Tuesday, April 03, 2007

How wrong you can be

So, EMI will sell DRM free music on the iTunes store... I guess I was quite wrong. More power to Steve Jobs elbow. I guess this also means I can start buying music from the iTunes store. At a pound a track that's a mixed blessing :)

03/04/2007 11:18 by Matt Mower | Permalink | comments:
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Let's get the ball rolling

I have sent this letter to my MP, Theresa May:

Dear Theresa May,

As I have written here:


I was shocked to learn that, according to the governments own figures (and depending upon how you read them), the UK spent between 32 and 39 billion pounds on defence in 2006.

This to defend an Island in Western Europe that seems unlikely to be at risk of military invasion. Whose tanks do we see rolling over the green hills of England? Indeed one wonders if the threats this country really does face are not in many ways related to the uses to which these many billions of pounds our tax monies have been put over the years.

I would be interested in your reaction to these figures. Do you not believe, as I do, that our spending on defence is grossly excessive given our situation?

If you do not agree I would appreciate an explanation of why an island in peaceful Europe, having the 22nd largest population in the world, needs the worlds second largest defence budget.

On the other hand, if you do agree, I would appreciate it if you could outline how conservative policy will seek to readjust this such that the tax burden can be reduced and remaining taxation addressed to items of greater concern to the population at large (e.g. health, education, poor relief).

I believe a good start would be an 8 billion pound cut over the next parliament. 4 billion of which to be returned to the tax payer, and 4 billion put towards actually meeting the governments target of lifting all children out of poverty. This would doubtless come as a shock to the defence industry but unless we accept that it is not the taxpayers duty to keep arms manufacturers in business we will be yoked to them forever. A re-alignment is long past due.

Wouldn't lifting all children out of poverty, a serious tax-cut, and a re-alignment of defence priorities around real threats make an excellent pledge?

I look forward to your response with eager interest.

Yours respectfully.

Matthew Mower

I have no idea what her response will be. When I met Theresa May I found her to be thoughtful and not afraid of expressing an opinion, we'll see if this resonates.

I believe it is long past time that the debate about defence spending and taxation are brought out into the cold light of day.

03/04/2007 13:06 by Matt Mower | Permalink | comments:
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Not technically a karate move, more the feeling you as you walk home from practice ;-)

Today is the first time I was able to go all the way through the first kata with at least a passing resemblance to how it should go. I aim to practice over the week (if I can find a big enough space!) in the hope that I can get it fixed in my mind so that I can begin working on getting the individual movements right. One good point is that I at least thought about my breathing while we practiced today.

I'm basically reaally enjoying this class. Mucho thanks to Stowe for encouraging me onto this path.

However yoga and karate have made me realise how out of shape I am. Balancing in yoga is a real challenge for me (despite the kind words of the instructor) and the karate cardio warm-up has a tendency to get me breathing hard enough that it impedes the early part of the session. I can already feel tiny improvements from when I started but I know I can do better.

I've started weight-watchers point counting again. I currently weigh 85.5kg which is almost 3kg heavier than I was in 2004 and a long way from the low of 70kg I reached in 2005! I have set myself a first target of 82kg by May 20th. I'm giving myself 24 points per day which should be just about low enough to lose the 0.5kg/week I need to reach the goal. My final goal should probably be somewhere in the region of 75kg.

Other things I am considering are going to the gym (it seems I can use the Magnet leisure centre on a drop-in basis which is good because I can't afford expensive gym memberships), Aikido, and also Wu-style Taijiquan. I use to do Tai Chi a few years back and practicing karate has made me yearn again for the harmonius feeling of doing the form in a group. There are moments of magic there.

When I think how sedentary my first year (yes I've been in Maidenhead a year) was it's amazing to me how active I have recently become.

The last thing I want to do is some teaching and/or mentoring. I did a little of this when I worked at the University of North London and I found it very rewarding. I'm looking for the opportunity to teach programming at either a basic or intermediate level to individuals or a small group. Ideally once a week either virtually or with local(ish) travel. If anyone knows of any such opportunities please drop me a line.

03/04/2007 21:44 by Matt Mower | Permalink | comments: