may have anti-monarchy, but that's not the same thing. He was also instrumental in the American Revolution, but that was essentially civil war. Anyway, it's all water under the bridge now, and I don't think anyone today would seriously advocate a return to the virtually absolutist monarchy of Paine's time. Or, maybe they would.

That was my second encounter with Paine.

The third, and very welcome encounter, was at the launch of the Lewes Pound. Tom Paine's head is depicted on the Lewes Pound Note. Ironically, or perhaps deliberately, in the place you'd otherwise expect to find the Queen's head. Yay!