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Andrew Oakley Below are the 10 most recent journal entries recorded in the "Andrew Oakley" journal:

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December 31st, 2029
11:59 pm


Friends Only
My journal is mainly for friends only. You won't see any of the interesting stuff unless you get a LiveJournal account and I mark you as a friend. If you are one of my friends (or even just an acquaintance from long ago) and would like to have access, just email me andrew@aoakley.com with your LiveJournal username, your real name and other information I might recognise you from (nickname, photo, place/date where I met you etc).

I am a member of the Conservative party, an advocate of intellectual property freedom and rural society. If you don't want to hear these kinds of mainstream political views, do not allow me to post to your journal and do not read mine.

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September 30th, 2011
03:07 pm


Doctor Who finale prediction
Faceache doesn't support cut-tags, so I'm placing my prediction here on LJ under the cut.

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October 1st, 2010
10:46 am


Here's a thing. One thing I've always been very insistent on, is teaching my children the difference between reality and pretend.

In another post elsewhere, someone asked how I comfort my children when they are scared of monsters. I hadn't thought about that; because Annabel (4) has never been scared of monsters.

Annabel gets scared of lots of real things, like mummy and daddy arguing, or stuff getting broken, or people dying of old age. But she doesn't get scared of witches or goblins or monsters. She's been taught from day zero, the difference between reality and pretend.

One recent conversation was about the Easter Bunny. Annabel asked how the Easter Bunny obtained all the Easter Eggs. I replied that I didn't know. We then had a discussion about whether the Easter Bunny was pretend.

"Is Peppa Pig fun?" I asked her.

"Yes," she said.

"Is Peppa Pig real?" I enquired.

"No, she's pretend."

"But Peppa Pig is still fun, isn't she?"


"So things can be pretend, but they're still fun."


"Maybe the Easter Bunny is pretend, but it's still fun to pretend about the Easter Bunny," I said.

"Maybe the Easter Bunny makes the eggs using pretend magic," she observed.

"I think you're very clever. I still like Easter Eggs, though."

"Me too."

We have similar conversations about lots of things. Spiders, for example: "I'm afraid of spiders," she said. "No, you're not. You just don't like them. I don't like spiders crawling on me, but I'm not frightened of them. I don't like they way they crawl about on my face when I walk into a spider's web, they make me scream, but I don't think they're going to hurt me. Do you think a spider will hurt you?" "No," she says, "I just think they're yucky. I'm not really scared of spiders."

It just seems like the most normal way of organising things. She seems to enjoy everything and gets all the fun out of events like Easter, Hallowe'en and Christmas, and she plays along with the pretend. She understands the difference between real and pretend, but she also understands that pretend is fun.

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June 18th, 2010
11:19 pm


For Councils and Against Free Schools
There are few things I disagree with Conservative policy on, and the latest is our Free Schools policy, in which any group of people - local residents, a charity, a religious group, a profit-making company - can get taxpayers' money to start their own school if they meet specific criteria.

I think this is a monumentally bad idea. I already thought accademies were a bad idea - taxpayer-funded schools which are independent of local council control.

If people want to set up a school, there is already a method for doing so: Vote for a councillor that supports your idea.

Council control of schools is good, not bad. Schools need to be planned for the long term, for generations ahead, fifty years hence or more. Council involvment is important, not for curriculum or subject speciality, but for planning.

Unless your school is in a heavily populated urban centre, schools need to be planned very carefully. And quite possibly the same goes for urban schools too.

First off, you need to plan for your intake. How many children will be using the school in 5, 10, 20, 50 years? If you build a school for 500 pupils to cope with the influx from a new housing estate, what happens when that estate stops being built? What happens 15 years down the line when all the children from that estate grow up, go to university and get jobs?

Absolutely do not for one moment think that your housing estate will provide a never-ending supply of children. Read more...Collapse )

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June 10th, 2010
10:59 pm


Twin Oddities
Here's an odd thing. Being reminded of how odd twins are. That reminder, in itself, is odd.

In the UK we have an NHS which provides extremely cheap access to fertility treatment. A great number of twins are born through this process. We happened to have ours naturally, but the upshot of the process is that oddities like natural twins are lost in the noise.

British supermarkets have lots of trollies designed for twin babies. Restaurants have more than one high-chair. Many baby change facilities have a harness for safely restraining one baby whilst changing another. Twin babies are cooed over, but once they're 6-9 months, they're not particularly noteworthy. Parents of twins regularly greet each other several times an hour in the street and swap twin tips. And twin pushchairs - both longwise and widthwise - are accomodated along with wheelchairs by default.

In France they have a private health system, similar to most of the rest of Europe and vaguely on a par with the US, although access is still a lot cheaper than the US version and the baseline state-funded health insurance is significantly more generous than that in the US.

But what France obviously doesn't have is massive funding for fertility treatment like the UK does.

I'm assuming this, because I'm on holiday in France at the moment with my 9-month old twins, and we are literally stopping traffic. As in, more than one car has swerved whilst the driver gawped out the side window at us.

There are no twin trollies at French supermarkets. Asking for one at the info desk resulted in the assistant standing up to peer over the counter at the twins, as if my claim of having two babies was so improbable that it demanded verification.

We have not seen any other twins. At all. We've been here in Normandy for a week now.

The idea that a visitor might wish to take a twin pushchair to a tourist attraction is clearly something well beyond the credulity of any of the places we've visited. Mont Saint Michel and other places built more than 500 years ago, fair enough. But an aquarium and shell museum built in the last 20 years? An open-to-the-public apple farm?

We can't even get our lightweight widthwise twin pushchair through the checkout of the local supermarket, never mind get a twin trolley.

I honestly had forgotten how unusual twins were.

I haven't had this feeling since I last carted James countb around, just to add to the oddness.

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May 6th, 2010
07:49 am


Are people REALLY voting LibDem for the policies?
I can't believe people are really voting LibDem for the policies:

1. A regional immigration policy that will force people to work hundreds of miles away from their families.

2. Entry to the Euro which has proved disastrous for both rich and poor countries alike.

3. No more nuclear power, leaving us reliant on energy imports (paid for using the Euro).

4. Leave our national debt unpaid whist the interest piles up and up.


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April 7th, 2010
12:41 pm


Fsck 'em, and... OUR law?
My letter to Jeremy Hunt MP (Conservative), Shadow Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport.


I enclose my reply to my Conservative MP Laurence Robertson (Tewkesbury) regarding the Digital Economy Bill. Since Laurence has been a party whip, I would not expect him to digress far from the party line. As you are shadow minister for Culture, Media and Sport, my understanding is that the party line on this bill is set by you.

As a Conservative party member for twenty years, I am shocked and disappointed (I mean really, knock-me-down-with-a-feather flabbergasted) that the Conservative party are making two fundamental mistakes:

1. Equating one internet connection to one person. This is wrong. Most internet connections are shared. Cutting off one internet connection will cut of entire families, entire companies, entire universities.

2. Conservative support for a bill which you yourself accept is bad law. It's not just a little bit off, it's broken, beyond repair, technical nonsense and judicially unfair.

We Conservatives will be forming the next government. Why the rush to make Labour's bad bill into law? Why can't we wait four weeks, then make a good one when we win next month?

How I'm expected to knock on doors and canvas for votes when my party supports this kind of utter codswallop - and dangerous, damaging codswallop at that - is beyond my comprehension. I mean, really, how am I supposed to defend this at the doorstep? I can't even defend it to my friends on Facebook, let alone contemplate explaining it to a neighbour.

Yours in disbelief,

Andrew Oakley andrew@aoakley.com
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Dear Colleague,

I know that a great many of you have been contacted about the Digital Economy Bill. I wanted to get in touch to set out our positionRead more...Collapse )

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09:36 am


Fsck 'em, and their law
The Digital Economy Bill is being rushed through parliament today and tomorrow. Write to your MP today - all you need to know is your postcode, writetothem.com will automatically select your MP and fax or email your letter to them for free.

Dear Laurence Robertson,

I hope you will oppose the Digital Economy Bill.

This bill will allow music companies to shut down my internet connection if my children, or a guest to my house, or even a passer-by or neighbour, downloads an illegal file.

This bill will allow movie companies to shut down your website if another computer in the same building as your web server links to an illegal file.

This bill will allow newspapers to reprint my wife's photographs without asking her permission.

This is bad law. Please assure me that you will oppose it.

Yours sincerely,

Andrew Oakley

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March 24th, 2010
05:14 pm


Kidderminster, Riverside Town
So, further to JHR's post, I was doing a bit of Streetview tourism around brutalist Kidderminster architecture (and there's a lot, all of which I like very much), when I suddenly zoom out to the map and realise quite how much the town is tied to the river Stour.

Walking and driving around Kidderminster you don't really think of Kidderminster as a riverside town. Mostly this is due to my beloved brutalist concrete buildings hiding the river quite well; until the recent Weaver's Wharf / Tesco redevelopment at the back of Owen Owens and the old library, it was almost impossible to actually see the river at all; the river was almost entirely built over (as the River Chelt is in Cheltenham).

Of course, another reason that I don't associate Kidderminster with being a riverside town, is that it is only a few miles from Bewdley and Stourport-on-Severn, where the mighty River Severn thunders past, in all of its two-hundred-metre-wide massiveness. Kidderminster's tiddly little River Stour, at all of six metres wide, seems hardly worth mentioning.

One of the things that has often perplexed me, driving in to Kiddy as I do, from the Worcester side, is how on earth the town's major employer is no longer a carpet factory, but a major luxury cruise boat firm. I find it difficult to think of a town more landlocked than Kidderminster. Zooming out to the map, though, I today realised that behind the factory, they have their own slipway and private canal leading directly to the Stour and on to the Severn. D'oh.

Meanwhile, my Streetview tourism notes that the camera car picked a nice early Sunday morning to do Kidderminster centre, the result being that they've got coverage of the whole of the town's otherwise pedestrian shopping precinct in full-on Summer Of 2009 recession glory. A large Woolworths and a 4-storey Littlewoods right next door to each other, now that's unfortunate.

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January 19th, 2010
01:25 pm


House keys
We're moving house next week. If you or anyone you know has keys to Frampton Cottages, please can you give them back, or post them to me:

Andrew Oakley, Software Development Manager
The Higher Education Statistics Agency
95 Promenade
GL50 1HZ

I'd prefer you used my work address, as one set has already gone missing in the post, and what with the address on the envelope it won't be difficult for a dishonest postal worker to plan a simple burglary. Not that we care, as the house is occupied pretty much 24/7, but this might not be so for the new arrivals.

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