Response from my MP regarding the refugee crisis
This is fairly positive, within the limits of what an opposition backbencher can do:

Thank you for your email regarding the refugee crisis we have seen unfold over the last few weeks.

All too often these issues are picked up by the tabloid press and a lot of misinformation is spread to the British public on what can be a very complex issue.

I agree that the UK needs to do more to support asylum seekers. So far this year, more than 180,000 migrants have reached Greece and Italy by sea (others come from Turkey via the land border with Bulgaria). Of those, only a few thousand make their way overland across Europe to Calais. Other, broader statistics tell a similar story. In the first four months of this year, more than a quarter of a million people claimed asylum in a European Union member state; fewer than 10,000 of those claims were in the UK, although Britain has well over a tenth of the EU’s total population.

This is why I have written an Early Day Motion (EDM 369) to support the refugees fleeing war and persecution which states:

"That this house Is appalled at the humanitarian crisis unfolding on the doorstep of Europe and urges Her Majesty’s Government to honour and follow in the great traditions of the United Kingdom by accepting many more thousands of genuine and desperate refugees caused by the greatest displacement of people since world war two; notes that as part of the Vulnerable Person Relocation Scheme Germany has pledged to resettle 30,000 refugees whilst the UK so far taken fewer than 200; further urges the Prime Minister and Home Secretary to rekindle the spirit of the Kinder-Transport and bring forward innovative ideas like a Voluntary National Homes Register for those citizens able and willing to accommodate the most vulnerable refugees; and finally commends the work of the many of thousands of people from all political persuasions across the country who share a desire to offer refuge and hope to those escaping great hardship, violence and terror from across the world"

I would like to urge you to ask all of your friends who live outside of Cambridge to write to their MP's asking them to back EDM 369.

I can assure you that I will be doing all that I can within my role as an MP to ensure that this issue is dealt with in a fair and compassionate way.

Yours sincerely,

Daniel Zeichner
Member of Parliament for Cambridge

That British Memeplex
1. Marmite- love or hate?
Dislike as a spread, useful as a seasoning
2. Marmalade- thick cut or thin cut?
Thin, when I could eat it, but my liver seems to object to citrus these days.
3. Porridge- made with milk or water?
I'll pass on porridge, thanks.
4. Do you like salt, sugar or honey on your porridge?
5. Loose tea or teabags?
6. Where on your door is your letterbox?
7. What's your favourite curry?
None, sadly. Never learned to like Indian food at all. It either hurts, or it's too bland to be of interest.
8. What age is the place where you live?
9. Where do the folks running your local corner shop come from?
The "corner shop" is a small supermarket, with quite a lot of staff, and no group origin.
10. Instant or fresh coffee?
Ground myself.
11. How far are you from the sea?
About 34 miles. Ipswich seems to no the nearest point on the coast.
12. Have you travelled via Eurostar?
13. If you were going to travel abroad, where's the nearest country to you?
14. If you're female (or possible even some males) do you carry a handbag?
I have a satchel that I take almost everywhere. It's effectively a handbag.
15. Do you have a garden? What do you like growing?
Yes, but only because you can't get houses without gardens.
16. Full cream, semi skimmed or skimmed?
Semi-skim lactose-free.
17. Which London terminal would you travel into if going to the capital?
King's Cross.
18. Is there a local greasy spoon where you live?
The nearest thing I go to is an extremely unpretentious sandwich shop, where I get lunch each working day.
19. Do you keep Euros in the house?
No, don't think I've ever had any.
20. Does your home town have a Latin, Gaelic or Welsh alternative.
Yes: Cantabrigia, based on the Anglo-Saxon Cantebrigge.
21. Do you have a well known local artist or author?
22. Do you have a favourite Corrie character?
I have never watched Coronation Street. As in, genuinely never.
23. Are your kitchen sink taps separate or a mixer?
24. Do you have a favourite brand of blended tea?
25. What's in your attic if you have one?
Old fanzines, suitcases, computer boxes.
26. If you go out for a cream tea, what jam do you like on your scone?
27. Talking of scones- scon or scown? Jam or cream first?
Scon. Jam, no cream.
28. Barth or bath?
29. Carstle or castle?
30. What flavour of crisps do you favour?
31. If you go to the chippie, what do you like with your chips?
Fish or Steak-and-Kidney pie.
32. Take away, take out or carry out?
Take away.
33. If you have one, what colour is your wheelie bin?
Black for landfill, green for compostables, blue for other recycling
34. What colour skips does your local skip hire use?
No idea.
35. Do you celebrate Guy Fawkes?
36. Dettol or TCP?
Supermarket own-brand.
37. Do you have a bidet in the bathroom?
38. Do you prefer courgettes or aubergines?
39. In the 'real world', do you have friends of other nationalities? Which nationalities?
Yes, mostly Anericans.
40. Do you have a holy book of any sort in the house?
41. Do you prefer a hankie or tissues?
42. Are you a fan of crumpets? What do you like on them?
Yes. Butter or raspberry jam.
43. Doorbell, knocker or both?
44. Do you own a car? What sort?
45. What sort of pants do you guys prefer? Y fronts or boxers?
46. Anyone still a fan of suspenders?
I have a set of braces I wear with a suit. Maybe once every couple of years.
47. Do you have a favourite quote from the bard?
This rudeness is a sauce to his good wit, / Which gives men stomach to digest his words / With better appetite.
48. Do you like toasted muffins?
Not really.
49. Do you think a traditional trifle should contain jelly?
Once a pudding has sherry and custard in it, I've lost interest entirely.
50. Do you attend regular religious worship? Of what kind?

Gutting the BBC has been on the Tory agenda for a long time. Petition against the latest attempt:

Human Rights Act
The UK's Human Rights Act 1998 embeds the European Convention on Human Rights into UK law. Given that the Convention was largely written by British Conservative lawyers, in the aftermath of WWII, it's rather disappointing that the current Tories want to remove these human-rights protections.

Amnesty International is campaigning against this:

What3Words is amusing.
history_monk is a way of designating any point on Earth with three words, and a website to look them up. My front door is in square hats.brand.chimp, which I'll settle for, given how many hats I have on the coat-pegs. Thanks to gerisullivan

The Open Rights Group
Is an independent pressure group campaigning for openness and freedom on the Internet. I've belonged to it for a couple of years. They're mostly funded by members' subscriptions, and are having a membership drive to enable some campaigning for the general election, mainly against the government's message of "Privacy means the terrorists win."

One can use too much brandy, actually
When flaming a Christmas Pudding, 15cl of brandy is too much. It takes ten minutes to burn out, and the nether regions of the pudding become overly crisp, although their flavour is fine.

My 2014 in 100 words
FrameMaker; Wendy; Citrus; MS-SDL; Windows 8.1; The Cardinal's Mistress; Embedded XP; Chicago; SHA-256; Rabul; Peenemünde; RHEL7; Daphne Oram; VC14; Reality quakes; JavaScript; Bethnal Green; John Lewis; Radio 3; Woolwich; Sea Serpents; Juliet McKenna; Princess Charlotte; Dr Bob; Anna; Frogmen; Mount Etna; Salamanders; Podcasting; B-axis; WinRT; Joe Root; SSL and TLS; Gary Balance; SLES12; TORG; "Where's your other?"; David Jackson; MH370; Gare Loch; Moen Ali; SSL and TLS; RPoL; Army & Navy Stores; John Meaney; Persistent & Vexatious; Book Depository; 10.10; Porcupine Books; DMW Carol; Winston Churchill; The Huntress; Ukraine; Skill of the Week; rasff; "Winkle" Brown; ODE; Everest; Classic Shell.

A Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to you all.

Tony Blair
I get quite a few "please sign our petition" e-mails, and I sign some of them. They all want you to pass them on, and I'm much more restrained about that. But the idea that Save The Children, a charity I had thought to be reasonably worthwhile, is giving Tony Blair an award for saving children is ... beyond polite description. There's a petition to ask them to withdraw it, here.

11th November 2018
Is, of course the centenary of Armistice Day, the end of fighting in the First World War. It's a Sunday, which means that the Remembrance Day ceremonies (always on a Sunday nowadays in the UK) will take place on the correct day. There are normally parades, the laying of wreaths and a two-minute silence; I expect that there will be extra elements for the centenary, but we haven't reached the centenary of the start of the war yet, and nothing seems to have been announced yet.

I've thought of something I plan to do personally. A whole-day silence. This means no talking, unless it's necessary for safety, no TV or radio, no music except a part of a ceremony, and so on. This seems perfectly practical, as it's a Sunday - a working day without speech is not possible in my job - and while it will be strange, and something of a strain, I think it will force me to contemplate what the war and our memories of it mean.

I would be very happy if others were to do this, but I really don't think it ought to be made an official act of remembrance.



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