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Testing

BTW, I’m moving over to Tumblr, so…

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Meh. I bet I could do that if I bothered.

Yeah, right.

If we solved the Middle East crisis like this, it would be AWESOME.
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Best. (Political) April Fool’s Joke. Ever.

In today’s Guardian. (Slightly long but Oh. So. Worth. It)

Can also see the crowdsourced photo set here.

Labour’s election strategy: bring on no-nonsense hard man Gordon Brown

Labour’s election strategy: bring on no-nonsense hard man Gordon Brown

• Campaign posters focus on alpha male personality
• Advisers consider tactic of staged confrontation
• Send us your hard-man Brown ads
See the election posters here
Comment: Is Bruiser Brown the right strategy?
Download your Bruiser Brown poster here (pdf)

Labour strategists' campaign poster

Labour strategists are considering a billboard campaign portraying Brown as ‘a sort of Dirty Harry figure’, in the words of one senior aide.

In an audacious new election strategy, Labour is set to embrace Gordon Brown‘s reputation for anger and physical aggression, presenting the prime minister as a hard man, unafraid of confrontation, who is willing to take on David Cameron in "a bare-knuckle fistfight for the future of Britain", the Guardian has learned.

Following months of allegations about Brown’s explosive outbursts and bullying, Downing Street will seize the initiative this week with a national billboard campaign portraying him as "a sort of Dirty Harry figure", in the words of a senior aide. One poster shows a glowering Brown alongside the caption "Step outside, posh boy," while another asks "Do you want some of this?"

Brown aides had worried that his reputation for volatility might torpedo Labour’s hopes of re-election, but recent internal polls suggest that, on the contrary, stories of Brown’s testosterone-fuelled eruptions have been almost entirely responsible for a recent recovery in the party’s popularity. As a result, the aide said, Labour was "going all in", staking the election on the hope that voters will be drawn to an alpha-male personality who "is prepared to pummel, punch or even headbutt the British economy into a new era of jobs and prosperity".

Strategists are even understood to be considering engineering a high-profile incident of violence on the campaign trail, and are in urgent consultations on the matter with John Prescott, whose public image improved in 2001 after he punched an egg-throwing protester.

Possible confrontations under discussion include pushing Andrew Marr out of the way while passing him on a staircase, or thumping the back of Jeremy Paxman’s chair so hard that he flinches in shock.

One tactic being discussed involves provoking a physical confrontation at one of the three ground-breaking TV debates between the candidates. In this scenario, Brown, instead of responding to a point made by Cameron, would walk over from his microphone with an exaggerated silent display of self-control, bring his face to within an inch of the Tory leader’s, and in a subdued voice, ask "what did you just say?", before delivering a single well-aimed blow to his opponent’s face, followed by a headlock if required.

The bloodied and bruised Cameron could then be whisked to a nearby hospital, where a previously briefed team of doctors and nurses would demonstrate the efficiency and compassion of the NHS under a Labour government.

Saatchi & Saatchi, the agency behind the poster campaign, are also considering reworked posters from classic movies, casting Brown as The Gordfather, the Terminator, and "Mr Brown" from Reservoir Dogs, or perhaps linking him to Omar Little, the merciless killer in the TV series The Wire, in order to burnish the prime minister’s "gangsta" credentials. Another set of designs appropriates the current Conservative anti-Brown poster campaign, employing adapted slogans such as: "I took billions from pensions. Wanna make something of it?"

The Brown team has been buoyed by focus group results suggesting that an outbreak of physical fighting during the campaign, preferably involving bloodshed and broken limbs, could re-engage an electorate increasingly apathetic about politics. They also hope they can exploit the so-called "Putin effect", and are said to be exploring opportunities for Brown to be photographed killing a wild animal, though advisers have recommended that weather, and other considerations, mean Brown should not remove his shirt.

Labour further hopes to "harness the power of internet folksourcing", the aide explained, encouraging supporters to design their own posters, which could then be showcased online. The "design your own poster" initiative has caught the imagination of Downing Street strategists, the aide said, because it is cheap, fosters engagement among voters and, above all, nothing could possibly go wrong with it.

For their part, Conservative strategists are said to be troubled by internal research suggesting that several members of the shadow cabinet – including Cameron and George Osborne – would in fact not "come here and say that" if challenged by Brown, instead turning pale and running away, or arranging for an older brother to wait outside the Houses of Parliament to attack him when he is least expecting it.

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Hilarious Obama Emails

Obama might be funny (Geez!! We haven’t met yet ‘cos my invitation hasn’t arrived). But I’m almost certain (haha) he’s not stupid enough to do this.

Guardian: All the president’s emails: White House staff; Joe Biden; President Hu Jintao

To: President Hu Jintao hu.jintao@gov.cn

Subject: Re: did you get my message?

Really? I guess it must have gotten lost somewhere. Did you check your spam folder? Or maybe you need to change your privacy filter settings from COMPLETELY PARANOID to SLIGHTLY LESS FREAKED OUT BY THE INTERNET. It was a clip of a panda smoking a pipe, for chrissakes. Best, Barack

That is from the Guardian’s “All the President’s Emails” Series. Check it out. It’s AWESOME. As well as slightly scary. You can just imagine someone actually sending that and creating the destruction of the world. (See what I did there CREATIVE DESTRUCTION and all).

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Reading

This blog is also a place for me to summarise what I have read and get comments from others if I have completely missed the point.

I’m about to start reading “Too Big To Fail” by Andrew Ross Sorkin. It’s supposed to be a “fly-on-the-wall-ish” account of the near beginning of financial Armageddon. Should have some juicy quotes.

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Summary of “History of Now: The Story of the Noughties”

I really enjoyed watching this yesterday on the BBC and the Demos blog has a very good summary of the programme.

According to Julia Margo, Director of Research at Demos, “Age is to the C21st what social class was to the C20th. It’s one of the major fault lines in our society”. She appeared on the BBC’s History of Now: The Story of the Noughties on Tuesday night, delivering a bleak picture of the gap between where young people in their teens and early twenties thought they would be, and where they found themselves at thirty.

With the recession hitting young graduates hardest, this disparity will probably amplify. It’s a bitter pill for the children of the good-time ‘baby boomers’ who enjoyed an expansion in university education – bolstered by grants – adding to the growing of the middle class. Their degrees counted for something and they entered jobs and finished them with final salary pensions. They rode the wave of the property boom and are now enjoying living their retirement to the full, spending their cash on foreign travels and grown-up gadgets with a grown-up price tag.

The programme was critical of the baby boomers and their quest to be the Peter Pan generation, refusing to let go of youth culture by adopting gadgets like the micro scooter and clinging on their teenage rock heros with paying through the nose to see them at the O2 arena. On the other hand, Generation Y are struggling to get jobs and loaded down with student debt. They will be in their thirties before they are even able to get on the property ladder, let alone think about having children.

The Guardian’s Economics Editor Larry Elliott commented “If you think about what’s happened to young people … it is somewhat surprising I think that young people aren’t angrier than they are about this.”

And here the contradiction lies: society is critical of older generations for being ‘middle youths’ but critical of the recession-hit younger generations for not wanting, or not being able, to follow in their footsteps. It’s a mark of maturity that younger generations aren’t having a tantrum over their lost ‘entitlements’. So perhaps as well as the age divide, a History of Now has shown an attitude divide – between generations that never want to grow up, and generations that are forced to do so.

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