This morning I decided I’d come to Cambridge if I managed to get a decent amount done today. Within an hour, I’d cracked the problem I’ve been battering my head against for the past couple of days.

Coincidence? I think not. See some of you at elise‘s tonight.

Not a party man

That sums up Blair nicely. Just watched his

last Prime Ministers questions

, where he praised everyone but the Labour party, and did nothing to transfer goodwill from himself onto Brown and the party.


: Also, the Labour party line seems to be that sentencing Chemical Ali to death is an unequivocally Good Thing. Including Ann Clwyd. So much for a moral stance against the death penalty.

[that’s right. I’m not dead. I’ve just not been paying enough attention to the world around me to say anything coherent about anything. This may – or may not – change in the future]

Samantha Power on Iraq

“Humanitarian intervention – the nonconsensual use of force – is dead. It had a very short life – September 1995 to the summer of 2003 – and it’s been killed for the next decade. America is the only power than can do it and, after Iraq, we would just be recruiting fodder for this apocalyptic nihilism.”

[Samantha Power](, quoted in the [NYT](

I’m sure there are hundreds of articles elsewhere, making the same point in more depth. It _is_ sad in a way, but I’ve never been all that convinced by military intervention. Not only is it always twisted by the political ambitions of the great powers, but it is almost never economically worthwhile. If we could channel all the enthusiasm for military intervention into education and healthcare, we might actually improve the world.

Dealing with cold-callers

Staying with my mother has reintroduced me to the delights of telephone salesmen. During the week, somebody calls the house trying to sell us stuff perhaps once an hour. A few of them are spectacularly obnoxious – the one that put me in a hold queue as soon as I picked up the phone was particularly impressive.

My question to you is: what can I do to them? Either to have some fun, or to make their lives unpleasant. Mostly I’m currently telling them that I’m really interested in $useless_product, asking them to wait while I turn down the cooking/call the homeowner/move to a different room, leaving the phone off the hook, and seeing how long they’ll wait. But I’m in desperate need of some better ideas.


: OK, OK. I’m impressed how reasonable and sensible you all are, and wondering how I managed to not run into the Telephone Preference Service. I give in: I’ll be nice to them, and do the things that are supposed to make them go away. But grr…I’d love it if once things didn’t all come down to politics and economics.

Don’t leave your phone turned off….

…or you’ll miss the text message offering you a free Glastonbury ticket.


There probably won’t be a big Cambridge update – it’d be either dull or tasteless to write about most of it, and I can’t face working through all those lj-names. It was great, although I feel somewhat maudlin at the inevitable drifting-apart from friends who I now only see a few times a year. Obviously I need to be more extraverted in Berlin, and stop expecting Cambridge to be the same whenever I visit.

Still not sure exactly when I’m heading back to Berlin (a pox on logistics, laziness, disorganization and big business). I’m in Oakham for now, and probably too poor to go back to Cambridge or London. Should anybody feel a burning need to visit Oakham, there is a spare bed here – but the place is hardly bustling

Sorry to all the people I didn’t get to talk to much in Cambridge.

David Eddings burns his office down

“I was down in my garage when it happened,” David Eddings told

reporters outside the smouldering remains of his office in Carson City,

Nevada, “making reparis to my broken-down Excalibur sports car. I was

using water to flush out the gas tank when some fluid started leaking

out, and I began wondering what the hell it was. I didn’t want to leave

a tankful of gasoline slowly leaking onto the garage floor, so

I lit a

piece of paper and threw it into the puddle of liquid, to test if it was

flammable. In retrospect, I can see that this was a lapse of judgement

on my part

.” [

Private Eye


Also: in Cambridge for the weekend!