A Distant Plain

Northern Afghanistan descends into chaos as the Warlords keep forgetting to stay quiet!

I was given a copy of A Distant Plain for my birthday last year, having asked for something a little more political and of a chunkier length than many of the board games I already owned. The problem was, the time required to play even the short version seemed daunting and finding people willing to give it a go was proving problematic. Thankfully this weekend a few friends were willing to give it a try, and whilst they were less than enamored with it, I’m pretty convinced that it is the game I was looking for. Afterwards I went home and had a look at things again and I think I understand it more now.

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The Plot Against America – Philip Roth, 2004

I hadn’t intended to read it, but whilst away on holiday last year I’d finished my other book and was looking for something. This was sat on the shelves at Sj’s folks and I’d never read any Roth but had always meant to. I blazed through it in about a day, but it’s only been the last few days that it’s struck home. I’ll let The Guardian’s review from 2004 set the scene;

“Just suppose…that the air hero Charles Lindbergh, the man who made the first solo transatlantic flight in 1927, who earned huge sympathy when his baby son was kidnapped and murdered five years later, who called Hitler “a great man” and was decorated by order of the Führer for his services to the Reich, just suppose that he’d taken up Republican invitations to run for president in November 1940, and milked the isolationist sentiment that undoubtedly existed then (No more war! Never again will young Americans die on foreign soil!), and that instead of Roosevelt being elected for an unprecedented third term and taking America into Europe to fight the Nazis, Lindbergh won a landslide victory. And then he signed non-aggression treaties with Germany and Japan, and set about realising his vision of America as a land of the brave and blond, and introduced a set of anti-semitic measures which, if not on the scale of Hitler’s pogroms, were a betrayal of the rights and liberties enshrined in the constitution and yet, such was the young president’s charisma, they were accepted by the mass of ordinary citizens and even by some prominent Jews.”

Blake Morrison – The Guardian, 2nd October 2004

I’m probably going to pick this up again and give it a run though – but yeah, I read this back well Il Douche was just a possible joke rather than a reality.

The legacy…

And so the Great Bogeyman of British politics is gone, the name that every politician secretly hopes to be compared to but none want to be cast in the same light as. A genuine, dyed in the wool political monster – at odds with the society that voted her in but the only candidate for the job. Few will mourn her – I certainly won’t and I was only tangentially affected by her at the time – but it will be damn hard to forget her as the legacy of her decisions ring on twenty years after. If Atlee is the positive face of British politics, the Gentleman Scholar seeking improvement for all, she is the fierce, vicious underbelly seeking to divide society into the rulers and ruled. She will not be missed.

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Curves cost money…

So Michael Gove has decided to wade further away from his limited pool of understanding and comment that in the future money shouldn’t be spent on creating superfluous space in schools that enrich the environment, but rather on a series of monotonous box cultures, presumably similar to those he attended in his formative years in the seventies (rightly known for the quality of its public architecture…). Rightfully so, both education specialists & architects have pointed out he’s talking a loud of bollocks. Still, not a man to back down, Gove has dismissed such comments because quite clearly, he’s a man who knows what he wants.

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The Hunger Games

No, I’m not here to talk about either the book or the film but rather the forthcoming supposed celebration of sporting greatness that this country is about to partake in. Anyone else get the feeling that it’s all slipping out of control a little bit? That it’s no longer about the sporting achievement but rather the sponsorship, security and everything else?

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Library Walk, Manchester

Anyone who has spent time in Manchester will no doubt have come across the Central Library, and in doing so one of the finest little spaces that this or any other city has produced – Library Walk. Nestled between the Library and the Town Hall, the gently curved street sort of links St. Peter’s Square and the Town Hall and is one of those little spaces that the produces a small sigh of content whenever you walk down it.

Now, the Central Library is currently undergoing significant works to modernise it, and St. Peter’s Square is also due radical change as part of the planned expansion of the Metrolink. Both of these are more than needed, the first to bring the Library up to modern standards in terms of protection of the books (the fine façade and reading room are to remain unaltered) and the Metrolink to make it a more viable form of transport in the city. However another Planning Application has also been submitted to put a glazed roof on Library Walk and more worryingly gated access – this will effectively privatise Library Walk.

The application is still at the stage when the public is allowed to comment on it, and you do not need to be a resident of Manchester in order to do so. Detail of the application can be found here.

Letters can be addressed to;

PO Box 532
M60 2LA

Or through the Planning Portal System (the same link). The application was made on the 14th May 2012 which by my rough calculation you would have until the middle of July to raise any concerns.

If people wish to note particular concerns I would suggest the following;

– That by creating gated access to Library Walk, access will be limited to the street and could be denied on occasion. The street will no longer be accessible twenty four hours.

– The street forms a distinct and unique part of the Manchester landscape, in no other part of the city is there anything like it and the proposals would ruin its unique character.

– A glass roof would ruin the existing synergy between two sensitive buildings, in particular the nature of how the streetscape is affected at different times of the day.

– The existing entrances to both the Library and the Town Hall will be relegated to secondary status.

Unfortunately you can’t access Library Walk at the moment due to the renovation works at the library, and I suspect the application has been made at this stage in order to prevent people from being able to do so. So please, remember this fine little space, and if you feel like it let the council know your views on the matter.


So, Jacqui Smith’s husband happened to watch two porno’s whilst his wife was away and this is somehow news? Okay, the expenses side of it and whether it was a legitimate claim has validity (although the fervour with which The Daily Mail is exposing Labour ministers whilst ignoring its new darlings, the Conservatives cannot go unnoticed) but I cannot help but wonder if it’s the fact that someone who works for the government (as an advisor) happens to want to bash the bishop whilst his wife’s away is more of the story for some? I mean, what if he’s not cleaning his hand between shakes and handing government documents?

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Art & Politics

I was trying to discuss this last night with C but without actual examples it’s pretty hard to have the discussion. So here goes, even if you don’t particularly like Obama you’ve got to admit that he’s got better Graphic Designers working for him. Whether he’s actually got an eye for design himself is debatable, but someone on his staff certainly does and his campaign posters are better by a country mile.

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