Saturday 26 June 2010

Must-see museums 1

The Comic Museum

"Inaugurated in June 2007,  it is located in a building recently acquired by the Municipal Authorities and restored according to a project of the local architects Alberto Mengual and Jose Gonzalez.  There is a big space in the middle, top lighting and a metal staircase that leads to the upper floor.  You can see the comic figures painted by Elias Urbez and small alabaster windows in the facade."

It's important to get one's priorities right.  Though tempted by the opportunity to see the big space in the middle, we decided that a walk on the beach would be more improving to the soul.

Saturday 12 June 2010

Must-see museums 0

Collection Museum

The Collection Museum was opened in September 1997 to hold the personal collections of the members of the Marina Alta Collectors’ Association.

Here I am in front of this collectors' paradise:

I never did discover what had been collected - the museum was closed for the siesta.

Sunday 25 April 2010

In his master's steps he trod

Well, here it is, a nine hundred-word email about the Conservative election campaign that is entirely free of content.  We do have several more buzz-words to add to Hope and Change, though:
  • Focussed
  • Positive
  • Passion
  • Conviction
  • Leadership
  • Vision
Don't ask me, or Mr Osborne, what the Vision is of - neither of has a clue, because Mr Cameron didn't say.  All we know is that he is Focussed, Positive, Passionate and Convinced about something, possibly the Big Society that he will Lead us into via the National Citizen Service.  

Mr Cameron may have been "talking directly to people", but the only appropriate reply is "Baaaaa!" 

Dear Valda,
We've had a good, strong week and the campaign is moving our way.
We have stayed focused and positive. In the second TV debate David showed he was ready to be Prime Minister in two weeks time. He clearly won on the big foreign policy issues - Afghanistan, terrorism and Europe. He explained how a Conservative Government would stand up for Britain in the EU and was the only leader prepared to say that all politicians have to take responsibility for the expenses scandal.
Throughout the debate David showed passion, conviction and leadership. Qualities that have been on display as he travels the country talking directly to people about the change we need. Our new Party Election Broadcast brings together some of his speeches at recent rallies, setting out his positive vision for our country
Yesterday Sir Philip Green - one of Britain's most successful businessmen - backed our economic plans to cut waste and spoke out against a hung parliament. In response, after a lot of Twitter excitement, Labour have revealed their secret 'big name' ... an Elvis impersonator. An appropriate choice as according to the polls the public are fast reaching the conclusion that Gordon Brown should leave the building.
In fact Labour's campaign is now in disarray. They have been reduced to briefing journalists that Gordon Brown is going to be meeting more "real people". Unfortunately for them, the more people see of Gordon Brown the more they are convinced that they don't want another five years of him.
This was the week when Labour's negative campaign was exposed for all to see. One of the most powerful moments of Thursday's debate was when David exposed Gordon Brown on Labour's shameful scaremongering leaflets. For too long Labour have been trying to scare pensioners by saying we would scrap the Winter Fuel Allowance, cut pension credit and other key benefits, end free bus travel fo pensioners and get rid of free TV licences for the over-75s. As David Cameron told the whole country in the debate, none of this is true.
Having been found out, Gordon Brown could only respond with the extraordinary claim that he hadn't approved any of these attacks. Yet many of them were included in Labour's election broadcast and on their website. Once again he is taking the country for fools.
We're picking up rumours that Labour are going to get even more negative next week. If true, this will be just another sign of desperation as their campaign continues to collapse.
This was also the week when the Lib Dems' policies - on immigration, on the economy and on national defence - fell apart under the spotlight. In the face of the scrutiny that his party has avoided for so long,Nick Clegg was unable to defend his confused and contradictory manifesto promises. And in a debate with me and Alistair Darling, Vince Cable also showed that he could not stand up to sustained scrutiny.
Labour's collapse has opened up new opportunities for us that we will be making the most of in the week ahead. We are expanding our battleground against Labour and now have a good chance of winning many more seats where they are haemorrhaging votes, including Ed Balls's seat in Morley & Outwood. In many seats Labour seems to have given up.
Today David was in Thurrock where Jackie Doyle-Price is running a fantastic campaign. We are also targeting the next door seat of Dagenham & Rainham as well as seats in the North of England like Middlesbrough South & East Cleveland. And we are keeping up the pressure on the Lib Dems in seats like Romsey & Southampton North and Winchester in the South, and in towns like Cheltenham and Harrogate & Knaresborough and across the South West.
Our positive message of change is resonating in seats like these and all around the country. This week we launched our new poster campaign with positive examples of the change that a Conservative Government would bring: stopping Labour's jobs tax; National Citizen Service; cutting benefits for those who refuse work; better schools; funding new NHS cancer drugs; and scrapping ID cards.
Next week we will be explaining the clear choice on the economy at this election. People know that Labour have failed and that all they offer is a jobless recovery from a weak government. But we'll also be explaining why a hung parliament would bring economic paralysis that would put the recovery at risk. Only a Conservative majority will bring the leadership that we need to deal with our debts and get the economy working for everyone.
If anyone you know is in any doubt about how important a decisive Conservative government is for our country, please make sure they watch this short video - 1 minute of Labour.
We have had an incredible response to the Pound A Day campaign - over £150,000 raised from thousands of individual donors in the last seven days alone. Your donations are really helping us to combat the Lib Dems and to take the fight to Labour in new seats that are now winnable. Please keep giving what you can, the campaign depends on your support.
We're coming into the final straight, and we've got to keep fighting for the change our country needs. Thank you for all your hard work and long hours over the past week. With less than two weeks to go, it is more important than ever that we stay focused, energised and determined. Let's work flat out for change.With your help, we will win this.
George Osborne
Shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer
Never mind.  At least Good King Wenceslas Cameron won't let the poor go without winter fuel.

Sunday 18 April 2010

Digging for Britain

Mr Cameron is such a nice man, it seems unkind to pour scorn on his witless manifesto.   I should let him speak for himself, but since we're all in this together, I decided to chip in....

Dear Valda,
Next month, you'll get to choose a new government. But don't just choose it, be a part of it. I mean it. We've got big problems in this country and the truth is politicians can't do everything on their own. We need your energy, your ideas, your passion to get this country moving.
Translation: we need your tax money, and maybe a bit of conscription too.
That's why this email is an invitation to you to join the government of Britain. It might not be embossed on a thick white card, but it's still heartfelt. If we win this election, we're going to give you more control over your life, more power to make a difference to your neighbourhood, more opportunities to change our country for the better.
Translation: we're going to give everyone more control over your life.

Watch this video to find out how you can help build the Big Society
Just imagine: a country working together to dig ourselves out of this debt and get our economy moving. A country working together to protect our NHS and improve it for all of us. A country working together to mend our broken society. A country working together to make politics and politicians work better.
Translation: unable to understand the concept of individual rights, we prefer togetherness (so did the collectivists of Nazi Germany and Soviet Russia, and so do Labour and the Liberals).
So come on then Valda, get involved. The more people join, the stronger the force for change will be. I want millions to be inspired and mobilised to play their part - and that movement starts here. So please, spread the word. I'm asking you to send this invitation on to just three friends, workmates or family members. Get them involved too. Extend the invitation. Together we can build the future.
I'd rather be left alone to build my own future, free of anyone else's force. Oh, by "force" you didn't mean physical compulsion?  But that's what your policies, so far as they can be discerned, amount to. 

The Conservative campaign manifesto makes almost as much sense as this:

"Last week, I met a black baker, who told me that benefit tourists were no substitute for proper married relationships."

(from Who has David Cameron been talking to?a source of continuing hilarity to me). 

What's the Big Idea?

Well, it's not too clear, but according to the Conservative Manifesto, the Big Idea is that we're just a big collective:
How will we deal with the debt crisis unless we understand that we are all in this together? How will we raise responsible children unless every adult plays their part? How will we revitalise communities unless people stop asking ‘who will fix this?’ and start asking ‘what can I do?’ Britain will change for the better when we all elect to take part, to take responsibility – if we all come together. Collective strength will overpower our problems.
Do you hear the echo?  That's the sound of old ideas bouncing from wall to wall in an otherwise empty brain.  "[A]sk not what your country can do for you - ask what you can do for your country".  Do the Conservatives really believe that random recycling of buzz-words will win them them the election? If so, they should point their supporters to these guys, who do the same thing more entertainingly:

A couple of samples:

"Last week, I met a wheelchair-bound farmer, who told me that paedo bikinis ruined this country by recklessly lending money."

"Last week, I met a white working-class nurse, who told me that bogus asylum seekers meant the dead going unburied."

"Last week, I met a disenfranchised Chelsea supporter, who told me that Facebook was just getting far too uppity."

[Hat Tip: Rory Hodgson]

We know how the Conservatives intend to cope with the enormous national debt: they will waste money more efficiently than Labour.  What they don't discuss is cutting spending on social welfare and the sacred National Health Service, freeing the economy, and repealing the myriad assaults on individual rights passed into law by the present regime.

I fear that the Conservatives, so far from having a Big Idea, have no ideas at all.

Saturday 10 April 2010

Conservative campaign drivel

George Osborne, the Shadow Chancellor, has sent me an email (contents displayed below this rant). "Dear Valda" is the only phrase in it that doesn't offend me. Let me enumerate the main idiocies:

1) Conservatives think that government can make 'efficiency' savings - no it can't, no matter who runs it, if it is trying to do things that government has no business doing. The only way the Conservatives can cut Labour's waste is by cutting Labour's programmes and not starting any new ones of their own. Which brings me to...

2) David Cameron's idea of a big idea is 'The Big Society' - starting with a voluntary national citizen service for bored 16-year olds. Forget society: abolish the minimum wage, compulsory schooling and child labour laws; and let those listless boys aspire to real jobs, funded by the people who want the work done.

3) Conservatives think that a levy on banks to support marriage is another spiffing way to promote their Big Society. My family, or lack of it, is none of the government's damn business, and the nastily populist twist of making the banks pay for Moral Majority-style social engineering disgusts me.

4) Conservatives think that David Cameron is better than Gordon Brown because Mr Cameron has spent more time campaigning. However, Mr Brown does happen to have a country to run, even if he is determined to run it into the ground.

5) Conservatives think that I might want to fund a campaign of this calibre. If I were dumb enough to donate, I'd feel almost as embarrassed as the aged Michael Caine looks ("I'm here to represent young people") in the ghastly video.

6) Oh, and that logo - green may be the new blue, but if the Conservatives had any sense they'd sidle away from climate change alarmism and its discredited proponents.

Dear Valda,

The first few days of the campaign have been as fast-paced as I expect the next few weeks to be, so I thought I'd send you a quick update on how I think it's going.

We've had a strong start. We've been the ones showing energy and ideas, while Labour have spent the whole week on the back foot. I can't think of a single positive argument or new idea that Gordon Brown has come up with.

It's clear that the big story so far has been Labour's jobs tax that will kill the recovery. Go to our website to find out why more and more business leaders and small businesses are backing our plans to cut Labour's waste so that we can save more than 50,000 jobs.

It's been striking that Labour and the Lib Dems have nothing positive to say on the economy. They have shown that they're more interested in personal attacks on the people who create hundreds of thousands of jobs than engaging with the arguments. Alistair Darling has been forced to admit that his plans will lead to what he calls "manageable" job losses, but he refuses to publish the Treasury's analysis of how many people would lose their jobs.

As well as having the right argument on the economy, we've also got the big idea for the future of our country. We believe that Labour's big government has failed, and that it's time to build the Big Society.

A key part of that is going to be our plans for a National Citizen Service that we launched on Tuesday. Watch this video to see Michael Caine talking about the scheme.

And this weekend we have launched our plans to recognise marriage in the tax system, funded by a levy on banks. Making Britain the most family friendly country in Europe is an important part of our plans to build the Big Society. Yet again, the predictable response from our opponents has revealed they have nothing positive to offer and no new ideas.

It's increasingly clear that there's only one party offering real change in this election and that's the Conservatives. On issue after issue Labour and the Lib Dems are making the same old arguments that got Britain into this mess. Whether it's resisting action to cut waste and stop the jobs tax, or arguing against recognising marriage in the tax system to strengthen our society, Labour and the Lib Dems are the roadblock to change. They are relying on the fear of change and only the Conservatives are offering the hope of a better future. I know which side I'd rather be on.

So there's a lot to fight for in this election - and it's great to see people up and down the country getting the campaign off to a flying start. In the first few days alone volunteers in our target seats put up 25,000 campaign posters, rang 100,000 voters, and delivered an astonishing 5,000,000 leaflets.

This enthusiasm has been reflected right at the top of the party too. The Shadow Cabinet have been campaigning all around the country, and David Cameron has rolled up his sleeves and shown tremendous energy in travelling over 3000 miles in the first few days, visiting eight regions of the country in five days. What a contrast to Gordon Brown.

Not only that, but Samantha Cameron has been out and about with her visits to social action projects. Her blogs and videos are already proving to be a hit.

And let's not forget that there will also be local elections on the 6th of May. Our local government team have been working flat out. We have nominated candidates in 98% of contests - a record - and we are contesting more local government seats than any other Party.

I'm delighted that we've had such a great start. But there's still a long way to go - and it's absolutely vital that we keep this momentum going.

That's why we're asking today if you can give just one pound a day to our campaign until we get to polling day.

If you give now, you'll be giving just £25. Please click here to make your contribution.

That's it from me for now - we've got another big week ahead with the launch of our manifesto on Tuesday, and Britain's first ever party leaders' TV debate on Thursday.

Thank you for all you are doing. If we all keep up the hard work we really can bring the change Britain needs.

George Osborne
Shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer

If "Big Society" sounds familiar (as well as risible), it might be because it's an echo of the Great Society. From Wikipedia:
The Great Society was a set of domestic programs proposed or enacted in the United States on the initiative of President Lyndon B. Johnson. Two main goals of the Great Society social reforms were the elimination of poverty and racial injustice. New major spending programs that addressed education, medical care, urban problems, and transportation were launched during this period. The Great Society in scope and sweep resembled the New Deal domestic agenda of Franklin D. Roosevelt, but differed sharply in types of programs enacted.
Some Great Society proposals were stalled initiatives from John F. Kennedy's New Frontier. Johnson's success depended on his skills of persuasion, coupled with the Democratic landslide in the 1964 election that brought in many new liberals to Congress. Anti-war Democrats complained that spending on the Vietnam War choked off the Great Society. While some of the programs have been eliminated or had their funding reduced, many of them, including Medicare, Medicaid, and federal education funding, continue to the present. The Great Society's programs expanded under the administrations of Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford.[1]

No idea is so low that the Conservatives won't steal it. I Hope that will Change...

Monday 28 December 2009

Why we need more chairs 6

And when the male slave is thus immobilised, guess who has to make the coffee? Yes, the Hand Maiden.

Thursday 14 May 2009

Ayn Rand in the UK: Yaron Brook's UK speeches

Last February Dr Brook visited the UK to speak at Oxford University (here and here) and at the Adam Smith Institute in London. He also gave a fascinating interview just before the ASI speech.

Videos of the London interview and speech are now available on YouTube.

Interview (about 28 minutes in total)
London interview Part 1 - Ayn Rand in the UK; what "free markets"?; the actual causes of the economic crisis
London Interview Part 2 - Why everyone always blames the bankers
London Interview Part 3 - Why the $9B Stimulus Package must fail and what would succeed
London Interview Part 4 - President Obama; the future of the Right

Capitalism without Guilt: the moral case for freedom - main speech (about 32 minutes in total)
ASI speech Part 1
ASI Speech Part 2
ASI Speech Part 3
ASI Speech Part 4

Capitalism without Guilt - Q&A session (about 27 minutes in total)
ASI speech Part 5 - Is it in one's own interest to save a drowning child?
ASI speech Part 6 - Did the Republican Party's move towards religion put off voters?
ASI speech Part 7 - How can we communicate the true nature of capitalism to those unversed in economics?
ASI speech Part 8 - What is the proper role of government?
ASI speech Part 9 - How can the philosophy of Objectivism be reconciled with democracy?
ASI speech Part 10 - Views on Ron Paul; Should Holocaust deniers be prosecuted?
ASI speech Part 11 - Views on torture; Aren't altruism and socialism incompatible; How can we make the emotional case for capitalism; Should we be optimistic?

Among Dr Brooks's innumerable virtues as a speaker is his habit of addressing the wider implications of every question - so you'll get a lot more out of the clips above than the brief descriptions suggest.

To see the whole collection in one place, just go to

Oliver Williams made and uploaded the videos.

Andrew Medworth, the interviewer, posted an account of all these events on his blog.